Disc Golf at Clemson
Disc Golf is a popular late night activity at Clemson. If you're out for a stroll on campus during a clear evening, you're bound to run into a group of students tossing discs around while yelling with victory or dismay. Disc golfers retrieving their discs account for 95% of the reflection pond swimming statistics. The prominence of this not-so-well-known sport on the Clemson campus seems to be due to several reasons:
- Discs (aka. frisbees) are easily found in a poor college environment.
- There are no green fees and no mandatory dress code, such as khakis and a polo shirt (see Walker Course).
- Anywhere from 2 to 10 players are easily accommodated, and it doesn't require any special skills (or years of lessons).
- It works well to complement Clemson's obsession with Ultimate Frisbee.
- There's a certain appeal to throwing quickly spinning objects against the various landmarks around campus.
Disc golf plays a lot like normal golf, except for the obvious difference in the use of a frisbee instead of white, dimpled balls. The PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) has massive amounts of information available.
The goal of the game is relatively simple: starting from the tee, try to hit the target in as few throws as possible. While courses vary, the standard is 3-par. Each player tosses a disc in turn, then starts their next throw standing behind the location where their first throw comes to rest.
A couple of the less obvious rules:
- Teeing order is determined by the scores on the previous hole, with the lowest scorer tossing first.
- You may take a running start from as far back as you like, provided you do not set foot past the front of the tee or past the most recently thrown disc.
- If the disc ends up in the middle of the water or unretrievable (on a roof or through a car window), one penalty stroke is given.
- On the other hand, if you can play the disc where it stands (even if it means climbing a tree), no penalty strokes are received.
The full and official rules (all 100 or so pages) are vieweable on the PDGA website. Special "disc golf" frisbees can be purchased from a number of places online. These discs are heavier and smaller than your traditional frisbee -- usually going much farther with much more accuracy. They have sharper edges and are not designed to be caught, only thrown. Extremely cheap "misprints" can be purchased in packs of 10 from Innova or Discraft. The discs come in all different weights and designs -- from those intended to be "putters" to those that are "long-ranged drivers" to those that are "extended rollers" and those that are "extremely overstable". Choose your weapons wisely.
The Thomas Green Clemson Course
This is the "official" on-campus course, made up of 18 holes vaguely sketched out. At one time, there was a website with an overlay on the campus map showing the "holes" and describing the tees and targets. This website is no longer available.
The Thomas Green Clemson Course Holes
- Tee from the Thomas Green statue in front of Tillman to the bell in Carillion Gardens.
- Tee from the staircase at the edge of Carillion Gardens to the third lamppost from the left encircling the amphitheater.
- Tee from the center of the sidewalk above the amphitheater, with a mandatory dogleg through the passageway on the amphitheater stage, to the lamppost directly above the stairwell next to the door.
- Tee from the lamppost in #3 across the reflection pond to the lamppost behind Olin Hall that "juts" out next to the pond.
- Tee from near the lamppost in #4 across the reflection pond to the central pillar beneath the staircase in front of the library.
- Tee from near #5 to the yellow emergency phone following the bridge to outside of Daniel.
- Tee from the sidewalk next to the yellow emergency phone down the path towards the fire hydrant at the end of the library parking lot.
- Tee from the behind the fire hydrant around the right side of Strode to the double doors that enter Daniel from Jordan
- Tee from beneath the bridge connecting Strode and Daniel to around the right of Daniel and up the stairwell to the dumpster between Long and Jordan.
- Tee from behind the "chain guardrail" near the dumpster around Long to the first lamppost on the corner of Long (closest to the dorms).
- Tee from behind the pylons preventing non-foot-traffic up the sidewalk towards Mauldin with the goal being the lamppost at the very end of the sidewalk on the corner of Mauldin.
- Tee from the corner of Mauldin to the pillar on the corner of Smith.
- Tee from the corner of Smith to the traffic sign at the edge of the large parking lot behind Sikes (back near the lamppost in Hole #10.
- Tee from near the traffic sign along the sidewalk running to the right of Sikes with the goal being the final lamppost before turning the corner around Sikes.
- Tee from the corner of Sikes across the massive stairs, over the fence, with the goal being the bell (once again).
