New Championship Disc Golf Course Sure to Be Huge Boon to Bedford
With five highly-rated courses currently in operation, Bedford County is already a standout spot for disc golf in the U.S.; with its sixth course now open, it is likely to garner attention worldwide.
The New London Tech Disc Golf course, which boasts a finalized design by five-time disc golf world champion Paul McBeth, is slated to open at the New London Business and Technology Center (NLBTC) this spring. Bedford County Parks & Recreation Operations Coordinator Kenny Palmer first saw potential for the course in 2014.
“In 2014, I became aware of the disc golf course potential at the NLBTC due to the utility easements and clearing on the property,” Palmer recalls. “I filed it away in the back of my mind because developing the trail system was the focus at that time. This past summer, I presented the Bedford County Economic Development Board and the Bedford Regional Water Authority with a plan for the course.” After some slight modifications and a finalized design by McBeth, work on the course began late last fall.
McBeth’s involvement in the course stemmed from an unlikely source: the pandemic.
Last spring, Palmer offered McBeth the opportunity to play a new course at Independence Park that was not yet completed. The Professional Disc Golf Assocation was encouraging its professionals not to play on public courses, and McBeth took the opportunity and played the then-private course. McBeth was so impressed by the course that he designed a pro layout for it, and he decided to do the same at NLBTC after Palmer took him on a tour of the property.
“Paul immediately recognized the potential for a top tier professional style course [at NLBTC]and was on board from there,” Palmer says. “It’s been a great experience working with Paul. He has disc golf insight well beyond anyone I’ve met.” According to Palmer, McBeth believes that the New London Tech Disc Golf Course “could be one of the top courses in the world.”
Several things set the new championship course apart from others in the area. “The long and relatively wide fairways through the woods with very little elevation change is unique and gives the course a European course–feel, according to Paul,” notes Palmer.
Additionally, this 18-hole course is more than 11,500 feet long with three par 5s, eight par 4s, and seven par 3s, whereas most Virginia courses are between 4,000 and 8,000 feet with mostly par 3s and 4s. The course also features an abundance of out-of-bounds, so, as Palmer says, “players must focus on both accuracy and distance.”
The course officially opened on Friday, April 9 after a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony. Members of the general public are able to play, but it is important to note that this is a professional level course. Luckily, an amateur level course option is in the works.
Palmer expects that Bedford County tourism, which is already on the rise, will skyrocket with the opening of this new course. People from around the state and country are already traveling to Bedford County just to play our courses, and this course is like “the cherry on top,” he says. “A Paul McBeth–designed championship course is going to cause an influx of professional players as well as fans from everywhere.
We already see it at Independence Park.”
“The most remarkable thing about the new disc golf course is that it checks three important boxes: it provides recreation, it boosts tourism, and it promotes quality of life,” says Bedford County EDA Chairman Jim Messier.
Business recruitment at NLBTC is also likely to surge due to not only an influx of outside visitors, but also to an increased focus on quality of life for employees.
“We believe it’s easier for businesses to attract great employees when quality of life in an area is present,” says Palmer.
“A business park with miles of multi-use trails and a world class disc golf course certainly offers prospective employees and employers ample opportunity to improve their quality of living. Playing a round of disc golf at lunch or after work is an opportunity to get outside, exercise, and have fun.”
Simplimatic Automation CFO Sara Orange agrees. Her company moved to NLBTC in 2015, and she says that she and other employees make use of the trails often and look forward to trying out the course as well. “The trails are great for walking, jogging or biking,” she notes. “Many employees—and their families—enjoy them during their lunch break, after work or on the weekends. We are very excited about this addition to the park and think it will provide another option for people to get outdoors and enjoy what the park has to offer.”
Palmer has high hopes for the New London Tech Disc Golf Course, and the community response to the project thus far has given him every reason to do so.
“The community support for the project has been incredible,” he says. “So many people have contacted me expressing thanks and support. I’d like to think that this course will be regarded as one of the best in the world and that that reputation will bring people from around the world to Bedford County. We’ll see.”
Photos by Jenna Burling