Tee pad selection is a very popular discussion in the stages of creating a disc golf course, as there are a variety of factors that come in to play. Some of the factors include, but are not limited to, budget, popularity, ability to relocate, impact on the environment and installation time. All of these factors should be weighed equally in making the decision on which type of tee pads you are going to implement on your course, but we are going to take a more in depth look at two of these factors: ability to relocate and impact on the environment, and weigh each of them carefully on a variety of tee pad options.
The first option for a disc golf tee pad is concrete. Concrete is a very popular choice as it gives players a durable launching pad that provides traction yet, is still easy to clear. While concrete can be competitively priced, there is still the need for lumber frames, re-bar and a lot of labor. Two of the serious disadvantages of concrete are both its inability to relocate and its impact on the environment. If you have a course that is set in stone where tee pads will never move and expansion isn’t a viable option, then concrete is a solid choice, but you still need to address the environmental impact.
Concrete, along with other popular tee pad options such as rubber and pavers, is an impervious surface similar to a building roof, parking lot or paved road. Impervious surfaces are frowned upon when taking the environment into consideration due to their effect on surrounding ecosystems. Let’s take the parking lot as an example. Oil that slowly leaks out of your car and onto the impervious surface of the parking lot will eventually be washed away by the rain. The rain, now containing all sorts of harmful elements, will eventually make its way into a culvert that is pumped into a nearby stream. These elements that were collected by the rain on the impervious surface will cause detrimental effects on the flora and fauna in and around the stream.
While you may be thinking, “there won’t be oil on our tee pad,” you have to realize that harmful elements are tracked in various ways, one of them being pedestrian traffic. Even if that’s not enough to make you think; any and all efforts to reduce impervious surfaces should be taken. The popularity of rain gardens, green roofs, and parking lot swales have sky rocketed — all common sights in any “green” project as they focus on the simple fact of getting water to infiltrate the earth as fast as possible; eventually re-charging the water table. That being said, concrete, rubber and paver tee pads aren’t all bad. They do have their place in the sport, as their communal footprint is still smaller than a tennis court, and since they are stand alone entities, they are much less harmful than said tennis court or any other impervious surface with a large square footage.
If your course is looking for a more professional representation of their tee pad, one option worth exploring are pervious pavers. These pavers are very similar in scale and functionality to regular pavers that are seen on tee pads like Tully Lake Disc Golf Course in Royalston, MA or any common residential walkway, but they help infiltrate the rainwater into the earth instead of collecting and sheeting off like standard pavers, concrete or rubber. These pavers come in a variety of forms — some have small “holes” that will need to be filled with stone dust level off the surface, while others have the appearance of a brick, yet infiltrate water through cracks and pores. Either way, players can still receive a firm footing since the overall tee pad is that off a concrete paver.
While pervious pavers have some tremendous environmental benefits, they do need to be properly installed to make sure they are safe for play. If the base isn’t properly constructed, pavers can shift, lose grade and become tripping hazards, but if a geo-textile fabric is installed in conjunction with proper landscape construction techniques, it should deter from any “heaving” that may cause an unsafe surface. Similar to rubber tee pads, pervious paver tee pads can be relocated without any lose of material. While you may think of your time and energy as wasted in the initial construction, all pavers, edging and under base can be saved and used in the new location of the tee pad.
As expressed earlier in this article, there are several factors to think about when installing tee pads on a disc golf course, and we only touched on a few here. Concrete and rubber tee pads are incredibly nice to play on, but have both positives and negatives in terms of ability to relocate and impact on the environment. Natural tee pads, if done correctly, can really outweigh all other types of tee pads as they are cost effective, can be relocated without a trace, and help recharge the water table with infiltration of water through reduced impervious surface. We use the term “reduced” because compacted soil — especially clay-type makeup — are in theory impervious, so think about creating your tee pads with a small pitch to help water move away from the flat teeing area and into a nearby swale where the water can slowly infiltrate into the earth.