You can find the full top 10 of the World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2021 and links to their feature articles at the bottom of this post.
The rankings for World's Best Disc Golf Courses are based on the over two million ratings of more than 11,000 disc golf courses all over the planet by disc golfers using UDisc. However, we have done work to account for how regions and cultures tend to rate courses differently, helping to assure the courses that made and missed this list did not do so as a result of regional hype or hypercriticism. That said, the courses on this list earned their spots purely from their stats and not due to the opinions of UDisc's staff. Honestly, we were just as surprised and interested in the results as our readers.
The course grades are relative to how close each course was to a perfect five-star rating. No course on the list achieved a 100.
Steve Dodge has run the disc-making division of a major company, created the most well-known professional disc golf tour currently in existence, and successfully crowdfunded the manufacture of a disc golf board game designed by himself and his brother. But it's hard to know how many of those things would have happened had he never made the decision to move to Leicester to be part of the team that created Maple Hill Disc Golf Course.
For two weeks each summer when Dodge was growing up, his family would visit a farm in Leicester, Massachusetts, situated on an area of land that had been in the family for generations. The name for that property is Maple Hill, and it's an idyllic slice of rural New England with rolling hills, crumbling stone walls, and ponds. It's also an active Christmas tree farm. However, it wasn't during a visit to the farm that Dodge got inspired to build a course there. Instead, it was his time in a part of the world that's the next door neighbor to a place we recently named one of the best small towns for disc golf.
"I went to college down in Virginia, and I ended up starting my own business there – started my own business so that I could play disc golf more as a matter of fact," Dodge recalled. "And one of the courses I played was The Blockhouse in Spotsylvania, Virginia, where a guy named Mike Trapasso had built a disc golf course on a plot of land he owned. It occurred to me that, wow, this would be a great thing to do up at Maple Hill in Massachusetts."
As it happened, Dodge's cousin Tom Southwick, who had lived at Maple Hill his whole life, was getting similar notions around that time. He was being inspired by a course, Pyramids, built down the road from the future site of Maple Hill's disc golf course by his and Dodge's cousin Jason Southwick. Spurred on by having someone who shared the dream of a course at Maple Hill, Dodge didn't take long to make the decision to pick up sticks and move to Leicester to team up with Tom.
But before settling down to work, he had some research to do. After selling his company in Virginia to his employees, Dodge, his friend Dave, and two dogs went on what Dodge called "a three month disc golf odyssey." During this trip they played over 150 courses across the United States. All along the way, Dodge paid close attention to the elements that helped make courses stand out from the rest.
"I remember signage was important," Dodge said. "A course with good tee signs was almost always a good course. Courses with pro shops on site with someone I could talk to or ask questions were few and far between but always a step above. And the courses that I personally really liked were aesthetically pleasing. I'd much rather throw off of a hill than throw next to a hill and have a really nicely-shaped shot. That's just more fun to me and looks better."
Armed with his newly sharpened perspective, Dodge made his way to Leicester to become part of the group that would design and build Maple Hill Disc Golf.
"I'm pretty ridiculous," Dodge admitted. "So I felt it could be one of the best courses in the world from the start. That was the goal, and I believe I can reach goals no matter how out there they are."
With this lofty ambition driving it, course construction began in the fall of 2003, and by the spring of 2004, the first iteration of the course was playable. And though the course's quality was clear from the start, the early 2000s was not a time when disc golf was huge in Massachusetts or the surrounding area. That meant a private, pay-to-play course like Maple Hill took a long time to lure in a sizable customer base.
"How long before it was clear that it could actually be a business? Probably 10 years," Dodge said. "It was about that long before we could hire someone to manage the course, before Tom and I could have been struck by lightning and Maple Hill Disc Golf could have gone on without us."
While on that slow road to becoming self-sustaining, Maple Hill was more rapidly gaining a reputation as a destination course among U.S. pros. The course's annual premiere tournament, which became known as the Vibram Open in 2008 and has been dubbed the MVP Open since 2018, consistently drew many of the sport's best players, who were leaving the course extremely impressed.
Through a mixture of word-of-mouth and the growing availability and popularity of media covering pro events, Maple Hill has grown far beyond a local treasure or a haven just for pros. The quality and challenge of its holes along with the beauty of its location have helped it reach the status its creators were aiming for from the start: being considered one of the world's best courses. Perhaps there's no better proof of the success and notoriety that Maple Hill now enjoys than an anecdote Dodge shared when we spoke with him.
"My brother's a flight attendant, and he had a layover in London, and he went to the local course there and caught up with a threesome," Dodge narrated. "They said, 'Oh, you're American. We're going to America in a couple of weeks.' He asked why, and they said they were actually going just to play a disc golf course. He asked which one, and they said, 'Maple Hill, have you ever heard of it?'"
