Unknown Disc Golf Tour

Unknown Disc Golf Tour

Prepare yourself against dehydration.

William Gillespie

+ Dirk Stratton =



The PDGA Disc Golf Course Guide is imperfect, although still the definitive listing of disc golf courses. Using the print version to guide us on our trip from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, only once were we actually unable to find a course listed in it (and this was in L. A. where the driving took so much time that the sun was setting by the time we had made it to the neighborhood so we just gave up and went to the beach). However the directions in the guide are inconsistent—some of them seem like directions jotted by people familiar with the town—all of them seem to assume they know which direction you are approaching the course from. Also we didn't think the course descriptions were lush enough, so we composed the following journal of the Unknown Disc Golf Tour as a supplement to the PDGA guide—still the best known disc golf course atlas in the world. And also the place to look to find actual directions to these places, which directions in some cases we may have embellished or denounced herein at our discretion or whim.

You may also read about Dirk's solo venture in Seattle. Also Vancouver—Washington, that is, not Canada.

Dawn shadow, Hoover Dam.

We left Illinois in the afternoon and drove all night. After we made it out of Texas, we started to relax and look for a course.

New Mexico


Roosevelt Park

The sun rises on a bunch of people sitting in the park watching the sun rise. There are people living on this disc golf course.

A young African American man eyes us with interest, I realize that his posture is defensive, as he is sitting on a large bag filled with possessions. A deeply tanned man who sulks at the edge of the park is delivered a breakfast of lemon drops and coffee by a friend. It is Monday morning, the day after Easter, and the park is strewn with refuse from picnics, heaped up beside the overflowing garbage containers. A Mexican American man and his daughter collect aluminum cans. It is hard to find our discs after we throw them because there are colored paper plates scattered about.

The course is in severe disrepair. No marks remain at the tees or holes. I watch as Dirk tries to decode the spraypainted runes other golfers have left. Enough baskets are missing—just poles remain —that our efforts to figure out the course are futile.

An additional problem is that some baskets are used more than once (e.g. Hole 3 was also Hole 13). The problem was locating the tee pads and then figuring out in what direction to throw. With so few markings, both official and those more closely related to graffiti, the round turned into an improvisational exercise: we would find a tee, survey the garbage-strewn expanse and attempt to determine which basket we should aim for. Often I'm sure we made the proper choice, but there was no way to confirm our hunches. In the course's defense, it was clear that had everything been in repair and had sufficient signage survived the vandals, it would have provided a fairly interesting round, dual-use baskets notwithstanding. Not a particularly challenging round, but definitely worth one's time. The course's designer was not given very much space to work with, and had made the most of it. I wish I could have played the course when it was first installed.

The course reflected other things I experienced in New Mexico which suggest that maintenance is not the state's strong point. The New Mexican rest areas along Interstate 40, for example, are hideous, cell-like rooms filled with stainless steel fixtures that appear to have been manufactured to resist sanitation: one step (and a small one) above an eighty-year-old outhouse. One rest area had two buttons labeled "Yes" and "No" below a sign that read: "Do you approve of these restrooms?" I pushed the "No" button.

Dangerous greens.



NAU Disc Golf Pines Wilderness

The summer course at Northern Arizona State University is excellent. It is set on a hilly and expansive terrain of ponderosa pines, pinecones, red dirt, and rocks. The holes are well-labeled and work the terrain. And there's a lot of terrain to cover: most of the holes were over 300 feet with more than a couple crossing the 400 foot barrier and a few that nudged 500. More than half of the baskets cannot be seen from the tees, and we indulged in many a lengthy scouting mission just to figure out which direction to throw. All in all, it was a rigorous two-hour hike with any number of humiliating baskets, where superb throwing might net you a five if you were lucky.

