John's Current Disc Golf Course Design Projects
Ongoing Designs and Notes
The Hobbs Farm Property, Carrollton, Georgia
We are very excited to announce the first municipal HouckDesign course in the great disc golf state of Georgia. Carrollton is a growing community of almost 50,000 and is home to the University of West Georgia. It's about 45 miles west of Atlanta and already has a great disc golf scene. It was January of 2013 when two long-time disc players, Eric Heine and David Goldberg, first contacted HouckDesign about bringing world class disc golf to Carrollton. Through their great dedication, Heine and Goldberg got the city excited about disc golf and began securing sponsorships to make it happen. Design work started in March of 2014, with an anticipated opening later in 2014.
The Hobbs Farm Property (which will eventually have a new name to go with its status as an official city park) covers about 200 acres on the Little Tallapoosa River, and it features thousands of mature trees and some substantial elevation changes. John says, "It didn't take long to see the tremendous potential of this property. It has everything we would want for a championships course, and I have complete confidence that we'll be able to create something that players from all over the country will want to visit. Georgia is a national leader in the disc golf world, and this course will be a great addition to its tournament and vacation venues."
photo by Eric Heine
John already has the #1-rated course in the state -- the W.R. Jackson Memorial at the International Disc Golf Center -- but this will be his first course in a Georgia city park. "This state has such a rich history of disc golf, starting with being the home of the PDGA, the home of the legendary Flyboy Aviation course, host of World Championships -- and World Champions -- and on and on. These days, it seems like new courses are popping up all over the place -- Georgia will probably pass the 100-course mark in the next couple years. So I'm really excited about working there again, and about working on this particular property."
The Carrollton Disc Golf Club (https://www.facebook.com/groups/574231702650471/#!/groups/HyzerHeine/)
continues to seek sponsors for this project. For more information, contact Eric Heine at email@example.com
Lake Abilene, Abilene, Texas
In November of 2013, we finally got the green light to bring a world class HouckDesign course to the thriving disc golf city of Abilene. The design phase began In February 2014.
It's been over five years since the Rotary Club and the Abilene Disc Golf Association first approached John about bringing championships disc golf to the area. In that time, both organizations have worked hard to raise money and to find the perfect location for this project. Lake Abilene is a gorgeous site with tremendous potential. When the City gave control of the area to Texas Parks and Wildlife, it essentially became part of Abilene State Park, which means that it will now become the first championship disc golf course in a Texas state park. The state park offers camping and lodging so that traveling players will be able to stay on site.
John says that he "immediately fell in love with this property. To be honest, after five years of looking at a variety of sites in the area, I think we were all getting a little discouraged. But when I first saw the lake property, I felt like we had finally found a home. Dee and I can't say enough about the dedication of the Rotary and the ADGA, and we are so grateful for the faith they put in HouckDesign and the heart they've put into this project. In particular, we really want to thank and recognize Erik Johnson and Jerry Kingston for their vision and for refusing to ever give up on that vision."
In addition to the lake itself, the property features mature hardwoods and several interesting terrain features. "I've said all along that this course can be in the Top Ten in Texas," John says. "It's got so much to offer, and it's going to be a great place to visit and to host tournaments. I'm also excited about working with the state on this one. We've met with more than half a dozen people from TP&W already, and they've all been great. Bringing disc golf to a state facility will be a new venture for all of us, and I'm looking forward to learning the process and to making disc golf a valuable addition to their wonderful facility.
The Rotary Club, the ADGA, and HouckDesign are still working for complete funding for this course. Anyone interested in contributing should contact Erik Johnson with the Rotary Club at (325) 439-0186 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about disc golf in the Abilene area, visit http://www.abilenediscgolf.net/
Tall Firs Disc Golf Course, Monroe, Washington
Update: Almost a hundred trees got planted this spring, and plans for a grand opening continue to move ahead. (updated 5/26/14)
In early August of 2013, John completed the initial phase of the first HouckDesign course in Washington state. The new Tall Firs Disc Golf Course in Monroe, about half an hour northwest of Seattle, is a former executive ball golf course that features beautiful mountain views on three sides. The property also features huge fir trees, a pair of side-by-side ponds, and moderate elevation that's accented by more than a dozen bunkers left over from the golf days. The old clubhouse is getting a facelift, and will serve as a community meeting place and pro shop. The course is privately owned and will be run as a pay-to-play operation.
"This was a wonderful property to work on," John recalls. "There seems to be a wave of former golf courses being converted to disc golf, and that kind of venue creates a whole new set of design opportunities. I was especially excited about being able to incorporate the old bunkers; I was able to use several of them on the new greens, and several others are now waiting to welcome errant drives. The idea is to clean out any remaining sand and to develop the grass that's already growing in most of them. They're really going to add a lot to the playing experience."