Recent & Planned Developments
The Maple Hill Disc Golf team is continuously hard at work on improvements. In 2020, they created a diamond layout that's meant for players of "amazing skill" (as the course's website says) but who aren't up for tackling the gold tees, which are the course's hardest. Some completely new tee pads and shots were created for the diamonds, but it utilizes tee pads previously in place, too.
Dodge filled us in on other layout updates scheduled this year.
"In 2021, Gage Benson, the course Pro and Greenskeeper, will be primarily focused on improving the whites," Dodge told us. "The goal is to make the layout more fun and a smaller step up from the beginner-friendly reds. The golds course will have a couple of new tees and the blues and diamonds will be getting one new tee."
Another big change is that Maple Hill has decided to make an alteration that was forced during the pandemic into a permanent feature: tee times. To play rounds at Maple Hill, you must prepay and reserve a tee time. This change was made to improve player experience at the course, which was Massachusetts' most-played disc golf course in 2020.
Something else that was kind of a big deal that went down in 2020 at Maple Hill was it becoming the setting of one of the most-watched disc golf videos of all time. Pro Kevin Jones hit a monster ace on hole 16 despite taking a nasty spill off a tee pad, and the video got big – as in made news in England and Malaysia big. You can learn all about it (and see the ace) in our post "The Stream Engine: Making The Most Of Kevin Jones' Ace."
What Golf Can I Expect?
It’s actually easier to make a list of what type of golf not to expect from Maple Hill. So, here it goes:
At Maple Hill, don’t expect…
…entirely open, ball golf-course style holes.
…completely flat land.
…to get bored.
And that’s seriously about it. If you want anything from your disc golf not listed above, Maple Hill offers it up. Small and big shifts in elevation? Water hazards? A wide range of distances and required shot angles? Tightly wooded shots? Shots over more open fairways that still have enough trees to make placement important? Check, check, check, check, check.
Despite this variety, Maple Hill never loses a sense of unity, and its many different tee pads and pin locations mean you can always play a layout suited to your skill or mood. Listed here in order of difficulty are the tees available at Maple Hill: red, white, blue, diamond, and gold. There's also an Old Glory layout that mixes the red, white, and blue tees. Other configurations share tee pads at times, too.
Maple Hill is a course built to such a high standard that almost any of its holes could be signatures if transplanted into the majority of courses. There's even been an entire episode of The Inside Line podcast dedicated to finding out which of Maple Hill's holes is its signature. We don't have quite that kind of time here, but we're also not going to take the easy way out and name more than one hole.
We're stating here and now that hole 1 at Maple Hill is its signature. Playing the gold layout, it features a huge water carry, Christmas trees, a chance to rip as hard as you want on a downhill shot, a finish in the woods, and picturesque stone walls. It's essentially a sample of nearly everything Maple Hill has to offer put into one perfect starting hole. Just listen to the praise it got from Jeremy Koling and Nate Sexton in the JomezPro coverage of the 2018 MVP Open:
And if you weren't convinced yet, know that even Dodge himself gave hole 1 the nod when we cornered him about it.
Along with amazing disc golf and a well-kept course, Maple Hill offers visitors some great extras:
- Well-stocked pro shop
- Game room with pool, air hockey, table shuffleboard, and more
- Multiple tee pads and pin placements appropriate for a wide range of skill levels
- Benches on every hole
- Hot dogs, drinks, and snacks available for purchase
Events & Leagues
Events: Maple Hill hosts a large number of events each year, with the premiere one in 2021 being the MVP Open at Maple Hill, which is sure to draw a huge number of spectators (if allowed) and many of the world's greatest players in early September. There is also an MVP Open Am Side taking place in April.
Leagues: Maple Hill will host a flex start league in 2021.
Three Real Five Star Reviews
Three real reviews of Maple Hill from disc golfers on UDisc:
The Full Top 10 World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2021
1. Maple Hill in Leicester, Massachusetts: You just read it!
2. Hillcrest Farm in Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island, Canada: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #2 Hillcrest Farm
3. Krokhol in Siggerud, Norway: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses #3: Krokhol
4. Blue Ribbon Pines in East Bethel, Minnesota: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #4 Blue Ribbon Pines
5. Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course at Smugglers' Notch Resort: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #5 Brewster Ridge
6. Flip City Disc Golf Park in Shelby, Michigan: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #6 Flip City
7. The Diavolo Disc Golf Course at New Hope Park in Cary, North Carolina: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #7 Diavolo
8. The Canyons at Dellwood Park in Lockport, Illinois: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #8 The Canyons at Dellwood Park
9. Idlewild in Burlington, Kentucky: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #9 Idlewild
10. Milo McIver in Estacada, Oregon: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #10 Milo McIver