Not all the tees had concrete pads, which was a problem on some of the holes. Though we admired the use of the local stones to outline the pad, too many of these tees consisted of loose dirt that did not understand the meaning of traction; many also had holes deep enough to sprain a giraffe's ankle and were littered by large stones that could also prove hazardous. This made me somewhat tentative during drives, my concentration broken by the fear of turning an ankle. This is a course where concrete tee pads are a must for every hole. I hope the custodians of the course will be able to finish installing tee pads at every hole as soon as possible. For me that would elevate an excellent course to near-great status. Another factor was the wind, which I suspect is a regular force to be dealt with. If a branch was not swatting your disc out of the air, the wind was pushing it toward a tree and away from the unseen hole. Finally, one should note that not only were the baskets often hidden, a majority of the holes were "left handed" and required more anhyzer driving from righties than is usually seen. Nothing against left-handers or left-handedness, mind you, it was just very noticeable to this right-hander. Left-handed or not, the number of trees and the narrow corridors made this a much more challenging disc golf experience than one might have expected from the guidebook description. All in all, an excellent course and highly recommended.

One warning: because all the wood and rock obstacles, your discs will take a beating. A brand new Tracer that was used extensively to meet the left-handed challenge now looks like it has been used to play fetch by a very eager Rottweiler.

Brutal, in other words. You shouldn't even be walking this course without hiking boots. And just walking it would be enough exercise for most people. We were walking back and forth, just to find the baskets.

And after we finally finished and found our way out, Dirk immediately decided to play the whole course again.


Thorpe Park

This course is similar to the other Flagstaff course but easier and all markings and signs have disappeared to vandalism and the other elements.


Firefighters Memorial Park

This unmaintained course in a carefully-manicured city park has only cryptic scribbles at a few of the tee signs. It is mostly forgettable, but its signature characteristic seemed to be the inconsistency of the wind. If you set up a shot using the wind, you'd better throw quickly before the wind stops or changes directions.

According to the PDGA Directory, this course originally had ambitious beginnings: supposedly there are three tee placements for every hole (so hypothetically you could play a round of 27 "different" holes. Evidence of this design was mostly gone; at one tee we found that the nearly buried tee markers were a different color. While the baskets were fairly new, this course obviously had its genesis during the "Frisbee Era." While I would gladly play disc golf in Flagstaff again, should I ever pass through Kingman again, I'll just pass through. Unless I need gas.

On to Las Vegas...


Las Vegas

Sunset Park

A couple of miles from the strip, this winter course is set in a wide and bland city park. It is perfectly flat and grassy, with long throws and a few trees. We ran out of time in the punishing heat, and saw no reason to play all 18 holes (or more? there was wasn't enough time to investigate, but the PDGA Directory indicates there are 21). There was no sense of drama or mounting tension, no overall architecture. There were some strangely stunted trees and a couple of interesting throws involving the curving chain link fence of a baseball diamond (do you throw around or over?), but I had been hoping for some rugged desert terrain. This course definitely was a case where hype (i.e. several descriptions by our friend Louis of the “great Vegas courses”) diminished the actual encounter. Sunset Park is worth playing, don't get me wrong, but it is not an elite course.

Peccole Ranch

A severe margarita-and-slot machine hangover and then a breakfast during which Louis parked in the handicapped spot, insulted the waitress, and then went on a tirade over blueberry waffles about how Arafat should be assassinated, all had me on edge by the time we reached the course. The course was set in a subdivision, essentially a gated community, and Louis told the security guard that we lived there, a lie that would not have withstood even the slightest scrutiny. The sense of golfing illegally, the yapping dogs, and the walled enclosures of residents' houses, the unavoidable sprinklers, and the four-hundred foot drives down twisting narrow alleyways between the pink concrete walls delineating private property, all combined to create a hellish golfing experience, both emotionally and technically. Dirk lost his XD, I lost my driver, both over stone walls into yards. Louis helpfully pointed out that we could be shot if we tried to climb people's fences to retrieve our discs, and I wondered what sort of paranoid gambling addicts might be peering at us through cracks in their curtains, a shotgun in one hand, a bottle of gin in the other, perhaps a bit edgy after having been awake for a week blowing their IRA on blackjack at the Luxor.

I agree entirely with William's assessment of this course. One of the most miserable disc golf rounds I've ever played. Again, high expectations being dashed by reality did not help matters. And losing my XD put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day. I will never return to play this course ever again. Ever.

