Disc golf courses are popping up all across the country and for good reason. It is arguably one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation. A recent survey by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) found that more than 500,000 Americans play the sport regularly, and between 8 and 12 million have played at least once in their life.
Alabama has its share of courses dotting the countryside, with more on the way. For towns and cities, it’s an inexpensive way to bring outdoor recreation to town. So, what are the best disc golf courses in the state? Of course, that is a subjective question. For some, it may be the challenging fairways with difficult obstacles. For others, it might have to be an official PDGA course.
We’ve considered some of the best elements of courses and compiled our list of the seven best in Alabama. Of course, this is only a fraction of the courses out there, but it will offer you some nice challenges—and great ideas for road trips—whether disc golf is your obsession, or a new sport for you.
1. Clay Disc Golf Course
With a good assortment of open and wooded fairways, the Clay Disc Golf Course in the town of Clay is regularly rated as one of the top courses in the state by the PDGA. This is a fun but long course coming in at just over 6,000 feet in length. The course has 21 holes with blue tees for longer driving distances that advanced players will love, and shorter-distance red tees for the rest of us.
The fairways have a little elevation gain, so you’ll get a good workout walking the course and practicing your uphill and downhill shots. A unique aspect of the course is the presence of bamboo forts, which dot the links. One in particular stands out: Fort Hole (#4) has a basket located within a circular bamboo walled area and a single opening to toss the disc into the green.
2. Inverness Disc Golf
Located in the beautiful rolling hills of Hoover’s Inverness Nature Park, this course is excellent for both beginners and advanced players with a good variety of shots and difficulties.
Inverness features both red and blue tees at every hole and multiple pin placements which not only helps to vary the challenge for golfers by providing different pin locations but also keeps erosion down to a minimum around the basket. Every tee has a full-color sign that shows not only the layout of the fairway but also which basket is in play.
3. The Admiral
The town of Semmes on the Alabama Gulf Coast hired course designer John Houck to build its course, The Admiral, a name that honors the Civil War naval officer Admiral Raphael Semmes. The Admiral is located in Semmes Municipal Park and was the 100th championship disc golf course designed by Houck. This 20-hole course is pretty much flat because of its location on the Gulf Coast, but what it lacks in elevation and hill shots it makes up for with its heavily wooded fairways and water features that make each hole a challenge.
4. Graham Creek Nature Preserve
What can’t you do at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve in Foley? There are 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, an impressive kayak launch into the park’s namesake creek that flows to the Gulf, archery, a nature center and a fun and challenging disc golf course. Actually, make that two 18-hole courses—the Prairie and the Preserve.
For beginners and amateurs there is the Prairie, which features fairways that meander over rolling grassy hills and cross a couple of small creeks. Designed for more advanced golfers, the Preserve boasts difficult shots in a dense, brushy forest.
5. Indian Creek
In the heart of Huntsville, set within the wooded confines of a greenway that follows the banks of a beautiful creek, you’ll find Indian Creek, largely considered the premier disc golf course in the area.
Its uphill and downhill shots, wooded holes, and four out-of-bounds areas present challenges for advanced golfers. But, the course is also an excellent stop for beginners, as each hole includes long and short pin positions.
The course weaves its way around 50 acres of beautiful wooded landscape, and four holes have water hazards. On average, it takes people about two and a half hours to complete the full 18-hole course.
6. Central Park
A new trend in disc golf is repurposing old, abandoned ball golf courses for disc use, and that’s what the town of Daphne did. Located on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, the city and the Lake Forest Property Owners Association converted the subdivision’s old 11-acre golf course into an outstanding 18-hole disc golf course.
The course features cement tees and fairways ranging from 300 feet to just over 400 feet. One nice aspect of the course is that it has plenty of hills, and a few of the holes provide excellent views of Mobile Bay. Even if you’re not into golf, it’s an appealing place to visit, as the old golf cart path has been transformed into a bike and walking path.
7. Lake Point Park
One of the most beautiful disc golf courses in the state is Lake Point Park Disc Golf Course in Heflin. Talk about a getaway. The course is located in a brilliant forest with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and lake.
Even though you’re in the mountains, the 18-hole course itself was laid out over moderately rolling hills. There are some interesting shots, including a long, narrow drive along an earthen dam by the lake. Several holes provide tricky shots through thick wooded fairways, and there are a few wide-open shots as well across grassy fields. Many say that the most difficult hole is number 18, which is 450 feet long and requires you to climb hills and reach a basket perched atop a hill near the parking lot.
Written by Joe Cuhaj for RootsRated Media in partnership with BCBS of AL.