Classic Western MA Course
Pros: Tully Dam DG course was played by my brother and me in September, 2016, three days, three 18-hole rounds, in one week (plus a couple bonus tie-breaker holes). This review is based on observations during that time.
Pros: The free course is beautifully placed along Tully Lake (although only hole #1 takes advantage of the lake itself) and the woods surrounding it. There is plenty of parking in the lots atop the dam. The course is well-kept and fairly clean. It has benches at most all tee boxes, and the tee pads themselves are brick pavers in square wooden forms, raised (ankle twisters if you come off the pad); a couple holes, notably #6 and #10, have no tee pads (likely to allow vehicle access as one tees from the access road). The wooded fairways and "putting greens" around the Innova Discatcher baskets are cleared of weeds, poisonous plants, undergrowth, and leaves, making the location of an errant throw manageable with some dedicated hunting. There's a nice practice basket alongside hole 1 / 18. The holes are challenging, but fair (although, admittedly, if I had a chain saw in my golf bag, my score would be improved).
Cons: Cons: The largest con is that the course signage on nearly all holes is grotesquely inaccurate for distance and pin location. Reading the reviews here, it seems this has been an issue for years; the unwillingness of the Army Crops of Engineers to paint new signs is unconscionable (hand paint them during the long cold winters instead of just petting the cats and eating canned beans in the white administration buildings, for God's sakes! Have some pride! The cost would be little more than a can of paint, as you're already sitting there "on the company clock". Paint one sign a week and you'd have the entire course done by next spring!). So inaccurate are the signs--from having you select drivers when a mid-range would do, to suggesting the pin is on the deep right when it's actually on the deep left--that they cannot at all be relied upon for the new player of this course. Some have attempted to use magic marker to correct the signage, which, although helpful, only makes their derelict appearance point more squarely to the laziness of the Army Corps of Engineers. Add to the poor signage that there's nary a single arrow or painted basket rung to point to the next hole, and play can be significantly delayed for all using the course while the "new group" up ahead snakes around in the woods looking for baskets and the pads.
Other Thoughts: Other Thoughts: The course's signature hole is, as others say, the first hole, which plays off the dam and requires a low, downhill throw to prevent a wind-driven hyzer that will fade your disc into the drink. It's a fair par 3 if one can simply get the thought of skinny-dipping in the cold water out of their consciousness. Many, like myself, lack the mental fortitude and strength of character to accomplish this; I lost a favorite red Discraft Nuke and still see it--in my mind, each and every time I close my eyes--splashing twenty feet offshore into the lake at that awkward angle that makes your guts churn. Replay image, try to sleep, replay image, give up on sleep.
Other memorable holes include hole 3, which is a pretty little, short downhill mid-range play across a brook and over a classic New England rock wall. It is quintessential western Massachusetts.
Hole 6 will stay in your head as not having a formal pad when played long (there is a recreational pad closer to the pin, but pros will tee off in the dirt just beyond the rocks in the road), having you drive straight up an access road to a left sided basket that is no more honestly located the listed 360 feet than is my honest ability to maintain an erection my professed 15 minutes. I'd estimate the basket at 250 feet, at best (but feels longer due to the uphill shot, so put your back into it just the same).
Hole 8 is a par 4, 663-foot doozy that will teach you how to play disc golf. The tee pad is far left of the road, giving you no look at all to the crumbled asphalt road fairway ahead. So, one tends to hyzer the shot and wind up on the forested banking to the left of the road. Having a spotter on the road to sight your disc is mandatory for anyone other than Paul McBeth; play alone and you might as well say "sayonara" to your driver as you'll not have a clue where it went into the woods. It's a great hole, nonetheless, with a challenging paved fairway opening up to the dry field bed of the coffer dam, and a basket placed right alongside it. Beautiful.
Hole 9 displays the lovely Route 32 arching bridge over the dry creek bed, and the twin shoulder rocky walls where a young high schooler by the name of Danny Murphy, about thirty years ago, jumped his muscle car off Route 32, from the east wall to the west wall, at nearly 100 mph, leaving little more than a windshield on the far rocks to show for it. I always say a respectful prayer for Mr. Murphy--with whom I studied freshman arithmetic merely two seats away (the irascible Larry Wheeler between us) under Mr. Donnie Ferrari, at Athol High School--when I play Tully Lake DGC hole 9. I call it his memorial hole. RIP Danny.
