March 2, 2015 – A disc golf course that started as a passion project for one Guilford College student has steadily grown to become a thriving part of the campus community.
Senior Nate Secrest is the founder of the disc golf club and the designer of the course that runs alongside the cross-country track.
Secrest hit upon the idea of building a disc golf course on campus when he was a first-year.
“At the time, I went to (former Student Affairs Vice President) Aaron Fetrow and said ’Hey, I have this really cool idea: I really want to make a disc golf course,’” said Secrest. “Fetrow was totally on board and was really excited that someone, as an underclassman, wanted to start this thing.”
Once Secrest had the support of the administration, he consulted the school’s engineering and landscaping departments as well as an experienced disc golf course designer. From there, Secrest and his friends began installing the chain baskets, tee signs, mats and gravel areas to facilitate play during wet weather to create the course in the Meadows.
Disc golf, invented by the Disc Golf Association in 1976, has a concept similar to classic golf. Players throw specially designed flying discs into chain baskets attached to steel poles, trying to get the disc into the basket with as few throws as possible. According to the DGA’s website, there are over 2,500 disc golf courses in the U.S. today, and over 7 million people have played the sport at one time or another since its invention.
The Meadows course is open to the public and has seen its popularity rise year after year.
“Every Saturday or Sunday, you’ll go out there and see 20 people on the course at a time,” said Secrest.
“(Disc golf is) something that engages students and faculty, and anybody in the community,” said Assistant Study Abroad Director Daniel Diaz. “You don’t have to be somebody here at Guilford; you can be living here in the neighborhood as well.
“It’s an outdoor activity that creates a therapeutic space in your life.”
Senior Daniel McFaddin agrees and says the game is particularly good for bridging the gap between athletes and non-athletes.
“I met a bunch of friends who play disc golf here on the course,” said McFaddin. “We still hit each other up and play now.
“They’re not athletes, and I was an athlete at the time, so I would definitely say that helps out in getting a good mix of people from different backgrounds together.”
Secrest agrees that the course has made positive contributions to Guilford’s sense of community.
“It’s really been interesting for me to see the connection that I make between my friends, who are non-athletes, and this athletic connection,” said Secrest. “It’s a chill sport in that it can be competitive among your friends if you want it to be, but there’s no benchmark for doing well.
“It’s just getting out there, enjoying the meadows, having fun and playing with your friends.”
Future plans for the course include the continued maintenance of the course’s landscaping by the Disc Golf Club, as well as exciting special events such as LED-lit night play and a tournament to be held some time this spring.