"There are several holes that I love on this course, but my favorite is the par five #13. Actually, it's now one of my all-time favorite par fives. The trees lay out great to provide multiple strategic options off the tee, and the second shot is a huge sweeping turnover down by the pond. Then back a little uphill to a green made from an old elevated tee box. With the one section of thick trees, we were able to create four tighter holes, and I'm crazy about hole #10. Tight and downhill with two potential routes to a pin that sits on a major downslope. Very tricky, and very fun. As anyone might expect of a former golf course, there are open areas, so we're addressing that with strategic tree planting. When it's done, the course is going to have a superb mix of shots."
Pictures are up at:
Tall Firs photo album on Facebook
More about the course at: https://www.facebook.com/tallfirsdiscgolf?ref=br_tf
Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville, New York
Update: The first 8 holes could be finished in June of 2014; work continues on the rest of the course. (updated 5/26/14)
In April of 2013, John started work on a landmark project at the biggest YMCA camp in the country. The course, funded with a grant from CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, will feature a unique layout designed to accommodate players of virtually any ability, from children with disabilities to lifelong disc golfers. The course will open in stages. The most kid-friendly section opened in time for summer camp in June of 2013, and more is expected later in 2014. With over 5,000 acres in the Catskill Mountains, meeting facilities and lodging on site, and the very latest HouckDesign innovations, Frost Valley will soon be one of the country's next great disc golf destinations. It's in Claryville, New York, about two hours north of New York City.
John is very enthusiastic about this project: "The place and the people are just incredible here. I'm not even sure what words I can use to describe the property, other than 'spectacular.' The hills, the trees, the creek, the mountain views, the natural landing areas, the giant rocks... players will really have to see it to believe it. When it came to the design, the hardest part was probably deciding which areas to incorporate, because choosing one section inevitably meant eliminating another, and every part of the property is gorgeous. There are a few areas, of course, that were irresistible, and I'm sure players will recognize them right away.
"Working on this property is a great experience. I've been able to create a few holes that had been in my head for a while, and some features of the landscape inspired new ideas. I can't wait to see and share the finished product. Dee and I are also excited about being part of the great programming here at Frost Valley, and the opportunity to bring disc golf to thousands of kids of all ages and abilities. This is such a special place."
Tom Holsapple, Director of Operations for the camp, expressed his excitement about the project, also. "We are big believers in disc golf, and can't wait for our campers with disabilities to be able to try it. Of course, we think all our campers, conferees, staff, and visitors will soon be hooked on disc golf. Finally, we're looking forward to having disc golf enthusiasts from all over the country here to see what Frost Valley is all about."
Live Oak, Texas Championship Disc Golf Complex
Update: Progress on the North and South courses has been stalled, but construction should resume in the summer of 2014. Design of the East course is currently on hold, but we hope to resume that process this summer as well. (updated 5/26/14)
The City of Live Oak has long been a leader in the Texas disc golf community. Now they've called upon HouckDesign to move them in the top tier of the nation's disc golf cities. John is currently creating a three-course facility that will allow Live Oak to host major national events and serve the growing disc golf community in the San Antonio area. The project is supported by the City of Live Oak, The Economic Development Corporation, Northeast Lakeview College, the Live Oak Disc Golf Alliance, and a number of generous local sponsors.
Using the techniques he has pioneered over the last ten years - - and with a few new tricks up his sleeve -- John is completely transforming the existing 30+ holes into two separate 18-hole championship courses. The majority of the all-new East Course will sit on the campus of Northeast Lakeview College, connecting the park and the college, so players will soon have three amazing courses side-by-side-by side.
John says, "The state of the art in course design has changed so much since we installed the first holes here ten years ago . . . I'm really excited about a facelift that will put Live Oak back on the cutting edge. The support from the community is amazing, and we're going to be doing a few things here that people have never seen before. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the one person who has made it all possible: Joe Painter. The guy's incredible."
Creating new fairways began in February, and the design and construction phases will continue through the spring of 2012. Heard the rumors about a fourth course? Stay tuned.
The new hole #1 on the North Course starts things off with a unique landing area created on the hillside.
Hole #18 on the North Course will be a memorable and innovative finishing hole. 300 feet uphill to a wall-lined landing area (shown under construction) will leave you with a breathtaking 300-foot drop to the pin.
John's new design will bring the lake into play in a whole new way. Hole #8 on the South Course, one of several signature holes, is featured in the PDGA's Disc Golfer magazine.
