Disc Golf School
6 Helpful / 3 Not
Other Thoughts: Course is in what appears to be a regional level park featuring rolling piedmont terrain with mature canopy. As a typical park in this area, it is 'buffered' and it also features a long entrance road, along which facilities are developed. Select clearing and then grassing has occurred around the more traditional park activities and the course's front 9. Park is about 150 acres. Course is, in the main, sequestered from other park activities and appeared well maintained at the time of play. Equipment, tees, amenities, and signage are above average, although vandalism appears on some shared 'Web' layout tees.
This is the first time this reviewer has played the course in nearly a decade, so some comments on the course's condition and development will be in order. Since that time, the course has undergone a major revision, substantially or completely changing almost 1/3 of the course. The course's essential character has remained the same and has softened gracefully. The biggest difference in play value is the 'forgiveness' of the roughs, which were downright penal, even for minor errors, 10 years ago. Course is significantly more 'playable' today, meaning that chances for recovery while scrambling have greatly improved all over the course. Also notable, aside from the 'Web' layout (the subject of a future review), is that many trees have since matured and clear cuts have begun to refill the open canopy spaces. The result is an additional need for accuracy, as some route options are not feasible anymore and other key windows have tightened up. There is also more shade, which yields a more consistent 'feel' throughout the course (and cooler play time during summer months). Also, before this reviewer played, the turf was recently mown, opening up the roller game. Significant play affecting wind still is a factor on this course, especially on the front and less so on the back. Interior paths are well worn and an appropriate width for fairly comfortable single file bi-directional foot traffic. Way finding was easy although some transitions are extended and longish. Few play affecting drainage problems are evident, despite the course's proximity to a large creek.
Hornets' Nest is almost perfectly balanced between the extremes of tight woods and 'open' parkland, which greatly adds to its playability, 'fun' and fairness. Course will richly reward straight flat shots of up to 300', with even more scoring opportunities if one can extend that to 350'. Average hole length for the 18 is less than 350', which means that only average to good power is needed to score well, even though long throwers will always get more scoring chances. Nine holes are less than 300'.
Elevation differences between the tee and the target are fairly subtle at Hornet's Nest. There are no tough uphill tugs or majestic downhill pumps. Perhaps the greatest elevation difference one traverses from tee to green, on any one hole, is 2 meters, with the exceptions of #15 & #16.
From tee to green, the golfer most commonly approaches a slightly elevated green (12 holes). Everywhere on Hornets' Nest, but especially on high handicap holes, there is a very strong emphasis on placement and distance control, as it is nearly impossible to overpower these holes and the results of many conservative plays will not even yield an 'open' line to the target. Reviewer appreciated the relatively limited ob areas, all of which are well enough away from play, clearly visible and/or intuitive (if not explicitly marked). 7 holes are completely blind from the tee and 3 of these are the top 3 handicap holes; their landing zones are well apparent from the tee. All fairways are well defined and approach an almost standardized width. The routing's flow is intuitive enough. On 2 of the 3 three 'road holes', stable counter spin shots are favored with regard to landing ob.
Greens do not feel as potentially punishing as some other Charlotte courses. 2/3 of the course features greens that are between 0% and 3% average slope and all are generally unobstructed within 10 meters. Don't worry though - there are ample chances to get stuck behind a tree at Hornets' Nest. Greens are either neutral or generally more receptive to the fade of counter spin tee shots/approaches.
Perhaps the most controversial issue regarding Hornet's Nest would be the 'elevated' baskets (also present elsewhere in Charlotte). Reviewer really appreciates these experiments; this sport is not yet so hidebound, that such elements be automatically disregarded on some 'formal disc golf' basis. Reviewer also appreciates this trend toward more specifically constructed features in disc golf, but the articulation of these specific elements is generally crude and begs for improvement. The current appearance is likely due to budgetary and time constraints; they function well enough however. A direct comparative example is available at Hornet's Nest. If you visit, please compare the masonry erosion protection wall around #5's pin with the elevated target feature on #'8's green and decide for yourself which solution is more 'professional' and 'safety conscious'.
