The Community of Disc Golfers and About All Things Disc Golf
Does anyone out there actually think about what disc golf should look like in say five years? What should we change about the sport? And I'm not just talking about growing the sport by getting it on TV or things like that. I'm talking about course design, bigger and longer courses with par 4s and par 5s. I would actually like to see that and think that we should get away from what I call the "miniature golf" version of disc golf where you have to shoot through the "clown's mouth" at the basket. Par threes with a basket behind a tree is kind of played out already. Think about the best courses in ball golf and how that could translate to disc golf.
I like to push holes long at our course (not all of them) as a way of testing to see who are the best players out there. You don't put everything long but there has to be a mix just like in ball golf. The difference at our course (Cottonwood) is that some holes have enough positions so that the basket can go from being quite short to very long. In ball golf the green can't really be moved so a hole has a set par and the cup just gets moved. I run both a singles league and a doubles league so if the winning score in doubles is 14 under or better then we know that we should probably put a few baskets deeper, that things are a bit on the easy side. Last week the winning score in doubles was only 9 down so the course was set up fairly difficult and was a good test. Generally we try to set it up so that 10 down can be a winning score.
Does anyone else share my vision of going away from the simple par 3 courses to something longer and more challenging. Could we ever have a course in disc golf that could compare to say Augusta in ball golf? I do realize that this kind of approach would require larger pieces of land so it isn't always feasible. We could maybe even use the model of par 70 or par 72 which is quite common in ball golf.
There is always a push back if you try to do things like this but I feel that it would be well worth it and great for our sport.
BTW, I started playing this sport back in about 1983 before everyone really knew about real golf discs. We used Whamo Ultimate Frisbees and played an object course with a par 2 which was a blind shot at a sundial and a par 5 which had a shortcut down a fence line. Other targets were fence posts and even a manhole cover. Things have really changed since then.
I understand your desire for longer holes. However, I recently played at Tom Bass park in Houston that many long holes, some were 600'. Many were greater than 500'. This allows for a longer approach shot but eliminates any potential for an ace or birdie (when played as par 3). I played the course 4 times and it became very boring real fast. Longer is not always better. When it comes to course both aspects can be accommodated by alternate tee locations. Design as a standard par 3, but make the design such that the hole 1 alternate tee plays to hole 2, Tee 2 plays to hole 3, etc. There are many possibilities for short and long tee combinations with a good versatile design.
With regard to the future, I would like to see some pay to play courses offer riding carts for those of us (me) that are getting older and are exhausted after 18 holes of lugging a bag of discs in the heat of summer. I would like to see a hole-19 clubhouse complete with a pro shop, food and drink, and a place to hang out after a round. I would like to see cart girls driving around selling drinks just like ball golf. Better signs for the hole description, more night time playing, high visibility flags on baskets, and benches at every tee box.
Well a longer hole that is a par 4 at maybe 700' or 800' feet would still leave the possibility of getting an eagle, just like in ball golf. I know that the PDGA has some recommendations for par as it relates to hole length. Alternate tees are also a great idea. Cart girls with beer would be awesome. And pay to play would be a great way to cut down on the riff raff.
I was really thinking about ball golf in a way when I posed this question. The top players get tested on the top courses in the country and it would be great to see something similar with disc golf.
Lots of good ideas David.
Olympics !!!!! I always wanted to see Disc Golf as a Truly Competitive International Sport. Where Intensity , Sportsmanship and Integrity are Showcased on a Global Stage.
Players would be Drug and Alcohol tested and all use the exact same equipment. Any Unsportsman like conduct of any kind would result in automatic Disqualification.
Even as big as it's grown, Disc Golf is nowhere near the status to get in the Olympics. The IOC did just recognize the WFDF as an organization, but I suspect that's in advance of perhaps seeing Ultimate as a demo sport. We at disc golf have a long way to go before it's a popular enough sport to gain recognition. It's played in a number of countries now but it's still a fringe sport in all of them.
Living in Florida (sun, sun, sun, surf, disc golf), created artwork for the 'surfing' industry for years....
Need to make disc golf as cool as surfing and it will make it.
Not everyone needs to be a top pro, but be cool disc golfing.....
