We're used to colleges having tennis courts, indoor basketball, and ball fields aplenty, but an increasing number of universities are adding in a very different sort of sport facility: a disc golf course.
Given the upward trend in disc golf's popularity, growing interest in college disc golf clubs, and the healthy mental and physical outlet the sport provides, it's not a surprise that ever more institutions of higher learning are supporting course construction on their campuses. But, like school sports teams, not every course is created equal.
Here you can find out which 10 college and university disc golf courses are the best in the world according to disc golfers with UDisc, the world's #1 disc golf app that includes the largest directory of disc golf courses in existence. Come with us as we explore who made it to the top of the class.
Ranking the Courses
Here's how we came up with the rankings in this post:
- How did you identify college/university disc golf courses?
Disc golfers adding courses to the UDisc directory can tag them as certain types of property, e.g., private, public, camp, or military. Another property tag option is university. For this post, we identified every course with the university tag and ran the numbers to see where they ranked against each other based on ratings from disc golfers with UDisc (more on the math in the next bullet point). Once we had the rankings, we researched each course at the top of the list and created a top 10 that included only the courses on properties owned and/or maintained by colleges or universities.
Keep in mind that any course not labeled "university" at the time we ran our search was not eligible for this list.
- How did you come up with the college/university disc golf course rankings?
The rankings are based on disc golfers' ratings of the courses in UDisc. However, we didn't go purely off of current rating. Recent course ratings affected courses' overall scores more than older ones. We also took into account how harshly or easily different countries tend to rate courses and made adjustments to even out those differences. Additionally, courses with low numbers of ratings received penalties.
This is the same math we used to create the World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2022.
- What qualified as a college/university disc golf course?
Any course on land that is owned and/or maintained by a university or college.
- Did you limit what part of the world the courses could be in?
No. College/university disc golf courses all over the world were eligible.
The Best College Disc Golf Courses: Top 10
No more procrastinating. Here are the world's 10 best college disc golf courses:
10. Stable Run Disc Golf Course at Iowa State University: Ames, Iowa
The 2004 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships in Des Moines were the reason Stable Run was installed.
"Our city had a course that was quite busy and popular with students already and the university's Department of Recreation Services was looking into the possibility of installing a course somewhere on campus property," said course designer and Iowa State University (ISU) alumnus Steve Kenton. "There were a few sites considered, with the eventual winning candidate being a former horse pasture under the College of Agriculture's control. It took a couple of years to get through the red tape of transferring the land to Rec Services and completing all of the bureaucratic protocols, but we had it installed in time for the 2004 Worlds."
The course itself is mostly wooded, with the layout running alongside the Ioway Creek on the northwest side of the ISU campus. You'll find clear and well-defined grassy fairways lined with old-growth trees as well as smaller saplings. While some narrow tunnels through the woods call for high-level control, there are also more park-style holes with well-spaced trees along the edges of the fairways.
The course features short and long concrete tee pads as well as short and long baskets on every hole. This gives students and the general public a course that fits every skill level.
Kenton is very proud of the signature hole 16, a 616-foot/188-meter par 4 that even impressed world-famous disc golf course designer John Houck.
It's also fun to note that – and we promise this didn't give the course any bonus points – UDisc's co-founders Matt Krueger and Josh Lichti met and studied in the same program at Iowa State.
9. Logan University Disc Golf Course: Chesterfield, Missouri
Logan University prides itself on being student driven.
"A group of students who were passionate about the sport petitioned the university's administration to fund the costs associated with developing a top-notch course," said Robert Powell, director of sports and activities at Logan. "It helped that the campus already sits on the prettiest 110 acres in the St. Louis area."
With the small size of Logan, the disc golf course helps bring in outsiders who would have otherwise never set foot on campus. Powell said they are in the fledgling stages of planning a second, beginner-level course on campus as well.
The current course plays around the east edge of campus, covering a total of 7,479 feet/2,280 meters and makes use of several small hills to add elevation changes. The par 62 layout features eight par 4s,10 par 3s, and multiple pin placements on each hole.
The property offers park-style disc golf across well-manicured grassy fairways dotted with mature trees. There are also a handful of heavily wooded shots that test accuracy and precision. The design makes use of three different campus ponds as well, with holes 6 and 16 featuring water carries.
8. Treasure Cove Disc Golf Course at Iowa Western Community College: Council Bluffs, Iowa
It was dusk on August 22. Classes at Iowa Western had only been underway for one week. Out at Treasure Cove, former IWCC athletic director and course ambassador Mike Wulbecker was finishing up some general trimming along the fairways when a disc went whizzing over his head from over 400 feet/122 meters away.
