Boulder Women’s Disc Golf Club Creates Legacy, Inspiring Longmont Players
Ali Dorato sipped a cup of coffee at a cafe in Longmont, but it wasn’t the caffeine that perked her up this Thursday afternoon – she was talking about the women’s disc golf community she helped build.
“Obviously I’m a little excited about this,” Dorato said. “It’s definitely something that thrills me. I start to shine when I talk about it.
Dorato, a Denver-based payroll compliance analyst and advanced disc golf player, is the founder of Boulder Ladies Disc Golf. Dorato started playing disc golf as a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder and quickly noticed that something was missing in the sport: women.
In an effort to promote and encourage women to play the sport, she founded the Boulder Ladies Disc Golf Club in 2017. The club meets once a week at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays at Valmont Disc Park in Boulder.
Dorato’s work to create a women’s disc golf club in Boulder created a ripple effect. A member of the Boulder Club who wanted to make disc golf accessible to Longmont women followed Dorato’s lead and started the Ladies of Longs Peak Disc Golf Club.
“I want (women) to feel like they can play too,” Dorato said. “I just want women to find disc golf fun on their own terms and as an added bonus you can make a group of friends.”
There’s a reason Dorato thinks fewer women are involved in sports.
“Like golf, it’s a bit of a boys’ club,” said Dorato. “The intimidation factor is right there. When I started I started with a few of my guy friends when I was in college. Naturally, they could just throw farther than me and I just didn’t know the mechanics to improve my game, so I was frustrated and didn’t really want to play.
Since the club was founded over four years ago, Dorato, a resident of Boulder, has seen what she has cultivated grow. The club started out as a group of four women and has since grown into a nucleus of around 25 people.
Members who join Dorato on Monday have a variety of skill levels, from pro-level players to those just learning to throw a discus.
For Karen Sattler, pro player and member of the Boulder Club, disc golf has always called her. When she was an engineering student at Colorado State University at Fort Collins in the mid-1980s, she heard the continuous “clicking” of records hitting the tone poles on the course just outside her dorm window. Following her curiosity, she decided to get into sport.
“For me, it’s always been something that I just love,” Sattler said. “It represented sunshine, happiness, nice people and a walk in the park.”
Sattler put disc golf aside when she moved to Germany to complete her college education. When she arrived in Boulder a year later, she had professional and personal responsibilities that kept her from thinking too much about disc golf. But in 2010, she stumbled upon a bag of records in her closet and knew she had to get back on track.
Sattler started playing at Harlow Platts Community Park, 1360 Gillaspie Drive in Boulder. Like Dorato, Sattler noticed how rare it was to see a woman playing disc golf.
“It was a big deal like, ‘Oh my God, there’s a lady! It was like seeing a white elephant or something, like an anomaly, “Look, look!” Sattler said.
It was in disc golf in Valmont that Sattler and Dorato first connected in 2015.
Disc golf is similar to golf in that the players want the fewest strokes. Players try to throw a frisbee disc from a T-shirt into a basket, using the fewest throws or punches. While the sport can be frustrating for the novice player at first, Sattler said the club are helping people get past that. The women encourage each other and exchange tips and tricks.
“For me, it’s the diggity bomb to be able to play golf with a group of rad ladies here where I live,” said Sattler.
Emily Martens, of Longmont, was one of the first four members of the Boulder Ladies Disc Golf Club. In January 2020, Martens launched the Ladies of Longs Peak Disc Golf Club to give the women of Longmont a chance to get involved in the sport.
“It’s definitely a legacy from Ali Dorato and just trying to get more women involved in disc golf,” Martens said. “I think it’s important to involve women in everything, especially when you talk about athletics and things dominated by men. I always joke that there are 150 guys per woman here. It’s really nice to have that sense of community among women.
The Longmont Club has approximately 12-14 core members and meets once a month. Club members play at Loomiller Park and Clark Centennial Community Park.
Just as she is working on her skills as a disc golf player, Dorato is always looking for opportunities to develop the club. She keeps a stack of cards close at hand. The cards bear the club name, a QR code and an email address. Dorato leaves cards wherever she can and when she sees a woman on a disc golf course she is sure to show up and leave them a card.
To recognize her work in building the club and inspiring women to join the sport, Dorato was the first recipient of the Spirit of Rocky Mountain Women’s Award – an Ambassador of Sport award. She received the award on behalf of the female disc golf community at a disc golf championship in August at Purple Park in Superior.
“It was pretty special for me,” Dorato said. “I was quite moved when I was presented with the award. I wasn’t expecting it, and we obviously don’t do it for recognition, but having that little moment of “we see you and love the work you do”, it meant a lot. “
Dorato encouraged other women to join the sport. To learn more about a membership, people can visit the group’s Facebook page or email Dorato at [email protected] Those interested in joining the Longmont Club can visit the group’s Facebook page to learn more or email Martens at [email protected]
“I find so much joy in disc golf and in the community and friends that I have met through disc golf, I want other people to experience it as well. And I just want more women to play this sport, ”Dorato said. “I want more women to play because it would be good for all of us.”