John's Current Disc Golf Course Design Projects
Ongoing Designs and Notes
[NEW] Riverwalk Park, Portola, Calfornia
John will begin design on California's first championship HouckDesign course in the Spring of 2018. “I am so excited about this course – it's a spectacular property right on the river, and the City is completely on board. We love working in communities that understand and value the impact disc golf can have; they appreciate not just the physical and mental benefits, but also economic benefits.”
The property features huge trees, river access, mountain views, and some unique terrain features. “Our hope is to give people in this part of the country a course that's unlike anything they're used to. And we want to make sure that players who travel to Portola will have the kind of experience that will leave them counting the days until they can come back. We expect this course to be a popular tournament venue as well as a popular vacation venue, and we expect it to be just the start of big things to come in Portola.”
The plan is to start the design in phases, with initial 9-hole routing and basic clearing being the first step. The City and its partners are already raising funds for subsequent phases, so while there is no timetable for completion yet, we expect the process to keep a steady pace. Plans are for the putting area to open, with a community introduction to disc golf, in late April.
[NEW] Bull Branch Park, Taylor, Texas
Two years after our initial site evaluation, we are happy to announce that the rapidly-growing city Taylor will soon have its first disc golf course. Big thanks go to Good Life Taylor, which ran several events and worked with local sponsors to provide funding for a 9-hole recreational course in the area along the creek just north of West Lake Drive.
According to John, “This is a beautiful area in a great park, and we're looking forward to giving the citizens of Taylor the opportunity to learn and enjoy disc golf. This won't be their championship course, but it will be fun and challenging, and I expect to be able to provide a good variety of shots. Besides accommodating the inevitable hundreds of new players, we want to give Taylor residents who already enjoy the sport an alternative to driving to Round Rock, Georgetown, or Pflugerville.”
The park is generally flat, with mostly mature trees, and a winding creek with hike/bike trail on both sides. At John's request, the City is working on options to include more acreage that would expand the perimeter of the course. Projections are for an opening in the summer of 2018. “We really want to thank Julie Rydell and Good Life Taylor for making this course possible, and we want to thank the city for its commitment to add disc golf to its offerings,” added Dee. “You can add Taylor to the growing list of cities that consider disc golf to be a valuable component of the quality of life.”
[NEW] First Moore Baptist Church, Moore, Oklahoma
In June, John started design on the 18-hole course that will replace the one Moore lost in that horrible tornado in 2013. It took four years for the Moore Disc Golf Association, led by President Kris “Sparky” Molskness, to find a new home, but it was worth the wait. The land offered by First Moore Baptist will soon be transformed into a par 62 beauty that should be among the best in the state. HouckDesign is donating its services to the cause.
John says, “We feel so blessed to be able to work with all the wonderful people from the MDGA and from FMBC. There is something very, very special about this project. The land offers some nice terrain features and enough mature trees to create a solid framework. With 8 varied par fours and 10 par threes, the challenge will be there on a daily basis. It is Oklahoma, so that means that some days will be more challenging than others, and the wind will change the character of several holes. We also love the club's idea for a separate Kid's course and are excited about having that feature be a draw for future disc golfers.”
Started under the working title of “God's Backyard,” plans call for the course to be officially named “Resurrection Park.” The official groundbreaking ceremony took place on October 7th, and the first trees were planted on Hole #1.
One of the keys to success will be planting more than 200 trees on the rolling but mostly-open property. Dee has organized the fundraising team and has led development of a website to handle donations. Please visit www.Moorediscgolf.com to help the good people of Moore get a high-quality course to replace the one they lost.
The HouckDesign Facebook page already has dozens of photos and videos related to this project, including https://www.facebook.com/pg/HouckDesign/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1463809486988223
Parc Des Familles, Jefferson Parish Louisiana
Update: Grass has been planted and is starting to take hold. The course looks incredible. Last-minute fixes and improvements are underway, and everything is on track for a Grand Opening May 19th as part of the Southern Nationals Amateur Championships. The parish is giving the grass time to establish, so until further notice, the course is still CLOSED. (updated 4/2/18)
Update: Construction is in the final phase, and tee pads, signs, benches, and sleeves are scheduled to be installed in December. Hydroseed will also go down on all the fairways in the woods. Once the grass has had a chance to establish, the baskets will go in, and the course will be playable. Soft opening should be February or March, with first tournament in April or May. John says, “Everything is looking great so far, and as long as the crews can take it across the finish line, this will be a remarkably beautiful, fun, and challenging course.” There are brief videos on our FB page, including https://www.facebook.com/HouckDesign/videos/1499192120116626/ (updated 11/28/17)
John started work on this championship course in late November of 2016. Located in Marrero, just south of New Orleans, Parc des Familles is a 600-acre park, and disc golf is one of the first amenities being added. Completion is scheduled for late summer of 2017.
John's design is a par 65 gem featuring two par fives that he's particular excited about: “I think Hole #4 may be the most elegant version of the “VZ-style” par five that I've ever done, in part because the eagle route only overlaps the three-shot birdie route for the first 300'. The birdie route also has more options than I think I've ever done, which will add an extra layer of decision-making that can be a little different every time someone plays the hole. Hole #15 is a beauty that will finish parallel to the creek for the last 600', with a substantially raised fairway that will be visually unique.”