"I was a bit surprised because I was pretty far down the fairway," Wulbecker said. "After talking to the kid who threw it, I learned he had come to IWCC for two reasons: our CAD program and our disc golf course."
Iowa Western takes pride in its athletic facilities and the disc golf course is an extension of that. Wulbecker and others have used a new grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield to fund concrete tee pads on every hole, including the holes with both short and long pads. The tee pads are all 13 feet/4 meters long with a 7-foot/2-meter back and a 5-foot/1.5-meter front. They've also added the Black Beard layout which features seven brand new gold-flagged baskets to complete the course's extra-long, championship layout.
The course itself plays through and around the edges of the college campus. Most holes give a park-style feel with a lot of well-manicured grassy fairtways sprinkled with mature trees. There are also a handful of wooded holes that make gap-hitting a necessary skill for success. The longest tees offer a par 63 layout with a mix of par 3s and 4s while the shortest layout is a comfortable par 55. Wulbecker raves about hole 12's hanging basket, which is suspended over 70 feet/21 meters from the campus bridge that connects two sides of a ravine, making it the most unique green in the area.
Treasure Cove celebrated its 10,000th disc golfer in 2022. The player was awarded a $100 gift card to the Nebraska Disc Golf Company. The course also hosted two tournaments in 2022 with plans for even bigger events now that the tee pads have all been upgraded.
The course gets its name in part due to the school's mascot: Rocky the Reiver. A reiver is a 19th-century river pirate from the nearby Missouri River. The names of the course's four layouts continue the pirate theme: Jolly Roger, Black Beard, Walk the Plank, and Shiver Me Timbers.
7. IUP College Lodge at Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Indiana, Pennsylvania
The IUP College Lodge has built quality disc golf courses on the remains of an old ski hill.Gary Dropcho, a former IUP student and now a course designer with Grip It and Rip It Disc Golf, brought up the idea for a course in the early 1990s.
"I proposed the idea of an 18-hole disc golf course at IUP's College Lodge Recreation Park on the site of what was formerly a ski hill with two rope tows where my family and I learned to ski," Dropcho said.
In 1999, the proposal was approved and course work began. In 2001, it finally opened to the public. Grip It and Rip It and Dropcho have continued to stay involved over the past two decades, most recently coordinating local clubs to install one set of new tee pads in 2022.
The layout makes use of the land's natural elevation to create unique shots and angles off the tee. Multiple pin placements on each hole help keep the course fresh and challenging even for regulars. This course is mostly wooded with a few more open, park-style holes.
Good luck on the tight and narrow hole 15, which bends slightly left-to-right for 180 feet/55 meters. It might be the shortest hole on the course, but one kick off a tree can send you to disc golf jail where bogey is the best case scenario.
Holes 8, 9, and 18 all offer tee shots down the slope of the former ski hill. These are a treat for disc golfers of all skill levels, particularly the 748-foot/228-meter hole 18 where players can unleash on their most powerful throw and watch the disc fly.
6. University of OB Disc Golf Course at College of Siskiyous: Weed, California
This northern California gem is over 200 miles/322 kilometers from the nearest major city but still boasts some of the best disc golf in the state. It lies on the campus of a small college in the western foothills of Mount Shasta, a large volcanic mountain not too far from the Oregon-California border.
The course plays through an old-growth pine forest on the west side of the college. Large, mature pines define the fairways while hard-packed soil and pine needles provide a consistent floor on each hole. As the name implies, the layout incorporates a lot of out-of-bounds. New visitors will want to make sure they scout each hole ahead of time because the tee signs do not indicate all of the OB.
The signature hole 9 (better known as "Mount Shasta") plays down a 330-foot/101-meter, left-to-right moving fairway lined with towering pines. At the end of the pine tree tunnel lines a small green with a pin sitting atop a large pyramid about 14 feet/4 meters in the air.
5. Winthrop University Disc Golf Course: Rock Hill, South Carolina
In the disc golf world, Winthrop University and Rock Hill, South Carolina, are synonymous with one thing: the United States Disc Golf Championship.
Each year the best in the world come and test themselves at what some consider the most prestigious event in the sport. When the USDGC isn't in town, you can still throw a round on the history-laden grounds, but Winthrop plays quite a bit differently.
The numerous and infamous OB lines the USDGC course is known for are nowhere to be found. Depending on the time of year, pin positions are different as well. Several of the longer basket placements are moved to locations less threatening to amateur players and safer for pedestrians around the campus.
The landscape, of course remains. Winthrop is mostly a park-style course with a few woods-adjacent holes and triple mandos scattered in to test gap hitting abilities. The water-lined holes still command the same respect at all times of the year as one bad shot can send a disc plunging into the depths.
