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World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #4 Blue Ribbon Pines
Alex WilliamsonWriter, Editor
Feb 2 • 9 min read

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.

A blue disc golf basket among trees on a sunny fall day
A moment from a fall round at Blue Ribbon Pines. Photo credit: Dan Reynoso

The Basics

Name: Blue Ribbon Pines

Location:
East Bethel, Minnesota

Number of Holes: 27

Grade: 96.6/100

Rank in World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2021: #4

Rank in World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2020:
#6

Year Opened: 2006

Designer: Timmy Gill

Cost: 
$8 day pass ($5 for students and military)

Current Course Conditions, Photos, & More: Blue Ribbon Pines on UDisc Courses

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.

Course History

Shot of a disc golf green covered in red mulch and surrounded by large rocks with a small pond and trees also in view
Hole 22 at Blue Ribbon Pines on a beautiful day in Minnesota. Photo uploaded to UDisc Courses by luckbb22

Until about a year before his course opened, Blue Ribbon Pines owner and proprietor Ray Jordan would never have expected to create any disc golf course, let alone one of the best in the world.

"Most people start disc golf courses because they’re addicted to the game; I started Blue Ribbon Pines without even being a player," Jordan said.

The series of fortunate events that led to Blue Ribbon Pines' opening began in 2005. Jordan is part of a family-owned sod farming business, and that year he helped an out-of-work friend from high school by giving him odd jobs on one of his family's farms. That friend happened to be wild for disc golf. When he noticed the farm's boundaries also included a huge expanse of woods used for nothing other than a small amount of hunting, the friend couldn't resist trying to convince Jordan to set up a course.

"He said, 'Let’s grab a beer and walk through the woods,'" Jordan recalled. "We did, and the woods were pretty, and I told him, 'That sounds like a good idea.'"

Jordan's friend talked enthusiastically about the property at a league night following the walk, and eventually the news reached the ears of Timmy Gill. At the time, Gill organized the largest league in Minnesota (perhaps the U.S.) and was Minnesota's best player and a course designer. Gill got in touch with Jordan, and they set up a meeting to discuss building a course.

When Gill arrived for the meeting, Jordan and some of his family and business associates were there to greet him. 

"We’re kind of grizzled guys, a little on the conservative side, hard-working, up early in the morning, and Timmy Gill showed up in a beat-up Toyota pick-up with sandals on, hair down to his shoulders and looked like some surfer dude," Jordan recalled, laughing. "My brother and three partners looked at each other and said, 'No way this our guy.' But I said we had to give him a chance. After the pleasantries, he wanted to walk through the land a bit and see what he would have to work with.

"After we started showing him around," Jordan continued, "he just turned to me and let me know about his credentials and background in disc golf and told me the land looked as good to him as anything he’d played anywhere. He explained where he thought the sport was heading…and, well, we were in the woods about an hour, and I came out drinking the Kool-Aid."

Though his family was skeptical, Jordan convinced them to let him give it a try. From there, things moved relatively quickly but with Jordan insisting at every step that if he was going to build a course, it needed to be special. Utilizing the equipment from his family business and other connections, Jordan had ponds made, boulders brought in, and other landscape features created.

A blue disc golf basket on a large elevated green covered in red mulch and surrounded by boulders
Greens like this one with its large rock border and fresh mulch show Blue Ribbon Pines' dedication to going above and beyond.

Blue Ribbon Pines was planned throughout the end of 2005 and beginning of the next year, and in August 2006 – after Jordan had delayed the opening several times due to a desire for perfection – the course welcomed the disc golfing public for the first time.

Though some found the idea of paying for disc golf outlandish in 2006 (the fee was $5), Blue Ribbon Pines soon became known as a must-play course. Jordan said within the first year he already knew the course would be popular enough to be successful in his eyes, with people from all over the state showing up to play it. And, now, with Jordan's careful upkeep and constant additions (read more about those in upcoming sections), the course can count itself not just as local favorite, but a pillar of Minnesota disc golf and one of the best disc golf destinations in the world.

Despite its success and renown, Jordan still isn't satisfied with his creation and vows to keep working to improve it.

"I’ve told people the same thing since the beginning," Jordan said. "We’ll never stop trying to make this course better."

Recent & Planned Developments

A blue disc golf basket lit up at night
Jordan is always looking for ways to make Blue Ribbon Pines more special, like by hosting truly spectacular glow leagues. Photo credit: Dan Reynoso

Jordan said that in the coming year he's planning to switch up the usual focus of the ongoing improvements to Blue Ribbon Pines.

"This is the first year we're going to focus a little less on the course and a little more on the activities at the course," Jordan said. "I want to just make people's visit here a little better."

