Back last spring Furman University put up an official disc golf course. Sunday was a beautiful (albeit, hot) day, so I decided to spend the afternoon playing a round.
As a student here a quarter of a century ago we played quite a lot of Frisbee golf. We used standard-sized Frisbees (there was no other brand) and picked a target for our next hole, be it a tree, bench, or hapless passer-by. Then we would estimate how many throws it would take to get there, and that would be our par. It was informal, but it worked.
Furman took its first steps toward an official course about fifteen years ago. This first venture was wasn’t much more than what we had done when I was a student. A map was drawn up indicating which objects (again, mostly trees) would be used as targets. The course wound around the mall and PAC building, for the most part.
A few years ago there was an attempt to create a true course on campus, but for whatever reason, that didn’t go through. Finally, in February of this year it was announced that the course would be built.
Even knowing kind of, sort of, where to go, the first tee was hard to find. There were no signs to indicate the start of the course, or anything else. I spotted a couple of small concrete blocks with lines painted through them that could possibly be tees…
…however, I didn’t know for sure until I walked all the way down and found the first basket. Turns out the line painted through the block was supposed to be the number 1.
The first fairway was a long, straight shot through trees along a service access road for the golf course. Since it had been awhile since I last played, I did terribly, hitting it in 5.
The second tee was more problematic. I could find neither the tee nor the basket anywhere. After several minutes of frustrated wandering I pulled out my phone to see if I could find any maps or any other assistance online. I finally found one review of the course from The Upstate Frolfer blog (which I suspect was written by my friend Brad from Rapid Eye Reality.)
The review indicated that the next tee was out on the Furman Golf Course. I managed to find the basket at the edge of the course, but not the tee. The biggest problem was that there were lots of golfers out, and I wasn’t too keen on being hit by a golf ball. I wound up skipping #2.
I couldn’t find a tee for #3, either, but I could see both 3 and 4 off through a clearing along some power lines that fortunately veered away from the golf course. I played 3 from where I was standing, then played 4. I did see tee markers for 4. It was a straightforward, short hole that could present some problems because of overgrowth.
The fifth basket was on the other side of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It’s actually played from the trail down toward the Furman lake. By this time I was just happy to be getting back into some shade.
The rest of the baskets followed the main path around the lake. I never found tees for 6 – 9. I would walk until I spotted the next basket, and just backed up a reasonable distance to play. I was getting frustrated, I didn’t want to have to pull out my phone to keep looking up information. I missed #9 altogether, but did see the basket as I was leaving.
The biggest frustration was the lack of clear tee boxes and total lack of signage. There’s no way to know where the next basket might be. I had an advantage in that I had recently been on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, and had some idea about where the course ran. Subsequently, I find it hard to judge the difficulty of the course since I had no clear as to whether or not I was starting in the right place.
Others have echoed this problem. Just about everyone that commented on the Disc Golf Review website mentioned lack of signs or maps. The one map I found on the Furman website was from the February announcement in The Paladin, and was woefully incorrect.
The other problem was with conflicting use of the space. There was the problem of not being able to play #2 due to regular golfers, and I’ve heard of problems with not being able to play holes because some baskets are near obstacle courses used by some groups.
This is a problem with just about every course I’ve played. I’ve had kids pick up my discs and throw them back to me in Simpsonville. I’ve encountered people picnicking next to a basket in Timmons Park. I’ve run into conflicts with baseball games at Timmons and other parks. These problems tend to decrease as more people understand what’s happening. I’m hoping that the new course at Furman is just unknown to most, and as disc golf becomes more common on campus, there will be fewer conflicts.
I like some of the other courses in town much better, but I’m happy to see a disc golf course on the Furman campus.