#9 is a very playful hole, but seemingly out of character with the rest of the course, which might lead some to the term 'contrived', but a regular player of Hornets' Nest might quickly learn to develop a new type of putt to add to his/her 'bag of tricks', specifically to deal with an 'elevated' green's unique 'topography'. It is for the reader to decide the value of this trade-off.
#14 is certainly one of the top-ten 'short' holes (<275') in the world, a super-fine division between the limits of human skill and the grace of luck.
Perhaps a response to 'fairness' criticisms, #15 now features an added fairway route to the left, a fairly labor intensive method to silence the naysayers, but it adds at least one more 'important' decision to the round. Before this change, this reviewer felt #15 was one of the toughest tee shots in the city for a hole of this length (320'). Eminently reachable from the tee, it is/was one of the few holes that forced a player to get the disc relatively high into the air and exercise flawless fade control through a typically narrow fairway over that entire distance. This is tough for either spin, as extreme throwing angles relative to horizontal will not work well with these constraints. High speed discs do not work so well either.
Hornet's Nest is a solid course, with no terrible glaring defects. The technical skills and power required to play well here, while not especially deep or varied, can easily lead to success on most any other course in the sport.
This review update concerns the Web layout at Hornets Nest Park and based on this layout's ambition alone, I feel a higher rating is in order for the entire facility. In my earlier review, I more or less ignored the Web layout, as it is nearly a different course entire. This merits a separate treatment. Let's start with the technical details...
Course has 10 par 4's, 3 par 5's and 5 par 3's and the average hole distance is just under 510'; 13 holes are 480' or better. This is much more in keeping with a standard golf course in every respect, but most importantly strategically. While this may seem obvious to some, it's important to keep in mind this course is a fairly early example of this type of disc golf course and overall is still fairly rare in the disc golf world. When Hornets Nest opened in '96, 6000'+ permanent courses were somewhat rare and now this average distance is a standard expectation for advanced and above level golfers. The Web layout offers some new expectations for those with the fever, and thus we have strategy working on a few different levels here...
Regarding how the course plays, much of my earlier review talking points still applies, but is amplified. Straight flat shots up to 350' are the most richly rewarded play over the entire course. Placement of tee shots is crucial to scoring, as 7 holes are un-cuttable doglegs. Note that there are no holes with distances between 320' and 486' and how that might affect scoring chances for those with above average power. Of the straight shot shape par 4's, all have various restrictions, obstacles, height restrictions, incredible length, etc., which further blunt a power player's advantage off the tee. From a competitive standpoint, this enables a wider range of players to be in the hunt. Noodle-armed control players don't lose heart!
Course overall is generally balanced regarding spin advantage with a slight advantage going to stable counter spin shot shapes from the tee and approach. This advantage is most pronounced on the front 9 and shifts to a stable clock spin advantage on the back 9. As with the Nest, a few more greens are counter spin receptive than clock, but most are neutral. As the Web is younger and also receives less play, the roughs are generally thicker and more penal. Your ability to scramble and recover will depend a lot on both your humility and the breadth of your 'bag-of-tricks'.
Naturally, with all these long holes most holes are blind or semi-blind. Web first timers may have some difficulty off the tee, as many of the best landing spots are not immediately apparent or obvious from same. #17, in particular, has a devious visual perception trick, due in part to the slightly depressed tee box. If you have poor depth perception, I advise pre-walking the fairway here for a better look before you throw. Web first timers would also be well advised to print a course map as way finding isn't quite as obvious as with the Nest, and some transitions are long and a bit awkward/non-intuitive (#13-14).
