Design starts on new Carly’s Playground

Group aims to set up disc golf course at Silver Lake park
By CAROL THOMPSON | Apr 2, 2016

TRAVERSE CITY — Todd Lewis knows he can’t right the wrongdoing that ended his daughter’s life, but he hopes he can help create a pastime for isolated people who need a healthy hobby.

“What’s the most good I could make come out of this?” he said.

Lewis’ daughter Carly was 16 in 2011 when she was killed in Traverse City. Robert Jensen Schwander, who was sentenced to prison for killing her, was in a dark place, Lewis said.

Lewis launched Carly’s Playground in her honor. The organization is dedicated to building disc golf courses in the Grand Traverse area that could provide a social, outdoor activity for people who may be in that dark place, Lewis said. Maybe the sport could change the direction of someone’s life.

“We don’t know where that pond ripple lands,” he said.

Lewis believes he found a new home for Carly’s Playground at the Silver Lake Recreation Area in Garfield Township. The original Carly’s Playground was removed from Mt. Holiday nonprofit recreation area last year.

Lewis and township Supervisor Chuck Korn signed an agreement in February to have Carly’s Playground add more disc golf baskets to the existing course at the Silver Lake park, oversee construction and operate a course.

Lewis said the agreement isn’t final, but he started designing additions to the course.

The park’s disc golf course was built as an Eagle Scout project, said Valarie Handy, chairwoman of Garfield Township’s Parks and Recreation Commission. It’s laid out in a back-and-forth setup that sometimes means players toss discs at each other.

“We have had a couple comments that if it was laid out differently then the disc golf groups that are here in town would be interested in doing tournaments there,” Handy said.

The Silver Lake course is best in springtime, said disc golf player Brady Fagan. Snow melts early on the largely sunbathed course, but grass grows tall by mid-summer and makes it hard to find discs.

Fagan said he knows Lewis and trusts him to design a good course in a small space.

“That’d be a great thing for that park,” he said. “There’s definitely the interest there and there’s not very many courses in that area.”

Lewis said he hopes to have 18 holes suited for amateur and professional players with a driving range and putting basket.

“We’ll make it very nice,” he said.

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