“Visually unique” is a phrase that will apply to most of the course and John explains the aesthetic appeal the course has for him: “This course has a completely different feel from any course I've ever worked on. Probably 90% of the obstacles on the course will be cypress trees. With their huge, sprawling exposed roots, they give the property an eerie beauty. I love the feel of being out there, and I think players will appreciate the environment as an important part of the appeal of the course. Also, as it's a pretty flat property that's been prone to flooding, we'll be employing some techniques I've never used before to keep the course drained. The first thing we did was to build an 80-yard long sand bridge that will connect the long tee to the landing area and will also contain the medium and short tees. That bridge will allow us to get players through an area that can hold substantial amounts of water – we really couldn't have used that area without it.”
On the other hand, there are places on the course where it's supposed to hold water. The ponds on the two finishing holes, stand out. Holes #17 and #18 are par fours with water in play, and anyone wanting to card a good score will have to make sure to save some concentration and confidence for the end of the round. “All in all, it's really going to be a different experience, and I hope the players who travel to this course will find that it rewards – and occasionally frustrates – while constantly providing a beautiful setting.”
Lake Abilene, Abilene, Texas
In November of 2013, we finally got the green light to bring a world class HouckDesign course to the thriving disc golf city of Abilene. The design phase began In February 2014.
Update: The volunteers from the ADGA, with support from the Rotary Club, are setting new standards for championship course clearing. Several holes are just about completed, while others are still in the early stages. Clearing is on hold for December but will resume in earnest in January. Johns says, “Sometimes the clearing process reveals some unwelcome surprises, but this course has been giving us nothing but good news. There are several holes that are going to be even better than I had hoped. The ADGA crew exceeds my expectations every time I go to Abilene to work on the course, and anyone who visits can see that the course is going to be among the elite public courses in the country.” (updated 11/28/17)
Update: The state has approved the course, and we’re finally on our way. Volunteer crews, featuring members of the Abilene Disc Golf Association, started clearing fairways the weekend of June 26th. (updated 6/27/16)
Update: John submitted a plan to the state in October of 2014. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will have an archeologist review all the proposed tee locations, after which other parts of the plan will be reviewed by other departments. (updated 1/12/15)
It's been over five years since the Rotary Club and the Abilene Disc Golf Association first approached John about bringing championships disc golf to the area. In that time, both organizations have worked hard to raise money and to find the perfect location for this project. Lake Abilene is a gorgeous site with tremendous potential. When the City gave control of the area to Texas Parks and Wildlife, it essentially became part of Abilene State Park, which means that it will now become the first championship disc golf course in a Texas state park. The state park offers camping and lodging so that traveling players will be able to stay on site.
John says that he "immediately fell in love with this property. To be honest, after five years of looking at a variety of sites in the area, I think we were all getting a little discouraged. But when I first saw the lake property, I felt like we had finally found a home. Dee and I can't say enough about the dedication of the Rotary and the ADGA, and we are so grateful for the faith they put in HouckDesign and the heart they've put into this project. In particular, we really want to thank and recognize Erik Johnson and Jerry Kingston for their vision and for refusing to ever give up on that vision."
In addition to the lake itself, the property features mature hardwoods and several interesting terrain features. "I've said all along that this course can be in the Top Ten in Texas," John says. "It's got so much to offer, and it's going to be a great place to visit and to host tournaments. I'm also excited about working with the state on this one. We've met with more than half a dozen people from TP&W already, and they've all been great. Bringing disc golf to a state facility will be a new venture for all of us, and I'm looking forward to learning the process and to making disc golf a valuable addition to their wonderful facility.
The Rotary Club, the ADGA, and HouckDesign are still working for complete funding for this course. Anyone interested in contributing should contact Erik Johnson with the Rotary Club at (325) 439-0186 or email@example.com
For more information about disc golf in the Abilene area, visit http://www.abilenediscgolf.net/
Live Oak, Texas Championship Disc Golf Complex
Update: Work on the Hill Course resumed at full speed in November, and the plan is for tee pads to go in during late December or early January. Expect a Grand Opening around Ice Bowl time in 2018. John says, “The Hill Course will have a very different feel from the Lake Course, and they will make great complements. The Hill has some of my favorite "city park" holes, including one par five that finishes downhill and one that finishes uphill. Plus some really tricky par threes and several par fours that all provide different tests. I've never done a course that has at least four "up and over" holes like this, and they all come together to make a memorable par 64 experience. When you combine this one with the Lake Course, you may very well have the best side-by-side city courses in the country.” (updated 11/28/17)
Update: The Lake Course debuted July 25-26th during the Live Oak Summer Open. The Blue tee pads are in, and signs will be installed soon. Comments from players on social media include: “Holy Cow!
Just ran through the MONSTER layout for the 4th time and it gets better every time. … the best course within a 70 mile radius of San Antonio. This course is going to produce great players.” “The new holes at live oak awesome..thx John R Houck” Work continues on the Hill Course. (Updated 6/27/16)
Update: All three courses continue to be on hold, but we’re hoping for a breakthrough this fall that we see the first two courses completed by the end of the year. Fingers crossed. (updated 10/10/15)
The City of Live Oak has long been a leader in the Texas disc golf community. Now they've called upon HouckDesign to move them in the top tier of the nation's disc golf cities. John is currently creating a three-course facility that will allow Live Oak to host major national events and serve the growing disc golf community in the San Antonio area. The project is supported by the City of Live Oak, The Economic Development Corporation, Northeast Lakeview College, the Live Oak Disc Golf Alliance, and a number of generous local sponsors.
Using the techniques he has pioneered over the last ten years - - and with a few new tricks up his sleeve -- John is completely transforming the existing 30+ holes into two separate 18-hole championship courses. The majority of the all-new East Course will sit on the campus of Northeast Lakeview College, connecting the park and the college, so players will soon have three amazing courses side-by-side-by side.