Jim, I'm not sure about your area, but around here that future is already here. There are plenty of new, longer courses with par-4s and par-5s. Though I've played a couple of par-70ish courses, I think most of these challenging courses tend to work better with pars in the 60s.
No real par 4 or par 5 courses around here. However, I have heard that the Denver area has some better courses but have not ventured up there. Also there are some cool mountain courses maybe an hour's drive away. I know that there was a fire in between the towns of Pine and Conifer and there are a couple of courses up that way. A friend of mine was raving about a course up in Bailey, CO.
Developing more courses with par 4s and 5s would change the mental aspect of the game as well. On longer holes a person would have to think about "should I lay up or go for it", much like in ball golf. I could see a good mix of pars being used, maybe one par 5 on the front nine and one on the back. Throw in a couple of par 4s on each nine and you would have a challenging mix. I really relish the longer holes on our course, not because I can crush it and probably birdie them, but because I love a challenge and I also love to watch the best players do their magic on these long holes. I may think that one of our holes is long and difficult and then someone steps up and hits the basket pole with a drive. And then they get bragging rights as well. It is fun to watch.
I am actually a bit worried about the future of one of my favorite local courses, Cottonwood. There is talk of a complete redesign of it for safety's sake and I am afraid that we may lose some of our longer holes and the course will become significantly easier. Nothing in stone right now and talk is that nothing will probably change until we get a new course in town. And of course safety is a big issue. I would rather see the course lose a few holes to say maybe 15 or 16 holes than to see it go to a short "chip shot" type course. Right now it's just wait and see on that front.
Best of luck. Forced changes on a disc golf course are rarely beneficial.
The course began on and, oddly enough, still play most, is Earlewood in Columbia, SC---and old-school, all-par-3, deuce-or-die course. But a fun one. Nevertheless, you definitely wouldn't want a disc golf world full of such courses, and I'd lament it if that was all that was available to me.
Columbia has added a couple of longer, higher-par courses, and is located between Augusta, GA, and Charlotte, NC, where there are some real monsters. I own and live on a private course that has several layouts, including a true par-63. (There's also a 13,000 foot course on a ball golf course an hour away, if you really want to talk about "big"). So the future you talk about is here, at least here.
Or, more accurately, parts of the future---longer, more challenging, higher-par courses, and private courses. There'll always be a place for the old-school birdie-fest courses, too.
I think this sport is in a similar position as ball golf. I am an avid player of both. I started playing ball golf in 1983 and disc golf in 1993. Most of the older courses in ball golf(except major championships) are becoming much easier due to technological advances. Clubs are more accurate and balls are much faster compared to 20 years ago. This is called progress. But unless there is land to expand upon, the courses can't be made longer. Isn't this true in disc golf as well?
Discs have become longer/faster. When I started the best driver(at least I was told then) was the cyclone. I could throw it about 350 feet. Now I'm throwing a star katana about 450 ft. that's 100 ft in 20 years! Huge!
Put that in perspective to golf balls. In 1993 the top driving distance on the PGA tour was 288.9 yards by John Daly. in 2013 it is 305.7 yards by Gary Woodland. That is an increase of 16 yards if my math is correct. Going back to 1980 it was only 274.3 yards. Many courses built in that time frame have had to be lengthened to keep them competitive.
Is that the general direction in disc golf as well? I understand the need for companies to bring out new plastic and new discs. That's the way they really make money. And it keeps the sport interesting. But is better and faster the answer? Many of the old par 3 courses would be very interesting again if the disc was slower. Pros wouldn't be shooting -18 all the time ;) And courses would actually fit in parks better. Maybe even two courses.
Here in the USA we have plenty of land. So longer courses are not much of an issue as long as land prices are not high. In other countries around the world it is much more difficult. Land really isn't available in large quantities for recreation. And many countries set aside land for conservation that can't be used for it either. Or at least not for permanent courses. When I lived in Switzerland we setup many temporary courses for tournaments. And tore them back down Sunday. It is only one example. Some countries like Sweden and Germany were able to break through. But they are the exceptions.
Which direction should our sport follow? I can't answer that. But maybe someone higher in WFDF or the PDGA should give it more thought.