Just Tossing it Out There: Sugarloaf Disc Golf Course
July 28, 2021
You can’t beat the scenic views from Sugarloaf’s disc golf course, located just above the base area on the Landing and spanning over to the SuperQuad. Three quarters of the holes are placed on ski trails while the remaining are wooded; the course was designed with beginner and well-seasoned disc golfers alike, making it a prime-time disc golf destination.
Those hoping to have a round are to check-in at the Outpost Adventure Center in Sugarloaf Village; reservations are not required and admittance is $5 per person (or, for die-hard disc golfers, $50 for a season pass), open to all ages.
- Disc golf at Sugarloaf is an affordable, fun-filled option that accommodates those ballin’ on a budget!
Most disc golfers recommend groups of no larger than four or five people per game; for those running in larger circles, split the group up into two or three pods.
This sport is a killer combination of the respective sports of golf and frisbee invented in Canada in the 1970s; however, disc golf began becoming popular in the United States as an offshoot of the Frisbee craze of the 2000s. At the present, there are over 7,500 disc golf courses in the United States. You can compete as an individual, or form teams of two and take turns.
Like in golf, each throw (or “stroke”) is counted each time the disc is thrown; the goal is to get the disc into the basket in the fewest strokes possible. Most courses are made up of 9 or 18 holes; Sugarloaf’s Disc Golf Course currently features 18, 2 of which are par 5, as well as a practice basket.
However, unlike traditional golf, disc golf courses are composed of a range of terrain, so it’s important to wear proper footwear and be prepared to be trekking over some uneven surfaces in-between baskets.
Chatting with Kirby Kelly, Course Manager
Millinocket native Kirby Kelly designed and built the Sugarloaf Disc Golf Course in 2017; this season, he’s taken on the project of installing new-and-improved tee pads.
In addition, Kelly has also made a concentrated effort to resolve the “tall grass problem” that prevents players from skipping their discs by implementing a more consistent mowing schedule; you can trust that the course is in good hands with Christine Bruen behind the mower.
“Disc golf should never to be compared to golfing, as far as the learning curve goes,” Kelly says, explaining that while first-time disc golfers may find the first three holes challenging, and will likely struggle on holes 4 and 11 because of the uphill positioning, they’ll soon begin to see considerable improvements in their play. The front 9 with a 4-card will take you about an hour.
Kelly says Hole 9 is his favorite to play, though Hole 16—complete with a sensational view of the Bigelows—certainly has not only scenic, but sentimental value: after all, it is where Kirby proposed to his now-wife!
“Hole 16 is one of the most beautiful holes in the state of Maine. That’s an objective statement, but I also believe it’s a factual one,” he says. And no matter how you dice it, there’s no denying that the Sugarloaf Disc Golf Course is one of the most scenic courses in the state.
And, characteristically, it’s quite windy. “It’s like they say: ‘If you can ski Sugarloaf, you can ski anywhere.’ Well, if you play disc golf here, it teaches you how to play with the wind anywhere.” And, as Kelly acknowledges, the wind can be to your advantage!
- Did You Know? The start of disc golf at Sugarloaf actually originated down at the Outdoor Center with the Carrabassett Valley Disc Golf Association (CVDGA), which was later handed off to Sugarloaf and relocated to the Base Area.
Kelly credits CVDGA’s “perseverance for originating the course and obtaining the baskets” in the founding of Sugarloaf’s Disc Golf Course, saying, “I was lucky enough to be the guy they put in charge!”
There is a weekly tournament each Wednesday, which Kirby often attends; participants meet at Hole 1 between 4:30pm and 5:00pm and partner off into twos to complete the course.
Know Before You Go for First-Time Disc Golfers
Be sure to use a beginner disc! AKA, no drivers; instead, start with putters.
The lie is the spot where a previous throw landed. You’re to leave the thrown disc on the ground where it landed, or mark each lie with a mini market disc. our next throw will be made from right behind the disc or marked line.
As for throwing order, the person with the least amount of strokes on the previous hold should be the first to tee off on the next hole. As a rule, after all participants have teed off, the person whose disc is farthest from the basket throws first.
Each hole begins with a tee throw, which must be completed behind or within the designated tee area.
What happens is the disc lands on top of the basket? The throw doesn’t count; take a stroke and go again.
What about if it lands out-of-bounds? Take a stroke and throw from just in bounds.
What about disc golf etiquette? “Where to start?” Kelly jokes. He says:
- “Don’t walk ahead of the person who’s thrown their disc the least far. Don’t walk ahead of people’s discs.”
- “Check with your card if you’re going to play music.”
- “Be courteous.” Always a good rule of thumb!
- “Don’t ‘nice me,’ bro!” What he means by this is, don’t say anything until the disc reaches its destination; while it’s in air and in play, stay quiet so not to jinx its trajectory.
- “Carry in, carry out. If you see trash receptacles, utilize them. If you see trash, take it with you.” Pretty standard stuff.
- “If you see a lost disc, return it!”