3 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: None it's a prison!!!! All shots are needed to score well, boxes and signage are excellent in my opinion, you must control the urge to boom it. Birdies are all over the place, but you must play smart.
Cons: Full of them! It's a prison town!!! Too far from my home!
Other Thoughts: Must play this course. If you are afraid of your rating, don't play it in a tournament! One of the top courses I have ever played, tough, makes you think. Night Golf here is an experience not to be missed!!!! DuFranes are excellent hosts and the setting is awesome, bring the wife and rent his cabin for a truly wonderful experience.
3 of 9 people found this review helpful.
My Favorite Course to Play
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: By far the best course I have played!
You need every shot to play this course well. This course will challenge your mental and physical game.
Some of the best holes are #5 Tunnel Shot, #8 Hyzer Express, #11-#15 Murderer's Row some tough holes but challenging, #18 Conjugal Visit and #23 Tin Cup!!
Teebox's are well built and in great shape.
Seating at every hole and usually a trash can too!
Steve is a great host!!!
Pay to Play $5 - worth every penny!! (Keeps the riff raff out and course clean)
Cons: No real negative here. Only thing is no wide open hole to really let loose on.
Other Thoughts: Take the time to go to this course it is well worth the trip and the $5. Make sure to call Steve before you head out and if you don't meet him while you play, make sure to call him and thank him for having the Number FUN course!!!
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
Breaking out of jail
Pros: This course is a mix of technical shots and skilled shots. If you get to talk to Steve he will tell you everything you need to know to navigate and play the course well. It is designed to play smart. The best shot isn't always how far you can get it. Don't be afraid to just pitch a putter till you can put. Must give warden a good belly rub for good luck!
Cons: I really didn't find any cons in this course. It makes you think differently about how you go about playing. If challenges you technically and makes you re think how you play the game.
Other Thoughts: Go for the pond hole! dont be sacred
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
One of my favorites
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Good mix of holes- uphill, downhill, left, right.
-Long rubber teepads (on some holes and will soon be all, I believe).
-Water holes that are fair but challenging.
-Very well manicured, especially for tournaments (Steve loves his rollers).
-Possible to camp on-site (and play glow, I think).
-Tin cup hole # 23. Plays as an island with the driveway circle as OB. The basket is a fountain in a pretty rock arrangement. VERY cool.
-Playing in a tree farm is different from playing in normal woods- very cool and unique experience on those holes.
-Trash cans and benches on most holes (maybe all, I wasn't really counting).
-Very friendly and helpful course owner.
-Drinking in moderation is allowed. Leave sober!
-Private course a little out of the way means less "riff-Raff," meaning a cleaner course and a very good chance of recovering any lost discs. But the chances of losing a disc here (other than in the water) are pretty low.
-At tournaments, golf carts will take you from your car to the tournament headquarters. That's service!
Cons: -Only one set of teepads.
-Out of the way- actually kind of a pro in my book, except the long drive.
-No chance to really crush an open drive for you big-arm folks.
-No pro-shop and nothing very close for drinks, snacks, etc.
-Costs $5 to play. Well worth it, but I gotta be objective.
-Tee signs aren't good, but the available scorecard should usually suffice.
Other Thoughts: This is easily one of my favorite 3 courses, the only other "top course" I have played is Flyboy and I would only rate the entire experience 0.25 discs lower than that. Great mix of holes that will test just about every shot in your bag, except maybe your huge hyzer bomb. Three water holes that are fair and fun, and your inked discs will typically be retrieved and kept in the lost and found. I like "fair" wooded courses and Shawshank has many holes that fit that description, but there are also a few that are more open. But as I mentioned, you won't be throwing a hyzer bomb further than ~350 ft here, and there are only about two holes that need that. However, that is the necessary shot on those holes, which I think shows how diverse of a course Shawshank is, other than the lack of really long, open holes.
Some of the wooded holes play through a tree farm, meaning the trees are very evenly spaced and similar in size. This is very cool and really adds to the whole "jail" experience.
Shawshank really is a "must-play" course, and well worth devoting a weekend to go check out. After you go once it most likely won't be the last time.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: What can you say about Shawshank? It's amazing. Teeboxes, holes, fun throws, water shots, tunnel shots, unique fairways, downhill, uphill, flicks, hyzers, rollers, everything is here. The land is absolutely amazing, the family is absolutely amazing, the teeboxes are just as good of not better than concrete, it's just awesome. I've played numerous Houck courses, and this one is just as good if not better than the best of them. Steve has done an amazing job.
Cons: The baskets could be better, I understand wanting to do them slightly portable and not wanting to concrete Discatcher 28s in the ground, but it is a con.
Signage. This course could use better signage. Some of the holes you have to walk ahead to see where you're throwing.
2 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Private Course with no Riff Raff. The DuFranes are always great hosts. Good mix of shots that will definitely test your focus. A good short game with good shot shaping is a must. You can't beat the atmosphere at Shawshank. It's a great release from the city. I'm lucky to be within 45 minutes.
Cons: Not a great course for the guys that only like to let it rip on open courses. This one has some long drive opportunities, but you still have to shape your shot.
Other Thoughts: It's good to bring deet in warmer months.
Always make sure to say hi to Warden the DuFranes black lab and give him a good belly rub. If you haven't played before he is usually happy to walk you through at least the first 9 holes until you come back by the house. Then it is his nap time on the porch.
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 5 Not
so thats what jail is like.....