Hole 10 is, oddly, a favorite of many, and yet it's one of the jinkiest layouts in disc golf, as though planned by a man that had not in his life thrown a Frisbee. There's no tee pad, but the area one is expected to tee from is, literally, about 95 feet from a ninety degree, sharp dogleg left to a looong straight road. So, put any "arm" at all into your initial shot and you will either go straight into the far trees, or hyzer into the deep ditch on the left of the roadway; that is to say, there's no good way to play the tee shot other than a counterintuitive putter shot to lay up at the "joint" 95 feet away, and then have a stab at the 300 foot perfectly straight downhill to the pin on your second shot. Anything off the road on either side will force you to use the ropes to climb into the steep ditch, and will score you a triple bogey in less time than it takes to soil yourself when you spy what you're up against from the bottom of the roadside trench. I favor this hole about as much as I favor ants at my picnic.
Holes 11 and 12 are in the darkest hollows of the course, dim even in broad daylight due to the closeness of the trees, and the eeriness of these holes is intensified by a wolf (perhaps a dog, for those less imaginative) that seemed to be barking in the distance regardless of the day or time that we played these holes. The signage is so wrong for these holes that a new player will have to walk the fairway to get a gander at the baskets before tossing. Frankly, if playing alone at dusk, when your errant tee shot thunks a tree deep in the darkness--and that beast is howling off where you can't see him, and its at least ten degrees colder in those damp woods, and your skin feels like that of a refrigerated turkey--you'll wind up poking around the forest floor for your pretty pink Discraft Mantis when you seriously ought to be watching your back. It'll put hair on your chest. If the boogeyman exists, and he's intent on malice, these are the holes to unleash his mayhem. You may not get a memorable score on these short but difficult holes, but I guarantee you a memorable case of the "willies" that will have you telling your grandchildren about it around a campfire someday.
Hole 15 is a personal favorite as you once again come into the wide open, to the generous meadow below the dry coffer dam, and you can air it out for an unobstructed 500-footer that plays toward a guarded basket, deep left. In the far distance you can see the basket of hole 1 (if you squint, you'll typically make out the small figure of a disc golfer next to basket 1, shading his eyes and scanning directly into the lake about twenty feet offshore). 15 is a gorgeous hole.
I highly recommend Tully Lake Disc Golf Course, despite its shortcomings. It truly represents the woods and water, topography and trees, and the haunting beauty of north central Massachusetts. Play it with your brother, and a soft cooler full of beers, and it'll mean that much more. Enjoy!
Great start, weak finish
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Easy parking.
-Easy to find the course.
-The holes bring you in a perfect loop back to your car.
-There is some STUNNING beauty on this course. Hole 1 is a beauty. The bridge that you see on the walk from 8 to 9 is breathtaking.
-The two signature holes in my opinion were 1 and 10. 10 was one of my favorite holes in western MA.
-The first 10 holes are really beautiful in general, as you play near the lake and in the nearby woods. The woods are thin enough that you can see the lake through the towering trees. It's a really special spot.
-No poison ivy or thorns.
-Some wild raspberries and blackberries to nosh.
-Easy to find discs, except for 14, where I spent 10+ minutes looking for mine in the shrubs. And found someone else's disc.
-A lot of great disc golf. Holes that bend left and holes that bend right. Every hole is very fair and has a legit fairway. A wonderful mix of tight wooded shots and open fields to throw in.
-I met several nice folks on the course.
-Despite having only one set of tees and pins, this is a good course for beginners and advanced players alike.
-I get the sense that locals work hard at this course, picking up trash and making benches and such.
Cons: -While I was very impressed with the first 13 holes, the last handful were a disappointment. Blind pins that take some hunting to figure out where they are. Uninteresting holes without much going on. No exciting views or dynamic topography.
Other Thoughts: If the last handful of holes were as good as the first 13, I'd give this course a 4. Or if there were multiple pins/tees. As is, I give the course a 3.75, but I round down because my round finished in a less exciting way than it started. My enthusiasm for the course waned at the end. That said, this is great disc golf and I will be excited to play here again.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Tully is one of the four Army Corps of Engineer dam site courses in MA/CT, along with Buffumville, Barre, and West Thompson.
