Course Preview: Dragon Hills DGC

Established: 2017

Price: $10.00+tax / Round

Membership: $150 / year

Teepads: Artificial turf (longs) / Grass (shorts)
Baskets: Prodigy T3

Course Designers: Cale Leiviska, Chris Wakefield, Mike Thompson

Signature Hole: #7

Phone: 807-768-8633

Email: info@dragonhillsgolfcourse.com

Intro

Dragon Hills is a professional level 18-hole course that runs along and in between the Dragon Hills Golf Course in Thunder Bay Ontario. The course is the longest and most difficult in the region but also one of the all-out most beautiful places players can play the sport. Breathtaking vistas, fresh country air, regular wildlife sightings and many other factors make the area a perfect setting for disc golf and it’s enthusiasts.

The course planning and design were put in motion by Thunder Bay local; Chris Wakefield but when the time came to fully layout the course, a professional designer was brought in to really drive it home. Cale Leiviska is known very well across the disc golf universe for being one of the smoothest throwing professionals ever to throw a disc but he is has also made a name for himself in course design. The Minnesotan has designed many top level courses around North America which includes his own course; Airborn / The Preserve. Cale made the short trip up to Thunder Bay to help ensure Dragon Hills was the professional course envisioned by all.

The baskets went into the ground in 2018 and since then, the course has hosted several events and played as the main host site for the Northern Ontario Championship A-Tier tournament in 2021. During the hosting process the ODSA redesigned a few of the holes to really bring the high level event together. A new course map is not currently available but the NOC Layout on Udisc along with very clear signage make it pretty easy to find the way.

Course Notes

While it would be fun to go hole to hole complete with disc and shot selection recommendations, we would rather everyone experience the courses for themselves according to their skill sets. We would however love to share a few tips from a collection of local players in various skill ranges for those looking to play courses for the first time with a little more of a scouting report.

The terrain at Dragon Hills can be a bit challenging and when combined with the length of it, the course usually requires hikers or trail runners etc vs casual shoes. Some areas of the course also flood over a little and take on a bit of water after periods of rain so a decent shoe goes a long way when playing a round at DHDGC. The rough can also get pretty thick so dressing properly for the outdoors is recommended in general.

If you have never played Dragon Hills before, playing it with a local or group of locals would be ideal for the first couple times out. The course is on uDisc and does have a course map but the immense size and technicality of the course along with sparse signage can be quite a lot to navigate for a first timer of any skill set. For a local guide, please do not hesitate to contact us at: superiornorthdiscgolf@gmail.com to arrange for a course walkthrough from an experienced player. Please try to contact us at least 24 hours before your round.

Dragon Hills DGC’s design tends to favour righty forehand / lefty backhand players a pinch more but overall, the course requires experience and a wide selection of shots to play effectively. The course is the longest and most technical course in the region and as a result is one we would recommend more for intermediate to advanced players. Beginners can still have a great time at Dragon Hills but it’s worth noting that that course is much longer and more difficult than any other course in the area so be ready for a challenge.

There are many holes on Dragon Hills where players can dig deep for all the power they have..

There are many holes on Dragon Hills where players with power can dig down deep for all the power they have on Dragon’s gigantic par 4s and 5s. The extra wide ball golf fairways and tons of space overall make long drives a lot of fun for those that hold the power. Players that lean on accuracy and precision will also have a lot of fun carving up the mile long list of great lines available so there is really an application for most styles. The long tees are as advertised and the course’s most technical layout. The short tees are terrific for intermediate players but definitely still not a breeze for the advanced skill set.

Do you like elevation? If the answer is yes, “Dragon’s” has a fully stocked bag of treats for you! If not, well there’s no better place in the region to improve on this skill set. Literally every single hole at Dragon Hills features notable and noticeable changes in elevation. From subtle rolling hills to some quite drastic ups and downs, players with an advanced skill set when it comes to throwing tough terrain will have an advantage. For players looking for a bit less of a challenge and perhaps more flat ground, the short tees do remove some of the larger “peaks” and “valleys”.