Specific holes worth mentioning:
#4 gets a lot of flak for being too close to the baseball field, which is a valid, but there's nothing to really be done about it. There's no such thing as a 'perfect course'. Well, maybe in heaven.... Otherwise, I feel it gets a bit overlooked for its cleverness. At about 550', it's in range for a legitimate putting eagle for those with exceptional power from the tee, BUT, the tee is slightly depressed and pocketed, hiding the wind direction and speed from the golfer. There are also both height and width restrictions off the tee; these factors effectively nullify any 'big air' type of attempt. In addition, the drop-off-and-roll-away slope with ob behind make the approach dicey for everyone, especially clock spin dominant players. This hole epitomizes the risk/reward concept from the approach, as a routine birdie (for the good to gifted) can easily turn into a bogie or worse.
#16 in my opinion, easily the most difficult hole on the course, is an absolute nightmare for a counter spin dominant player. Not just because of its length, constricted fairway and harshly penal rough throughout, but because these factors are compounded by the left-to-right downward slope, the ridgeback green (which repels fast shots from all directions) WITH an elevated basket and its place late in the round. I've personally carded many relatively simple 3's on the Nest's #16, but can scarcely imagine that result on the Web's. Good thing it's a par 5. Think again if you believe this designer doesn't have a mean streak.
Since this is an overlay design on a popular course, conflicts and confusion may arise between players of different tracks, but how is this different from any other busy course? On crowded park days, some areas of the course are a bit close to other park activities/goers, which may be an irritation to golfers, but the trade-off is more exposure to the uninitiated. I still feel #9 is a 'sore thumb' hole, out of character for the rest of the course and I like to think the designer built this hole on purpose with the express objective of provoking controversy and irritation. That's fine. #18's tee box is blind to the benches and tee boxes for #'s 1& 10, and although it's a short hole, this is a conflict for a conservative play on the most congested area of the course.
The Web most closely adheres to the strategic and penal design schools and while some may feel the dearth of heroic opportunities here a negative, for most 'normal' golfers it's more than challenge enough. Played well, in the manner intended, the Web sharpens the golfing tools which will bring the most success and enjoyment in the long term: mid-range consistency, course management and a solid mental game (solid putting is not really course dependant). Most of my negative criticisms address minor points, as in the main, the Web is a solid offering that aspiring designers and golfers alike can go to school on.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Web layout is an absolutely sick course. I wish it were my home course. I enjoyed getting my @ss kicked. We played the longest layout measuring at 9,120 feet with a par of 70. The Nest layout is shorter but it will test your game. This is no walk in the park.
The front of the course is drastically different from the back. The front is a little more open with water and road out of bounds coming into play. The back is just flat out wicked playing in the thick woods. This course is designed for the best of the best and it requires every shot.
The option to play 2 different layouts and mix up the variety is awesome.
The tee pads and baskets were great!
This course has some fantastic true par 4 & 5 holes. You need an all around game to birdie them. Mistakes lead to big numbers.
Hole #13 "The Guantlet" is a very memorable hole. You must put it on a rope to get the birdie. It's just as easy to get a 4 as it is to 2 it.
Several elevated baskets add difficulty.
There is risk and reward all over the course.
Hole #16 is one of the nastiest holes I have played. Measuring in a 712 feet it's a monster. You have to play down a huge tunnel then turn hard left up the hill. The green area is nasty too. Stan, you are sick and twisted!
I absolutely love the Island hole to finish this course on the Web layout.
The park features restrooms, playground, lighted ball fields, lighted tennis courts, BMX racing track, picnic shelters, fishing pond, basketball courts, and walking trails.
Cons: Like most Charlotte courses this one could use updated signs on every tee.
The only real con I could see is navigation. Print a map. I had an awesome guide who plays the course often. I did not have to walk to find anything. It was VERY enjoyable. The maps on this site are very accurate.
Other Thoughts: I spent 2 days playing 9 courses in Charlotte. Their disc golf courses are very difficult. I was very impressed with the overall design of each course. What an awesome trip when it was snowing back in Chicago.
