SPIN DOCTORS

MARQUETTE – Students at Marquette Alternative High School are preparing to build a new disc golf course near the Vandenboom campus in Marquette Township.

“We want to develop this as part of our alternative curriculum and just to encourage healthy habits and outdoor time for our students, as well as township residents,” said Brian Prill, a teacher at MAHS.

Prill developed a similar project when he taught in Grand Marais with the Burt Township School District.

“The first course in Grand Marais had pretty enormous success and drew a lot of people and economic activity in the area,” he said.

Rather than using a club and ball, disc golf is played by throwing a Frisbee. And similar to traditional golf, the object of the game is to complete each hole in as few tries as possible.

The sport was formalized in the 1970s, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association, and while the hole can be a number of disc golf targets, the most common is an elevated metal basket.

The Marquette Township course, which is planned to be named Eagle Rock, would be the fifth such course in the area, following one at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, the Silver Creek course in Chocolay Township, the Powder Mill course and one at Bothwell Middle School, both in Marquette.

The Eagle Rock course near Vandenboom is being developed as part of an Economics and Government class project, according to a letter Prill and students wrote to township officials.

“The ultimate goal of the project is to provide the student body of MAHS with a positive outdoor recreational activity that will encourage positive behaviors and enable students to see the positive economic benefits of developing recreational areas, while also having students interact with local bodies of government to accomplish a goal to better serve their community,” the letter states.

The township board on Tuesday approved of the project and unanimously decided to award $2,000 toward development of the course, which is close to the township’s recently revitalized Lions Field Recreation Area, near Erie Avenue and Cherry Street.

“I think it comes into play well with our recreation field, so why not have it,” Trustee Danny Pompo said.

The total project is expected to cost about $10,000.

Prill said they’ve already received a grant of $1,000 to be used on the course from Project UNIFY, which is associated with the Special Olympics, and the group is also seeking additional funding to cover the remainder of the cost.

In addition to helping survey the property, and design and build the course, students will also help write the grant requests, which will likely take place over the winter, Prill said.

“This is one of the things I value most about this school – the experience of being able to put this disc golf course in,” said Alec Glenn, a senior at MAHS.

The 18-hole course will take players on a run through a wooded area near the Vandenboom school that could probably be completed in 45 minutes, Prill explained.

The course will be open to the public and have a kiosk explaining the basic rules of the sport, and future maintenance is expected to be provided by MAHS students.

“It’s just a great sport for young people,” Prill said. “It has a low-threshold cost, there’s not a lot of equipment needed and it’s a popular thing for young kids to go out in small groups and play.”

Prill said he hopes to have the Eagle Rock course completed by October 2016.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.