Safety on a disc golf course is something most players usually don’t think about.
Until a disc skims right behind their ear and just misses their head. Then they realize just how important it is for a course to be designed with safety in mind. The most successful courses keep players and non-players alike safe without sacrificing form or function.
2010 PDGA World Champion Eric McCabe has seen it all throughout his career as a professional disc golfer and disc golf course designer. He’s witnessed the good, the bad and the downright dangerous. McCabe’s experiences have shown him the importance of considering safety aspects when designing a new course. Courses designed by Dynamic Course Design always utilize an existing property to its fullest potential, resulting in a course that is challenging, aesthetically pleasing and, above all, safe and fun.
For McCabe, safety must always be the priority.
“For me and my designs, safety comes absolutely first,” McCabe said. “I’m not talking just about non-disc golfers, but the players as well. Too many times have I seen baskets far too close to tee pads. This has to change.”
One of the major safety risks McCabe must factor in when designing a new course is the presence of the non-disc golfers. Many times, disc golf courses are integrated into existing parks, bringing the sport within throwing distance of children, joggers and other pedestrians. These people often have no knowledge of disc golf and can put themselves in harm’s way without even realizing it.
Through design choices such as visual cues, and by allowing clear separation between courses and public areas, McCabe aims to reduce tension between disc golfers and normal park goers.
“90 percent of the time we’re invading their space and they don’t want us there,” McCabe said. “I will try to steer clear of any of these problem areas. The last thing we need in disc golf is someone who doesn’t want us there having a reason to get rid of us.
“We need to educate these particular people. I recommend installing signs to inform people of the course. You have to consider staying away from high traffic areas like sidewalks, parking lots, pavilions and picnic tables to name a few.”
Another of the most potentially dangerous aspects to course design is improperly dealing with an overall lack of space. Cramming holes too close together can create a dangerous scenario for players on neighboring holes. McCabe takes a methodical, back-to-basics approach when considering player safety in his designs. Knowledge of the property is essential.
“It can be tough at times if the property isn’t large enough to acquire a championship course,” McCabe said. “For the most part, I just take my time and make sure I know the piece of land I’m working with and cover all potential problem areas. Safety for the player is pretty basic and common sense if you’re putting your all in the design.”
Even after considering the safety of any non-players, and assuring an appropriate flow of traffic to avoid dangerous situations between disc golfers, McCabe’s work has still just begun. Blind shots must be accounted for, room for tournament spectators must be allowed and countless other calculations are required to truly yield a safe and enjoyable result. Designing is a fluid process, and safety must be considered during every step along the way to the final product.
No matter how many courses he does, McCabe will always consider safety first.
by Blake Bacho
Feature photo attribute Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com