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Explore Disc Golf took some time to answer questions for the page that i thought would be informative to some of us disc golf nerds.
How did you get the job of building Scouting Woods DGC?
Explore Disc Golf was put in touch with the city planner of Peabody in the winter of 2013. We were told about a project that was going to bid where a detention basin was being built with a 9-hole disc golf around it. The contractor responsible for the project was building the detention basin, so we were asked to join the project as a sub-contractor for the disc golf portion of the project.
What are some of the obstacles that you normally have setting up courses?
They vary from project to project. Some are wetland setbacks and conservation commissions, while others are more on-the-fly type of scenarios like the Peabody project, for example, where everything is getting built at the same time instead of coming into an existing, static landscape.
Where there any obstacles unique to this course?
This project had several unique obstacles. The main one would be understanding that everything was constantly changing. While we worked off plans from the architects of where the roads/parking spaces/berms would go, it was hard to envision its impact until it actually existed. Seeing the transformation of the property was fun to see, though. Another obstacle was the 1st hole — the pipe buried under the fairway had a big impact. A lot more trees were removed than we wanted for the installation of the pipe to take place, but overall, it all worked out well.
What size course do you prefer to install or design?
That’s a great question! We genuinely love designing at all scales — from 2-3 hole “pocket courses” to 18-hole championship. We have done several 9-hole courses, as that is what the clients were looking for, but we are soon to start on an 18-hole championship course with two tees and two baskets on each hole. That being said, that level of design doesn’t excite me as much as The Mobile Disc Golf Experience type of designs do. When I’m on tour with The Mobile, we get to a site and have about a day to design and clear 3-6 holes, dig and sink the baskets in concrete buckets, make signage for the course, and get ready to hand out free discs to play all weekend long. I personally love this type of design cause it sharpens my skill set. You can’t over think things — you have to do a quick site analysis and routing, then get down to hole scale design so you can start installing before your run out of time (or daylight). Then we head to the next festival/event site with The Mobile Disc Golf Experience and design another course on parcel with completely different site characteristics and its own unique set of challenges.
Do you always use they same company to actually build your courses or is it whoever is already working on-site?
We always use the same manufacturer of the baskets, Innova Disc Golf, as I’m a sponsored player and member of the Ambassador Team. Innova is wonderful — they never ask for exclusivity, but we are loyal to whom we work with, and Innova has supported us since we first met in 2010. We are starting to use HouckDesigns of signage, as we love working with John and Dee.When it comes to contractors and installers, no. Each course varies — some courses are installed by large contractors with equipment, while other courses are installed by local volunteers with hand tools.
Where there any thoughts of expanding the course in the future?
There were talks about a possible back 9, if the success of the initial 9 merited it. Right now, the city only owns this parcel and there is only space for 9, but there is always potential for more in the future if the adjacent parcel is purchased and disc golf takes off in Peabody.
Do you actually play disc golf?
Sure do! I first stared playing disc golf in 2004 at the University of Maine in Orono, ME. I have played traditional golf since I was 6 years old, so I quickly took to disc golf once I realized traditional golf was out of my price range after college. I traveled the country from 2009-2011 as a tour manager for a nationally touring band, and we played a course almost every single day. At this time, I was gathering a library of sorts, and applying it to my future goals of being a course designer full-time.
Whats in your bag?
Mostly Innova. I putt with a Wizard from Gateway and have a first run Ion by MVP that I still play with (and love), but the rest of my bag is Innova. I’m more of a technical, woodsy-type player so I love my Mako. I have an XD in my bag that is my go to when helping beginners get started in the sport. The XD is a wonderful disc — lots of glide, understandable and sits like a dream.
Any tips for anyone out there looking to get a course built?
Be patient. These things take a long time to get in the ground — approvals can take years, design usually takes 6-9 months and installation varies. Each project is unique, so be prepared to adapt. Get support from parks and recreation departments, local players and people on the town select board. Then hire a professional and get to work!
Any tips on designing a course?
Don’t rush down to hole scale. Most people get so excited in what they are doing that they start designing holes here, there and everywhere. Look at the bigger picture and find things you want to connect to, or stay away from. After you have site planned and routed the course, then you can go find the holes!
What is The Explore Disc Golf Foundation?
The Explore Disc Golf Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that we spearheaded as a way to grow the sport in our region of the country, and maybe one day, nationally. My wife and I are on the Board of Directors as non-voting members, due to our close relationship with Explore Disc Golf (which is a totally different entity; and a for-profit business), but we have a wonderful group of guys who meet regularly and focus on growing the sport any way we can. Our mission is to donate 3-6 hole “pocket courses” at area school and parks in New England. Our main fundraiser is our Rafflepalooza tournament, where we pick a school as a recipient of the “pocket course” and then raise funds. After the tournament, we purchase DISCatcher Pro baskets, DX discs and the EDGE curriculum, and get to designing/clearing the course for the school. After designing and clearing is done, we install the course, hand over the discs/curriculum and hope disc golf spreads in the school system.
How can people help this great non-profit?
Donate, sit in on our Board of Directors meeting, or bring awareness to people about what Rafflepalooza is doing. It’s a wonderful tournament that raises a long of money for physical courses at schools, and we would love to move the tournament around each year and donate courses to multiple schools all over New England.
Scouting Woods DGC was designed by Explore Disc Golf, and installed by SumCO eco-contractors. Explore Disc Golf is a full-service disc golf design-build firm with a focus on “turning the course into a classroom.” Owned and operated by Brian Giggey (MLA) and Zeena Hutchinson (BLA), there offices are located in Amherst, MA. With both owners highly trained within the fields of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Explore Disc Golf focuses on using the disc golf course as a framework to educate the public about the sport and the restorative benefits of nature.
Explore Disc Golf has the endorsement of the game’s leading manufacturer, Innova Disc Golf, while Brian Giggey is a sponsored player and a member of the Innova Ambassador team. As members of Disc Golf Course Designers and certified officials by the Professional Disc Golf Association, Explore Disc Golf aims to provide disc golf course design services for all scales of implementation from 18-hole championship courses to 2-3 hole “pocket courses” at private residences and elementary schools.
There course designs are currently being implemented at flagship universities and city parks, as well as consolidated schools, breweries, apartment complexes, festival grounds, outdoor adventure centers, campgrounds, ski resorts, farms, conference centers, private residences and much more. No project is too big or too small, as there goal is to maximize the use of the client’s land and the exposure of disc golf to the general public through safe, challenging disc golf course design.