Disc golfers seek new course in woods

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Disc golfers seek new course in woods

Amy Kumrow, Staff Reporter

Behind the Chase building is an ecosystem offering Lakeland students opportunities to study undisturbed nature. Disk golfing enthusiasts, however, view Grether Woods as a potential site to replace an existing, unusable disk golf course.

Through grant funding by L. Frank Grether, Mission House alum and botany professor, trails had been established and the area was named Grether Natural Laboratory. Biology students have maintained a database of flora and fauna of the area.

Biology Professor Kathy Rath Marr Ph.D., currently on sabbatical, said, “At the time, it was designated as a teaching/wildlife area. The family wanted it to remain as a natural habitat, i.e. no golf, no snow mobiles trails, but an environmental preserve.”

Snowmobiles were later inadvertently given use of the trails at one time, but after seeing the damage, students and faculty were successful in blocking further use of the trails for recreational purposes.

Unregulated clear cutting, which is the uniform cutting of trees and brush, in an area to make the area more user-friendly, has also been a part of Grether history, but students, alum, and faculty put an end to the action.

In 2002, a disk golf course was designed for use by Lakeland students. Later building additions to the college campus interfered with the course and rendered it inoperable. What is left of the disk golf course today resides between the apartments and William A. Krueger Hall.

“The course was well-intentioned, but poorly designed,” Assistant Professor of History Rick Dodgson Ph.D. and disk golfer of six years said. “Since buildings were built, you can’t even place the course anymore.”

David Werner, junior chemistry major and disk golfer for 15 years, had heard of an old course on campus and contacted Dodgson. With the help of Werner’s uncle, James Van Lanen Jr., an award winning disk course designer, a proposed course was created using trails in Grether Natural Laboratory.

In a letter to Dodgson, Lanen writes, “I would suggest using the South West Corner of the woods, allowing the North East Trails to be unaffected by the added baskets.”

The plan utilizes existing trails and equipment, so the expense to the school would be under $1500.

“I think it would be a big attraction for people coming here [to have a properly established golf course], and if we did a good job, it would attract other people to come here. People want to play different courses like regular players,” Dodgson said.

In a student blog dated May 11, 2005, Brian Kaufman, Lakeland alum and accounting and business major, wrote, “Since there isn’t much to do in the afternoon, I go disc golfing. Lakeland has a nine-hole disc golf course on campus, so I utilize that as often as I can. It’s nice not having to drive to play.”

Disk golfers on campus would like to see either a 9 or 18 hole course to eliminate the need to drive into Sheboygan to play. The sport allows for making new friends (on and off campus), is low maintenance, and is inexpensive to play. The addition of a course also offers Lakeland the option of hosting tournaments.

“The trails are back there for people to walk and to experience nature,” Werner said, “but, in my experience, I rarely see anyone walk back there, unless it is for a class.”

“Grether Woods Natural Laboratory is one of those rare, fairly undeveloped pieces of land in the vicinity that should be protected and left intact,” said Paul Pickardt Ph.D., division chair of natural sciences and associate professor of biology.

Pickardt’s concern is that wildlife will be impacted and trees will need to be cut or trimmed. Poison Ivy is also heavy in certain areas and poses health concerns for students.

“I would be more supportive of a possible course that skirted the edges of Grether, staying in currently mowed areas of the campus,” Pickardt said.

In her book, Into the (Grether) Woods, Marr states, “I will admit that I have always had Grether’s welfare first and foremost in my mind, and sometimes that involved a few uphill struggles.”

“[Marr] had legitimate concerns,” Dodgson said. “Trees will be damaged and bush will be cut. It is not going to be untouched, but I believe damage would be fairly minimal. Only half [of the trails] will be used, leaving the other half untouched.”

“Noise, disc golf, etc., disturbs the wildlife,” Marr said. “The Grether family, I am certain, would not approve, nor would I. Sadly, it is one of the few ‘natural’ areas left on campus.”

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