Here you can learn all about one of the world's best disc golf courses: Blue Ribbon Pines in East Bethel, Minnesota.
Click or tap below to learn about Blue Ribbon Pines' past, present, or future:
- Blue Ribbon Pines 2023 Stats & Basic Info
- History of Blue Ribbon Pines
- What's It Like to Play at Blue Ribbon Pines?
- Blue Ribbon Pines' Signature Hole
- Recent & Planned Developments at Blue Ribbon Pines
- Amenities at Blue Ribbon Pines
All of the World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2023
To see the rest of the world's top disc golf courses for this year, check out World's Best Disc Golf Courses 2023: #1-#100.
Blue Ribbon Pines: 2023 Stats & Basic Info
History of Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course
Until about a year before his course opened, Blue Ribbon Pines owner and proprietor Ray Jordan would never have expected to create any disc golf course, let alone one of the best in the world.
"Most people start disc golf courses because they’re addicted to the game; I started Blue Ribbon Pines without even being a player," Jordan said.
The series of fortunate events that led to Blue Ribbon Pines' opening began in 2005. Jordan is part of a family-owned sod farming business, and that year he helped an out-of-work friend from high school by giving him odd jobs on one of his family's farms. That friend happened to be wild for disc golf. When he noticed the farm's boundaries also included a huge expanse of woods used for nothing other than a small amount of hunting, the friend couldn't resist trying to convince Jordan to set up a course.
"He said, 'Let’s grab a beer and walk through the woods,'" Jordan recalled. "We did, and the woods were pretty, and I told him, 'That sounds like a good idea.'"
Jordan's friend talked enthusiastically about the property at a league night following the walk, and eventually the news reached the ears of Timmy Gill. At the time, Gill organized the largest league in Minnesota (perhaps the U.S.) and was Minnesota's best player and a course designer. Gill got in touch with Jordan, and they set up a meeting to discuss building a course.
When Gill arrived for the meeting, Jordan and some of his family and business associates were there to greet him.
"We’re kind of grizzled guys, a little on the conservative side, hard-working, up early in the morning, and Timmy Gill showed up in a beat-up Toyota pick-up with sandals on, hair down to his shoulders and looked like some surfer dude," Jordan recalled, laughing. "My brother and three partners looked at each other and said, 'No way this our guy.' But I said we had to give him a chance. After the pleasantries, he wanted to walk through the land a bit and see what he would have to work with.
"After we started showing him around," Jordan continued, "he just turned to me and let me know about his credentials and background in disc golf and told me the land looked as good to him as anything he’d played anywhere. He explained where he thought the sport was heading…and, well, we were in the woods about an hour, and I came out drinking the Kool-Aid."
Though his family was skeptical, Jordan convinced them to let him give it a try. From there, things moved relatively quickly but with Jordan insisting at every step that if he was going to build a course, it needed to be special. Utilizing the equipment from his family business and other connections, Jordan had ponds made, boulders brought in, and other landscape features created.
Blue Ribbon Pines was planned throughout the end of 2005 and beginning of the next year, and in August 2006 – after Jordan had delayed the opening several times due to a desire for perfection – the course was opened to the disc golfing public.
Though some found the idea of paying for disc golf outlandish in 2006 (the fee was $5), Blue Ribbon Pines soon became known as a must-play course. Jordan said within the first year he already knew the course would be popular enough to be successful in his eyes, with people from all over the state showing up to play it. And, now, with Jordan's careful upkeep and constant additions (read more about those in upcoming sections), the course can count itself not just a local favorite, but a pillar of Minnesota disc golf and one of the best disc golf destinations in the world.
Despite its success and renown, Jordan still isn't satisfied with his creation and vows to keep working to improve it.
"I’ve told people the same thing since the beginning," Jordan said. "We’ll never stop trying to make this course better."
What's It Like to Play at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course?
Blue Ribbon Pines doesn't have "pines" in the name just for kicks. The hallmark of the course is tight, wooded fairways that usually make accuracy, not distance, the key factor to a good score. That isn't to say there aren't moments when players are invited to let it rip. Take, for example, how Kevin Jones attacked the 760-foot/232-meter hole 18, which is also known as "the driving range hole" due to the distance markers placed down the length of the fairway:
But, overall, what's likely so lovable about Blue Ribbon Pines to many is that it combines a sense of achievability with a high level of challenge. If you throw the lines, the birdies are there for the taking on most holes for experienced players. However, hitting every one of those demanding and varied lines would be a near superhuman achievement.
Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course's Signature Hole
As you can hear in the commentary below from the flyover in the video by Par Save Productions, the 444-foot/135 meter, par 4 hole 4 at Blue Ribbon Pines is unquestionably iconic.
The idea is simple: Throw straight as you can through a 15-foot/4.5-meter wide corridor lined by trees. There's out of bounds for those who kick too far left and tricky lines for anyone who stays in bounds on either side of the fairway. Jordan's father planted many of the trees himself over a half-century ago, and Jordan likes to joke with visitors that Blue Ribbon Pines has been in the works for over 60 years.
Recent & Planned Developments at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course
In 2022, Blue Ribbon Pines had some gains and losses. We'll start with what went away: Tons of trees.
"We got storm after storm after storm that just took trees – ripped 'em right out the ground, snapped them in half," Jordan said.
He estimates about 150 trees were lost in the course area due to those heavy winds. Fortunately for disc golfers, the arboreal carnage hasn't changed players' experience very much and was mostly cosmetic. However, cleaning up the mess using small vehicles that wouldn't damage fairways cost a lot of time, and Jordan didn't get to all the upgrades and improvements he would've liked to.
On the positive side, Blue Ribbon Pines got a few new holes in 2022.
"There was an area that was vacant, and I could never figure out how to make it work," Jordan said. "One day, I was just looking at it with no intentions and I just figured out exactly how the holes would work. We put them in in the fall and made them really hard, but the players really liked them a lot."
Finally, an electronic dance music festival with optional disc golf events, Bass Ribbon Pines, set up by Jordan's son was a big success. The fest drew over a thousand people and will happen again in 2023.
Amenities at Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course
Along with impeccable upkeep and great tee pads, here are some of the comforts and extras you can expect at Blue Ribbon Pines:
- Pro shop
- Benches on every hole
- Cleared tee pads throughout the winter
- A concession stand and a bar and grill. Jordan said you can get things as various as "craft beer, whiskey, cheese curds, or a double cheeseburger and fries" if you get peckish during your round.
- Two stages for live music
- A nine-hole course with holes around 50-60 feet/15-18 meters to practice your short game
Three Real Five Star Reviews of Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course
Three real five star reviews of Blue Ribbon Pines from disc golfers on UDisc: