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New disc golf course nearly complete

The disc golf craze has officially landed on Liberty Mountain. This August, students and Central Virginia residents can tee off on a new 18-hole course that winds around the edge of campus.

Liberty’s trail manager, Lars Larson, enlisted the help of local disc golf enthusiasts Steve Bowman and Kenny Palmer when designing Liberty’s course. Both had previously designed a disc golf course in the nearby Bedford, Va., area.

“It’s about working with the land,” Bowman said of designing the course. “We don’t want to move a lot of trees — we want to try and use what’s already there.”

Bowman walked Liberty Mountain with Larson before the course was designed, flagging natural phenomena such as ravines and slopes that would create interesting challenges for disc golfers. By creating the course around the mountain’s natural landscape, Liberty will eliminate and reduce the possibility of erosion problems while showcasing the area’s innate beauty.

“I’m taking my time on the course and making sure that everything is right,” Larson said. “There is a gorgeous shot at hole 17 where you have a perfect view of the Peaks of Otter.”

Construction on the course began late in the fall of 2009 after many students expressed a desire for one. Larson had hoped to complete all 18 holes by the end of the spring 2010 semester, but heavy winter snowstorms stopped crews from using machinery on the sites until late spring. Liberty’s course starts along the edge of the East Campus intramural field and winds through six acres of the mountain. Every hole offers beginner and advanced level tees, as well as disc-golf satchel holders.

“We want to constantly challenge people to try new throws,” he said. “This course is definitely going to tire some people out.”

Disc golf is similar to traditional golf in that players tee off and attempt to reach a particular hole in the fewest number of strokes. Unlike normal golf, however, players throw discs, and the “holes” are actually elevated baskets made of metal. Disc golf is an inexpensive sport that is growing in popularity among college students.

“Your strategies and approaches are a lot like golf,” Bowman said.

Serious disc golf players carry an array of discs, including putters and drivers, on every course in order to perfect their throws. These discs are various sizes, shapes and materials so golfers are equipped to adjust their play with regard to factors such as distance and wind.

The new course will allow Liberty to add disc golf as an intramural sport this fall, and possibly as a club sport in the future. Larson hopes that the course will someday become part of the Professional Disc Golf Association tour.