Disc golf course gets a makeover

The NVU disc golf course has seen its fair share of ups and downs in its near 30-year existence. According to Interim Director of Athletics Greg Eckman, the course was created in the early-to-mid 1990s, largely the product of student interest.
However, as that generation of students graduated and moved on, the initial energy surrounding the course’s creation seemed to go with them.
“Interest from current students and current clubs through the later 2000s… really began to wane,” Eckman said. “For the last ten years, there has been very, very little student interest and few students driving upkeep on the course.”
Eckman noted that waning interest and damage from windstorms have made the course borderline unplayable. “We would often have alumni come back or people looking to play it in our community… and they let us know that the course was not what they’re expecting or not what it used to be,” he said.
Among those lamenting the poor condition of the course were Matt Martell and Zach Alario, two alumni and avid disc golfers who decided to do something about the course’s deterioration.
“The emails between us all were really positive about restoring the disc golf course,” Alario said. “Myself and Matt just happened to contact the college about the course at the same time. I think if it hadn’t been for that coincidence, things might not have happened so fast.”
The fight to reclaim the course began in early August. “Ten days after our first email exchange, Greg, Tony [a member of the facilities department at NVU], myself and Matt walked the course hole-by-hole and talked about what we thought needed to be done. Work on the course started just a few days later,” Alario said.
Eckman noted that Alario, Martell, and some community volunteers have been busy since that initial tour. “They’ve been working for the last four to six weeks on the weekends with volunteers building the new tee boxes, painting the baskets and finding an additional basket because we were short one,” he said.
While a lot has been accomplished, the course’s restoration remains a work in progress according to Martell. “We still have a lot of trimming to do right now, but all 18 baskets are there,” he said. “They’ve been cleaned, painted and numbered. They all have the next tee arrows on them, and all 18 tee boxes are clearly marked.”
After all of their time and effort, both said the restoration process has been rewarding, as is the prospect of providing more opportunities for playing the game. Recreational opportunities, they say, are limited in the Johnson area.
“The closer you get to the Hyde Park area, there’s really nothing…” Martell said. “I wanted to get this up and going again. It’s awesome to be able to put your name on any course. I feel like there needs to be more courses, more opportunities for kids so that they can play.”
For students new to the sport but seeking to try it out, Alario shared a piece of his own advice. “When I first tried disc golf, I had trouble with the discs,” he said. “They were hard to control, so I just used a regular Frisbee to start. It was much easier and made it instantly enjoyable.”
The course, aside from some brush hogging and other minor touch ups, is ready to be played. “We’re well on our way to bringing it back to its glory,” Eckman said.