At the time of writing this post it has been almost 4 years since I moved from Boise, ID down to Los Angeles to get married and start a whole new chapter of my life. Even though almost 1000 miles now separates me from Boise, I still get the opportunity to visit my old stomping grounds a couple times a year, and unless it is the dead of winter, I always look forward to going out and throwing at least one round on the course that I first learned to play disc golf on over 10 years ago. Naturally it seems fitting to me that my disc golf blog’s first proper disc golf post would be about where I played my first round of disc ever, at Ann Morrison Disc Golf Course.
Click here for the Quick Course Guide.
I want to start by saying that Ann Morrison will always be one of my favorite courses to play on. Yes there is probably a little bias in that statement because it was my home course for so long, and I got to know it oh so intimately, but please hear me all the way out on this. I promise I am not blowing smoke.
Ann Morrison Park is located in downtown Boise, and on the opposite side of the Boise river from downtown itself. Skirting for almost a mile along the bottom edge of the geological bench created by the river, this park offers a wide open view of the foothills and mountains that dominates Boise’s northern and eastern horizons. Ann Morrison is a very popular multi-use park, but checking in at a size of 153 acres means there is plenty of space to go around for everyone. To add to that, the local disc golf club “GEM STATE DISC GOLFERS”, has made some very smart changes to the course over the last several years by removing certain high traffic holes and putting new ones in different parts of the park that have a much smaller amount of foot traffic, effectively removing most major risks of hitting any pedestrians.
If you are a pro level thrower, than this is a course that you can probably crush. That being said, Ann Morrison is not an easy course. In fact, it is a course that I have struggled on for many years. Out of the 21 holes this course has to offer, 16 of them include the real potential of going O.B. (Click here for terminology), almost all of which involving some kind of water hazard of varying depth, width, and clarity. It’s not a short course by any means either. While a few holes are sub 300′, most holes are between 350-400′, with two holes, that depending on the hole position at the time, can break 600′ in length. It may not the biggest course one might play, but it definitely pushes the boundaries of what most average players can throw.
Now, some might say, “Brigand, that doesn’t sound like fun at all, a big course with a bunch of water hazards? That more sounds like a place to lose discs and become frustrated”. Well, I would be lying if I said I’ve never lost a disc there, or that I never had a melt down that made me consider retiring, but honestly, this is one of the biggest reasons I will always love this course. No matter how good my throw is feeling, there is always this tension, created by the ever present risk of O.B., that pushes me to focus harder and throw better. A feeling I truly enjoy.
Have I scared you yet? If not, awesome! You’re likely pretty excited then. If so, don’t be! Seriously! Despite there being a lot of potential O.B. it is quite often easily avoidable for most of the holes. Also, all of the fairways consist of thick, well groomed grass, and are generally of moderate width. As such, the holes generally give players of all skill levels room to work with, so one can dictate the level of risk they are willing to take during their round. The signage on all of the holes are relatively new as of 2017, and all of the tee pads are good sized and made of concrete. This course does come with its fair share of risks, but it also really allows any one looking for a chill round to still have it.
While not a densely treed park, Ann Morrison disc golf course takes advantage of almost 50 unique species of trees that wind there way through in groves along the water features throughout. The mix of pines, spruces, birches, oaks, maples, chestnuts, and many others in Ann Morrison make for a beautiful contrast of colors during the springtime bloom or during the changing of the leaves throughout Autumn. Spring and Fall rounds here are some of the most gorgeous rounds I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and the ample shade makes the high summer heat bearable for July & August rounds.
It is definitely a good idea to take a look at the course map (LINK to pdf HERE) before starting. Most of the holes flow pretty well from one to the next, but there is a big jump from hole 9 over to hole 10, and a couple of other smaller jumps before and after. Ann Morrison disc golf course is pretty popular among the thriving local disc golf community which means someone would likely be available to help point you in the right direction on most days. That also means that things can get a little backed up on the course, especially on a summer day during the weekend. Luckily, many of the people in this community know and respect the game, so if they don’t immediately offer to let you play through when you catch up, don’t be afraid to ask, the answer will unequivocally be, “Of course!”
Before the recent hole location changes and number restructuring of Ann Morrison Disc Golf Course there was a particularly difficult stretch of holes affectionately known as “The Gauntlet”. Now that the holes have been renumbered “The Gauntlet” has since been broken up. It used to be mid way through the back 10 holes that lead up to and immediately followed the turn around in the course back towards hole 1. Instead, the first half of it is now holes 4, 5, and 6 which are 3 of the 5 longest holes. It’s not until the final 3 holes (19, 20, and 21) that “The Gauntlet” resumes its pursuit of wrecking a good round.
