Guest post: Checking out 10 of the top disc golf courses in the country

by Jack Gaddens — for Rattling Chains

When people think about disc golf, they might picture it as something of a college quad-style hobby — and indeed that’s sometimes the general atmosphere for a lot of disc golf enthusiasts.

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Of course, you can’t actually play a proper round of disc golf on a quad, but the basic atmosphere is an appropriate description — friends playing a casual, competitive game out in the open. However, many don’t realize just how much disc golf has spread.

In fact, in terms of its general spread and fan base, it’s getting closer and closer to actual golf!

OK, so that might be a little bit dramatic. Golf has worldwide appeal, is considered a major sport, and is constantly televised. Its players make millions upon millions of dollars at the pro level, and at the sports betting blog from Betfair, fans can even take their own risks simply by speculating who might win a match!

You get the idea — disc golf may not reach the level of traditional golf in the near future or create the amount of money ball golf does. But where the two may be more similar than one might think is in the availability of courses. All over the U.S., there are now outstanding disc golf courses made specifically for this sport, rather than acting solely as golf courses that can be messed around on.

The beauty of this game is how people can look at courses so differently. Some people like long, some short. Some may like hilly or a tree-filled course. Others might want it wide open to let it fly. It’s all subjective.

So just for fun — and in case you’re traveling any time soon and want to get in some disc golf — here are 10 of the top courses throughout the U.S., in one writer’s eyes. Enjoy!

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Poll 58: Walking to courses

Before we move on with the poll, the Rattling Chains staff would like to thank everybody who made women’s week so successful. We’ll continue this annually as long as the site is up and running.

weekly_pollWe’ll also write women’s stories throughout the year, so if you have ideas, feel free to e-mail.

And now on with the show.

One of the other writers on the site, Jack Trageser, sent a whole heap of poll questions to use a few months back. One of them seemed really interesting because it shows the difference between ball golf and disc golf.

He noted that sometimes, a disc golf course is located a bit from parking. So how far will somebody walk to play a course?

Yes, it may seem a little odd to some, but consider one course in upstate New York. It’s not the greatest of courses and, unless you really were looking, most wouldn’t know it existed. There are baskets, but it’s not the easiest to navigate. And to get to it? A good half-mile hike around a pond.

But we’ll get back to all of that in a few moments. First, let’s check back with our last poll, when we asked if you had helped in the growth of the women’s game.

Despite being on the site for two weeks, the poll garnered a disappointing 73 voters. Of those, 81 percent (59 votes) said they had helped the growth. The other 19 percent (14 votes) said no.

Let’s see what some people had to say:

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Poll 57: Growing the women’s game

This upcoming Sunday (May 12) is Mother’s Day.

In conjunction with that, we’re going to be doing our second Women’s Week on Rattling Chains. We’ll have a more in-depth post this weekend about what to expect and such, but it’s our way of helping to try and promote and grow women’s golf.

weekly_pollThere won’t be a poll next week, so it seems to be a good idea to run a poll that deals with women’s golf and can run throughout next week.

But, we’ll catch up with that poll in a moment.

First, let’s go back to last week’s poll, check the results and see what some people had to say.

We wanted to know what type of disc golf was your favorite? This one wasn’t even close and, honestly, we wouldn’t have expected anything different.

A good mix won easily, garnering 89 (79 percent) of the 112 votes. It’s good to see golfers want that mix and challenge of having to deal with different obstacles, terrains and everything in between.

Wooded came in second, gathering 14 votes (13 percent), followed by doesn’t matter, as long as there are baskets! (7 votes/6 percent) and open courses (2 votes/2 percent).

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Poll 56: The courses on which you play

One of the great things about disc golf is the variety in many things associated with the sport — discs, baskets, terrain, courses etc.

But courses — that’s a place where the variety kicks in.

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Woods, open fairways, random trees, crazy mandos, island greens — you name it, it’s probably out there.

With this poll, we’ll be discussing types of courses — but we’ll get back to that in a moment. First, let’s travel back to last week when we asked where disc golf ranked in your life.

Not surprisingly, it seems to rank highly with people. Not always as the No. 1 be-all thing, but high in an overall sense of where you see the game. As with many things in life, this poll showed a variety of answers and reasons why.

Of the 119 who took part in this poll, 61 percent (73 votes) said disc golf was their favorite outdoor activity. Second was obsessed  nothing ranks higher, which garnered 31 votes (26 percent). That answer was followed by a sport I enjoy playing (10 percent/12 votes), just getting into disc golf (2 percent/2 votes) and something I dig doing when I have the chance (1 percent/1 vote).

Let’s see what a few people had to say:

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Poll 44: Building disc golf courses

OK folks, it’s poll time.