Tully is the most wooded of any of them, with all but three or four holes being in the woods. Hole 1 is one of the exceptions and is one of the most memorable starting holes I've played. It is a steep downhill shot with woods off to the right, the lake to the left, and loan tree guarding the center. It's not the toughest shot in disc golf, but I threw a RHBH hyzer along the tree line and still almost faded into the lake. Fun hole.
Another great hole is 10, a 474-foot fairway along a curving dirt road. The fairways bends to the left, but the fairway has a steep embankment off to the left of the road, so too much fade will leave you in a rough spot. This is a hole where your best bet might be a short drive followed by a longer approach shot.
The scenery is nice. The woods along the lake give way to some old spillways that are surprisingly eye catching, with old stone bridges crossing the chasms.
The variety of distances is good. There are several ace-able holes.
Cons: Tee signs are awful, old, and often wrong. Several holes have changed since the signs were put in. Hole 6 says 360 feet. Fortunately you can see that the hole is straight ahead, maybe 200 feet away. More frustrating is Hole 14, where the sign shows a big curve to the left. Someone had tried drawing on the sign, but I couldn't tell what it meant. The basket is nowhere near where it's shown. Fun times looking for the basket.
The design here was good, not great. Other than hole 1, the other open holes are completely open and boring (8 and 15). There were a few holes where it seemed like they couldn't (or didn't want to) cut down a few more trees, so the lines to the basket ended up being pretty basic (16) or feature too many trees in the fairway (13).
Also, I think the great terrain here provides the opportunity for more "wow" holes than are actually here.
Navigation was okay. I had to consult the map a few times.
I do wish more of the course was near the water.
Other Thoughts: I wish I had more time to explore this dam site. It looks like there is a lot to do here. The course is definitely worth a visit and another great example of what can be done with Army Corps of Engineers property.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
The place that got me hooked
Pros: +Great hole variation
+Fairly well maintained
+Playable year round
+Great for beginners or vets
Cons: -Can be very busy on weekends
-Hikers are sometimes oblivious to disc golfers
-I have never gotten a lost disc back. Since it is a free course I think it attracts some people who don't understand etiquette.
Other Thoughts: This is the course that got me addicted to this sport. It's also the only place I've gotten/seen an Ace off the main tees. Playing here is a good baseline measure of how much better I've gotten since I started playing. Avoid coming here on league nights as it interferes with what they have going on. Overall the best free course I know of.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Not Your Aunt Tillie
Variety in elevation - about as many ups as there are downs as there are flat. Several short holes where good control can lead to ace runs and birdy opportunities.
5'x10' wood-framed brick teepads. Basic signs with all the needed information. Nice benches. Welcome kiosk. Well maintained.
Single tee location/basket position.
Some might find the tightness (randomness?) of holes 11-13 a bit much.
Located just to the south of a spur of Tully Lake, the course is set primarily within woods - a mixture of hardwoods and pines, thicker, larger, and taller the farther from the lake you get. There is also a strip of open space, which hosts basket-1, holes 8-9, and 15. With this topography, you'll primarily be exercising your control game, with only a few chances to let loose your favourite distance driver.
Make sure you're loose, focused, and ready to play, because Hole-1 immediately tosses a gauntlet at you, a big downhiller with water the entire left side, woods along the right, a large single tree in the midst of the fairway, and the basket close enough to the water to make you squirm on your approach.
After this opening salvo, you face a number of shorter holes, set amongst smaller trees, with the lake not too far away, but only potentially in play on number-3. Number-6 is longer and up an access road, followed by short-7,open early, basket guarded by hardwoods late. Very long, openish (access road again, but there are trees/brush along both sides) number-8 is followed by flat, scattered tree number-9.
Across the main road, turn right, notice the gorge, and then find tee-10 (personal favourite, see below), followed by three holes in dense woods. Back across the road for the final five. While number-10 was my favourite hole, I really like these final five, playing up, down, and across a slope, containing both rows of tress and scattered ones, plenty of large rocks, distances raning from 190'-440'.
