Service: Design and Installation
Location: Gateway Regional School
City: Huntington, MA
The Big Idea for the design of Gateway Regional School’s 6-hole “pocket course” was to utilize the hillside above the athletic fields by providing a beginner-friendly disc golf course for students, faculty and local residents. The layout of the course, designed by Board members of The Explore Disc Golf Foundation, was done in such a fashion that each hole connects users to the jaw-dropping rock outcroppings that can be found throughout the property, as well as specimen trees and vantage points over the Westfield River.
The 6-hole “pocket course” features top of the line Innova DISCatcher Pro baskets, 25 DX discs and the EDGE curriculum; all of which were donated by 501(c)(3) non-profit, The Explore Disc Golf Foundation. After raising funds via their annual “Rafflepalooza” tournament at Flat Rock Disc Golf in Athol, MA, The Explore Disc Golf Foundation and it’s Board members donated their time, direct services and materials in the creation of Gateway Regional School’s new disc golf installation. Between the middle school and high school there are over 1,200 students on site every day, while the school grounds hold anywhere between 5,000-7,000 at any given time during the fall soccer tournaments!
Strategic locations of the 1st tee and 6th baskets were selected to be placed in the field above the access road to increase promotion of the sport through visibility of the baskets and students using the course. These holes were located in close proximity to one another so beginners can play a quick a 2-hole loop without having to invest time in the rest of the course. As players chose to progress up the hillside to holes 2-5, they are relatively out of view from those using the athletic fields, but are taken to some of the most awe inspiring landforms we have come across in our time designing disc golf courses.
Designed to be a technical, yet beginner-friendly course, the 6 holes at Gateway Regional School provide a wonderful infrastructure to get new players introduced to the sport. Many holes are short “ace runs” to build confidence and excitement, while others traverse the rugged hill side, yet reward you by taking advantage of the dozens of massive rock outcroppings on site.
The 1st and 2nd holes are short — measuring only 160′ in length — but see a change in elevation of 25′ and 40′, respectively. The 1st hole is a tight dogleg left, while running alongside a rock wall that delineates the property boundary. The 2nd hole is a much more open dogleg right with the basket tucked all the way back by a mammoth rock outcropping that will also feature a seating area for students to observe. The walkway around the 50′ tall rock provides faculty an opportunity to take advantage of this outdoor classroom, while moving users of the disc golf course to the 3rd tee situated at the top. The 3rd and 4th holes run down a 4-wheeler trail, with more rock outcroppings and specimen beeches popping up out of the hillside. The 5th hole features a beautifully framed fairway with towering maples, while the 6th hole provides one of the most exciting shots on the course. The 150′ finishing hole, the shortest on the course, provides a rush of excitement as players take a crack at their very first hole in one! An access road to the athletic fields is in the distance — and is marked as Out of Bounds — so be careful about disc placement, as anything long runs away as the “turtle back green” slopes away from the basket down towards the road.
Overall, the 6-hole “pocket course” at Gateway Regional School is a wonderful use of space, and provides a tremendous opportunity to educate youth about the sport of disc golf and the restorative benefits of nature. The course design provides a wide range of required shots, while the layout moves students and faculty throughout a breathtaking piece of property at the foot of the Berkshires.