Californians may debate about whether the state is better divided into halves or thirds, but most agree that these five disc golf courses are worth the trip. You can choose to spend an entire day disc golfing in the mountains, overlooking a lake, or at a local park while rarely being too far from a beach. Add these courses to your playlist the next time you are in Southern California.
La Mirada – La Mirada, CA
Holes: 18 x 2
DGCR Rating: 3.86 (avg.)
Signature Tournament: West Coast Amateur Championship
The legendary La Mirada is everything you imagine when you think about disc golf in paradise: mild temperatures, a cool breeze, and plenty of palm trees.
La Mirada's two 18-hole courses, the Lakeside and Backside, are situated on rolling hills of manicured green grass leading many to refer to it as “the Jewel of Southern California.”
"LaMi", as many locals call it, is fair and forgiving with a mix of open and lightly wooded fairways. A good roller game will go a long way to get you through the sycamore and pine trees, but losing control could leave you in the lake, the street, or the parking lot.
The 520 foot Hole 4 on the Backside is one of the highlights. It’s the only par 4 at La Mirada and the best drives require throwing over the out of bounds area to a green on a small island. Laying up to a safe space isn’t always easy either. When there’s a headwind, errant drives could leave you too far away for your approach or OB. Short approach shots and shanked putts could turn your birdie or par into a snowman—a 10 during a tournament is not uncommon.
For an added challenge, play both sides as a single 18-hole, par 68 course known as the Golden State Layout. Pick up new discs in the pro shop or visit the largest disc golf retailer in the area, Discovering the World, in nearby Buena Park.
La Mirada is 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles and less than 15 miles away from three other quality courses. (Pro tip: complete the trifecta with a post-round meal at Portillo’s.)
Waller Pines – Santa Maria, CA
DGCR Rating: 4.01
Signature Tournament: Santa Maria Open
Located in Waller Park, Waller Pines Disc Golf Course has 27 holes, most with four or five pin positions allowing you to play thousands of unique layouts. The terrain alternates between lush grass with wide sightlines and sandy, pine needle-covered fairways cluttered with trees. Bring a large bag or cart full of discs because this course will test all of your skills from backhands to forehands and skip shots to sky hyzers.
The first nine holes serve as a helpful warm up before the course becomes progressively more difficult. Better control and added distance are needed to throw through gaps between trees. Baskets on the crest of hills and beside walking paths demand focus and commitment even when just laying up. As you reach Soldier Field, strong winds may become a factor so putt with confidence and caution to avoid throwing out of bounds. Test your maximum distance (and your ego) on hole 19 where the longest basket is 721 feet away.
If you’re staying overnight after your day of disc golf then you may want to book a room at the historic and haunted Santa Maria Inn—keep your eyes open for the ghost of Rudolph Valentino. If you’re a fan of barbecue then don’t leave town without trying Santa Maria Tri-Tip. Waller Pines kicks off the tournament season with the annual NorCal vs. SoCal California Cup Team Invitational at the end of January.
Sky High – Wrightwood, CA
DGCR Rating: 4.47
Signature Tournament: Sky High Showdown
Throwing the first hole at Sky High DGC is like taking that first steep downhill run of the day on a snowboard. If you don’t go for it then you’re likely to end up metaphorically face-planted in the snow with your disc flying wide left, out of bounds to the right, or even beyond the basket and down the mountain. Though closed during winter when it serves its primary role as the Mountain High (North) recreational resort, Sky High is arguably the best place to play disc golf around the Greater Los Angeles area.
Sky High is over 7,000 ft above sea level and one of the only places in Southern California where you can play an Ice Bowl in the snow. Disc-in and disc-out by pitching a tent at the adjacent Table Mountain Campground and enjoy pizza, burgers and beer as frequently as every nine holes at the centrally-located lodge. Make sure your phone is fully charged because you’ll want to take pictures on almost every hole during almost every visit.
Located in the Angeles National Forest just 90 minutes from Los Angeles, this lefty-friendly course is the highest rated one on the list. Season passes are worth the cost for frequent visitors and discs, shirts and hats are for sale all the year. Visit Charlie Brown Farms on your way home for the closest you’ll get to a real-life Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory experience.
Coyote Point at Lake Casitas – Ventura, CA
DGCR Rating: 4.36
Signature Tournament: Coyote Classic
Stop by the Corner Market or visit the onsite Lake Casitas Park Store to pick up essential supplies like water and snacks. The par 54, 18-hole course is less than 6,000 feet long, but two rounds at Coyote Point will make you feel like you’ve played disc golf for the entire day. The downhill shot on Hole 1, 300-400 feet depending on pin position, can be dangerously windy in the afternoon. Poorly-thrown drives can fade hard left or turnover wide right requiring a very challenging second shot where twenty-foot putts become nail-biting testers.
Many of the fairways are open but there are plenty of technical lines with low-ceilings, canopies and natural obstacles to get in your way. You’ll throw downhill on at least a third of the course including Hole 16, the top of the world signature hole, which is sometimes elevated on top of a boulder. The 18th and final hole plays back up a hill to the parking lot, but don’t take this under 300 foot shot for granted—rolling down the right side of the hill could turn an easy par into a disappointing double bogie.
Coyote Point is home to the annual Coyote Classic, the fastest-filling event in southern California that’s more like a three-day party than a disc golf tournament. Many players arrive early in the week to enjoy the camping at Lake Casitas and to practice the 18 temporary holes that are part of the extended two-course layout. If SoCal had “majors” then this would be one of them so mark your calendar.
Hart Park, Sharktooth Mountain & Suicide Flats – Bakersfield, CA
Holes: 18 x 2
DGCR Rating: 3.68 (avg.)
Signature Tournament: Shark Tooth Open
Two truly unique disc golf courses sit on 370 acres of land on the northern edge of southern California. Which one do you play first: the shorter course with lots of elevation change or the longer, flat course with water hazards and trees? Just make sure you bring lunch and plenty of cold drinks as you walk and hike up to 15,000 feet over 36 holes.
Shark Tooth Mountain is best played carrying backpack or bag as seven holes play uphill and the two downhill ones span a combined 1,200 feet from pads to pins. The hike up the mountain is well-rewarded with incredible views you’ll see on no other disc golf couse in SoCal. This is another course where a fully-charged camera is recommended. Let loose on Hole 7 the 650 foot downhill top of the world shot, but don’t lose sight of your discs because they can be difficult to find even with spotters. Cliff-side putts on a few holes can have tragic consequences if you miss the chains so don’t be afraid to settle for par.
Suicide Flats is the perfect cart-friendly course. The challenges lie in the water hazards on a third of the holes and the clusters of trees demanding low-level tunnel shots. Bring your most understable plastic if you want a chance at a birdie on one of the 500 ft long holes. Don’t get carried away with the playing a ground game—an unintentional cut roller on hole 4 could result in a 6 or an 8 if you end up on the road then clip an “iron leaf” on your way to the basket. Some baskets are close to the edge of canals so bring back up discs, a disc retriever or even a pair of waders. Hole 18 is a classic risk vs. reward hole that can end your round on a sour note. The basket is just 360 ft away, but it lies less than 50 ft from a canal that is almost invisible from the teepad. Go big or go mid?
There are over 100 courses within 150 miles of downtown Los Angeles. No matter where you decide to play, it’s always sunny in southern California.
Editors Note: Thanks to Derek Monteverdi for writing this article.