John says, "The state of the art in course design has changed so much since we installed the first holes here ten years ago . . . I'm really excited about a facelift that will put Live Oak back on the cutting edge. The support from the community is amazing, and we're going to be doing a few things here that people have never seen before. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the one person who has made it all possible: Joe Painter. The guy's incredible."
Creating new fairways began in February, and the design and construction phases will continue through the spring of 2012. Heard the rumors about a fourth course? Stay tuned.
The new hole #1 on the North Course starts things off with a unique landing area created on the hillside.
Hole #18 on the North Course will be a memorable and innovative finishing hole. 300 feet uphill to a wall-lined landing area (shown under construction) will leave you with a breathtaking 300-foot drop to the pin.
John's new design will bring the lake into play in a whole new way. Hole #8 on the South Course, one of several signature holes, is featured in the PDGA's Disc Golfer magazine.
[NEW] Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, Texas
The original course at Old Settlers hosted the 1990 Circular Skies Doubles Championships, which in 1991 became the PDGA National Doubles Championships. Over the years, new features in the park have forced changes to the course, and in July of 2017 John started work with the Parks & Recreation Department and the disc golf club. An all new 18-hole course, with several holes on both sides of the creek, will give the park a permanent layout that will not conflict with any current or planned future activities in the park.
John says, “Old Settlers was a landmark course in the history of the sport, and it's a shame that we couldn't keep the original layout forever, but some things just have to change. The City is turning this park into a great venue for thousands of users, but they are still committed to high-quality disc golf. The new version will have a different feel from the world-famous openness of the original, but it will still be one of the most fun and challenging courses in the country. There will still be several mostly-open holes, but the inclusion of the creek is going to add a whole new dimension to it.”
The City has not released a timetable, but we're hoping clearing will be underway in early 2018.
[NEW] Eastfield College, Mesquite, Texas
In October of 2017, John began work on plans for an 18-hole course at Eastfield Community College. The school is looking at offering more recreational opportunities for the community, as well as its students and staff, and they have hired HouckDesign to submit a concept for a course that would be one of the best in the DFW area.
The area available for the course is quite large and features a couple ponds, so the potential is there, and if the school commits to the project, they plan to do it in a big way. Final approval could be a matter of months.
McCord Park, Little Elm, Texas
John also started working in Little Elm in October of 2017. Drainage issues, newly installed sidewalk, original installation errors, a the failure of several planted trees, and increased usage of the park have created the need for a re-design of several holes. About half the holes on the course will be getting upgrades, and the City hopes to have the new version in place by the end of the Winter.
John did an extensive periodic review of the Hillcrest Farm course in Prince Edward Island. This new service involves a thorough inspection of any natural or man-made changes to the original design, so that the course can serve players at the highest level possible. Shortly after John's visit, Hillcrest Farm was awarded the 2018 Canadian Nationals, which will happen in September of 2018. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-disc-golf-championships-1.4406054
The first HouckDesign workshop happened at Frost Valley October 2nd and 3rd of 2015. The Art and Business of Course Design included several design topics led by John and two Business Consciousness® sessions led by Dee. Aspiring designers from Massachusetts to Oregon took part in the workshop and were among the first to play the Frost Valley course. Based on the enthusiastic reviews we've received, look for several more ABCD events around the country.
Recently Completed Projects
Flat Creek Estate Winery & Vinyard, Marble Falls, TX
Update: Flat Creek had its soft opening in January, and over 100 players showed up in the first few hours. Judging from player comments, Flat Creek has earned a spot in the upper echelon of disc golf courses nationally. Grand Opening Tournament is February 25th: https://www.discgolfscene.com/tournaments/HouckDesign_Circular_Skies_Over_Flat_Creek_Grand_Opening_Tournament_2017
Players wanting more information about the course can visit: https://www.facebook.com/FlatCreekDiscGolf/?ref=br_tf and http://flatcreekestate.com/ (updated 2/3/17)
We are very excited to be bringing disc golf to one of the country’s most celebrated vineyards. Flat Creek Estate is between Marble Falls and Lago Vista, about 45 minutes northwest of Austin, Texas. Known for years as an award-winning winery with a great restaurant, Flat Creek will also soon be known for award-winning disc golf. It has two beautiful large ponds, a creek that winds through it, and already looks like a golf course.
John says, “Flat Creek is a tremendous place for a disc golf course. Its two primary assets are the land itself and the ambiance. For starters, it has all three of the key features we always hope for: interesting terrain, mature trees, and water features. That fact alone puts the property in the upper quartile of disc golf venues. On top of that, it has ample acreage and great variety: the northern end has its own unique character, which is different from the southwestern section, which is different from the southeastern section, and all of those are different from the central sections. There are areas that will produce tight holes, areas that will produce more open holes, and areas that are in-between. The views are among the best in Texas, and I have no doubt that this could be a Top Ten Course in Texas.”
“Then there’s the ambiance. The whole operation just has a great feel, and the wine and restaurant operations make it a very attractive day-trip or weekend destination. The ability for disc golfers to enjoy the 19th hole and/or pro shop puts it over the top. I have no doubt that hundreds of Central Texas disc golfers will immediately call Flat Creek their favorite course. And it goes without saying that Flat Creek will become the #1 disc golf vineyard destination in the country.”
The plan is for a par 64 course with three par fives, and most of the holes will have creek and/or ponds in play. Follow the progress on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FlatCreekDiscGolf/?fref=ts. The course is due to open Jan 2017 with a Grand Opening tournament in February 2017.