Not even if I move into the subdivision. And that would require a brain transplant.

Dirk Ends the Unknown American Southwest Disc Tour in California

San Diego

Morley Field

I left LA at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning, after attending the final Symposium party in someone's room (we can't remember which, and not because of overindulgence, at least in my case: I had to drive). I had to catch a plane at noon, but had no idea how far the drive from LA to San Diego was or how long it would take. When I crossed the San Diego city limits well before sunrise, I was a bit surprised. I was also exhausted. I pulled into a rest stop and crashed in the rental car. The sun woke me up at around 9:00. Still three hours before my plane left. I checked the PDGA Directory. Only one course was listed for San Diego and apparently it wasn't far from where I was parked or from the airport. I decided to check it out.

I'd mailed all my discs back to Cincinnati before I left LA because I was having a luggage crisis, but the Directory told me there was a pro shop (!) at the course so I figured I'd be able to buy something to throw, maybe even replace my XD which had been a victim of Peccole Ranch in Las Vegas. The course was easy to find, just off the freeway, and when I pulled into the extremely small and rut-filled parking lot, it was clear it was a popular location. Tons of cars in the parking lot and lots of people on the course. I found the pro shop and purchased an XD and paid the $1.50 "greens fee"—the first time I've ever had to pay to play a course. While one of the things I like about disc golf is that it isn't expensive like ball golf, I felt that this charge wasn't excessive and obviously the money was put to good use. The course was immaculately maintained and the tee signage was impeccable. The Directory mentioned that there were several pin placements possible for every hole (5 per hole, as it turned out!) which meant that there are nearly an infinite number of possible courses. I like that feature very much and it made up for the fact that most of the holes were pretty short (my putt and approach XD worked just fine as a driver). Because I was worried about making my plane, I pretty much sprinted the whole 18 holes (I didn't see the 19th hole mentioned in the Directory). This would have been impossible except that every group courteously allowed me to play through. And there was a group at virtually every hole, sometimes huge groups (one had 6 or 7 guys); this course is well-used. Because I was playing so fast, it wasn't the best round of my career, but I made one deuce that I didn't even witness because the hole was so obscured by bushes: that was fun. All in all, a good experience. I wish I'd had more time to play the course again. If I'm ever in San Diego again, I will make a point of returning to Morley Field.

Take me home.

William Continues in Indiana


I knew Bloomington would be good disc golf territory, being the quintessential laid back midwestern college town. To an outsider, it would appear that anything south of Indianapolis constitutes southern Indiana. But the residents of Bloomington refer to southern Indiana as someplace else. Regardless, Bloomington is special. No major highways go there (by "major highway" I mean a road without stop signs) and the minor ones seemed to be under construction with confusing detours. Many intersections lack basic street signs. All of which is just Bloomington's way of saying, "Not from around here, are ya?"

Karst Farm Park

The course at Karst Farm Park is a winner. Set against a fairground and rolling countryside, this is 18 holes with rubber mats for tees. Nothing spectacular, but well-designed and spacious with a couple of memorable holes. Worth the trouble to find: a great place to unwind after an infuriating drive.

One feature of this course that is not something I've ever seen before is that individual holes are underwritten. They each have a little sign. For example:

The John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

{Editor's Note: Several courses in the Cincinnati area have sponsored holes.}

Crestmont Park

Crestmont Park is my preferred course, although it is not as vast or scenic. While Karst Farm is a lovely stroll in the park, Crestmont is an angry hike in the woods. The hole placement is strictly wicked. There are no shots that don't involve hills, forests, or creeks.

And be sure to check out Caveat Emptor Books while in Bloomington.


