City, MSU club set up new seven-hole disc golf course in J.L. King

MSU Disc Golf Club members work to assemble the new baskets for J.L King Senior Memorial Park. Pictured, from left: Aaron Tucker, Mason Nunley and David Lombardo. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

There’s a new amenity available for all ages at J.L. King Senior Memorial Park, made possible by a group of college students and the city of Starkville’s Parks and Recreation Department.

On Sunday afternoon, a half dozen members of the Mississippi State University Disc Golf Club worked through the heat and intermittent downpours installing seven new baskets for the first disc golf course established in a city park.

The sport is akin to golf in terms of scoring, with players throwing a frisbee-like disc into a metal and chain-link basket.

After the rain cleared up, the group was able to finally test out the course. While the baskets are currently set in concrete, the layout and size of the course could all adjust over time.

Parks Executive Director Gerry Logan said the popular sport is a low-cost addition to what he referred to as “the city’s best open-space park.”

“Hopefully, we have more land to the east we could develop,” Logan said, referring to the undeveloped side of the park. “It doesn’t commit us to anything long term and hopefully it activates that side of the park.”

While there are several other course options around Oktibbeha County and on the MSU campus, the designers of the new course at J.L King hope it offers a different kind of venue for players of all ages to better develop their skills, or just have fun.

Club President Steven Hillerman, a senior at MSU, is in his second year leading the club and was on last’s year’s national championship team. The sport is more than a passion to him as he has played for the club all fours years he has been in Starkville.

He also served as lead designer of the course.

The team consists of Hillerman, Ty Lancaster, Riley Blackwell, Mason Nunley, David Lombardo, and Aaron Tucker. 

Logan said the city provided the baskets, paid for in part by a grant from the city’s new Walmart Neighborhood Market, and the club designed and implemented the course.

“(Disc golf is) really easy to pick up, it’s really cheap, you can get a disc for $15 and most courses are free to play,” Hillerman said. “It’s just a fun, relaxing activity. You can get as competitive with it as you want.”

Competition drives the club, despite taking on some schools that offer scholarships.

“There’s a school from Michigan called Ferris State University that no one’s ever heard of, but they’re really good at disc golf,” Hillerman said, when asked about the level of competition the team faces. “They’ve won the last two national championships before us. We took them down and they got third place last year. Texas A&M actually gives disc golf scholarships.”

The MSU Disc Golf Club was established in 2009 as a non-scholarship club sport, and won a national title in its first season.

Hillerman said the new course at J.L. King will give the club another home course and hopes it will attract others to the sport.

While the club members were able to test out the course on Sunday, Hillerman said it is still a work in progress.

“When designing the course, I really wanted to make sure we had good holes,” Hillerman said. “We have nine baskets ordered and would like to put the other two in at some point, but I felt like we only really had room for seven good ones and wanted to make sure we didn’t try to squeeze too much into a small space. There’s plans in the future for the woods, clear those out, hopefully at some point we can expand to nine holes.”

Logan agreed, saying the area has been underutilized and was always the location eyed by the city for a disc golf course.

“I think it’s just another way to really attract people over here who might not know it’s here,” Logan said.

One of the concepts that remains tentative will be signage for the course

“Right now, we’re not going to have a ton of signage. We are waiting until after October 1 when our budget rolls over,” Logan said. “We installed these seven (holes) and if we were to change something, we will know soon. Then once we know we have an established course. We can add signage and you can cater it to multiple skill levels.”