State of Disc Golf: Local Course Data



Here in Cache County, Utah, the disc golf scene is very active. Our club has been playing weekly for about 10 years. We live in a college town, so part of our club is transient. The most of us stick around year after year. Officially, we have 8 permanent courses within a half an hour of most of us. Sadly, not one of them is an 18-hole course. Furthermore, several of them are tiny courses that are not interesting and rarely, if ever, get utilized for league play. It is that mindset that comes into play when I look at the data in our survey regarding the number of disc golf courses near survey participants.
Yes, I’m jealous of the many people who indicated a high number of courses near them. I temper that jealousy with sympathy for those people who don’t have any, or very few, courses near them. Be grateful for what you have, I guess. Let’s start with the number of courses near us.

In the survey we asked how many courses are within a half hour of us. Those are the courses we would likely play most frequently. It is nice to see that nearly a quarter of us have ten or more courses within a half hour. Here are the numbers:



Although about half of us have six or more courses nearby, that means the other half of us have five or less. Hopefully, some of those are excellent courses. If not, those people will be spending more of their free time driving instead of playing.


For the U.S. people, check out the number courses and how many people live near them for YOUR state by clicking the map below.


Variety Is The Spice

Although the average number of courses near us is a little over five, does that affect the number of courses we play? One thing that becomes obvious to people who play disc golf with any frequency is that we love to play new courses. If we only have a limited number of courses that are a short drive away, our ability to travel longer distances is narrowed down to weekends and vacations. In the survey we wanted to know how many courses we played in 2021. It turns out that we play quite a few more courses than are in our immediate area (within a half an hour of us).



Two people in the survey played more than 200 courses. That’s an impressive amount of courses! Even the 8 people who played between 100-200 courses is pretty mind numbing. I travel to tournaments several times per year, as well as playing all of the regional courses, and that still only puts me in the 21-30 range. Only 11% of us played that many or more last year, so it’s still a small percentage. Nowhere near the major time commitment necessary for playing over a hundred courses though!

New Places to Play

In addition to finding out how many courses are close to each of us, we like to find out how many new courses were added to our local area. The growth of the sport means increased pressure on our existing courses, which sometimes leads to municipalities looking for places to install new courses. However, the survey showed that most of us didn’t have the experience of getting a new place to play.



A Great Place to Live

Over 95 percent of us had two or fewer courses installed last year. That seems like an accurate number. Yet somehow a tiny fraction of us had ten or more course installed in our area! There were 24 survey respondents who selected that answer. I would expect that to be a smaller number. Out of curiosity, I pulled up the states/countries where the people live who said there were 10 or more courses installed. Here is the list:

Michigan Massachusetts
California Alabama
North Carolina Pennsylvania
Illinois Minnesota
West Virginia Colorado
Finland Kansas
Maine Wisconsin
Texas Tennessee


Since the number of 10+ courses added last year seemed high, I pulled up some prior survey results to see how last year compared. It turns out that last year definitely was an anomaly. It was several times higher than the previous year.  Here is the data from a few prior surveys showing how many people indicated there were 10+ courses added.



Does More Courses Equal More Rounds?


We started the blog by looking at how many courses are fairly close to where we live. I was curious to see if having more courses around means that we are playing more rounds. We might be more motivated to get out and play if we don’t play the same few courses every time. So, I took the percentage of people who played 20 or more rounds per month, for each number of courses. Then I threw them on a graph. Although the differences aren’t huge, the people who have more courses in their area do play more than the people who have fewer courses.



Nearly 18% of the people who have nine courses in their local area play 20 or more rounds per month. If you only have one or two courses near you, the number hovers around 10%. It certainly makes sense that variety is the spice of life!


Years ago, when we only had a course or two in our valley, we played the same course every week for league, and every time we played a casual round. We just loved playing disc golf and since we didn’t have a variety of courses without traveling, we played the course we had. I’m guessing that it’s the more casual disc golfers that might play less frequently with only a couple of options. Having more courses might motivate THEM to play more, thus increasing the numbers of people who play more.

Let us know your experience with disc golf courses. Do you think having more courses means more rounds played for you? Are you in an area where 10 or more courses where installed? Where did you sit on the number of rounds played in a month?

Check back next week for more State of Disc Golf Survey results.

2019 State of Disc Golf–Par for the Course…Literally

Disc Golf Par Controversy

Today we are tackling a subject in disc golf that some consider controversial while others consider it just silly. Today we are talking about par. How should we determine par? Should we adopt par 2s in disc golf? Lots of disc golfers have their opinions on this subject, but in the end, does any of it even matter? In doing some research for this post, I found a well written article from our friend Steve Dodge that I will likely refer to a few times today. So what is par exactly?

Par in Ball Golf vs Par in Disc Golf

A quick google search for the definition of the word “par” in golf will yield this definition: “the number of strokes a first-class player should normally require for a particular hole or course.” Another explanation I found said that par is how many strokes an expert golfer should take to complete a hole.

The idea of par and using par as a way to define our scores in disc golf (1 under par, 2 over par, etc.) can be directly traced back to our ball golf roots. But something we might be forgetting is that par in ball golf should reflect what first-class or expert golfers are scoring, not the field at large.

This is why on the PGA tour we see scores close to par or maybe even as low as around 10-under par winning four day, four round tournaments. So why is it that for tournaments with the same number of holes on the PDGA National Tour and the DGPT we are seeing disc golfers needing to score close to 40-under par in order to win the event?

One line of thinking that I tend to agree with is that it’s all about putting. Steve Dodge explains, “In golf, the average number of putts is theoretically two…In golf, par is the number of shots to reach the green + putts (2).” So how does this translate to disc golf? “In disc golf, the average number of putts is theoretically one…In disc golf, par would be the number of shots to reach the green + putts (1). This would make about half of our holes into par 2s.”

Par 2 in Disc Golf?

While some of us may average 2 putts from inside the circle, our first-class and expert disc golfers for whom par should be determined (if we follow ball golf’s model) are nearly automatic from inside the circle. But in ball golf, even the best putters in the game will miss putts from inside 10 feet from time to time. That is just the difference between our two games.

So ball golf and disc golf are different in scoring. Another way to phrase that is ball golf is harder than disc golf, which is something we all like about disc golf. But since disc golf is easier shouldn’t par then be adjusted to account for this? The quickest way to account for this is the adoption of par 2s in disc golf.

This brings us to our first bit of data from the State of Disc Golf Survey. We asked survey takers if they would like to see very short or easy holes be considered par 2? The answers were pretty telling:

75% of Those Surveyed Believe there should be no Par 2's in Disc Golf


For the most part, we disc golfers don’t want to see par 2s out on the course. But some, especially those who are new to disc golf or unfamiliar with our culture, may be confused or surprised by this. Why would those within the sport not want to see more accurate par ratings on their courses?

Steve Dodge shed some light here again: “Setting a par 2 makes the scoring expectation much harder and, oddly enough, decreases our enjoyment of playing the game. Disc golf has a tremendous advantage in that it is more fun to play because our par score is easier to attain.” That last statement is interesting, claiming that disc golf is more fun because the par score is easier. But as we discussed earlier, a 10 ft putt in disc golf is easier than a 10 ft putt in golf, regardless of the hole’s par.

This makes me think that we have a bit of a blind spot here because we have come to expect extremely low par scores in our sport. How would you feel if you shot 10-under par at your local course and then someone came along and told you that your score was actually 1-over par if your course par was rated more accurately? But if that round had always been considered a 1-over par round, you wouldn’t care as much right?

Like when I go out and play ball golf, I know that par is pretty well out of reach. So I am pretty pleased if I score a few strokes over par.

It is all about expectation, and we in disc golf have come to expect very low scores relative to par, and as we can see in the above chart, most of us don’t care that some of our par 3 holes should be rated as par 2 if we adopted more accurate par ratings.

More Par 4 and 5 in Disc Golf?

Now what about the other end of the spectrum? What about longer and more challenging holes? We asked survey takers if they would like to see more courses with par 4 and par 5 holes. Here are the results:

More Par 4s

So once again, we see a clear answer–we want more par 4 and par 5 holes. But as we could see from our first question about par 2s, we don’t seem to care about the accuracy of our par ratings. So do we want more par 4 and par 5 holes just because we view them as an opportunity for more birdies?

When discussing a long disc golf hole and whether it should be considered a par 3 or 4, more than once I have heard someone arguing that it should be a par 4 say something like, “Well, if it were a par 3, then it would be almost impossible to birdie.” In disc golf, we expect to get our birdies, and sometimes we expect every hole to be birdie-able. And we expect birdies not just for the first-class and expert golfers, but for your average casual players as well.

Favorite Disc Golf Course Baskets – 2017 Survey Results

Nowadays there are a lot of different disc golf basket options available.  Up and coming manufacturers like Prodigy, Dynamic Discs, and MVP have more affordable course basket options that are making it easier than ever to get a disc golf course installed.

With so many different basket options, which one do you choose? What is the best course quality disc golf basket?

In our State of Disc Golf Survey we asked, “How do you feel about the following baskets on the course?”

While some of the newer baskets are only known and have been tested by only a small population of the sampled survey, the most well known basket is clearly the Innova DISCatcher.

Disc Golf Basket Familiarity

From the basket options included in our survey, at the beginning of 2017 only 29.35% of respondents were familiar with the MVP Black Hole while 77% were familiar with the Innova DISCatcher.

Favorite Disc Golf Baskets

When we break down baskets by those rated “Above Average and The Best” the most favorable baskets are the Mach X, Innova DISCatcher, and Dynamic Discs Veteran.

Baskets Size

On disc golf podcasts and in the professional world there is talk about reducing basket size to align disc golf more with traditional “ball” golf. While a few pros are in favor of smaller baskets, the vast majority of those who participated in our State of Disc Golf Survey (88%) strongly feel that disc golf baskets are currently about just right. 9.7% wish that course baskets were bigger while just 2.3% want disc golf course baskets to be smaller.