Municipal Park, Semmes, Alabama
Update: The course, now officially known as “The Admiral,” hosted its first PDGA-sanctioned tournament on January 21st. The tournament sold out, and player response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The course is now open for daily play, and several more tournaments have already been scheduled for the first few months of 2017. (updated 2/3/17)
Update: This course hosted a “sneak peak” on Nov 6th with a Dedication by the Mayor of Semmes. It is the 100th John Houck course. The Grand Opening with a Grand Opening Tournament is scheduled for Nov 26th and registration is now open:
https://www.discgolfscene.com/tournaments/HouckDesign_Circular_Skies_Over_Semmes_Grand_Opening_Tournament_2016/register (updated 11/10/16)
In June, John started worked on the first HouckDesign course in Alabama. Seeing the great support from the local disc golf community, the Semmes City Council voted overwhelmingly to give the project the green light, and the course is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2016.
The course is mostly wooded and features large pine trees; two ponds will also be in play. John says, “This property presented unique challenges, mostly because the raw land was just so thick in so many places. But the tree density and the size of the trees turned out to be an asset, and there were a surpsing number of areas with no mature trees, so those areas will provide a more open feel in the woods. I’m really excited about how this one is going to turn out.” With two par fives and several tasty par fours, the total course par with be in the mid-60’s. The course will have at least two sets of tees, so it will easily accommodate new players from the Semmes area, travelling players from around the country, and of course the huge number of experienced golfers in the Mobile area.
“One thing that stood out for me very early was the number of holes that will present multiple routes off the tee, as well as multiple lines from the landing areas to the basket,” John continues. “I also expect that the landing areas will be larger than most players have ever seen on a course that’s so wooded. It was important, not just to use our own tried-and-true principles, but to give the local disc golf community something different from what they’re used to. I think the Semmes experience will provide that. This really is a special place, and I think anyone visiting the Mobile area will enjoy the challenge, beauty, and special character of this course.”
HouckDesign Course at Graytown Park on the San Antonio River, Elmendorf, TX
Update: The Grand Opening tournament was a huge success with 90 players competing and there were many players who were not able to participate due to the tournament being sold out. The Grand opening was attended by John Houck & Dee Leekha along with the County Commissioner, the County Judge, and many others from San Antonio River Authority. There were about 150 people in attendance. Players travelled to play from around the state and there were some out of state players. (updated 8/8/2016)
Update: The Graytown Park course offers some elevations changes and a variety of holes for players to enjoy. SARA has been committed to developing a tournament level course for players to enjoy and has planted almost a 100 trees and bushes to give the course more diverse and challenging fairways in the wide open parts of the land. This course is predicted to become a popular spot for local disc golfers to enjoy league play, casual play and tournament play. A Grand Opening is planned for August 6, 2016 with the local club running a Grand Opening tournament on that day and a ribbon cutting in the morning. (updated 7/16/16)
We are pleased to announce that the San Antonio River Authority has decided to install a disc golf course in Graytown Park. This park borders on the San Antonio River and we are designing a Tournament level par 58 course. Details coming soon.
City Park and Minerva Creek Park, Zearing, Iowa
In April John designed 9 recreational holes in Zearing: 6 holes in City Park and 3 holes in Minerva Creek Park. John says, “I was pleasntly surprised with how nice the holes turned out, especially in City Park. The size of the property was the biggest challenge, but on the plus side they have some huge, beautiful trees and a nice creek. Most of the holes are in the 200’ range, but I was especially pleased with the character and variety of the finished product. The key was the support from the city and their willingness to plant the trees needed to make it work.” The three holes at Minerva Creek Park, just a few blocks away, are more open and provide a good complement to the other course.
The opening is slated for early Summer of 2016.
HouckDesign Course at Badu Park, Llano, TX
In January, John designed a new course at beautiful Badu Park in Llano, Texas. The course, which is right on the Llano River, will be a recreational 9-hole layout with holes averaging about 200 feet.
John says, “This may be the prettiest 9-hole course I’ve ever seen. There were so many times during the design process that I just stopped, took a breath, and soaked it in. The river is gorgeous, and the course has several unique rock features that really set it apart. I think players are really going to enjoy this one.”
The course is the result of several years of work by Bob Cunningham of the Llano Alliance for Drug Intervention (LADI), who want to give the youth of their community more healthful recreational opportunities. After several years of building community support, the City got on board with LADI’s vision, and together they brought HouckDesign in to take full advantage of the park’s great features.
John is also designing a temporary tournament course at the Llano River Golf Course for a PDGA B-tier tournament to be held March 12, 2016.
Strawn Park, Columbia, Missouri
Update: This course, now officially known as Harmony Bends at Strawn Park, was dedicated on June 23rd, 2016. Comments on social media from players included “One of my buddies just did the back 9 today! He can't say enough good about it!” “…the course is beautiful and challenging and fair and fun, and I love it!” “Harmony Bends was one of the best courses I've played! …. Very fun, picturesque, well thought out, and challenging.” “That course is like a dream come true right in my backyard.”
Here are links to some of the coverage:
Columbia Daily Tribune: Columbia has new disc golf haven in Harmony Bends, 6/26/2016
CityChannel Columbia, Missouri: Strawn Park Disc Golf Course, 6/23/2016
13KRCG: Columbia park offers new disc golf course, 6/23/2016
Update: The grand opening for this course is scheduled for June 23, 2016. The Columbia Disc Golf Club will be hosting the Mid-America Open that weekend. (updated 5/13/16)
Update: John worked on the course in June of 2015, but course flooding has delayed the process. The City has been working hard to get the course ready, and John plans to return in October to fine tune all the fairways and to mark then final tee and basket locations. Look for an opening in late Fall of 2015. (Updated 10/10/15)
In September, 2014, John started design work on the first HD course in the state of Missouri. Strawn Park, which features big hills, wide meandering creeks, and tons of tall trees, has everything needed to accommodate a world class destination course. On top of its natural assets, the course also has tremendous support from the City of Columbia, which is committed to enhancing its reputation as one of the country's elite disc golf locations.
