top of page
  • Writer's pictureChris Davies. Edited by Martin Galley

Disc Golf is for communities: how a disc golf course came to be

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Queenspark, Christchurch: Vortica’s newest DGC launched three weeks ago. Today Vortica takes a close look at the process of how it came in to being, why it’s good for NZ Disc Golf, and how communities benefit from disc golf.

In August 2017 I took a call from David B, the president of the Queenspark Residents Association who asked me if I would be interested in taking a look at their local reserve with a view to installing a disc golf course there. I was interested of course, but became far more so when he informed me they had all the money required.

I couldn’t open Google Earth fast enough! At just 300 metres by 100 metres, (7.5 acres in old money, and 3 Hectares in digital currency) it clearly wouldn’t support more than 9 baskets, but that’s enough for a good little DGC – so I burned a little rubber getting down there for an initial walk around, and was pleasantly surprised by the space.

Queenspark Reserve looking North. Pacific Ocean at top right.
Queenspark Reserve looking North. Pacific Ocean at top right.

It was instantly obvious I could not create any holes which ran down the center of the area which was relatively open, with trees either side, as it was used as a walkway by the local school children and residents.

The contorted nature of the pines and the massive size of the pine needles – up to 200mm in length, mean they are extremely grabby, and I nearly lost a few discs exploring some lines as I walked around.

Basket 2, looking North.
Basket 2, looking North.

At just 2,000 metres from the Pacific Ocean and with just 3 hectares available, and with a strong prevailing East wind that would dominate normal play, it was going to be a challenge to develop something which was not only beginner and intermediate friendly, but would also challenge good disc golfers, now that Christchurch has a burgeoning population of casual players, which I estimate to be closing in on 1,000 now.

The challenging Number 3. A turnover shot thrown straight, or a very tight low hyzer to the right.
The challenging Number 3. A turnover shot thrown straight, or a very tight low hyzer to the right.

So, I set about walking the area in every direction, looking for signature holes and good challenges for both new and experienced players, trying to figure out how to get a few tucked away with minimal wind interference, while almost always keeping the basket in sight of the tee. Simultaneously, I wanted to create genuine challenges for both Forehand/lefty and Backhand/righty players, and to often restrict players either horizontally or vertically (but never both simultaneously), in order to promote a wide range of disc golf skills within a fairly small area.

Local boy, Jet, takes aim at the tunnel leading to basket 7.
Local boy, Jet, takes aim on 7.

As a course designer, I’m guided by the current state of disc golf in Christchurch. And as a community funded course, the primary objective of my design was to serve the community as best I could, by creating a disc golf course which would encourage a wide range of people to play the game, and then take up the sport.

In particular, 600 students at Queenspark Primary School are right next door, and if I could get a good number of them playing, that would be perfect.

I very quickly came to the realisation I would need to design a loop which could be started at any of the three corners locals walking to the course would naturally arrive at.

With this in mind, I continued whittling down the possible holes to more solid ones, and decided to hide only 1 basket from the teepad, and make it a very challenging 2 indeed, but with all the other baskets visible from the tee, and potentially ace-able. I surprised myself, and made the very first birdie on the blind #3, just two weeks after the install, I aced number 9 around the same time.

Queenspark Reserve course map. Up is East.
Queenspark Reserve course map. Up is East.

With each basket, I have tried to challenge a different aspect of the player’s ability. By creating different challenges, and by controlling the types of shot which can be used to access the basket. This is beneficial to the players, as it incentivizes them to develop a range of throws, and keeps players interested.

I obtained 9 additional basket receivers for alternate basket positions, which are intended to provide different challenges for regulars and to prevent the sandy soil from being wrecked close to the baskets over time. They’ll be installed soon.

Christchurch Disc Golf is Growing The Sport

With Christchurch now having 2 DGCs (or one and a half, if you’re a pessimist), and Rawhiti Domain coming along slowly, and local stalwart David R working on the old Ascot Golf Park, I am expecting the floodgates are about to open in Christchurch, and we will see at least 4 more courses installed before the end of 2019, for a combined total of six (or more) permanent courses.

With Christchurch having by far the best climate for disc golf in the country, and with an abundance of disc golfing natural resources due to a plethora of under-utilised local parks and reserves, and with the world’s largest and most expensive parklands thanks to the earthquakes, I think I am right in saying Christchurch is set to become the future disc golfing capital of New Zealand.

It’s got the weather, the parks, the Red Zone, the population and soon, the courses to properly develop the sport in Canterbury.

Just a small part of the Red Zone - literally the perfect place for disc golf.
Just a small part of the Red Zone - literally the perfect place for disc golf.

The Christchurch Red Zone: the greatest disc golfing resource any city ever had.