World's Best Disc Golf Courses: #4 Brewster Ridge, Smugglers' Notch Resort, Vermont

Alex Williamson avatar
Alex WilliamsonWriter, Editor
Feb 7 • 9 min read
A red disc golf basket in the woods with large rocks around it. #4 and UDisc logo in ribbon superimposed
Photo from Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course uploaded to UDisc Courses by todd129678

Here you can learn all about one of the world's best disc golf courses: Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course at Smugglers' Notch Resort, Vermont. The resort is also home to Fox Run Meadows, another World's Best Disc Golf Courses top 10 course in 2023.

Brewster Ridge is typically an annual host of the Green Mountain Championship, but this year it will be a venue for the 2023 Pro Disc Golf World Championships, a roving Professional Disc Golf Association Major event.

Click or tap below to learn about Brewster Ridge's past, present, or future:

All of the World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2023

To see the rest of the world's top disc golf courses for this year, check out World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2023: #1-#100.

Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course: 2023 Stats & Basic Info

Score: 95.23/100

Number of Holes: 18

Rank in World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2023: #4

Rank in World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2022:

Year Opened: 2012

Designer: Jeff Spring

Availability: Roughly late May to mid-to-late October. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. in spring and summer. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. in fall.

Cost: $12 per round

History of Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course

The backstories of disc golf courses come in many forms. Sometimes a small community of disc golfers puts in tireless, unpaid hours of design and manual labor to create something special in a public park. Occasionally an independent enthusiast sees potential fairways in their unused acreage, rents equipment, and goes at it. More rarely, the Vice President of Global Resort Development for an international hotel company tells a potential new partner resort that once a deal is struck, he'd like to see a good disc golf course on the property – soon.

Haven't heard that last one? Well, that's the unlikely origin of Brewster Ridge, according to course designer Jeff Spring. Spring once worked at Smuggs but is now the Director of the Disc Golf Pro Tour.

A man in a collared t-shirt and ball cap stands at a podium speaking to a large group of people
Jeff Spring, designer of Brewster Ridge, speaking in his role as tournament director at the 2018 PDGA World Disc Golf Championships. Credit: Alyssa Van Lanen.

Brewster Ridge is on the property of Smugglers' Notch Resort (known familiarly as Smuggs), a year-round family vacation destination nestled in Vermont's mountains. And in 2011, Smuggs and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts were working out a deal for Wyndham to manage some of Smuggs' real estate. 

"That deal brought the VP of Global Resort Development Alan Litwack to the resort several times," Spring recounted. "He became aware there was a small disc golf course on site. During his last visit, they were discussing terms out on the disc golf course because Alan wanted to see it – he turned out to be a disc golfer."

Spring classified the course Litwack would have seen then as an "extremely short and un-designed course with little to no use or maintenance."

"Alan said, 'Okay, I think we’ve got a deal,'" Spring continued, "'but one thing you should do is upgrade your disc golf course.'"

Spring had heard about Litwack's request and took a chance to bring it up with Smuggs' owner at a staff event.

"Our owner didn’t know much about the sport, and I’d heard it through the grapevine that he was interested in learning more about disc golf," Spring said. "So at a company party at the end of the winter 2012, I went over to him and started talking to him. He mentioned Alan was interested in upgrading the course, and I let him know I was on the board of the state’s disc golf club and had been part of designing courses before. He said, 'Let’s get it going.' And in the spring, we did."

But if Smuggs' owner was going to build a course, he wanted it to be the best. Spring said the goal from the outset was to create a venue that could host a world championship, and he designed the course's hardest set of tees (it boasts four for each hole) with the world's best players in mind. In a testament to how well Spring met expectations, Brewster and Fox Run Meadows – a second course Spring and former U.S. Disc Golf Champion Steve Brinster of Brinster Design designed on Smuggs' property – hosted the PDGA Disc Golf World Championships just six years after Brewster opened.

A loose rock wall in a wooded area with a disc golf basket behind
Rock walls like these give Brewster Ridge a quaint atmosphere while also adding challenge as they serve as obstacles and, often, out-of-bounds lines. Photo uploaded to UDisc Courses by todd129678

You can learn more about what that design entailed later in this post, but one interesting aspect of Brewster that Spring pointed out is how carefully he had to plan it in regards to the local ecosystem. 

Most development in Vermont has to meet guidelines set out in Act 250, a state law that Vermont's Natural Resources Board says is "for reviewing and managing the environmental, social and fiscal consequences of major subdivisions and developments in Vermont." It's a law that Spring said made designing more tricky but also helped make sure his work lived up to disc golf's oft-used selling point of environmental friendliness.