The rough at Dragon Hills can be a real challenge for any player to deal with once they have found their way in. It’s thick, grabby, often wet and the terrain is very tough so trying to stay on Dragon Hills’ plentiful fairways is always the safe bet. There also a few spots around the course that drop off down a fair steep slope just into the rough so be sure to heed the earlier suggestion for appropriate footwear. Much of the rough also features a lower secondary canopy of foliage that can really make finding a disc on the ground difficult. Be sure to keep a keen eye on your disc as it enters the rough and make a note of a landmark to make for a quicker search.

Do you like swamps? Do you like when your discs go in said swamps? If the answer is no, you are just like the rest of us. Dragon Hills has enough swamps and swamp-ish areas to swallow factories full of plastic with a smile so be aware of where they are on the course. Trying to avoid the water hazards is key if you’d prefer to avoid a swim/walk or leaving the course one down. There are some very large obvious spots as well as some less obvious but equally disc-eating spots to watch out for so be sure before you throw!

Packing a kwik-stick or your preferred disc retrieval device along with perhaps a spare for your favourite disc(s) is always a good idea when playing anywhere with water hazards. The pond on hole #18 is quite hidden so before running the green, run up and have a look. There is an alternate basket on hole #12 for those not willing to risk throwing over the large pond. The alternate basket is located on a small hill on the left of the fairway before the throw across the pond.

There are definitely times that disc golfers can find to have a great, low pressure experience at DHDGC. Outside of those times however, the traditional golf customers at DH are not usually very accommodating to disc golfers. The golf side of the club is fairly active most days and with the right of way, it can add significant delays to the round. Local disc golfers have had more than a few close calls with golf balls and less than favourable encounters with angry golfers. Mondays and Fridays are the cheap golf days and the course recommends disc golfers avoid those days due to course congestion (though they are still open for disc golf tee times Mon & Fri should you wish to try your luck). Either way, be very aware of golf balls being hit from basically anywhere out there.

Northwestern Ontario has always had a fairly aggressive insect population that seem to be out and on patrol all the time rather than just in the evening like other areas. Players are smart to dress appropriately and pack the bug dope! Ticks can be common in some part of the region so players are always reminded to do tick checks after rounds whenever possible. There are also many parts of the course that leave players exposed to the sun so having sunblock in the car never hurts either.

Course preview from Ontario Disc Sports Association

Course Preview: Birch Point Disc Golf Course

City: Thunder Bay ON

Established: 2010

Price: Free

Teepads: Concrete (long) / Grass (short)

Course Designers: Andrew Bopp, Phil Jamieson, Juan Baztarrica

Signature Hole(s): #14 / #15

Intro

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.

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.

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

Course Notes

(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.

BIRCH POINT DGC 1.0 LAYOUT PREVIEW
Filmed and produced by http://vertexvantage.com with help from Superior North Disc Golf

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)

2.0 Map
1.0 Map

Course Preview: De La Verendrye

Established: 2016

Price: Free

Teepads: Crushed rock in wood frames

Baskets: Dynamic Disc Veteran

Course Designers: Alan Tocheri

Signature Hole: #4

Baskets: Dynamic Discs Veteran

Intro

Many disc golf communities have courses on the property of local schools. Whether elementary, high school, college / university etc, school yards are great places to install courses for the growth of the game and added community activities. The first school in Northwestern Ontario to install a 9-hole course was École Secondaire Catholique De La Verendrye. The school put together a wonderful plan to raise money and put the project in the hands of local disc golf player / supporter / retailer; Alan Tocheri. Baskets went in the ground in 2016 but the course has yet to see an organized event.

Course Notes

The course is always very well taken care of outside of the snowy months. The grass is always well maintained, the teepads get the odd raking and there is very clear signage for every hole. The terrain is really only a challenge in the elevated areas but is otherwise manageable in runners or casual shoes. During the wet months or after a lot of rain, the soccer field tends to get pretty squishy so choose footwear accordingly. There aren’t many parts of the course affected by water so most of the time, it’s fairly dry and playable.

NOTE: There is currently a large generator on the teepad for hole #1, players can tee off wherever they’d like though players have been using the path and gazebo area as an alternate teepad.

