It was late, just before 1 AM, and I was arriving exactly when I had wanted to surprisingly enough. It was very early Tuesday morning, the week after Fourth of July, and I was rolling in to what appeared to be the completely empty Lake Walcott State Park. It was perfect.
Click HERE for the quick course guide of one of the best courses I’ve ever played.
While the cat meowed at me from the car, I, with my headlamp on, stared intently at the map of the park on the side of the entrance booth. I was trying to figure out where I could, as well as, where I wanted to, camp very briefly for the night. A big part of the ‘where I wanted’ depended on where the course was in relation to actual campgrounds. After a week of 100º+ heat I was concerned about 2 things: how hot would it get while I was playing, and how hot will it be on the road while I am trying to get to Salt Lake City later in the day. I decided it would be important to start playing around 7 A.M., and so headed towards camping near the course where I could just roll out of bed and start throwing the next morning.
It was so dark when I got out there though that even as I occasionally spotted a few baskets (Click here for terminology) nearby the winding road through the park, I could not easily figure out where hole 1 was. My first loop through and I hadn’t seen a single car, tent, or camper parked anywhere. It really appeared to be empty. As a lone traveler, this came off as much more eery, than delightful. On the second loop around I found a parking lot towards the back of the park near a tee pad. I moved the cat and myself back to the camper after a long day, we ate some food, and passed out for 4ish hours excited for the sun to come up. In the brief moment between car and camper I noticed some raccoons at the base of the tree not more than 40 feet near where I parked (we all seemed equally wary and respectful of each other), but beyond that I had no idea what this park would look like or had had in store.
I had only heard about Lake Walcott State Park located in South Central Idaho 5 days prior. I found out the park is just outside of Rupert, Id and not even 15 minutes off the main route between Boise and Salt Lake City, Utah. From my prior knowledge of this general region’s environment I imagined this whole area would be nothing but one big dusty potato farm or, similar to most of Southern Idaho, would have copious sage brush on large but gentle hills.
When I stepped out of my camper at 6:45 A.M. however, my vision was filled with an expansive, beautiful, and flowing green space. There was grass on every hole, pine trees of many varying ages and sizes, deciduous trees interspersed among the pines , and bushes scattered throughout. This all came as a very happy surprise.
3 holes in, I did finally notice some people in the park. They worked for the park’s maintenance crew. Otherwise, at least to start, there was no one on this course with me. I had it completely to myself. In my 10+ years of throwing, I have played many a solo round, but I have always seen at least one other person out playing.
This time I was utterly alone, and I definitely enjoyed it.
With its plethora of tall trees providing a lot of shade on a majority of the holes, and the course being right on a lake, the temperature during the middle of July remained relatively cool even as the morning progressed. The majority of my summer plays had already proven to be in the mid-90’s by 9:30 AM. Again, I was so happy to be here.
This course had a very wide variety of shots required to play well on it, not just in style of throw, but in length as well. Lake Walcott does boast an impressive 500+ foot hole, and a number of other big shots. While there was a good number of long holes, a number of holes remained in the low 300 foot range and even one as short as 250 feet.
Speaking of the 250 foot hole (#12), this was definitely one of the shortest holes on the course, but it was also one of the most high risk. The basket is maybe 8 whole feet from the lake’s edge. What’s more, is that you’re playing with the lake on the left of the tee pad. Since I’m a right handed thrower, and the throw called for a RHBH shot (please see Common Disc Terminology Post HERE), I was really at risk of not only going out of bounds and taking a penalty stroke, but also there was a good chance I would lose my disc as well. I decided that this had too much potential disaster to not be caught on video (note, the lake is literally just past the right edge of the camera).
I got my (camera) shot set up. I grabbed my disc (a max weight Innova Wraith flaked champion plastic) and started my walk back to the tee pad. High risk shots require very sharp focus. One needs to see their shot and only that shot. Nothing else. Anything else muddies the picture, inciting failure. When I stepped onto the tee pad I saw only one shot. What I saw was a RHBH hyzer throw that gets about 22 feet off the ground and no more than 30 feet out to the side before it crashed into the chains. I didn’t see the skip into the lake when I missed. I didn’t see a pine tree 100 feet in front of me eating my disc because I let go early. I saw one and only one thing. And now all of you get to see it too (Ps its better with sound)!!!!
Clearly in my joy I kinda lost it. What a truly incredible feeling to just let go of exactly what you wanted to. I mean I’ve heard before that ace’s are just bad shots that got lucky, but when I am by myself on a new course I have a much lower concern of my overall score, and I really do try to get aces on the high risk holes. Had I missed anywhere within 5 feet of the pin I guarantee that I would have gone O.B. 100%. But I did not care, I saw what I wanted and did EXACTLY that.
And it felt soooooo good.
Not even a minute after I retrieved my bag and my now new ace disc, air raid sirens from the reservoir started going off. I still don’t know if they did that for me, a sort of collaborative celebration, or as a test, or an actual emergency, but I figured I was safe since I was above the water line. The sirens ended after a couple of minutes as I readied for hole 13 but it was still VERY surreal.
The flow of this course was absolutely amazing. It’s easily one of the best courses I have ever played in Idaho. I had almost no issues finding the tee pad for whatever hole was next. The variety of shots and shot types throughout the course was just superb. This course truly requires one to be a well rounded player to be able to shoot a good round on it. Despite a decent amount of length to the course, Lake Walcott is a very walkable course with very little elevation change. Most of those elevation changes take form in elevated greens or quick drop offs right after the tee pad, and are never more than 15 feet in overall change. Lake Walcott disc golf course offers a very nice balance of tightly wooded areas and lightly wooded areas with distinct lanes, guarded holes, and large open holes.
Situated almost exactly halfway between Salt Lake City, UT and Boise, ID it’s just under a 3 hour drive from either city. If the plan is to visit Yellowstone National Park and you fly into Boise or SLC to rent a car and drive into YNP from there, then this is a must stop course. Plus, if there is extra time available to explore, the area Lake Walcott is located in is less than an hour from Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. A really neat part of our country.
I can’t wait for my next opportunity to play out here again!