COVINGTON, Ky. – A Covington disc golf course has been vandalized for the third time since it opened last October. It will be the third time thousands of dollars will need to be spent to repair the damage. The last instance occurred in January.
Ryan Freibert is a professional disc golfer, president of the Greater Cincinnati Disc Golf Association and designer of the Devou Park Disc Golf Course.
Since the course opened in Oct. 2022, Freibert has seen it have great success. But he and the course have also experienced gut punch after gut punch.
“It’s really been a rollercoaster. We went from having this amazing grand opening ceremony, followed by a couple thousand rounds played on the course. Then it gets vandalized, destroyed,” he said.
“And then the community rallies together. We again have tons of utilization, tons of positive reviews. And then a second vandalism event occurs. The parks and city works crew have been tremendous to work with throughout this entire process, recouping the vandalism efforts. And they get it back up and running. And again, people are still playing it, even though these baskets are bent, mangled, broken,” Freibert explained.
On the morning of April 1, Freibert received a text that the course’s baskets had been vandalized yet again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.
“This last time is just like, why? What’s the motive? What’s the reason? What’s the story? Because this is just like pure vitriol and hatred,” he said.
The chains on 14 of the baskets appeared to have been cut off with bolt cutters. Again, Freibert said he can’t imagine why.
“There’s not been a public outcry. There’s not been public pushback on this course,” he said. “And so why at this point in time is this absolutely unprecedented thing in the history of disc golf happening here at Devou Park?”
Freibert estimated it will take at least $7,000 to replace the chains before accounting for labor.
They’re technically still playable, but he doesn’t recommend it, as play is neither as effective nor enjoyable without the chains that trap the disc and allow it to fall into the basket.
“You got to be really, really good to get the disc in the basket,” he said.
In a statement, the city of Covington said, “The city is working to fix the damage and to track down the criminal(s) responsible for the crimes, which are felonies. Given the recurrence of the vandalism against not just the disc golf course but other features and areas of this over 700-acre park, the City and various Devou Park entities will continue ramping up security measures and discussing even more steps that can be taken.”
“I don’t see how you can look at these three events and think they’re not the exact same person, or exact same group of people that are doing it,” Freibert said.
One might think after the third instance of this happening that Freibert would be ready to give up on the course he designed. But he says there’s no way that’s happening.
“This course has been so well received. And the community loves it. People that have played from out-of-town love it. I mean, it’s going to stay,” he said.
As for whoever’s responsible, he has a message.
“If you do this again, you’re going to get caught, because there are plans in place. You are going to get caught. And you are going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law. And I hope that’s how it goes down, because you’re going to pay,” he said.
The Greater Cincinnati Disc Golf Association has already raised a little more than $3,000, which it is planning to donate to Devou Park to help replace the baskets.
Covington Police are investigating, and are seeking witnesses and camera footage from neighbors who might have caught something.
According to the city, anyone who sees anything or anybody suspicious, especially after dark, when nobody is supposed to be in the park, should call Covington Police at (859) 292-2234. If it’s a more urgent matter, they can call 911 or Kenton County dispatch at (859) 356-3191.