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Disc Golf at Norway Mountain, Michigan

A few days ago I was invited to play a round at the newly opened Norway Mountain Disc Golf Course by Nate Simpson, who also invited Adam Sanford to join us. Adam is the course designer and when I showed up this morning for our round, we were also joined by Neill Urban, the owner of the ski hill and disc golf course.

Neill was telling us about the history of Norway Mountain and how the ski hill had been closed for two years before he and his wife purchased the property. They have 17 runs and around 150 acres of land so he was interested in adding more attractions and amenities and creating a great experience for local residents with a plan to bring people in from out of town as well. Adam works at Norway Mountain and suggested to Neill that they could install a disc golf course so the mountain would get used in the spring and summer months. So far, they’ve installed 18 baskets with plans to add more and our round today took us around the course which is very playable although there is still some work to be done.

One of the things that is so great about Neill is that he’s all about the experience. He wants the course and the ski hill and whatever else he adds to be a great experience for visitors and players and so far he’s done a great job!

I love long open courses because if you know me, you know that I love to bomb the disc far! When Nate told me that there was some long holes including one hole that was over 800 feet, I knew that I was going to be in for a treat and let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

There is a good mix of right and left turning holes and straight holes. Some of the holes go down the hill and some go up so it’s not all downhill shots which is nice. The baskets are custom built and apparently were used when world’s was in Michigan in 2007 so they are PDGA approved and as far as non branded baskets go, they are my favourite. The chains are painted and actually catch the disc really well. I didn’t have any putts bounce out, which is all I care about in a basket really – good putts stay in.

The shortest hole is around 250 feet and the longest is around 800 which puts the total length of the 18 holes around 7300 feet, according to Neill.

The teepads are just from the ground right now although they do have plans to put in permanent teepads. However, I don’t mind them the way they are now. I know that some players are really picky and complain unless the teepads are perfect, but that’s part of the charm of disc golf sometimes – that it’s natural and you connect directly with the earth.

I played ok, shooting a 54, which works out to a 3 under par (par being 57). I had a few weak putts that I should have cleaned up and I had one bad drive which I ended up taking a 5 on. But aside from that, I played pretty clean and really had some fun with the big holes, including a 550 foot downhill hole that I parked with my Team Innova Champion Roc!

There is a $10 daily fee to play the course, which I don’t have a problem with paying, especially because they have plans to add more baskets, more amenities and attractions and Neill did mention a yearly membership, which I would definitely pay if I lived in the UP (Upper Peninsula). I think the future of disc golf will be a mix of free-to-play city courses and pay-to-play private courses, which I am all for. It costs money to maintain and build courses and unless there is a non-profit in place to fund the courses, or a group receives a grant, the money has to come from somewhere.

I had a great time and I am really glad I got to check out the disc golf course at Norway Mountain. Thanks again Nate for the invite, Adam for designing such a great course and Neill for being open minded and being innovative with your land 🙂

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