Behind the Scenes: Meet the Owners of SKOL Ranch

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Origin Stories | 0 comments

Gary & Kristi Etter SKOL Ranch, meet the owners

Hi there! We’re the owners of SKOL Ranch, where life’s journey took us on unexpected twists and turns, leading us to a place we never could have imagined. I’m thrilled to share our story with you; our’s is a testament to the power of fate, resilience, and the pursuit of a life by design.

Growing up in the small town of Newton, Iowa, my husband and I unknowingly lived parallel lives. We navigated the same small, close-knit community, attending the same high school and sharing a few mutual friends. Yet, our paths never crossed until one fateful evening in 2012 when chance brought us together at a local watering hole.

As if the universe had been orchestrating our meeting all along, we collided into each other’s lives (literally and figuratively, as he nearly ran me over with his hands full of shots), and little did we know, it was the start of an incredible journey.

We’re the Owners of SKOL Ranch

Within the span of six months, we found ourselves engaged, and a year later, we joyfully exchanged vows on the deck of a small pond in Iowa, embarking on a new chapter together. Drawn by the allure of fresh opportunities, we made the bold decision to relocate to Minnesota, leaving behind the familiar comforts of our Iowa hometown. This leap of faith was driven by my pursuit of a demanding role as the IT Manager for the City of Eden Prairie—a position that would test my skills and push me to new heights.

As a lifelong Vikings fan and 16 year season ticket holder, it didn’t take my husband long to assimilate with an elite fan group, the VWO, and we spent the next several years morphing into our Super-fan Alter Egos, “Sir and Lady Archer,” every game day.

Etter, Sir and Lady Archer, VWO

While my career kept me busy, my husband, Gary, faced a different battle. Twenty-five years of laborious work in factories had left his body weary and worn. Conditions like spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and a failing cervical neck fusion were constant companions, plaguing him with relentless pain. To cope, he relied on heavy doses of opiates and a cocktail of other prescribed medications, an all-too-common narrative in a world grappling with pain management.

Westward Bound

But in 2016, we decided it was time to reclaim control over our lives, to chart a new course toward wellness and fulfillment. We set our sights on a fresh start, seeking solace in the vibrant city of Denver before embarking on a quest for a property that would become our haven. And as fate would have it, our journey led us to an unexpected love affair—with disc golf.

SKOL Ranch became our refuge, our sanctuary amidst life’s unpredictable terrain. Nestled within the embrace of nature, it offered us the chance to reconnect with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. The rolling hills and sprawling greens of this extraordinary landscape awakened a newfound passion within us, sharing our love of this highly underrated sport.

Here, in this place we call home, we found ourselves captivated by the serenity of a life by design. SKOL Ranch became a sanctuary not only for us but also for the dreams we dared to pursue. It became a place where our spirits soared, where Gary’s pain subsided, and where we embraced the healing power of nature. And as we immersed ourselves in the captivating world of disc golf, we discovered an unexpected community—a tapestry of kindred souls, united by a shared love for the game and a zest for life.

Welcome to a place where destinies intertwine, where dreams take flight, and where the pursuit of happiness knows no bounds. This is our story, and we’re thrilled to have you as part of it. Let’s embark on this extraordinary adventure together.

A Passion for Disc Golf

Gary’s Passion for Disc Golf Started It All

They say that life has a way of coming full circle, and that couldn’t be more true for us at SKOL Ranch. Little did we know that Gary’s lifelong love affair with disc golf would become the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in our lives and the birth of our own disc golf course.

Back in the mid-90s, long before our paths crossed, Gary was already deeply entrenched in the world of disc golf. He had a tight-knit group of friends in our hometown, and together, they would gather at the local parks, sharing raunchy man jokes, camaraderie, and a fierce passion for this unique sport. Disc golf was more than a game to Gary—it was a way of life, an escape, and a source of pure joy.

Fast forward to our new chapter in Denver, where we sought to rewrite the narrative of our health and well-being. As we began our quest for healthier lifestyles, disc golf emerged as the key to unlocking a world of possibilities. Gary’s extensive experience on the course had instilled in him a deep appreciation for the sport’s physical and mental benefits. He knew that embracing daily exercise and immersing himself in the world of disc golf could be the turning point we both so desperately needed.

But our journey towards holistic health didn’t stop there. We wanted to take a fresh approach to pain management and break free from the shackles of prescription opioids. It was during this transformative phase that we discovered the power of legal cannabis—a natural alternative that offered relief without debilitating side effects.

Gary Etter - owners of skol ranch

This revelation was nothing short of life-changing for Gary, allowing him to bid farewell to a decade-long dependency on prescription opioids overnight without experiencing the agonizing withdrawal symptoms. The combination of daily exercise, disc golf, and cannabis as a pain management tool propelled us forward on our path to total well-being.

Empowered by this newfound freedom from medication, we continued to chase our health goals with unwavering determination. In an astonishing turn of events, we gradually eliminated the need for thirteen different prescriptions, and between the two of us, we shed a staggering 150 pounds. Our bodies were revitalized, our minds were sharper, and our spirits soared with newfound vitality.

