World's Best Disc Golf Courses: Blue Ribbon Pines, East Bethel, Minnesota

Alex Williamson avatar
Alex WilliamsonWriter, Editor
Jan 31, 2022 • 8 min read

Each weekday from January 30 to February 10, 2023, we will be counting down the new year's top 10 disc golf courses. The new top 100 will be revealed on Monday, February 13, 2023. One of 2022's top 10, Blue Ribbon Pines may or may not be there again. Check the master post for all things World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2023 each day of the countdown to find out.

The rest of this post has not been updated since the publication date.

BRP lead.jpg
A moment from a fall round at Blue Ribbon Pines

Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course Basics

Name: Blue Ribbon Pines

East Bethel, Minnesota

Number of Holes: 27

Rank in World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2022: #10

Rank in World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2021:

Year Opened: 2006

Designer: Timmy Gill

Availability: Every day of the year from 8 a.m. to two hours before sunset.

$8 day pass ($5 for students and military)

Course Conditions, Photos, & More: Blue Ribbon Pines on UDisc Courses

All of the World's Best Disc Golf Courses

Find the top 100 disc golf courses in the world as well as information on how the rankings worked in "World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2022: #1-#100."

Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course History

Shot of a disc golf green covered in red mulch and surrounded by large rocks with a small pond and trees also in view
Hole 22 at Blue Ribbon Pines on a beautiful day in Minnesota. Photo uploaded to UDisc Courses by luckbb22

Until about a year before his course opened, Blue Ribbon Pines owner and proprietor Ray Jordan would never have expected to create any disc golf course, let alone one of the best in the world.

"Most people start disc golf courses because they’re addicted to the game; I started Blue Ribbon Pines without even being a player," Jordan said.

The series of fortunate events that led to Blue Ribbon Pines' opening began in 2005. Jordan is part of a family-owned sod farming business, and that year he helped an out-of-work friend from high school by giving him odd jobs on one of his family's farms. That friend happened to be wild for disc golf. When he noticed the farm's boundaries also included a huge expanse of woods used for nothing other than a small amount of hunting, the friend couldn't resist trying to convince Jordan to set up a course.

"He said, 'Let’s grab a beer and walk through the woods,'" Jordan recalled. "We did, and the woods were pretty, and I told him, 'That sounds like a good idea.'"

Jordan's friend talked enthusiastically about the property at a league night following the walk, and eventually the news reached the ears of Timmy Gill. At the time, Gill organized the largest league in Minnesota (perhaps the U.S.) and was Minnesota's best player and a course designer. Gill got in touch with Jordan, and they set up a meeting to discuss building a course.

When Gill arrived for the meeting, Jordan and some of his family and business associates were there to greet him. 

"We’re kind of grizzled guys, a little on the conservative side, hard-working, up early in the morning, and Timmy Gill showed up in a beat-up Toyota pick-up with sandals on, hair down to his shoulders and looked like some surfer dude," Jordan recalled, laughing. "My brother and three partners looked at each other and said, 'No way this our guy.' But I said we had to give him a chance. After the pleasantries, he wanted to walk through the land a bit and see what he would have to work with.

"After we started showing him around," Jordan continued, "he just turned to me and let me know about his credentials and background in disc golf and told me the land looked as good to him as anything he’d played anywhere. He explained where he thought the sport was heading…and, well, we were in the woods about an hour, and I came out drinking the Kool-Aid."

Though his family was skeptical, Jordan convinced them to let him give it a try. From there, things moved relatively quickly but with Jordan insisting at every step that if he was going to build a course, it needed to be special. Utilizing the equipment from his family business and other connections, Jordan had ponds made, boulders brought in, and other landscape features created.

A blue disc golf basket on a large elevated green covered in red mulch and surrounded by boulders
Greens like this one with its large rock border and fresh mulch show Blue Ribbon Pines' dedication to going above and beyond.

Blue Ribbon Pines was planned throughout the end of 2005 and beginning of the next year, and in August 2006 – after Jordan had delayed the opening several times due to a desire for perfection – the course was opened to the disc golfing public.

Though some found the idea of paying for disc golf outlandish in 2006 (the fee was $5), Blue Ribbon Pines soon became known as a must-play course. Jordan said within the first year he already knew the course would be popular enough to be successful in his eyes, with people from all over the state showing up to play it. And, now, with Jordan's careful upkeep and constant additions (read more about those in upcoming sections), the course can count itself not just as local favorite, but a pillar of Minnesota disc golf and one of the best disc golf destinations in the world.

