Family-friendly disc golf course opens in Manistee – Manistee News Advocate

This 18-hole disc golf course located alongside Lake Michigan is now open. It’s suitable for families, but ace runs are available on every hole to present more of a challenge for avid golfers.

“This is the first true 18-hole family-oriented course of this nature in west Michigan,” wrote Tom Oele, the former chair of the Manistee Parks Commission in an email to the News Advocate.

The course is a citywide collaboration between the Manistee City Council, the Manistee Department of Public Works and parks commission.

Work on the disc golf course at Lighthouse Park began on May 26. The Manistee County Community Foundation awarded $22,500 to the city of Manistee for the course in 2021. The Manistee City Council approved the disc golf course in February 2021.

The department of public works donated in kind, roughly $20,000 in manpower and materials to develop the course.

The course is now open, but an official opening is being planned for spring of 2023.

Hole nine at a recently opened disc golf course in Manistee overlooks Lake Michigan. 

Hole nine at a recently opened disc golf course in Manistee overlooks Lake Michigan. 

Courtesy photo/Tom Oele

The course, which Oele designed, is more geared toward kids and families than some of the professional courses he says have cropped up across the country.  

“It’s a safer course that’s designed for younger children and families,” Oele told the News Advocate in a March 2021 interview. “A good way to think of it is with real golf compared to miniature golf. This would be a miniature golf version of disc golf.”

Until recently, Oele said the Manistee area was lacking in opportunities for local disc golfers. 

“There’s great courses in the Traverse City area and there’s great courses in the Ludington area and if you look at a map of disc golf courses within Michigan, the Manistee area has always been this huge desert of really nothing,” he said. 

Around three years ago, Oele and other local disc golfers got together in the hopes of bringing this activity to Manistee, “in the right way,” he said.

That meant doing things a little differently than other places where Oele says disc golf has taken off. 

“(It’s) not a pro course like you see in Ludington or in Traverse City but a true family kids course of a full 18 holes, and then we end up using the property around Lighthouse Park, First Street Beach that was never used,” he said. “The open field, all the invasive species bushes that were off to the south — we cleaned all those out to kind of revitalize a lot of land that wasn’t being used in the First Street Beach (area).”

Department of Public Works employees smooth out concrete pads  during the groundbreaking of construction of an 18 hole disc golf course at Lighthouse Park on May 26. That disc golf course is now open to the public and a grand opening is expected to take place in spring 2023.

Department of Public Works employees smooth out concrete pads  during the groundbreaking of construction of an 18 hole disc golf course at Lighthouse Park on May 26. That disc golf course is now open to the public and a grand opening is expected to take place in spring 2023.

File photo

The first hole is located just south of the corner of First and Cherry streets, next to the wooden Lighthouse Park playground. The course can be accessed anywhere on the south side of First Street Beach.

This 2,656-by-3,500 foot course is for putters and mid-range discs only. The distance between holes is under 200 feet, according to a listing on dgcoursereview.com.

That means for park and pedestrian safety, no sharp edge discs (or drivers) are allowed. Park users also have the right of way at all times.

The course features a custom-made Manistee lighthouse replica basket built by the department of public works, Oele stated. 

A walking bridge across a sand dune area between holes nine and 10 will also be installed soon, with benches and trash receptacles expected to follow.

Other disc golf courses in Manistee include nine holes at the Armory Youth Project and five holes at Red Szymarek Park. The Udell Rollways disc golf course is located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest near Stronach Township.

Douglas/Lighthouse Park is located at 110 S. Lakeshore Drive in Manistee.

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