I'm always looking for feeback. If you vote not helpful I'd love to hear why.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course will test your skills. There are holes that play in the open and holes that will make you hit windows in the woods. You'll need to be able to make a lot of different shots if you get off the fairway in the woods.
Lots of length to the holes. Shorter holes either have O.B. close by, or you have to make the perfect shot to catch a birdie.
There are trash cans and benches on almost every hole.
Holes 1 and 10 are right next to each other, so you can start on the back or the front 9.
Cons: Some of the signs are a little old and have faded.
Could use a few more signs up to tell you where to go next. There is no sign that helps you get from hole 1 to hole 2. The signs that are around the course are also showing some age.
Other Thoughts: There's a reason this is going to be the signature course for the 2012 Worlds. It's pretty awesome, and at the same time frustrating because you know you can shoot well here, but then you slam your disc into a tree and take a bogey (if not worse).
I haven't played the long course yet (Charlotte's Web), but I plan to the next time I head down to Charlotte.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
A Fairytale of a course
Pros: Hornets Nest and in particular the Charlotte's Web layout that we played is a nasty wooded, take it to you type of course. It demands consistent play and punishes errant tee shots.
Elevation, OB, woods, tight fairways: It has pretty much everything that will challenge you. This is why a lot of quality disc golfers live in the Charlotte area. They get to play these types of courses year round!
Like I mentioned earlier, The Charlotte's Web layout is quite different from the original Hornet's Nest.- The Web is longer and more difficult. There were longer tees on some holes, longer pin placements on some holes, and sometimes BOTH. The Web smacks you in the face with seemingly impossible fairways that force players out of their comfort zone. More experienced players will find this Par 70, 9000'+ layout a solid challenge. Less experienced players beware.
Good long concrete tees with a grippy surface.
Color coded baskets although a map would be helpful.
Park restrooms and scenery.
Cons: Charlotte's Web tee signs need to be updated. They are falling apart compared to their Hornet's Nest counterparts. Signs would help newer players and non locals navigate better.Although each hole for both the Nest and the Web have signs, it's not always immediately clear what's going on with the multiple baskets, tees, etc.
Other Thoughts: One amazing course that probably would punish me more often than not. BUT I can say I shot an 82 for the one and only time playing from the longs. I'll take that score.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 9 Not
Pros: The course has a variety of open and closed holes. The length, while challenging, is one of the best features of the course. It also has decent signage, great baskets, and concrete pads. The Web alternative is significantly more difficult, featuring tighter, longer fairways.
Cons: The only cons are that it can get crowded on weekends and evenings. The maps are ok, but they need to be updated to reflect newer changes to the course.
1 of 10 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Queen City's Crown Jewel
-- I love this type of course, schizophrenic, with some tight technical woods and some more open bomber holes. You'll need about every disc for this course. Has all the elements of a Stan McDaniel challenge: thoughtful distance, clever use of OB, tight-line shot-making, tricky basket locations. You know you're playing one of his courses when you have more than one birdie putt that turns into a 5, or like you go OB twice on one hole (looking at you, 7!)
Maybe 5-9 signature holes here, take your pick, I feel like 7 is the one, but 12 works. 15 may be the most intimidating tee shot in NC. I 5 that thing like every time. The basket placement on 5 makes it one of the toughest par 3s in town.
The two layouts are great, with the Web having more of a location golf feel, more par 4s and more demanding lines to hit from hand to landing.
--Just a pretty course, especially at the right time of year. Though some of the holes are situated near other park-going activities (like active picnic/bar-b-q areas,) this is one of the most scenic layouts in town.
--A Charlotte standard, thousands of rounds have been played here, so the rough is reasonable, the course is beat-in, but nowhere near beat-up, if you take my meaning.
--Restrooms, parking, water right next to #1 and #10 (which are back-to-back.) Web 18's island green is right there, too, and is the ipso facto practice basket.
