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Old 10-11-2019, 07:28 PM
Adrenaline302 Adrenaline302 is offline
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Default Advice on Private Course Development

My friend owns 76 acres in Michigan and is curious about creating a private disc golf course. She doesn’t know much about disc golf but likes the revenue generation idea.

That said what do u think is a fair price to charge for a private 18 per person? And what amenities do u think should be available?

Also it’s mostly farmland so any thoughts on how manicured it should be?
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Old 10-11-2019, 07:40 PM
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jeverett jeverett is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrenaline302 View Post
My friend owns 76 acres in Michigan and is curious about creating a private disc golf course. She doesn’t know much about disc golf but likes the revenue generation idea.

That said what do u think is a fair price to charge for a private 18 per person? And what amenities do u think should be available?

Also it’s mostly farmland so any thoughts on how manicured it should be?
I suspect the biggest consideration will be around liability insurance. If the course is really about revenue generation, and not simply "invite some people over to play once in a while, and charge a few dollars each", it's going to need some form of liability insurance. From what we've seen locally, that aspect tends to make disc golf-only venues cost-prohibitive on their own, and requires other amenities/activities on-site (to attract other kinds of revenue).


Last edited by jeverett; 10-11-2019 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 07:46 PM
curmudgeonDwindle curmudgeonDwindle is offline
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You and your friend already seem to be starting out correctly - relieving your ignorance and doing research on the subject. It would probably be the best option to spend time reviewing/visiting as many courses as possible, asking lots of questions and the like. Taking this step would be best prior to developing 'plans', as digestion of this important information will help immeasurably in crystallizing the 'vision' and avoiding costly pitfalls. The other option would be to hire a seasoned veteran to develop the property - payment would be the trade for his experience and insight.

At present, it would be fair to say that most current private ventures fall into the 'hobby' category, knowing this at the outset will help set your expectations appropriately. Maintenance considerations are a bit ahead of the curve at this point...

Getting an accurate and recent land survey of the property in question would be a step the owner might take immediately without erring drastically.

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Old 10-11-2019, 07:53 PM
Adrenaline302 Adrenaline302 is offline
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I kinda figured liability insurance might be an issue. But I do see a number of private courses - flip city comes to mind.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:29 PM
JC17393 JC17393 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrenaline302 View Post
My friend owns 76 acres in Michigan and is curious about creating a private disc golf course. She doesn’t know much about disc golf but likes the revenue generation idea.

That said what do u think is a fair price to charge for a private 18 per person? And what amenities do u think should be available?

Also it’s mostly farmland so any thoughts on how manicured it should be?
If she doesn't know much about disc golf, I think the first thing she needs to consider is how much effort she expects to put into the course. It isn't as simple as putting 18 tees and 18 baskets out on the property and calling it good. There is a ton of maintenance required to keep things at a stage where people will want to come back and play again and again. At least that's what she needs to do if she wants to truly generate revenue from the place.

If it's mostly farmland, I'm assuming that means mostly grassy fields? If so, keeping it well mowed is imperative. By that I mean not letting the grass in the fairways get more than 3-4 inches tall and the rough not that much taller. No one is going to like searching for discs in grass that's over their shins, let alone knee high or worse.

Just as a frame of reference, I've got about 15 acres worth of mowing to do on my course and it takes me roughly 14-15 hours to do it all, and I'm doing that every other week through most of the spring/summer/fall seasons. That doesn't include the areas that I have to cut with a string trimmer (wooded fairways, hills, touch up around baskets, tees, and ponds, etc) or other maintenance like trimming back tree and bush growth, erosion control projects, etc. I'd estimate there's a minimum of 20 hours a week of work on the course to keep it in peak playing condition.

As for amenities, again it depends on what sort of effort she wants to put in. Does she want to operate a pro shop selling discs, drinks, snacks, etc (as well as collect playing fees)? Because if she wants to generate revenue to the point of self-sustaining, that will probably be necessary.

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Old 10-11-2019, 09:30 PM
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InnocentCrook InnocentCrook is offline
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All the info posted here thus far is good stuff.

