Unique, but falls short
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: ATMOSPHERE - Small, family friendly, forested park in a designated "natural habitat" area. Chiefly hardwoods, of mature and adolescent ages. Suburban surroundings, with that "backyard" atmosphere. Borders the Four-Mile Creek greenway.
CHALLENGE - Despite 12 holes, a very technical course requiring fairly advanced-level accuracy.
AMENITIES - Bathrooms, water fountain, trashcans on 2 or 3 holes, several benches or psuedo-benches.
TEEPADS - OK. Concrete and appropriately sized.
ELEVATION - Superb use of NC Piedmont hills. Fairways vary up and down, with the topography ultimately descending into the Four Mile floodplain.
DIRECTIONALITY & DISTANCE - Good variety, including a few longer holes and par 4's.
BREVITY - (Also a con; see below) Allows for a quicker game without resorting to beginner-level 9 hole courses.
ROUGHS - Surprisingly well-worn in and forgiving for the most part.
Cons: FAIRWAYS - Many are tight, tight, tight. Throughout SL trees were left in the fairways to preserve the canopy (this park being a designated natural habitat). Often your throws just come down to dumb-luck. Very frustrating even for expert players. Many holes would be dramatically improved by the removal of 1-2 trees.
BASKETS - Many are single-chain. Your putts can and will slip through.
LITTER - Garbage and broken glass in some places.
SIGNAGE - Less than ideal. Only show par and distance, with no fairway maps.
NAVIGATION - May be confusing. Double-backs and short trails. First-timers bring a map. (Though there are small signs pointing to the next tee)
HOLE 6 SAFETY - This hole's fairway now runs parallel to a walking path and road. Bad drives could easily hit a car or passerby. Play with caution and respect.
EROSION - Already looking bad in some spots. Steps ought to be taken to mitigate this.
BREVITY - Only 12, now and forever.
Other Thoughts: Ahh...Squirrel Lake. The "black sheep" of Charlotte. Everyone loves to hate and hates to love this course. I grew up playing here and it has a special place in my disc-lovin' heart.
SL defies classification. Some holes are easy and for beginners (1, 8). Some are stupidly tight and/or have no fairway at all (3, 4, and parts of many). Other holes...others are magnificent...the kinds of holes you dream about (2, 7, 12). This eclectic mix attracts a variety of players, but it makes you wonder about what the designers intended.
Is it worth playing? Yes. SL isn't a "great" course, and SL doesn't give a damn. It'll make you angry, and then you'll make yourself angry by playing it again and again.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: It'd be easy to overlook this course in Charlotte. With all the titans looming in the area, it's easy to miss a squirrel. It's only twelve holes so eyes can easily pass it by on the course browser. I'm not saying that it should be played over the better-known city courses by those with limited time budgets. I am saying that overlooking it completely is a mistake.
It's a fun course that plays quickly despite surprising amounts of challenge and length. Twelve holes can be played in a short amount here because of two factors: the ease of navigation and the short walks between holes. Very little time is spent not throwing here, which is a very good thing. Well three things. The course doesn't seem to get a ton of play so it's quite possible to be the only group there.
Squirrel Lake would definitely fall into short and technical wooded category that is so prominent across most of the state. And it is technical. It was much less beginner-friendly than I was expecting. Eleven of the holes play through the woods and most of them are quite narrow, with tight gaps to hit all over the place. Lines here are not easy. Still, five of the holes are over 300 feet. On this terrain, with the amount of trees present, that's quite a long way to go.
It's also a very nice park, set on a lake. The lake does not affect play but it makes a nice backdrop for a very scenic experience.
Cons: I do have to admit, that the fairways need some work. A bunch of holes have no line at all and would fall squarely into the plinko designation. It's not something I minded because the course is more than I expected, but selective tree removal could make this course really good. There are just too many square in the middle of fairways, to the point where its hard to say where the throw is supposed to go at all.
The signs don't help much either because while they look really nice, they only give the length and bear no indication of where the basket might be. On a course with some not-so-easily-discernable fairways, that is a bit of a problem. Many baskets are not visible from the tee so a fair amount of guesswork is mandatory.
But the worst part of Squirrel Lake is hole six. This just needs to go. It's 410 feet, the first 350 of which parallel the park road. The tee is about fifteen feet to the left of the road. This straight throw across flat ground traverses a fairway about twenty feet wide. The road is just to the right of that, meaning if a throw moves fifteen feet to the right of the tee at any point it will be over the road. A road which cars come up a hill from a point where they can't be seen from the tee. It's among the more dangerous holes that I've seen. It would be better if this was an eleven hole course than to have this throw included.
