Best course for miles around
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Castle Hayne. The name says it all. The lore of this place precedes it before even stepping foot onto the course. Another Harold Duvall beauty that the NC coast deserved!
Now that that's out of the way, let's dig down into the details. Upon arriving at the park you'll find the beauty of the place inspiring. It's located a stone's throw from the beach but you could be fooled into thinking you're hundreds of miles away.
The park is very well maintained with bathrooms and other park amenities at the park center. Driving past hole one (and seeing hole 10 perched up overlooking the fork in the road) has a way of building you up for the upcoming round.
The course is technically challenging. Most holes are heavily wooded with tight fairways to traverse. There were many right/left/straight shots, however the vast majority were pretty long (standard Duvall affair, not a bad thing in my opinion). So for those looking for a short shot here and there, there aren't many to be had here.(Head up the road to Arrowhead park)
The signs are well made and there aren't any major hiccups with navigation, apart from finding hole 10. The front and the back 9 both come back to the center of the park, allowing you to easily start on the back.
Challenge! This course will require your game to be on its best. Like I stated previously, there aren't many places to air one out, but if you can snap off a long drive that is also very precise, you'll be greatly rewarded! Am's might find the challenging aspect frustrating at times, but it should inspire them to improve their skills. Hole 12 is a unique little devil. Rip a drive, but not too far or you'll go in the creek. Then rip another drive down the fairway, parallel to the creek and hope you don't dive left. Then finish back up to the right (yes, that's a U shape) for a challenging and unique hole. I like to think of it as the moat for the Castle [Hayne]. Luckily I was able to grab a 3 on this hole but others are not so lucky I'm sure.
Despite being heavily wooded, the course doesn't seem to have many trouble spots for losing discs. If you find yourself really far off the fairway it is certainly possible, but probably fairly rare. The water hazard on 12 is sure to have claimed some plastic over the years, but what's a good course without the fear of drowning?!
One unique thing that Castle Hayne has that I had never seen before were fairway distance markers. You'll see these all day long on a ball golf course, colored spikes in the ground in the middle of the fairway to mark the remaining distance to the hole(basket), but this is the first I've seen in the dg world. Not sure what the overall consensus is regarding these but I thought they were pretty neat.
Cons: There is virtually zero elevation change, but we are at the beach after all, so you can't really fault the designer for not incorporating any, it simply doesn't exist. Nevertheless, a con compared to courses nationwide.
There is also a lack many open holes. Apart from hole 1, which still has ample amounts of trees to hit, every hole requires a precise wooded shot in some manner. Hole 18 is mostly open, but starts and finishes in a wooded alcove. If you're looking for a good mix of open and wooded, you won't find it here.
The biggest con for me was the time in which I played it. We played after a brief thunderstorm (which is sure to occur often at the beach) and nearly all of the fairways on the back 9 were unplayable. I say unplayable, but we played them. What I should have said was, you won't come out of the woods very dry! The course holds water like you wouldn't believe. Several of the holes had standing pools across a 50-60 ft fairway. I only played once and this may indeed be a rare occurrence, however I'm free to speculate that a course at the beach is bound to get a lot of rain and in the case of Castle Hayne, this doesn't bode well for a dry round...
Other Thoughts: Pros should (and do) enjoy this course. It requires the utmost precision on most holes in order to post a good round. Amateurs will love it for the challenge as well, but please have this in mind when going to play for the first time.
It's easily the best in the area and conveniently located to Wilmington and the beach. You shouldn't hesitate to play this course, and even drive out of the way to play it if necessary, but I'd advise trying to time it for a dry spell or you'll need to bring some rain boots and maybe a snorkel! (This is a slight hyperbole)
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
A "Must Play" in NC
0 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: This may very well be the Pinehurst #2 of North Carolina disc golf. A relatively benign opening hole leads you into a variety of par 3's, 4's and 5's of all shapes and sizes, with subtle changes in elevation. Baskets are well protected but the fairways are wide enough to get there in the allotted amount of strokes. Great signs, benches, trees and wildlife.
Cons: May be too difficult for beginners.
Other Thoughts: A must play in North Carolina for any disc golf enthusiast.
0 of 7 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: I'm not sure how much I need to extoll the virtues of Castle Hayne. It's a wonderful park. It's incredibly clean and well-kept. The tees are some of the nicest that I've seen. The signs are neat, informative and original. The course flows easily and aside from finding the tenth tee, no visitor should have trouble following the course.
