There is little doubt Discmania CEO Jussi Meresmaa wants to see the sport of disc golf grow. He is leading multiple disc golf companies including previously mentioned Discmania, DiscGolfPark, and more. While Meresmaa has plenty of actions to back up his goal of growing the sport, he has a way to get discussion going as well.
Monday morning Meresmaa tweeted the thought that disc golf courses are too easy and they need to develop as well.
The game of Disc Golf is played at way too easy courses. Courses need to develope too. @PDGA
— Jussi Meresmaa (@JussiMeresmaa) March 16, 2015
Meresmaa has designed hundreds of courses in his native Finland and around the world. He had a hand in helping design the Aussie Open course and is the lead designer for the upcoming St. Jude Charity Disc Golf Invitational.
Personally, I feel a change in course design would start to take the sport from what many believe is a recreational activity to a more professional level. Look at the Memorial, for example. Many joke (and some seriously) say it is a 400 foot hyzer fest. A battle of who can throw a hyzer closer to the basket than the other guy. Is that growing the sport?
Let’s peer over to our ball golf cousins for a moment. In many tournaments you see the winner finish with a score of 15 to 20 under par. Then, you go to the PGA Championships or the Masters and you see winners finish at 2 or 3 under par if not above par. Courses get harder. Mistakes cost you more, but rewards have more value.
Many courses today are made up of primarily holes you would call a par three. You’ll likely find a few longer holes, but most fall into the par three range. If a hole is “an easy two” for most amateurs, just imagine how a top pro feels on that same hole.
Paul McBeth shared on Facebook that he shot a 36 on 18 holes. Drive, putt. Drive, putt. That same routine 18 times. Yes, he’s likely the best in the sport at the moment, but sooner or later others will be playing consistently at his level.
McBeth also recently turned heads at the 2014 PDGA World Championships when it only took him three shots to complete a 950 foot hole. Hole 17 at Blue Lake Disc Golf Course never looked easier.
When compared to someone like Meresmaa, my disc golf course design knowledge is slim. The one suggestion I’d give is this. You don’t have to make a course harder by just adding distance. The shape of fairways, doglegs, low ceilings, and other elements can add to the difficulty of a hole.
On the distance front, keep in mind that many courses were initially designed when a midrange was the fastest disc available. Then came the Eagle and other fairways. The Destroyer, Cannons, and Nukes of the world weren’t even on the radar of course designers. Throwing 400 feet was the rarity. Now it’s the norm.
For many who are just getting into disc golf, the challenge of getting a birdie-2 on a 300 foot hole is difficult when you are first starting. You need to balance the line between getting new people into the sport and making the sport still difficult for the top competitors.
While we aren’t as educated to offer exact ideas, we can say a change needs to be made.
How do you feel about Meresmaa’s statement? Do courses need to be harder? What would you change? Let’s keep this DISCussion going.