The Early Stages of a Backyard Course
With the state of the world and disc golf in a very strange place, the idea of a home disc golf course went from being just a concept to a necessity. Courses around the county shut down as the number of Covid cases continued to climb. We decided there was no time better than now to make the backyard disc golf course a reality!
Prior to the Pandemic in November 2019, we slowly started brainstorming on how to build a disc golf course on my friend's personal property containing 4 to 5 acres of usable land. The property consists of mostly flat terrain with many large and medium size trees. There is also a creek that runs along the back of the property accompanied by a small pond that comes into play during the rainy season. Initially in our minds, we thought it would be great to create a 9 or 12 hole layout to be used as a nice small home course on which to practice. Little did we know that once the creative juices started flowing, we would end up establishing something much more complex. Building a disc golf course with limited space is like trying to solve a puzzle...it takes some time to figure out!
Fast forward to March of 2020...at this point we had 3 baskets in the ground using DGA Mach 2s as our baskets, and permanent mounting sleeves so that our pin placements would no longer be temporary baskets. These three baskets allowed us to throw roughly 7-8 different shots as we quickly realized that we can use one basket for numerous shots as long as we are taking some time to consider where we can fit different tee pads in on the property. We also made use of any pavement/concrete that was already on the property to limit the cost of tee pad construction where possible. As soon as all of our local courses closed due to Covid-19, we decided it was now time to construct our first tee pads. Motivation was at an all time high as we needed somewhere to play!
Two brick paver tee pads were strategically constructed on either side of the property to allow us the most shots possible from those areas to the three baskets that were already placed in the ground. It felt great to have a nice sturdy surface to throw off of finally, instead of just throwing from the grass. We marked out our digging area initially, removed earth to get to the desired depth, filled the hole with gravel and compacted it with hand tampers to ensure a sturdy surface, and then finally laid a layer of leveling sand to get our final desired surface before laying the bricks. Once the bricks were laid and finishing sand was applied, they were ready for use! These were the first throwing surfaces that we constructed, and we learned a few things along the way (of course the hard way)…more to come on that later. Let's just say we made some slight modifications to our tee pad construction method months down the road.
So we now had some baskets in the ground and some tee pads constructed, but we still haven't touched on how we constructed a given disc golf hole to be used as part of the course. Some of the basket locations and shots were painfully obvious, as we needed to use what the property gave us. Other holes required us to do a lot more work including brush clearing, tree cutting, woodchip laying, and lots of experimenting with the exact location of a given basket. One area in particular comes to mind on the property where there was a heavily wooded patch of land with an old barn. The barn had burned down years ago but left an opportunity for an awesome green. The only problem was the fact that there were no great lines into this part of the property that we could throw into. We later realized that there were three distinct ways to get into this green which would allow for 3 different short, yet technical disc golf holes to be constructed using different tee areas and one disc golf basket. Now it was time to do some work.
Looking at this picture now, it is amazing to see where we started. In the photo on the left you can see what I mean when I say there isn't much of a line to work with to get into this piece of the property. Between the two orange discs on the ground is where we wanted the intended line to be. Gnarly undergrowth and many small trees and branches needed to be cleared to make this happen. The idea for this hole was to throw from about 100 - 125 feet away from this gap, hit the gap and glide down to the protected green where the basket would sit about 5 feet below ground level. After you hit this gap, there is a large dip where the foundation of the barn used to be. It made for a sweet green with some elevation change!
The picture to the right is the same area pictured above after some remodeling. You can now see a path through the trees that goes down to where the green and basket will be. This is a picture from the tee pad for this particular hole. The shot requires you to hit a tight tunnel about 100-125 feet off of the tee. If you keep your drive through the gap and don't test the ceiling too much by throwing too high, you should be left with an inside the circle putt. Most of the time it will be a slightly uphill putt to the basket, but perfect drives are rewarded with a level putt from 10-15 feet away from the basket. This hole is only 230 feet, but you definitely have to work to secure the birdie. You aren't going to see many poorly executed shots with a clean look at the basket.
Let's take a minute to look at the final product. Below is a view of the green for this particular hole as you walk down the wood chipped path that is pictured above. The pictures don't do it justice, but there is some good elevation change that allows for uphill putts and even some downhill putts if you juice your drive. This hole is definitely ace-able, but the basket is well guarded even for drives that pure the initial gap.
The final touch to this green was to create something around the basket that made it stand out from other areas of the course. We had to cut down a few large dead trees in this area so we put some of that extra wood to use. The wood was used to outline our wood chip paths, but was also used to create a wood pyramid around the basket. Not only does this look cool, but it actually causes some roll-aways for putts that come up short. Although all of the holes going to this basket are very short, this is easily one of my favorite parts of the course as it forces you to hit technical lines. Also without this area, the course would not flow anywhere near as well, and I don't think it would have been possible to make a full 18 hole layout.
We have shared a little bit of how the course design has been going, but there is so much more that we have added to the course that is not mentioned here. Be on the lookout for part 2 where we will go through how this backyard dream has not only become a reality, but turned out to be a full on challenging 18 hole course! Next time we will go through some more of the course design along with touching on many of the challenges and milestones that we reached along the way!