Columbia has a storied disc golf history: among other notable distinctions, it's the birthplace of the Ice Bowl and host of the Mid-America Open, which has been one of the PDGA's top events for decades. To this day, Columbia has a very strong disc golf club, and that club was a major factor in the push to bring HouckDesign to town for what may well be the first of multiple HD courses in the Columbia area.
During his first two weeks working on the course, John's enthusiasm for the course grew daily. "I knew from our initial visit -- when Dee and I walked the property, met with the club officers, and made a presentation to key members of the parks department -- that there was great support for the course and that the park had a lot of potential. But I really didn't understand how stunning it could be until I spent some time out there and really familiarized myself with all the ins and outs of it."
The conceptual plan for the course calls for a championship layout with a par of 68, including four par five holes. Most holes will have three tees, to accommodate everyone from beginning players to the most experienced pros. And, for the times when the course will host the world's top players, there will be a set of longer and/or trickier "Gold" pin positions, which will allow the club to do what John calls "turning Strawn into Gold."
"Being able to test the best of the best is an important mandate for this project," John says. "In addition to the design itself, I have the commitment of the parks department to build tees, greens, and landing areas in some spectacular places, which will, among other things, allow me to incorporate some of the steeper slopes that have been hard to use otherwise." As for what players can expect, John is particularly excited about a couple of the par fives. "Harmony Creek and Perche Creek are going to make this course really memorable. Harmony Creek twists and turns in ways that make it perfect for two of the par fives – I'm not sure I could have drawn up a creek that's better for what I was hoping to do. Hole #18 will be a par five that combines one of the highest tees on the course with several twists and turns of the Harmony AND another hillside impinging on the approach – it will be a breathtaking signature hole. And Hole #13, back on the Perche, is going to be one of my all-time favorite par fours – I don't know if it'll be more challenging or beautiful. I do predict that, when it's done, there will be a good number of players naming Strawn as their favorite course anywhere."
Carrollton Disc Golf Course at Hobbs Farm, Carrollton, Georgia
Update: Hobbs Farm Disc Golf Course Grand Opening was held on May 7th, 2016. The Carrollton Disc Golf Club hosted a very successful tournament and it was sold out. 85 players played and over 120 people attended the event. Photos can be seen in two albums here: Photo Set 1 and Photo Set 2. (updated 5/13/16)
Update: Hard work by the City and the club has the front nine holes in good shape, and John will be returning in October of 2015 to finalize the design of the back nine. The boardwalk on Hole #17 should be in soon, and we’re all hoping to be playing the full course by late Fall. The Carrollton Disc Golf Club has been posting photo update on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HyzerHeine/ (Updated 10/10/15)
We are very excited to announce the first municipal HouckDesign course in the great disc golf state of Georgia. Carrollton is a growing community of almost 50,000 and is home to the University of West Georgia. It's about 45 miles west of Atlanta and already has a great disc golf scene. It was January of 2013 when two long-time disc players, Eric Heine and David Goldberg, first contacted HouckDesign about bringing world class disc golf to Carrollton. Through their great dedication, Heine and Goldberg got the city excited about disc golf and began securing sponsorships to make it happen. Design work started in March of 2014, with an anticipated opening later in 2014.
The Hobbs Farm Property (which will eventually have a new name to go with its status as an official city park) covers about 200 acres on the Little Tallapoosa River, and it features thousands of mature trees and some substantial elevation changes. John says, "It didn't take long to see the tremendous potential of this property. It has everything we would want for a championships course, and I have complete confidence that we'll be able to create something that players from all over the country will want to visit. Georgia is a national leader in the disc golf world, and this course will be a great addition to its tournament and vacation venues."
photo by Eric Heine
John already has the #1-rated course in the state -- the W.R. Jackson Memorial at the International Disc Golf Center -- but this will be his first course in a Georgia city park. "This state has such a rich history of disc golf, starting with being the home of the PDGA, the home of the legendary Flyboy Aviation course, host of World Championships -- and World Champions -- and on and on. These days, it seems like new courses are popping up all over the place -- Georgia will probably pass the 100-course mark in the next couple years. So I'm really excited about working there again, and about working on this particular property."
The Carrollton Disc Golf Club (https://www.facebook.com/groups/574231702650471/#!/groups/HyzerHeine/)
continues to seek sponsors for this project. For more information, contact Eric Heine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville, New York
Update: Frost Valley hosted its first event, the PDGA-sanctioned Catskill Classic, on the first weekend of October, 2015. All the tees are set, all the baskets are in, and the course is open for daily play. Details at: http://frostvalley.org/about-us/outdoor-sporting-memberships/disc-golf/ The course is getting raves from players who have been there, and there are great pictures at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152967991615876.1073742058.15094435875&type=3 . Work on the course continues, and the official Grand Opening will be in Spring of 2016. (updated 0/10/15)
In April of 2013, John started work on a landmark project at the biggest YMCA camp in the country. The course, funded with a grant from CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, will feature a unique layout designed to accommodate players of virtually any ability, from children with disabilities to lifelong disc golfers. The course will open in stages. The most kid-friendly section opened in time for summer camp in June of 2013, and more is expected later in 2014. With over 5,000 acres in the Catskill Mountains, meeting facilities and lodging on site, and the very latest HouckDesign innovations, Frost Valley will soon be one of the country's next great disc golf destinations. It's in Claryville, New York, about two hours north of New York City.
