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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.

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In any sport you find there will be newbs and elite players. Most sports though have a common field of play that makes it fair for all levels of players. That would include baseball, football, soccer, tennis, curling... The only difference is the skill level of the player. Golf, both ball and disc, doesn't have the luxury of a common field of play. That is what makes it so unique and interesting to the many that play these 2 great sports.

One thing that ball golf has that disc golf doesn't? It doesn't matter if you are right-handed or left-handed. There is always one curve or the over available to make the right shot to the hole. Fade, draw, slice, or hook. Each hole will have a preferred curve to play to minimize the risks. But that doesn't mean you have to play it that way. Most high handicap golfers though just don't have the skills to do that. And there is no help from the clubs. Each club is the same in that aspect. It is the swing that creates the clubface angle at impact to hit it straight, left, or right.

Disc golf has many disc molds and plastic types to create different stabilities. Thrown at a certain speed the disc will stay straight, hyzer, or anhyzer when the thrower flips it flat. Even newbs can achieve this skill level fairly quickly. It's all about knowing your plastic. Discgolf courses have been designed with this in mind. But many holes do favor right-handed back hand players. Especially newer designs in wooded areas. Older open courses are good for newbs and boring for longer throwers that have been playing for many years. And most newer courses are designed too long and tight for newbs so that it isn't fun when they hit the next tree only 10 feet away.

Ball Golf courses only have one green with many hole locations which makes putting interesting. There are undulations and grain of the grass to worry about which isn't always easy to read. And most ball golf courses offer 3-4 tee boxes. Women, Junior, Men, Championship. Putting in disc golf is rather boring compared to ball golf. The only thing that affects it is the wind and obstacles. Some DG courses have multiple basket positions and multiple tees can that can change the hole and course quite dramatically. And make it enjoyable for all skill levels as far as distance is concerned. But most older DG courses have one basket and one tee position.

I would put less emphasis on putting in disc golf and more on drives and approaches. These are the shots that make disc golf fun. A good drive and/or approach should be rewarded with an easy putt. Where as a bad drive/approach will end up with more difficult/longer putt. This is with the assumption that the basket remains the same. If the basket were smaller, then the emphasis could switch back to putting. And then, maybe, dg courses could be designed more like ball golf.

Well, the PDGA is a membership organization, and caters to its members.

There's no such thing* as "PDGA courses" or "PDGA course designers".  The PDGA doesn't put in courses; locals do.  The PDGA has guidelines but they're only that; no force of law, no restriction on how a course is designed or built, very little restriction on what courses can be used for tournaments, at least C-tiers.

* - except, perhaps, for the 3 courses at the IDGC

A wide variety of PDGA approved baskets exist with different characteristics. For instance a DGA Mach V basket will eject more putts than a Mach III. Different baskets at different holes would make putting more important. In Pacific NW we have terrain that makes putting difficult because of drastic terrain changes within 30 feet of basket. PDGA still rates courses so a pseudo standard does exist. Players play for enjoyment of course and if course sucks it won't be played even if it does have top of line expensive baskets. Players will play course where taped trees are targets if the course has a better design than a basket course. In fact it is the norm in Helena.

I understand that there are badly-designed courses and just plan bad courses.  The PDGA has nothing to do with it; it's a local issue, dependent on the people who arranged, designed (or hired a designer), and installed the course.  

Nor does the PDGA actually rate courses.  It allows members to rate them.

You have a really unusual circumstance if players are playing object courses in preference to basket courses.  And my sympathy if the basket courses are so badly designed that that is the case.

Our club recently paid out $1000 to help put in a 9 hole course some twenty minutes away (probably forty minutes from me). I have not even seen it yet but really have no plans to go there since the longest hole is only 300 feet. Yet another pitch and putt course. I don't see that as progress.

I'm sure that the locals are happy to have a nine hole course there.

The sport is simply not going to attract more attention or go forward in any way without more difficult and challenging courses. I know that those courses are out there, but they are just not near me.

I'm still waiting to see if we do get any new courses around here. the club is trying hard to get them. I'm just hoping that if we do get them they are worth playing. When we started out trying to get new courses our emphasis was to get something "world class" put in. We shall see if that really happens or not. I don't have a lot of confidence in a few folks and their course designing abilities. So far the only "progress" I have seen is that we pulled two very good pin positions at Cottonwood. That was ridiculous.

I keep explaining it is about the course. You can install as many bells and whistles you want but if the course design is better at an object course that course will be played more than a poorly designed basket course. In fact I've been to other towns with basket courses and I tell players on the course I'm from Helena. They immediately ask why am I playing this crappy course when I could be playing a beautiful mountain course in Helena. Once again we've been playing longer in the Pacific NW than any other region in the world. Many hidden courses exist on public land which is plentiful up here. Most of them are by No-Tell-Em Mountain. Players on these courses shun baskets and the PDGA. They are not joiners they are individuals with stickers on their trucks to prove it.

I agree that courses need to be designed for multiple levels. For the discussion that Jim started here though, I used the phrase "championship caliber", which to me implies courses designed for seasoned players and pro/advanced tourneys. We definitely need both though.

I don't know.  Many of the people who play aren't interested in challenging courses.  They're just out to have a nice afternoon in the park and chuck some plastic.  Those of us who are really into the sport and trying to improve are in a very small minority vs the guys who show up on weekends with a couple of discs and a cooler full of beer.  A friend of mine is a solid player but he doesn't want to play courses that are too hard.  If he can't birdie a hole, he's not interested in playing it.


I think that different tees could solve this issue. Easier tees for casual players. Harder tees for a challenge.

I completely agree multiple tees is the most economical and offers benefits to all players. It all starts with a good design, for example my local 9 hole course can be played at 3 different levels. Level-1 is the way is it designed, Level-2 is playing the holes backwards (sort of), and Level-3 is a simple skip over technique playing from Tee-1 to Basket-2 dramatically increasing the hole length.

The course was NOT designed with these options in mind, but it just works out perfectly by default. I basically have access to a 27 hole course with only 9 holes. Now that is an excellent design!

Using this design concept should be considered when planning a new course. A small 9-hole design will then appeal to most players. An 18 hole course could effectively become a 54 hole course.

Keep in mind that this can pose issues during crowded times with a lot of casual players present Common courtesy is a must! For example, we don't play the "back nine" when there are more than two other groups present. The "skip over" can only be utilized when there are less than 4-5 other groups present. Regardless, this concept does offer huge advantages for league play and is great for  those of us that don't like crowds anyway. I usually get out early in the morning and have the course to myself, afternoons can just be ridiculously crowded. 

Multiple tee pads should definitely be mandatory for new courses, it just makes sense.

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