Course Design - Terrain

Last time when discussing course design highlights, we talked about 5 different key considerations for course design. Today, we will take some time to dive deeper into one of them. Let’s talk about course terrain.

One of the most important factors to consider when designing a disc golf course is the terrain. The course designer should take into account the natural features of the landscape, such as hills, valleys, trees, and bodies of water. A well-designed course will use these features to create a challenging and enjoyable experience for players. Advanced courses will consider the overall playability of the course from start to finish, capturing unique hole design wherever possible. The terrain often varies from the region you’re playing in. You’ll find great wooded courses in the northeast and wonderful open courses in the west.

Wooded disc golf hole

There are a lot of things to take into account when thinking about the terrain of a disc golf course. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Challenge: The terrain can add to the challenge of the course by creating obstacles such as trees, hills, valleys, and water hazards. This makes the game more interesting and fun for players, as they must use their skills to navigate the course. There are all kinds of features that can be used in the design process to make for a unique and challenging experience. The best courses utilize the natural features to create something challenging. Trust me, have you ever played a course with a big downhill drive? I bet you still remember that and talk about it.
  1. Safety: Terrain can also affect the safety of the course. Course designers must take into consideration the risk of injury to players and spectators when designing the course. For example, a steep slope or a water hazard could be dangerous if not properly marked or designed. Looking out for roads and parking lots is also important. If the recent few pro tour events have taught us anything, understanding safety is very important. All it can take is a few pedestrians getting hurt or property getting damaged to see courses get removed or restrictions get applied. Plus, we don’t ever want to see anyone getting hurt. Designing a course with safety in mind is very important.

Disc golf course

  1. Aesthetics: The terrain can also play a role in the aesthetic appeal of the course. A well-designed course will incorporate the natural features of the landscape into the layout, making the course more visually appealing to players and visitors. We all know that we go to the courses we love because we enjoy how it plays, but remember that first time you went looking for a course? I bet you looked at the pictures first. Having a visually stunning property can help attract more players and more money to assist in the development and maintenance of the course.

Disc golf tee

  1. Environmental Impact: Designers should consider the impact of the course on the natural environment, including the impact on wildlife and vegetation. For example, the course should be designed in a way that does not damage trees or other plants. I wouldn’t describe myself as a “tree hugger” by any means, but there is nothing like walking into the woods and being surrounded by lush forests. The terrain can be breathtaking, and it’s important to protect it where we can. Only cut down trees where necessary and replant new trees as often as possible.

Disc golf course

The terrain is an essential factor in course design. Next time we look at the terrain conversation, we will dive deeper into the various features that can be added to courses that feature terrain. In the future, we will even take a close look at real courses and discuss the terrain and how it is properly used to accent the course and make it better.

What is your favorite type of disc golf terrain? Let me know in the comments!


- Gary Daddario (

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