Chelmsford Disc golf courses offer a range of opportunities and benefits

Chelmsford – Katie Symes has a vision of the 27 “holes” of disc golf that stretch across Chelmsford High School and the McCarthy and Parker campuses. It expands beyond being just part of the physical education curriculum.

Chelmsford Public Schools recently installed its third nine-hole golf course – which covers the Parker Middle School campus – to match those installed in 2019 at the Chelmsford High School and McCarthy Middle School campuses.

“I think it’s unique to have three courses on the school grounds,” said Symes, in her eleventh year as Health, Physical Education, Family and Consumer Services Coordinator for Chelmsford Public Schools (year 20 at Chelmsford). “All three courses are close. I’ve seen players make the transition from McCarthy’s course to high school. Parker’s No. 1 hole is on the right-hand side (Graniteville Road) of the high school’s No. 9 hole, so it’s easy to play all 27.

“It’s an activity that anyone of any age can do,” she added. “The students love it. I can see people using the course for fundraising in the future. It’s very cost-effective.”

Discs used in golf.  (Courtesy of Chelmsford Public Schools)
Discs used in golf. (Courtesy of Chelmsford Public Schools)

An avid gamer, Chelmsford K-12 Science Coordinator John Morris helped plan the course while the Chelmsford Department of Public Works installed the three courses. Courses are open to the public after school hours and can be accessed in physical education classes during school hours.

“It wasn’t expensive to take the course,” Sims noted.

The CHS course, the largest and most challenging of the three, has par 3-5 holes while McCarthy’s holes range from 3-4 par. The course at Parker is a par 3 straight, designed for new or younger players. While nearly half of the golf course’s holes are in wooded areas, all but one of the holes are in open ground so that PE staff can keep track of their students.

While golf has long been part of the physical education curriculum in middle and high school, Symes hopes to further advance the sport. A golf club is still in the planning stages at the College of Humanities, and Symes hopes to see development in outdoor use from businesses and institutions.

Both CHS and McCarthy courses are listed on UDisc.com, an online directory of nationwide golf courses that offers maps, photos, player reviews, conditions, and other pertinent information (many instructional videos are worth watching). According to the UDisc Disc Golf Growth Report 2022, there are 13,323 courses worldwide and an average of 5.28 are being built per day. The sport is played in 79 countries with 90% of all tournaments being free to the public.

Area schools with disc golf courses on campus include Weston Middle/High School; King Phillip Regional School in Norfolk; Lunenburg Primary School; Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury and Bridge Primary School in Lexington.

Symes earned her associate’s degree (2003), master’s degree (2008), and advanced graduate certificate (2012) from Salem State University. A native of Lowell, lives in North Andover.

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