To paint a picture, hole 4’s tee pad is all of 7 feet to the left of Ann Morrison’s largest and mirkiest water feature. The most common hole position being over 400′ out and still only 7 feet to the left of the pond. There are several large deciduous trees lining the ponds edge that offers some protection on the drive, but not much. Often, every shot on this hole, the drive, the approach, and the putt, all have a real risk of going into that water.
After surviving that, Hole 5 is mound or bust which is roughly 360′ out and dead center in the fairway. Even making the mound does not guarantee success though. This is Ann Morrison’s longest hole, and all 3 different positions it can have offer their own unique water hazard potential. A small well wooded creek to the right about 40′ from the mound, a lightly wooded much wider slow moving creek about 60′ left of the mound, and a deep pool in the back center feeding the creek to the left and is only 4′ behind the farthest pin location. The fairway is pretty wide on this hole so most O.B. risk comes from big second or third shots, and to me, a par feels like a birdie on this hole.
Hole 6 varies in its level of difficulty, from super easy, must birdie, to oh my god how am I supposed to par this in 3 shots. It originally had 6 different hole positions, 2 of which are no longer in use. The 2 more common positions are both over 400′ in length, and to the right 40′ from the tee pad is a fenced off private property that is considered to be O.B. Something of note is that there are 2 positions still in use that are beyond the fenced property and to the right making them blind holes for some time. If it is in one of the blind positions it is important know that there is a small creek back there which can be spotted by its surrounding line of reeds.
Just 8 feet off the opposite side of the slow wide creek that makes up the left edge of hole 5’s fairway is right where hole 19’s tee pad calls home. There are 2 positions on this hole that I absolutely love. Both are between 300 to 340 feet in length and on the opposite side of the creek. Because of the large trees on the other side of the creek where those positions are the most common shot is a large RHBH hyzer shot (SEE COMMON DISC GOLF TERMINOLOGY) that drops just 15′ past water’s edge. Generally speaking, if one makes it past the last large tree before the shortest basket position on the other side then they’re safe. When it comes to the other 2 positions though I find it hard to eliminate doubt from my mind before I throw. The more common of the 2 more difficult positions is on the same side of the creek as the tee pad, but that creates one of the course’s most narrow fairways with an average width of 25′. To the right is the road that provides access to different areas of the park to vehicles, and to the left is the creek. The hole tails slightly off to the right and is guarded in front by 3 short trees making the back drop to most players putts and approaches be the water. As if that wasn’t hard enough, the final position is even farther back and placed across the creek with a very large and willowy tree guarding it. There is no kind of lay up for this position that isn’t inherently risky, and the chance of getting a 3 on this position is abysmally low, albeit not impossible!
Crossing the small wooden foot bridge over to hole 20 puts the creek on the right now as it rapidly widens. Up until this point there are no elevation changes worth mentioning anywhere on the entire course. The basket of hole 20 placed between a range of 350-400 feet out and on top of a 20 foot tall, tree-lined, steep crest of earth and, despite having a much wider fairway than the previous hole, O.B. is still very prevalent on either side. Even great drives that are within 20 feet of the basket still have the risk of being punished extra hard on the second shot. Other than that, this hole is pretty straight forward.
The final hole never breaks 400 feet, and has the widest fairway out of the final 3 holes. The deep position is not all that scary because it is fairly straight and pretty open. The risk of an early or late shot going O.B. is still there, and there is water not 10′ behind that back position, but honestly, I rarely see people suffer because of it. The shorter position, on the other hand, is significantly more risky and challenging. Placed about 60′ behind, and 30′ to the right of a very wide and tightly knit tree that rests on the corner of the creek as it passes a narrow tree lined island before opening back up, this position begs to have an extra clean RHBH S-Curve throw through it. I can not tell you how many hours I have spent wading through that water, which was up to my crotch, using my foot to sweep for the disc buried in what I’m assuming is a foot of duck crap. Here is the hole where I first learned to truly let go of a possession. (FOR MORE ON THAT TOPIC, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE BOOK “ZEN OF DISC GOLF,” A GIFT FROM LONG-TIME BOISE DISC PARTNER JAKE) This shorter position does have a nice line for a big RHFH shot but also has some of the shortest grass on the whole course creating some concern for skipping and/or rolling into the water. My decision when approaching this hole is often wind based as a result.
Ann Morrison is by no means the most physically demanding disc golf course out there, but the mental demands available to any disc golfer looking to improve or compete in their game, even if just against oneself or fellow discers, puts this course is up there with the best of them. Los Angeles may be my home now, but Ann Morrison will likely always be my home course.