If the course will be utilizing areas she already maintains, that would be ideal. If you'll be carving new fairways through untouched/unmaintained woodland then you'll be adding a boatload of maintenance.

My course covers about 25-30 acres. I have roughly 6-7 acres of finish mowing which I cut on average every other week.(more in the spring, less in the late summer and fall) This takes me 4 hours with a 60" commercial zero turn. I mow an additional 2-3 acres with a subcompact tractor and 4' bush-hog 2 or 3 times a year which takes about 1 he/acre. I couldn't even begin to count the man hours of trimming and brushcutter work my friends and I do around the edges and in the wooded areas. 100+ hours per season most likely. All that said, I still can't keep up enough to keep the course "open" from mid-June to mid-Sept. It's far too much to keep up with as a mostly one man show.(my bro in law and a good friend help at least 4-6 hours one day each month)

I asked my insurance guy what liability would cost should I decide to charge people to play my course. I currently accept donations as KY is very friendly to landowners who freely open up their property for recreation (I assume hunting was the main idea with the law). His ballpark was $500/year and if I remember that was $1mil of coverage.

I've played quite a few private courses. Most seem to charge around $5-10/day. If you're not in an area that's a hotbed for disc golf it's gonna be tough. If you're close, say an hour-ish drive from one of those spots, you'd probably need accomodations of some sort. Camping, cabins, etc. As others mentioned a proshop with snacks, drinks, discs, and assorted gear would be ideal.

I can't imagine diving into something like this unless it's something you're passionate about already.

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Old 10-11-2019, 10:02 PM
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BogeyNoMore BogeyNoMore is offline
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As a travelling player here at my thoughts.

$5 - $10 a day seems fair. More than that might keep quite a few players away. At that price, it's still gotta be a good course. Good shot variety, natural beauty as a setting, and some terrain changes are basically the begging.

I think it's a good idea to at least enlist the help of a legitimate, experienced course designer if you want to end up with a quality product.

A good map and/or decent navigational signage are expected by visiting players paying to play.

Other than a decent bathroom, I'm not personally interested in any other amenities. I really don't care about pro shops, club house, bars, etc.

I've never run or operated a course, but I've played quite a few. I wouldn't say a course can't be a money making enterprise, but I'm pretty sure profitable courses are the exception rather than the rule. Most of the private courses I've played are more labors of love, than money makers... Flip City being a prime example.

If you can get a local league playing there regularly, and a few decent tournaments, it could help keep the ledger in the black.

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Last edited by BogeyNoMore; 10-11-2019 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:15 PM
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markmcc markmcc is offline
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I just completed my second summer in Maine where pay-to-play is the default. Most courses there are charging around $6 per round (seemed like it was $5 last summer), and generally offer "all day unlimited play" for just a few bucks more. A couple of the more established courses have pushed their prices a bit higher, with Sabattus Disc Golf Complex leading the charge at $7 for a single round on weekdays and $8 on weekends. All-day unlimited was $11 and $12 for those same days. With 3 excellent 18 hole courses and a more beginner friendly 9-hole course this is a true DG complex and worth every penny.

For those prices I generally played very well built, very well maintained courses, with many of them also offering excellent clubhouses/stores with merchandise, drinks, snacks. etc. The less formal, more casual P2P courses were generally $5 per day.

In Maine everything is pay to play, and I was surprised to encounter a couple of really lousy courses that still charged $5 because that was the going price. And they weren't getting much, if any, play. In that market you're expected to offer a well put together, well maintained course.

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Old 10-11-2019, 11:09 PM
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Location is one of the biggest factors for course success. You definitely need to be a half hour or less from established disc golf areas with courses. Takes longer to get people into disc golf in rural areas and also way less people out here in the sticks. Trust me

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Old 10-12-2019, 08:01 AM
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DavidSauls DavidSauls is online now
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If she's considering it for the revenue generation, she should probably stop now.

Unless the stars have aligned and, as others have said, she's (1) close to an urban center with lots of disc golfers, (2) without competition from good free courses, and (3) using land that's already maintained, so there are no ongoing costs. Even with all that, it's iffy.

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