Always in the rough: Trying out a little disc golf

Making it into the chain basket is the goal for disc golfers. This one can be found near the entrance at the Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury.
Making it into the chain basket is the goal for disc golfers. This one can be found near the entrance at the Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury.
If you make your way through the woods at Top O’The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury, you’ll quickly come across the first tee box.
If you make your way through the woods at Top O’The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury, you’ll quickly come across the first tee box.
Similar to normal golf, many disc golf courses offer players a view of each hole near the tee box, including the distance and shots needed to reach par.
Similar to normal golf, many disc golf courses offer players a view of each hole near the tee box, including the distance and shots needed to reach par.
Making it into the chain basket is the goal for disc golfers. This one can be found near the entrance at the Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury.
Making it into the chain basket is the goal for disc golfers. This one can be found near the entrance at the Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury.
Pictured is the pro shop at Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury, where players can rent equipment, check out the course rules or just drop some money in the box and get started.
Pictured is the pro shop at Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury, where players can rent equipment, check out the course rules or just drop some money in the box and get started.
Directional signs are dotted across Top O’ The Hill Golf Course in Canterbury, helping players navigate their way through the 18-hole course.
Directional signs are dotted across Top O’ The Hill Golf Course in Canterbury, helping players navigate their way through the 18-hole course.
A banner hangs near the entrance at Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Cantebury. Innova is one of the top manufacturers of disc golf discs.
A banner hangs near the entrance at Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Cantebury. Innova is one of the top manufacturers of disc golf discs.
A smaller chain basket sits atop a tree at Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury.
A smaller chain basket sits atop a tree at Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury.

If you’re not familiar with disc golf yet, I won’t hold it against you. All I ask is, at the very least, do yourself a favor and get acquainted with one of the fastest-growing sports in the state sometime this year before the weather turns for the worse.

I promise you won’t regret it.

“What I see here is they start playing in the fall, they get all winter to think about disc golf and they come back in the spring/summer,” said Marty Vaughn, owner of Top O’ The Hill Disc Golf Course in Canterbury. “Once you play it, you’re always thinking about it.”

The sport is fairly similar to normal golf with a few exceptions: Instead of a club and a ball, you throw different sized frisbee-like discs. In place of a pin and hole is the satisfying sound of a chain basket. Most courses are 18 holes, relatively cheap ($5 to $10, if not free) and you get a certain amount of shots to reach par.

It’s challenging, a bit odd to get used to at first, but above all, it’s enjoyable.

“I think it is driven by the price, but it’s also driven by fun,” Vaughn said. “It’s one of the only sports where you can really play, mess up and have fun. It’s still fun when you hit those trees.”

I can attest to that, as I may have even knocked a few branches down during my play through Vaughn’s course, which is a winding track, mainly through wooded areas, that’s open seven days a week from dusk until dawn.

Top O’ The Hill opened in 2011 and is 18 holes long. The majority of the front nine takes you through the woods (beware of ticks), and there’s a few open-area holes along the way on the back nine, including my personal favorite No. 12, which requires a tricky toss uphill. But every hole has it’s own charm and personality.

It will cost you $5 to play a round, or $8 to go at it all day. If you happen to be strapped for cash, the friendly owner won’t hold it against you.

“I’m super blessed to be around so many cool people. I love the people that come here and they’re from all walks of life,” Vaughn said. “Everybody can afford this. You can dig up change in your car and probably get five dollars. And if you get close, good enough. Thanks for the donation.”

As the sport rises in popularity, more and more disc golf courses have popped up around New Hampshire. Here’s a look at a few that are just a short drive away:

The Woods at Beauty Hill

557 Beauty Hill Road, Barnstead, woodsatbeautyhill.com, 724-4027

One of the top-rated places to play in the state, the venue offers three 18-hole courses set on a farm.

The Lynx Course – the biggest challenge available – is a par 60 that offers a bit of everything, from open fields where you can rear back and bomb the disc to holes that require a bit more thought with wooded doglegs and changing elevation.

If you’re up for a slightly easier round, the Cougar Course is Beauty Hill’s newest addition and is a par 56 with more forgiving fairways.

If you’re just starting out and want to get a feel for the game, the par-2 Bobcat Course was designed for beginners.

Whichever one you choose, it’s $5 for a round or $8 to play all day.

Franklin Falls

150 New Hampton Road, Franklin, ffdiscgolf.org, 585-5054

It’s truly one of the most unique places you’ll find in the state as you play across the Pemigewasset River basin and through the Franklin Falls Dam for 18 holes of fun.

But be ready to walk. The course is as long as it is enjoyable with a length of 7,887 feet.

The par-5 eighth hole is the longest, playing between 880-1,180 feet depending on the tee and allows players to really let it fly.

New England College

87 Grove Street, Henniker

If you happen to be around campus, the course is located just above the turf field and is a short nine-hole track.

The course is a hilly one completely enclosed in the woods with elevation changes on every hole. The lack of any open-throw holes means accuracy is key, which could be a challenge for beginners.

Around the State

There are plenty of gems to note, notably Deerfield Fairgrounds, the Hollows Disc Golf Course in Manchester, Salmon Falls in Rochester, Chris Daigle Memorial at Bolduc Park in Gilford, Hunt’s Mean 18 in Rindge, Loon Peak Disc Golf in Lincoln and Otter Brooks Disc Golf Course in Keene.

Author: Jay Mcaree / Monitor staff

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2 Comments

  1. You forgot Bellamy Park in Dover and Squmanagonic in Rochester, both free and very fun! Also, Deerfield Fairgrounds is a temporary course and Hunts Mean 18 is private.

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  2. Way to go, Marty! Great story! If you’ve not tried this, stop in. He’s such a great guy! Marty will make you feel like you’ve always been friends! Very laid back & he’ll be happy to show you how!

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