By Kim Ukura
If everything goes according to plan, Morris residents of all ages can look forward to a new course in Pomme de Terre Park to pursue birdies, eagles, and the ever-elusive hole-in-one.
But, the new course won't be another golf course -- it's a new disc golf course.
The Morris Campus Student Association (MCSA), along with members of the 2008 Senior Class Committee voted to begin fundraising efforts for a nine-hole disc golf course, and will be fundraising on campus and in town starting in January when students return for spring semester.
The project is unique for two reasons - it is going to be entirely organized by UMM students, and it will be paid for exclusively through the students' fundraising efforts said Eagan Heath, MCSA President.
"We wanted to organize a community project," explained Heath. "Morris has been good to us, and we want to give back."
Playing disc golf is similar to traditional golf, except that shots are made with specially designed flying discs rather than balls. Each disc golf hole has a "tee-off" point where participants start as they move through the course.
There are various types of discs designed for the long- and short-range shots a player will need to take in order to complete each hole by throwing a disc into a metal basket with chains. Like in traditional golf, trees, shrubs, and other obstacles make each hole more challenging.
The course will cost somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 based on the quality of the equipment, the extras included with the course, and how many donations for construction materials and labor the group can get.
"Signs are the big question right now," Heath said. "It's contingent on how much money is raised."
The nine-hole course will have one large sign at the beginning to thank those that donated for the project. However, Heath hopes to also have signs at the beginning of each hole.
Students involved with the project plan to "hit the ground running" in January when they return Heath said. They need to get the project approved by the City of Morris, then begin work raising money on and off campus.
When MCSA formally voted to pursue the project at a meeting about two weeks ago, Benjamin Winchester from the Chamber of Commerce and Center for Small Towns, and Charlie Glasrud representing the Kiwanis told students there was definitely support for the project by community groups.
Ideally, about half the money for the course would come from campus, and half would come from the community Heath said. The group also hopes to get construction materials and labor donated by area businesses.
"Students are willing to contribute labor," he said, "but we need some guidance."
Although not formalized yet, Heath described a few different options for groups interested in contributing to the course.
The organizing group is hoping for a number of "hole sponsor" donations of $1,000, as well as smaller monetary donations and discounts on supplies and labor.
A "hole sponsor" donation would pay for the basket, concrete, sign, and labor for a single hole. Sponsors would have their name placed on the donors sign, as well as the marker at the beginning of the hole, Heath said.
Most fundraising should be done by March when the baskets for the course are ordered. If on schedule, construction will begin in April and the course will be finished in time for students and community members to play before graduation.
"The idea is to think big," Heath said. "[The course] is a nice, tangible thing, but we're also talking about building important connections with the community."
If you have questions about the project or are interested in donating time or money for the course, please contact Eagan Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.