Here are the course reviews for Des Moines, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. They were meant to be a part of the initial postings but were overlooked in the frenzy of postings. So here they are as written.
90 days of disc golf: Narrow and long is the path to glory.
“Clever” is what they call you when you know how to cut corners and make it work. However, when those same people are faced with the same decisions they tend to balk and fall in line with the rest of the herd. Because they know it’s only clever if it works. If it fails, they call you foolish.
Being an amateur is exciting. It’s filled with new things; new courses; new tournaments, new challenges, new skills; new people; new discs, lots of just… new-ness. It’s all new everywhere you go. However, when that new starts to become familiar and the luster starts to fade, an amateur does what almost all amateurs do – The get complacent and sloppy, like a small child playing with their food. It’s not uncommon to watch someone go from superstar to total washout in less than a week because they decided they needed to “change” something about their game.
Believe it or not, this behavior is predictable and no one is immune from it. As you read this, you might be putting better than you have ever putted in your whole life, but for some reason you’re thinking about tweeking something and for reasons, which make no sense at all. A lot of that is because we like to keep things new and challenging so it will keep us interested.
Bowling Green and the AM Nat tournaments are two of disc golf’s most prestigious AM events. They, along with the World Championship, make up the AM title Tri-fecta each year. Bowling Green is held at the end of March, Am Nats is held the first week of June, and Worlds floats around but is usually held in July or August. All serious Am players who want to move on to the Pro level someday, covet these three titles. To win them all in one year has only happened once by David Wiggins, Jr. (in 2010). There are so many people who want one or all of these titles that they will continue to delay their Pro debut until they have won one. Even though, for the most part, the challenge is the same each year, they come back, thinking that this year’s changes to their game, are going to make the difference.
These courses are not designed for people who are unsure of themselves. They are designed for the players who believe in what they got and have honed their skills into a science.
Here is what you will see…
Phil Moore Park is huge. It looks like a huge military compound with a basic training course stretched out over 10 acres. However, all the obstacles are disc golf related. This course is designed to test your accuracy in space. Most of the hole are wide open. 800 feet to the pin is pretty common here. OB on either side of the fairway, just keep your bombers in between the lines and you’ll do okay. Then there are the tunnel shots you’ll have to make along the creek. The shots are narrow with roll-away fairways toward a very deep creek. A good score on this course is 55. With wind, 65.
This course plays across a small valley with lots of trees. Each pin is set deep and in a tough-to-reach location so easy birdies are hard to find. This course needs rollers, flicks, helix shots, slow turn overs, super straight tunnel shots that must stop on a dime, and lots of luck. A good score would be 49. The average score is a 58. With wind – a 65. It’s much shorter than Phil Moore and not as wide open, but it plays harder with the thick full trees.
BOWLING GREEN TECHNICAL:
The newest course in Bowling Green is literally carved out of a forest on the Bowling Green Tech College campus. It is a lot of narrow tunnel shots with rough fairways. Elevation changes are slight, but most of the drives are blind with dangerous landing areas lined with thick unforgiving trees. There is minimal OB in the wooded section but there are several open air shots that are surrounded by OB. A good score is 52. The average score was 58. With wind, with all the woods blocking it out… 62.
According to a little bird, this course used to be pretty tough. This isn’t the case today. I played with someone who used just a putter for the whole round, he shot poorly but he was mentally out of it by then, but he could have killed it. The course is a huge hill about 200 feet high with large trees growing all around it. It plays like down under meets water works. Lots of “just get it close” and then putt it in. However, there are a few holes which are pretty rough including a few SIGNATURE HOLES which I wish I could recreate somewhere in KC. One hole in particular is 450 feet and is a warped lightning bolt shaped hole. You have to throw through a five foot gap, then turn left for 150 feet, then jog quick right for 200 feet and then cross a treeline and fall gracefully between three large pine trees. There are two or three of these holes on this course and they frustrated a lot of people including me. Good score 41. Average score 51. Windy score 58. There are a lot of easy birdies if you are patient with how you throw through the trees.
This is the beautiful course with lots of rolling hills even though the course itself looks flat. The elevation doesn’t rise up, it falls down so from the parking lot the course looks easy and flat, but there isn’t one flat hole on the course. It’s a lot like swope but very long and with a swirling wind which will never die. The holes are anywhere from 250 to 350 so you can reach each hole on your drive, but it has to be lucky in the trees. You have to be patient if you want those drives to work out. A good score 43. Average score 53. It’s always windy.
This is the best course in Bowling Green. It’s all hillside golf with water, OB and lots of those Kentucky trees to knock you around. Like every other course here you need to shape shots in space, but this course puts a premium on landing near the basket because every putt is a death putt. Miss the putt and watch it roll 60 feet down the hill. Great score 44. Average 55. Windy score 60.
Yuck. Flat, wide open, few trees. Lots of wind, lots of OB and nothing but depression and sadness to look at. I’m not sure why they made this course other than it used to be a ball golf course and it was available. But even those guys didn’t want to play on it. It’s dullness. I think you could have more fun throwing at other players. A good score… Who knows. It’s like trying to seduce a dead person – do you really care?
This is a tough down-under like course with lots of tunnel shots most of which are under 200 feet. It’s a very well groomed park and the holes are manicured up like a prom date. I think there is one hole over 300 feet, and by the time you play it, you think it’s a 1000 feet. The focus here is slow, easy shots down the middle. Easy does it. Good score 46. Average 53. Windy 56.
