Course Description: In addition to playing a round of disc golf on a challenging 18 hole course, you are also taking a walk around our property. Owned by our family for 25 years, the property is managed for renewable timber resources, wildlife enhancement, food production and recreation. We hope you enjoy the golf, the walk and the informational notes that accompany each hole. If you have any thoughts, comments or questions about the course or the property, I would be happy to hear them either in person or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hole 1 – Bear Claw Pond (referring to the ponds shape)
Description: The pond you are about to throw over was built about 8 years ago and is managed for wildlife. The pond with its reeds, water lilies, water iris and cattails provide habitat for many species including dragon flies, toads, fish, turtles and frogs. If you are lucky, you will see the Blue Heron, who likes to hunt in the basket area, take flight. Hopefully, the lilies will be blooming and the frogs croaking for you to enjoy.
Hole 2 – Food Forest
Description: As you walk from the tee to the basket, on your left, you will pass our Food Forest. It is planted with a diverse variety of fruits (apple, pear, cherry, peach), nuts(butternut, filbert, pecans), herbs (lavander, mint, basel) and berries (blueberry, gooseberry, buffalo berry, raspberry, currants). There are five swales, which are ditches uphill of mounded dirt. The ditches hold water and gravity feed water to the plants on the mounds. The stack of light colored boxes is a bee hive which will increase pollination, helping to yield a larger harvest, and provide honey.
Hole 3 – Food Forest 2
Description: As you leave the tee, there is a large blueberry bush on your right. Look left for an overview of the Food Forest. The southern pitch of the field works to collect water in the swales, feeds cold air down hill to the big pond, increases sunlight hours on the plants and the horseshoe of trees on three sides of the field helps to hold heat. The trees in this field leaf out two weeks sooner than the trees in the field only 150 yards west of here.
Hole 4 – Old Field Forest Succession
Description: The fairway you are walking down was an agricultural field 80 to 100 years ago. When farming stopped here, the fields began the return to forest starting with brambles, shrubs and ferns. Next, would have been the light loving, short lived pioneer trees like Aspen and Pin Cherry, followed by the longer lived Red Maple and Black Cherry you see now. Next, will come Beech, Yellow Birch, Hickory and Oak. As you walk the woods, you will see a variety of forest succession stages because this is an uneven aged woods.
Hole 5 – The Main Road
Description: This fairway is the first road we built to gain access to the property. The mounds of dirt on the right side, the basket area is one, are the soil that was bulldozed off the road to get to hard pan. A layer of bank run, unsorted, unsifted and unwashed gravel, was put on top to make a good hard road. Just to the right and slightly behind the tee area is our only Oak, a Northern Red Oak.
Hole 6 – Conifer Alley
Description: The fairway you are walking goes through an area that has the largest concentration of Conifers on the property. The predominate species are Austrian Pine on your right and White Spruce on your left. Both of these were planted in rows, crop style, about 60 to 80 years ago. Neither species is really doing very well because of disease and growing conditions. There are White Pine scattered in this area that are indigenous to the northeast and are doing very well.
Hole 7 – Low Land
Description: The tee area is in the lowest part of the property, about 1900 feet above sea level. You may have already encountered some standing water or mud. The property drains from east to west or right to left as you face the next basket, making the western edge of the property wetter, however, there are no “Wet Lands Areas” on the property. If you look over your left shoulder while in the tee box, after leaf drop in the fall, you will see a large decaying willow which is indicative of a wet area and also a corner tree. Historically, large trees that grew in property corners were allowed to grow, naturally marking boundary lines. There are two remaining corner trees on the property. This Willow and a Black Cherry in the north east corner. Note the Wild Apple in the basket area.
Hole 8 – Young Woods
Description: The fairways of the previous and current hole go through the youngest woods on the property, particularly the woods on your right. This area was probably the primary agricultural field 100 years ago and the last to begin old field succession. Most of the trees in this area are Aspen, Red Maple, and Pin Cherry. Some Wild Apple, which are left overs from the shrubby first stage of old field succession, are still visible and some still bear fruit.
Hole 9 – Recreation Area
Description: 25 years ago there were no ponds, fields or roads on this property. Ponds were placed in lower areas to take advantage of natural drainage. Fields were placed in areas where they would become the drainage area for the ponds. This area is our primary recreation area with a pond, open field, pavilion and campfire ring. An interesting note is that 25 years ago, before fields, ponds and roadway openings were made, very few small animals and birds were seen or heard on the property. This was because most animals and birds need open space and forest edges to survive. They use these open areas and edges to hunt, watch for prey and predators, and nest. Now, it is impossible not to hear and see birds, and squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits are often seen.
Hole 10 – Older Woods
Description: The fairways of the next few holes will take you through the property’s older woods. The predominant species are still Red Maple and Black Cherry, but they are larger than in the younger areas on the property. Note the larger Black Cherry in the basket area. You will also see American Beech, Blue Beech, American Hophornbeam and Yellow Birch.
