Just three days after the highly anticipated disc golf course in Covington’s Devou Park officially opened, 12 of the 18 baskets were stolen overnight, with another severely damaged.
Covington Parks & Recreation Manager Ben Oldiges, along with Covington Communications Director Dan Hassert, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Devou Park stone shelter, where they talked about the thefts and what the next steps are for the disc golf course.
“We woke up this morning and discovered that someone, through the night, had basically stolen 12 of what they call the whole basket, and destroyed a 13th one,” Hassert said.
According to Hassert, the approximate worth of the equipment stolen is between $5,000 and $6,000.
“This is not a simple act of vandalism,” Hassert said. “Based on the size, they’re (baskets) around six feet tall and three feet around. This requires at least one truck, a big truck, two trucks or a trailer. We saw where they had driven off the road through the woods to get to these and destroyed or damaged some of the trees so this is a pretty big deal.”
None of the baskets located near residential homes were touched, leading Hassert and Oldiges to believe the theft was a coordinated effort.
“There was a sleeve that was embedded in concrete into the ground,” Oldiges said when describing the method of how the perpetrators committed the theft. “The basket then slid into the sleeve, then a normal standard padlock would fasten it into that sleeve. You would need pretty sizable bolt cutters to come through and cut those bolts.”
The Covington Police are investigating the theft. Police Chief Brian Valenti said the perpetrators could face a class D felony theft charge which carries a sentence of one to five years in prison.
“Our investigators are working on it and they’re going to do the things that investigators do,” Valenti said. “We’ve got a pretty good team of investigators that are working on this.”
Oldiges described the disc golf course as a massive hit with the public, and noted there were approximately 700 playthroughs since the course opened on Saturday.
“It meant a lot to a lot of people,” Oldiges said. “Dr. Ryan Freibert put in a lot of hard hours into this course to really make it something special. A lot of agencies within the city contributed hours, outside of the city contributed hours, and gave effort to help us get Covington’s first disc golf course up and running. It really is just a shame. We’re all just really upset.”
Covington’s Parks & Recreation Department plans on acquiring and installing temporary baskets so disc golfers can continue to play.
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The 18-hole course, with picturesque views of Cincinnati, is open from dawn until dusk and does not require registration. The first hole is located up the hill from the Stone Shelter at the intersection of Montague Road and Golfview Drive.
Disc golf involves players throwing different discs toward a series of typically metal baskets, with the idea being to complete an entire course in the fewest possible throws. The game is scored similarly to traditional golf, and even the discs can be referred to as putters or drivers, depending on the objective of the player, as in traditional golf.
The sport has exploded in popularity since 2020. The Professional Disc Golf Association estimates more than a million people regularly play the sport nationwide. In Kentucky, there were 1,748 registered PDGA members in 2021. The state is home to 132 disc courses.
Devou Park joined the array of disc golf courses in Northern Kentucky such as England Idlewild Park in Boone County and A.J. Jolly Park in Campbell County.