An 18-hole disc golf course at Clayton Homes headquarters in Alcoa will be open to the public through a unique private-public partnership.
The Claytons, which is set to open in mid-October, will be leased to the city of Alcoa and maintained by the Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation Commission.
“This is a great partnership for Clayton, the City of Alcoa and Parks and Rec,” said Parks and Rec Executive Director Joe Huff, noting that a disc golf course and a dog park are Parks and Rec’s two most frequent requests. “We’ve been interested in trying to get a disc golf course for about eight years.”
Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson agreed, noting budgetary constraints had put building a disc golf course on the back burner.
“This was a wonderful opportunity presented to us by Clayton, to allow a first-class disc golf course to be constructed without using taxpayer money,” he said, noting the cost to the city will be negligible. “All we have to do is provide a little maintenance of effort for upkeep.”
The disc golf course was the idea of Clayton Homes President and CEO Kevin Clayton, who plays the game, said David Jordan, vice president of corporate services for Clayton.
“We’ve got a large campus here — over 240 acres — and we thought it would be a good opportunity to do something nice so our employees could enjoy it,” Jordan said, noting Clayton’s wellness program. “This also meshes with retail development at (State Route) 33 and Clayton Road and makes it a destination on this end of the county.”
Disc golf course designer/landscape architect Daniel Boutté of Boutté Design added that the course is close enough to Knoxville to fit into that disc golf community — which hosts some of the best disc golf tournaments, he said — but also will attract new players to the game.
“We hope to eventually have some tournaments here, probably in the spring of 2016,” Huff said. “It will be a boon for the local economy.”
A rare course
“Destination,” Boutté said, perfectly sums up The Claytons.
The 18-hole disc golf course covers about 120 acres, making it larger than the average disc golf course, he noted. It has nine wooded holes and nine open holes as well as several unique features, including two baskets — a short one and a long one — at each hole to accommodate all levels of play.
For example, the short basket at Hole 1 is 235 feet from the tee while the long basket is 416 feet away.
“It is a rare thing for courses to have permanent long and short targets,” explained Boutté, who has designed 16 disc golf courses. “Traditionally a basket is moved.”
But that’s not the only thing that makes The Claytons special. It also is the only course that has artificial turf on top of concrete pads at its tees, which Boutté calls a “win-win.”
Other examples of the care taken in designing and installing the course include leveling greens in the woods so that discs are less likely to roll back down the hills, installing steps where needed, and maintaining three levels of grass — for rough, medium and short fairways — on the open holes.
“It is rare to do some of the things that were done here,” said Boutté, who has been playing disc golf for 27 years, having started when he was 5 with his father. “This is next-level golf. We really are embracing what ball golf has done. Usually the dollars aren’t there.”
‘Tee of tomorrow’
Each decision was made to embrace both aesthetics and permanency, Boutté said.
“We already have had people from out of town come to throw on the tees,” he noted. “And that’s just through word of mouth.”
Boutté also repurposed items found on the Clayton property, such as boulders and concrete piers from a previous structure, to give The Claytons character.
“Every hole has something attractive,” he said.
Hole 18, for example, is “the quintessential tee of tomorrow,” Boutté said. Players must throw over the creek, and spectators can view the long basket from an amphitheater made of bridge trestles found in the woods on the property.
“This is the perfect finishing hole,” Boutté said.
Meanwhile, Jordan noted that features such as the amphitheater will be duel purpose and can be used not only by disc golf enthusiasts and Clayton employees, but also by students at the neighboring Clayton-Bradley Academy.
Opens in October
The Claytons is expected to open in mid-October and will be open daylight to dusk like other public parks, Huff said. There will be a dedicated parking lot just for the disc golf course, Jordan added.
Unlike ball golf, there are no tee times in disc golf — and no golf carts.
“You bring your own (equipment), show up and play,” Boutté explained, noting the course does not have to be played in order. “Employees could probably play the front nine on their lunch break.”
To learn more about disc golf, visit www.discgolf.com.