Other Thoughts: I only played this course because I stumbled across a league day on my Charlotte excursion and had to find a quick replacement course. Glad I did as this was a nice find and a quality round.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Other Thoughts: Course sits in a park of about 30 acres in rolling piedmont terrain with mature canopy throughout most. Park is unusually well appointed for a municipality this size and has a fair amount of traffic overall, although the course is lightly trafficked. As the name implies the park lies in the watershed for the namesake lake, which should be a heads up regarding play here during and after rain events. Course consists of the unusual 12-hole format, which is the most likely reason for it's low play volume.
Tee pads are appropriate and solid, although some may feel them undersized. Course also features a fairly unique double tee pad for #'s 4 & 6 (an easier pour no doubt). Targets are mixed Innova Discatcher single and double chained models (note: the single chain Innova Discatcher catches surprisingly well, quite a far cry from the now ancient DGA Mach 1 baskets, notorious for the 'nutra-sweet' effect. My putting style is a bit on the more forceful side and after watching a few putts react with the single chain baskets, I had no real fear of 'rub of the green' moments with these targets). Amenities are also a bit mixed and inconsistent, but well above average overall. Drainage/erosion issues and volunteer availability are Squirrel Lake's largest maintenance problems, as it's easy to observe the effects of the heavy scouring water from rain events everywhere on the course. None at the present time seriously affect play. Course was dry and very playable. Several holes also had play affecting downed wood, of the kind NOT intended by the designer.
Course has only one set of tees, but even a high level player will find sufficient challenge here. Average hole distance is about 310' with a single hole over 400'. Half the holes are between 275 & 325', which seems to be the distance sweet spot. As previous reviewers have stated, course is VERY tight and restrictive off the tee and frequently the approach as well. The tee shot on #9 might be the best example; how does hitting a 10' wide gap at 200' sound? Well, that's just to earn a look at birdie, but at least it's a straight shot downhill.
From the tee, shot shapes are balanced overall but as the round goes on counter spin throwers will be slightly favored. 8 of 12 holes are blind or semi-blind. Greens are largely neutral with only one example of pronounced clock spin receptivity and frequently either pocketed or gated. Green site selection is one of this course's outstanding features. Straight flat shots up to about 250' will play very well here, especially when trying to save par. This course sets up perfectly for the finesse player's game, as 'alternative routes' of the kind often 'found' by power players do not even exist at Squirrel Lake and even staying in the fairway when trying to score is difficult. Roughs are somewhat variable dependent on the hole and the type of throwing error one makes, but the penalty for errant shots generally matches the size and type of error. Scrambling and recovery chances are ample and in some places enhanced for the clock spin thrower via select clearing. OB areas are limited and intuitive - only a major gaff will land one there.
Squirrel Lake's routing shows some signs of compromise with other park activities and seems a tad forced regarding the 'completion of the loop' idea. In addition, 5 holes are of the 'cross the valley' variety which, combined with its overall tightness, can wear on the golfer. #6's tee placement seems to have been a tough compromise, as it is the course's only open power tee shot and it comes into some conflict with a walking path where pedestrians coming the opposite way can be blind to the throwers. This is a fine point however, and the hope is that most golfers are prudent and considerate.
I feel the course's best hole is #2, which is just a straight up tough solid golf hole, especially if it's counted as a par 3 (my information says it's a par 4). It's an up/cross hill, right to left fairway shape where the crossing angle of the hill is receptive to counter spin. The main fairway gap off the tee is at about 120' and severely tempts one to use an extreme hyzer/anhyzer angle to negotiate it (combined with the nose/tail angle needed to gain elevation). The green sits high left and pocketed on a flat ledge. It's a very astutely designed hole.
Overall Squirrel Lake is a bit mixed, but a very stern test of golfing skill. Its strengths clearly outweigh its weaknesses. Some may feel 'fairness' an issue here, as obstructions in the fairways are more plentiful than at many wooded courses, but scoring chances here are plentiful and well earned, which is fair enough. I feel this course is likely overlooked because of its format and location, which is a shame. For the advanced or more skilled golfer, it outclasses several other local offerings in many respects, especially regarding skill building - both in shot making precision and mental toughness.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
The "Little" Monster
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Since my first round at Squirrel Lake (a day after the concrete pads were poured) I have had a Love-Hate relationship with it. Don't let the fact that this course only has 12 holes fool you. It is a little beast of a course that manages to tear me apart consistently. (Note that the little is only in reference to the amount of holes.) However, I think the choice to make 12 technical and challenging holes was the correct choice. Nobody wants to play a course full of nothing but fillers. The course will humble you quickly if you miss your line. None of the distances are outrageous, but the fairways are all nice and tight. The rough isn't too hard to navigate, and you rarely bounce off too far into trouble. The course makes good use of the landscape to allow a decent amount of holes with noticable elevation change. Like I said, there are concrete Tees, and DISCatcher baskets. The tee signs are great! They not only list Par and distance, but distance to the turns. This helps when choosing the right disc.
