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I'm interested to know what the breakdown is of private and public courses, and what proportion of private courses are run on a commercial basis. Are there any trends in either direction for courses being installed now? I noticed that some public courses are instituting fees, is this common? Is your course primarily there for you and a few buddies? or do you promote it to a wider audience, but only look to cover costs? or do you see it as a business that at least pays you for your time and maybe a profit?
Speaking for myself and my Quarry Park course, I am moving through that spectrum. My course was low level usage for the first 11 years, for personal and logistical reasons. Then I spent $35,000 on a new access and car park etc. and put things on a more commercial footing. Income and expenditure have grown very quickly, so it is more of a business than just a hobby, though as yet there has been no net profit, or payment for my time. I just plough the money back in, and the course has improved a lot.

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My private course is a no fee, invite only situation that is a hobby. The usage is pretty low right now as I am kind of out in the sticks for most, but I do invite over the cub scouts, have private tournaments, throw a few rounds with friends. I'm hoping that my boys take to the sport and start having friends over as they get older.
I have 3 locations here in Maine all Pay For Play. The first Enman Field in Brunswick has two 20 hole courses and a Pro-Shop. The second is Dragan Field in Auburn it has a 18 hole course and a Pro-Shop. The third is Pleasant Hill in Scarborough has an 18 hole course and a 9 hole course and also has a Pro-shop. Enman Field was built on family owned land that I recently purchased(opened 06/96). Dragan Field is built on land that I bought for the sole reason of building a course or 2 on (there is room for another course)(Opened 07/00). Pleasant Hill was built on the remains of an old 9 hole Traditional course(opened 10/07. If I survive the payments for the next 9 years I'll consider them to be successful.
The land I grew up on is now being put to the test to become the first private course in our Eugene OR area. After showing the club several pictures so they could get an idea of what I was talking about the interest sky rocketed. In a few weeks the Westmoreland club will be coming out for a visit. The only problem I know that I will have is getting money together for eighteen baskets. Then when they are in how would I set it up as a pay to play course? What are the permits that you must have in order to have the public do something of private land? Would it be Ok to accept donations if that were to happen?
You will have to go to your Town Office to ask those question's, I have 5 courses at 3 locations in 3 different towns and the answer to those questions was different at each one. You should also talk to your insurance agent as Home Owners Insurance will not cover your disc golf course.

Good Luck

IMO, accepting donations will muddy the waters when putting in a pay to play course. Hard to charge people who gave you money to put the course in the ground.
I own Beaver Creek Mini Disc Golf Course. It is a severe hobby as well as a small business. On the property I have 10 rental cottages for tourists and promote Disc Golf through this medium. I have spent about $25,000.00 on baskets and the Mini DIsc Golf business over the years and have recouped most of it. I do not charge to play the course, but these entry level people do not have discs and this is where I make alot of my money. I have also installed a 18 hole Mini Disc Golf Course in a nearby Public park with the Mini Baskets that I made and have recieved a big financial boost from this. As long as I am having fun it is a hobby with financial gains. I love it.
My course (Wildapple Disc Golf) is private, but listed in the directory, and I invite everyone to come and play - open Sundays or call for an appointment! The charge is $5 per day. But I have been waiving charges until I am satisfied with the course conditions. I believe I will quit waiving in the spring! I bought this 40 acres in 1978 and started playing disc golf in 1999. Obviously I did not buy the property with disc golf in mind! If I paid myself $10 per hour for all the time I put into course building, I would easily have enough to buy baskets, but I cannot afford baskets for the course. At this moment there are borrowed baskets in place! I am working towards having a course and proshop which will pay me enough to eat and make payments for things like the electricity, but there will have to be a lot more traffic to make that work. My business "TnT Discs LLC" is also housed on the premises, so stocking the proshop is not an issue, but right now it is more of a warehouse than a proshop. I have never heard of a course that made it commercially without some other significant source of money besides greens fees, and proshop sales. Everything I am familiar with has started or continued as a labor of love with tons of unpaid time put into it. Can someone buy land, build a course and a proshop, and recover all expenses through sales and greens fees? I hope so, but I haven't seen it yet. Somebody please tell me it can and has happened!
Derek, I am glad you are getting increased traffic, and I really hope you will get that net profit, and pay for your time. The access and car park are new since I was there. It is true that your example has provided me with a lot of inspiration!
Poppy, I sure would like to hear more about your enterprise!
Just a quick update on Quarry Park.In 2008, we upgraded all short and long tees to have synthetic grass tee-pads and hole signs. Just recently I have installed a converted shipping container, which now serves as a pro shop. Numbers are definitely up on last year, maybe 30-40%. We will be hosting the 31st British Open in 2009.


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