CHELMSFORD — Katie Simes has a vision for the 27 “holes” of disc golf spanning Chelmsford High School and the McCarthy and Parker middle school campuses. It expands much further than simply being part of the physical education curriculum.
Chelmsford Public Schools recently installed its third nine-hole disc golf course — covering the Parker Middle School campus — to go with those installed in 2019 on the Chelmsford High School and McCarthy Middle School campuses.
“I think it’s unique to have three courses on school grounds,” said Simes, in her 11th year as the PreK-12 health, physical education and family and consumer services Coordinator at Chelmsford Public Schools (20th year at Chelmsford). “All three courses are in close proximity. I’ve seen players go from the McCarthy course to the high school. Parker’s No. 1 hole is right across (Graniteville Road) from the High School’s No. 9 holes, so it’s easy to play all 27.
“It’s an activity that anyone at any age can do,” she added. “The students love it. I can see people using the course for fundraisers in the future. It is super cost-effective.”
Chelmsford’s K-12 Science Coordinator Jon Morris, an avid player, Assisted with the course layout while the Chelmsford Department of Public Works installed all three courses. The courses are open to the public after school hours and accessible to physical education classes during school hours.
“Putting in the course was not expensive,” Simes noted.
The CHS course, the largest and most challenging of the three, includes holes between par 3-5 while McCarthy holes range from par 3-4. The course at Parker is straight par 3, designed for first-time or younger players. While roughly half of disc golf course holes are located in wooded areas, all but one hole is located in open land so that physical education staff can keep track of their students.
While disc golf has long been a part of the middle school and high school physical education curriculum, Simes is hopeful of further advancing the sport. A disc golf club is in the planning stages at CHS and Simes is hoping to see a progression of outside use from businesses and organizations.
Both the CHS and McCarthy Courses are listed on UDisc.com, an online guide of disc golf courses Nationwide which offers maps, photos, player reviews, conditions, and other pertinent information (the many instructional videos are worth a watch). According to the 2022 UDisc Disc Golf Growth Report, there are 13,323 courses worldwide and an average of 5.28 built each day. The sport is played in 79 countries with 90% of all courses being free to the public.
Area schools that have disc golf courses on campus include Weston Middle/High School; King Phillip Regional School in Norfolk; Lunenburg Elementary School; Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury and Bridge Elementary School in Lexington.
Simes earned her undergraduate degree (2003), Master’s degree (2008) and advanced Graduate study certificate (2012) from Salem State University. A native of Lowell, she lives in North Andover.