The course is in a nice, little park that has been getting a slow makeover since the course was built. It is no longer a small playground next to a pond surrounded by a disc golf course. It has a real park feel with really nice permanent structures that can be used for picnicking. There are a few benches, but they are pretty spread out. And the park is really clean, very little litter. On hole 6 you can open up a bit, before slipping right back into the woods to end the hole. Hole 6, by the way, has a L shaped tee combining with 4's, which is a very unique way of utilizing space.
Cons: The road leading into the park is made of gravel, so inconsiderate people who drive way faster than they should in a park can create a large dust cloud right next to a few of the fairways on a dry, sunny day. This park is a great place for experienced players to really work on their technical game, but because of its location and size (12 Holes) I know a few people who have used it as a place to learn the basics, which I do not recommend doing in the slightest. Especially with Crooked Creek Crossing being just a few exits down I-485 now. There is apparently an Owl residing somewhere along Hole 11, but luckily there are signs making people aware that they should take care. Most of the brush has cleared up over the past few years, but some places can still be extremely rough. Hole 11 once again coming to mind. One of my biggest issues though, is that even though I have played this course a decent amount, I can still get confused about how to get from 6 to 7 if it has been a while. Though a sign could remedy this problem. I also can only remember 1 trash can along the course itself (at Hole 4 + 6 combined Tee.)
Other Thoughts: Once again, 12 Holes is the perfect number for this course. It allows the holes to be fun and challenging enough to warrant playing and replaying, but by the time I am done playing hole 12, I am pretty happy it is over. Even though I can still generally park my second shot, seeing your nicely thrown drive bounce off its line is always upsetting. This is one of the tightest courses I have played. It is definitely a good course to work on your technical game though. Even with the technical Scrapyard (at Idlewild) being just down the road. Squirrel Lake will really teach you to navigate trees well. Even hole 8, which is a straight line down and back up a hill has been made really tough by a single tree 15-20 feet in front of tee.
I am torn on my score for this. I'd love to give this a higher rating due to my relationship with it, and I would love to knock it a few points. (It surely has done that for me in the past.) But I think a few another trashcan somewhere along the back 6 would really help things out, as well as some more next tee signs.
Favorite Holes: 2, 6, 10, 12
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice little course
Pros: Nice concrete pads at each hole. Signs with distance at each hole also. Navigation is pretty simple. The only place where it's a little odd is using the dual pad for hole 4 and 6. There are bathrooms on site and some benches spread throughout the course and park.
This course is almost totally wooded and in many places it forces you to squeeze a disc through some tight gaps. I'd call it typical tight Carolina wooded golf.
Well balanced course that has a good mix of lefts and rights. Some elevation is used, and adds to the course in the right spots.
Cons: Signs are pretty basic, and do not show the fairway layout.
Only 12 holes.
A few of the holes are tight to the point of having almost no line. There are gaps, but these fairways have more of a scattered tree feel.
#8 has a tree about 20' in front of the pad. Dead center. Kind of strange.
Pretty much a technical wooded course. No real length or holes where a big arm could have some fun.
Other Thoughts: Overall this is a good little course. 12 holes is different, but I could see where with the limited space available the designer decided to make some decent holes that are 300-400' instead of forcing in more short filler holes. I really enjoyed several of these holes. #6 plays from the open field down into the woods, tightening as you get closer to the basket. #9 is a 290' tight downhill shot that was pretty cool. Straight ace run if you can squeeze it through then trees. #10 is also a decent downhill shot that curves right. Perfect FH or turnover line down the hill. Decent little hole.
This course was about 10 minutes from my hotel somI gave it a shot. I'm glad I did because it is a nice short course to squeeze in a putter round if you are short on time. I'd play it again.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Good use of land and a weird number of holes make this pretty cool. You can kill twenty-four holes here and have a great time. This course is way easier in the winter than summer considering the foliage. Tight and short is the way, use your midrange and park holes, or pay for your tree-son.
Might want to flip a couple of thumbers to take out some distance, it is cheap but it is effective.
Cons: This is a short course by six holes, or a longer nine hole course with an extra four. Either way you cut it,
she is unique. If it had a couple of par four/five it would rate a four for sure.
