Less than fifteen minutes north of Concord, in Canterbury, NH there is an 18-hole disc golf course called Top of the Hill. For those using a GPS for directions, it’s located at 68 Southwest Rd. It is a well-maintained course, with a good variety of pin placements, elevation and length. According to local players, it plays as a par 63. In my opinion, it’s closer to a par 61 or 62 (there are a couple par 4’s that could be reached by the bigger arms). I had a chance to chat with the course director and designer, Marty Vaughn, on both of my visits this month. Not only is he a friendly guy, but he is clearly dedicated to the overall improvement of the course. He mentioned specifically that in the next year, there will be a few changes to the holes that criss-cross the actual “Top of the Hill.” This is great in my opinion, as these are the signature holes, and the amount of cleared land underneath the power lines is just begging to be used to it’s full potential. Marty mentioned that the overall length of the course could eventually exceed 8,000 feet.
I like to get the negative observations out of the way first, especially on courses that I enjoy. There are a couple of dirt tee-pads that are impossible to navigate, either because of the slope (hole 1 for example), or because of stumps or ditches. There is one par-3 in particular (I wish I could remember the hole) that plays uphill and the tee-pad is too short and rough for a run up. On a hole like this, throwing a stand-still shot guarantees a player with my arm that I will not have a chance at the birdie. To be fair though, building tee-pads is labor intensive, and since the course design is still in flux one can assume that the tee-pad improvements will come with time (they already have quality tee pads on a handful of holes). Apart from this, my only other complaints are a couple of forgetful holes that are too short or quirky and the lack of accurate signage. There are signs that verify you’re on the right hole, but the drawings, par #’s, and distances aren’t accurate because of changes. I would suggest that the course get a set of numbered bright yellow flags for their baskets though, because this would help newer players who are unfamiliar with the basket locations find their targets with ease. On one par 4 in particular, I had to walk the entire fairway to ensure I was throwing the right direction.
So with all of that aside, and most of it chalked up to the natural process of building and improving a course, let’s move on to the positive stuff. My favorite part of the course is the par 4 holes. There is even a par 5 that plays into a wide, wooded fairway. The majority of these par 4 holes (if not all) have very well-built, fly pad tee-boxes. This gives you a chance to get the best possible, and most accurate drive you’re capable of to start the hole. The variety of the par 4’s is good too. They play uphill, downhill, lefty and righty. I also liked the mix of fairway shapes. In total, there are more lefty-friendly (LHBH) pin locations than righty-friendly, but this doesn’t mean they’re all just easy lefty-hyzer shots. The holes have different elevation changes, shapes, and some have lower ceilings than others. I could probably play the course for a week straight and not get tired of it. I can’t say it beat up on me in terms of difficulty, but that’s where the overall length of the course helped keep me on my toes.
I think my favorite hole is #17. It isn’t all that complex, but for a right handed player like myself- it offers a chance to throw a challenging drive for a shot at the “two.” The fairway is mostly straight, with the basket being located 350+ feet away, slightly to the right. If a RHBH player is going to get to the green in one shot, it has to be at least 330 feet and it has to stay straight. There is also a group of thin trees at the end of the fairway on the right, so you can’t play a shot with too much fade because you probably won’t get through the small trees, or if you came down the center of the fairway you’ll fade too far away for a decent putt. A 330 foot shot that finishes straight (or better yet to the right!) is a fun challenge, especially as the round is finishing up and you want at least one last birdie to help the score. On that note, I wouldn’t call this hole a par 4, since a good lefty could reach the green with a conventional (yet powerful) back-hand drive.
The course is $5.00 to play a round, or $8.00 for a day. There is a porta-potty located in the parking area. There is also a pro-shop located on-site in a fairly large camper, and they appear to have a good selection (I didn’t really need anything, so I wasn’t looking). I would definitely say it’s worth the drive to check out this course, but that depends on where you’re driving from. In terms of NH courses, I’d put Top O’ the Hill in the same league as Beauty Hill, but Top O’ the Hill is much easier to get to, and closer to a main highway (route 93). If I still lived in NH, I would play this course a lot. That being said, I’m on the north shore of Massachusetts, and I’m still planning on making more than a handful of trips to play again. Not only do I want to see the changes as they arrive, but it’s an enjoyable course as it is. So get up to the Top O’ the Hill, and take your disc golf game to the top… …O’ the hill…