Northwestway Park

As William said, in the middle of our prolonged search for this course, “How we suffer for disc golf.” I will let William provide the tirade for the “questionable” directions we downloaded from the PDGA website; I will merely complain that once we found the course, it did nothing to make the long search worth it. For one thing, if you’re going to build a course in an area that suffers from excessive wind (which this course had in abundance), at least make it interesting. Indiana is flat: there’s no way around that. So, topographically challenging holes may be difficult to create, given the geographical limitations of the area. However, the answer is not to park baskets every three hundred or four hundred feet next to a walking/running/biking path around a large recreational area. After three or four holes, all that can be said is: BOOOOOORING. Combine that with the wind capriciously depositing your disc in the woods or thigh-high grass that borders every fairway, and one’s frustration only increases. I don’t mind looking for lost discs if they disappear during the course of a challenging hole, but when the only challenge is making sure the wind doesn’t send your disc into a parking lot or poorly mowed grass, well, give me a rain-check and maybe I’ll play your course the next time I’m in the area and have forgotten that Indianapolis is simply the asshole of the armpit of the United States.

I was reminded of the unpleasant Sunset Park in Las Vegas: the acres of dried grass. This course must be duly not worth it in high summer. The underbrush was sometimes savage, making the sport seemingly less in the challenge of throwing and more in searching for lost drivers in the thorny thicket (and I have the bloodstained legs, victims of wild rosebushes to prove it). It’s a good course to practice your rolling throw. Their idea of dramatic architecture is making the last couple of holes extra long, so there is more of nothing to throw through, and more people walking on the sidewalk to avoid.

I was also reminded of a course I played in Yakima, Washington in 1998. It wasn’t as difficult to locate as Northwest Whatever Park, but the wind was just as strong. I might as well have attached a long string to my discs and let them ride the winds like a kite. Imagine playing water polo during a tidal wave. While it is true that I am horrible when playing in strong winds, sometimes, there simply isn’t any excuse: a bad course is a bad course and it remains a bad course, even if only gentle zephyrs occasionally give you a little peck on the cheek just before you fling your disc into the sky.

It is possible that the difficulty we had in locating this course affected our judgment and made us more inclined to criticize (when William asked me what I thought of the course as we walked away from hole 18, I replied, “I’m compiling a load of invective.”). On the other hand, I doubt it. I can’t imagine that we will ever return to this benighted portion of Indiana.

Sahm Park

More of an old time "Frisbee" golf course until about halfway through, when some crafty and distant holes appeared, one that involved threading through giant trees, another around a long curve of woods to an invisible hole.

For us it was all about the kids. No sooner had we stepped out of the Nissan than we were latched onto by a family of about 16, most of them younger than ten, all inexperienced disc golfers. They chose to let us start off, which would have been a sensible idea, except the kids were throwing their discs before we had even walked out of range, so the whole time we were closely followed by a crowd of yelling Indiana kids and a cloud of earnestly but poorly thrown discs. Once we let them play through but they went off toward the wrong basket and eventually fell back into step behind us. I was nicked once. Dirk stood serenely on the hillside contemplating his throw as flying saucers of all colors whizzed around him like mosquitos. I felt like George Orwell in "Shooting an Elephant," striding purposefully forward brandishing my XD and my Tracer followed by acres of excited, babbling natives. It was rough. But we escaped.

Not a bad stop if you already have to be driving the beltway.

Kentucky (Cincinnati Area)


A. J. Jolly Park

A. J. Jolly Park has a number of "second shot" holes: no matter how good your drive is, your success or failure depends upon the second throw. The 1st, 4th, 16th, 18th holes are like that. The course starts with a macho long-distance-driver's dream, a vast 400-plus football field. If you always dreamed of throwing your disc around the world, this is the hole for you. And, if you continue to stress distance in your throwing, you will lose all your discs in the lake that becomes a prominent feature of the next three holes. The second hole, for instance, is a short throw across a small bay. Distance isn't the problem; the problem is the wind off the lake which, 80% of the times you play Jolly, will be howling through your right ear as you face the basket. Often the wind will snag a disc and deposit it in the lake far from shore. Or the wind will drive the disc down, a dive of death into the bay. Or the golfer simply psychs oneself out and surrenders a tight-armed spasm of a throw into the water, a pathetic offering that confirms the golfer's inadequacy in the face of a hole that looks like a guaranteed deuce, a possible ace. Wind is frequently a factor at Jolly. Only the three woods holes are wind-free, but they have hazards of their own.

