The sounds of discs hitting the basket and the smell of burgers filled the air at Sandy Beach Picnic Shelter on Douglas Island Saturday afternoon.
The Juneau Disc Golf Club and the Pioneers of Alaska organization teamed up to celebrate the annual Pioneers of Alaska Picnic and the grand opening of the Treadwell Pitch and Putt Dicsc Golf Course.
The picnic shelter is just a short walk from the beginning of the course which plays through and around the Treadwell Mine ruins. The nine-hole course is now open to the public, and anyone is welcome to play, said Russel Sandstrom, the club’s self-proclaimed “senior disc nerd.”
“We’re really glad to be out here and to see the club growing,” Sandstrom said. “The new course gives us a little more formal status for our bigger events and especially to attract more people to the area.”
The effort to create a course came largely from the club wanting to create a more easily accessible course for families and people with mobility issues. The club, founded more than 20 years ago, now consists of around 40 active members across the Juneau area and recently became a nonprofit.
Sandstrom said, for now, the course remains temporary for the next year to serve as a trial run to see how much traffic it brings in, and to keep the vegetation down so people can see the ruins more easily.
Ricky Deising, a Pioneers of Alaska member, said he is excited to continue playing disc golf in the future after trying the sport Saturday for the first time.
“You’re going to see me leave and go buy some discs and come back here tomorrow to play,” Deising said, laughing.
The two groups came together for the picnic and a round of disc golf to share each other’s company and to mingle the younger members of Juneau Disc Golf Club with the much older Pioneers of Alaska organization said Dorene Lorenz, the women’s president of the Pioneers of Alaska’s Igloo No. 6. She said the organization hopes to bring in more younger members of the Juneau community to continue the organization’s work for years to come.
“Our organization has been aging. So we try to get our members together with new people who are at an appropriate age,” Lorenz said. “We’re trying to engage in the community in meaningful ways, and trying to attract younger people who are mission-minded.”
The Pioneers of Alaska, which was founded more than 100 years ago, is a philanthropic organization that works to preserve Alaska history across the state and promotes the best interests of Alaskans, Lorenz said.
“We’re a bunch of do-gooders, we basically try to make life better for all of Alaska,” she said.
Lorenz said she is excited to have both groups come together for the picnic, as it’s the second time the group has celebrated since the beginning of the pandemic. Now, she said it’s great to see the groups come together to enjoy each other’s company and the new course that plays around the historic sight.
“We want to preserve our history, and make it a new history,” “The new course is great — when you go through it, you learn about the history of Treadwell Mine, and helps keep those relics accessible.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.