Disc Golf Course Installed at KP Middle School

Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Course rules, course layout and distances to the basket
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

On a late October Wednesday, the King Philip disc golf course, located in the back of the Middle School, held its grand opening ceremony. KPMS physical education teacher and Afterschool Programs Coordinator Steve Myette had the honor of presenting the course to the Middle School as well as to the community. The nine-hole disc golf course was designed with the middle school student in mind, and students, faculty and guests are invited to enjoy the outdoors and the company of one another while they learn the skills of the game.
Disc golf is played in about 40 countries with some 35,600 active members. The game was originally invented in the 1900s and the first game was played in Bladworth Saskachewan, Canada in 1926. Ronald Gibson and his elementary school buddies began throwing tin lids into 4-foot circles drawn in the sand and Tin Lid Golf was born. Unfortunately, as the students grew older they all went their separate ways and the games ended.
In the early 1970s the game was reintroduced in Toronto. Steady Ed Headrick and Dave Dunipace were two inventors/players that greatly impacted the modern day game and the way it is played. Headrick introduced the first formal disc golf target with chains and a basket, while Dunipace reinvented the disc by adding a beveled rim giving the disc greater distance and accuracy. The duo created the Disc Golf Association (DGA); later the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA); and the Recreational Disc Golf Association (RDGA).
“After the concept re-emerged in the 1970s, it seemed to wane off a bit, especially here in New England,” Myette said. “The South was more of a hot bed for the sport because of the weather, and it had gained somewhat of a cult following.”
Myette was first introduced to the sport on a family trip to Lake Winnipesaukee and upon returning home, hooked up with Jay Melo, Franklin’s DPW Civil Engineer, who had a big part in the Franklin course at Dacey Field. The duo walked some 33 acres of land behind the King Philip Middle School in Norfolk to see if a disc golf course would be a good idea.
“After Jay and I walked the school grounds in the snow, we came to the conclusion that the area would be ideal for a disc golf course,” Myette said. “We then had to go through a lengthy process to get it approved by the school committee and eventually we did.”
According to Myette, the KP School Committee approved the project because it was going to be relatively inexpensive to install, without a lot of out-of-pocket expenses for the community. Myette himself put in numerous hours to get the project finished. He wanted to leave the school and the community something they could enjoy for years to come. Myette will retire in the spring, after 36 years in the KP system (1982-2018).
“My goal was to introduce the sport to the middle school students,” he said. “I saw a need and an opportunity to get kids involved at an early age, to be able to participate in something outdoors that allows them to grow their confidence and feel good about.”
Myette notes that KP groundskeeper Joseph Zahner played a big part in clearing the woods behind the school. Zahner, along with Timmy Hartwell and KPMS students, cleared out the brush and woods so that the project could become a reality.
Wetlands behind the school presented some challenges, and Myette had to work with Massachusetts Fish and Game to ensure the course would not negatively impact the area. With their approval, the KP Middle School has become stewards of the land.
Disc golf mirrors regular golf in almost every way. Instead of using golf clubs the athletes throw discs, and like golf the individual has different discs to throw at the different ranges on the course.
“The discs have different profiles and are designed to bend to the left and to the right as you throw them. There are drivers, putters and mid-range discs,” Myette said. “Some people carry as many as 50 discs in their bag, but 3 or 4 discs will generally get you through the course, especially the shorter ones. You can pick up a starter kit relatively cheap at Dick’s Sporting Goods; they seem to be ahead of the game with disc golf products.”
At the nine-hole course on the KPMS property, each hole is a par three and labeled with a sign (donated by Shauna Raymond of Richard Anderson Signs Inc.), but the length of the holes range from 127 feet (hole 3) to 292 feet. Each hole begins on a tee box (holes number 6 and 9 were designed by Stephanie and Patrick Dowling of the Dowling Materials Corporation).
Currently, Myette has 20 students who show up every Wednesday afternoon to practice. In the spring, when the weather gets better, he hopes to take the students to some of the other courses in the area (Franklin, Easton and North Attleboro). And possibly in the future, the school may get involved in competitions with those towns.
But for now, the King Philip Middle School course, located at 18 King Street in Norfolk, is open to the public free of charge from sunrise to sunset (after 2:15 on school days). Myette is encouraging everyone to come out and use it. He asks the public to obey the rules, which are posted on the school by the first hole.
Along with Zahner and Hartwell, Myette would like to thank Superintendent Dr. Zielinski; the 2016 school committee members who gave their stamp of approval for the project; Matt Shairer and Cory ‘The Bee Man’ Lombardo (the grounds interns); Ben Leach of Sports Turf Specialties Inc. for the sand; Jared Liberti of LDS Designs Inc. for the use of his rental tools; and Steve Stafford of SM Lorusso and Sons Inc. for the stone dust.