John is very enthusiastic about this project: "The place and the people are just incredible here. I'm not even sure what words I can use to describe the property, other than 'spectacular.' The hills, the trees, the creek, the mountain views, the natural landing areas, the giant rocks... players will really have to see it to believe it. When it came to the design, the hardest part was probably deciding which areas to incorporate, because choosing one section inevitably meant eliminating another, and every part of the property is gorgeous. There are a few areas, of course, that were irresistible, and I'm sure players will recognize them right away.
"Working on this property is a great experience. I've been able to create a few holes that had been in my head for a while, and some features of the landscape inspired new ideas. I can't wait to see and share the finished product. Dee and I are also excited about being part of the great programming here at Frost Valley, and the opportunity to bring disc golf to thousands of kids of all ages and abilities. This is such a special place."
Tom Holsapple, Director of Operations for the camp, expressed his excitement about the project, also. "We are big believers in disc golf, and can't wait for our campers with disabilities to be able to try it. Of course, we think all our campers, conferees, staff, and visitors will soon be hooked on disc golf. Finally, we're looking forward to having disc golf enthusiasts from all over the country here to see what Frost Valley is all about."
Tall Firs Disc Golf Course, Monroe, Washington
Update: The grand opening of the course was the weekend of August 23rd-24th, 2014. Over 200 players attended, played the course and visited with John in Monroe, WA.
Photos here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.720751484627364.1073741847.154119344623917&type=1
Details at https://www.facebook.com/tallfirsdiscgolf?ref=br_tf (updated 9/4/14)
In early August of 2013, John completed the initial phase of the first HouckDesign course in Washington state. The new Tall Firs Disc Golf Course in Monroe, about half an hour northwest of Seattle, is a former executive ball golf course that features beautiful mountain views on three sides. The property also features huge fir trees, a pair of side-by-side ponds, and moderate elevation that's accented by more than a dozen bunkers left over from the golf days. The old clubhouse is getting a facelift, and will serve as a community meeting place and pro shop. The course is privately owned and will be run as a pay-to-play operation.
"This was a wonderful property to work on," John recalls. "There seems to be a wave of former golf courses being converted to disc golf, and that kind of venue creates a whole new set of design opportunities. I was especially excited about being able to incorporate the old bunkers; I was able to use several of them on the new greens, and several others are now waiting to welcome errant drives. The idea is to clean out any remaining sand and to develop the grass that's already growing in most of them. They're really going to add a lot to the playing experience."
"There are several holes that I love on this course, but my favorite is the par five #13. Actually, it's now one of my all-time favorite par fives. The trees lay out great to provide multiple strategic options off the tee, and the second shot is a huge sweeping turnover down by the pond. Then back a little uphill to a green made from an old elevated tee box. With the one section of thick trees, we were able to create four tighter holes, and I'm crazy about hole #10. Tight and downhill with two potential routes to a pin that sits on a major downslope. Very tricky, and very fun. As anyone might expect of a former golf course, there are open areas, so we're addressing that with strategic tree planting. When it's done, the course is going to have a superb mix of shots."
Pictures are up at:
Tall Firs photo album on Facebook
More about the course at: https://www.facebook.com/tallfirsdiscgolf?ref=br_tf
Trey Texas Ranch, Mount Vernon, Texas
Update: Both courses are now open and will be featured as part of the PDGA Amateur World Championships and Texas Team Championships. (updated 2/6/14)
In July of 2013, John started design on two new championship courses in Franklin County, Texas. Though it's one of the smallest counties in Texas, Franklin County is about to become one of the biggest disc golf destinations in the world. The Trey Texas Ranch, just south of Mount Vernon, is about 20 minutes from Selah Ranch, site of the top two rated courses in disc golf.
Trey, Texas (don't look for it on any map) is the home of domino champion Trey Newsome and his Trey Deuce Saloon, where friendly folks get together every Friday night to play 42 with the local legend. Soon they'll be able to play disc golf, too, on the Trey Deuce Disc Golf Course. Just across the road will be the Texas Twist DGC, which sits on land owned by Trey's parents, Diane and Waymon Newsom.
Players at the 2013 PDGA Amateur World Doubles Championships may remember Diane, who runs the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. The two new courses are part of Diane's commitment to bring more world class disc golf tournaments to the area. "Disc golf is here," says Diane, "and we couldn't be more excited about having people come out and enjoy our courses." Both courses are scheduled to open in time for the 2013 Texas Team Championships in November.
John is also enthusiastic about the potential of this venue. "Both sides of the property have a real mix of open and woods, good elevation, one pond, and extensive creek frontage, so I'm looking forward to testing every part of a player's game. And I love the fact that the two sides have clearly different character, which will result in two clearly different courses. Even beyond that, Diane, Trey, and Waymon are going to add a unique Texas flavor to the look and feel of both courses, and I think players will be glad they made the trip here, no matter where they're coming from."
"It's always a blessing when the owners are committed to making the best courses possible, and the Newsoms have given the green light to every concept I've suggested, from building a bridge across the creek to transplanting trees from one side to the other. I'm excited about the variety on these courses: each one is going to have a great mix."
The Trey Deuce course has a par of 64 and features the par 5 10th hole, which runs along the creek. Another signature hole is #18, which covers both sides of a seasonal tributary and plays uphill through the biggest oaks and elms on the property. The green sits just beyond a deep ravine and will no doubt be a make-or-break finishing hole for players looking to win a tournament here. The Texas Twist course is a par 68 with three par fives and ranges from extra wide to very tight. "Two of my favorites are the par four #3 on the pond, and #14 -- also a par four -- that features the 'giant snake tree.' That back park of the course is just gorgeous. There will be several opportunities to go 'boom' on this course, but players will also have to know when to dial it back – there's lots of woods and lots of creek to keep them honest."
