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.
The story of Hillcrest Farm is an idiosyncratic one. In some ways, it resembles that of Ray Jordan and Blue Ribbon Pines (the world's fourth best disc golf course for 2021) where a person with abundant land and very little knowledge of disc golf decided that building a course would be a worthwhile project. But, at the risk of getting a little abstract, if you made disc golf into a person, it's clear that Jordan's passion for the sport has grown so much that he would now give that person a bear hug. On the other hand, Bill Best, owner of Hillcrest Farm, gives off the vibe that Disc Golf Personified would more likely get just a friendly handshake from him.
However, it's not the fact that someone with a mild interest in disc golf owns a disc golf course that makes Hillcrest's story truly unlikely; it's the fact that a person with a mild interest in disc golf has been so willing to put a huge amount of resources and time into creating a course that's in the upper echelons of quality at very little personal benefit to himself. And that unusual mixture has been part of Hillcrest's story from the start.
The first time Best played disc golf, he was visiting his son in British Columbia. His son was a passionate disc golfer, and Best wanted to try it out.
"The course we went to, I think it was a nice course, but there was hardly any signage around, so you didn't really know where the basket was," Best said. "I think there was a herd of goats to keep the grass down and we got chased by a couple of dogs. And when we sat down at the end of the day, my son asked me what I thought. I said, 'Oh, it's not a bad sport – there was some family time outside with a bit of challenge to it. But, I'm sure we could build something a little better than that at our place in Prince Edward Island.' And that's what it all resulted from."
Best, a veterinarian who owns on a 135-acre/55-hectare farm, had about 50 acres/20 hectares of land on his property that was rarely used. That's where he planned to put the course. At first, he thought he would design it himself, figuring it couldn't be but so hard.
"I thought, 'Okay, here'd be the first hole in a nice place that kind of drops down. And the second one could maybe go here...,' and by the third one I was smart enough to realize I didn't have a clue what I was doing, that this was going to be a disaster," Best recalled.
That realization made Best turn to his computer. There he searched around for disc golf course designers and sent off a few e-mails to the people he found.
Not long afterward, he got an e-mail back from someone he'd contacted: John Houck. Houck happens to be one of the most prominent disc golf course designers of all time, but that wasn't something Best was really aware of. And originally Best turned down Houck's offer because he thought it was too high, but further negotiations eventually ended in them finding a compromise.
In amazingly quick succession, Best's whim to create a place to play a sport he found "not bad" on some unused land on his farm had turned into him funding the creation of a world-class course by a world-class designer. It's like if someone who thought putting a little street art on the front of their urban store would be neat ended up hiring Banksy.
Over four trips to the island, Houck designed the layout and oversaw course creation. The Best family – consisting of parents Bill and Mary and their children – and friends of the family all pitched in to do work like installing concrete tee pads, putting in baskets, and building benches and bridges.
When all was said and done, the figure Best had had in mind when he first budgeted for building a course was left far behind, and he ended up spending about three times that amount. For that money, though, he got a course that would electrify the small disc golf community of the Maritimes, the collective name for the eastern Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
"There was no player base on Prince Edward Island at the time he built the course," said Ben Smith, a course designer and active member of the disc golf community in the Maritimes. "The guy goes out and paints a Picasso without knowing if anyone will ever see it. But having this five-star course has catapulted our region of the world into the ability to do things we would never have been able to do."
The biggest of those accomplishments is hosting the Canadian Championships in recent years. Those competitions have drawn some of the best-known pros in the sport, including Paul McBeth, Nate Sexton, Simon Lizotte, Paige Pierce, James Conrad, and Kristin Tattar. The star power of those players has helped footage of the events filmed by Central Coast Disc Golf get very respectable view counts, which in turn has boosted the course's notoriety beyond just eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.
And while Best may not regularly follow or play disc golf, he said he was "ecstatic" that the some of the sport's best players have played and loved his course. He's also been extremely surprised by and satisfied with the traffic and reactions the course has garnered from everyday players.
"It cost a lot more than I originally budgeted," Best said. "But now I have people from all over North America and elsewhere coming, and they're all happy and say it's a nice course. And it's no question now that John Houck was a good investment...I'm so busy that I get to play maybe one or two games a year, but I'm amazed – amazed on a regular basis – at how many people come play the course."
Putting aside the seemingly scant motivation to build a course in the first place, these comments show how Best's decision to invest in making Hillcrest Farm as good as possible is a completely practical one. The better the course, the more word about it will spread, and the more people will come play it and help recoup the expense of its creation (this logic was, in fact, part of Houck's pitch).
But it's undeniable that as little as Best appears to take notice of developments in the greater disc golf world, he's proud of his course's standing within it. So when he hears about ways to improve Hillcrest, he's quick to enact them, and he often thinks them up himself just from listening to visitors.
"My husband...is the visionary about where the course should go in the future," said Best's wife, Mary. "He’s always thinking about ways to improve the course and make the experience not just good for players, but great. Usually this involves more work for us! But Bill is typically in the forefront of that, too, since he drives the tractors, runs the chain saws, fixes the benches, [and] plants the trees."
This constant desire to be, so to say, the "best" has clearly impressed the vast majority of people who've visited Hillcrest Farm and has paid off in it becoming the best course in Canada and one of the top three places to play disc golf in the world for two years running.
Recent & Planned Developments
Being a wooded course designed by someone who is very strategic about which trees go and stay on a fairway, Hillcrest requires the Bests to be vigilant about any possible arboreal issues.