Hole 11 – Snag Trees
Description: Dead trees still standing in the forest are called Snag Trees. There are two in sight but safely to the left of this fairway. Stay away from them. Getting too close to them, especially on windy days, can be dangerous. Why not cut them down? These trees are very valuable to wildlife. The holes are nests, the bugs that eat them are food, and the rotting wood is a great place for beneficial bacteria and fungi to grow. In its final stage of decay, the tree will provide fresh soil and fertilizer for the woods.
Hole 12 – American Beech
Description: The large Beech trees in the basket area, are slowly dying, like most Beech in northeastern woods, from Beech Bark disease. Scale insects bores a hole in the bark, lays eggs, and cover those eggs with a white waxy substance. If you look closely, you can see the white dots, that is the wax. A fungus enters the hole after the Scale insect has hatched and does the killing. Dark spots on the bark on some trees, or a redish brown drainage are signs of disease presence. Some foresters believe some Beech are resistant. Note that not all the large Beech show signs of the fungal disease even if they bear the marks of the Scale insects presence. Other foresters believe these “healthy” Beech just haven’t succumbed to the disease yet.
Hole 13 – Big Tooth Aspen
Description: This is one of my favorite areas on The Land because of the diverse woods, large trees and because I see a lot of animals in this area. I have seen newly born fawns, herds of up to 18 turkeys, owls, fox and squirrels while walking these paths. Note the large Aspen in the basket area. Oyster mushrooms grow well on older Aspen and are prized by foragers but please don’t pick them. Oyster mushrooms are not the only fungi to grow on Aspens. Wild mushroom foraging is extremely dangerous and can be deadly to those who are not experts at fungi identification.
Hole 14 – Hugelkultur
Description: Hugelkultur is a German word meaning hill or mound culture. It describes a method of making raised beds out of decaying wood, covered by leaves, grass, or any compostable material. The end result will be a rich moist bed for growing plants. The brush created by building this course has been piled in various ways throughout the course to see what happens. The piles are most visible on this fairway. Our hope is that they will first become homes for animals like rabbits, then rot into mounds of fertile soil for growing naturally occurring mushrooms and berry bushes or perhaps things we plant, like root vegatables. Time will tell. Right now the logs along this fairway make a nice place to sit.
Hole 15 – Top of the Hill
Description: The tee area of this hole is the highest point on the property. About 2100 feet above sea level. It is also near the northeastern corner. It is mostly downhill from here to 18. Along this fairway, there are a nice mix of ferns and blackberry and huckleberry bushes that love to grow in the semi shade of forest edges. If you know your berries, have a snack, but once again, wild berry picking can be dangerous and even deadly to those who don’t know what they are doing.
Hole 16 – Strange Shapes
Description: As you walk down this fairway look into the woods, mostly on the right hand side, and check out the oddly shaped trees. You may see some that have turned their trunk at right angles. The trees are doing this to find light, openings in the canopy where they can reach for the sun. While water, nutrients, and soil depth and type are important, almost everything that happens in a forest begins with a competition for light.
Hole 17 – A Blast from the Past
Description: As mentioned earlier, until about the 1920’s this property was a small family farm. The families that lived on these small farms usually kept animals and grew crops for personal consumption and sale. The older woods on the property were not plowed and probably were the family’s wood lot where they harvested trees for fuel for heat and cooking and possibly lumber. The areas that were plowed are the areas that are now the younger woods. Just off to the right of the fairway, you can still see wheel ruts in the ground. This was probably a path on which the farmer drove his wagon, or maybe a tractor, to and from the wood lot, out to feed and herd cattle and to tend his crops. Not exactly the Oregon Trail but still pretty cool. It also shows that when we do things to the land, nature does makes repairs but it is a long process.
Hole 18 – The End?
Description: One of the beautiful things about forests in particular and ecosystems in general is that there is no end, change is always occurring. One of the enduring myths of uninformed environmentalism is that if we never cut a tree, build a road or plant a crop nothing will change and our forests, our parks, and our environment will alays be juse how we remember it and lIke it. The truth is that lovely plant that grows in the semi-shade of a young woods will eventually die off when the woods become older and the canopy closes turning semi-shade into darkness. Perhaps, it would be better for us to learn its stages, what the ecosystem can provide and live in a state of cooperation with nature rather than always thinking of preservation or trying to hold onto a current state that is destined to change. That big beautiful tree that you want to keep forever will die. Perhaps, it’s better to harvest it and let the spot it left become home to new trees that will provide a renewable resource. Your disc golf round may be at an end but on this property, on your way home, in your neighborhood park, and all around you everywhere everything is changing because nature never sleeps and never stops. You can’t change the natural progression of nature, certainly you can damage it for a time but whether we survive or not, nature will recover and restore itself, even though it may take years, decades or centuries. So, I think it is better to learn about it and live cooperatively within it, reaping its sustainable bounty and enjoying its beauty.