(Posted September 15, 2014)

Members of the Disc Golf Club "putt" at one of the holes for Juniata's new 9-hole Disc Golf course, located behind the Brumbaugh Academic Center
Members of the Disc Golf Club "putt" at one of the holes for Juniata's new 9-hole Disc Golf course, located behind the Brumbaugh Academic Center

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Creating clubs to match a personal passion is sort of par for the course at Juniata College, but this week Juniata Eagles will be trying for eagles on the college's own nine-hole disc golf course, brought into being by a student club and its adviser.

Students with supple wrists and a working knowledge of the rules of golf can now play an official Disc Golf course at Juniata. The course is laid out over college property, with the first tee and several other holes situated on the grassy, expansive, mowed lawn behind Brumbaugh Academic Center. The course, which is open to students and the public, has its first tee just steps from the college's new greenhouse.

"In years past, we had sort of created our own course using landmarks such as fire hydrants, cars or big trees, but we started fundraising to create the course last year," says Stephen Park, a senior from State College, Pa. studying history and president of the Disc Golf Club. Park and last year's president, Andy Blunk, a 2014 graduate from State College, oversaw most of the fundraising activities and spent about $3,000 to install the course this summer.

"Disc golf is growing very quickly on college campuses because it's a sport that can be played by a person of any ability," Park explains. "It's a social sport as well, you can talk to your playing partners and you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on clubs. A lot of the colleges in our area -- such as Elizabethtown, Goucher, Carnegie-Mellon, IUP and Cornell -- have courses."

Disc golf is played with identically sized, specialized Frisbees that are designed for specific functions. For the discriminating disc golfer, most hit the links with a "driver," a "putter" and a "mid-range" disc. They even sell disc golf bags to carry them in.

"Disc golf is growing very quickly on college campuses because it's a sport that can be played by a person of any ability. It's a social sport as well, you can talk to your playing partners and you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on clubs."

Stephen Park, president, Disc Golf Club

"A regular Frisbee, like those used at the beach, is much bigger, like a B-52 compared to the smaller disc golf version, which is more like a fighter jet," explains Jim Latten, professor of music at Juniata and sponsor of the disc golf club.

Juniata's course extends on college property through the stand of trees beyond the Hickes Observatory. The course reaches Moore Street then doubles back through wooded areas to end back on the grassy area behind Brumbaugh Academic Center.

Each hole is between 250 and 500 feet in length, roughly about a third the size of a regulation golf course. Disc golf's origins can be traced back to the 1920s, but "official" courses began popping up around the United States in the 1960s. The sport now has a professional organization, the Professional Disc Golf Association, which organizes tournaments, some of which include prize money.

Juniata's Disc Golf Club has no plans yet to compete in tournaments with other college and university teams, but eventually Park would like to have the student club organize a tournament at Juniata's course.

Latten says Juniata's rules on behavior apply to participants playing the course. No alcohol or smoking will be allowed. "The strip of parking spaces near the greenhouse are used by faculty and staff during the day, so community members are encouraged to park on Mifflin Street during work hours," Latten says.

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.