Hole 9 is refreshingly short and, nestled at the edge of underbrush, deceptively tough.

Bouncing off the barn to get to hole 10, suddenly you leave the rolling fields and enter a short but dense woods with more right angle turns than a Tron light cycle game. The point is to not throw a bogey. These three short woods holes can fuck over even the best player.

If you have an open field, with one tree, you know the basket will be near the tree. Ditto water. The course designer has done an admirably cruel job of taking the sparse details the park provides and turning them into overwhelming obstacles. And many of the these diabolical holes can only be described as beautiful. The introduction of the human-made basket transforms the surrounding natural elements into tiny exquisite gardens—for example, on Hole 5, the perfect arch of two trees that explode with red, pink, and white flowers in the spring, framing the inverted chains.

Holes 14 and 17 have a dramatic classical architecture demanding a clothesline low throw between stunning collonades of old trees. It seems like a generous straight shot between two rows of large, equally spaced trees, but it is more like trying to throw your disc through a painball, I mean pinball, machine. The overhanging branches that narrow the tunnel are always lower than they appear. They often administer spankings that slap a promising throw into a vertical swoon that leaves one embarrassingly short of the basket.

Because of its effective use of simplicity, this course offers a deeply satisfying disc golf experience. This is one of the most scenic courses in the Greater Cincinnati area. Play this course at sunset.

Taylor Mill

Pride Park

Unless you have been playing disc golf for awhile, and unless you have tasted the epic courses of the Cincinnati area—Mt. Airy, Banklick, Idlewild—you would never believe a disc golf course designer could be so cruel, and never never believe that you would end up loving him for it.

After some puzzling uphill and downhill throws in grassy knolls, you begin the hike proper, following a narrow slippery slimy muddy trail along the slope of a treacherous ravine. It is probably no coincidence that the slope falls to your left, putting right-handers (whose throws generally veer leftward) at increased risk of throwing the disc down into a chasm you don't even want to be climbing in, much less trying to throw out of. No tees offer recourse from mud. My sneakers became so slippery I stopped counting shots and started counting how many times I fell in the mud, and found it was a par 3 course.

By Hole 10 you have reached the top of the mountain. Likely you will be winded. And then the going gets rough. Hole 10 is the biggest deepest severely inclined long-distance downhill throw the Unknown has ever seen (it makes the infamous 12th hole at Banklick seem as level as a bowling lane).With steep penalties for overthrowing, namely the river. You will have to cross this river on a rickety gaptoothed plank bridge that seems like a prop from "Raiders of the Lost Ark;" remember that your shoes will be slippery from mud.

The course ended epiphanically as we came out in a high sunlit clearing surrounded by Queen Anne's Lace; a huge wild turkey exploded from the underbrush. Plus, we were relieved it was over. No question that we weren't playing it a second time; the 18 holes comprised a full day's disc. The most physically demanding course in the Cinti region. At the pavilion, paving stones are inscribed with the names of those who perished while playing Pride Park. Newcomers allow two hours to play, with an extra hour to find the next hole (e.g. the 17th is practically impossible to find, even for someone who has played the course before). {Update: recent rounds at Pride Park reveal that elaborate signage has been put in place to direct golfers to the 17th hole. When human beings are mere memories on this rock, alien visitors will be able to locate the 17th tee with ease.}


(St. Louis Area)

Creve Couer

We've decided to use the following notation: summer course to mean a good course, winter course as a polite description for topography-free courses arranged on unendingly homogenous grassy terrain. In summer these courses waver from heat rising from the razed lawn.

This is a 18-hole winter course. It is given dignity by the fact that it abuts Creve Couer Lake just off the Missouri River. We found the course in a state of neglect and reconstruction in June 2005, though the course designer came jogging up to introduce himself very briefly before he dashed off to run around the course taking notes and conducting surveying experiments by attempting possible drives. We admire his energy but there's only so much you can do to a flat course in the same vicinity as Sioux Passage.