That praise of the basics should not imply that there isn't much to exclaim about the layout of the course. It's a great layout. It's tough and players that aren't challenged by Castle Hayne are probably liars. Entirely wooded, rarely will a player be faced with a throw that isn't technical in some way. It's varied in the sense that there is a solid mix of left-turning, right-turning and straight shots. While it is somewhat cliche, it is accurate to say that you might use every shot in your bag here.
The fairways are extremely well-done. Tight but reasonable and fair. Punishing for those who miss their line but always offering a proper path to basket. No leftover trees, if you go off the fairway here, there is only one person to blame.
I'd imagine, also, that this course does a very good job of providing scoring separation. The cream should rise here, to use another cliche. This isn't something I care about typically when rating a course but with all these technical angles, I'd imagine this is a great course for determining a true master of the game.
And if there isn't a great hole here, there isn't a weak one either. Everything here is solid. Long holes considering the width of the fairways. Tough pars throughout the course with long threes and true fours. If challenge is the most important thing for you, this a course you will enjoy.
Cons: Honestly, it just didn't knock my socks off. I don't mean this isn't a very good course. It's a course without much in the way of flaws. But it doesn't have anything that stands out and marks the course as unique. There isn't anything I'm going to remember down the line and think, "yeah, Castle Hayne." While challenging and obviously of high caliber it fails to claim a place among the elite courses of the state, at least for me.
Part of that is the lack of real changes in elevation. A lot of people will say things like "the course designer did the best with what was there," and in this case, that seems to be the case, but I'm not rating the job the designer did considering the available land. I'm judging the play experience and that means comparing it to all the other courses and the way that they make use of elevation. In the same vein, there is no real water obstacles here. (One creek along the side but it only affects play slightly) And it may not be fair, but two of the ways in which courses often create memorable holes are just not present here. To my mind, Castle Hayne is like a lot of courses in the state. Maybe a little tougher. Maybe a little cleaner and better appointed. Maybe a bit-better designed. But not that different.
If I seem like I'm being over-critical, it's because I'm trying to explain why I gave it "only" a 3.5. The good qualities of Castle Hayne are legion and well known. And I can see how many have grown to love it. But to this traveling player, it doesn't call out to be played again the way that some do. There is a reason why, if you look through even the glowing reviews, you don't find many specific holes mentioned.
Other Thoughts: I feel like this whole review was written in a more matter-of-fact tone than I typically use. I think that's reflective of the course. It's matter-of-fact. By the book. It's very well done, but not incredibly imaginative. And really, that's a pro and a con. The serious competitor will likely love this course and what it requires of his game. The wanderer who wants to see something original may not care for it as much. It's very well executed, technically flawless. But it doesn't venture too far from the manual.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful.
One of the best in NC
0 Helpful / 8 Not
Pros: The main pro is that the local club puts in a TON of work to make this course amazing. This course wouldn't be what it is without their help.
Cons: Floods if there is heavy rain and not much elevation variances.
Other Thoughts: This one is worth going out of your way to play.
0 of 8 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: - Great location. Castle Hayne Park offers not only one of the top 5 best DGCs in the state, it also has plenty for the wife & kids to do if you can't convince them to let you drag them through the woods. It offers covered picnic areas, a nice playground for the little ones, tennis courts, a practice basket, and clean restrooms.
- Lots of events scheduled regularly by the New Hanover County DG Club. Weekly doubles and singles organized by an extremely friendly bunch make me thankful I'm stationed in Wilmington.
- Wide variety of holes: Challenging woodlands coupled with some where you can really air it out. Better bring your a game though; some of the lanes are pretty tight.
- Trails throughout the course. The course looks really dense at first glance, but apparently enough people like me have played and their hyzer turned into an anhyzer that ended up in the thick of it. The trails cut down the density of an otherwise extremely unfriendly forest. This is helpful for errant shots that send you on an excavation for your disc.
- Provides a challenge for experienced players but isn't overwhelming for beginners. The difficulty inspires newbies to improve their game after a 25+ over par game while still offering enough challenge to keep advanced players motivated and their game sharp.
- Very well maintained. Pins are moved fairly regularly and the fairways remain fairly clear, probably due to the high traffic.
- Fairly easy to navigate. For first-time players it might be a bit confusing to find #10, #11, #14, and maybe even #2 (for the seriously navigationally challenged), but the regulars are an extremely friendly bunch who are happy to show you the way, young grasshoppa.