International Disc Golf Center - Augusta, Georgia
John will return to the IDGC in spring of 2014 to continue the next phase of course improvements.
Recently Completed Projects
Trey Texas Ranch, Mount Vernon, Texas
Update: Both courses are now open and will be featured as part of the PDGA Amateur World Championships and Texas Team Championships. (updated 2/6/14)
In July of 2013, John started design on two new championship courses in Franklin County, Texas. Though it's one of the smallest counties in Texas, Franklin County is about to become one of the biggest disc golf destinations in the world. The Trey Texas Ranch, just south of Mount Vernon, is about 20 minutes from Selah Ranch, site of the top two rated courses in disc golf.
Trey, Texas (don't look for it on any map) is the home of domino champion Trey Newsome and his Trey Deuce Saloon, where friendly folks get together every Friday night to play 42 with the local legend. Soon they'll be able to play disc golf, too, on the Trey Deuce Disc Golf Course. Just across the road will be the Texas Twist DGC, which sits on land owned by Trey's parents, Diane and Waymon Newsom.
Players at the 2013 PDGA Amateur World Doubles Championships may remember Diane, who runs the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. The two new courses are part of Diane's commitment to bring more world class disc golf tournaments to the area. "Disc golf is here," says Diane, "and we couldn't be more excited about having people come out and enjoy our courses." Both courses are scheduled to open in time for the 2013 Texas Team Championships in November.
John is also enthusiastic about the potential of this venue. "Both sides of the property have a real mix of open and woods, good elevation, one pond, and extensive creek frontage, so I'm looking forward to testing every part of a player's game. And I love the fact that the two sides have clearly different character, which will result in two clearly different courses. Even beyond that, Diane, Trey, and Waymon are going to add a unique Texas flavor to the look and feel of both courses, and I think players will be glad they made the trip here, no matter where they're coming from."
"It's always a blessing when the owners are committed to making the best courses possible, and the Newsoms have given the green light to every concept I've suggested, from building a bridge across the creek to transplanting trees from one side to the other. I'm excited about the variety on these courses: each one is going to have a great mix."
The Trey Deuce course has a par of 64 and features the par 5 10th hole, which runs along the creek. Another signature hole is #18, which covers both sides of a seasonal tributary and plays uphill through the biggest oaks and elms on the property. The green sits just beyond a deep ravine and will no doubt be a make-or-break finishing hole for players looking to win a tournament here. The Texas Twist course is a par 68 with three par fives and ranges from extra wide to very tight. "Two of my favorites are the par four #3 on the pond, and #14 -- also a par four -- that features the 'giant snake tree.' That back park of the course is just gorgeous. There will be several opportunities to go 'boom' on this course, but players will also have to know when to dial it back – there's lots of woods and lots of creek to keep them honest."
After hosting Texas Teams this fall, these two new Houck masterpieces will start gearing up for the biggest ever Amateur World Doubles in April of 2014. With the two courses at Selah, the PDGA Major will also feature four championship courses and will have about double the traditional field size. And anyone looking for a great place for a disc golf vacation need look no further than Franklin County.
We have photos of the course at
Trey Deuce Ranch photo album on Facebook
And there's a Trey Deuce course page at
Trey Deuce Course on Facebook
McCord Park, Little Elm, Texas
Update: The course is now open for play. Construction continues on holes #4, #5, and #15, where drainage continues to be an issue. (updated 2/6/14)
The 18-hole course, with par of 61, features mature trees, a winding creek throughout, and a few key holes with substantial elevation in play. There will be two sets of concrete tees, so experienced and new players will all be able to enjoy the course from Day One.
John says that "There were three things that made this design especially tricky: the linear nature of the property, the fact that the paved trail had already been installed, and the proximity of the new apartments that overlook the course.
Keeping players and other park users safe was our top priority, so getting the routing right was the first key to success. The second key was being able to plant trees to focus shots and protect sensitive areas. The developer, Western Rim, and the City were both committed to making the best course possible. Everyone was great to work with, and they understood why the course needed about 40 trees. They did not hesitate to act on our recommendations, and the final layout exceeded all my hopes."
As with any HouckDesign course, players can expect to see a wide variety of shots and several unique features. "This property really had a lot to offer," John says. "There are some holes unlike any I've ever seen. I loved the row of leaning trees that became Hole #5 (now dubbed the "Cadillac Ranch Hole,"), and the drive on Hole #18 is just gorgeous -- it's downhill to a landing area that sits just above a bend in the creek. I really liked #1 a lot, too, with a choice of tricky drives and a basket framed by two trees that look like giant deer antlers. Overall, it's got a great mix of shots, and it's a beautiful park for disc golf."
