New disc golf course promotes fellowship on campus

In early spring of 2017, Scott Marksberry, John Brown University’s former men’s soccer coach, mapped out a rough disc golf course with wooden stakes, letting students play the “holes” for feedback.

What began as a coach’s idea has now become a reality in the form of the Eagle Ridge Disc Golf Course.

Robyn Daugherty, the athletic director at JBU, said “Coach Marksberry and I wanted this course because it was something that anybody could do, you don’t really have to know what you’re doing. It promotes conversation and fellowship.”  The course is nine holes, beginning near the tennis courts and ending on the Sager Creek trail.

Groundskeeper and facilities management specialist, Tony Harrison, and the entire JBU grounds crew, worked to clear the course to make it ready for play. “There wasn’t a whole lot that had to be done other than a little bit of tree cutting and bush hogging,” Harrison said. “We were pretty fortunate the way it was set up.”

The grounds crew and work study members had to cut trees, dig holes and rake rocks.

Travis Chaney, the grounds foreman, said, “There was a lot of grunt work.”

The course has grown immensely from its humble, wooden-stake beginning. Daugherty hired a professional disc golf course designer to help Marksberry’s dream come to life. HB Clark, owner of Bluegrass Disc Golf in Kentucky, flew down to do the final design.

“He basically just flagged it out and told us what the parameters for the fairways and the parameters around the baskets were,” Harrison said.

Professional disc golfers, a few of whom call Siloam Springs home, use different kinds of discs for each hole, much like golfers do.

“You have putters and you have fairway throws and different weights and sizes,” Daugherty said. Because of the precision required for disc golf, the parameters of the course are important, especially because Daugherty hopes to host a disc golf tournament for professional disc golfers in and around Northwest Arkansas next fall.

The total cost of the course was $9,053, the baskets alone costing $4,000.

“We went up and approached student government to partner with us on funding. They wanted some signatures to show that students really wanted it,” Daugherty said. “We spent two days in the Caf last spring at lunchtime and collected over 400 signatures in a matter of two hours.” SGA funded a part of the course, and two private donors funded the rest of it. Daugherty also opened the possibility for private businesses to sponsor holes for three-year terms.

“We basically sponsored holes so that as we move through if we need upkeep on any of the holes, if a basket breaks, if the sign gets faded from the sun or whatever, we’ve got some seed money to use for repair,” Daugherty said.

Next fall, assistant men’s basketball coach Drew Schauss is planning on teaching a combination wellness course with golf and disc golf. The course is open for play, and discs will soon be made available to check out from the Walton Lifetime Health Complex.