It ain't your father's golf

Students create Disc Golf course at CSUMB.

By Stuart Thornton
Monterey County Weekly
Posted May 13, 1999

Shawn Gulling studies the fairway while smoking a cigarette, plotting a path between the cypresses on the way to the third hole. Gulling, outfitted in a wool cap and sunglasses, then steps up to the tee and hurls his driver through the air.

No, he's not trashing Pebble Beach. He''s just playing another friendly game of disc golf at the new CSUMB course.

The basic idea of disc golf resembles traditional golf--players attempt to sink a disc into the hole with the least amount of strokes against them. The player uses a disc (otherwise known as a Frisbee), instead of a club and balls, to navigate past the obstacles between the tee and hole. The inexpensive sport (players only need to purchase a disc for around $10 at any sporting goods store to start) is growing in popularity--there are now over 700 disc golf courses across the U.S., according to the Professional Disc Golf Association Website. The courses, often located in local parks or colleges, consist of a tee (at the developed courses a concrete pad is installed), a hole (metal baskets at some courses, including the one at CSUMB) and the natural terrain between the two.

CSUMB students Scott Keasey and Steve Bonar decided that the open land on campus would be the perfect area to install a disc golf course. The two students of CSUMB''s Institute for Management and International Entrepreneurship met as neighbors in 1997 and quickly bonded during drives to DeLaveaga disc golf, an extremely popular course located in a Santa Cruz city park. When the two students were required to submit a business plan for a class at CSUMB, they created a plan for an on-campus course, hoping they could avoid the frequent trips to Santa Cruz.

Keasey and Bonar then started the CSUMB Disc Golf Club to generate interest in the construction of a disc golf course on campus. "We got eight names on a list and the school gave us $100 to start the club," says Keasey, who runs the club with Bonar. "We then tried to think of ways to finance the course."

While doing research, the two noticed that one of the major manufacturers of disc golf equipment, the Disc Golf Association, was located right up the road in Watsonville. The two students also found that the driving force behind the Disc Golf Association is "Steady Ed" Headrick, the man who designed the modern Frisbee for Wham-O, invented the Pole Hole (the basket used in courses around the country), and who is an accomplished course designer with over 200 courses to his credit.

Headrick agreed to loan the students the materials to create a course on one condition: that they sell his discs exclusively at the course, slowly paying him off with the revenue generated from the disc sales (the discs are sold at the Black Box Cabaret on campus). Headrick also helped Keasey and Bonar design and build the course. Meanwhile the students negotiated with CSUMB to secure land for the course.

"I helped marginally with making sure the course would get built, but MaryAnne Ebner, who worked for the Wellness Recreation and Sport Institute at CSUMB, convinced the school that it was a viable activity and a great idea, just one more opportunity for people to recreate," says Greg Pool, the Web services specialist at CSUMB and the club advisor for the CSUMB Disc Golf Club, whose membership fluctuates between 10 to 25 disc golfers.

CSUMB eventually donated the open land on both sides of the Black Box Cabaret to the project and course construction began. "We brought Ed [Headrick] in to [help] design the course," says Bonar. "It took about a week to build it." Construction included digging holes for the baskets and then cementing them into the ground, clearing spots for the tees and installing signs about each hole at the tees. "The equipment costs approximately $10,000-12,000 including decals for the signs," says Bonar.

The 18-hole course is set up to increase the difficulty of the holes by utilizing the natural obstacles like the cypress and oak trees in the field. "Each hole has some kind of hazard," says Headrick. The course is designed for all skill levels of disc golf enthusiasts with a recreation tee, an advanced tee and a professional tee.

The CSUMB course hosts a tournament every third Saturday of the month. The proceeds raised by the tournaments are used to pay back Headrick, and to maintain and advertise the course, says Keasey. Keasey is also working on getting local businesses to sponsor holes. "Local businesses could advertise on campus and the sponsorship money would go to the club," says Keasey.

The future of the course is uncertain with Keasey and Bonar graduating in the next year. "We are trying to get club members to carry the torch after we leave," says Keasey. "If I''m around, I will assist because it is our baby and we won''t just walk away from it." cw

Disc golfers are welcome to play the course (at no charge) located on the CSUMB campus by the Black Box Cabaret. Interested individuals are also invited to visit the Website at http://csumb.edu/discgolf.