A Temporary Titan
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Toboggan temp course is unabashedly my favorite course that I've ever played, and I've been to some of the greats (Selah Ranch, Flip City, Idlewild, and Beaver Ranch to name a few). After my first visit in 2014, I replayed the holes over and over in my mind, racking my brain for something that I didn't like or something I was disappointed with. Nothing came to mind. I shot +20.
Fast forward to this year, where I took vacation days and orchestrated a mid-week trip for just one more round at the elusive course. This time I stepped on each teepad and smiled, fondly recalling the memory of each hole the year before. I shot +10.
This course provides massive elevation change and (probably more impressive) an epic feeling of scale that is a rarity, if not unparalleled, in disc golf. Toboggan feels like playing on a ball golf course on a ski hill with its steep ups, downs, twists, and turns. It has a way of making you feel very small, especially as you're about to tackle elevated monoliths like Holes 1, 2, 3, 13 and 17. It's not dissimilar to mountain golf, but the ball golf landscaping makes it distinctly Midwest.
The significant hole lengths and sweeping downhill shots often lead to the course being unfairly labeled as a bomber's paradise. It's true that a cannon arm will do you a favor on a number of holes, but technical and often lengthy upshots are where a round is made or broken. Toboggan favors distance-based risk, but punishes blind power hucking.
In my mind, the best part of this course is that despite all the potentially daunting challenge it's still fairly accessible. I never played the "classic" Toboggan layout, infused with massive clusters of Russian Olive on every hole, and I'm kind of glad I didn't. Their clearance has allowed enough room for error that rec level players like myself can spend time playing disc golf instead of scouring the thorny bushes for the handful of times one gets away from me. This ups the fun factor exponentially and significantly reduces round-killing frustration.
Unlike nearly every other temporary layout, Toboggan has permanent restroom facilities and a shaded picnic area to enjoy lunch between rounds.
Cons: Obviously the temporary nature of the course is its biggest flaw. Last year Toboggan went in over a week before the Discraft Great Lakes Open. This year? Two days. Although part of me idealizes the romance of enjoying something fleeting, it's a shame that this layout can't exist at least from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The area would be less crowded when open, and would sign me up for a Huron-Clinton MetroParks annual pass (currently $30/year) from a whole state away in a heartbeat. $5 a round? I'm in. $10 a round? Still in. I'll sign up for whatever it would take to turn this into at least a seasonal course.
I arrive before 8am, and I've played my rounds without running into another soul on the course. However, by the time I finish the parking lot is usually filled to capacity and beyond, and it seems like tee times and mob golf are a real issue. Get there early for a more peaceful round.
As always, a temporary course lacks the amenities and "personal touch" that permanent courses do, but everyone involved in course setup really does an exceptional job making this one as seamless as possible. A lot of people complain about the rubber tees, but I prefer them to rutted ground any day. If you don't, you can always tee off on either side. Concrete tees would obviously be amazing, but aren't an option here.
Other Thoughts: I heard a nasty rumor recently that this may be the final year for the USADGC at Toboggan. I hope this isn't the case, and I hope that even if the venue changes the course won't become extinct. The layout may only be temporary, but it's an absolute blast to play and a joy to behold.
PROTIP: If you're going to beat the crowds and come early, make sure you wear waterproof shoes or boots. The grass is always soaked from morning dew, and you'll be splashing around by the time you're finished if you're not careful.
Unlike Black Locust on the other side of the park, there is no golf-specific fee for Toboggan. However, park access is $7/day for those without an annual sticker.
Regardless of whether you get into the park from Milford Rd or Kensington Rd, it's a fairly significant drive to get to the course. You'll definitely want to consult a map. Follow the outer loop and look for the toboggan run on the map.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Massive and unrelenting elevation
Lots of true par 4's and one true par 5
Very balanced in terms of lefty/righty, FH/BH
Good mix of max distance and placements shots
Nightmare for beginners and casuals that can't control a 300+ foot drive consistently
When it is open, available days to play the course are limited due to tournaments. It will also get crowded very quickly on the off days so get there early.
Other Thoughts: Kensington Toboggan is a very unique course. Every shot off the tee requires an aggressive, yet controlled drive often followed by a long upshot that must be precise. With that said, you can score very well here without having to make a putt outside of 30ft; in my opinion thats what is unique about toboggan. And although some may say the course is "easier" without the Russian olive brush that was recently cleared, a few holes have been lengthened to mitigate the difference. In my opinion, hole 4 is quite possibly the hardest par three i've ever played with the new pin placement. I value elevation and scenery the most in disc golf courses and those factors play heavily in why I rate this a perfect course. It does however, require consistent above-average distance on every shot as I mentioned previously. So those that are used to and prefer mostly deuce or die type courses, this one isn't for you.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The Toboggan is an absolute beast that plays 8,823 feet. The par is 62. There are seven par 4's and one par 5. This is modern day golf designed for Gold Level play. Just as the name states the tobaggan run comes into play on holes 1, 2, 3, & 18. There is great elevation all over the course. Many holes have open and longer fairways with tall grass. There are many holes that force a line and have a gap to hit. Many have some nasty thick rough and woods to get in trouble. This course will test every shot in your bag. The area is very beautiful and the course is isolated to just disc golf.