For the property being fairly small, the designers have done a terrific job of using the land available to its fullest. The 9-hole course is mostly made up of holes that fall in and around 200ft give or take 20-30ft with the exceptions being up on the soccer field in the form of two longer 300+ft holes. The course features the need for a nice mix of shots / shot shapes and even boasts two holes that feature a pretty good amount of elevation. If no one else is playing the course, some local players will create more holes by mixing up some of the tees / baskets. We recommend switching up all the holes baskets on at least holes #7, #8 and #9.

Our favourite thing about the “De la” or “Lav” course is that it is literally a beginner disc golf wonderland and then some..

Our favourite thing about the “De la” or “Lav” course is that it is literally a beginner disc golf wonderland and then some. In our opinion, there is simply no better place in the entire region for beginners, newer players, seniors and kids to practice the game with confidence and comfort outside of maybe having a private course. There is a soccer field on the same property that is used as the setting for longer holes on the course. Players wanting to do some field practice before / after their rounds have a place to do it right at the course to help with building skills, testing new discs and more. To be able to jump right on the course after a field practice helps to work on new skills while they are fresh.

The additional privacy of not having as many players on the course allows players that might be self conscious about working on skills at the busier and more difficult courses to do so in a slower paced environment. Rounds with no rush, less eyes on and less distractions can often be ideal for skill and confidence building. Several newer players have noted that working on a skill set at “De La” gave them more confidence when tackling the community’s other more difficult courses.

Experienced players will find their own kind of entertainment on the De La course. Intermediate and advanced players can find a lot of things to like about a short course that is perfect for developing a great putt and approach or upshot game. It’s also a good place to learn to drive with mid ranges and putt / approach discs from the teepad. The aforementioned soccer field also plays well as a practice field for more skilled players but maxes out at about 350ft so players with more arm strength should use caution with drivers even on the large field.

The course is set into a really nice neighbourhood in a quiet part of the city. The area however also has a lot of residential street parking which can often be pretty full up as well as a lot of houses within easy range of fairway or distance drivers. For these reasons, we suggest that players be very careful when using their fairway or distance drivers on the De La course if they are not very confident in their control. The sidewalks, basketball court, roads, gazebo area and other areas play as OB so it adds incentive to play with control.

Players looking for a quick and fairly challenging round don’t have many options in the area outside of when Birch Point DGC is in its 1.0 layout. Having a place to play a round in 45mins is quite important to have around the area because life does not always allow for a 1.5-2hr round. On the opposite side of things, the lower local traffic on the course allows for newer and casual players to play long, slow rounds with less stress.

Caution is necessary on the entire course but extreme caution is key on holes #2 and #3 to avoid damage to houses, cars or perhaps like in a real life occurrence; a large expensive lawn gnome (no,, really). Players should note that there are several possibilities for blind shots around the small course, most notably on holes #4, #5 and #6. There can be kids of various ages using the basketball court, riding bikes, people walking dogs so please be mindful. This is not a disc-golf-first facility but in our experiences on the property, the pedestrians and park users are usually fairly welcoming.

Players are reminded that the course is on private property and a school property so to behave and conduct themselves accordingly. The course is open to the public outside of school hours, we do not advise trying to play a round during school hours as the school may ask you to leave. The soccer field is also rented out for league and pick-up soccer games which holes a park permit. Disc golf can be played during soccer games but the holes on the soccer field cannot be used.

Course Preview: Bayview DGC

Established: 2016

Price: Round – $5.00 / Day – $10.00

Teepads: Artificial turf (longs), Grass (shorts)

Baskets: Innova Discatcher Pro-28

Course Designers: Andrew Bopp, Phil Jamieson

Signature Hole(s): #16, #17, #18

Phone: (807) 977-2646 x 21
Fax: (807) 977-1178
Email: sandstonetreasures@gmail.com

Intro

Bayview DGC is a gorgeous 18-hole course located on Bayview Golf Course in Pass Lake Ontario just 20 mins from Thunder Bay. Pass Lake Ontario is packed full of beauty given its close proximity to Sleeping Giant provincial park. Players looking for a top shelf place to camp with decades of great reviews should look into camping at the park for one of the best camping experiences the region has to offer. The very same road that brings players to the course also links players to the park in less than a half hour.

