Denver’s Best Disc Golf Courses for Beginners

Even if you’ve never played disc golf, a sport in which players throw Frisbee-like plastic blocks hundreds of feet with the goal of landing them in waist-high wire baskets placed under a ring of chains attached to metal poles. I’ve probably seen people lining up to play on courses scattered throughout the green spaces of the Denver metro area. During the pandemic, the game has exploded in popularity, especially among women and children: The Professional Disc Golf Association saw nearly 75% growth in both of these demographics in 2021.

Despite disc golf’s low barriers to entry — starter discs cost between $10 and $20 each and most public courses are free — it can be daunting. Fortunately, disc golfers are, on the whole, friendly and eager to develop the sport: a recent survey by U disk, a popular app used by many players to record their games, rate and review courses, found that 90% of respondents had introduced at least one other person to the sport. Checking the Facebook pages of Denver-area disc golf clubs is a great way to find meetups and beginner clinics, but if you want to hang out on your own, check out our shortlist of free layouts in the Denver metro area. , then read our primer on disc golf rules and etiquette below before heading out to hit the chains.

Arvada

Johnny Roberts Disc Golf Course

Johnny Roberts Disc Golf Course in Arvada. Photo courtesy of City of Arvada

Players recorded 22,393 rounds via UDisco at this short 18-hole course near Olde Town Arvada in 2021, making it the fourth most popular disc golf course in America. Translation: There are people, and for good reason. The pretty stream crossings and mature trees provide just enough of a challenge for beginners, while more advanced players chase the aces (no hole exceeds around 250 feet) and take part in the course’s popular glow competitions, in which the baskets are lit by LEDs after dark on summer Friday evenings.

Bird’s Nest Disc Park
The brainchild of disc sport legend John Bird (who also designed Johnny Roberts and named him after his contemporary and friend, an Arvada teacher who died in 1994), Bird’s Nest has 24 holes that span on 40 acres of prairie just east of CO 93. Its wide-open nature makes it a good place to work from a distance, but be careful to track where your drive lands amid the tall wild grass. Tip: Let Fido frolic at the nearby West Arvada Dog Park before putting him on a leash to accompany you on your game.

Dawn

Expo Park
Geese love this flat, grassy course almost as much as humans do, thanks to the two ponds criss-crossing the 18 holes. Distances range from 192 to 402 meters, and newly planted trees should make the layout even better in the future.

Rock

Harlow Platts Disc Golf Course
Boulder-born Eagle McMahon, now one of the best disc golfers on the planet, grew up playing this straightforward nine-hole course with classic Flatiron views. So we’re sure that even more experienced players will learn something on the hills of Harlow Platts. . Each hole has two baskets, red and yellow, so you can make 18 by playing twice.

Champ-de-Broom

Interlocken Park East
A favorite of locals in the surrounding Business Park cube for lunch, this nine-basket course features two sets of alternate tees; choose from main positions A and B to play or avoid water obstacles (a small pond and a canal). Well-kept grass and plenty of paved walkways make it easy to navigate.

denver

Paco Sanchez Park
Located along the light rail tracks to Golden and Lakewood Gulch on the west side of town, Paco Sanchez’s 21 holes are some of the toughest in the metro area. Its location in a mixed-use city park means the land gets a lot of use, so watch out for cyclists and pedestrians and bring a trash bag to help clear the course as you play.

Erie

Coal Creek Disc Golf Course
New for fall 2020, many of this well-marked course’s 18 holes (mostly par-3s with a few par-4s) are along the lovely but potentially dangerous Cottonwood Extension Ditch. Although there aren’t many trees, the elevation changes present some challenges, and best of all, views of the snow-capped peaks to the west.

Federal Heights

Camenisch Park (Upper Badlands and Lower Badlands)

Camenisch Park
Camenisch Park in Federal Heights. Photo by Jake Pelton

With 18 holes each and separate parking areas, the upper and lower badlands of Camenisch Park (north of Denver, near Water World) combine for a long, challenging day of disc golf. Go with someone who knows the routes or consider following UDisc closely to navigate the rough courses, which have rudimentary signage. Part of what was once the Blair Witch course, the lower section offers challenges in the form of densely treed sections and dirt tee pads, while the upper section has longer holes and more elevation change.

Greenwood Village

Green villages
Beginners and more advanced players looking for a quick after-work escape southeast of town will love Village Greens, an easy and fairly flat 18-hole course west of Cherry Creek Reservoir. Warning: There is very little shade, so be prepared with a hat and plenty of water.

Highland Ranch

West Fork Disc Golf Course
This 18-hole layout in the southern suburbs, built in July 2020, has immaculate concrete tee pads accompanied by benches throughout. Players must navigate both a ravine and recreational enthusiasts using the path that winds through the course.

Littleton

Ken Caryl Disc Golf Course
With none of its nine holes over 200 feet and most under 150, Ken Caryl’s pitch and putt course southwest of downtown is ideal for perfecting your approach technique or bringing the whole family for a party. Stop at the equally child-friendly Farm at Breckenridge Brewery on the way back to town.

Longmont

Clark Centennial Park
Mature trees and a canal embellish and complicate Clark Centennial’s nine holes. Beginners: Don’t be discouraged when you see hole 1 is over 400 feet; it’s the longest, with most of the rest in the 200s and mid-300s.

Loomiller Park
Notorious Loomiller Lake will be deprived of its regular diet of discs while the nine-hole course is closed for construction and park improvements until spring 2023. (Psst: if you’ve lost one in its waters, check Longmont Play It Again Sports shop; they buy records with names and numbers on them for $2 and resell yours to you for the same amount.)

Morisson

Fehringer Ranch Park
Southwest of town, near Bear Creek Lake Park, this local favorite has 18 holes and a sizable practice area — multiple practice baskets and a throwing net — spread over 135 acres. Long holes, seasonal creeks and creatively placed OBs (out of bounds) make for a technically interesting yet still accessible course.


Rules and scoring

Essentially, disc golf is like regular golf: you count the number of throws it takes to get your disc from the tee pad at the start of each hole to the basket. You can take a few steps into your throw and finish past the tee pad or where your last drive landed as long as you release with your forward-most fulcrum (almost always your foot) on the tee pad or on the floor indoors. a rectangle 30 centimeters long by 20 centimeters wide behind your lie. One exception: within 10 yards of the basket, you cannot follow and pass your lie. After each shot leave your disc on the ground until you have thrown it from behind or place a mini disc marker on the front edge and pick up your usual disc. If a shot lands out of bounds — often demarcated by physical obstacles, like trees, called mandos (short for mandatory) — take a drop and add a throw to your total. Whoever won the previous hole goes first to the next one. For most tournaments, 18 holes is the minimum, but many courses have 21 or more. Players often use the UDisc application to record their games. The lowest score wins.

Label

With courses seeing record usage, it’s important to observe disc golf protocol, written and unwritten: check that your target area is clear of other players before you begin; yell “forward” if an errant throw is heading towards someone; try to return any discs you find to their owners (most people put their phone numbers on the bottom); and limit your group size to five or less, especially if the class is busy. If you have a larger or slower crew, offer to let the faster disc golfers play behind you.

Michael C. Ford