Despite its success and renown, Jordan still isn't satisfied with his creation and vows to keep working to improve it.

"I’ve told people the same thing since the beginning," Jordan said. "We’ll never stop trying to make this course better."

What's It Like to Play at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course?

A paved disc golf tee pad in front of a very tight, dead straight fairway thickly lined with trees
Blue Ribbon Pines' famous 444.

Blue Ribbon Pines doesn't have "pines" in the name just for kicks. The hallmark of the course is tight, wooded fairways that usually make accuracy, not distance, the key factor to a good score. That isn't to say there aren't moments when players are invited to let it rip. Take, for example, how Kevin Jones attacked the 760-foot/232-meter hole 18, which is also known as "the driving range hole" due to the distance markers placed down the length of the fairway:

But, overall, what's likely so lovable about Blue Ribbon Pines to many is that it combines a sense of achievability with a high level of challenge. If you throw the lines, the birdies are there for the taking on most holes for experienced players. However, hitting every one of those demanding and varied lines would be a near superhuman achievement. 

Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course's Signature Hole

As you can hear in the commentary below from the flyover in the video by Par Save Productions, the 444-foot/135 meter, par 4 hole 4 at Blue Ribbon Pines is unquestionably iconic.

The idea is simple: Throw straight as you can through a 15-foot/4.5-meter wide corridor lined by trees. There's out of bounds for those who kick too far left and tricky lines for anyone who stays in bounds on either side of the fairway. Jordan's father planted many of the trees himself over a half-century ago, and Jordan likes to joke with visitors that Blue Ribbon Pines has been in the works for over 60 years.

Recent & Planned Developments at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course

A blue disc golf basket lit up at night
Jordan is always looking for ways to make Blue Ribbon Pines more special, like by hosting truly spectacular glow leagues.

In 2021's World's Best Courses feature on Blue Ribbon Pines, we reported that Jordan was planning to build a full bar on site for the upcoming season. Well, things were a little busier than he expected last year, and the plan now is for the bar to open at some point in 2022.

When complete, the taproom will be full of images and objects celebrating the history of all things disc. Jordan mentioned things like photographs of the golden years of Overall competition, which is where players compete in a various events that test a range of disc skills, as well as a display case full of first-run Discraft Buzzzes in every possible color. The taps will be pouring mostly Minnesota craft beer, and Jordan says he'll often have some fairly special brews from Surly Brewing in nearby Minneapolis with whom he's built a close relationship.

Jordan also says that he plans to focus even more on bringing musicians to play at the course's two stages. Last year, an electronic dance music festival set up by his son was a big success, and this year Bass Ribbon Pines – the festival's name – will be a three-day EDM and disc golf festival scheduled for July 21-24, 2022.

Events & Leagues at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course

Events: The top event at Blue Ribbon Pines is The Majestic. This year, the event is an A-tier taking place on June 11-12, 2022. That event has only professional divisions. There is also an annual Amateur Majestic.

Leagues: There are Thursdays leagues and Sunday leagues at Blue Ribbon Pines. In winter, Sunday league is Cali rules: an extra shot per hole (there's also no OB). Ace pools for these leagues can get up into the thousands at times.

Amenities at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course

Along with impeccable upkeep and great tee pads, here are some of the comforts and extras you can expect at Blue Ribbon Pines:

  • Pro shop
  • Benches on every hole
  • Cleared tee pads throughout the winter
  • A concession stand and a bar and grill. Jordan said you can get things as various as "craft beer, whiskey, cheese curds, or a double cheeseburger and fries" if you get peckish during your round.
  • Two stages for live music
  • A nine-hole course with holes around 50-60 feet/15-18 meters to practice your short game

Three Real Five Star Reviews of Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course

Three real five star reviews of Blue Ribbon Pines from disc golfers on UDisc:

Unbelievable course - well maintained and incredibly difficult yet fun. Very beautiful scenery.
Stopped into BRP while in the area, and wasn’t disappointed! Fantastic, mostly moderately wooded course. Distance, accuracy, and sometimes a little luck are required to score on most holes. Full of variety and great scenery.
Too good to be true! Loved this course, so fun and technical. 

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