Favourite hole: #10. A long (500'+) downhill shot, with a broad access road forming the fairway. Thick trees along both sides of the road, with the left side falling steeply away from the road, too. A moderate left turn needed at roughly the one third point, and the thick canopy above preventing a throw from going too high.
This is a really good and attractive course, with a good mixture of tree densities and elevation changes, and a bit of water, too. Certainly worth a play if even remotely nearby.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Fall in New England
Pros: Tully Lake is a beautiful location and I really liked how the course winds through the dam, the woods, and along the spillway. Excellent tee boxes. The hole signs were good, but not accurate on a couple of the holes. People had left new tee placement in Sharpie so was OK. Nice mix of open, wooded and alley shots. Water comes in to play on 1 and 3.
Cons: The biggest problem for first timers is layout. There are really no signs leading you to the next hole. Part of problem is it is fall so leaves obscure what are probably obvious paths in the summer. Also there are a bunch of holes where you cannot see the basket so drives were confusing. part of this is not a ton of faith in the tee signs.
Other Thoughts: Easy to get too, it is right on Rte 32. 1st tee is near parking lot. Oh keep in mind that 10-13 are on the other side of the road. All and all a nice course that could use a bit better signage. And at least on this Saturday afternoon, pretty heavily played. There were lots of people out playing and we let 4-5 groups go past our foursome.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
very nice mix
Pros: very nice mix of long and technical holes, hole one is for lefties just amazing...
excellent signs, easy to find next tee
Cons: no cons, really, if you play the course the 1st time, like we did, go and see, where the basket really is, the drawings at the tees did not not always show, what we thought where the basket is
Other Thoughts: if you are in the area, stop by !
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Gotta Love Tully
Pros: Great tee pads, all brick and well maintained.
Beautiful landscape, hole 1 is such an amazing site.
Best of everything, long bombs, short straight, strategic, and just plain difficult.
Never gets old no matter how many times i play it
Cons: Hole 1 can be tough for beginners and even takes the occasional disc of good players.
Some of the signs don't match up with the new layout.
It's a free course so you get a lot of people who dont understand etiquette or play in really large groups.
Can get pretty soggy during a rainy season
Other Thoughts: This is my home course and play it regularly. I never get tired of it and love some of the stunning scenery during sunsets. It continues to challenge me.
Such a benefit to have so close to home!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
ONE OF THE BEST IN MASS
Pros: IT'S FREE!! Great scenery, the best tee's around, well maintained, challenging with a lil bit of everything, trees, distance water ect...You can walk around and drink as long as you pick up after your self, they usually have Scorecards at 1st tee
Cons: first hole is very easy to get in the water, but a floating disc dont make it so bad, quite a few challenging holes. Hole #10,11,12 & 13 are a lil tricky and are littered with trees but still fun.
Other Thoughts: ive played 4 courses tully by far was and is the best, cleanest and the fellow disc golfers are very friendly
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
One of the best.
Pros: - Easy to find. Course is right off of Route 32, you can't miss it. You'll love seeing Hole 1 waiting for you right there as you pull in the parking lot. It is such a beautiful hole.
- The kiosk is right there on the way to hole 1 from the parking area. Course map and scorecards are there, and there is a lost and found there as well.
- The course is so well maintained (especially for a free course). And aside from the hill on 8, which is barely mentionable, it is an easy course to walk. Small planks and bridges help get over any potential trouble areas.
- The course layout is wonderful. A variety of holes ranging from bomber holes like 8 and 15 down to more technical holes 13 and 17 and some in between like holes 1 and 10.
- The brick teepads are super nice.
- Holes 1 and 10 are two of my favorite holes anywhere. Both are very challenging and you have to figure them out all over again every time you play them.
Cons: - Several of the holes have outdated signs that weren't replaced when the course was re-designed so some of the layouts and footage are misleading. (ie: on 8 the original footage and layout map are still there, but the footage is crossed out and re-written in sharpie but the old layout still remains), so keep this in mind when playing the course. Most of the holes you can see the basket from the tee anyways so it isn't much of an issue.
- You will walk a LONG way if you miss off to the right on 9. There's a chainlink fence which separates the fairway from a cliff which drops into a gully below.
Other Thoughts: I always love playing at Tully. It's truly one of the best around, and you certainly can't beat playing such a well laid out/maintained course for free. An absolute must-play if you're in the area.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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