Campus pastime enjoyed by all


When the weather is warm and the sun still shines bright, students can be seen swinging golf clubs at tennis balls all across campus.

"It's a nice way to mix it up and be outside," said junior Andrew Ledbetter. "Every time [my friends and I] play, something new and exciting happens."

This campus mainstay is particularly popular among fraternity men. Members of several greek chapters enjoy playing campus golf with their brothers, some as much as five times a week. However, both men and women enjoy playing campus golf. Junior Elizabeth Machmeier described it as "depictive of DePauw students outside of academics."

"I usually play with a couple guys from my fraternity," said junior Lukas Meyer, an avid campus golfer.

Sophomore Taylor Richison also plays with his brothers and called campus golf "a great bonding experience."

Campus golf isn't just limited to greek organizations, though.

"It can also be a good way to spend time with someone you don't know really well and get to know them better," said senior Brian Groendyke. "It's easy to make small talk during the game."

Players have a variety of reasons for playing and welcome people of all skill levels. Meyer began playing campus golf because he felt he wasn't good enough for regular golf, while sophomore Patrick Nielson plays to relieve the stress and pressure of academics.

Unlike official golf, campus golf is played with tennis balls and the rules of the game are subject to change. For the groups that do make up rules, however, the first step is always to choose the target and set a par.

After that, the rules vary. Sometimes the player with the lowest number of strokes chooses the next target and other times he or she gets to tee off first or choose their position in line. Sidewalks and streets are generally treated in the manner of cart paths on a real golf course. Drops are utilized as well, should the ball land anywhere it cannot be hit from.

Just like in real golf, the idea is to reach the target with the smallest number of strokes. The main goal of campus golf, however, is just to have a good time. Skill level doesn't matter in the end.

"I'm pretty terrible at campus golf and inflict a lot of damage on the DePauw grounds, but love to play it," Groendyke said.

In the game, most players also start out on an equal playing field.

"There's a guy in my fraternity that is really good at regular golf and won state in high school, but in campus golf we're all equal," Ledbetter said. "You can only hit a tennis ball so far."

Campus golf is such a large part of the DePauw culture that Delta Gamma and Alpha Phi sororities even chosen to include it as an activity for their father-daughter events.

"Usually we do a tailgate," said Elizabeth Machmeier, director of campus activities at Alpha Phi. "But this year I wanted to do something a little bit different."

"Dads like golf, and it's good for girls who haven't played," Machmeier said. "Plus, [campus golf] is a staple of DePauw."

Despite the popularity of campus golf among many groups, not everyone plays.

"I've considered playing some times, but I remembered I don't have the funny clothes necessary for golfing," said junior Nathan Brown. "Not to mention I'd probably hit someone in the head with the tennis ball."

Freshmen often don't play because they don't know the rules or that it even exists. However, the activity has caught the attention of a few freshmen, including Mi Nguyen, an international student from Vietnam.

"I haven't played campus golf, but I would love to try it," Nguyen said. "It seems like a great way to relax."

Students walking around campus are advised to err on the side of caution when golfers are out playing.

"I sometimes almost get hit in the head on my way to classes," said freshman Kathleen Raymond-Judy. "It's a fun idea. I'd like to play."

"I'd like to play," mirrored freshman Jennifer Ridge. "My grandma actually bought me a golf club and said, ‘Jen, you need to play campus golf."

Whether you play or not, campus golf is a staple on campus. It entertains both players and spectators and gives people a chance to escape from the stress of studying. So as you're walking around campus during the warmer months, remember to watch out for flying tennis balls.