After hosting Texas Teams this fall, these two new Houck masterpieces will start gearing up for the biggest ever Amateur World Doubles in April of 2014. With the two courses at Selah, the PDGA Major will also feature four championship courses and will have about double the traditional field size. And anyone looking for a great place for a disc golf vacation need look no further than Franklin County.
We have photos of the course at
Trey Deuce Ranch photo album on Facebook
And there's a Trey Deuce course page at
Trey Deuce Course on Facebook
McCord Park, Little Elm, Texas
Update: The course is now open for play. Construction continues on holes #4, #5, and #15, where drainage continues to be an issue. (updated 2/6/14)
The 18-hole course, with par of 61, features mature trees, a winding creek throughout, and a few key holes with substantial elevation in play. There will be two sets of concrete tees, so experienced and new players will all be able to enjoy the course from Day One.
John says that "There were three things that made this design especially tricky: the linear nature of the property, the fact that the paved trail had already been installed, and the proximity of the new apartments that overlook the course.
Keeping players and other park users safe was our top priority, so getting the routing right was the first key to success. The second key was being able to plant trees to focus shots and protect sensitive areas. The developer, Western Rim, and the City were both committed to making the best course possible. Everyone was great to work with, and they understood why the course needed about 40 trees. They did not hesitate to act on our recommendations, and the final layout exceeded all my hopes."
As with any HouckDesign course, players can expect to see a wide variety of shots and several unique features. "This property really had a lot to offer," John says. "There are some holes unlike any I've ever seen. I loved the row of leaning trees that became Hole #5 (now dubbed the "Cadillac Ranch Hole,"), and the drive on Hole #18 is just gorgeous -- it's downhill to a landing area that sits just above a bend in the creek. I really liked #1 a lot, too, with a choice of tricky drives and a basket framed by two trees that look like giant deer antlers. Overall, it's got a great mix of shots, and it's a beautiful park for disc golf."
Players who want to be near DFW's latest and greatest course can actually live right on the property. The Mansions By the Lake apartments (http://www.mansionsbythelake.com/), overlooking holes #13-18 and #1, are already open. The Towers of the Park, coming soon, will overlook the entire property from just above Hole #9 and Hole #10.
International Disc Golf Center - Augusta, Georgia
The IDGC course is now complete, though some minor ongoing changes may continue for some time.
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Update: The course is now completed and open for play. (updated 2/6/14)
In July of 2012, John began the design process on the new championship course in beautiful Rock Ridge Park. The park is wooded and moderately hilly, and the project has tremendous support from the town and the community. The course is looking to be about a par 65, with a great mix of shots and at least one signature par five. It will feature two sets of tees to accommodate everyone from beginners to pros.
With a population of about 4,000, Pittsboro will be one of the smallest towns in the country to have a championship disc golf course, and it will also have the first HouckDesign course in North Carolina. The town's funding for the project will be augmented by local, national, and regional sponsors, and already more than two dozen disc golfers from outside Pittsboro -- Raleigh, Sanford, and Chapel Hill, and more -- have stepped up to help with the clearing, which began as soon as John started marking fairways.
John says: "Rock Ridge Park is a perfect venue for a world class disc golf course. It has several species of mature hardwoods, elevation changes on virtually every hole, and some great terrain features, especially the rock outcroppings on the east side. As always, I'm hoping to create a course that will provide players with opportunities they don't always see on wooded
courses: sweeping curves as well as steeper angles, multiple lines off the tee, multiple options from the fairway, large landing areas that reward a variety of shots in different ways, several different fairways widths, and 'sand trap' areas that will encourage great recovery shots. Parks Planner Paul Horne had a tremendous commitment to bringing disc golf to town, and his dedication to excellence is making it possible for me to do things that aren't even conceivable in similar venues.
"Dee and I met with Mayor Randy Voller, who expressed his appreciation and support of the project and the potential economic impact it will have on the town for years to come, and he recognizes that the course provides the community an additional outdoor recreational activity for residents of all ages. Of course, none of it would be possible without the amazing army of local volunteers, led by Jeff Baldwin. Or the regional volunteers, whom Chuck Connelly has been helping to organize.
"Part of the town's mission was for the course to have the same sustainability that the town has in its trail system. So the design process requires careful and more subtle use of the park's topography. Players should know now not to expect a bunch of shots that play straight uphill or straight downhill. My strategy is to use more side slopes to emphasize shot placement, and to use a couple steeper areas to add risk to approach shots and greens. I'm very pleased with the way the design is developing."
Anyone who wants to receive updates on the course can get them from the parks department at http://eepurl.com/obJXn
We have updates and pictures on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HouckDesign
And there is more information at the Parks Blog: http://pboparks.blogspot.com/2012_07_01_archive.html
Pittsboro Disc Golf: www.facebook.com/pages/Pittsboro-Disc-Golf/402606783131689
Rock Ridge Park Disc Golf Course: www.facebook.com/pages/Rock-Ridge-Park-Disc-Golf-Course-Pittsboro-NC/113732922107550
Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
Update: The Grand Opening tournament in July was a huge success and sold out in two days. (updated 8/28/13)
In 2011, John finished the preliminary design of a world-class 18-hole course for the newly formed Nantucket Disc Golf Club. The course has been gone through various levels of the approval process, impressing state and local officials along the way. The first eight holes have now been installed, and the local community is already becoming hooked on disc golf.
