Why it is ImportantDesign is a critical factor in the long-term success of any disc golf course. The designer starts by recommending an ideal location for a course, taking into account terrain, unique features, and other park activities. A qualified designer will then produce an overall layout, set the hole lengths, and determine the pars – all based on what’s best for your site and player base. The skilled course designer will then maximize your disc golf investment within the constraints you establish.
All course designs should take these several factors into consideration.Safety & Fairness, Balance, Variety, Strategy and Character
Safety & FairnessSafety and fairness are the foundations of good course design. A well-designed course minimizes the risk for disc golfers and non-disc golfers alike. A good course designer routes the course away from potential dangers and creates fairways that reduce the likelihood of throws landing in streets, parking lots, and adjacent fairways.
A fair course rewards good throws, punishes bad throws, and provides varying degrees of success for throws in between. Luck will always be part of the game of disc golf, but a good course designer will never accentuate the element of chance. An enjoyable and satisfying disc golf experience can only result from a fair and safe course.
The best designs feature distinctive holes and innovative layouts that are scenic and fair. But the bottom line is the playing experience: it must include shot-making options, opportunities for risk management, and the need for a variety of shots... and it has to be enough fun to keep players coming back.
John Houck of HouckDesign
designer of more than 100 courses, including the Circle R2 Disc Golf Resort, featuring the 3 courses that host the PDGA World Doubles Championships
BalanceA well-balanced course will have a mix of long and short, open and tight, left, right and straight fairways.
VarietyThe course should require a wide variety of different skills (shots) to avoid obstacles, negotiate terrain challenges and to score well.
StrategyThe design should require good decision-making, putting a premium on correct shot selection and placement.
CharacterCourse design should highlight the special features and inherent beauty of the land itself.
Land ConsiderationsHow much land will you need for your disc golf course? For starters, it depends on who'll be using it. If the target audience are school children who need to complete the course for gym class, you can use as little as 2-3 acres and make a course that’s 1,000 to 2,000 feet. But, if you hope to host a championship, you may need 30-40 acres to hold a course that’s 7,000 – 10,000 feet or longer.
A good course designer has detailed knowledge of the flight patterns of modern discs, keeps up with trends in course design, and is familiar with top courses around the world.
designer of more than 20 courses, including the famous Winthrop Gold Course, home of the US Disc Golf Championship.
Disc golf courses work in all kinds of settings: there are courses in the flood plains of the Mississippi River and on the ski slopes of Colorado. One of disc golf’s most attractive qualities is that courses can be successful on almost any size plot, in virtually every type of terrain, and with any kind of foliage.
Terrain and foliage density will also impact the amount of land needed. Downhill throws experience wider spray patterns. These holes require more land to avoid impacting other areas. Conversely, uphill holes tend to minimize spray patterns. They also help provide “power” holes in less space. The density of foliage will dictate the amount of buffer space between holes. Trees and bushes in critical places helps to contain errant throws.As a rule of thumb, an acre per hole is a good estimate, but the more land you have available, the better your course can be. If you have a choice of areas, look for some of the features that always enhance a course: mature trees, changes in elevation, creeks, and ponds. Whenever possible, put your course in an area away from other activities and structures.
A qualified professional designer can help you pick the best place to put your course. Using the best features of your property, the designer will then create a playing experience that is challenging, fun, safe, and fair.