Cons: --On busy park days, like big weekends/holidays, there may be some interference from other park-goers on the last half of the front 9.
--It is deceptively easy to blow up on a round, and score high. I've always felt like the Nest layout can play much harder than it seems. Be prepared.
--As noted in other reviews, a few holes (like 6, especially) offers a player the best chance they'll have in Charlotte to hit a moving vehicle.
--Navigation can be a bear if you don't know the course, especially if you're giving the Web layout a go. Map's a must, or glom on with a local. Couple of long transitions, particularly between 1 and 2. You can, if you're there at the right time, take in a little BMX action on that walk, if you're so inclined.
Other Thoughts: Arguably Charlotte's best all around disc golfing, though I know that's a bold statement. I'd personallly give this one a 5 if there werent' a couple of occasions where other park-goers really screwed up rounds by walking out on a fairway and picking up a disc out of curiosity, like they couldn't figure out where it came from.
So many top players from this area have cut their teeth on this course. Pretty layout, not a bad hole, two layouts. I want to go out there right now! If you travel to the area, and really want to get your butt handed to you, Nevin is about 7 minutes away from Hornet's Nest, making for a great, if tiring, day of golf.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Put Hornet's Nest on your wish list!
Pros: With the Web overlap course, this park provides a very complete test of golf for all skill levels. There is great variety in hole shapes and looks and some of the most beautiful fairways anywhere. The front nine is fairly open and "park-like" and then loops back to the parking lot. The back nine, in particular, provides a fun, unique challenge with many gorgeous shots under an awesome tree canopy.
Hole 10 is a nice, uphill left to right shot. Halfway up the fairway is a picture postcard view of the basket framed by a gorgeous tree canopy. This view sets the tone for one of the best nine holes in disc golf.
Hole 12 is among my "best of the best" disc golf holes anywhere. (although it's a par 4, not a par 5 as listed)
"The Gauntlet" is a great little hole that provides nice contrast and adds a lot to the pucker factor. (Hint: throw a tomahawk)
Hole 15 is a very strong par 3 that can be birdied with a great drive, but can also result in disaster. It's one of the scariest tee shots in disc golf.
Hornet's Nest has many dynamic putting "greens" that create the potential for three putts. Most notable is hole 9. It is a very short, straightforward hole that has been diabolically augmented with a very tall, raised basket. The terms risk/reward apply to this hole like few others in the sport.
Cons: The navigation is a little tricky from hole 1 to hole 2, could use a couple more signs.
Holes 6 & 7 run down the busy park road and create a high likelihood that cars will be hit.
Having Web hole 15 play over two holes creates a long, wonky hole and then creates confusing routing. Web 18 is an island green in the middle of the parking lot that is a huge safety issue. The course(s) are great; it really is a letdown to see the Web end on a hokey, unsafe note.
Other Thoughts: Hornet's Nest is a great part of the awesome Charlotte area disc golf scene. At present, North Carolina doesn't have any courses on the DGCR top ten list, but overall I don't see any city that stacks up with Charlotte in terms of the number and quality of disc golf options within a short drive.
Don't be a dirty discer, leave the course cleaner than the way you found it.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Don't Get Stung!
Pros: - Hornets Nest has a (mostly) park-style front nine, while the back nine works its way through much tougher wooded areas. Elevation changes are fairly slight throughout, but all elevation was used to its full potential, especially with the artificially elevated baskets. Worn, established fairways with minimal schule throughout. Although a "park" vibe definitely exists in places, much of the back nine offers a more intimate and removed feel.
- The variety of shots here captured my attention. Tightly wooded, long bombers, a few ace runs, and a mixture of open and wooded keeps each hole fresh and exciting.
- The Web is the longer, more difficult layout. Some Web holes have longer tees, a second longer pin placement, a mix of both, or share the same tee and basket. The Web offers long, improbably shaped fairway designs that force players to shoot for defined landing zones in order to set up properly for the next shot. More experienced players will find this Par 70, 9000'+ layout a solid challenge.