Other Thoughts: I would go back and play this, twice one day. But, I would rather hit up Idewild if I am over that way. Would be a good day to play both. I like the squirrel, it can be difficult and is a short hike in the woods.
This course will teach you how to throw straighter with slower discs.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Squirrel to the Face
Pros: -Short and Sweet, compact, it's possible to get around twice in about an hour.
-Repetitive look, but good shot variety, with some elevation, and tight, tight lines. All tightly wooded except for 1/2 of #6.
This course is great for 1) midrange practice. total accuracy, hitting lines from hand to basket at a premium. 2) for the beginner to intermediate player, a good intro to what you'll need to be able to do with your game when you play some of the larger-scope, advanced-level courses in the area (Nevin, etc.)
Cons: Don't be fooled, this isn't really a rec-level course. There are some of the tightest lines in the county on this course. If you show up thinking about a nice, fun, casual round, you might wind up feeling a palpable sense of betrayal from this course. Luckily, most of the rough is relatively thinned out from all the traffic in there, so finding errant shots isn't too horrible in most places. (missing to the left on #11 is about the worst spot I've seen.)
Tee shot on # 4. it just won't make sense to my eye, and I can't find a shot that'll work for me, other than getting lucky on the local skinny route.
Other Thoughts: This course is sort of a "tweener," not really a beginner-friendly P & P, not quite a full-on course. May not be room for another 6 holes, but maybe. 6 more brutally tight holes here would make this a great course for midrange-in-the-woods practice, as well as improving mental-game discipline.
Combining this course with the 9-holer at Mint Hill Park, right up 485, is a good mix of golf action for a day, if you're "tired" of the same old dozen courses around town. LOL
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 1 Not
Redefines the term "Heavily Wooded"
Pros: - Squirrel Lake might be a bit of a misnomer. I saw neither squirrels nor a lake while playing this course, but then again, I was so occupied attempting to avoid the plethora of trees clogging up the "fairways" that I just might have missed them. Quite the oddity, Squirrel Lake provides a punishing beat down for anyone not on their "A" game. Most of the course is heavily wooded, with only the slightest definition of fairways in some places. It never quite felt like playing through virgin woods, but man, the people that put this course in the ground have quite a sadistic streak to them, in a good way. When I started the course, I asked "Why only 12 holes?" As I finished, my thoughts were much more along the lines of "Oh thank god it's only 12 holes" because this course can beat you up, again in a good way.
- Tight, tight, tight. Grease up your discs before you head out...they'll need help getting through some of the gaps presented. Missed shots are punished by zinging off trees into the woods, leaving you with even less of a shot for recovery. If you like trying to hit narrow gaps, this course is for you.
- Good concrete tees, sufficient signage (but lacking a hole layout map), and trashcans located in the park.
- Some really good risk/reward spots exist if you keep your eyes open for them. A wealth of multi-line holes where you can pick and choose how you'll attack the hole.
- One or two holes are more open in spots, requiring anyone without a massive arm to hit a defined landing zone in order to properly set up the approach.
- Very challenging as a par 3 course.
Cons: - Fallen trees, rotting logs, and other downed branches all over some fairways and in the rough. Some greens had tons of stumps where the cutting was roughly done. Definitely watch your step, as many tripping hazards present themselves throughout.
- Not really a beginner's course, unless said beginner has deep-seated masochistic tendencies. I don't consider this a con, but others might.
- No Squirrels, no lake (that I saw). I got gyped! (I kid, I kid).
Other Thoughts: - After getting thoroughly beaten down during our round, the best discer in our crew exclaimed "Squirrel Lake is not for children!" I concur.
- The "L" shaped tee pad (used for two holes), is interesting. I could see back-ups perhaps occuring here on busy days, but I'm guessing it's not as much of an issue as it might seem.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
trees trees and more trees... pro only to shoot par
Pros: lots of scenery and lots of squirrel's. if you like hard you got it. if your highly skilled and you want to put your self if a challenge you got it.
Cons: trees trees and more trees. Ive never played in a course quite like this. If your good at a hammer throw then maybe you will like this course. this is not a friendly beginner course well its not a very friendly intermediate course either. the fairways are super tight. the only ones that would be able to play this course are super pros with highly accurate.
Other Thoughts: I think every time i threw it hit a tree. and thank god it was only 12 holes
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Nice little course. Not too difficult yet not too easy to play either. No water on course which is good if you dont want to lose a disc but odd because course is called squirrel LAKE.
Cons: Fairways are super tight. Print a course map if playing for the 1st time. Hard to see baskets from tee box so without a map you may have trouble to start
Other Thoughts: Nice park setting. Good course to bring whole family. Challenging enough for skilled players yet not to difficult for 1st timers.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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