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.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Lot's of land to cover!
It's hard for beginners
Some really dificult shots
Cons: It's hard for beginners
Too many really long holes
I can't remember what hole it is, maybe 18? They have picinic tables on the fairway! Some lady was trying to read as we came through and the wind was agianst us, I was worried about hitting her
Other Thoughts: wear hiking shoes, bring bug spray
1 of 2 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.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Bell Bottom Blues
This course has you feeling like a mouse on a mogul course. The terrain is a constantly changing set of small hills that give ample elevation variations within the holes.
The trees' low ceiling allows for significant ground growth, and contributes to a very secluded feel between the holes. Trails are beaten in within the trees aiding navigation (for the main 18).
From the course kiosk, you are immediately in the woods. The holes alternate well between Left and Right, before opening up a bit with some wider fairways and fewer trees as you finish the round. Great risk/reward factor on some holes.
Wonderful course feel and atmosphere. Thin creeks can be found among and through the holes. One of the small bridges was the project of an area Eagle Scout.
Personally, this is the kind of land I think of when someone says "perfect for disc golf."
I have only 2, and they are significant.
Next tee signs:
It is easy to find the main 18 holes, but you wouldn't have any indication that alternate holes existed without a map, or in my case, a DGCR scorecard. I had to hunt for each one, and I still missed one.
….And believe me when I say, you don't want to miss any of these holes. Once, while I was searching for one of the alternates, I saw the basket first. It was surrounded by shade, with one bright ray of sunlight directly on it. I felt like I should cue the harp and choir to accompany it. It was that kind of course.
I cannot, for the life of me, imagine a situation where a brilliant course of this design was implemented, but when it came to the tees, they said "carpet tees are a good idea." It's like painting the Mona Lisa and deciding to frame it in feces.
A non-defined dirt tee is infinitely superior to these 70's Shag disasters. Was Huggy Bear a course designer? Call a Teamster and get some cement!
Fix these two issues, and it will not be just be proximity that will have Branstrom and Flip being placed in the same sentence.
This was the first course I hit on the way to my second trip to Flip City. That I was "going to play Flip in 40 minutes" is the *only* reason I did not go to my car, swap out my water, and walk right back in and play it again. I was floored by the fun factor of this course, and writing this review is making me salivate.
There is no way that I can give this course 4 Discs with the carpet tees. The fact effort was made to put something in that absolutely makes the round more dangerous is a deal killer. This course with dirt tees is a 4 Disc, however.
I loved the unintentional hilarity of having the hole (#13, and my favorite) with the most dangerous grade to climb up/down, sponsored by an insurance company. Just perfect.
I am not unhappy that this course is so far away from me, but that is only because it is so close to Flip. You can bet your butt I will be back.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Very scenic course. while walking to the next tee i actually scared up a pheasant. Great course that makes you work on your shot placement and selection. Lots of elevation changes. You get a workout even if you walk the course and don't throw a disc. Love the fact that hole 16 down the sledding hill is so open that you can just let one fly and see how far it can go.
Cons: Carpeted tee pads for one. most i saw were dirt covered and look really slick. I hate to say it but i actually preferred dirt to these. plus most of the pads were way to short to be effective. i think one was no more then 5 feet long.
navigation was fine till i started towards hole six. saw the sign for 1A decided not to play it due to steep ravine. tried to follow the guide signs to hole six stumble across hole 2A on my way to six played that hole finally found hole six. again had trouble finding my way to hole 8. as i was approaching the tee pad for hole 8 i noticed the basket for hole 4A. backtracked it to the tee. while at the tee for 4A i saw the basket for 3A. didn't feel like backtracking again so i skipped 3A. so apparently i missed the signs directing me to those alternate holes.
some of the descents down the slopes can be really tricky especially on wet ground.
Other Thoughts: I was getting a little flustered trying to navigate the course until i joined another group who has played the course before. then it started to get fun again. I like the downhill shot on 13. it is a challenging course. course starts out like a nice gentle course at first then starts to show its teeth when you get deeper into the woods near the end it opens up and lets you wind down with some nice open grip it and rip it holes.
4 of 4 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.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Barnstorming at Branstrom
Pros: This course will challenge your skills and force you to use all of your shots. A variety of ups and downs and rights and lefts through a fairly scenic piece of forest land make this course an intersting walk.
Cons: Unfortunately this course is a bit heavy on the negatives for me. Right off the bat: carpet tee pads? Didn't appreciate them in a few places where they were more of a hindrance than a help. I would have rather thrown from straight dirt. Also more importantly, it seems like there are quite a few luck dependant "stupid holes" where there are no true paths to take even with a well controlled shot. I spent much of the time wondering how it was possible that there were trees everywhere my disc was. I am a big fan of having fun and I have to say at times out in Fremont fun was the farthest thing from what I was experiencing. Also I didn't find the course very easy to navigate. Had it not been for a local regular that served as our guide, I would likely still be out there trying to find my way out. The alternates need some work. The bathroom was so hard to find. I walked for a mile in search of an outhouse before finding out that I needed to go back to the beginning to find a station that was fairly well hidden along the treeline. If you get a call of nature, you had better have it at the beginning or else keep some tp in your bag because this course is a long hike. Biting flies! My word, you had better bring the deet!
Other Thoughts: I want to like this course but I just want to punch it in the eye right now. I am going to give it another go and hopefully edit my review and give it a bit more sunshine. Hope it was just a really bad day. There were far too many holes that were stupid and luck based for my liking. It just wasn't fun. Fun is what I am all about. It felt more like a chore to finish this round. I really enjoyed myself on the last three holes though. The rest of the way was bloody murder. But this a very good course.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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