Four years ago, Lars Johnson was going through a self-proclaimed “low point” when a friend introduced him to the sport of disc golf. The new hobby gave Johnson a reason to get outside and to get active, and, most importantly, was an activity he could improve on over time. Since transferring to the University of Maine from Connecticut, Johnson has used this motivation to help with the construction of UMaine’s 18-hole disc golf course and, as of this semester, the foundation of the Disc Golf Club.
“Since disc golf helped me out [of] a particularly low point in life, it’s been my goal to help grow the sport however I can,” Johnson said.
Upon arrival at UMaine, Johnson, a survey engineering transfer student, went to the New Balance Recreation Center to see about installing a course. He met with Thad Dwyer, UMaine recreation assistant director for intramural sports, and learned that the school already had a three-hole course and stagnant plans to expand it to 18 holes.
Dwyer hired Johnson to pick up where the plans had left off. At the time, the course layout had been roughly sketched, so Johnson had control over details of the course, such as basket placements. One of the challenges faced was the restricted space, due to existing walkways and protected wetlands near the DeMerritt Woods.
Over the last year, Johnson has developed the course from a triangle of three holes in the corner of the R.O.T.C. Fields into a full 18-hole course, stretching from the tennis courts and the deep of the University Forest before circling by the R.F. Witter Teaching & Research Center and wrapping back to the start. The holes range in length from 200 to over 800 yards.
Johnson said that UMaine’s club ultimate frisbee team has been invaluable in the development of the course. Players have organized volunteering events to clear forested areas and set up baskets.
“I want as much of the course and club to [be] built by the students, for the students,” Johnson said.
In the future, Johnson hopes to “sell” sponsorships to fraternities, sororities and local businesses. The idea is that they can advertise at the hole in exchange for maintaining the area around that hole. Organizations will have the opportunity to customize the holes as they like, adding obstacles or decorations.
“I don’t think it’s done yet in the slightest,” Johnson said.
“I’ve done the best that I can do with what I was given, and by those standards I think I was able to create a course that could be good for intro-level players and can test the skills of those with more experience,” Johnson said.
As the club grows, he hopes that interested players can form a team to compete with other schools in Maine.
“If I can help create the building blocks for a thriving disc golf community at UMaine, it would feel like a part of my debt has been paid,” Johnson said.