- Above average amenities. Good long concrete tees, color-coded baskets (to distinguish The Web layout from the Nest's), restrooms, trashcans/recycling, and benches all located in a multi-purpose park.
Cons: - One or two spots might suffer from "crowded park" syndrome, although nothing stood out as a particular problem.
- Some scattered trash; again, this is being pretty nit-picky. The remains of some barb-wire fencing exists on #3.
- The main con to this course is the navigaton. Although each hole for both the Nest and the Web have signs, it's not always immediately clear what's going on with the multiple baskets, tees, etc. The Web's signs generally have less information than the Nest's.
Other Thoughts: - My rating takes into account both the Web and the Nest layouts.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: The course plays through a park setting for the front 9 with some minor elevation and a mix of wooded and more open shots. The back 9 is heavily wooded and offers tighter lines and more seclusion. The park doesn't have big elevation changes, but the ones that are there are used exceptionally to create challenge, especially around baskets. There is a great mix of lengths on both layouts, from ace runs to holes that are long enough to make you consider a driver and tight enough to make you consider a putter.
Both layouts felt very balanced between right and left turning shots, with a few straight shots required. You'll need some serious shot shaping skills to score well here, along with creative putting and get out of trouble shots. If you miss your line, especially on the back 9, there's often enough trouble to add strokes to your score.
The tees are concrete, and are in nice shape. The baskets are discatchers with some wear and age showing, but they still catch fine. It's a cool idea to color code the baskets when there are two installed on a hole, yellow for the original layout and white for the web layout. The signage is pretty good, with hole layout and distance, the original course is better marked with more consistent signage.
Cons: With two layouts that overlap, things can get a little confusing. Some holes have different tees, some have different baskets, some have both, and some are exactly the same. The end of the course is particularly confusing, as a couple holes on the original course are combined to make one web hole. I pulled up the map on my phone, I strongly recommend this your first time through.
The front 9 shares space with other park uses, we played on a weekend and had several holes with picnickers in play. There are also several shots bringing roads and walking paths into play, on a busy day there's enough traffic on the park roads to make this a safety concern.
Other Thoughts: This course was a blast to play. The original layout is challenging with tons of variety, but approachable for less skilled players. The web layout is very tough, and will make the best players work to stay on the fairways and execute the tight lines. Because of this, there's something for just about everyone here, true beginners will find it tough and punishing but everyone else can find something here appropriate to their skill level.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: Perfect course. Beautiful all year long. Great variety. Friendly enough locals.
Also - a bonus hole after 9 and 18. Web 18 is a super shortie out of the woods on the left, as you walk back to the parking lot. Plays to the practice basket. A nice tie-breaker ace-run
Other Thoughts: Variety (shots) - 4.5/5 - The only thing it's lacking are those severe up/downhill holes. I'm not a big fan of those (I suck at them). Front 9 is more open, back 9 is woodsy.
Variety (length) 5/5 - The nest is 17/18 ridiculously long, the original has a few ace runs sprinkled in and some otherwise short but tight shots (10, 14)
Beauty - 5/5 - all year
Trackability - 4/5 signs everywhere, and 1 and 10 both start out of the parking lot. It could be tricky after 9 (follow trail out then walk back to lot) and after 1 (past the bmx track on your right, then basketball court also on your right)
Lost Disc Hazard - 3.5/5 - Woods everywhere on the back 9 but it's not as undergrown as Nevin. Just don't throw green discs in the spring and you're fine.
Vibe - 5/5 - Locals are nice. Secluded manicured hike on back 9. It's sketchy when you drive in and there are a million people barbecuing, but they stay mostly out of your way and they're only really around when it's a perfect weather weekend afternoon.
Safety - 4/5 - Again, sometimes it feels sketchy as you drive in or as you park, but you never feel anything out of place while you're playing.
31/35 = 4.42 = 4.5
5 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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