I must admit that I was very skeptical about the suitability of Willmore Park as a location for a DG course. Just looking at a map or looking from the main road, this looks like a skinny, crowded park with very little room to spare... especially for an 18 hole course. I'd also heard from random sources that the course was short, crowded and had safety issues.
All those concerns have been alleviated and those "random sources" were wrong.
Willmore is a deceptively BIG park. Lots of room to spread out, lots of space to explore and it's a really pretty and scenic park that truly represents what St. Louis is supposed to look like.
The course is actually pretty long. It's not CC or Carrollton, but I think it's similar in overall length to Sioux or maybe just a bit shorter (with much less walking between tees). I felt that there was a decent amount of variety, good terrain changes, plenty of trees, OB's and general hazzards. I never felt like it was difficult to avoid other park-goers or traffic and I don't foresee safety being an issue (unless the player is a total d-bag). I had a really good time playing this course - I felt that the challenge level was just right, the length and mix was just right and was very pleased to see very minimal areas of honeysuckle, overgrowth or tall grasses to swallow discs. The water hazzards (ponds) were there and required a player to pay attention to them, but they were not overly intimidating... but they do come into play - just right.
Other positives were great and plentiful parking, good shelters, plenty of restrooms (although I did not check to see if they were unlocked) and what seemed like a very friendly public.
I think there are a few minor tweeks that could make the course a little better - a slight adjustment to a tee location here and there could be used to do things that would add a little length to short holes, keep discs off the path or road and take care of what myself and some others thought were a bit too unforgiving tee-off challenges. I suppose there might be a few opportunities that could improve the walking distance between a couple of the holes. I think that there will also be a real need for some navigation markers - the arrows spray painted on the grass were great for now... but without them, I'd have been totally lost most of the time. Hey, like I said, "minor tweeks"... nothing seriously out of place.
I was very pleased, for the most part, with the good behavior of the 50-60 players that showed up yesterday. I'd say we set a good example for what folks should expect from disc golfers.
Some thoughts on things we could do better: I think we could do a better job of keeping the foul language down. I know that this has frequently been a complaint of other park-goers and park neighbors around the area and it's one of the easiest things to avoid. While the group on Sunday did an excellent job of keeping trash picked up, I can guarantee we need to encourage the city to get some trashcans out on the course (there are currently no trashcans anywhere except at the shelters and in the parking lot).
Another important thing to remember: There is no consumption of alchohol in public spaces in the City of St. Louis. I thought that it was just that nothing in bottles was allowed, but I was wrong. Here is exactly what the St. Louis City Code says on the subject: "No person shall drink any nonintoxicating beer or intoxicating liquor in any park, public building, street, sidewalk, alley, highway, parking lot, thoroughfare, or other public place unless consumption of intoxicating liquor or nonintoxicating beer in such place has been expressly authorized in writing by the Excise Commissioner."
Also, dogs MUST be kept on a leash at all times. This is just a good idea at Willmore, period, as so many people walk there dogs here and there is a dog park.
The one thing we cannot afford, if we want this park and others to actually get permanent courses, is for disc golfers to become known for breaking the law.
A HUGE THANK YOU to all the folks who worked to make this happen. Those who designed it, those who set it up, those who brought baskets and those who attended! Thank You.