BLACKSBURG — After-work and lunchtime fun for the nearly 3,000 employees of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center is about to reach another level as the office and research park plans to add a disc golf course this fall.

The park, located just north of the U.S. 460 interchange in Blacksburg, announced this week that it’s building a nine-hole course on its southern end near Pratt and Kraft drives.

Dawn Crigger, the CRC’s director of operations, said the course is expected to become a recreational destination for the young adults who work at the park. She said the idea came from a civil engineering student she knows at Bluefield State College in West Virginia.

“Architecture and construction have always been something I’ve really enjoyed,” said Michael Whitley, the Bluefield engineering student. “Once I started playing disc golf, I’ve always wanted to design courses. After spending a couple hours on the Corporate Research Center’s property, it was just like a spark went off in my head.

“I just happened to ask Dawn about it one day, and she said they had a couple requests for it before, and I got the ball rolling.”

The office park’s landscape is ideal for the sport, Whitley said.

The purpose in disc golf, which has grown in popularity, is for players to land a disc in a “hole,” or basket, in as few attempts as possible.

The U.S. was home to 4,344 courses in 2015, according to the latest data from the Professional Disc Golf Association. Six years prior, the country had 2,630 courses.

PDGA membership has more than doubled between 2009 and 2015, going from 14,326 to 30,454 members during that period.

The New River Valley already has some courses, with perhaps the most prominent one being the Golden Hills Disc Golf Course in Christiansburg.

Located just off U.S. 460 at 390 Cinnabar Road, Golden Hills boasts 37 holes. Montgomery County states on its parks and recreation page that the course is only one of 19 in the U.S. with that many holes.

The CRC’s nine holes will be spread across lawns surrounded by buildings, trees and even a pond. A single basket will make up holes one and nine, Crigger said.

Several area businesses and organizations are helping to cover the cost of the course by sponsoring a hole. Whitley said each hole costs about $1,000, but he added that tee boxes and boundaries are also being added.

“It’s amazing how many guys who do work here value sports,” said CRC President Joe Meredith.

While the course is being opened for park employees, Crigger said it will also be available to the general public.

Other recreational spots at the CRC include an on-site fitness center, outdoor basketball courts and soccer and lacrosse fields.

Meredith said the recreational amenities also help the park’s companies with recruiting because they’re able to attract prospective employees with after-work activities that are not limited to a gym.

And being able to attract and keep employees helps the companies attain success, which in turn helps the park, Meredith said.

The CRC is home to nearly 200 high-tech companies and research firms, many of which employ or are run by Virginia Tech alumni. Spread across more than 230 acres of land, the park is home to 33 buildings.

Another smaller change coming to the CRC is the replacement of the CoffeeWorks Cafe with what Crigger said will be called the Tillerman Coffee Co. The new cafe, set to open in August, will be run by the same family-owned company that owns Hilltop Deli in Pembroke.

The biggest change to the cafe will be the addition of locally brewed coffee and farm-to-table food selections such as salads and sandwich wraps, Crigger said. CoffeeWorks served Starbucks brand coffee.

Meredith said the cafe change arose from calls across the park to expand the lunch options.

Aside from a menu change, the cafe will stay the same. Patrons will still be able to watch news on the television inside the cafe and have free access to the park’s 40-gig network.

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