Heading “up north” has been a long standing tradition for many Minnesotans as they depart each summer to their cabins.
But for those without a lakefront property to rest by, and a desire to have some outdoor fun in a short drive, disc golf may provide a great alternative.
The Chronicle will be covering a variety of disc golf course throughout Minnesota this summer as part of a series of three article. Recently we took a look at the popular courses around the St. Cloud area, but a wealth of disc golf courses are also located a short drive up Highway 10.
Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Rice, St. Stephen and Royalton each feature a disc golf course with a unique experience that can not be found in St. Cloud.
Northside Park Disc Golf Course in Sartell is one of the only courses we came across well suited for your four legged friend. With an adjacent dog park nearby, the course was well traveled by humans and dogs alike.
Beginning with holes absent from obstacles, players are lead up and down a sizeable hill. Hole 2 in particular provides a large hill to drive down. Next players are lead into the woods where lanes become significantly more narrow for much of the remainder of the 12 hole course.
In Sauk Rapids Mayhew Creek Disc Golf Course however provides a complete experience. 18 holes ranging from open shots, hills, narrow wooded lanes, and water obstacles, Mayhew feels like multiple courses in one. Located on the back side of Sauk Rapids High School, free parking is also available in abundance outside of school hours.
The wooded shots on Mayhew have natural grass and weeds, rather than a wood chip base. In the summer months this can grow out into the playing area, making the lanes tighter and the risk of ticks higher.
On the second half of the course the water obstacles come greatly into play. Throw your least valuable discs or skip the holes all together if you are unsure about your accuracy.
For those who enjoy a challenge, Osprey Disc Golf Course at Benton Beach Campground in Rice provides a challenging 18 hole experience. Largely wooded, with water obstacles on the second half of the course, few in the area are as challenging as Osprey. The par on many holes is three, though novice players will seldom achieve this.
Contrary to the reference of a beach in the courses name, Osprey does not have holes on the beach. Rather players are taken close enough to see the beach. Also, though at a campground, the course is open to the public.
Mississippi River Park Disc Golf Course in St. Stephen is the most forested of the area courses. 18 holes are spread out over the woods, but quality signage and the opportunity to pick up a map on your way in will keep players on track.
Like Mayhew, the Mississippi River Park course can become increasingly narrow as weeds and brush come into the playing field later in the summer. However unlike other area courses, it is maintained by a park ranger.
Nature is still very actively in play throughout the course as animals can be seen along the trails from hole to hole. While it is important to clean up your garbage at any disc golf course, it is particularly important at Mississippi River Park to protect the wildlife.
Lastly, a shorter but memorable course awaits at Pine Ridge Disc Golf Course in Royalton. Located near the softball field of Royalton High School, nearby parking is hard to come by. Regardless, there is parts of the grass behind the outfield fence clearly worn down from car traffic which provides the best parking location.
Pine Ridge also does not have any signage leading new players from hole to hole, so picking up a map near hole one is necessary. Each hole however does have a pillar near the tee stating the par and providing a simple map to the basket.
With all of these shortcomings, Pine Ridge still is a 9 hole experience unlike any of its kind. Due to the course layout, it is necessary to walk longer distances between holes than many disc golf players are used to, and across a variety of terrain. Hills and cliffs can be sharp, and require discs to be thrown at baskets that are almost always not visible from the tees. The complexity of the terrain is what sets Pine Ridge apart from any course of its kind.
Northside Park Disc Golf Course
710 12th St N., Sartell, MN 56377
Mayhew Creek Disc Golf Course
1835 Osauka Rd NE, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379
Osprey Disc Golf Course at Benton Beach
Benton Beach Rd, Rice, MN 56367
Mississippi River Park Disc Golf Course
41300 Co Rd 1, Rice, MN 56367
Pine Ridge Disc Golf Course
120 South Hawthorn Street, Royalton, MN 56373