New course taking shape at Henning Park
By Nick Smith, Parks and Recreation Director, County of Newaygo
Muskegon River Bluffs Disc Golf Course took a big step forward last week. We installed the signs, baskets, and toe boards last Friday on the first seven holes. While I was putting up the last sign, a camper stopped, and I explained the features that were just installed and referenced the map on our Facebook page if he wanted to try it out. About 30 minutes later, Dan O'Leary, Steven Kemp, Jarrett Kemp, and Neo stopped by the Henning Park Office with their disc golf gear and asked for directions. This group was the first to ever throw a disc on holes 1-6 and # 18 that are currently being developed.
Later that evening, I received an email invitation from Leonard Johnson, one of our course designers, to tag along and play a round of disc golf on Sunday. I agreed to join him to see what additional work might still be needed as well as getting a player's perspective on the course since my wife Whitney and I had never played Disc Golf before. We picked up a starter pack of discs the night before and then tagged along with Leonard, another course designer, Foster Neill, and Members of the Big Rapids Disc Golf Club.
We quickly learned two things.
1. We need a lot of practice
2. Disc golf is a lot of fun.
Luckily we were teamed up with Leonard, who coaches Ferris State University's National Championship Disc Golf Team, and with his help, I was able to throw a disc reasonably well by the end of the round.
We definitely will be playing from the short tees to the short baskets on our next trip until we get better at sending the discs in the correct direction. Luckily the way this course is set up, there are two tees and two baskets at each hole, giving players four levels of difficulty to choose from. The course is set up so everyone can have fun and be challenged regardless of skill level. The professional layout is highly challenging for advanced players, with many ways to lose a disc or hit an obstacle. It will put some of the best disc golf professionals through their paces and hopefully draw many collegiate and professional tournaments to the Newaygo area.
Currently, we have course features on holes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 at 18. If you come out to play, please understand we are still working on some of these areas so it may not yet look as pristine as it soon will. When we get all the work finished on these holes later this summer, we will have a formal ribbon-cutting and opening.
Follow Muskegon River Bluffs Disc Golf Course on Facebook for the most up-to-date course and construction information.