If you meet someone on the streets of Jackson and ask them about disc golf, chances are they have heard of it and know someone who has played before. Disc golf is like that song you heard in that one commercial. You really like the song, but you don’t know where it’s from. Like those summer time earworms, disc golf lives in that same space for most people - right on the edge of their minds. It seems like disc golf has always been on the edge of the public mind, but that’s slowly changing. From the mid 90’s “The Summer of George,” episode of Seinfeld where George was obsessed with “Frolf”, to the summer of 2018 when disc golf pro Paul McBeth was featured on ESPN for his -18 “Best Round Ever Played”, the sport has been growing all around us. Whatever you know about disc golf, it’s very exciting to see that Jackson is helping to grow the sport.
Disc Golf can trace its origins to 1920’s Canada. While the modern game’s development is debatable, one thing is certain, disc golf has always been about community. When you hit the course, nine times out of ten you’ll see people in groups, playing, laughing, and talking.The true lifeblood of the sport is that it thrives on people coming together regardless of skill level, education, or economic status. Simply put. disc golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Easy to learn, but endlessly challenging, disc golf’s similarities to traditional “ball golf” make it quick to learn. Disc golfers throw plastic discs hundreds of feet, around trees, through tight tunnels, over bodies of water, all with the goal of bringing the disc to rest in a chain basket within a certain number of throws. At its highest level it’s a sport where sponsored pros like Paul McBeth play the world tours for cash prizes and show up on ESPN from time to time. It’s also an activity you can enjoy with your kids.
Michigan is known for some of the best disc golf in the world and the Jackson disc golf community has been working hard to bring top level disc golf to Jackson County. If you want to partake in some local disc golf, Jackson College and Ella Sharp Park have some great offerings!
Jackson College Disc Golf Course
First developed in the early 2000s, the Jackson College Disc Golf Course is a mainstay of south-central Michigan disc golf. The course has been through a few updates over the years, but it’s most recent version is by far the best. The Jackson College Disc Golf Course’s main layout is a beginner/intermediate friendly course. The 2017 update added longer and more creative holes, cement teepads, and brand new course signage that give the course a professional feel. Since these recent updates, the Jackson College Disc Golf Course has grown in prominence as a local hotspot for both league and casual play.
Located just seven miles south of Downtown Jackson on the campus of Jackson College, this lightly wooded course, while not incredibly difficult, is very fun to play for both the beginner and the advanced player. The lack of hazards, and plethora of easy shot lines make it good place to learn the sport. For the player with more experience and a bigger arm, the wide open layout and handful of 450-500’+ holes make the Jackson College Disc Golf Course a fun place to just rip the disc and let if fly.
All in all, the Jackson College Disc Golf Course is a beautifully maintained course with enough interesting tunnel shots, elevation changes and dogleg lines that make it fun to play again and again.
Ella Sharp Disc Golf Course
Ella Sharp Park is now the home the South Central Michigan’s newest disc golf course and is a long time dream come true for the Jackson area disc golf community. Opening in 2018, this moderately wooded course in the heart of Jackson has brought in hundreds of disc golfers from all over and is quickly becoming the “must-play” course in southern Michigan.
The Ella Sharp Disc Golf Course is some of the most fun you can have playing disc golf. The course is challenging with some tight tunnels, low ceilings, all wrapped up in a beautiful park setting. This course has something for everyone! For the beginner, it’s a beautiful place to throw, and just challenging enough to where you can see your progress with each return trip. For the more advanced player, each hole feels like it was designed with a specific purpose and there is something really enjoyable about playing the intended lines.
It’s like playing a intricately constructed puzzle - when you’re done, there's nothing you can feel other than satisfaction!
Course designer, and Jackson area Disc Golfer “Ninja” Nate Yarbrough says that his hope for the course is, “...That it brings people from all over the state to Jackson. I hope it draws the attention of people who have never played, especially kids. I want this to be a disc golf destination.” It’s his meticulous care in designing the course that does just that.
Yarbrough and Ella Sharp Park have achieved this goal by crafting a beautiful course that is playable and accessible to players of all levels. At Ella Sharp Park you can bring your family, meet with your friends, learn a new sport, and enjoy what the Jackson community has to offer in a new way.
Whether you’re looking for something to do with the family this weekend or are an avid disc golfer looking for your next weekend challenge; grab your discs and some friends, and get ready for some disc golf!
Want to play but don’t have any discs? Both Jackson Meijer stores sell discs from Innova Discs in their sporting goods sections. Pick up an Aviar, Roc, and Leopard and you’re ready to go!
In the area and looking to plan a South Central Michigan disc golf weekend? Check out some other great courses nearby!
Victory Park · Albion, MI
Big Portage Lake · Grass Lake, MI
Baw Beese Lake / Owen Park · Hillsdale, MI
Ketchum Park · Marshall, MI
McCourtie Park · Somerset Center, MI
A very special shout out to Stephanie Belcher, Brad Choat, Nate Yarbrough for their input on this article.
Written by Del Belcher
Del is a Jackson Country resident currently living in Spring Arbor with his wife Stephanie and daughter Carly. When he’s not doing other things, you can find Del out on the disc golf course with his Secret Rules Disc Golf teammate, Brad Choat. Follow Del’s disc golf adventures on Instagram: @delbelcher.