I rank courses subjectively based on my own personal enjoyment factor…maybe more accurately my "personal addiction factor". Since I have played a decent number of courses (350-ish) all over the country, my hope is that players/explorers who have similar tastes will find my ratings list helpful. I fully expect others with different tastes to disagree with me.
I insert new courses into my ranking list based on this question: "If this course and 3 adjacent courses on my ranked list were all 10 miles from my home, would I play this new course more or less often?" I insert the new course in a grouping where all 4 are roughly equal in their ability to draw me back to themselves. I rate all courses from the longest tee pad and basket combination available (unless otherwise noted) and assume ideal conditions if I am playing/evaluating in less than that.
I grade on an 11 point grade scale like in school (A+, A, A-…D+, D…..No D- or F's since any course is better than no course, IMO). The average/center point grade is a B-. This matches up well with the 11 point scale used here. I have one list for courses with 18 or more holes, and one for less than 18.
I base my "personal addiction factor" on how a given course would feed these desires/motivations to play DG. I go out to play with a pretty equal mix of these motivations over the course of a month :
1) To be challenged by the course
2) To have fun with friends
3) To relax and enjoy nature in a beautiful and secluded setting
4) To enjoy a nice birdie fest
These are the elements of courses that I have found to "scratch the itch" of the above motivations that fuel my desire to want to play.....and so this is what I rate courses on (my attempt to be as objective as possible with my personal subjective preferences):
1) Holes with good risk/reward - good throws/decisions are rewarded and poor ones are punished
2) Holes that have rewarding birdie opportunities for me. I am a 950-ish player who throws 300' accurately, 360' max
So, almost all holes shorter than 220 are boring to me (unless really uniquely shaped) as are par 3 holes between 370' and 500' (I can't realistically expect a deuce, a 3 is boring, and a 4 is frustrating)
3) More wooded than open - lots of variety of throws required caused by hole shape and topography
4) Natural beauty (Appalachian beauty preferred) and/or feeling of seclusion
5) Multi-throw holes with defined landing zones - good risk/reward on "I'm going for it" choices and multiple options/decision to play them. Since most courses do not have these types of holes, this is added as an "extra credit" to my rating, not a demerit if not present. To get the full extra 5 points in this category, it must be a par 70+ course with great multi-throw holes.
For an example of disc golf Nirvana, check out the pictures of holes 2-8 of FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights, NY. http://www.dgcoursereview.com...=media[/link]
There is 1 true par 4, and if there was 1 more par 4 and a par 5 it would be impossible to be any better.
I personally know how much goes into designing, building and maintaining a course. Hopefully on the courses I rate on the low end it is known that I still have great appreciation for what went into getting the course in the ground - Thank You!