You have to pay to get into the course every day. I hate that. This is the only course you play for the Amateur National title. You play it once a day for three days. I guess I was too eager and I played it six times over five days and the last three rounds were supposed to be competitive. A rookie mistake. This course is designed to hurt you.
It’s incredibly long, with a lot of very narrow windows which must be hit in order for you to get par. This course is surrounded by a thicket that looks like a ball of yarn. It’s so thick you cannot walk through it. It would require a machete, a flame thrower and sherpa guide. If your disc gets caught up in the stuff, no one is going to get it out. It’s there for life. This course only goes up for one week a year. It’s the Brigadoon of disc golf courses. It gets put in the ground and they start picking it up while the last card is playing their final round. By the time they announce the winner, the course is a lost like a fart in the wind.
The emphasis on this course isn’t being able to throw really, really far (though that helps out a lot), the emphasis here is to throw really, really far and hit a target about the size of car. The first hole is a forgiving downhill anny shot which most Ams have never experienced before because this sort of shot is almost unheard of in disc golf courses. It’s 500 feet of downhill anny. If the shot flexes out it’s going to carry 300 feet away from the basket. For practice, go to Blue Valley and play from 13’s Pad to 15’s Pad.
Hole 2 = 300 feet straight to the bottom of a hill. Then 500 feet up that hill at a slope of over 55 degrees.
Hole 3 = downhill anny, 800 feet. Turn to quickly, the disc belongs to Chaka and friends. Fade back to much, and it will carry 300 feet in the wrong direction. At the bottom of the hill, it’s 500 feet up a slight hill to the basket. Hole 4 = 400 anny over trees. Basket on a 60 slope which is well protected by thicket.
Hole 5. Blind anny shot into the thicket. Poke and pray mostly.
Hole 6 = SIGNATURE HOLE. 350 feet to a hole the size of a car. Come up short and you’re looking at a 6. Go long and you’re looking at an 8. Then it’s a 325 tunnel shot to a basket on a mound which is surrounded by the thicket.
Hole 7 = Go straight 100 feet, hit a gap ten feet wide, turn sharp left, and land in the fairway. Then it’s up a steep hill 250 feet to a well protected basket surrounded by thicket. Basket is on a 60 slope.
Hole 8 = Blind Bomber shot which must carry 400 feet before dive bombing to the right. The basket is hidden under the tree canopy.
Hole 9 = The first of of the uphill drives. It must carry 350 feet to the top of the hill, then turn right, go another 50 feet and stop. Basket on a mound, surrounded by thicket. If your disc decides to turn left, pack it up and go home.
Hole 10 = 350 feet straight and flat. Then it must dramatically turn right behind a wall of thicket and go uphill 70 feet to a basket on a 65 degree embankment which is surrounded by a thicket.
Hole 11 = Another uphill drive. This one is only 325. The basket is on a hill side behind a tree. If the disc goes long, it will go OB, if it goes left, it finds Naria.
Hole 12 = SIGNATURE HOLE. Downhill 400 feet slow fade to the right which must miss trees in the fairway and find a small well protected gap on the right. From there is must travel another 200 feet to a basket which is wide open for your double bogey putt. This is one of the few holes where the two-meter rule is enforced.
Hole 13 = The Uphill bomb made famous in all the discraft videos. 600 feet from a standing position up a ski hill. At the top, you must go another 100 feet to the basket which is hiding under a canopy to the left. People throwing from Hole 3 who had their disc fade out too quickly will be dropping discs on you from here.
Hole 14 = An elevated tee into a well protected pin to the left. Bomb one out 350 and let it crash in.
Hole 15 = A 350 tunnel shot that must turn sharp right and stop! From there is should be an easy 300 foot shot to a basket on a 65 degree embankment across a small glen. The tunnel shot is all thicket and has a ceiling of about 60 feet. The landing zone is lined with thicket.
Hole 16 = A blind shot of 400 feet from an elevated position into a small clearing in a thicket. Two meter rule in effect. Get your 11 and walk away.
Hole 17 = The bomber. The first drive is elevated and needs to carry at least 475 to give you a shot at par. From there, you will be throwing uphill from uneven ground, to a well protected pin, 300 feet above your head. The landing area is about 20 feet wide.
Hole 18 = A unique uphill shot in that it has a tree in the middle of your shot. It’s 350 feet straight uphill which must anny the whole way.
The course is a beast. Designed to wear you out physically. It’s hard to putt when you’re out of breath.
So there you have it – the two Am titles. If you want to play either tournament I want to remind you that a big part of the field are people who have competed in these tournaments in the past. This is very true of Toboggan as the course is only there for the locals to play once a year and they come out in droves to play it. You will even see past champions playing the tournament again, but don’t let that discourage you – there has never been a repeat champion. Also, part of your winnings with Toboggan is a Discraft Sponsorship if you want it. I believe only Mr. Wiggins has declined the offer as he was already sponsored by Innova. Innova, by the way, is the main sponsor for Bowling Green and they have adopted an “online” payout, which means shipping and handling comes out of your payout.
If you are one of the people who thinks they have the mustard to win a title, these are the two tournaments you will need to prove it. These tournaments will require you to play beyond your comfort zone but if you are confident in your game, you’ll do great. Most Pros believe in their game, Ams still have doubts.