Even in paradise, there are issues

In Cape Girardeau, MO there is a park called North County Park. This park has

Tee pad and sign for the #3 hole.

Tee pad and sign for the #3 hole.

playgrounds, a nature center, picnic areas, lakes, and a disc golf course. The course is still a work in progress, but it shows promise. The course has awesome bright orange, DGA mach V baskets that far exceed expectations and some of the most incredible tee pads and signage I have ever seen.

We were pushed for time and decided to play the “front 9” which

This is a tee sign! The trees, tee, basket locations are depicted accurately and the sign is pleasing to view.

This is a tee sign! The trees, tee, basket locations are depicted accurately and the sign is pleasing to view.

consists of holes 1-4 and 14-18. When we got to hole 14 a group of three were finishing 13 and we waited for them to finish and let them play through so we wouldn’t impede their game. As they approached the tee box one of the three said: “You’re not playing the whole course”. I jokingly responded: “That’s OK isn’t it? I mean, we aren’t in violation of any city ordinances are we?” Instead of engaging a sense of humor, this guy responded: “You don’t have to be a dick.” Rather than point out that we were letting them play through instead of making them wait for us or starting a fight over who was the biggest dick, we just waited and they threw their drives and went away. As they threw their drives each of them exited the tee box from the front knocking a retaining wall brick free of the the tee pad, the last of them stopped and placed the brick back where it was, but he didn’t take the basic care of pushing the dirt and rock back so the brick would rest firmly on brick rather than precariously on an uneven surface. So we made the repair and continued on with our game.

Cumulative disrespect caused this tee box failure.

Cumulative disrespect caused this tee box failure.

This course is normally immaculate – the park staff keep it super clean. We were on the course at the end of the 4th of July weekend and there was obvious disc golfer trash on the course: beer cans on the tee boxes and the like. It is too bad that even a course like this doesn’t get respect. When we got to the #14 basket it was dented. As over built as these DGA mach V’s are, that took some doing – but it may not have been disc golfers. The disrespect shown to the #18 tee box was really sad and the result of several disc golfers not caring about how they exited the tee box. It is too bad.

 

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Bad course design

During my little peregrination/disc golf adventure I played some courses that suffered from extremely bad design. The worst offenders were in the Boise, ID area. I had never played courses in the Boise area before and was shocked by what I saw.

Perhaps the worst designed course was the Settlers Park DGC in Meridian, ID. This 9-hole course is designed by the Gem State Disc Golfers, it is amazing they couldn’t see the problems with this course. Holes 1 and 3 have you driving into pedestrian areas. This activity can be done respectfully, but is it really necessary? Holes 4, 5, 6, and 7 ramp up the potential for conflict by actually using the concrete walking path as a fairway. Hole 8 uses a tree-lined route between two walking paths. Hole 9 brings the potential for conflict to a zenith by actually using the park restrooms as an obstacle! What is most disturbing is on line reviews of this course do not see problems with this course:

Pros: good use of fences, buildings, and other structures as an element of risk…”

Pros: …Holes make pretty good use of park features.”

Pros: … Enough obstacles to make it somewhat challenging. Overall enjoyable.  Cons: …The park is right next to a neighborhood, and hole 4 I believe it is, runs right next to a road with houses to your right so if you shank your shot you may end up in someones yard. Or worse, on their roof.”

Pros: …-Holes make good use of available terrain and park features, including the baseball fields…-Almost impossible to lose a disc, unless you throw it in someones yard or into traffic.                                                                                                                       Cons: …-You have to be careful of other park users, holes 8 and 9 especially. An errant throw on those two holes could hit somebody.                                                              Other Thoughts: This is a really cool park, with a cool course built around the perimeter.”

It seems obvious that when disc golfers put up courses that do not respect other park users, other park users do not respect disc golfers. In the Boise area, even other disc golfers do not respect each other. I was playing in a threesome on a crowded Sunday and we waited for a golfer throwing multiple drives, he did not acknowledge us and proceeded down the fairway to were his drives landed – where he then began playing with his dog in the middle of the fairway. It is not uncommon to have other disc golfers wandering through your shot for no apparent reason in Boise. Of course this is to be expected when the course design shows blatant disrespect for all other users. The photos below show some examples of bad holes in the Boise area:

Ann Morrison Park in Boise, ID - another drive down the walking path - 16 November 2013.

Ann Morrison Park in Boise, ID – another drive down the walking path – 16 November 2013.

Today this wasn't a problem, but is it really fun to throw at a BBQ grill? Earlier this course has you driving at cabins the park rents - why?

