Service: Design and Site Planning
Location: University of Massachusetts
City: Amherst, MA
The Big Idea for the design of Orchard Hill Disc Golf at UMass Amherst was to connect Orchard Hill Residential Area to Sylvan Residential Area, and beyond. The final 18-hole course will take advantage of the underutilized open space of Orchard Hill, while providing a connection between residential areas and surrounding land uses such as Sylvan Forest, The University Meadow and multiple school systems in the area. The course currently has a 9-hole loop installed in the Orchard Hill area, where the university can gauge it’s success, impact and maintenance requirements before moving forward on the back nine.
What was once home to Massachusetts Agricultural College (which ultimately became University of Massachusetts), Orchard Hill was a haven for crop plantings, experimental test plots and gardens. Once the college began to expand, it eventually moved to the other side of Prexy’s Ridge to where the majority of UMass’ activity currently exists. With the course sitting on this unknown piece of history, we have turned the course into an education classroom by providing environmental education throughout the entire course. Each hole has its own topic — from the history of the campus and the onsite activities it once offered to highlighting mountain view sheds and plant identification. Each tee sign also comes with disc golf beginner tips — touching on the importance of wrist snap and knowing the weight of your disc, in addition to the benefits of positive thinking and showing proper etiquette on the course.
The 1st hole begins adjacent to the campus observatory, which is the highest point on campus. Views of the surrounding mountains can be seen from the 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th holes. The 2nd and 3rd holes run in the northerly direction, moving users to a beautiful on-site pond that is adjacent to the 4th tee. The 4th hole is the tightest, and longest on the course, where players are moved near large blackberry brambles that were in the exact location of environmental test plots back in the late 19th century. The 5th and 6th tees are framed by equestrian relics, while the 7th hole provides views of Mount Toby as players emerge from the tightly wooded fairway. The 8th and 9th holes connect back to Orchard Hill Residential Area, bringing visible promotion to the sport and Innova baskets by this densely populated portion of campus.
What we hope to be viewed as both a recreational resource and outdoor educational classroom, we believe that the design of Orchard Hill Disc Golf at UMass Amherst will help bring some much needed attention to the sport of disc golf in Western Massachusetts. We aim to strengthen community connections and significant on-site features through cohesive design and site planning, all the while taking users on a “focused hike” through select portions of campus that few at the University of Massachusetts even know exist.
* Innovation Grant by Professional Disc Golf Association
* Large Grant by New England Flying disc Association