After three years playing in his own backyard, Marshall Roberts, a senior and president of the UC Santa Cruz disc golf club, finally saw the installation of nine disc golf baskets surrounding the Upper East Field.
“It has been a long process. We’ve been waiting for that signature to okay it,” Roberts said. “We couldn’t go in the forest and we had to move away from the Cowell provost’s house, things like that. It has been tug of war.”
This marks a huge step for the club, which formerly practiced at DeLaveaga Park’s disc golf course. While the course serves as a great practice venue, the 15-minute drive from the UCSC campus made participation in the club less accessible to students, many of whom were not even aware the club existed. But now, with the course wrapping around the outer rim of the Upper East Field, the course will be tough to miss.
Disc golf became a club sport in 1998, though it had already been introduced to the campus in 1974 through the intramural sports program. Though the club had established courses, it lacked official baskets or anything as complex as the courses seen in today’s game.
“In the old days, you would just hit an object, like a light pole or tree stump,” said Kevin “Skippy” Givens, UCSC’s competitive sports supervisor.
Disc golf is similar to golf, but instead of swinging a club, players throw a disc similar to a Frisbee at a basket suspended about three feet from the ground. When players successfully throw the disc into the basket without it bouncing out, they complete the hole and move to the next one. For most holes, three throws is considered par.
As the sport evolved, a modern course became a necessity for play at UCSC. The current team is a Tier IIB non-competitive sports club and participates in three competitions a year. Despite its label as a “non-competitive” team, the club does compete against schools from across the nation and recently qualified for the Collegiate Disc Golf National Championship in Augusta, South Carolina next month, where it will be one of 72 teams participating.
The course will host a grand opening on April 11 at 12 p.m. at the East Field. Discs will also be available for students to rent through the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS).
Roberts, president of the disc golf club, credits the installment of the course to the efforts of Givens and the Student Union Assembly (SUA), which advocated for its construction. Givens said the project cost approximately $1,200. Funding for the project was granted to OPERS by SUA.
“[Givens] has been our main adviser and he’s been a great advocate for us,” Roberts said. “He really helped push this forward and fight for us.”
In addition to advising the club, Givens also designed the course with input from club members.
“We’ve worked collaboratively,” Givens said. “I designed the basic layout of the course and gave [Roberts] the authority to create the specific tee locations and he did a fantastic job with that.”