Find more information and photos at www.nantucketdiscgolf.org and www.facebook.com/pages/Nantucket-Disc-Golf/128349607266
Selah Ranch - Mt. Vernon, Texas
John has completed the design process on one of HouckDesign's most exciting projects yet. Selah Ranch, near Mt. Vernon, Texas, opened in October of 2011, and it as already one of the top destinations in the disc golf world.
John says "This may well be the most beautiful disc golf property in Texas. It has multiple lakes and ponds, huge beautiful hardwoods, rolling terrain, and a seasonal creek. On top of all that, it has great accommodations on site, making it the perfect spot for a true disc golf getaway. It's really unlike anything I've seen in our sport, and I absolutely expect it to be the highest-rated venue in Texas."
Selah Ranch has two beautiful championship 18-hole courses, each with two sets of concrete tees and Platinum HouckDesign signs.
The raves from players have been unprecedented:
"WOW! I'm not really sure where to begin. This was one of the best disc golf experiences I've ever been on. The ranch itself was beyond anything I could have expected... FIVE STARS!!" - - Mike Brown
"It did live up to the hype. 2 amazing courses . . . They where the 2 nicest courses I have ever played. Definitely worth the trip." -- Drew Duffer
The testimonials below are from www.DGCourseReview.com. What players are saying about these courses...
"The 16th, 17th, and 18th are possibly the most fun finish in disc golf... Houck has truly outdone himself with these two gems."
"This place is amazing!!!! Every hole, yes all 36, are the most incredible use of land, water and some elevation that I have ever played disc golf on . . . Hats off to Mr. Houck this was an Amazing Disc Experience!!!!"
"Greatness again! Hole 18 from the blue tee is probably my favorite finishing holes EVER!"
"WOW. Played Creekside first and thoroughly enjoyed every single hole. After my first round I came back to the parking lot where a group of 6 was hanging out, so I talked with them for a while and they invited me to join up to play Lakeside. WOW. I didn't think it could get any better than Creekside, but Lakeside was simply astonishing!!! EVERY single hole was brilliant!!! . . . I really don't know if I will ever top Selah in the rest of my life! It was truly amazing. I will definitely go again before I head back North."
"The only way I could compare this to any other experience is comparing it to
the night before I got to play Colonial (ball golf course) in Ft. Worth. I couldn't sleep the night before in anticipation for my experience!! It was everything I thought it would be and WAY more . . . #7 on the Lakes course, is definitely the greatest disc hole I have ever played!! . . . I am going to go back as much as I can."
For more information, check out www.Selahranch.com and see over 1,000 photos at www.facebook.com/pages/Disc-Golf-Opening-at-Selah-Ranch/194670887252772?sk=wall
Hillcrest Farm - Prince Edward Island, Canada
Hillcrest Farm, just outside Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island, is an ideal property for disc golf. With beautiful spruce trees, birch trees, and other hardwoods, great topography, and a winding stream, Hillcrest Farm will give disc golfers superb variety, ample challenge, and great scenery. Working closely with owners Bill and Mary Best, John had a simple goal: to make the premier championship course in Canada while also catering to new players in the region. John made his fourth and final trip to the property in the summer of 2011. He completed the design, refined recently-cleared holes, and "polished" the remaining fairways so that they'll be ready for the opening, projected now for spring of 2012.
Learn more about this amazing course at http://hillcrestfarmpei.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hillcrestfarmdiscgolf
Raul Alvarez Disc Golf Complex - Austin, Texas - DELAYED
This landmark project by the City of Austin will feature two championship 18-hole courses on a spectacular property bordering Little Walnut Creek. This facility, designed to include a permanent pro shop, will be a breakthrough in municipal managed play of disc golf. Opening date uncertain.
Trinity University - San Antonio, TX
This spring John designed a beautiful 6-hole course on the campus of Trinity University in San Antonio. Using the available elevation and the property's unique mix of hardwoods, the course features two par 4 holes (#1 and #5), a memorable downhill par 3 (#3), and a nice mix of more "technical" holes.
John's review, in part, concludes that "if this property were three times the size, it just might be the prettiest course in Texas - - what a great place for disc golf. I hope the Trinity students enjoy the course . . . after they're done studying every day."
The MetCenter - Austin, TX
John has just completed designing an 18 hole recreational/championship course at "Austin's premier 550-acre mixed-use business park." The course sits on about 20 acres that includes several wooded areas, a seasonal creek, and a pond. The course is open for play.
"We are extremely excited to have a firm of the caliber of Houck Design create a disc golf course for the Met Center development, as well as to be the first business park in the world with a disc golf course as an amenity. Hopefully we will be trendsetters that will bring a higher level of coolness to business parks everywhere." Howard Yancy, President of Zydeco Development (more reviews)
Marble Falls, Texas
John designed a 9-hole course in beautiful Westside Park. The course features huge mature trees, great terrain features, and a creek that runs through many of the holes. The city is working on acquiring additional land to expand the course. When it is all completed Marble Falls course will be a real jewel of Texas disc golf.
Austin Ridge Bible Church - Austin, Texas
This remarkable church has decided to open its land to the community, and disc golf will be one of several amenities they're offering. John was happy to volunteer in his hometown and design this popular and amazing 18-hole course that features major elevation, including some tremendous hill country views. This course is a landmark project, as a leading example of how disc golf has grown beyond city, county, and state parks.
Ongoing Designs and Notes: Selah Ranch Lakeside & Creekside are now ranked and reviewed as the top two courses in the world by players out of over 5,200 courses worldwide. Come on out and play on these courses and enjoy some world-class disc golf! See review details at: DGCR