Each summer, public parks across St. Cloud play host to games of disc golf as players navigate courses in an attempt to toss a Frisbee disc into a metal basket. The sport has continued to expand in popularity across the nation, but also on a local level.
According to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) by the end of 2016, the United States had 6976 courses across the country, a growth of over 1500 new courses since the year before.
The St. Cloud area has four courses of which all are free to play and located at public parks across town. Riverside Park, Calvary Hill Park, St. Cloud VA Medical Center, and River’s Edge Park, all have courses for players to throw a disc at.
Whether you’re a new player or an experienced player, St. Cloud offers a variety of course styles and terrains.
The most popular of St. Cloud’s courses is Riverside Park Disc Golf Course. Located just blocks from the St. Cloud State campus, the course provides an exciting 18 hole experience.
Riverside is filled with trees to create obstacles that frequently need to be thrown around. Beyond this, however, the course is fairly open, playing out over short, mowed grass. It also overlooks the Mississippi River, largely in a scenic fashion as the play area does not extend close enough to the water to risk the loss of a disk. Many holes require players to throw up or down hills, requiring drives to be technical to ensure strategic placement on hills.
Popular among competitive players, Riverside plays host to the Riverside Open, an annual PDGA event that will be taking place this year on June 3.
The lack of narrow wooded areas on the course may give the impression Riverside is well suited for new players as well. However, accuracy is key as many holes run near each other, meaning a few wild throws could place a player in another group’s path for a nearby hole.
St. Cloud’s other full-size course is Calvary Hill Park Disc Golf Course, an 18-hole venture into multiple environments. Constructed in 1992, Calvary has maintained popularity while still remaining a clean, well-organized course.
A mixture of open fairways, tight narrow lanes and a variety of elevation make Calvery a must play course. Holes are well spread out while signage aids first-time visitors from getting lost. Due to the course’s 25-year history, even the heavily wooded holes have clear, well carved out walking lanes from years of foot traffic. Weeds and tall grass are almost completely absent from the main play area year round, making this course safer for those who want to play in the woods with less concern for ticks.
Calvary provides a great opportunity for players of all skill levels to hone their abilities. The course is on both sides of the road, on the side near the pickleball court being significantly easier than the water tower side, which leads through the woods.
Weekday nights are particularly busy with many playing in large groups, but the design of the course helps minimize wait time and maintain a constant flow.
The St. Cloud VA Medical Center Disc Golf Course, located near Apollo high school, features nine holes great for practicing driving. The entire course plays out over an open field encompassing a walking path. Many tees are over 400 feet away from their baskets, some even over 500 feet.
Additionally, while having a few trees on each hole, the course is the most open of any in St. Cloud. Combined with being generally less visited than other courses in town, the VA course makes for a great opportunity for beginners.
On the outskirts of St. Cloud lies the River’s Edge Disc Golf Course near the Marcus movie theater in Waite Park. Arranged in a circular fashion, the course borders a nearby river on multiple holes, creating a water threat players may want to avoid throwing their finer discs at. The majority of holes are in wooded areas featuring short, mowed, grass.
With nine tees spaced a standard 250 to 350 feet from their respective buckets, the course can be played in little over a half hour. Last year’s construction of a walking path near hole 7, however has created some navigation issues as the course is poorly mapped for new players.
The Chronicle will be documenting a variety of Disc Golf courses this summer across St. Cloud and surrounding cities as part of a three-part article series.
Riverside Disc Golf Course
1800 Kilian Blvd SE, St Cloud, MN 56301
Calvary Hill Disc Golf Course
1700 Traverse Road Saint Cloud, Minnesota
St. Cloud VA Medical Center Disc Golf Course
4801 Veterans Dr, St Cloud, MN 56303
River’s Edge Disc Golf Course
Great Oak Dr. Waite Park, MN 56387