The maps and signs for Catamount Links, Western Carolina University’s new nine-hole disc golf course, weren’t even up when Dante Hill spotted its metal baskets and grabbed his discs for a quick round last week.
“I just walked around, figured out the course and went ahead and played,” said Hill, a junior from Durham majoring in business administration and law. “My buddies and I, last year, used to drive an hour to Asheville and Seneca (S.C.) every other weekend to disc golf courses.”
In disc golf (also called Frisbee disc golf), players toss discs instead of hitting balls with clubs. They aim for metal baskets about 4 feet high rather than holes in the ground. The goal is to finish with as few shots as possible. Players often carry as many as 15 different discs that serve as drivers, putters or mid-range discs as they navigate around obstacles such as trees and shrubs.
Catamount Links, WCU’s par-3 course with holes ranging from 151 to 420 feet, begins at the band practice field behind Reid Gymnasium, winds around an old golf driving range, utilizes the fields near Norton Road Residence Hall and ends across from Scott Residence Hall. Planning and construction for the disc golf facility – a joint project of the department of health and human performance, and intramural sports – lasted more than a year. The course, which is open to the public, was installed this summer and will be incorporated into a health class this fall.
“The course is open any time – except the first hole, which is closed when the band practices on the field,” said Justin Menickelli, an associate professor in health and human performance, who designed the course with Chris Tuten, a health and human performance instructor. After circulating a petition to see if there was interest on campus (and 800 signatures indicated there was), they worked with a certified course designer with the Professional Disc Golf Association to create a facility focused on fun, fitness and safety. The course’s rolling character offers moderate-intensity exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels, Menickelli said. Players who use wheelchairs also can participate.
“You do not throw over any concrete or parking lots,” Menickelli said. “It’s much safer and easier to learn than regular golf, so people get easily hooked.”
Unlike traditional golf courses that require significant maintenance, the disc golf course has very little environmental and visual impact on the landscape, Menickelli said.
“It doesn’t require any extra mowing or maintenance,” he said. “We didn’t have to alter any of the landscape. The expense to construct the course is low, but the student response has been overwhelming.”
Debby Schwartz, director of intramural sports, said she expects Catamount Links will be very popular. The baskets were not all in the ground before she saw students such as Hill playing.
“It’s fairly tough for a par-3 course,” Hill said. “I just wish we had another nine holes.”
For more information, contact Justin Menickelli at (828) 227-3555 or email@example.com or Debby Schwartz at (828) 227-3553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.