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Nine Must-Play Disc Golf Courses — Yes, Disc Golf

Pine Valley? St. Andrews? Maybe Pebble Beach? For disc golfers, their version of hallowed ground can be found at places like Maple Hill Disc Golf in Leicester, Mass.
There are an estimated 12,000 disc golf courses worldwide, ranging from stand-alone courses to layouts that exist on traditional golf courses. 

There are an estimated 12,000 disc golf courses worldwide, ranging from stand-alone courses to layouts that exist on traditional golf courses. 

Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus found lucrative design careers beyond their respective playing days. Former disc golf world champion Eric McCabe has followed the same path.

Since hanging up the discs on the professional circuit in the past decade, he's designed nearly 60 disc golf courses in 25 U.S. states and Canada. McCabe's goal is to one day have a design in all 50 states.

In terms of where to play, McCabe, well respected within the disc golf community, estimates there are more than 12,000 designs worldwide. Naturally, in this day and age, there are apps that can pinpoint localized courses.

Eric McCabe

Eric McCabe

"In disc golf we measure everything in feet," says McCabe, who also serves as team director at Dynamic Discs.

Championship-level tracks range anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000 feet — or 3,333 to 4,333 yards. Top professionals average throwing between 500 and 600 feet on a drive.

At Emporia Country Club in Emporia, Kan., course officials added a disc layout that runs about 10,000 feet. The 1st hole, an opening par 5, measures 1,100 feet.

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With the pandemic, many golf courses suffered loss of revenue, leading some to add disc golf as another revenue stream. One of the main draws of the sport is the fact it's inexpensive to play. There are very few $100 rounds, let alone $50. Green fees run between free to about $15.

"If there was anything positive about the pandemic, and I'm not minimizing it, it connected people more to the outside, where people can play disc golf," Rusco says. "We did see more interest and the sport grew."

In terms of equipment, on the Disc Golf Pro Tour players are not limited to discs "in the bag," like traditional golf's 14-club rule. They can carry as many as 20 to 25, and each one does something different. Some draw, fade or can be used for distance or approach throws. Other discs fly better using a sidearm motion, for example.

McCabe considers all these nuances as he works on designs.

McCabe offers his recommendations of the top disc courses to play worldwide:

1. Maple Hill Disc Golf | Leicester, Mass.
2. Eagles Crossing | Hawk Point, Mo.
3. Fox Run Meadows | Cambridge, Vt.
4. Milo McIver Disc Golf Course | Estacada, Ore.
5. Jarva Disc Golf Park | Stockholm, Sweden
6. Harmony Bends Championship Disc Golf Course at Strawn Park | Columbia, Mo.
7. Disc Golf Terminalen | Skelleftea, Sweden
8. Idlewild | Burlington, Ky.
9. Delaveaga Golf Course | Santa Cruz, Calif.

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