What Jordan means by this isn't that the usual top-notch maintenance of the course will fall off. It's just that the amenities the course offers will expand.

The newest addition will be a taproom full of images and objects celebrating the history of all things disc. Jordan mentioned memorabilia like photographs of the golden years of Overall competition, which is where players compete in a various events that test a range of disc skills, as well as a display case full of first-run Discraft Buzzz's in every possible color. The taps will be pouring mostly Minnesota craft beer, and Jordan says he'll often have some fairly special brews from Surly Brewing in nearby Minneapolis with whom he's built a close relationship.

The course also has multiple stages where bands play music, and Jordan recently added a green room – a lounge for performers – so that musicians would be more comfortable when they played gigs there.

Explaining his reasoning behind these changes, Jordan made it clear that he wants Blue Ribbon Pines to be a disc golf destination that puts puts equal emphasis on the "disc golf" and "destination" parts of that phrase.

"We want your experience at the course to be better than just, 'Oh, it's a great course,'" Jordan said.

What Golf Can I Expect?

A paved disc golf tee pad in front of a very tight, dead straight fairway thickly lined with trees
Blue Ribbon Pines' famous 444.

Blue Ribbon Pines doesn't have "pines" in the name just for kicks. The hallmark of the course is tight, wooded fairways that usually make accuracy, not distance, the key factor to a good score. That isn't to say there aren't moments when players are invited to let it rip. Take, for example, how Kevin Jones attacked the 760-foot/232-meter hole 18, which is also known as "the driving range hole" due to the distance markers placed down the length of the fairway:



But, overall, what's likely so lovable about Blue Ribbon Pines to many is that it combines a sense of achievability with a high level of challenge. If you throw the lines, the birdies are there for the taking on most holes for experienced players. However, hitting every one of those demanding and varied lines would be a near superhuman achievement. 

Signature Hole

As you can hear in the commentary below from the flyover in the video by Par Save Productions, the 444-foot/135 meter, par 4 hole 4 at Blue Ribbon Pines is unquestionably iconic.

The idea is simple: Throw straight as you can through a 15-foot/4.5-meter wide corridor lined by trees. There's out-of-bounds for those who kick too far left, and tricky lines for anyone who stays in-bounds on either side of the fairway. Jordan's father planted many of the trees himself over a half-century ago, and Jordan likes to joke with visitors that Blue Ribbon Pines has been in the works for over 60 years.

Amenities

Along with impeccable upkeep and great tee pads, here are some of the comforts and extras you can expect at Blue Ribbon Pines:

  • Pro shop
  • Benches on every hole
  • Cleared tee pads throughout the winter
  • A concession stand and a bar and grill. Jordan said you can get things as various as "craft beer, whiskey, cheese curds, or a double cheeseburger and fries" if you get peckish during your round.
  • Two stages for live music
  • A nine-hole course with holes around 50-60 feet/15-18 meters to practice your short game

Events & Leagues

Events: The premiere event at Blue Ribbon Pines is The Majestic. This year, the event is an A-tier taking place on June 3-4, 2021. That event has only professional divisions. There is also an annual Amateur Majestic.

Leagues: There are Thursdays leagues and Sunday leagues at Blue Ribbon Pines. In winter, Sunday league is Cali rules: an extra shot per hole and no OB. Ace pools for these leagues can get up into the thousands at times.

Three Real Five Star Reviews

Three real five star reviews of Blue Ribbon Pines from disc golfers on UDisc.

The gold standard of not only Minnesota disc golf courses but disc golf courses in general. PLAY THIS COURSE!!
only1steets
Beautiful purely beautiful. What every course should be. Like a country club but for disc golf. 
phan34
Love this course, pretty long and some hard holes, but it’s worth it. Beautiful in the summer but wear sunscreen. Best part is getting refreshments at the snack shack... and ending the round with a BRP tee shirt from the pro shop. 10/10 would recommend to my friends. (Go in the morning when it’s less busy and cooler out 😎)
allisonherrick

And a bonus four-star review. Is one lost star per snake the usual math?

Saw one baby snake off the 11th hole.
ergosum132

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: Read World's Best 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: You just read it!

5. Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course at Smugglers' Notch Resort: World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #5 Brewster Ridge

6. Flip City Disc Golf Park in Shelby, Michigan: World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #6 Flip City

7. The Diavolo Disc Golf Course at New Hope Park in Cary, North Carolina: World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #7 Diavolo

8. The Canyons at Dellwood Park in Lockport, Illinois: World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #8 The Canyons at Dellwood Park

9. Idlewild in Burlington, Kentucky: World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #9 Idlewild

10. Milo McIver in Estacada, Oregon: World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #10 Milo McIver

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