9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: From its quaint parking lot the course sure didn't look like much. A pavilion and a children's playscape gave way to a walking trail, with a utility shed off to the right. There was a family picnicking on a large blanket in the field beyond, as the sun warmed the temps into the mid-seventies. The sign for the first tee had its back towards us, and as we walked up to the carpeted pad, we couldn't help but think the setup a bit antiquated. Yet much like the small town in which Branstrom Park is located, the course was a lot more than we bargained for...
Branstrom offers a lot of what makes a good course great. Excellent signage, well-planned fairways and tough shots abound as you weave your way through a truly mammoth spread. Looking back on that first scene, there was no way to know that I was heading into an endurance test.
The first third of the course plays through lightly wooded areas and small clearings with bushes lining either side of the fairways. There are some difficult shots mixed in with some easy decisions, and the course punishes you for errant tosses accordingly. The signature hole here is #4, which has you atop a small incline and facing a trio of thin tree trunks, tightly clustered about halfway down the fairway. If you reach the midpoint successfully, the approach is a downhill glide with a blind pin and sharp thorny brush to greet you should you overshoot.
After pin seven, the course takes you further away from that quaint parking lot and into heavy woods with tight fairways and steep hills. We couldn't believe we were on the same piece of land. Hole #8 is one of the best Branstrom has to offer, and one of the most exhilarating ace runs I've ever come across. While only a mere 169 feet in length, it's at least that in depth. Firing off the edge of a cliff, you attempt to dodge the myriad of tree trunks and branches, leaning with your disc as it perilously sails through the forest. Even a glancing blow can send it tumbling down to the bottom of the ravine, leaving you with a series of precarious upshots that will more than likely have your disc rolling back behind you as you curse the game you love. Hole after rough, wooded hole, the forest finally lets up after #15, but not before an absurd uphill incline with absolutely no fairway to speak of that breaks into a wide open clearing where the pin awaits. Make it through unscathed and you'll be rewarded handsomely.
No doubt by this point you are feeling it, having battled through thus far. You may have reached your breaking point. But I'll tell you what: coming out onto the green of #15 felt like a rebirth. The sun was shining; not a cloud in the sky. Put the past behind you can get ready, because Branstrom boasts one of the best finishes around.
#16 would be the signature hole on your standard suburban course, but here it only adds to the mystique. A behemoth blind drop awaits you at the top of the hill; a sickly sharp hyzer needed to bend around a huge outcrop of shrubs to the pin below. The whipping wind does you no favors; spotters are damn near required on this bomb. #17 has you head back UP that same hill, again another sharp hyzer needed to avoid the woods to your left. Distance is deceptive here as well, as the sharp incline and winds coming down the hill will cut your drive distance in half. Tired, thirsty, probably scraped up, you make your way to #18... THE END - all 800+ feet of it! A great finish; mostly open with mature trees as your obstacles, and once you get to the last 300 or so, it tightens back up with huge pine trees coming to a point behind the basket. If you par this you are not human, and if you are not wiped out after playing through then congratulations; feel free to go the gauntlet again!
Cons: More nuisances than anything. Navigation can be a bit confusing, especially if you are cutting through past the bonus holes (a neat feature) so make sure you're staying on top of that. A few of the holes were laid out in extremely peculiar ways, and not to the benefit of the round. Pretty much from #8 on, Branstrom is a time consuming round through rough terrain and overall it can be a bit of a drag at times. While the layout was good, the flow felt choppy to me, and I think this goes back to the fact that after the first few holes you have no reason to think this intense of a round lies ahead. The carpet tees are bad but manageable, but on some holes it was better (and safer) to throw from the dirt. Lastly (and to no fault of the course) Branstrom lies on the way to Mecca AKA Flip City. Many people (including my group) played this during a road trip to Flip, so we couldn't give it a fair enough shake at the time. I played this course back in August and sat on this review for a while, letting it digest in my mind before giving it my rating.
Other Thoughts: Overall, Branstrom is a dynamic and aggressive course that blew me away. I only wish we had courses like this in the Metro Detroit area. How this one exists in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere (no offense) and there not be one in the 'burbs baffles me. Make sure you know what you are in for by packing lots of fluids and some snacks, especially if you are playing with a group of four or more, as it will take you a good 2+ hours to play (3+ if you play the bonus holes). While there were a few things that bugged me, this course is easily in my top 20 - highly recommended and definitely deceiving. Don't judge a course by its first few holes, and let it stand alone in your review!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course plays through a large wooded park with no interference from other park activities. Most of the course plays out in the woods and feels very secluded. There is great length variety, with ace runs and longer shots in the woods and a couple holes with more open long drives in the open. The wooded holes offer plenty of different lines to hit, with a good balance of left and right turning holes, some straight shots, and a few holes where s-turns or other creative lines offer the best chance at a birdie.
