Not Just Frisbee: These guys spin discs

Anna Lang

Golf is typically associated with clubs, Tiger Woods and the wealthy. However, disc golf offers a completely different experience: a stroll through the woods and good times with friends.

There are three disc golfing courses in the Marquette area: Powder Mill Disc Golf Course in Marquette, Silver Creek Disc Golf Course in Harvey and the Al Quaal Recreation Area Disc Golf Course in Ishpeming.

“Up here, we’ve been blessed with the beauty of the Upper Peninsula,” junior criminal justice major Cody Smith (above) said. Smith has six years of experience playing disc golf. To beginners of the sport, Smith says, “The best way to learn is to get out and experience it.”
“Up here, we’ve been blessed with the beauty of the Upper Peninsula,” junior criminal justice major Cody Smith (above) said. Smith has six years of experience playing disc golf. To beginners of the sport, Smith says, “The best way to learn is to get out and experience it.”

“Up here, we’ve been blessed with the beauty of the Upper Peninsula,” junior criminal justice major Cody Smith, who has been playing disc golf for six years, said. “You get to experience land that you wouldn’t get to see unless you were playing disc golf or walking through the woods.”

Disc golf is a combination of frisbee and traditional golf, according to Smith. The goal is to get a disc in the baskets—instead of holes—in the least amount of throws. Similar to traditional golf, disc golf has different types of discs like drivers and putters.

The Powder Mill and Silver Creek courses were designed by Watch It Bend owner and U.P. Disc Golf Association member Tim Kopacz. Between the two courses, he said, there are four different layouts.

The Powder Mill course in Marquette is located off of Powder Mill Road by the Kaufman Sports Complex. It consists of 18 holes.

“The long tees are very challenging,” Kopacz said. “They’re a par 55 and throwing a 55 is a really good round. The red (short) tees there offer something for beginners and newcomers.”

The Silver Creek course is located in Harvey, off of Silver Creek Road. It is accessible through the Silver Creek Church parking lot and is 18 holes.

“The entire silver creek course is the shorter, more accuracy required course,” Kopacz said. “Seventeen out of 18 holes highly wooded.”

According to Smith, the shorter distance will make a better experience for beginners.

“I would say Silver Creek—the short tee-pads—was designed for beginners a lot more than [Powder Mill],” Smith said. “Starting out, it will help a lot to play from the shorts, that way you’re not getting discouraged if you’re not hitting par from the longs.”

The Al Quaal Recreation Area Course in Ishpeming is nine holes long.

“It’s beginner-friendly being that there’s not many trees but it’s not in the best state,” Smith said. “It’s kind of run down.”

The U.P. Disc Golf Association’s (UPDGA) plans for Marquette County involve developing courses in Negaunee township, Ishpeming and Perkins Park in Big Bay, according to Kopacz. They are also working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to develop a course on state land.

Smith has submitted paperwork to NMU to start a disc golfing club, and would like to work with the UPDGA to build a course on NMU land. He would also like to have an indoor winter league, and if there is enough interest, compete against other colleges.

According to Kopacz, courses have already been designed, but the UPDGA needs a student organization to back the idea to the university.

Discs can be purchased at Downwind Sports, MC Sports and Dunham’s, according to Smith.

“I just recommend going out and throwing with friends,” Smith said. “The best way to learn is to get out and experience it. It’s not so important as to how you’re throwing when you’re beginning. Once you start to get the feel for a disc, then you can start to change your form to help your game.”

According to post-baccalaureate nursing student Karl Buettner, disc golfing is a sport for everyone to enjoy.

“I like that anybody can play it,” Buettner said. “It’s one of those sports that you don’t need to be very good to enjoy it. You can go out and have a fun time walking the course and throw a disc, but you don’t need to be at a certain skill level to play. It’s an activity that almost anyone when they play they enjoy it and you get to spend quality time with friends.”

The courses can be played any time and people have played in the winter, according to Smith. The cost to play is free.

The U.P. Disc Golf Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting disc golf in the U.P. and maintaining courses. Donations can be made by emailing [email protected] for more information.

For more information about the progress of the NMU disc golfing club, email [email protected]