Today this wasn’t a problem, but is it really fun to throw at a BBQ grill? Earlier this course has you driving at cabins the park rents – why?

The goose-poop tee pad of Ann Morrison Park. You can hardly stand on this tee pad. The fairway is just as covered with goose poop. You and your disc will be poop covered when this hole is over (did I mention that you throw discs with your hands and there is no disc lavage station on course?). While there are no human user conflicts on this hole, there is an obvious wildlife conflict. This is a long hole with no real obstacles other than OB water to the right and beyond hole. That's right you get covered with poop and the only interest the hole offers is the risk of losing a disc. Did the designers have a bet on who could provide the worst disc golf experience? Did they think this hole was fun? Why?

The goose-poop tee pad of Ann Morrison Park. You can hardly stand on this tee pad. The fairway is just as covered with goose poop. You and your disc will be poop covered when this hole is over (did I mention that you throw discs with your hands and there is no disc lavage station on course?). While there are no human user conflicts on this hole, there is an obvious wildlife conflict. This is a long hole with no real obstacles other than OB water to the right and beyond hole. That’s right you get covered with poop and the only interest the hole offers is the risk of losing a disc. Did the designers have a bet on who could provide the worst disc golf experience? Did they think this hole was fun? Why?

Idaho has places that are not city parks (not that a city park can’t have an awesome course) or picnic areas where interesting and fun courses can be put up. The Bengal RIdge course in the Pocatello area is a perfect example of such a course. Courses that are disrespectful in their very design encourage poor behavior in the course users which causes other park users to see disc golf in a negative light which ultimately retards the growth of the sport.

Woodsy Awesomeness Awaits…

On 24 October 2013 I had the opportunity to play Liberty Park in Franklin, TN, and must report this course is AWESOME! Imagine a short, technical, wooded course with every amenity you could desire:

Bag hanger and bench on hole #1

Bag hanger and bench on hole #1

Tee Pads? Check.   Signs? Check. Signs to guide to next tee? Check. Signs to make certain you reach the next tee? Check. Benches? Check. Trash cans? Check. Spiffy baskets? Check. Bag holders for while you drive? Check! Some fairways delineated with timbers? Check! Wood chipped fairways? Check! Interesting shots? Check! Multiple pin placements? Check! A

View from tee pad of hole #1

View from tee pad of hole #1

method to communicate where the pin is? Check! Awesome scorecards with maps on them? Check!!! Custom golf score pencils? Check!! Turkeys within 10′ of you while throwing your approach shot on #8? Check!! Craft beer on tap at every tee box? Well, not quite, but this was a great little course. The holes are short (which, lacking big guns, does not offend my arm) and there are only 10 holes – which is sad, because you do not want this course to end so soon.

The choice to play this course was made because I needed a quick fix before showing up at my Niece’s swim meet. I will play this course again – it is sweet. I believe that this is a great course to introduce beginners to the fine art of throwing discs into trees… so do not be afraid to bring children to experience the woodsy awesomeness of this course!

E. pluribus signage. That is 'Latin' for out of many signs, this is for hole #1.

E. pluribus signage. That is ‘Latin’ for out of many signs, this is for hole #1.

Now we all know there is always one, in every crowd… there was another disc golfer on the course while I was playing (ahh the solitude of a weekday round), and when we ran into each other he would complain about how poorly maintained the course was (not even saying ‘howdy’ first). He finally shut up when I said I thought this was the best maintained wooded course I had ever played and that I really wanted to go play wherever he was from because there must be some super awesome courses. He did not tell me where he was from and did not (but probably wanted to) tell me where to go.

Anyway, until we figure out where that guy was from, this is one of the nicest courses I know of and worth playing if you happen to be near Franklin, TN.

Sharp Springs Disc Golf Course – signature hole

The Sharp Springs Disc Golf Course is a really impressive place to play disc golf. The

Look at all the landscaping associated with the #1 pin - this is a sweet course!

Look at all the landscaping associated with the #1 pin – this is a sweet course!

course is well maintained, well signed, well designed, and major fun!  It has open holes, wooded holes, long holes, short holes, but the signature hole for this course has to be #9. You tee off from trees perched above a pond, drive across the pond to limestone outcroppings that embrace the pin. I have played holes that have made me laugh, that were sadistically difficult, or just had beautiful flight paths. Sharp Springs #9 is short, but it is beautiful and the disc flight, while straight, is beautiful as it spanks out of the trees into the open above the pond. A very fun hole to play and I believe the signature hole of the course.

Smyrna#9plus