There is fun elevation in several spots on the course. I enjoyed the ravine shots, it's fun to have the chance at an ace run but risk a bad tree hit sending the disc to the bottom of the ravine leaving a tough upshot. Several other holes offer fun downhill shots or tough uphills, with a few nice pin positions that have roll away potential. The grassy areas of the course were mowed, and there wasn't too much trash or vandalism evident when I played.
Cons: There are some holes where the lines aren't clearly defined, and luck plays a little too much of a role in determining scores. The holes with steeper elevation changes could use some stairs and/or erosion control, there are definitely some safety and erosion issues evident. The flow of the course isn't great, there are several long walks and it's not at all clear where to go in some spots. The 6 added holes aren't well labeled and it's easy to skip some of them.
Other Thoughts: Beginners might find this course a little punishing off the fairways, but it's not too long or too rough for newer players to have fun. More experienced players will find a lot of putter and mid shots, but the variety of line shaping challenges and the few longer holes mixed in make up for that and keep it fun throughout.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - 24 course, lots of changes in the terrain, hilly and forested area. A good second to FlipCity.
- Good distance on every hole but if you aren't strong when it comes to throwing straight; luck, a good practiced tomahawk or Mid-Ranges are the way out to the chains.
- Great hyzer and anhyzer holes, (starting off going towards left then right...or right then left)
- Good signs explaining hole setup
- Good chains (goals, net, what have you the "hole" is called) and they also sport a nice orange paint job in the middle to locate them through the brush.
- Some water hazards, nothing too difficult.
- Last hole is a long distance shot, OPEN! (except some trees...) and the chains are in a group of trees (637ft.)
Cons: - Pads are carpet... fine during most of the time, but when wet, disaster for your shot.. and health.
^^ (Cement pads would be amazing for this :P )
- Finding the next hole is very difficult, would be nice to know on sign where the next one is off the chains.
- There are steep hills and stairs or logs placed nicely would help with going up and down to golf (They have a bridge made by some Boy Scouts and his Eagle Project on Hole 5)
- No bathrooms, water, trash can, etc.
Other Thoughts: - If you play around the night, watch out, you WILL lose discs easily! Bring a nice NEON color disc or glow disc and FLASHLIGHT!
All and all, a very nice course, know as the 2nd Place to FlipCity for its challenges and length. A good hour and a half to two hours to finish... (or close to three with a large group)
1) Hole 8, 14, 15 are hilled holes, take them carefully, try not to roll and try to get above the peak of the hill.
2) Hole 13 is a putter shot, can be completed if good in 2 shots or even ACE.
3) Hole 16 is the drop, goes down and a little to the left and Hole 17 goes up and to the left. U shape part of the course
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: This is a fun course to play. Lots of challenging
holes. A good mix of hyzer and anhyzer shots. uphill and downhill shots.
Cons: Get rid of the carpet on the tees. Very slick when wet. need cement.
Could use some better signage to find the next hole.
Other Thoughts: bring a water bottle and wear good shoes.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Good, but beware of thieves!
Pros: Let me start off by saying that I loved this course. Really beautiful scenery and fun holes. All of the main holes are marked with blue signs, and the 6 extra holes are easy enough to find. All of the roles have lots of variety.
Cons: The tees are really the only thing I can think of about the course that I don't like. They are made of carpet and are really short to boot. I would rather have just a dirt tee than these!
Also, beware of locals who steal your discs. My friend threw his and it landed in a very open area near some other players who were waiting there for no apparent reason (They had already finished the hole). They took off literally a few seconds after the disc landed, and we couldn't see exactly where the disc landed due to it landing over a hill and behind a tree. The disc was nowhere to be found, and when we went to confront the players who were standing there, they quickly took off and didn't even finish the hole they were on when they saw us coming. So please, pay extra attention when throwing your discs near people you don't know!
Other Thoughts: Other than the disc thieves and carpet pads, I really enjoyed this course. If it got cement tees then it would be a 4.5 or 5 easily.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Challenging for a beginner, but, worth it.
Pros: Very Long course that winds through a Huge park in a little town in the middle of West Michigan. Park was co-designed by Bill McKenzie of Flip City and truly has his signatures all over it. The second half of the course specifically is very Bill-ish. Number 11 is reminiscent of many of the holes at flip, where it starts open but then drops into moderate woodiness. Number 13 is fun (risk/reward) shot and very ace-able. I specifically liked the two gulch shots (1a/8). Very little risk of losing a disc on a dangerous shot. Very challenging course with a huge variety of shots, everything you could want from a course.