Players who want to be near DFW's latest and greatest course can actually live right on the property. The Mansions By the Lake apartments (http://www.mansionsbythelake.com/), overlooking holes #13-18 and #1, are already open. The Towers of the Park, coming soon, will overlook the entire property from just above Hole #9 and Hole #10.
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Update: The course is now completed and open for play. (updated 2/6/14)
In July of 2012, John began the design process on the new championship course in beautiful Rock Ridge Park. The park is wooded and moderately hilly, and the project has tremendous support from the town and the community. The course is looking to be about a par 65, with a great mix of shots and at least one signature par five. It will feature two sets of tees to accommodate everyone from beginners to pros.
With a population of about 4,000, Pittsboro will be one of the smallest towns in the country to have a championship disc golf course, and it will also have the first HouckDesign course in North Carolina. The town's funding for the project will be augmented by local, national, and regional sponsors, and already more than two dozen disc golfers from outside Pittsboro -- Raleigh, Sanford, and Chapel Hill, and more -- have stepped up to help with the clearing, which began as soon as John started marking fairways.
John says: "Rock Ridge Park is a perfect venue for a world class disc golf course. It has several species of mature hardwoods, elevation changes on virtually every hole, and some great terrain features, especially the rock outcroppings on the east side. As always, I'm hoping to create a course that will provide players with opportunities they don't always see on wooded
courses: sweeping curves as well as steeper angles, multiple lines off the tee, multiple options from the fairway, large landing areas that reward a variety of shots in different ways, several different fairways widths, and 'sand trap' areas that will encourage great recovery shots. Parks Planner Paul Horne had a tremendous commitment to bringing disc golf to town, and his dedication to excellence is making it possible for me to do things that aren't even conceivable in similar venues.
"Dee and I met with Mayor Randy Voller, who expressed his appreciation and support of the project and the potential economic impact it will have on the town for years to come, and he recognizes that the course provides the community an additional outdoor recreational activity for residents of all ages. Of course, none of it would be possible without the amazing army of local volunteers, led by Jeff Baldwin. Or the regional volunteers, whom Chuck Connelly has been helping to organize.
"Part of the town's mission was for the course to have the same sustainability that the town has in its trail system. So the design process requires careful and more subtle use of the park's topography. Players should know now not to expect a bunch of shots that play straight uphill or straight downhill. My strategy is to use more side slopes to emphasize shot placement, and to use a couple steeper areas to add risk to approach shots and greens. I'm very pleased with the way the design is developing."
Anyone who wants to receive updates on the course can get them from the parks department at http://eepurl.com/obJXn
We have updates and pictures on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HouckDesign
And there is more information at the Parks Blog: http://pboparks.blogspot.com/2012_07_01_archive.html
Pittsboro Disc Golf: www.facebook.com/pages/Pittsboro-Disc-Golf/402606783131689
Rock Ridge Park Disc Golf Course: www.facebook.com/pages/Rock-Ridge-Park-Disc-Golf-Course-Pittsboro-NC/113732922107550
Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
Update: The Grand Opening tournament in July was a huge success and sold out in two days. (updated 8/28/13)
In 2011, John finished the preliminary design of a world-class 18-hole course for the newly formed Nantucket Disc Golf Club. The course has been gone through various levels of the approval process, impressing state and local officials along the way. The first eight holes have now been installed, and the local community is already becoming hooked on disc golf.
Find more information and photos at www.nantucketdiscgolf.org and www.facebook.com/pages/Nantucket-Disc-Golf/128349607266
Selah Ranch - Mt. Vernon, Texas
John has completed the design process on one of HouckDesign's most exciting projects yet. Selah Ranch, near Mt. Vernon, Texas, opened in October of 2011, and it as already one of the top destinations in the disc golf world.
John says "This may well be the most beautiful disc golf property in Texas. It has multiple lakes and ponds, huge beautiful hardwoods, rolling terrain, and a seasonal creek. On top of all that, it has great accommodations on site, making it the perfect spot for a true disc golf getaway. It's really unlike anything I've seen in our sport, and I absolutely expect it to be the highest-rated venue in Texas."
Selah Ranch has two beautiful championship 18-hole courses, each with two sets of concrete tees and Platinum HouckDesign signs.
