At 1 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you’ll find a group of Albion College students throwing discs around in Victory Park –- and they’re doing it for college credit.
Disc golf is a sport gaining rapid popularity. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, there are over 200,000 members of their organization alone and more than 9,800 courses around the world.
Alex Dowley, assistant tennis coach at Albion and avid disc golfer, is the instructor for the Disc Golf class, which offers a quarter of a wellness credit. Dowley said that 17 students are registered for the class, but some days as many as 25 kids will show up.
“I’ve had a couple people, this is their third time taking the class, just because it’s the only option available for disc golf,” Dowley said.
Dowley hopes to take the local interest in disc golf and use it to start an official club team, so that students could play outside of the class and compete with other colleges.
“We could have up to 25 to 40 people that would want to be in the club and we could have as many as 10 playing in tournaments,” Dowley said.
Albion College is not the first school to join the disc golf craze; Adrian College already has a team, and Trine University recently built a disc golf course on their campus Dowley said. Not to mention, every NCAA Division 1 school in Michigan has a disc golf club team. The best teams in the state are the University of Michigan, ranked 42 nationally, and Ferris State University, which is currently ranked 23 nationally.
Albion itself already has a disc golf course. Victory Park, less than a mile from campus, has a course that, according to Dowley, is one of the top ten courses in the state of Michigan. Spring Arbor, Jackson and other surrounding areas have courses as well.
The Victory Park course has a total of 18 holes, with the front nine being easier than the back nine, he said. One of the things that makes the Victory Park course challenging is the amount of water holes. Specifically, six of the nine holes in the back are water holes.
Luckily, Albion has talented disc golfers that can manage the difficulties of the course. One of them is Josh Doyle, a first-year from Midland.
Doyle has been playing disc golf since his first year of high school. Then, during the Covid-19 pandemic, his family started playing with him. After returning to school, Doyle and his friends started a disc golf club.
When he’s not playing at Victory Park, Doyle said he likes to play at the Taboggan Course in Milford, which hosts professional tournaments every year. Doyle himself actually plays in tournaments and was “very excited” at the prospect of a disc golf club team at Albion.
Dowley said he was optimistic about the possible talent a club team at Albion would have as well. For people who are already athletes, disc golf isn’t that hard to figure out he said. Many of the current students in the disc golf class are getting better and better.
At the rate everyone is progressing, Dowley said that an Albion disc golf club team would likely be very successful.
“We could potentially be a nationally ranked team starting out,” Dowley said.
He said that Albion has lots of young talent when it comes to disc golf, and developing that talent in the coming years could yield some positive results.
In the meantime, Dowley has been purchasing more discs and baskets to make the sport easier to play when there’s bad weather. He hopes his passion for the sport will impact others.
His goal, he said, is “To continue growing the sport.”