Maple Hill is an icon of disc golf located in central Massachusetts. It's about an hour's drive west of Boston, or only 15 minutes west of Worcester.
Maple Hill DGC has almost every type of disc golf challenge I can think of. Tight technical fairways that wind through the woods in every conceivable shape? Check. Open top-of-the-world downhill bombs? You bet. Uphill treks to harrowing pin placements? Oh my gosh, yes. Memorable water carries? Holy cow.
The course has five signed layouts of varying difficulty. The Gold layout is meant to challenge the top pros in the world, and this form of the 18-hole course is an 8600' par 59 marathon. Signage indicates that if you were to shoot the Golds even par, you just threw a 1015 rated round. The Diamond (7000') and Blue (6500') layouts are challenging rounds for experienced disc golfers. The White (5500') layout is tough enough for 75% of the clientele that visits the course, or at least that's what a pro shop employee told me. The Red (4200') layout offers a par 3 round that is playable for any recreational DG'er who can throw somewhat straight. As if those five options weren't enough, the pro shop also has official scorecards for other layouts that pick and choose holes from the main layouts (for example, there is an "Old Glory" layout that alternates between using the Red, White, and Blue tees every third hole). I played one round from the Whites and a second round from the Reds, and felt that both were challenging enough for the skill level that I am currently at without being overwhelming.
One of the awesome things about my experience on the course was the wide variety of people I met. A young couple, each of whom appeared to be throwing no more than 150' off the tee (but having a grand time doing it) let me play through early in my round. Soon after, I played a hole with what appeared to be a family of four - two young adult brothers playing the Blues and their parents throwing the Reds. Later, I talked to an older man for several minutes who said he was local and just getting into disc golf. This course is really for everyone.
Maple Hill is an active Christmas tree farm (the course is closed from Thanksgiving until New Year's for this reason). The course plays next to, and occasionally over, two different Christmas tree forests. The ponds, rolling wooded hillsides, and these arrays of spruces together created a beautiful aesthetic that was unlike any other course I have experienced.
Most holes at Maple Hill could be the signature hole at your average course, but just to mention a couple that especially stood out for me:
- #1: Step up to the first tee and you will immediately gain some idea of what this course has to offer. The land slopes gently away in front of you. Spread out below is a large patch of the Christmas trees, and off to the right beyond them is the first of many water hazards you will encounter - a pond maybe 200' across. The basket for the Red and White layouts is off to the left, while the basket for the more difficult layouts is beyond the pond. Regardless of your chosen layout, this first hole is very picturesque and a great introduction to the course.
- #8: A water carry over the edge of a different pond for all layouts except Red, with the carry distance varying depending on the layout. From the Whites, it is about 250'. My throw had enough distance, but it turned over a little more than I intended and landed in the very far edge of the pond, within 1' or so from the shore. I was able to reach in and grab it without getting my feet wet. You don't have to throw over the water if playing the Red layout (that's true throughout the course from the Reds), but on this hole it is still very much in play off to your left.
- #11: From all tees except Red this is a bigger version of hole 1, minus the pond. Have you ever gone Christmas tree shopping, walked to the top of one of the rolling hills, and thought "wow this would be a great place to launch a disc"? This is the hole for you.
- #18: The finishing hole plays up a gentle, lightly wooded slope towards the pro shop and an artificial island green that is mostly defined by a short stone wall. There are a couple of really pesky trees guarding the green that will knock your discs down into OB.
There are lots of other really beautiful and well designed holes here. Every layout except the Reds has at least two water carries, and all layouts have several holes where water is in play next to fairways or behind baskets. There is great variety regardless of layout - not only when it comes to distances, shot shaping, etc. but also in the sense that the course effortlessly flows in and out of the woods, towards and away from the water, and up and down the hills that cover the property.
I haven't even gotten to the infrastructure yet, which is top notch. The baskets are orange MVP Black Hole Portal models that stick out well in the woods. Almost all tee pads are perfectly flat, framed, large arrays of patio pavers. The tee signs have been updated since most of the photos here were taken. They are now printed on metal backing and have all of the info you could want, including a map of the hole that shows all of the different tees and baskets (the QR codes for even more hole info on the tee signs seemed to be out of order, but I attributed this to a recent refresh of the course website). The different layouts are achieved by using multiple tee areas on every hole, and multiple baskets on most of them. All of the tee areas and baskets are marked with large colored flags to match the colors of the different layouts. The "Next Tee" signs are also color coded by layout - and while things will always be a bit confusing with this many layouts present, I thought the directional signage was adequate overall. Benches are installed behind most tees, many painted with the course logo. Trash cans appear alongside bottle/can recycling bins periodically throughout the course.
There is a pro shop on site where you can find a large selection of discs for purchase, a lost disc repository, scorecards for all layouts imaginable, and helpful employees who will happily recommend a layout for you.
Multiple porta potties and practice baskets are available near the parking lot. There are no water bottle fillers, but a pro shop employee told me that both this and indoor bathrooms are planned improvements for 2023.
When I visited, there was even a food truck on site and a small building behind it had several beers on tap. The bison brat was an unexpected lunch treat after my two rounds of disc golf - don't knock it till you try it!