Meek Seeks To Place World-Class Disc Golf Course on Dormant Nichols Park Golf Course

By Benjamin Cox on May 9, 2023 at 2:09pm

Sean Meek holds up a proposed design of a disc golf course for the former city golf course at Nichols Park.

The Jacksonville City Council heard about the rising popularity of disc golf last night.

Local citizen Sean Meek who is a part of the local Jacksonville Disc Golf Club says that the sport is growing in popularity. According to, nearly 5 courses were installed per day last year, with over 14,000 courses worldwide. Over 1.2 million people signed on for an official round of competition last year, according to the report.

Meek says Central Illinois is one of the areas where the popularity is growing, with courses now in Pittsfield and Springfield. Meek says that the unique thing about the growing number of disc golf courses is that many are being placed onto traditional golf courses.

Meek has proposed to the city to place a world-class, competition ready course on the currently dormant city golf course in Nichols Park. He says that by using the current traditional golf course’s amenities like carts and the concession stand, the proposed course would be yet another attraction for the growing sport and to bring in people to the city for athletic tourism. The city currently has a 9-hole disc golf course at Foreman Grove on East College Avenue. Meek says it’s a great starter course for people new to the sport, but offers little challenge to the more seasoned player who is involved in club competition in the area.

Jacksonville City Council Parks & Lakes Committee Chair Lori Large-Oldenettel says that her committee and the full council are going to take a close look at Meek’s proposal: “I think he made a good presentation. Honestly, it will be up to the Parks & Lakes Committee to vet his proposal and have some conversations with some of the department heads and get their input. Depending upon the outcome of that meeting, we will make a recommendation to the city council as to whether we should move forward with it or not.”

The municipal golf course has long fallen under criticism from both citizens and past and present city council members alike for being a money pit that costs thousands of dollars in annual maintenance, upkeep, and most recently renovations.

Oldenettel says that one of the things the parks & lakes committee will look at are the hard numbers that Meek presented to the city in his presentation. Meek has offered to fully fund and fund raise for the installation of all 18 holes.

Oldenettel says the disc golf course is a possibility to help the golf course break even: “I think it’s possible. I think it would all depend upon the number of people who would truly come to use the disc golf course. At this point, [Meek] has some really good numbers, but it’s uncertain at this time. We do give quite a bit of money to the golf course, and it would have to be pretty substantial, I think, to break even on it.”

Meek says he has received some push back from Keith Ward at The Links on the proposal. According to Meek, based on prior conversations he’s had with Ward, Ward doesn’t believe a traditional golf course and the disc course can coexist in the same space without causing problems. Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says that Ward would also like to turn 3 of the holes on the former city course into a practice area for high school traditional golfers.

Despite the push back, Meek still believes the two entities can coexist peaceably. He says through fundraising and help from Gateway Disc in St. Louis, he can install a temporary course within the next few weeks to work out any problems with their proposal before permanent baskets and tee off spots are permanently placed.

Meek says he hopes to bring a competition of national scale to the course within the next two years. He says a previous national competition hosted in Peoria brought in over a thousand people from across the United States over a two-day period last year.

Oldenettel says Meek’s proposal will be talked over at the next Parks & Lakes Committee hearing within the next three weeks.