The second in a series of interviews with NEDGC Course Designer Chris Barden.
I love the concept of having both the “easier” Meadows course and “advanced” Spoonwood Ridge course on the same property. What do you see as the advantages of having two separate courses on the property, as opposed to just having “beginner” tees on your original course? Are there any challenges or issues with having two courses?
Having the ability to having 2 separate courses is a blessing and fits perfect into our master plan of becoming a center for disc golf. When we decided on creating Spoonwood Ridge as a long course that would be a three hour round we knew having the plan to create a second smaller par three 18 hole course would be the best use of the remaining property. Even though Spoonwood Ridge will have a Red Level set up it will still stretch upwards of 6000 ft and could be daunting for beginners.
Per PDGA Guidelines, the Spoonwood Ridge course from the Red (short) Tees will challenge a player rated from 830 up to about 880. That translates to a solid men’s rec level player. For Seniors and women that might ever translate to Intermediate or even “advanced” level players. Our White tees should be a challenge for players rated up to about 930, which reaches up in to the “advanced” levels of tournament play. By challenging, we mean players should be able to score par with reasonably good shots. They might be able to get birdies and even on rare occasion maybe have a chance for an ace or eagle, but if they mess up they’ll score bogeys or worse. If a player is consistently below par on our Red Course it’s a good indication they should move back to the White Tees. (If they are always under par from our White’s then they can help us build out the Blue Tees 😊)
It’s certainly OK for someone to challenge themselves on a course “above” their rating on occasion, but consistently playing courses too tough for your ability might even set back a player's development. Constantly coming in at 19 over par can lead to frustration and loss of confidence.
While most “tournament” players can handle the Spoonwood Red Course, new players or “casual” players find the course to be daunting, especially when the baskets are in the alternate back positions.
That’s where The Meadows shines. With the Meadows we are creating a par 54 18 hole course which will have a green level and red level layout that will be between 3000 and 4000 feet in length with an average hole length of 220 feet from the reds, and maybe 170 to 190 from the green tees.
This gives less skilled players a chance to learn good techniques and strategies on a course where they can make pars and even have birdie looks as soon as they master some of the basics of the game. The course is a perfect place to expose young people to the game. It’s treat to watch an eight year old make their first birdie out on the Meadows.
It’s a mistake to dismiss The Meadows as just an easy “pitch and putt”. It’s got a healthy mix of open and wooded holes, makes use of changes of elevation, has a healthy variety of shot shapes needed. It provides a chance for players to learn good fundamentals without some of the frustration that can come with long, tight wooded holes.
The Meadows is also a great alternative for advanced players wanting to get in a quick round under two hours. They can even get in a quick nine in under 30 minutes. It’s also can be a chance to get in a confidence building fun round in after a tough match on Spoonwood. The Meadows is also proving to be a popular spot for some rounds of Glo.
We are still in the early stages of building out the Meadows Course. The course has nine holes, with only the green tees in place. This winter we will begin the expansion to a full 18 holes, and the red tees will soon follow. With two courses on the property, we can be a true “disc golf center”, a destination for all skill level. From top regional pros to kids celebrating a 10th birthday party, we have something that is fun and satisfying for all players.
I don’t feel there are any negatives to having two courses on the same property. Of course the more holes you have the more maintenance there will be, but over-all the benefits vastly outweigh any extra efforts.