How to turn the campus into a fairway

Now that it’s springtime in Goshen, you’ll probably start noticing groups of students wandering around campus swinging at tennis balls with golf clubs. Don’t be alarmed, they are only playing a unique college sport called campus golf. The game is simple and is played like Frisbee golf.

“It’s easy to play, and doesn’t take many resources,” said Marshal Watson, a sophomore.

All you need is a tennis ball (it’s safer than a golf ball) and a golf club.  Players choose targets on campus and then try to get their ball to touch the target with the fewest amount of strokes. The length of the game and any additional rules are up to the players.

“The only rule I was taught was to fill in the divots,” said Ben Adams, a sophomore. (It’s better not to upset the groundskeepers.)

Targets can range from the sides of buildings to campus landmarks to trees. Some favorite targets from campus golfers are:

“The Broken Shield”—Austin Sprunger, a sophomore, and Bill Born, vice president for Student Life

“The Adelphian fountain, both inside the fountain pool and up onto the rungs of the sculpture”—Nate Klink, a sophomore

“The Rott doors and the cross by the Chapel”—Adams

“Sky Rhythms”—Watson

“From the bookstore to the library, it was a par one, over the fountain shot that could really make or break your day”—Chris Neumann, ’09 alumnus

While some players have favorite targets, others have favorite spots to hit from:

“The wall by Main St., up on that mound and hitting toward the area between Coffman and the Rott”—Rikki Entrekin, a sophomore.

“The golf course, because the grass is nicer and softer on feet”—Adams

Students aren’t the only people who participate in the sport.

“Whenever I see students outside, I’ll ask to join in,” said Born. “Part of the intrigue is that it’s such a creative thing and a statement of spring; the weather breaks and students come out.”

Students started playing campus golf a few years back and have passed on the game to younger students. Of the people interviewed, most learned it from older siblings or friends, except for Chris Neumann, a 2009 graduate, and his friends, who probably started the sport at the college.

“I don’t exactly remember how we started playing it,” said Neumann, “either a friend told us about it at another college, or we just happened to have a club and a tennis ball.”

Neumann and his friends usually played the game with 5 to 10 guys. If more people showed up they’d partner up and teams would play the best ball. This group of friends labeled their tennis balls, had a course laid out and also came up with phrases to go along with the game.

“Holes included trees, park benches, the Broken Shield, the book store doors, that statue in front of the RFC [and] the tennis shed,” said Neumann.

One of the most interesting phrases from Neumann’s group: “‘Part of the crew, part of the course’–this meant if your ball hit a person, bike, professor, etc. it counted. No redo. Even if the person threw your ball elsewhere, you had to play it where they threw it.”

The sport of campus golf is not something that originated at Goshen College. A Google search turned up a Wikipedia article and various college Web sites talking about the sport.

In the United States, a campus golf organization called almostGolf plans campus golf tournaments at various participating colleges. The group has also developed their own foam golf ball for use in the tournaments.

However, GC’s style of campus golf is more relaxed than the organized golf groups. GC campus golf uses tennis balls, which are harder to control than regular or foam golf balls. This means people of all skill levels can have fun with the sport.

According to weather.com it should be sunny and 50°F this Sunday—great weather for a round of campus golf. Now that you know how to play the game, go out and relish the sunshine while sharing a round, or more, of campus golf among friends.

Side box:

The Unofficial Rules (according to Austin Sprunger, Ben Adams, Marshal Watson, Nate Klink, and Rikki Entrekin):
•        Players must replace divots
•        Players must wear tank tops
•        Players must be barefoot
•        Cloaks are optional
•        Stay hydrated
•        Enjoy the game

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Written by Sara Alvarez

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