Cons: Carpet Tee pads, boooooo! they need concrete or even just dirt, I hear cement is on the way, and not a moment too soon.
Bugs: nothing the county can do here
Fairways needed mowed something fierce when I played, could have contributed to the bug problem.
Guide Signs: While fully appreciated, the locally made guide signs are a little small and inconspicuous at times. Permanent guide signs would truly make this a 5 disc course.
Other Thoughts: I used absolutely every disc in my bag and we played in 85 degree heat. We were all absolutely whipped after playing this beheamoth. Truly truly one of the best five courses in west Michigan.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 4 Not
FLIP CITY's cousin
Pros: The course is tight....elevation changes....long holes...short difficult holes....rough is intense....designed by those in cooperation with flip city designers....mainly a side arms dream, which is who it was designed by.....One thing...the course never lets up with keeping you interested in what is up next....much like flip....scorable....but tons of trouble and luck is always helpful.
Cons: teepads are coming.....occasional water issues on one hole....but oh well when you see what the course offers....
Other Thoughts: DONT pass this course up as you may be tempted to do when you are in Michigan checking out west coast courses.....I put this course on the to do list of must sees on the west side of MI....and think....it was #5 without teepads.....check out why :)
3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
very nice 24 hole dgc
Pros: -well maintained,clean, overall nice park
- a long winding 24 hole layout
-fairly easy to find your way through the course, well marked with very nice accurate signs and markers.
-great mix of different types of holes, long,short,left,right always keeps you thinking about your next shot.
- i like the fact that even the easier holes have opportunity to bogey or worse becouse of some neat basket layouts.
Cons: -it could use cement tee pads ( right now it has carpet covered pads)
-some areas to the side of the fairways are a bit rough and covered with cut logs
-cut foliage could be cleaned up and the course could be broken in a little better, this will come with time.
-this wasnt a con for any of us, but this could be a hard park to walk with small kids or for the faint hearted who dont like walking up and down steep hills and paths, personally I like the exercise and unique nature feel the park has!
Other Thoughts: This is a wonderful park, beautiful scenery, the course is very fun, the up and down winding walkways through woods and fields are very cool, note: i did slip and fall a few times most likely due to me not being very careful on slippery uneven ground, we saw lots of walkers and hikers enjoying the park aswell. Small creeks and little water holes offer unique challenges on both your drives and your putts, each hole has its different tricks and turns. A very nice pavillion makes a great spot for cooking on breaks between rounds. The locals were very friendly and welcoming. overall just a great experience at a great disc golf park. I think just about any disc golfer from beginner to expert would like playing this course. You could come here with your dog or whatever and just walk the course and have a good time.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
DISCING IN TIME!
Pros: LOVE THIS COURSE! The "sandbag" tees are something else. The old, rotting woods, and deep, dugout ravines are unlike any scenery I've golfed in. BEST part of this course is exploring "glass island" .. you will know it when you see it. GREAT course for "tree lovers." AWESOME open downhill shot on hole 16. Alternate holes are placed well, you can play all 6 without veering off the main course or backtracking.
Cons: It is a challenging course for singles, yet fun course for doubles. Hole 18 is extremely long, and will put a damper on your final score. You will find yourself spending too much time exploring the antique glass by the water's edge. The course takes almost 2 hours to complete!
Other Thoughts: Last time I was there I found an old pair of glasses, Roosevelt style. Also found red, blue, and orange glass. Not many complete bottles, but if you dig down deep enough, you can find pieces that haven't been crushed by explorers. Always a treasure to be found every time you go there!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Bring your hiking boots
Pros: - Good variety of holes lengths, doglegs, and elevation changes
- Great signs and clearly marked pathways keep you from getting lost
- Abundant wildlife (I threw over two deer in the 10th fairway who didn't flinch as the disc went flying over their heads)
Cons: - Mosquitoes galore, don't leave home without your bug spray
- Long walks between holes, especially if you chose to not play the alternates
- Several holes require you to walk up and down extremely steep hills, probably a good idea to have someone with you in case you fall or twist an ankle - not a course for the casual disc golfer
Other Thoughts: Despite having a hard time making it to the course due to construction I enjoyed playing it. Other than the long hikes between holes it is layed out well and rewards both the technical game and the big arms. Hole 11 brings you out of the woods with a teebox in a clearing and offers a nice pin placement back in the woods. Holes 15-18 are out in the open. Hole 16 is a satisfying downhill ace oppurtunity. Hole 18 seems to be longer than it needs to be; it really tests you to see if you have anything left in your tank.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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