Discraft makes awesome tee signs for this course.
Great brand new Discraft Chainstars.
Hole #1 starts off with a boom. 477 feet playing downhill. Very reachable for most skilled players.
Hole #2 is a beast playing back up the Toboggan. It's a par 5 and takes 3 awesome shots to get a birdie. Thick woods line most of the fairway.
Hole #3 is another crusher down the toboggan. Bigger arms will have a great shot of getting a 3 on this 900+foot par 4.
The rest of the course has a great variety.
The green on #17 is elevated and small.
Finally, after taking a beating you have to mash a shot up the toboggan to finish. It's a fun type of pain!!!
Cons: It's too bad this course isn't permanent. The rubber tees will have to do since this course is only open a month or so. Go play it!
Make a day of it. Play the Black Locust too!
Navigation and flow is pretty solid. The first time thru might be frustrating because the course is long and pins are blind. To really enjoy this course play it several times. Have some patience. Take a map!!!
Playing with a friend and spotting for each other will help the fun factor. Be prepared to look for discs if you are throwing by yourself. The rough and blind shots can get you.
I would play it the day after the USADGC. The course is mowed and always looks fantastic. The rough will be beat down a bit from all the play.
If you get a chance to play Am Nationals do so. It's the best amateur tournament that I played.
You can find more information on the course here.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
"Ken...sing...ton," My Final Dying Words, Revealed To Be a Toboggan
Pros: 1. Variety. While Toboggan falls into the "lightly wooded" category (and that's a generous classification), you'll be required to demonstrate mastery of nearly every shot type in any serious golfer's repertoire. Big downhill RHBH anhyzers on #1 and #3, massive straight uphill holes like #2 and #13, HUGE risk/reward holes like hitting the gap on #16 or punching through wooded tunnels on #7 and #15, and plenty of reachable pins if you know how to select the proper discs and execute your shots. There is also a premium on landing zones out here with several Par 4s and a Par 5 (it's a Par 62 for 18 holes!), emphasizing the "it's all about the second shot" mentality if you land where the designers intend (#7 was a terrific example of this). Aside from shot placement, the other big factors out here are the spectacular elevation changes and wind, and when you're dealing with both on a hole, you're in for some awesome disc flights or some severe punishment (my round suffered more from the latter).
2. Maintenance. In general, the upkeep out here is phenomenal. The fairways were mowed (lined with the dreaded tall grass), litter wasn't a problem, and paths made finding the next tee pretty intuitive. The big red/white/blue and "DGC" design on #1 and #17 were a really cool touch! The modest fee to enter the park ($5) and the disc golf fee ($2) are put to good use out here (although I never did manage to find a place to pay my $2 since I skipped past Black Locust, limited on time and wanting to attack this course more than anything...if Discraft or USADGC staff see this review and would like my money, I will happily PayPal you!).
3. Baskets. Chainstars seem to be the standard on a lot of Michigan courses, and I really grew accustomed to them in my several days playing courses around the state, though they took a little getting used to. These ones caught really well and were in great shape, and the "ching" on these targets have a certain sound that's unlike the Machs or DISCatchers I'm used to playing on. I guess even variety in the holing-out sound is a pro!
4. Signage. Temporary like the rest of the course, but very colorful laminated placards showing hole number, a rough layout of the hole, distance, and par, all superimposed on Discraft/USADGC logos. Neat, simple, and effective...and that's all one really needs.
5. Challenge. I typically include the caliber of a course under my "variety" section, but this course is so unique and so championship-quality that it deserves a special mention. Comparable to Highbridge Gold (a Par 68) in terms of difficulty, but quite obviously in a class of its own. What sets this course above most all others, for me, can best be described anecdotally: On #17, I experienced a mental game like never before...stepping up to the tee, you see the pin nearly 800' away tucked up on a cool hill, and the mowed right-to-left fairway surrounded by tall grass suggests where one ought to land (I'm sure big arms can clear this turn in the fairway and land fairly close to the hill)...like in a chess game, I tried to plan not only my tee shot (with a Buzzz) but my second (with a Blizzard Boss) and third as well (it was clear that taking a 4 here would be quite the accomplishment at my skillset)! Any hole that can force a player to mentally "pre-play" the hole is not only unique, but resembles our cousin, ball golf, more than most bolfers would care to admit. As disc technology progresses, I predict more golf-like holes like this popping up on permanent courses.
