The City of Fairmont has been working to highlight local businesses this year, but when COVID19 came to our area, we did not feel comfortable continuing with things they way there were when we started this initiative. As we work towards businesses reopening and feeling comfortable encouraging the community to patronize these businesses soon, we decided to highlight one of our amenities in the City that is sort of a "Hidden Gem" and not necessarily a business, but something that the community can still enjoy and go see for themselves while taking it as an opportunity to be outdoors.
Nestled in the beautiful landscape of Morris Park are two incredible disc golf courses. And behind these courses are a group of players who also volunteer their time to maintain the courses: the Seth Burton Memorial Disc Golf Course and the Orange Crush Disc Golf Course. The Fairmont Flyers DGC and Fairmont Lady Flyers have worked so hard to make the courses some of the top courses in the NATION and we would like to share some of their story with you throughout the month of June!
In the early 2000s, a group of recreational disc golfers, then known as the West Virginia Disc Golf Association, helped establish the Seth Burton Memorial Disc Golf Course at Morris Park, now recognized as the #1 destination for disc golf in West Virginia and the 29th best course in the nation as ranked by discgolfscene.com. Now operating as the Fairmont Flyers and Fairmont Lady Flyers Disc Golf Clubs, the groups help operate not only one course, but two of the top 50 ranked courses nationwide. Nestled deeper in the woods of Morris Park is Orange Crush, an advanced course designed and constructed by members Phil Burton and Joshua Smith in 2007. Orange Crush contains many twists and turns as well as elevated baskets on rustic stone fireplace remains.
Both courses have served as a passion project for Smith and Burton throughout the years. “We have tens and thousands of dollars invested in the courses,” says Burton. “All money raised goes back into the courses and there has been thousands and thousands of volunteer work.” There are currently 36 tee baskets and 36 tee pads on both courses.
In a typical year, the club will hold 4 PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) sanctioned events. At these events, participants from all along the east coast flock to Morris Park to compete based on division and class. “People come here from all over,” Burton exclaims. “We had over 100 participants at our largest tournament, consisting of folks from 11 different states.” All sanctioned events lead up to the Seth Burton Memorial Disc Golf Tournament, which is currently scheduled for September 19th and 20th of this year.
Along with the 4 sanctioned events, the clubs also work with local service and charity organizations for two non-sanctioned events per year. The groups have raised over $40,000 since 2004 for the Soup Opera with the Ice Bowl and Chili Cookoff event. “We’re actually in the top 10 nationwide for money raised for the Ice Bowl,” says Joshua Smith. Along with the Ice Bowl, the groups also host the Glow Bowl in partnership with the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties. “In the early days of the Celebration of Lights, they had set up some of the light displays in front of some of our baskets,” says Smith. “Flyers members said Hey, we still play here year round. Would you mind moving the displays so they don’t block the baskets?” The United Way complied with the group and also offered to partner up for an annual event. Ever since then, the Glow Bowl has been very successful.
When asked about the appeal of disc golf to newcomers, Smith had an easy answer. “It’s free to play, low cost, minute to learn, and lifetime to master,” he replied with. “You can take it as serious as you want. All you have to do is buy a disc.” Ginny Guedes and Heather Bonecutter, members of the Fairmont Lady Flyers also had some encouraging words for newcomers. “Lady Flyers is entirely free, we have a whole collection of loner discs, and you can find us here every Monday at 5:30,” exclaims Guedes. Bonecutter encourages anyone interested to find them on Facebook or simply walk up to a member on Mondays and ask “What do I do?”
The courses are very easy to find at Morris Park. There are also directional maps and course markers throughout the park. If anything, playing a round of disc golf is great, easy exercise for men & women, old & young, and all skill levels. The City of Fairmont is honoring the disc golf clubs as a part of our Local Business of the Month campaign for the month May. The Fairmont Flyers and Lady Flyers encourage anyone interested to check them out at on Facebook and to come stop by at Morris Park to see what it’s all about. You can find the Lady Flyers on Mondays at 5:30 and the Flyers on Tuesdays at 5:30.