In disc golf circles, Huntsville boasts some pretty interesting history: Its Brahan Spring course, which was established in 1976, is one of the oldest continuously active courses in the country.
And back then, when disc golf made its debut in the United States, courses looked quite a bit different than they do today: “The holes were constructed with 25-gallon oil drums,” says Lavone Wolfe, a pro disc golfer who has designed courses in Huntsville.
In the years since, the Huntsville metro area has gained a handful of additional courses and emerged as destination for disc golf. Enthusiasts can choose from a number of inviting spots to try their hand at the sport, whether they’re seasoned pros or beginners looking for a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.
To help you plan a day of disc golf in Huntsville, we asked Wolfe for his insight on his favorite courses in town, including their unique traits and levels of difficulty. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find that Huntsville’s diverse collection of courses can suit any type of player.
For the Seasoned Golfers: University of Alabama (Huntsville)
Best suited for pros and experienced players, the UAH course features extremely long distances, plus a wide variety of tough shots: To succeed here, you really need to be able to sling the disc. Stretched out over the broad green lawns of the UAH campus, the course is very open, but all but four holes have out-of-bounds penalties, so a bad drive will penalize you and make your second shot very difficult. Whether you play it as a 24-hole course or a super-long 18-hole course, plan for at least of couple of hours to complete a round. If you play in sunny weather, bring your water, sunscreen, and a fresh pair of legs, as the course is very exposed with few places to sit.
For the Ultimate Experience: Indian Creek
Winding through beautiful woods of Madison’s Indian Creek Greenway, this is the premier disc golf course in the area—and one of the most difficult as well. It sports a wide variety of challenges, including big, open shots and hilly terrain that requires throwing uphill or downhill. Like UAH, it also has many holes with out-of-bounds areas. “It’s like ball golfers who want to play Pebble Beach,” Wolfe says. “Even if it would kick their butt, they want to play it.”
But don’t let Indian Creek’s difficulty deter you: It’s also a really fun course that attracts players of all skill levels. Whether you’re advanced or a beginner, you’ll appreciate the sublime surroundings on its 50 acres, giving the course a bucolic, countryside feel. Just keep in mind that it’s a long course, and a pro player needs about 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete it.
For an Easy Afternoon Outing: Mastin Lake Park
Looking for a relatively quick game? The 18-hole, short-to-medium Mastin Lake course is a solid option. Its woodsy location covers diverse terrain and includes a wide variety of shots, so it’s fun no matter your skill level. For most shots, you throw uphill, downhill, or along the side of a hill, and the diversity keeps things interesting and entertaining. For recreational players, the wooded areas also provide a good opportunity to learn to control discs in tight spaces. Beginners will also appreciate that Mastin Lake has good signage, so it’s easy to navigate the course—which is not always the case with disc golf.
For a Dose of History: Brahan Spring Park
Brahan Spring attracts plenty of disc golfers simply because it’s one of the country’s oldest courses still in use. For enthusiasts, it’s a chance to experience a piece of history, and players often comment on how this relatively short 18-hole course differs so much from bigger, modern courses. Aside from its historic aspect, Brahan Spring is also an inviting place where you wind through stands of towering pines. (When the course opened, there were 4,000 more pine trees, but many were removed after pine beetles attacked them.)
The course also provides a nice challenge for experienced players, with tight fairways that require accuracy and corridors of trees greet you as soon as you leave the tees. Fortunately for beginners, there are no water hazards, so no losing discs to the water. Novices will also appreciate that the course is pretty flat, with no tight uphill or downhill shots. Finally, because there is very little undergrowth, you don’t have to worry about tromping through poison ivy to retrieve a disc.