Serious disc golf course rises on the ridge


A professionally certified disc golf course has opened in Magalia on the site of an abandoned golf course that burned during the 2018 Camp Fire. The course will host a professional tournament on Oct. 23. 

The South Pines Disc Golf Course, newly certified by the Professional Disc Golf Association, is currently the only public activity in Magalia. Magalia Community Park renovated the abandoned Paradise Pines Golf Course into an 18-hole disc golf course.

Disc Golf Director Jake Bates proposed the idea of a disc golf course to Chris Rauen, executive director of Magalia Community Park, in January 2020. The course held a soft opening on Oct. 24, 2020, and a grand opening on June 18, drawing over 100 people.

Jake Bates poses for a pic inside of the Innova Disc Golf Shop on Oct. 8, 2021.

“Initially in January I was networking and [Chris] obtained my information. [Around] March we had met up and talked about what could be done. I spent April and May designing it. In June I had the proposal that I presented to the Safor Corporation,” Bates said. “By July I started to clean the course. By September, I had raised the money and began construction.”

The abandoned course burned during the Camp Fire. It contained burnt ashes and massive fallen trees everywhere. Bates said it took about two months of work to clean the detritus. It was a lengthy ordeal that consumed most of his weekdays, but volunteers helped speed up the process. 

“I had several weekends where I had lots of volunteers come out with saws, trailers and weed-eaters,” Bates said. 

This course was made possible by the help of local businesses and disc golf enthusiasts who wanted to help rebuild the ridge. All 18 holes were funded by personal sponsorships of $500 and business sponsorships that renew every year for $300.

MCP is a non-profit organization that’s leasing the land with an option to buy it from the Safor Corporation. All proceeds from the shop go toward purchasing and maintaining the property.

The window sill of the Innova Disc Golf store is lined with plaques from business and personal sponsors who support and frequent the course. The sponsorships paid for the net baskets and cement.

The course hosts weekly tournaments and random draw doubles with prizes, ranging from a cash pot, expensive spirits or pizza from Mountain Mikes. The course is lit up nightly so people can play glow rounds, with LED lights attached to the discs from dusk to midnight.

Professional Disc Golf Association approved putting disc (left) and distance driver (right).

It cost $5 per round or $12 to play all day. In general, prices of a single disc vary from $8-12, but the shop sells specialty discs that range from $12-20. Bates said the shop carries exclusive stuff that enthusiasts want.

Bates said beginners should start with two discs — a driver and a putter. There’s no need to worry about the mid-range, or left and right handed disc.

It takes about 90 minutes to play one round with two people. However, groups of three or more can expect games to last longer than two hours. The course is a three and a half-mile walk. People without discs can borrow or buy them from the Innova Disc Golf shop when paying their green fee.

The holes are switched every week and determined by the winners of the weekly Wednesday tournaments. There are 70 different arrangements, so the course will always look different. However, one thing that hasn’t changed in decades is Izzy’s Bar and Grill, located on the final basket of the course. It serves American diner food and local brews, and has TVs in the room. People can choose to sit at the bar, a table or outside on the back patio.

A view of the Magalia Community Center (left building) and Innova Disc Golf Shop (right building) from the parking lot across the street.

A gas station faces the course’s parking lot, so people can buy refreshments or snacks if they forgot to bring some for the trek around the course. There’s also a practice basket for people to warm up before venturing onto the course.

The PPGC was open for 42 years before it closed on Nov. 12, 2014. It brought people from all over the country to play golf before the 2018 Camp Fire, and now the South Pines Disc Golf Course is doing the same after the fire. The course has drawn people from Nevada, Oregon, Minnesota and Texas in the five months it’s been open.

The course will be hosting a PDGA tournament on Oct. 23. More information can be found on their Facebook page or

“We don’t have a lot of public recreation in Magalia that’s public,” Rauen said. “There’s some private organizations that have some things but this is the only one that’s been public since it was a golf course and then of course when it closed. That was a big loss for the community.” 

Rauen mentioned people who come are supporting a Campfire recovery project. 

“We’re here for the long haul, but we’re here for the rebuild and recovery of Magalia for the community, but anybody out of the community,” Rauen said. “We welcome them.” 

A look into the valley from the Butte Creek Watershed Overlook in fall on Oct. 8, 2021.

Wildcats who plan to venture up Skyway Road to visit South Pines Disc Golf Course can stop at the Butte Creek Watershed Overlook for scenic pics and a breath of fresh air. The outward fence of the overlook is filled with hundreds of locks and mementos that people have left over the years.

Melvin Bui can be reached at [email protected] or @Melvinbuii on Twitter.