As we settled into our new property, we knew we wanted to create something that would share the beauty and serenity of SKOL Ranch with others. While we hadn’t initially planned on a disc golf course, fate had other ideas. While Gary was busy carving ATV trails throughout our sprawling landscape, his keen eye caught sight of something extraordinary—the potential for a disc golf course.

Armed with an aerial map of the property and his vivid imagination, Gary transformed his vision into reality. In a remarkable burst of inspiration, he designed our entire disc golf course in a mere ninety minutes. It was a testament to his deep understanding of the game, honed over years of playing and immersing himself in the intricacies of each course he encountered. “Can you order some baskets?” he asked me, and with that simple request, our passion project was set into motion.

SKOL Ranch Brochures by Kristina Etter

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The journey that started with a love for disc golf had blossomed into something truly remarkable. Our course at SKOL Ranch became a manifestation of Gary’s unwavering dedication, creativity, and love for this extraordinary sport. Each meticulously planned fairway, each strategically placed basket, carried with it the essence of his years spent perfecting his game and embracing the spirit of competition.

Today, as we stand here amidst the rolling hills of SKOL Ranch, we can’t help but marvel at the path that led us here. Our lives have been forever transformed, not only by the healing power of disc golf but by the courage to embrace alternative forms of pain management and the unyielding pursuit of a life well-lived. This is more than a disc golf course—it’s a testament to our journey, a sanctuary where others can share in the beauty we are privileged to call our own.

Kristi’s Transformation

Life has a way of jolting us awake, forcing us to confront our choices and redefine our paths. For me, that pivotal moment arrived in 2014 when I lost my mother. As the weight of grief and loss settled upon my shoulders, in its wake came a deep introspection about the life we had been living in Minnesota.

Seeing Gary’s dependence on opioids and our collective unhealthy lifestyle choices was a stark reminder of the consequences of our actions. We had fallen into a pattern of excess—overeating, excessive drinking, and neglecting physical activity. The devastating loss of not just my mother but my father and my sister to cancer within a span of six years provided a profound understanding of the destructive path we were treading. It was abundantly clear that something needed to change.

Kristi Etter

Another two decades in a dark basement office and drab gray cubicles increasingly seemed impossible to endure. With no solid plan, I resigned from my job, and for the first time in over 30 years, I was unemployed. In the midst of emotional turmoil and a desperate desire for transformation, I made a bold declaration to Gary: “I’m going south until there’s no snow, then I’m going west… I’ll let you know where I end up.”

With a flurry of emotions, I embarked on a journey to rediscover myself, leaving Gary behind temporarily as I sought to break free from the toxic spiral our lives had become. As fate would have it, my journey led me to Denver, Colorado.

During my first six weeks in Denver, a plan began to take shape—a plan that would redefine our lives and set us on a path toward healing. I reached out to Gary in Minnesota, and with conviction, I said, “Come to Denver. Let’s sell my land in Iowa and move to the mountains to start fresh.”

That decision marked the turning point in our lives, where health became our foremost priority. We overhauled our diet, focusing on whole, nutritious foods that would fuel our bodies and support our well-being. We made a commitment to regular physical activity, finding solace and joy on the disc golf course, where the beauty of the game merged with the splendor of nature.

Hospitality was ingrained in my DNA, a legacy passed down through generations. My grandmother had opened her home as a boarding house in the 1950s, welcoming strangers with open arms. My mother, a farmwife, would send her guests home with plates of homemade goodies. It was this spirit of hospitality, this innate desire to create a warm and welcoming space, that now lived within me.

Today, as we invite strangers into our home as the owners of SKOL Ranch, we continue this tradition of warmth and openness. We see it as an extension of our journey—a way to share the beauty we have discovered, foster connections, and inspire others on their own transformative paths. It brings us immense joy to see guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends, their spirits lifted by the healing power of nature and the warmth of genuine hospitality.

My transformation goes beyond the physical—it encompasses the profound shift in perspective and priorities that have guided us to this point. We have emerged from the depths of loss and despair, recognizing the fragility of life and the importance of nurturing our bodies and souls.

If You Build It

When I was a child, there was a country song called, “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home.” The song, by David Frizzell, is recalling his wife talking about remodeling their home to resemble a bar, so he’ll stay home more often and spend less time at the honkey tonk.

I knew incorporating the activities we enjoy into our own property would encourage us to stay active and use all 20 acres of our property. Some people buy a treadmill to avoid the gym, I installed a disc golf course.

We didn’t know we were embarking on a journey to build an epic disc golf course. Between Gary’s design and our combined efforts in hospitality, we’ve accomplished more than we ever imagined. But just like Kevin Costner taught us – “if you build it, they will come.”

Book Your Stay!

We are so proud and humbled by your reviews, and as the owners of SKOL Ranch, we can’t wait to host you! Come on out for a visit and see for yourselves the magic of SKOL Ranch!

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147 Chinook Lane, Florissant, CO 80816
Call or Text: 719-653-9998