"You see things on courses that you think would be cool to have, like a basket on a stream bank," Spring said. "But that causes erosion, and that’s just not allowed in Vermont because of the impact it has on the stream, the watershed, and habitat in the area. That makes our courses very in tune with the environmental impacts, not just because it’s law, but because that’s the ethic of Vermont. It also fits well with the ethos of disc golf because even for courses that aren’t as rigorously audited as ours, they have way less environmental impact than traditional golf courses."

A red disc golf basket with a background of trees in fall yellow
What's prettier, the basket or the trees? Photo at Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course uploaded to UDisc Courses by wishbone89

This all means that visitors to Brewster not only get to play a course that's world-class but can also feel a little better knowing it was designed so that their recreation will have as little impact on the environment as possible.

Finally, it's important to note that when Spring left Smuggs to run the Disc Golf Pro Tour, Nick Hover took over as the Operations Director for Smugglers' Notch Disc Golf Center. The fact that Brewster Ridge has remained in the top 10 of the World's Best Disc Golf Courses during his tenure is a testament to his dedication.

What's It Like to Play Disc Golf at Brewster Ridge?

Along with reasons like its setting in rambling Vermont countryside, crumbling stone walls, and top-notch upkeep, Brewster Ridge has been a top 10 course for the past four years because its design isn't full of tricks and gimmicks.

A narrow grassy disc golf fairway goes straight through a tunnel of trees
You've got to get through this tunnel to reach the fairly open green beyond . Photo uploaded to UDisc Courses by wishbone89

"My first priority with Brewster and subsequent courses is fairness," Spring said. "I want someone to step up and understand through playing the hole what the designer is asking them to do and to have a fair route to do that. I’m not a big fan of randomness."

However, "fairness" shouldn't be confused with "ease." Spring believes good shots should be rewarded, but he also thinks imprecise shots should have their due punishments. An example of this dynamic can be heard in Nate Sexton's analysis of the landing zone for hole 2 at Brewster from JomezPro's coverage of the 2019 Green Mountain Championship:

That clip also shows another big part of what to expect at Brewster: trees. Though there are some relatively open greens on a number of holes, Brewster is a true woods course that constantly puts players' accuracy to the test. And since demanding "a diversity of throws" is also part of Spring's design ethos, players need to be deft at a variety of shot shapes at a wide range of distances to score well.

You should also know that Brewster features four sets of tee pads on each hole so anyone from a beginner to the world's best disc golfers can play holes from distances they can enjoy.

Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course's Signature Hole

Spring pointed to Hole 10 as the standout at Brewster. Players taking on the course's most challenging set of tees start off their back nine staring down a 470-foot/143-meter par 3 that starts out in a tree-lined tunnel before opening to a basket nestled on, as Spring put it, "a beautiful apple tree green." Though there are many great holes at Brewster, 10 takes the "signature hole" title because its mixture of charming scenery and high level of challenge embody the primary aspects of the course.

A young man with a disc golf cart walks away from a red disc golf basket among a small group of trees in an otherwise open field
Ricky Wysocki walks off the green of hole 10, a basket surrounded by apple trees. Credit: Alyssa Van Lanen

You can take a look at the hole (and how multi-time disc golf world champion Paul McBeth attacked it) in the clip below from JomezPro:

Recent & Planned Developments at Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course

Along with mulching and trail improvement, Brewster's gold tees (the longest set) as well as four blue tees received new pavers in 2022 after feedback about lack of grip.

"We performed in-house friction evaluations on different paver stone types, textures, and environmental conditions over the winter of 2022," Hover said. "With assistance from a local contracting supply company, we found one with ideal grip in both wet and dry conditions. The new pavers received rave reviews from locals and DGPT players alike, who immediately saw an improvement in grip and tee pad quality over the previous pavers."

The rest of the blue tees will get new pavers in 2023. The previous gold and blue pavers will be repurposed as new teeing surfaces for the course's intermediate tee positions, but this won't happen until after the Pro World Championships in September.

Finally, Smuggs is currently awaiting approval from the state of Vermont on changes they hope to make to holes 3, 8, and 14 in preparation for Worlds.

Amenities at Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course

Being owned and maintained by a resort, Fox Run has plenty to offer visitors:

  • Another World's Best Disc Golf Courses top 10 course on the same property that offers up an entirely different type of disc golf
  • A pro shop that, along with disc golf equipment and plenty more, sells local craft beers you can drink there or take with you during rounds
  • The resort itself, which offers a place to stay, restaurants, a country store, tons of activities for non-disc golfing travel companions, and more

Three Real Five Star Reviews of Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course

Three five star reviews of Brewster Ridge from disc golfers on UDisc:

This is a true world-class disc golf facility. Excellently maintained and top-notch hole design. It doesn’t get better than this.
The course is about as beautiful as they come! That with the added difficulty and amenities puts it at one of the top courses I have ever played! "
Unbelievable course. So worth it. Played blue layout and kinda wish we would’ve gone for gold to see how many hundreds of strokes better James Conrad is than the rest of us

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