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disc golf target in front of Taylor Lake

Student-Crafted Disc Golf Course Installed at Taylor

  • By: Anna Molendorp
  • Published:
man prepares to throw disc golf

Frank Smith, a senior Marketing major and a talented minor league disc golf player, has combined his business experience with his love for his sport by dedicating himself to creating a Taylor University disc golf course and club. 

Disc golf is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. The college scene boasts thousands of yearly players nationwide, making it the perfect sport for Taylor to include as a program. And with the possibility of a Division 1 championship-winning league on his hands, Smith is determined to see his dream come true.

Making Key Connections

The road to establishing a disc golf course and club at Taylor wasn’t easy. Smith worked with the Student Senate, faculty, and potential sponsors from various companies during this process.

“I reach out to the bosses or the people who have connections to bosses,” he said. “A lot of people reach out and say, ‘Hey, I’d like a sponsorship,’ and that’s not how I want to go about this. I want to be serving these companies as best as I can in this process.”

Smith believes his faith is central to his willingness to serve others and make others the priority. 

In October 2021, he wrote a twelve-page proposal for a campus disc golf course and sent it to the Student Senate and Vice President of Student Development & Intercollegiate Athletics Skip Trudeau. When they expressed interest in his proposal, the meetings started.

“The art of actually proposing and speaking definitely comes from my speech classes,” Smith said. These speech classes are part of every Taylor student’s Foundational Core liberal arts curriculum.

In those meetings, Smith offered to take a leadership role, covering sponsors and fundraising and installing the course on his own. However, the process stalled, and he almost gave up in November 2022.

Taking Hold of an Opportunity

Fortunately, in the spring of 2023, campus leaders began to seriously consider Frank's proposal. 

Smith jumped at the opportunity to share his vision, citing his past experience building a disc golf course at another university and explaining how he could use his many connections in the disc golf world (he’s friends with a player who is the third best in the nation, to name one) to make this course the best it could be. 

From there, Smith had a lot to do. Step by step, almost single-handedly, he installed the entire course in the area around Taylor Lake. 

The nine-hole disc golf course is located on the south side of campus next to Taylor Lake. 

“I came down two weeks before school started, and I installed all the anchors,” Smith said. “I dug out the holes for all the baskets and cemented all the five-gallon buckets to put the anchors in. I buried all those buckets, leveled them all, and cleared fairways. I put the baskets together by hand, and then once I had them all put together, I went out and put the baskets in the ground with all the signage up in terms of the tee pads." 

Frank also built a course map and customized all the locations, sent in the sponsors’ information for the tee signs, and individually placed the correct stickers on each basket. He customized the league, putting the course on a professional website and adding locations and distances.

Hard Work Pays Off

All this hard work resulted in a nine-hole disc golf course on Taylor’s campus that is already in use. Students and faculty play and practice on the course, which Smith purposefully engineered in a creative and unique way.

One of the baskets, for example, is six and a half feet tall. For reference, disc golf baskets are typically three feet off the ground. Smith also used the ponds and lakes at Taylor to make the course more challenging.

“It’s been cool for me to see the creative side of me come out,” he said. He plans to use this creative outlook in his vocation: creative marketing. 

One basket is intentionally set higher than typical for disc golf, offering an additional challenge for players. 

Faith, Taylor, and Disc Golf 

During this time, Smith explained that both Taylor and disc golf have had a huge effect on his faith. 

“As a transfer student to Taylor, I got to see what a Christian college was like where they focus more on athletics and living up to Godly standards,” he said. “Whether it’s recommended-attendance chapel over mandatory, or worship nights, or good chapel speakers, or even having a DA (Discipleship Assistant) on the wing with small groups, seeing all that be accessible to me gives me a lot of opportunities to grow my faith personally where others are doing the same thing.”

Disc golf has also had a massive effect on Smith’s faith. During his first professional tour in 2020, he hurt himself while playing and let his negative emotions get the best of him. This incident made him realize that he was idolizing disc golf, so he quit for eight months.

“I let negative emotions get the best of me, and that is not glorifying to God,” he said. He didn’t touch a frisbee until May 2021.

After that, he would face more injuries as he tried to return to the sport. He prayed that he could eventually play again, and his prayers were answered. When he recovered, Smith practiced every day after work and found joy in realizing that he could still play.

“I’ve just really seen how God has allowed me to play this sport and enjoy playing this sport, while also being a loving example of Christ to others in the community,” he said. “Especially at my skill level—minor league—where a lot of people could be the best of the best, a lot of people have bad tempers.”

Smith said God kept him humble and showed him that he could do anything with work.

“Approach everything with an open mind,” Smith said. “I came into college very confident about what I was going to be, and I’m walking out a completely different person.”

A Disc Golf Club in Taylor’s Future

The next piece of Smith's plan is to start an official Disc Golf club. With a great course in place and faculty/staff support, it's definitely well on it's way to becoming an established club. 

“We have a team here that could win,” Smith said. “We could win nationals, not just D2, but over much bigger, more established college teams."

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