calgary-treasure-richardson-her-son-kai-and-brother-in-law1It’s 27 acres of rolling hills dotted with colourful wildflowers, thick bushes, tall grasses and clusters of aspen trees.

As Treasure Richardson scans the horizon that also offers a view of the Rocky Mountains and nearby Stoney Trail, she can’t help but smile and tear up all at once.

“I get chills just being here,” says the 45-year-old mom of two. “I knew when Dave died that I had to do something profound to honour him, to leave him a legacy.”

That legacy, as Richardson, her brother-in-law Todd Richardson and her son Kai show me on Thursday morning, is a place that will soon be enjoyed by all Calgarians.

The David Richardson Memorial Disc Golf Park in the community of Royal Oak will be an 18-hole, 66-par course, part of the 95 per cent Rotary/Mattamy Greenway. The greenway is a Parks Foundation Calgary initiative, 90 per cent completed, that encompasses 138-kilometres of pathways, urban parks, playgrounds and preserved wetlands encircling the entire city of Calgary.

According to Ron “Rudy” Falconer, also on hand Thursday at the park, the newly christened disc golf park is a much-needed one for Calgary’s disc golf lovers.

“There are more than 2,000 people in town who play disc golf regularly,” says Falconer, the past president of the Calgary Disc Golf Club. “I think by 2018 we could even host the nationals here.”

Indeed, the sport of disc golf has been growing in recent years, for a number of good reasons. “You don’t need tee times and it costs nothing to play except for the $20 disc,” says Falconer. “People of all ages can do it and you can also play year-round.”

For those unfamiliar with the sport, disc golf is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs competitors use flying discs. They throw their golf disc from a tee area to a target that serves as the hole (for much better detailed info, go to the website of the Professional Disc Golf Association, pdga.com). Bushes, trees and other terrain changes add challenging obstacles as players make their way from hole to hole.

There are thousands of disc golf courses across North America, with four in Calgary and one in Canmore.

Still, creating one in memory of her husband is a dream come true for Treasure Richardson. “It’s just perfect for Dave,” she says of her husband. “He’ll be so proud we’re giving back to the community in his name.”

The dream of creating such an accessible public space, however, was one borne out of a nightmare.

Last August, Treasure, her husband and friends were attending a wedding on Vancouver Island, staying at a place on Shawnigan Lake. The group went for a moonlight swim after the wedding. Moments before they got out of the water, David Richardson was joking with one of his friends.

“We got out of the water and he just wasn’t there,” she says. Somehow, her 42-year-old husband had drowned in those few moments.

“They told us it was a freak accident,” says Treasure, her voice cracking at the memory. “It was the most magical day, until it was the worst.”

Her husband had some heart issues, says Treasure, but other than that he was in good physical condition. “He was a strong swimmer,” Todd Richardson, the general manager of Lexus of Royal Oak, says of his brother. “It was a big shock.”

Among his many pursuits, David, who was dealer principal at Charlesglen Toyota Scion, had in recent years become an avid disc golf player. “For a while I was in Edmonton and he was in Calgary,” says Treasure. “He kept busy by playing four or five nights a week.”

A chance meeting last fall with Myrna Dube, CEO of Parks Foundation Calgary, got the ball rolling on Treasure’s dream for a disc golf park in her husband’s name. The most suitable potential site for such a place just happened to be a stone’s throw from the car dealership where her husband worked. “It was meant to be,” says Treasure.

The Richardson family and their supporters have committed to one-third of the disc golf park’s  $700,000 cost, with the Parks Foundation Calgary currently fundraising the rest with the help of several community partners (for more info, go to parksfdn.com).

“I sent it out to the universe … and here we are, ready to break ground,” says Treasure Richardson with a smile. “I know he’s smiling down at this little piece of heaven here on earth and I’m so proud that we’re able to do it.”

vfortney@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/valfortney