City: Thunder Bay ON
Teepads: Concrete (long) / Grass (short)
Course Designers: Andrew Bopp, Phil Jamieson, Juan Baztarrica
Signature Hole(s): #14 / #15
To put it into only a few words; In the opinion of many, the Birch Point Disc Golf Course is Thunder Bay Disc Golf and always will be. The course was the birth place of Thunder Bay disc golf and really disc golf as a whole in the region. Every player in the area likely threw their first throw, first birdie and maybe first ace on this course. On the other side, it’s 100% likely that every player in the area kissed their first soon-to-be-lost disc goodbye as it splashed before sinking to the bottom of Boulevard lake.
Being the first course in the area, it obviously has the most history. In 2008, a small group of players led by Andrew Bopp, Phil Jamieson and Juan Baztarrica started playing object / tree golf without baskets in the park on a few variations of the course. In 2010 the baskets were installed for what is now known to locals as Birch Point 1.0.
The course was expanded into its longer and safer 2.0 layout between 2017 and 2019 after a lot of work was done by The Birch Point Disc Golf Association to secure a lot more space in the park. The growing popularity of the sport often had the 1.0 layout backed up which got a bit dangerous for players given 1.0’s semi-shared fairways. The expansion featured concrete teepads and generally more space for players to throw safely.
The first event on the course was the first Right Deadly tournament which has happened every year since. Since the first event, the course has hosted everything from an A-Tier to Ace Races and everything in between. With the increasing amount of events, Birch Point DGC is set to be the stage for many memorable moments to come.
For additional information, we have added a sub-review for Birch Point’s very popular 1.0 layout
(Notes are for the 2.0 layout)
Instead of a complete hole by hole dissection type preview, we would prefer everyone play the course and assess things as they go according to their skill set. What we will lend is a few tips from a collection of local players in various skill ranges for those looking to play Birch Point for the first time with a little more comfort. Birch point 2.0 has terrific signage so players can tackle it for the first time with or without someone that has played the course before. There are also normally locals around that can help if there is any confusion.
The course is located on city property and the city of Thunder Bay does a pretty terrific job of taking care of it. The well-maintained park plus concrete long tee pads make the terrain pretty manageable in casual shoes, runners, hikers etc. The only challenge to the footing for some players may be the root exposure in some areas so proceed as preferred.
Overall, 2.0 is a course that will challenge the backhand and forehand abilities of any player. Having a solid selection of shots and discs available never hurts, especially with the area’s consistency to provide very inconsistent winds. Player’s seeking a full disc golf experience with a mixture of long and short, open or wooden holes will get exactly what they are after at this course.
Pedestrians are a factor with every course in the world that is forged into a public park. When in doubt, just wait. As a general rule, if you think only your worst and most erratic throw could hit the person you are currently waiting for, that throw could very well be the next one out of your hand should you choose to throw.
Several holes on Birch Point 2.0 involve throwing over or along side walking paths so playing with caution is key. Boulevard attracts every possible use of the paths imaginable and while there is very clear signage, not everyone is very observant or aware of the disc golf course. Parts of the course present risks of shots that are blind to players and pedestrians. The 1.0 fall and winter layouts create a lot more danger for players than pedestrians with the condensed / shared areas so please be aware of where the other players on the course are at all times.
Birch Point DGC does feature some nice moments of elevation for those looking to test or improve their elevated throwing abilities. For the most part, the course is quite flat but players will be faced with several shots that involve throwing up or downhill. This is just another factor on the list that shows Birch Point is a truly complete disc golf experience. Players can get confidence on BP with moderate amount of elevation before seeking out the other courses in the region with a bit more extreme up and downhill challenges.
The stunning man-made Boulevard Lake is sort of the center of the whole area’s beauty and with that, the course. All variations of Birch Point Disc Golf Course utilize the areas nearest the lake so with the added beauty comes added challenges and risks. There’s enough plastic down there, make sure you leave with all of your discs.
Most disc golf communities with multiple courses will have one “main” course that attracts the most local players. Knowing which course this is can be very helpful for traveling / visiting players that want to get a good feel for the community before heading off to the other courses. It’s obvious by this point that Birch Point is definitely the course most frequented by locals and most local players are happy to help out with tips / suggestions for other courses and the city in general.
While there are short teepads marked on the signage, the short tees are in need of some development. In 2022, the short teeing locations will be a focus as a course upgrade. Those looking for a shorter / smaller course to play on are better off heading to the LAV course until properly marked short tees are made available. When the short pads are eventually developed, they will give BPDGC yet another look and set of lines to master.
When playing Birch Point between the months of October and April or so, players will be greeted with a course map that might not make a lot of sense. This is because the course has been switched over to the original 1.0 layout for the purpose of condensed and quickened play during colder months with less daylight. The amount of snow in the region can make playing on the vast 2.0 quite a trek but the modified 1.0 layout makes winter golf a lot of fun. It’s also worth noting that as snow accumulates, the course is condensed a little further.
BP 1.0 might be significantly shorter than 2.0 in the distance department, that factor does not make it easier. The “old course” is a tightly wooded nightmare of twists, turns and trees…lots and lots of trees. This layout forces players to focus and rely on accuracy, placement and shot shaping over power and distance.
If you aren’t a lefty, to succeed on the 1.0 course you’ll need either a solid forehand or anhyzer game to really hit the best lines available. Having a great selection of shots is important when attacking either version of Birch Point DGC but 1.0 definitely forces players to lean more on / improve their ability to scramble. Make throwing from awkward lies your friend!
The only semi-downside to 1.0 would be the teepads / teeing areas. At one point, 1.0 had teepads but the material was slippery. The 1.0 pads are currently dirt / crushed rock but still provide more than enough traction for throwing the shorter distances. When the teeing areas do get muddy, we recommend playing from a nearby area with better footing. This can also create fun and challenging new lines for the odd round.
WARNING: The 1.0 version of the course requires a lot more caution that players might be used to with 2.0. With many players on the course, the blind shots are everywhere so please be hype-vigilant and mindful of where the other players / pedestrians are on the course. Don’t be afraid to yell nice and loud if a disc gets away from you.
Birch Point DGC Layout Change Schedule:
2.0 Layout – Mid April to October 1st (note: alternate pins will be used
1.0 Layout – October 1st – late November (map below)
Winter Layout – December to mid April (map to be uploaded in November)