Bringing the disc golf tee sign/hole map into the 21st century.
If you survey the majority of tee sign images in use on disc golf courses you will be forgiven for thinking that every fairway is completely flat. If you spend any time watching video coverage of major tournaments you will certainly hear commentary peppered with descriptions about how the ground is steeper than it looks. So why are map graphics not used it indicate variations in elevation that obviously affect the play of the game?
The technology is there but it simply hasn’t been explored enough. Udisc has taken over the course map needs for most players allowing a first time visitor a convenient way to navigate through an uncharted course, yet its basic hole graphics layered over aerial imagery leave much to be desired when it comes to conquering the ups and downs of undulating terrain.
I first published a short article about advancing information available on tee signs in the Fall 2017 edition of Discgolfer magazine. The tee sign below shows elevation change with contour lines and hillshade. It also includes range arcs that allow a player to quickly assess the distance of trees and other obstacles from the tee pad. Other details like the golf cart bridge to the left of the fairway help orient the player when the basket is not easy to spot.
Compare the elevation profile at the bottom of the tee sign with the oblique aerial image below. The fairway graphic has been superimposed to help highlight the terrain contour.
The picture above to the left is hole 17 at Gunn Park in Fort Scott, Kansas. It shows the view from the tee. On the right the tee sign shows the distance to the large tree and how the out of bounds road comes into play. The contour lines indicate the obvious slope of the fairway towards the river to the left.
Hole 3 at Kaposia Park in South Saint Paul, Minnesota. Hole numbers were not included on these signs so that numbers could be shuffled during tournaments when temporary holes are added. Hole numbers are located on the sign post. Instead, each sign includes the nickname of the hole. The sign shows that the second ring of rocks is 250ft away.
Also at Kaposia Park, each tee sign maintains scale. It is easier to get an overall sense of the fairway’s length.
Tee signs should help you orient and navigate. Sometimes you need to know which basket is your target. This happens on courses where holes are placed close together. The tee signs above in Clinton, Missouri have the surrounding holes ghosted in gray. You can easily identify other tee pads and baskets which helps you navigate the layout.
A very subtle feature in these signs is the hillshade. The sign for hole 4 is rotated upside down in order to compare the terrain shading. While the backgrounds are oriented the same way you can see the difference in terrain around the red dot. On hole 3 the terrain looks depressed (as you would expect near a stream). On hole 4 the area looks like a ridge because the sign is upside down.