Here are some more thoughts inspired by a social media post. I found the original post from 2021, and I’m sorry to say that some of these problems appear to be just as prevalent as ever on new courses:
· Holes that throw on or over trails, sidewalks, roads, playgrounds, etc.
· Holes where players regularly throw into neighbors’ backyards
· Holes that have been re-designed by people who don’t understand the basic principles involved
It’s time for people to stop designing this way, once and for all.
A few years ago we were working with a parks guy who didn’t like me saying that there wasn’t room for a hole in a particular area of his park. He practically begged me to throw over the sidewalk. He said that he would put warning signs on both sides of the tee and even paint the sidewalk red in front of the tee so that walkers (there are a good number in this park) would be aware that they were about to walk in front of a tee. We refused, and a week later he fired me – the only time in my career I think that’s ever happened. The city eventually found another designer who was willing to throw over sidewalks.
As for discs going into backyards, that’s a bigger issue than many people realize. I’ve had my eyes opened on this one recently, as I got to give expert testimony in a court case. It seems that some people design courses thinking, “No one’s ever going to throw a shot over there,” but guess what? Or maybe the designer just thinks it’s no big deal. It is a big deal, and not just when the disc golfer is publicly intoxicated and the neighbor has two kids under five years old in the back yard. There was even a course in Texas where a home owner pulled a gun on a disc golfer, and the player hadn’t even hopped the guy’s fence -- he did the right thing and walked around to ring the doorbell.
Speaking of backyards, someone once added a driving range to a course I designed, and it was right next to several backyards. You can guess what happened.
And speaking of guns, the only angry neighbor who ever threatened to use one on me was actually a city employee who lived next to the park. When we first met, he said “You’re John Houck? I think my wife would just about like to shoot you. And I’m not sure I wouldn’t, too.” I let him know that I was happy I was to meet him, too, and expressed my confusion.
The closest hole to his house was a tight downhill par three with a low ceiling that finished about 150’ short of his back fence, which was at least 8-10’ tall, as I recall. No, that hole wasn’t the problem. He explained that players had started using the narrow stretch behind his house as a warmup area, and – surprise, surprise – some throws were ending up in his yard. He didn’t seem to care that I hadn’t designed a warmup area there, that I had never encouraged anyone to practice their drives there, or that I had no idea it was happening. I was the disc golf guy, so I needed to take the heat for anything disc golf-related.
If you’re even thinking about designing a course, and for whatever reason you don’t want to involve someone who understands these issues, please be smart. Design holes where throws won’t be interfering with other activities or sailing into nearby yards or businesses. Let’s be good neighbors -- “going yard” is only good in baseball, and a “shotgun start” should never be anything other than a way to start a tournament.