There were a couple of interesting holes, but too often the design seemed to favor the most obvious out-in-the-open pin placement. When all you got for obstacles is trees, why not use every one you can to best advantage? And when you've got the room, why not make some of the holes really long? We'll wait for the redesign to be done before we return: there's potential for a better than average course, but will that potential be realized? Tune in again in a few months.

Jefferson Barracks.
Jefferson Barracks Park

By the time we got to this course (the second of what was supposed to be a 3-course, 54-hole day of disc gluttony), William was unfortunately coming down with a severe cluster headache. As soon as we arrived, he exited the car and went to lie down in the shade to recover. I played the course alone. After the delightful experience at Woodland Chains in Collinsville (see below), who could have guessed that this course would be even better. At Woodland Chains another disc golfer told us that Jefferson Barracks was “Awesome.” He was quite correct. One of the most impeccable courses I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Long concrete tee pads for every hole. Tee signage that indicated which of the three pin placements was in use that day. And an actual scorecard with a course map on the back! Plus, as at Woodland Chains, signage indicating how to get to the next tee. At Jefferson Barracks, these signs were attached to the poles beneath each basket. Kudos must go to the River City Flyers Disc Golf Club, the responsible party for all this magnificence. The variety of holes was incredible. Comparable to the Sioux Passage holes, though not quite as long. But with similar diabolical pin placements, often hidden from the tee, and often on slopes that could turn a short putt for par into double bogey. Whoever is responsible for “manicuring” the park is to be commended, too. There are definite hazards throughout, but even the hazards seemed to be part of a large perfectly clean garden. It would be difficult to lose a disc, I think. An elegant course: highly, highly recommended.

Sioux Passage

Exemplary. The best course we've found in a good long time, and to boot we played dusk golf on the day before the solstice in a nearly empty park save for a small cluster of high school kids smoking cigarettes by a car. Playing the course was like reading a good novel, we entered into dialogue with the course designer, to the point where we could guess unerringly that there would be an alternative tee at the highest point in the park.

At one point, I asked William, "Have there been any bad holes?" We couldn't think of one. I still can't think of even one that seemed mediocre, or just average. Some were absolutely diabolical in a way that makes you love them: e.g.: a hole that makes you throw 180 degrees around a patch of woods that resembles the forest primeval, the basket just a few feet from the edge of the vine-covered lush explosion that is salivating to swallow your disc forever. After only three holes, I was in love with the course, and it kept getting better. I wanted to play it again immediately after finishing the round, but darkness was only minutes away and it had been a long day in the hot sun. The only complaint I might make is that every hole supposedly has three different tee placements, but it isn't easy to find many of these supposed alternatives. But really, who cares? This course is so great, it doesn't need multiple tees. Worth the five hours it took me to drive from Cincinnati. I'd continue to gush, but I don't want to embarrass myself.



Roland Park

An imaginative, medium-length course about 20 minutes from the Turnpike. Only weakness is a brief reliance on ordinary "throw-across-an-open-meadow" holes. Tee signage consisted of weirdly handpainted portraits of each hole. Most were accurate enough to aid a first-time player, but very few actually included the hole number, which seemed completely incongruous, given the care required to paint the signs in the first place. We spent a lot of time just trying to figure out hole identities, and where we were supposed to shoot next.

The surrounding landscape was incredible. From Hole 2, on a hilltop, an awesome view: the course is surrounded by a pastoral bowl of fields and silos, in the evening a cake of farm, fading sunlight, soft moon.

We played at dusk. Playing the front nine woods holes turned into a Blair Witch Project kind of ordeal as darkness fell and we had to crawl into darker woods to find lost throws. Fireflies provided ambience but insufficient illumination to locate William's red Tracer.

By the time we were able to get out of the woods and began the back nine, sundown was complete and the light faded quickly. By Hole 14, drives were lost in the gloom. The course ends with a cherry-on-top-of-the-sundae shot: a throw over a small heart-shaped pond, in the middle of which was a lit fountain. Although we played 18 holes, off in the woods, we'd swear we saw a mysterious nineteenth, a basket that was never used.We will probably return to this course. Definitely worth the Turnpike detour.

