Kalamazoo, Michigan — If you’re a disc golfer, you’ve probably heard that Kalamazoo is the place to be.
In fact, in 2008, Kalamazoo hosted the World Disc Golf Championships, which included 900 professional, amaterur, masters and women competitors. In 2015, Kalamazoo will host about 700 competitors during the World Amateur Disc Golf Championships.
Now, doesn’t that make you want to play disc in Kalamazoo?
Larry LaBond, a local disc-golf enthusiast, put together the below list of courses that were utilized during the world tournaments — and you can play on them too! (Note: Certain parks may charge an entry fee.)
OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP PARK
- Location: 7485 W. Main St., Kalamazoo, MI (on the west side of Kalamazoo)
- Holes: 18 Chainstar
- Tees: short/long — all cement
- Amenities: Two pavilions, bathroom, practice basket, tennis and basketball courts. It’s close to shopping, restaurants and gas stations. Oshtemo Township Park is one of Michigan’s best courses. It is a well-balanced course that requires accurate drives to score well. Staying in the fairway is the way to play this course. Featuring both long and short tees, Oshtemo is able to challenge players of all abilities. The long course is a championship-caliber course and was one of the favorites of player’s in the 2008 PAW. It was the semi-final course for the Open Men in 2008. The short course offers a different look at the holes compared to the long course. What might have been a straight hole on the long course is now a right handed turnover from the short tees. Even though the short course is easier, it is still a quality course. There are just more opportunities for birdies.
AIR ZOO DISC GOLF COURSE
- Location: 6151 Portage Road, Portage, MI (about a mile off of 1-94 in the city of Portage, just south of Kalamazoo)
- Holes: 18 Discatchers
- Tees: Flypads
- Amenities: Air Zoo museum on site. Besides the attractions in the museum, there are meeting rooms, a cafeteria, a gift shop, bathrooms and air conditioning. Shopping, gas stations, and restaurants are also just down the road. The Air Zoo course was built as a result of the 2008 World Championships. The baskets and fly pads were donated to the museum after the World Championships were over. The course itself plays easy. Most holes (if not all) are birdies for top players. The design was done to accommodate beginner and junior players. While it’s an easy course, it offers a variety of shots, including open- and wooded-holes that go both right, left and straight. This course has quickly become one of our areas busiest courses. It is well suited for Juniors, Grandmasters (and older divisions) and Women’s divisions.
ROBERT MORRIS PARK
- Location: 8401 E. H Ave., Kalamazoo, MI (on the northeast side of Kalamazoo)
- Holes: 9 Mach 2.5 and 9 Mach 2 new (both types of baskets have been modified to catch better).
- Tees: Cement
- Amenities: 2 Pavilions, bathrooms, lake, playground, practice basket. The park is just a couple of miles from shopping, gas stations, and restaurants. Split into 2 nine-hole courses, Robert Morris is a place where players can open up with their arms. There are some great terrain changes with a couple of big downhill and uphill holes. While mostly open, there are some very challenging wooded holes requiring players to hit their lines or take extra throws to get there. The open holes do have their share of obstacles with well placed bushes and trees forcing throws to still be accurate. Robert Morris was well used in the 2008 World Championships.
- Location: 14590 County Highway 110, Three Rivers, MI (about 25 minutes south of Kalamazoo, a mile off of US-131)
- Holes: 18 Chainstar Baskets on the North course, 18 Discatchers on the South course
- Tees: Dirt tees on the North course (will have flypads at a minimum for the Worlds), Cement tees on the South course
- Amenities: Pavilions, bathrooms, playground. Located just a mile from shopping, gas stations, and restaurants. The South course is the original course to Meyer Broadway and is the tougher of the 2 courses. There are a lot of terrain changes on just about every hole. There are also a lot of blind tee shots at the baskets requiring smart throws from the tees. This is another course where players will be able to open up with their arms. Bad throws will leave players far from the basket. Scores for amateurs will be over par, with the top players maybe just breaking par. The North course was a temporary course in the 2008 Worlds. Like the South course it features rolling hills that create terrain changes on just about every hole. The North course is the easier of the 2 courses with shorter holes and more direct routes to the basket. The North course is still a very challenging course with good use of open and wooded spaces, playing in, out, and through the woods.
VICKSBURG RECREATION AREA
- Location: 12538 S. Sprinkle Road, Vicksburg, Ml (about 15 minutes south of Kalamazoo)
- Holes: 18 Chainstar
- Tees: Long/short Cement
- Amenities: Bathrooms and concession stand. located on the North-side of the Village of Vicksburg. There is shopping, gas stations, and restaurants nearby. This course is currently in the early stages of being built. The design is currently about to be approved by the Village Board with plans on starting construction immediately after the design approval. The design is featuring both long and short tees on every hole. While there isn’t much for terrain changes, there is good use of the woods and the water in the park to challenge players. Several of the holes will require 2 good shots from the long tees to get par. Bad shots will surely cost players extra strokes on this course.
- Cold Brook Park – 14467 East MN Ave., Climax, MI
24 Holes with Mach Ill baskets and cement tees
- Fort Custer – 5163 W. Fort Custer Drive, M-96, Augusta, MI
18 Holes with Chainstars and flypad
Both Cold Brook Park and Fort Custer’s courses were used in the 2008 World Disc Golf Championships. Cold Brook was a modified 18-hole course for the Worlds and Fort Custer’s disc golf course has undergone several changes since the 2008 Worlds.
HOW TO PLAY DISC GOLF:
According to the Professional Disc Golf Association‘s website, the sport was formalized in the 1970’s and shares with “ball golf” the object of completing each hole in the fewest strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, fewest throws). A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target which is the “hole”. The hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets; the most common is called a Pole Hole® an elevated metal basket. As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive throw from the spot where the previous throw has landed. The trees, shrubs, and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for the golfer.
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