Professional Disc Golfer and La Grande native Zoe AnDyke’s has dreamed of being able to play disc golf on a course at Morgan Lake.
That dream was played out Saturday, and may be one step closer to a permanent reality.
AnDyke was among more than 90 disc golfers, from recreational players to professionals, to take part in Grande Ronde Open II, which was played Saturday at Morgan Lake and Sunday at Eastern Oregon University.
“The fact that there’s a disc golf tournament in my hometown blows me away,” she said. “It’s my heart’s desire. I played at Morgan Lake, which is my true back yard. My parents live up there.”
Organizers of Grande Ronde Open II set up a temporary 20-hole course at Morgan Lake to offset the 20 holes that were played at EOU.
Saturday, in fact was the third day the new layout was played, according to Tournament Director Alex Duffy.
The contrasts between the courses were vast. The course at Morgan Lake was 8,200 feet in length, close to triple that of EOU’s 2,900 feet. Yet the two had similar scores to par — Morgan Lake was a par-68 course, EOU par-62.
“Morgan Lake was extreme, to say the least,” said professional disc golfer Dustin Keegan, of Eugene. “It was nothing like I’ve ever played before. It’s beautiful, a lot of the shots were fun to throw. The minute I saw it I knew I was going to play well. It was a good place for my style of game.”
The course not only had length, but, as AnDyke put it, required “a lot of straight shots (and) a lot of technical golf through the woods.”
“Morgan Lake was basically marathon golf,” said Tri Cities, Washington disc golfer Donny Ballew. “You had to be competitive for a long time. It was a 5-1/2-hour round for me.”
One additional challenge presented by the Morgan Lake course was a need for grooming, as Ballew put it, because of its temporary status. The course didn’t have tee pads, had some tough terrain and had a lot of cheatgrass.
But those were items Duffy said they knew would be brought up given the current state.
“It needs development,” he said.
Duffy added, though, that there was a lot of positive feedback on the course.
“Everyone was thrilled with the layout (and) the wooded aspect of the course. There aren’t courses like this anywhere close (to La Grande),” he said.
Even the professional golfers on hand expressed an appreciation for the course and what it could become with some
“The shots are awesome. The holes were fine lengthwise,” Keegan said. “There were just no tee pads...But with a little manicure up there and a little love, maybe a slight redesign of some holes, it’s going to be a world class place to play disc golf.”
Ballew shared a similar view.
“It’s a little more prehistoric, but I see Morgan Lake being a top-level course once tee pads get put in,” he said.
For Kennewick, Washington disc golfer David Morse, playing Morgan Lake, which he called a tough course, was part of the draw.
He’s also believes the tournament has a bright future.
“It’s got the potential to be a big tournament in Eastern Oregon, for sure,” Morse said.
As for AnDyke, she was encouraged by what she saw over the weekend and also optimistic about the future of not only the new course but of the tournament.
“With what we do being hooked up with our sponsors, and then our connection with Oregon State Parks and other entities, we are going to do everything we can to help push and help see that course grow,” she said.