Illinois and a Mention of the East Side Disc Club


Carlyle Lake

This all-season nine-hole course is devious, pleasant, well marked and organized, and on a par with our usual practice courses Lohman Park in Urbana, IL, and Burnett "Burnout" Woods in Cinti. The course meanders through a well-treed idyllic park with birdsong, sparse gentle people, a modicum of topography including tiny creeks. Baskets are painted black and yellow, and this festive touch also makes them easy to spot from the tees. Baskets have only one ring of chains [does this make them "Mark I"?] so some discs slide through. The course's only drawback may be that it is isolated, being near nothing except Illinois's largest fake lake, which is not visible from the disc golf course.

Collinsville (St. Louis Area)

Woodland Chains Disc Golf Park

Though there was some initial frustration trying to figure out where the tee for Hole 1 was (what looked like a murky sattelite photo of the course on the park bulletin board proved both useful and somewhat confusing), once that problem was solved, the round went swimmingly. The adverb has been chosen deliberately since Woodland Chains spends a lot of time tempting you to throw your discs into the brackish pond that provides the center for the course, in which swim multitudes of ducks and geese. (Only Dirk managed to give his disc a bath and after he recovered it, he needed a bath: the stagnant water stunk of rotting vegetable matter and bird poop and the bottom of the pond was covered with a slimy silt that resembled crude oil. Wading in the gunk brought back horrifying childhood memories and Dirk shuddered in revulsion for the next two holes.) After Hole 2, William said, “A modest course, so far, but interesting.” Hole 3 turned out to be a less-than-modest 500+ foot hole that forced you to thread your way through several trees and at the conclusion risk a visit to the pond. We delighted in the irony. As it turned out, this was to be the longest hole of the course. The park being used is not that large so most of the holes were modest in length, but that doesn’t mean easy. Pin placements were invariably behind trees, on slopes, hidden, etc. There was an excellent use of the slopes of the park, I don’t recall any flat shots. You don’t have to be a long thrower to play this course, but it sure helps to be accurate. And to avoid the water. The signage was extremely helpful. After nearly every hole there was a sign telling you how to get to the next tee. Signage was accomplished by any means necessary, including handmade wooden signs and even messages left in Sharpie (in one case, a helpful disc golfer appended a handwritten message to further clarify the directions). Given how irritating playing some courses for the first time can be, when you spend most of your time just trying to figure out where to go next and what direction to throw, having all this help was greatly appreciated. A great little course that admirably used the limited space available. Highly recommended.


Southern Illinois University

William knew how to get to the SIUE campus, but didn’t know where the course was, exactly. He figured we could just drive around and look for baskets. That didn’t work, nor did consulting one of the campus maps by the side of the road. We asked some kids who were goofing around on a volleyball court, but were not convinced that they really knew what they were talking about. Spying a police car, I suggested we ask a cop for directions. While trying to locate a way into the parking lot where the cop car sat, we ran into another cop. William, clutching an XD to demonstrate his seriousness of purpose, asked the cop for directions. Then the cop offered to show us the way. “We’ve got a police escort,” William declared, as he climbed back into the car. This was a first. I kept worrying that I’d violate some traffic law, or forget to brake and run right into the back of the police car. And could I drift through stop signs like the cop was doing? As it turned out, it was a good thing we had an official guide; it is doubtful we would have found the course otherwise. The cop led us to the residence hall part of campus and we parked in a lot next to more people on a volleyball court. At this court, though, an actual volleyball game was going on.

The first hole was absolutely ridiculous. The tee diagram plainly indicated where the basket was—on the far end of the volleyball court—but it was hard to believe that any course designer would think that the disc path indicated was a reasonable route. For one thing, the tee pad (very nice tee pads throughout, by the way: and when the tee pads are the highlight of a course, you know you've got a problem) was pointed 90 degrees away from the basket towards what turned out to be Hole 2. Between the tee pad and Basket 1 was a grove of trees and the volleyball court. And the tee sign warned that throwing over the volleyball court would result in a two stroke penalty. So through the trees we went, woodchopping all the way. A miserable way to begin a round. Since the tee of Hole 1 was obviously set to point at Hole 2, before someone realized the mistake and improvised the awful Hole 1, the course essentially started with a big typo.

