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HouckDesign Blog

Dakotas and Drones--HouckDesign Team Growing in New Directions with Joey Schmit

Updated: Mar 3

Joey Schmit, expanding the art and of science of course design with HouckDesign

Joey fell in love with disc golf in 2002 and has been a crucial member of the disc golf community of North Dakota ever since. As the PDGA State Coordinator for North Dakota, Joey volunteered much of his time to the sport and hosted dozens of tournaments and events including clinics for hundreds of people to enjoy. His infectious attitude for disc golf won him the “Disc Golfer of the Decade” award in North Dakota in 2016.  He has played over 350 courses across 22 states.

  Joey Schmit doing what he loves -- disc golf

As the Creator/Administrator of the Disc Golf Course Designers Facebook Group since 2014, Joey has been volunteering his time to manage and run that group. It's a group where anyone who wants information on course design, can join that page, and learn from everyone else. The page has over 3,000 members currently.


Joey has designed 40 temporary courses and 13 permanent courses. Joey's expertise in drones, remote sensing, GIS, and LiDAR technologies directly ties into course design and planning, aligning with his vision for the sport's growth. He spoke at the Inaugural Course Design Conference in 2014 on Drones and Disc Golf where Dee and John met him for the first time.  Since then, there has been much drone usage in disc golf -- from DGPT events to home made drone videos by players of their favorite courses, and everything in between. Course Designers have used them to market their services or showcase their designs.

Dee Leekha-Houck has been considering how to create efficiencies in the design process through the use of LiDAR, and had spoken with a few other experts already when Joey showed John and Dee sections of a high resolution footage about a year ago to explore possibilities. HouckDesign has considered developing ways designers can use high resolution LiDAR in their process to reduce on-site time for several years. "On-site design takes a lot of time, and it's not easy for designers to travel as much as we do being full time designers", says John Houck. The hope is in areas where this type of technology can be applied, a lot of the work may be able to be done off-site. This is different than how design has been executed historically by John and the industry at large.

Joey Schmit showing images captured by a high resolution LiDAR at 3DG-CON 2023

The LiDAR today may not offer enough details and lacks the exact functionality that might be needed to use it effectively in all natural areas and in all the ways needed in disc golf course design. However, even today, it can be used on many projects where high resolutions details can be visible enough to create designs. This use of LiDAR could reduce design time and reduce travel time and travel costs to sites. More than anything, it will create a newer and easier process with more detailed documents which will benefit all on the project team.

John and Dee were quite impressed with Joey as he took the initiative to reach out to them and offer a presentation on high-resolution LiDAR and Dee and John could see it's usage and application in design practices. Joey was invited to speak and present on the topic at the 3DG-CON Course Design Conference hosted by the Houcks at Maple Hill Disc Golf in Worchester, MA, November 2023. The Houcks plan to experiment this year with Joey on multiple projects to develop how to best use this technology and if it's feasible financially and indeed effective to create efficiencies.

Dee Leekha-Houck and Joey at the 3DISCgolf Course Design Conference, 3Dg-CON Nov. 2023

Joey’s favorite part of disc golf course design is the ability to utilize all the knowledge and skills he has gained throughout his life experiences to spark that same passion in others. He is immersed in the sport, and he is enjoying it tremendously as it allows him to work in an industry where he enjoys being in nature.

This year Joey and Emma, Joey’s true life partner, celebrated 15 years of marriage.  Their two daughters, Tilda (8) and Rowan (6) are the best part of their world, and they have them at the core of their decisions for activities and adventures. "They keep as positive of an attitude as possible and enjoy life to the fullest," says Joey.

Rowan, Emma, Tilda, and Joey living life to the fullest enjoying the great outdoors.

John and Dee are also positive that Joey will make great contributions as they work together in multiple different ways to grow the sport in new directions. We welcome Joey to the HouckDesign Team as we innovate design practices in ways that will help all designers through the use of existing technologies. We are so delighted Joey has joined our team.

Here's to the bright future to Joey with HouckDesign and to creating the art and science of course design together!

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