When it's USDGC time, you may be able to sign up for a tee time to play the iconic course in all its glory, but you'll have to be quick and willing to pay for it. You can check out the USDGC's website for more information.
4. Mastodon Disc Golf Course at Purdue University – Fort Wayne: Fort Wayne, Indiana
The Mastodon course is a top-notch wooded track in the Midwest. Concrete tees, informational signage, and well-kept fairways make this an enjoyable stop any time of year.
The course sits west of the Purdue-Fort Wayne campus next to all of the other athletic facilities at the university. With the exception of holes 1, 2, and 18, which play as more park-style holes, the course is entirely wooded. Tight lines and technical shots can make this track challenging for all levels of players.
There are both a main course and, for more advanced players, a Gold course. The Gold layout features seven alternate tee pads throughout that increase the length and change the shape of those particular holes. The Mastodon also boasts A and B pin positions on all but four holes. The baskets are relocated regularly to give the course a fresh feel.
3. Bethel University Disc Golf Course: Arden Hills, Minnesota
Located just outside disc golf paradise of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Bethel College (now Bethel University) hired Jim Beilby in 1999 as a professor of theology. Beilby took one look at the 247-acre/100-hectare campus sitting on the eastern shore of Valentine Lake and knew it needed a disc golf course.
In 2005, Beilby's request was granted. He teamed up with Josh Gerth, the head groundskeeper at Bethel, and the two co-designed nine-hole course for college use. In 2016, the course was expanded to 18 holes and officially opened to the public. Improvement has been going, including the addition of a few longer pin placements to complete a Gold layout.
"We have sought to make the course fun for beginners, but very challenging for experienced tournament players," Beilby said.
The course plays through and around the north side of Bethel's campus. The layout provides a bit of everything, challenging players with diversity from hole to hole. The course makes use of several elevation changes and incorporates Valentine Lake as a water hazard on five of the 18 holes. Along with the water are smorgasbord of other challenges: tight wooded lines, open field bomber shots, park-style golf, and OB-lined fairways.
The course is highlighted in the annual Twin Town Throwdown every July.
2. Evergreen State College Disc Golf Course: Olympia, Washington
This hidden destination in the Pacific Northwest is tucked on the west side of the Evergreen State College campus. The college itself lies on the shores of the Eld Inlet on the southern tip of the Puget Sound, just northwest of Olympia the Washington state capital.
The course is almost completely wooded, with tight, technical lines on most holes. The topography is largely flat and plays through a beautiful rainforest with a thick canopy overhead, moss-covered tree trunks and numerous ferns to define the edges of the fairways. The fallen needles from giant cedars and old-growth pine trees provide a soft carpet, taking ground play away on some shots and adding it to others.
With the addition of concrete tee pads to every hole, this is a must-visit course in the Pacific Northwest.
1. Spoon Creek Disc Golf Course at Kansas State University Olathe Research-Extension Center: Gardner, Kansas
The Spoon Creek course belongs to Kansas State University, but the university campus sits over 100 miles/161 kilometers from the course. How does that work? Well, KSU owns a research station about 30 miles/48 kilometers southwest of Kansas City that they use for furthering horticultural studies, and it happens to be on a large plot of land.
Cary Rivard, a fruit and vegetable specialist at the research station, brought together a team of volunteers in 2018 to help build a course on the research site. The decision was motivated by the closing of the popular Swope Park course in Kansas City.
"Disc golf was getting more and more popular," Rivard said. "With the closing of Swope, everybody was going to the remaining three popular courses. The courses here are totally overcrowded and the pandemic made that so much worse."
Rivard rallied a team of volunteers and everyone pitched in to purchase baskets, clear fairways, and bring a course to life at the KSU research station. The effort of the volunteers is something Rivard is very proud of and something that makes Spoon Creek so unique.
"We have a bunch of guys that come out here and mow and weed and chainsaw simply because they love the place," Rivard said.
The course needs to be maintained because the layout is completely wooded. Some fairways are more open than others, but all require some form of technical approach to the green through trees. A handful of holes play over and alongside the course's namesake, Spoon Creek, which adds a small water element to the property.
The elevation changes make this course special though. Several shorter holes play much farther than their measured distance because of uphill tee shots. And the downhill drives through the trees into guarded greens give Spoon Creek a one-of-a-kind feel.
A signature hanging basket on hole 14 is the goal on one of the shortest – and toughest – holes on the course. After one of those aforementioned uphill tee shots, you line up a putt at a basket dangling about 13 feet/4 meters in the air. Once you make it in, you use a unique process to get retrieve your disc.
"To retrieve your disc, there's a chain hanging from the basket," Rivard explained. "You pull the chain down, grab your disc, and then the counterweight brings the basket back up for you."