The rest of the course was comprised of little short holes that didn’t take advantage of the landscape at all. I lost my XD at one of the semi-interesting holes, and that was very irritating. Also, rather confusingly, there is a university building hazard, as our crazed course designer thought it would be good to make people throw around the corner of a building, a big building...with lots of windows...

Hole 8, though, was nice. It had a Zen calm, a 460 foot drive over a gentle valley at the bottom of which reeds poked from a marsh. As we stood there, a deer family hazard wandered across the course. When Dirk drove they turned tail. The basket was so clearly visible that it seemed closer than it was.

But after this penultimate anticlimax, Hole 9, the last, was a sad joke, a par 2. And only 9 holes total, with the last hole leaving you out in the middle of the campus a long ways from Hole 1 and the parking lot where your car is waiting. Yes, after leading you on with false promises, the course ditches you by the side of the road. We had no idea which way to walk but, 15 minutes later, managed to find our car without having to flag down a cop.

The police escort was the highlight of this dismal round. If we go back it will be to look for Dirk’s XD.


P.J. Irvin
This might be the best course between Collinsville and Cincinnati. A curvaceous, cunning 18-hole novel. From the brilliant hole 2, the wickedness does not relent. The course designer has taken such calculated advantage of the park's lovely, gnarly trees, and the surprisingly topographic (for downstate Illinois) terrain it is as if he had his own bulldozer and arboretum to work with. From hole 2 on, he has outguessed you, knows how you think, and uses your own vanity to defeat you tragically with lowflying treelimbs that harvest from the sky your finest drives without fail. There is more than one basket so well hidden from the tee it requires a minor trek to locate in order to orient one's initial throw. These holes are modest puzzles that call for strokes of brilliance. All in a rustically soothing suburban park.


Lohman Park

Back in Urbana, we still play Lohman Park regularly. It is a decent 9-hole course with some surprises, and a nice overall escalation of difficulty, with a climax at Hole 8—"the shed"—the only densely wooded hole on the course, with a tight corridor to throw through.

I am growing fonder and fonder of Lohman Park. I had a very snobbish reaction to the course when I first saw it. Having been spoiled by the Cincinnati-area's wealth of disc golf opportunities, I can get quite haughty about shorter, less-assuming courses. When I first played Lohman, I thought it was too short, too open, too flat. Hypothetically, I should be able to deuce every hole (and certainly there are Cincinnati players who could do that easily). However, Lohman kicks my butt more often than not. Its easiness is deceptive: whoever designed the course made the most of what few trees there are and has created a situation in which only Hole 4 is really boring, though the basket sits beneath a magnificent large tree (which provides great scenery, but only the most errant throw brings it into play). Hole 8 is a fun hole, but I like Hole 7 best of all. A very short hole that has the basket situated in the middle of an archway formed by an evergreen tree on the left and the woods of Hole 8 on the right: an arc of vegetation framing the basket. I've never had much success shooting straight down the tunnel, but nearly had a hole-in-one using an anhyzer to go around the evergreen. Simply a beautiful little hole. I also like 9, one of the longest holes on the course over a grassy meadow. The basket, though, is in the middle of another grove of trees similar to that which surrounds Hole 8. The last three holes, then, are a marvelous way to end a round. The course definitely gets better as it goes along. I respect Lohman much more than I did when I first played it. It has won me over. It may not be the longest or toughest course I play, but it has charm, and I defy anyone to make better use of the landscape. (Actually, they have "improved" the course by designating multiple tees, we've been informed, which lengthens all the holes, a definite plus. Unfortunately, these extra tees have not been marked and are not obvious. They are known, though, to those who play the weekly tournament at Lohman every Sunday. I hope they find the means to mark the new tees: I'd like to see how the course plays with a few more yards tacked on.)

Still, we think east Champaign County needs an 18-hole course and so we composed a letter to the Urbana Park District. Thanks for listening.

William in St. Louis.


Wear comfortable shoes when disc golfing.

What the hell is this anyway