Kishwaukee Valley Wonderers and Genoa partner for disc golf course: ‘You do it and they will come’

New disc golf course at Genoa park ready and waiting ahead of Genoa Volksfest, set for Sept. 9 - 11

Brian Wallace, with the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers, makes his first throw of the day Thursday, Sept. 2, 2022, at the new River Run Disc Golf Course in David Carroll Memorial Park in Genoa.

GENOA – River Run Disc Golf, a new, nine-hole course is ready for action at David Carroll Memorial Citizens Park in Genoa thanks to efforts by the Kishwaukee Valley Wonderers and the Genoa Public Works Department.

The course is only four weeks old, but a hole-in-one has already been recorded on the second hole. Kevin Schweitzer, who picked up disc golf less than a year ago, was playing the course with his son when he managed the feat. Humbly, he claimed no skill was involved: “It was all luck,” he said.

“I threw it with my son, and he threw a perfect throw,” said Schweitzer. “And as any father would try to do, try to out do your son, and I threw a terrible throw but it hit a tree, banked off and went into the basket, which was super satisfying.”

After the hole-in-one, Schweitzer said he ended up with the worst round he’s ever had at the new course.

“But I did get a hole-in-one that day,” said Schweitzer. “And he [Schweitzer’s son] hasn’t gotten one yet. And I never will again.”

Janice Melton, Genoa’s director of public works, said she was approached by Brian Wallace, vice president of the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers – a family-friendly group that promotes making fitness fun – about the concept of installing a disc golf course last year.

“I’ve never played disc golf myself but I did like the idea of bringing something like that to Genoa,” said Melton. “I had no idea it was so popular. But Brian told me, ‘You do it and they will come.’ And they did.”

Wallace said Melton told him last year the Public Works Department agreed to clear out space for the disc golf course because the public works crews had already planned to clean the forest area because it was filled with dead trees. Wallace and the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers just needed to find sponsors to pay for the nine baskets. The baskets are what a disc golfer aims to throw their frisbee into – in as few attempts as possible, throughout the course.

“At Volks Fest last year we floated the idea,” Wallace said. “I had nine takers from town saying ‘Yes, I want to buy a hole’ and we went out and bought the baskets over the winter.”

Wallace, however, said the city of Genoa’s Public Works Department is the real reason the course was created.

Over the winter, when it wasn’t snowing, public works department came out and removed invasive, dead or dying trees from David Carroll Memorial Citizens Park. Melton said the department usually does invasive species control in the winter time, which aligned with efforts necessary to clear fairways for the golf course. No large, healthy-appearing trees were chopped for this venture.

“My guys did one heck of a job – guys and gals – removing a lot of the deadfall,” Melton said. “We cut it up, and a lot of it we brought forward so the general public was able to take it away because that is the community’s woods.”

The amenity made its debut last month and Melton said the course has already received some rave reviews.

The Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers was created more than eight years ago to promote noncompetitive walking and sports. The organization’s efforts culminate each year in Volks Fest, which is a three-day ordeal with events held by the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce, the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers and others. The event this year runs from Sept. 9 through 11.

On Friday, the Genoa Chamber of Commerce and the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers will present Lucha Libre wrestling from 7 to 10 p.m. The Mexican wrestling group will feature five bouts that are being billed as high-flying, hard-hitting matches. Adult tickets cost $12, tickets for children five through 12-years-old are $8 and entry for kids younger than age 5 is free.

On Saturday, the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers host the seventh annual Volksmarch 6K/10K Fun and Fitness Walk. It’s a free event meant to spur the public to come out and enjoy walking paths along the Kishwaukee river and throughout Genoa. The public is encouraged to start the people’s march, which is what volksmarch means in German, between 8 and 11 a.m. on Sept. 10 from David Carroll Memorial Citizens Park.

Later in the day is the Biergarten Craft Beer and Wine Festival. According to genoavolksfest.org, craft beer brewers and wineries from within 60 miles of Genoa will be showcasing their best offerings. General Admission tickets cost $30 and VIP tickets, which grant ticket-holders early access to the festival, are $55. The Lenny’s, a cover band with a repertoire spanning five decades will play in conjunction with the adult beverage event.

On Sunday, more than 2,000 rubber ducks will compete in the Great Genoa Duck Race at 1 p.m. from the same location. Those looking to participate in the race can purchase a duck though the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce, or at Tobinson’s Ace Hardware, Resource Bank, Northern Illinois Rehab, Heartland Bank, and First Midwest Bank. The owner of the winning duck will receive $500.

During all of the events this weekend, Schweitzer and Wallace said they hope people take advantage of the disc golf course directly adjacent to the festivities. Wallace said Saturday’s beer and wine festival presents an opportunity for people to play disc golf while drinking their preferred beverage of choice.

Wallace also hopes to use the fest to garner support and sponsors to help the course continue to grow. To do that, the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers are selling T-shirts and stickers, with all profits going to further development of the newest disc golf course DeKalb County. The T-shirts cost $20 and the stickers are $5.

“We hope on the ninth, tenth and eleventh we tell everybody at Volksfest, you know, ‘Hey, put your money in this,’” Wallace said.

Organizers said they hope to eventually develop the 9-hole course into a full 18-hole experience.

Melton said she thinks a back nine is definitely a possibility, but she wants to see the first nine holes become impeccable first.

“We want to perfect this first before moving forward again. I’m going to have to pay attention to my other wooded areas for invasive species control this year, and then we can go back and put in some work on another nine somewhere,” Melton said. “Anything’s possible, it’s just a matter of time, not so much even money, it’s just the time.”

In the meantime, the course is open for the public to enjoy for free.

Both Wallace and Schweitzer agreed that, compared to the price point of regular golf, playing for free makes it a lot easier to not be frustrated by a bad throw. While playing a round on Sept. 1 Wallace threw his first birdie on the all par-three course.

“It was awesome,” Wallace said, “it shows that I’ve improved, improved drastically. I think the hole-in-one is what’s really impressive.”

Camden Lazenby

Camden Lazenby

Camden Lazenby covers DeKalb County news for the Daily Chronicle.