The course went from a thought to a reality in a short period of time in 2016. The want and need for a secondary course in Thunder Bay was growing so local players went out in search of a potential new space. Bayview golf course loved the idea and hosted a temporary basket tournament almost immediately. The course was designed by Birch Point DGC designers; Andrew Bopp and Phil Jamieson with a little help from local players and the baskets were in the ground quickly thanks to very enthusiastic ownership.

Bayview DGC is a gorgeous 18-hole course located on Bayview Golf Course in Pass Lake Ontario just 20 mins from Thunder Bay.

Bayview DGC has played host to several A,B and C-Tier events with many more planned in the future. The course received a bit of a design makeover after its first A-Tier event in 2021. The course will be getting a new course map made during the offseason. In the future there are also possibilities for alternate pin locations being installed. Stay tuned for more details.

Course notes

Instead of a complete hole by hole dissection type preview, where we might go over how we play the course, we would prefer everyone instead play the course and assess things as they go according to their skill set. What we will try to lend instead is a few tips from a collection of local players in various skill ranges for those looking to play Bayview for the first time with a little more comfort.

The terrain at Bayview can be a bit of a challenge so we advise quality hiking or trail running footwear if possible. Golf courses are traditionally known to be pretty easy terrain-wise but while Bayview is one of the nicest properties anywhere to play disc golf on, the terrain provides more of a rural-golf experience for ball golfers. The average round takes nearly two hours so having snacks, water, drinks etc is recommended. The sun can also be an issue with a lot of wide open areas so packing sunblock and a hat is a good idea. There are outhouse style bathrooms at various points in the course and garbage cans on nearly every hole.

Bayview has a tonne of rolling hills throughout the course that can bring the challenge of throwing at elevation into the picture. Nearly every hole has some form of uphill or downhill angle ranging from subtle to more substantial. Hole #18 throws from what is nearly a clifftop, #13 throws down into a gully of sorts and generally, the terrain is always keeping players thinking about their next shot.

If you have never played Bayview DGC before, playing it with a local or group of locals would be ideal for the first couple times out. The course has a course map on their scorecards but there is no hole signage for the disc golf portion of the course. For a local guide, please do not hesitate to contact us at: superiornorthdiscgolf@gmail.com to arrange for a course walkthrough. Please try to contact us at least 24 hours before your round.

Big arms will have plenty of opportunities to seriously air it out while accuracy-focused players can play to their strength on Bayview..

Bayview challenges the long and short games of every player regardless of which set of tees players choose. The course really has no two holes alike, it really forces players to use a wide selection of shots. Big arms will have plenty of opportunities to seriously air it out while accuracy-focused players can play to their strengths through all of Bayview’s tightly wooded areas and well guarded baskets. Professional to beginner, the design is enjoyable from both sets of tees and really allows players with passive or aggressive styles to find enjoyment in the course. Whether you enjoy extremely tight tunnel shots, shots from the top of a cliff or anything in between, Bayview has you covered.

To be very clear, there are two types of rough at Bayview; the fairly standard inner rough and the evil outer rough. The inner rough is the rough inside the course that divides the holes and so on. For the most part, it’s pretty regular stuff that players will find their way in and out of without a ton of stress. The outer rough around the outside of the course however is a different thing altogether. The outer stuff is dense, thick, nasty, thorny, grabby, stabby and basically unplayable and that’s if you find your disc at all. Making a conscious effort to stay inside the course is always a good plan but always be sure to watch every foot of every shot if you end up heading for the infamous outer foliage, it might not be easy to find.

The ball golf situation is really quite pleasant at Bayview on every level. The majority of Bayview’s ball golf membership is made up of seniors that never seem to be bothered by the presence of disc golfers. Every encounter we have had collectively with ball golfers at Bayview has been a great experience. They have a real interest and respect for the sport and always show disc golfers the utmost courtesy on the course. Bayview does mandate that disc golfers yield to ball golfers so be sure to let them play through.

Northern Ontario black flies, mosquitos and other bugs can seriously take at least some of the enjoyment out of a round. We always advise that players playing their rounds on wooded and rural courses ensure that they bring along quality bug spray / bug dope. Spend the money, get the good stuff so you can enjoy your round unbitten and unbothered.