The raves from players have been unprecedented:
"WOW! I'm not really sure where to begin. This was one of the best disc golf experiences I've ever been on. The ranch itself was beyond anything I could have expected... FIVE STARS!!" - - Mike Brown
"It did live up to the hype. 2 amazing courses . . . They where the 2 nicest courses I have ever played. Definitely worth the trip." -- Drew Duffer
The testimonials below are from www.DGCourseReview.com. What players are saying about these courses...
"The 16th, 17th, and 18th are possibly the most fun finish in disc golf... Houck has truly outdone himself with these two gems."
"This place is amazing!!!! Every hole, yes all 36, are the most incredible use of land, water and some elevation that I have ever played disc golf on . . . Hats off to Mr. Houck this was an Amazing Disc Experience!!!!"
"Greatness again! Hole 18 from the blue tee is probably my favorite finishing holes EVER!"
"WOW. Played Creekside first and thoroughly enjoyed every single hole. After my first round I came back to the parking lot where a group of 6 was hanging out, so I talked with them for a while and they invited me to join up to play Lakeside. WOW. I didn't think it could get any better than Creekside, but Lakeside was simply astonishing!!! EVERY single hole was brilliant!!! . . . I really don't know if I will ever top Selah in the rest of my life! It was truly amazing. I will definitely go again before I head back North."
"The only way I could compare this to any other experience is comparing it to
the night before I got to play Colonial (ball golf course) in Ft. Worth. I couldn't sleep the night before in anticipation for my experience!! It was everything I thought it would be and WAY more . . . #7 on the Lakes course, is definitely the greatest disc hole I have ever played!! . . . I am going to go back as much as I can."
For more information, check out www.Selahranch.com and see over 1,000 photos at www.facebook.com/pages/Disc-Golf-Opening-at-Selah-Ranch/194670887252772?sk=wall
Hillcrest Farm - Prince Edward Island, Canada
Hillcrest Farm, just outside Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island, is an ideal property for disc golf. With beautiful spruce trees, birch trees, and other hardwoods, great topography, and a winding stream, Hillcrest Farm will give disc golfers superb variety, ample challenge, and great scenery. Working closely with owners Bill and Mary Best, John had a simple goal: to make the premier championship course in Canada while also catering to new players in the region. John made his fourth and final trip to the property in the summer of 2011. He completed the design, refined recently-cleared holes, and "polished" the remaining fairways so that they'll be ready for the opening, projected now for spring of 2012.
Learn more about this amazing course at http://hillcrestfarmpei.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hillcrestfarmdiscgolf
Raul Alvarez Disc Golf Complex - Austin, Texas - DELAYED
This landmark project by the City of Austin will feature two championship 18-hole courses on a spectacular property bordering Little Walnut Creek. This facility, designed to include a permanent pro shop, will be a breakthrough in municipal managed play of disc golf. Opening date uncertain.
Trinity University - San Antonio, TX
This spring John designed a beautiful 6-hole course on the campus of Trinity University in San Antonio. Using the available elevation and the property's unique mix of hardwoods, the course features two par 4 holes (#1 and #5), a memorable downhill par 3 (#3), and a nice mix of more "technical" holes.
John's review, in part, concludes that "if this property were three times the size, it just might be the prettiest course in Texas - - what a great place for disc golf. I hope the Trinity students enjoy the course . . . after they're done studying every day."
The MetCenter - Austin, TX
John has just completed designing an 18 hole recreational/championship course at "Austin's premier 550-acre mixed-use business park." The course sits on about 20 acres that includes several wooded areas, a seasonal creek, and a pond. The course is open for play.
"We are extremely excited to have a firm of the caliber of Houck Design create a disc golf course for the Met Center development, as well as to be the first business park in the world with a disc golf course as an amenity. Hopefully we will be trendsetters that will bring a higher level of coolness to business parks everywhere." Howard Yancy, President of Zydeco Development (more reviews)
Marble Falls, Texas
John designed a 9-hole course in beautiful Westside Park. The course features huge mature trees, great terrain features, and a creek that runs through many of the holes. The city is working on acquiring additional land to expand the course. When it is all completed Marble Falls course will be a real jewel of Texas disc golf.
Austin Ridge Bible Church - Austin, Texas
This remarkable church has decided to open its land to the community, and disc golf will be one of several amenities they're offering. John was happy to volunteer in his hometown and design this popular and amazing 18-hole course that features major elevation, including some tremendous hill country views. This course is a landmark project, as a leading example of how disc golf has grown beyond city, county, and state parks.
Ongoing Designs and Notes: Selah Ranch Lakeside & Creekside are now ranked and reviewed as the top two courses in the world by players out of over 5,200 courses worldwide. Come on out and play on these courses and enjoy some world-class disc golf! See review details at: DGCR