An article on the ideal setting for a Disc Golf Course.
The following information may be of interest to Councils and other custodians of public land (e.g. the Department of Conservation).
Every disc golf course takes on the special character of its environment (typically a park or reserve). Courses are designed to enhance this character and feeling of place.
• Disc golf courses typically have 9 or 18 baskets (although other numbers are perfectly possible, e.g. 6 or 12 baskets). Space requirements might vary between 1 to 3 holes per hectare, depending on the length of the course (the longest courses being typically, though not exclusively, for more advanced players).
• Close to centres of population, ideally within easy walking distance (see exception below: destination courses). Courses in residential suburbs are more likely to see high levels of use by the local community (and good participation rates for women and girls).
• Fairways must be of sufficient interest to play disc golf, with a suitable variety of terrain and obstacles. Completely open spaces are not suitable, because too dull. Interesting terrain will usually consist of mature trees and bushes, but may also comprise water obstacles (streams, ponds etc.) and/or changes in elevation (hills, gullies, terraces etc.). These obstacles create interest, as they require cunning plans and accurate execution to overcome. Note that often no special landscaping is required to support disc golf, just regular grass cutting and tree management.
• Easy access and parking.
• Easy to walk around for older folk, or those with impaired mobility.
• Pleasant surroundings.
• Free to play.
• Availability of public toilets and drinking water (we accept that these are not always available).
• Some shade and shelter from sun, rain and wind (typically in the form of mature trees). A suburban course will typically have quite a few tee-pads and baskets that are partly or wholly sheltered.
Unlike most sports, disc golf is a “multi-use” activity, meaning that disc golfers share the course with other park users, be they dog walkers, joggers, etc.. The sport has a focus on safety. By the rules of the game, disc golfers may not throw when there is a risk of hitting other park users. Players wait patiently (part of the culture of the game) until the fairway is clear (for example while a dog and walker move on). Experience shows that disc golfers achieve a harmonious relationship with these other park users. Safety of park users is an obvious and important part of course design. For example, a well designed hole will have players throwing away from high traffic areas, rather than towards them (example: children’s play area). Having a clear view of other park users is another important aspect of safety.
Littering and delinquency (e.g. loitering groups of school children smoking cigarettes) tend to diminish where disc golf is played.
As well as using the suitable main spaces of a public park, disc golf courses typically also use the less well used spaces on the fringes of parks (because this is often where the most interesting things for disc golf are, such as mature trees and bushes). This brings an increase in security for all park users.
Disc golf courses rarely use spaces that are laid out for other sports (e.g. sports pitches). Rather, they are designed to avoid them.
Destination courses make use of ideal terrain in regional parks and recreation reserves. Such courses may be longer, and in more challenging terrain (but not necessarily so).
Destination courses are needed to support keen players as they grow and develop, and demand greater challenges. They provide interest to the most regular players, and help to relieve pressure on nearby suburban courses.