6. Amenities. Immaculate restrooms off the parking lot. I wouldn't eat off the floors, but I was blown away by the condition of the pissers, especially in a large heavily used park like Kensington. Trash receptacles and benches were present in several areas as well.
7. Navigation. Tricky in some areas (see Cons), but mowed paths lead the way to the next tee, and the dirt tees are easily spotted in the open areas.
Cons: 1. Tees. Rubber mats are only put in immediately before Am Nats; if you play here before or after, you'll experience sandy dirt tees with no strictly defined tee boundaries (not like I'm calling foot faults during casual play!). While I understand the need to keep work out here focused on the big event, I don't think putting the rubber down a bit early would be a huge inconvenience, especially if qualifiers are still held here in the week or so before the tourney.
2. Navigation. The staff at the booth seemed to only be aware of the Black Locust course, so I drove to that area to get some better directions, only to encounter players who seemed to react to the word "Toboggan" like I'd asked if they knew where the nearest place to buy black market human organs was. No, I'm not that good of a golfer, but I thought it was hilarious to see their wide-eyed replies, which were about as vague as what I'd gotten at the entrance booth. Driving through the park and starting to worry that maybe I'd been misinformed about the course being in the ground already, I eventually saw signs for "sledding hills" and knew I was on the right track (and to digress here - I have never seen sledding hills ranked by difficulty like out here! I thought you just plopped your butt on a saucer or toboggan and let gravity take over. Do they have a Sledding Am Nats here in the winter?). Finding the tee for #1 was a bit tricky as it seemed nobody was playing the course when I was there (it had been raining), but after finding the tee for #3 and the basket for #2 and seeing a group hole out on #18, logical thinking and knowledge of course design took over. Some areas on the course itself could benefit from basic directional signage - again, only to make casual rounds flow better.
3. Signage. Several signs were missing, even with the course only having been in for a little over a week, so either chuckers threw them in the woods or someone took them for souvenirs (I admit they'd make cool souvenirs, but I won't resort to theft AND vandalism for my own selfish desires). Some of the hole routes outlined on the sign were pretty vague or exaggerated.
4. Rough. My rating obviously isn't affected by this frustrating feature, but just be aware that you will more than likely be in big trouble if you get off the fairway. I lost my beloved yellow Magic off the tee on #15 in the right rough with a shot that was JUST ABOUT perfect but somewhere on the edge of the fairway, and nearly 30 minutes of searching yielded nothing. The canopy is extremely thick, so discs may never reach the ground in some spots. The long grass rough lining many fairways could probably be kept just a bit shorter to aid in finding "almost" nice shots.
5. Design. There is just a little more bias favoring lefty shots (RHBH anhyzers for me) than I'd like to see on such a generally well-rounded course. Fortunately, the varying distances on these holes keep it from being repetitive.
6. Length. This in itself isn't a con to me, but the basic signage combined with some long blind holes requires a lot of scouting ahead. The scouting required on #8 was actually quite fun (you'll know what I mean when you actually stand on the tee and say, "WTF?!").
Other Thoughts: Playing this course was a fantastic adventure. I almost played it solo, but my sister-in-law's boyfriend offered to tag along since I had expressed a desire for a spotter. He had only played once over a decade ago and hadn't taken much away from his previous experience, but I can tell you that after bringing him here to experience his "real first round ever" will make most courses pale in comparison. This is NOT a beginner course (although he had a blast!) and will frustrate most people lacking experience. I shot a +21 playing the course par (seriously, who plays all 3s on a course like this?), and to put things into perspective, the 2012 USADGC first round leader shot a -5.
The fact that it's temporary may be a con for some folks, but to me it is what it is; indeed, the limited availability makes this feel like a really special disc golf experience (especially since I know I'll never play in the USADGC), and I encourage every serious disc golfer to make the trek here...just make sure you verify that it is in fact in the ground (though if you travel here to find it pulled, you could enjoy Black Locust or many other great courses in the area) before making any lengthy voyage! While some might not feel a 5 is warranted because of the temp nature, dirt tees, untamed rough, or whatever, this is some serious freakin' golf and probably one of my favorite courses ever. I feel privileged to have played it and will definitely make more attempts if I'm out that way in the future (we usually travel to Adrian, MI, around Memorial Day every year, so I'm excited to realize I may be able to make a tradition out of playing here!).
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 13 Not
Pros: Bomber course.
Have to say in the fairway if you want to score well. No BS shots.