- Tee from the lamppost across from the entrance to Carillion Gardens over to the bench looking down on Bowman Field.
- Tee from the bench looking down on Bowman over to the "Class of..." L-shaped bench beneath the large window of Tillman.
- Tee from the next to the soldier statue, ending with Thomas Green Clemson once again.
A little bit of thinking and time could help rearrange some of the tees and holes to make this a more interesting, dynamic course. There's also a course for the back half of campus. It involves tossing discs around near the Strom Thurmond Institute, but the exact details are unknown at this time.
The Botanical Gardens Course
This is the newest (as of July, 2005) disc golf course that makes for a fun afternoon in the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. Full descriptions of each hole, with pictures, can be found here. Like the Thomas Green Clemson Course, this is an unofficial course which uses landmarks instead of baskets. Unlike the Thomas Green Clemson Course, some holes go through very dense woods and across creeks, so you'll probably end up getting pretty dirty by the end. The best advice is to plan your shots carefully - don't just huck in the direction of the hole and hope you land in a good spot.
The Botanical Gardens Course Holes
- Warm Up Hucks - Park at main parking area just off Perimeter Rd. Tee from old white sign at back corner of parking lot. Goal is the white pole on left hand side of the meadow pond. Par 6.
- Picnic Spot - Tee from last goal, towards big oak tree at the crest of the hill (#7 on SCBG map). Goal is the bench underneath tree. Keep track of your disc; it can get lost in the meadow. Par 4.
- Meadow of Despair (no, really) - Tee from last goal, towards big oak tree at the crest of the next hill (#6 on SCBG map). Goal is bench underneath tree. Donâ€™t lose sight of your disc, or the meadow will eat it. Par 3.
- Across the Creek - Tee from last goal, towards picnic area to the south. Goal is a wooden structure across the creek with openings on two sides (only visible after you walk beyond the trees and bushes surrounding the tee location). Disc must pass through both openings to complete the hole. Watch out for the creek; it also eats discs. Par 4.
- The Long and Winding Road - Tee is a marker for the â€œSchoenike Arboretumâ€¿ located @25 yards east from last goal. Goal is a sign with a â€œPâ€¿ up the road to the northeast. Dense woods lie on either side of the road, so there is little room for error here. Par 6.
- Lone Trunk - Tee from last goal. Goal is a tree trunk visible to the east. Par 3.
- Natural Dialog - Tee is a 2-way traffic sign, down the road (about 100 yards or so) to the north from last goal. Goal is the center rock in the â€œNatural Dialogâ€¿ project (#10 on map). Par 4.
- Stone Throne - Tee from last goal. Goal is the stone throne, which can be found on the right by crossing the creek and walking down the path towards the gazebo in the meditation garden. Scout this one out before you throw. Par 3.
- Ring the Bell - Tee from the amphitheater stage, located up the trail and to the left from last goal. Goal is the bell at the Class of 1942 garden (#14 on map). Par 4.
- Trolley - Tee from bell pedestal, towards red trolley. Goal is the red 39 sign on end of the trolley. Par 3.
- Waterfall - Walking away from the trolley to the left, you will come to a stone bench. Tee from stone bench towards the pond. Goal is the bench at the top of the waterfall on the far side of the pond. Par 5.
- Hosta Garden - Walking away from the pond you come to an intersection of several paths. Tee from the Charles and Betty Cruickshank Hosta Garden plaque, aiming down the brick path directly across from and to the left of the tee. Goal is the bench at the end of the path. Par 4.
- Wedding Arbor - Walk up through woods to the bridge that is directly beyond the bench, and turn right so you look down the path. Tee from the bridge, play to end of path, right down the road, and left to the Wedding Arbor (roughly a Z shape). Goal is to get the disc to drop through the â€œroofâ€¿ of the arbor. Par 5.
- Restricted Access - Continue past arbor towards the Hayden Lecture Area (#27 on SCBG map). Tee from end of the brick path, goal is the triangular â€œRestricted Accessâ€¿ sign down the road. Par 4.