"We have been planting trees each year to replace those that fall down, are vulnerable, or are important," Mrs. Best told us. "In 2020 we planted over 100 trees on the course, some of which were replacements for the big old trees blown down in 2019 by Tropical Storm Dorian. Many saplings don’t make it through the winter! But some of them do and we have the satisfaction of seeing some trees over head-high from plantings a decade ago."
The Bests are also working on creating options at the course more suited to both the world's best disc golfers and its youngest.
After receiving feedback from players at the 2019 Canadian Championships, Houck and Best agreed to undertake installing a gold set of tee pads to go with Hillcrest's current blue (longer) and red (shorter) tees. The gold tees will be intended to truly challenge even the most elite of disc golfers. These tees would have been installed in 2020, but the pandemic halted their construction.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Bests also realize that the layout options currently available at Hillcrest are not very accommodating for brand new or very young disc golfers. After speaking with Houck and his wife Dee, the Bests have decided to construct an 18-hole micro course that will be more suited to these players. They plan for this course to have its own clubhouse and have already identified an area on their property for it.
Both of these projects should continue in 2021 if the pandemic situation allows.
Hillcrest Farm also offers rental discs and bags that visitors can use if they want to try out disc golf but don't have their own gear. The Bests upped their collection of these by more than 100 bags and discs in 2020 to make sure they could supply the huge wave of visitors who tried disc golf at the course last year while keeping up with proper sanitation.
It seems that though measures imposed to slow the pandemic halted the progress of some projects at Hillcrest, they also simultaneously gave more people a reason to try out the course. And the owners couldn't be happier that their creation has been able able to provide a source of joy and solace in dark times.
"We were especially touched by the number of players in 2020 who sent us messages saying how much they loved our course at Hillcrest, that it was their 'happy place' and that it was so good for their mental health, what with all the stress and negativity of the COVID situation," Mrs. Best said. "It’s these comments that make all our hard work worthwhile!"
What Golf Can I Expect?
If you think woods disc golf is the best disc golf, Hillcrest Farm is the place for you. The fairways are often tight and landing off of them usually puts you in positions where you'll have to navigate a huge number of skinny trunks to find a good position again. That said, there is always a fair way (yes, two words) to get to the basket offered on every hole. The gaps aren't so small that they are arbitrary or impossible, and there's something magical about how the grassy fairways wind through the course's dense woods.
When you look at the hole distances from the long pads, the numbers seem surprisingly small (though, as we mentioned in the previous section, longer gold tees are in the works). There are quite a few par 4s just under or over 550 feet/168 meters, and seven of the par 3s don't break 300 feet/91 meters. However, those distances begin to make more sense when you remember the presence of all those trees. Take, for example, all the tricky angles of long hole 1 as shown in this coverage of the 2019 Canadian Championships from Central Coast Disc Golf:
At 534 feet/163 meters, it theoretically only requires two shots just under 270 feet/82 meters to be in position for birdie, which isn't a huge ask from a championship-level course. But its the twists and turns of the tree-lined fairway, not distance, that truly make the hole challenging, and that's a motif at Hillcrest. You'll also notice the elevation changes throughout the hole. Successfully controlling downhill shots and making it up hills is another prominent aspect of the course.
One hole that's a calling card of both Hillcrest Farm and its designer is the long tee of hole 5. It's a relatively short par 4 at just over 560 feet/171 meters, but its far from short on fun, interesting terrain, and route options. Check it out below, again in footage from Central Coast Disc Golf:
Like many signature holes, there's an elevated tee pad that offers up the chance for players to really see their discs fly. However, the way the ground rises back up means players still need to really throw a disc with some oomph to get enough power to be in a good position. Finally, the way the hole is constructed with multiple fairways is a common technique employed by Houck, who has written that he believes "providing multiple opportunities for a player to approach [a] shot" is an aspect he considers important when designing both signature holes and signature courses.
Hillcrest Farm doesn't have a staff running it, but the Bests keep it in tip-top shape and offer visitors the following extras:
- Benches on every hole
- Warm-up area with putting baskets and netting set up so that players can go through full throws without needing to retrieve discs
- Small cabin that can provide shelter from bad weather and also has bags with discs in them that can be rented by those who don't have discs
- Composting toilet
- A propane grill free for visitors to use
- Free bug spray provided in places where biting insects can occasionally pop up in certain seasons. Note that Best says he never needs to wear bug spray when doing course work in any season and provides the spray just as a courtesy.
Events & Leagues
Events: The highest profile event hosted by Hillcrest Farm is the Canadian Disc Golf Championships, which has drawn pros like Nate Sexton, Paul McBeth, Simon Lizotte, Paige Pierce, and Kristin Tattar to Prince Edward Island in the past. It will host the event again July 9-11, 2021.
A large event attended by a more local crowd is held on Canada Day, July 1st. Players attending this event can expect a fresh BBQ chicken lunch and some fun competition.
Leagues: On Thursday evenings in the right seasons players gather together for some individual competition with an ace pool. Contact Island Disc Golf Company on Facebook for more info.
Three Real Five Star Reviews
Three real five star reviews of Hillcrest Farm from disc golfers on UDisc.
The Full Top 10 World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2021
1. Maple Hill in Leicester, Massachusetts: Read World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #1 Maple Hill
2. Hillcrest Farm in Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island, Canada: You just read it!
3. Krokhol Disc Golf Course 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, Vermont: 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