Cons: Dirt tee pads.
Not open long enough.
Other Thoughts: I live 5 minutes from the course so play it often.
Best course overall.
1 of 14 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 11 Not
Pros: Outrageous drops, Lengthy holes, forces you to use a variety of shots, very hilly, absolutely incredible. I have played here a few times over the past two years and its amazing how difficult and exciting this course is. This has to be one of the best if not the best course in Michigan. People who dont have a variety of shots or those who have short drives, beware!
0 of 11 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: An amazing course with great shot after great shot, the only course I have played in SE MI with significant elevation changes on most of the holes. To play effectively here (shoot mid-60s or better), you need a minimum 350' drive that can plop down in select landing zones. A thumber is a very nice shot to have, it's so much easier throwing one up a hill vs a backhand or sidearm. If you can accurately throw 400+' and putt a little, the 50s are very attainable. There are no breaks on this course, get ready to grind for the whole round. Even excellent players can throw crappy rounds here by merely being a little off on their drives and getting into the shule. Going into the shule generally means an additional stroke for that hole, sometimes 2. If you throw 350' and under, plan on taking at least a 4 on Holes 2, 3, & 17. If you can't plop a 350' drive down in a very select landing zone, a 4 or worse is likely waiting for you on Holes 6,7, & 15. Potential birdie holes for 350' throwers are 1, 5, 8, 10, 11, 14, and 16 not that any are easy to get because they are not.
Cons: Temporary, wish it were in all summer. Worn dirt pads, slippery when wet.
Other Thoughts: Don't bring a newbie to this course, go over to the Black Locust (in the same park) and play the short tees, those are tough enough for a beginner.
4 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Simply the greatest disc golf experience I have ever had. Monster elevation changes with one hell of a flow to the entire 18 holes. It will test a wide variety of shots for anyone on any level. I cant say enough about the experience.
Cons: I guess the fact that is temporary. No signs to let you really know where to start. But that takes nothing away from the overall magnificence of this truly amazing course.
Other Thoughts: I will NEVER miss an opportunity to play this beauty every year that it is set up. I just got back from Colorado playing Beaver Ranch at Conifer Park and I thought that was the best course ive ever played until today. Thankfully im a Michigander and will have time to play this several more times in the coming weeks. I would recommend this course to any discer on the planet.
KEEP ON THE FAIRWAYS AT ALL COSTS!!!!
The weeds are extremely tall and discs can easily be passed over. The fairways are amazingly wide. Hole 1 is at the end of the toboggan parking lot down a small hill to the edge of the monster hill tossing down below. You shouldnt have problems from there. ALSO bring plenty of liquids. This course is a workout in itself.
3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 4 Not
Jim Kenner's Masterpiece
Other Thoughts: This course is the work of disc golf legend Jim Kenner. He identified this area of Kensington Metropark as "the perfect spot for a disc golf course" well before any of us even picked up a disc. He finally got the park to oblige and install a course in this hand picked area in 2000. Unfortunately it is only in the ground for about three weeks in June.
Jim has pushed the boundary of our sport one more notch to the right with the Toboggan Course. We are no longer throwing lids in the park, far from it in fact. Steady Ed advocated to "Go for an average of 275 feet per hole for Pro tees". Well, the Toboggan goes a bit longer than that. The shortest hole on the course is 280 feet uphill.
"Every shot you throw needs to be aggressive" is what my friend J. Romine says about this course. It is true, you are usually throwing either up or down, through or over foliage from sloped ground. You are constantly off balance. Baskets are usually on sloped ground for roll-away potential.
The Toboggan isn't meant to be a spot for a fun casual round. In fact I have seen many groups of casuals play the fist two holes and take off. This is a course made for the AM Nationals tournament. So far it has been a dream pairing. You can't have AM Nats without the Toboggan and you can't have the Toboggan without AM Nats.
I look forward to the installation every year. It usually is in by Memorial Day and out 1-2 weeks after the tournament.
Thank you Jim.
13 of 17 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 6 Not
- Great use of Elevation.
- Course is easy to navigate and is taken good care of.
- Good selection of shots and challenges despite the park being mostly open air it out shots.
- Good Amenities with bathroom and water fountain area.
- Very Challenging
- Great Locals
The course is seasonal, being set up each year for the Amatuer USDGC. As a result their are no permanent teepads or signs, though they do use rubber pads and set signs up near tourney time.
Other Thoughts: This course is absolutly amazing. The area is beautiful and the course is very demanding. Despite being mainly huge open air shots it still offers a great mixture of shots. Forehand, backhand, overhand, rollers. This course has and offers it all. Highly reccommend this course to anyone that gets the oppurtunity to play it.
8 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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