Cons: - Little elevation changes, but understandable considering the proximity to the coast.
- Bugs can get annoying sometimes (especially after a big rain), but you can't really complain too much. After all, you're in the woods in SE NC.
- Water supply. No drinking fountains, but the shelters have what look to be well pumps. I do not recommend drinking from those. I was pretty thirsty after a 45 hole day when I ran out of beer on 18 and drank from the "poisoned well," which I immediately spat out. Felt like someone punched me in the mouth and knocked out four teeth; the copper/rust in that water was breathtaking. Unless you enjoy well water -- with its smooth draw, earthy tones, and enough kick to give Tickle's 'shine a run for its money -- I don't recommend hydrating yourself with that mess.
- Finally (and this is a REALLY petty gripe), there aren't any convenience stores in close proximity to the park that you can dip out after a round, grab a quick six-pack to wash the taste of blood out of your mouth after having drunk from the well, and hit the chains again for a second round to redeem that 18-over. But again, that's really stretching the limits of reason considering it's such a great course and you're in the middle of the woods. In short, come prepared, my friends. Semper f-ing paratus.
- No topless Hooters girls frolicking along the #8 fairway.
Other Thoughts: This course is, by reputation, one of the best in North Carolina -- and that street cred is VERY well deserved. As a relative newbie to the addiction, I don't mind admitting that I don't have a whole lot to go by, but The Castle provides an exceptional blueprint that all course designers would do well to adhere to. If you are a player and will be visiting SE North Carolina in the near future, you will be doing yourself a HUGE disservice by not bringing your discs on vacation with you. The Castle is an absolute MUST PLAY for any devotee of the sport.
5 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Near perfect course
4 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Really well maintained. No worries about losing discs in thick underbrush.
Pine needles can give you a great skip.
Cons: Not much elevation but what can you do? Really not much tom complain about.
Not the most friendly chains. After watching the 2013 Azalea Open on Youtube, the lead card might agree.
I would like flags or a little more color on the baskets. I had a hard time spotting some of them until I was right on top of them.
Other Thoughts: This is a must-play if you're anywhere close. I can't wait to go back. You really want to stay in the fairway. Just because you can see through the trees doesn't mean you can throw through them.
This course rewards thoughtful play.
Kudos to the New Hanover DG Club. They've done a fabulous job here.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Well thought out with multiple basket locations and multiple approach angles. Very well taken care of and awesome signage on all of the holes.
Cons: Very long for a beginner like myself. It will make you think about shot placement.
2 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Great Layout, challenging. Good signs, tees and baskets.
If you are in the area, a must play.
Cons: Not very beginner friendly. (can't say too many negatives)
Hole 12 or 13 (along the railroad tracks) is a little annoying.
Other Thoughts: Fantastic course! Well worth the stop if you are traveling through and you want a challenging and beautiful course. I'm sure the course gets much harder in the spring when things bloom.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -Meticulously maintained course
-Tight and challenging. When you make a good throw you know it almost immediately.
-5 holes have alternate basket placements, making this tough course even tougher.
-Benches and cans on almost every hole.
-Detailed hole signs showing your ideal throwing locations.
-Shaded by tree cover on most holes, so light rain is no problem
-Very rarely do holes come close to intersecting another.
Cons: -Being one of the nicest and best courses anywhere, It can get busy at times. Nothing too bad, but I have seen some 4 group queues before.
-Not very new player friendly. It's quite challenging, so the room for error is small.
-Hole 10 is on the other side of the park from hole 9, and there are no signs, save for a small #10 sign right on the fence to the hole. Maybe something placed near 9 could eliminate this.
-Hole 12 had previously been a signature Par 5 hole here, but has been changed by the removal of stairs down the long hill, as well as ominous warning signs.
-Hole 8's tee shot is brutal. that creek has taken so many of our discs! We usually place someone down there to "guard".
Other Thoughts: The rating and title for this course is pretty much all that needs to be said. Since this is the course I started on, all other course get compared to it. Almost always unfavorably, haha. You won't a more professional course within a 100 miles. Just don't be surprised when somehow you notice you're 10 over par with 9 holes left to go. Enjoy!
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: Challenging. Very well kept up course. Great baskets. Fun holes
Cons: Tee pads were a little short. Killer spiders everywhere. Very small window in which to drive through.
Other Thoughts: The woods off the fairways are as thick as i have ever seen. Very tough if you do not drive well. Lots of right turn holes on the back 9.
0 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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