- Earthen Bridge - Tee from the road above the Restricted Access sign. Aim down the hill and to the left through the Camelias. Goal is Earthen Bridge (#33 on SCBG map) at back edge of Pioneer Pond; disc must pass through the doorway. Warning: this is downhill into thick brush and water hazards, the goal is hard to see and the path is poorly maintained (as of now), so scout it out first. Par 4.
- Door Knocker - Walk up stairs and to the right. Tee from the pond overlook (not the gazebo), towards the Hunt Cabin (#31 on SCBG map). You can go to the right, hugging the hill next to the pond, or you can go left down the path until it meets the road to avoid the water. Goal is front door of cabin. Note: this area is currently under construction. Par 4.
- Metal Gears - Walk around cabin to the opposite porch. Tee from porch, towards the path going into the woods at the back left of the grass meadow. Goal is the stone pillars with the metal gears stretched across â€“ pass disc between pillars to score. Par 3.
- Crucible - Tee from the stone pillars (preferably from the on top of the stone pillars), following the path across the creek as it bends to the left. Goal is the Crucible sculpture (#20 on SCBG map). Disc must pass through the hole in the roof. Par 4.
As with any course like this, the existing layout is merely a suggestion, and tees and holes may be rearranged to suit the player.
The ClemsonTalk Course
This is the course commonly played by members of ClemsonTalk. The fact that it only has 14 holes has yet to be a serious issue.
ClemsonTalk Course Holes
- Tee from behind the last section of concrete on the walkway from the library between Vickery and Edwards leading to the circle. The hole is to hit the blue emergency lightpost in the courtyard between Edwards and Jordan.
- Tee from section of concrete which has on it the bench closest to Jordan in the courtyard between Jordan and Edwards. The hole is to hit the double doors on the second floor of Daniel leading to the bridge.
- Tee from the bridge leading out of the second floor of the East end of Daniel hall. The hole is the hit the lamp immediately at the top of the stairs between Jordan and Kinard.
- Tee from behind the section of concrete that touches the small library at the top of the stairs between Jordan and Kinard. The hole is to hit the middle lamppost of the three at the Kinard end of the courtyard between Martin, Kinard, and Mell.
- Tee from the small section of bricks in front of the small library at the top of the stairs between Jordan and Kinard. The hole is to hit the trash can closest to the bicycle racks between the middle and Southern sections of Martin.
- Tee from the rough concrete section near to the stairwell between the middle and Southern sections of Martin. The hole is to hit the lamppost on the other side of the stairwell down at the top of the amphitheater.
- Tee from the sidewalk at the top of the amphitheater. The hole is to hit the metal Carillon bell.
- Tee from the sidewalk in the Carillon garden to the blue emergency light at West end of the top of the amphitheater.
- Tee from the sidewalk at the top of the amphitheater. The hole is to cross the threshold of the doorway in the back of the amphitheater stage.
- Tee from the triangular section of concrete at the top of the stairs out of the back of the amphitheater. The hole is to hit the third lamppost in the counter-clockwise direction around the library pond.
- Tee from section of concrete with a manhole on it nearest to the previous hole. The hole is to hit the rightmost of the lamposts on the opposite side of the pond, the one closest to the stairs leading up to Daniel.
- Tee from two sections of concrete away from the base of the stairs leading up from the pond to Daniel hall. The hole is to hit the blue emergency light post on the sidewalk leading from next to Daniel down the Eastern library parking lot.
- Tee from square bricks at East end of library bride. The hole is to hit the elevator doors on the level below the library bridge at the West end of the library bridge.
- Tee from within the top level of the elevator. The hole is to pass the frisbee through the white triangular structure in front of Riggs.
Many Clemson students don't realize that Disc Golf is actually a fairly well established "sport" and there are a number of professionally designed courses that have been around since the '70s (when the sport initially became popular). A full list of the courses near Clemson can be found at the PDGA site. One of the best nearby courses can be found in Greenville at Timmons Park. It consists of 18 holes with dynamic terrain and actual "holes" (standing metal baskets with hanging chains to catch discs).
Another course nearby is in Seneca at the Shaver Recreation Center. 18 holes with baskets and concrete tee pads. Go to the back right corner of the parking lot to find hole #1.
There was talk about one of the major disc manufacturers (Innova, perhaps) funding a professional course in Clemson. For further information, contact the current Clemson Disc Golf Club.