How This Small Southern Town Became a Disc Golf Destination

 By Ashley Locke

Ed Headrick is known as the Father of Disc Golf. He founded the Disc Golf Association in 1976, just one year after he built the first formal disc golf course in Oak Grove Park in Pasadena, California. In the years since, disc golf has continued to grow with courses now located all over the world. But one small town in Tennessee has fallen in love with the sport —and if you visit Morristown, Tennessee, you might fall in love too.

Morristown, located in East Tennessee, is enveloped in natural beauty. The small town sits on Cherokee Lake and is surrounded by scenic Appalachian Mountain views. In other words, it’s the kind of place that makes you want to spend a lot of time outdoors. It’s also the kind of place that has the perfect landscape for a disc golf course… or four.

Known as Tennessee’s Disc Golf Capital™, Morristown has a course for every skill level from beginners to experts. At one point, there was not a course within 50 miles of the town, but professional disc golf course designer HB Clark — along with the mayor and other local officials—helped turn the town into a disc golf haven. They didn’t just invest in building amateur courses, but also championship courses. Because of that, the town is now home to the annual Tennessee State Disc Golf Championships, bringing competitors from 20-plus states to town in early June.

The four courses — Cherokee Park Disc Golf Course, Panther Creek Disc Golf Course, Rotary Disc Golf Course at Frank Lorino Park and Kiwanis Disc Golf Course at Wayne Hansard Park — were all designed by HB Clark. Each one provides a different experience, with different difficulties and terrain. Grab your discs, and let’s explore them all!

Kiwanis Disc Golf Course at Wayne Hansard

This was the course that started it all. It opened in 2007 and remains a favorite to this day. This challenging 18-hole course is heavily wooded, which is part of the difficulty! Don’t worry though. The yellow basket tops make each hole easy to see amongst the trees. The terrain is rocky, and the elevation changes on each hole. A walking path weaves through, so be sure to look for any hikers in the area before you throw. There’s also a map, bathrooms, snack vending machine and a practice tee onsite so that you can warm up before your game.

Panther Creek Disc Golf Course

This championship-level course was designed in compliance with Professional Disc-Golf Association guidelines and opened to the public in 2017. Located inside a state park, this course is not for the faint of heart. You’ll be hiking up a mountain as you play through the holes, so hiking shoes are recommended! It’s Morristown’s most difficult course, featuring elevation and a mix of long, open shots and technically difficult, wooded fairways. You will never get tired of playing this course, even if you might get tired from the hike!

Rotary Disc Golf Course at Frank Lorino Park

Established in 2012, this course is a “choose your own adventure” combination with two courses in one! (Or three, if you decide to play a mixed round.) You can choose to venture down the yellow basket path for a shorter course, or the blue basket path for a longer one. Each one features 18 holes. It offers a mixture of open and wooded holes, which makes it great for beginners who are just getting into the sport. Even so, it’s not too easy for advanced players—there’s still some technical shots that make the course a fun one no matter your skill level!

Cherokee Park Disc Golf Course

Morristown also added this course to its collection in 2012, and it quickly became a staple. You’ll see some beautiful lake views at the Cherokee Park Disc Golf Course. Just like the others, there’s a mix of open and wooded holes, but elevation changes add an extra challenge since you will be throwing both up and down hills. Beware of the drop-offs around a few of the holes—a disc that veers off the path could cost you an extra shot or two! There’s a hole map with distances at each of the 18 holes on the course, so you will always know what to expect coming up.

When you play disc golf in Morristown, you’ll sharpen all your skills. Finesse is just as important as power, and each of the four courses give you an opportunity to practice both. It’s not uncommon to find first-time players wandering the courses alongside disc golf professionals—and that’s exactly what Morristown designed their courses for! Everyone is welcome, and some may discover a new love for the sport, and some may visit to take on a new challenge after years of play. No matter where you are in your disc golf journey, you’ll leave Morristown with a smile.