The sport of disc golf is something that people look at on different levels. There’s the one-disc player, casual players, kids, tournament players, local pros and top pros.

weekly_pollThere’s probably more there, too.

But the essence of furthering this game goes beyond playing or beyond giving somebody new a disc. The game has to be out there to grow. Though this is a fast-growing sport, there are still a lot of people who have no idea what the game is.

One big thing is the lack of courses in some places.

Despite being able to tell people what the game is all about, or have them throw a disc in an open field or to a portable target, there needs to be more courses. Because as fun as this game is, if you show somebody and they then have to drive an hour or more for a course, the odds are probably more against that person not playing again than going and playing.

All courses have a place. Whether it’s a 9-hole pitch-and-putt to a well-designed 27-hole championship course. Still, they have to be built.

But we’ll touch more upon this below with this week’s question.

First, lets check back to last week’s question when we asked what your favorite type of disc to throw was.

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A long road to create the PDGA course directory

By Allen Risley – for Rattling Chains

As a big fan of Disc Golf Course Review, I had to read the profile of its history that ran on Rattling Chains.

The article — and its follow up –was great. Steve Hill did a fine job of highlighting the the various tools available on DGCR – tools I have made a great deal of use of over the past several years. Whether it’s searching for new courses to play, tracking the courses I’ve played, building a road trip itinerary or searching for plastic through the marketplace, DGCR is a great resource. And I’d like to feel I played a little part in making DGCR happen.

You see, I compiled the first PDGA Course Directory.

The original PDGA Course Directory. (photo by Allen Risley)

The original PDGA Course Directory. (photo by Allen Risley)

I had to chuckle a little when reading about the frustrations of DGCR founder Tim Gostovic in regard to planning disc golf road trips using the “check the entire Internet” method. Imagine how frustrated he would have been back in 1984, when there was no Internet to check! Hell, at that point there wasn’t even a complete list of courses in printed form to check, much less one with a search function.

Early disc golfers – those with 4-digit or lower PDGA numbers – typically used word of mouth, a dog-eared copy of the PDGA Pro Tour tournament calendar, or an old copy of Frisbee World or Flying Disc Illustrated magazine to find new places to play.

And paper maps — lots of paper maps.

There weren’t a whole lot of places to find. Back in the early 80’s there were only a few hundred disc golf courses in the ground. In Florida for example, where I played, many of our tournaments were played on temporary courses set up just for the weekend using objects, homemade targets or portable DGA baskets. So even the tournament listings weren’t a sure bet to use to find a new course – it may have been packed up in someone’s trunk right after the trophies were handed out.

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What’s a 9-hole course worth to you?

Nine-hole courses can be as scenic and as challenging as 18-hole courses. (Note, this image comes from an 18-hole course)!

Is a 9-hole course worth anything?

It’s amazing to hear someone say that a 9-hole course isn’t worth the land it’s on. But I’ve heard that — more than once.

This came up recently on one of the local club’s message boards. There was discussion about a 9-hole course and one of the area players was quite adamant about the waste that is a 9-hole course.

Someone asked about a possible course and if it would start as a 9-hole layout. They were told that it would be 18.

A response came about “it must be” 18 holes. And that “most people” think the 9-hole courses are a joke. Nobody plays or cares about them. And, of course, no tournaments.

And being this person said it, it must be the truth, right?

What followed was some banter where people defended 9-hole courses and, of course, couldn’t sway the naysayer.

Apparently, it’s a mental exercise for people to argue in favor of a 9-hole course, he noted. Yet, his brain doesn’t have enough cells to argue with “this sort of craziness.”

Then, as if this was a court case with closing arguments, it was noted that “Disc golf courses have 18 holes. Period. More than 18 is even better.”

Quite the interesting situation, I’d say.

The benefits of a 9-hole course are easy enough to explain — it’s a place for people to play, it gives options, you can get through a 9-hole course quick enough and, if in a good spot, it can be just as challenging and scenic as an 18-hole course.

The fact that one person feels his opinion is the ultimate say on this matter doesn’t irritate me. That happens in everyday life. But the realization here is that 9-hole courses do have their place in this game.

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Weekly disc golf wrap: News and notes

It seemed somewhat quiet in the world of disc golf this week, at least in regard to traditional media.

Maybe it’s because the eyes of the golf world are watching that other type of golf in Augusta?

Nah!

There were some interesting news items this week, however, so allow us to share them with you! Check ’em out for some good reading!

And for those who celebrate it, Happy Easter!

April 7

April 6

  • Hidden Sarasota: Park transformed by disc golf (Sarasota, Fla.)

April 5

April 4

April 3

  • New Saginaw Township disc golf course adds to sport’s growing popularity (Saginaw Township, Mich.)

If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!