Disc golf enthusiast helps keep the sport alive in Big Sky
It may not be 150 acres of perfectly maintained turf, but the disc golf course at Big Sky Community Park needs maintenance to keep it up to snuff. And it takes a volunteer to step up to the plate to make that happen.
Enter Brent Jacobs.
He can be found most Mondays out on the course he loves, on the hillside above the park trimming overgrown grass, trees and sage, checking up on baskets and doing all the other little tasks it takes to keep the community course functioning well for league players and casual users alike.
Jacobs, who grew up in Billings and now lives in Bozeman, took over organizing Big Sky’s disc golf league after the previous volunteer moved away. He’s been playing the Community Park course since it opened, around 10 years ago. His passion for the sport began back in Billings at Pioneer Park, and when he returned after college, seeing the sport had died a little, joined with friends to start a new club, running leagues, tournaments and even working with the city to get a new course installed.
“I think I get it from my mom,” he said, gathering up his bucket of flags and trimmers in the parking lot near the course. “She’s always had me out volunteering since I could walk. And this is easy since I’m doing it for something I love anyway.”
Beyond lending time to his favorite sport Jacobs has worked with Habitat for Humanity, United Way and a number of other Billings organizations.
So, when the need arose for a new disc golf course caretaker and league and tournament organizer, Jacobs didn’t hesitate to take it on. He lives in Bozeman, but like many players from the area he has no issues making the commute, especially since the disc golf course at Bohart Ranch is no longer around following the sale and re-envisioning of the property now known as Crosscut Mountain Sports.
Most Mondays Jacobs said he has a buddy or two who come help with maintenance work, which often involves clearing and expanding greens, making it easier to find discs and sprucing up the aesthetics. Pins are sometimes moved to keep the course fresh and balanced, but Jacobs said he doesn’t mess with the layout much since players seem to enjoy it the way it is.
League play happens every Tuesday, bringing out 15 to 30 or so players to compete.
“I was actually shocked at the turnout,” Jacobs said. “Knowing not everyone is keen on organized disc golf, the showing has been amazing.” Even with the Bozeman contingency he said he tends to see more locals joining in. “But more and more Bozeman people are finding out. It’s turned out better than I could have hoped.”
Jacobs has played more than 200 courses around the country, and while Big Sky’s course might not offer the best disc golf conditions he’s seen, it’s definitely still one of his favorites.
“From the standpoint of testing different skills, keeping it interesting and entertaining as you play through, the elevation changes, the cool canyon shots, and the pro tee boxes that add even more elevation and challenge,” he said, looking up as a player meandered through the field looking for a lost disc. “There’s a lot to love.”
There are challenges with the course—Jacobs said since it was designed 10 or so years ago the sport has evolved, and it’s a bit on the shorter side. Equipment is also starting to show signs of wear and tear, and he hopes to raise some money through tournaments to replace targets. He also said he’d like to bring larger tournaments to the course—noting a recent tournament in Troy that brought in more than 200 competitors. “There’s a lot of potential here.”
An event is coming up. Headwaters Disc Golf of Bozeman is awarded one point series tournament annually—usually held at Bohart Ranch. With that venue off the table, Big Sky’s course will hold the event on Aug. 25. It’s part of the greater Montana tournament series, sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association.
An end of the season league event is also being planned; Jacobs is deciding how to structure it now, and he’s also planning a fall tournament for locals.
“People can take it as seriously as they want to,” Jacobs said. “It’s as much fun as you’d like to have. And that’s how I try to keep the league, to keep it more appealing to locals and Bozeman people, as well as random travelers that come through.”
Interested in playing league night? Just show up at around 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday night ready to play. It’s $3 per player. Competitors can also throw $2 into an “ace pot.” Those who opt to pay the extra $2, and who also manage to throw a hole in one, win the pot. It’s been hit twice this summer, once for $120 and once for $160.
“Those guys were totally jacked,” Jacobs recalled. “And it’s fun to see, because that’s the point of doing it —to get people excited about coming out.”