Pros: First time in Texas. Had to get to this one. Great theme based course. Tee pads were big and grippy. Interesting construction. Nice signs, with a name for every hole. Good use of elevation. Challenging lines throughout this gem. The water holes, and the fountain put it over the top. This course is way off the beaten path. Kinda reminds me of Flip. Peaceful, and secluded.
Cons: A couple holes were overly tight. Unnatural flite path. In fact, I told my son I wish I had my whip, it would be a quick fix. After talking to Steve, the owner, I understand the par 4 part of being in jail. And yes, part of the theme. Don't change a thing.
Other Thoughts: Being a course owner, I'm biased on private courses. Thanks Steve, for putting this together. My family, and I enjoyed ourselves.
13 of 18 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 13 Not
Pros: This is a beautiful property and is very well maintained.
The course has 2 of my favorite holes (the green mile and hole 10) in all of disc golf and I've traveled all over the country playing events on a professional level. Great tees and the best hospitality I've ever had.
Cons: This course has several of my least favorite holes in disc golf. Impossible lines. The luck factor is huge here. Lots of Random trees and obs. A few holes are simply not disc golf holes, rather trails of paths with baskets at the end. This course was designed for a different style of play which may be fun for some , but captures little of my own interest.
Other Thoughts: This course is beautiful and is a must play at least once. Its a great fun or casual course, but not designed for tournament play on a pro level. Actual course design quality is lacking here.
I'll also add, my review is based on a hole by hole comparison of good to bad holes with added sway for much better or much worse deviation from a 2.5 typical standard. I am a 5th year pro and 90% of the golf in play is in tournament or minis. This is from my own personal standpoint and extra amenities (which this course is well above any other I've played) have only a small bearing on my rating. My rating is of mostly the course.
6 of 19 people found this review helpful.
21 Helpful / 1 Not
Number Fun in my Book
Pros: Shawshank offers a one-of-a-kind round, playing literally in Steve Dufrane's backyard. First off, I think that it is awesome how hospitable Steve and his family are. It is evident that he is extremely passionate about the sport and I applaud him for sharing his passion with others with this awesome course. I feel that the term "fun-factor" is an overused description for a course, but Shawshank is the definition of this. It is clear that Dufrane has put in a ton of time and effort to make this course as technically and aesthetically perfect as he possible can on the land given. Pulling into the Dufrane's driveway, you can get a sense of the vibe that surrounds the property. During mine and my brother's 13 course road trip through Texas and Louisiana, no other course had nearly as many people playing it as Shawshank did. People clearly love this course and - like we did - travel a long way to play it.
The course is so well taken care of and Steve even has a work crew that maintains the course. The jail theme is constantly present and creative on the tee signs, hole names, and even on some of the punishing holes. Another unique part of the course is the solar-powered lights on top of the front 9 baskets that give players the option of nightly glow rounds. It seems that the course continues to evolve and improve, with new holes and landscaping added within the past few years. The hand-drawn tee signs with chalk further show Steve's never-ending improvement mindset: he can redraw the holes as he redesigns them.
All the basic amenities are met here, with a bathroom, water coolers near holes 10 and 17, very nice rubber tees, and quality baskets. Multiple signs point you in the direction to the next tee as well, so navigation is a breeze here. Also, the course loops back to the parking lot and bathroom twice during your round.
Technically, this course is designed for players who have accurate - but not necessarily huge - arms. The front 9 are located in the front yard and initially start out kind of casually but as you hit hole 4, you realize that you are in jail. This is a very challenging and seemingly poke-and-pray hole, but a tree or two have been cut in the appropriate spots to make the line to the basket somewhat possible to hit. Holes 5, 7, and 8 also play within these extensive rows of enormous trees, but each utilize the trees very differently. My favorite stretch of the course is from 10-15. Two of my favorite holes on the course are 10's downhill bomb with the pond behind the basket and 12's uphill left to right shot with multiple lanes to the basket. The other holes offer some of the hardest shots on the course with tight lines and sharp turns. "Tin Cup" is one of the most fun finishing holes that I have played and is a great way to end the round! A fountain-basket to close out your round?! Come on, where else are you going to find that?
Pretty much every type of hole design is incorporated throughout the course, whether it be holes 6, 18, or 21's different looks on pond shots, 10 and 17's downhill bombs, 5, 11, 14, and 15's tight lanes, 12, 16 and 22's steep uphill shots, hole 7 and 9's long and open shots, etc., etc. The course has a tremendous variety and offers some pretty unique holes. I have never played a hole remotely similar to 21 and I appreciated the many different aspects of its design including a mando under the board and blind uphill shot over the pond.
Cons: -I am someone who enjoys having multiple options off the tee and for my approaches to the basket. I like to have the option to be creative and play a hole differently each time. This course has many holes that, while being very technical, require you to hit the line very accurately or you will be punished. There are many holes that are tight and have only one lane to throw through. Even Steve said, "You're in jail on some of these holes, you have to follow the rules." I do appreciate the specific shots that are required on many of these holes and they are very well designed. However, the best of the best course (for me) needs to allow more chances to be creative. This may not be a detractor from your round, but is just what keeps this course from being a perfect 5 for me.
-I would have liked more opportunities to play some longer, multi-stage par 4's that change terrain in some fashion throughout the hole.
-There aren't many holes on this course that I wanted to unload my bag on (other than trying to land on the green on "Tin Cup".) There are many fun and unique holes, but none that I would consider to be in my favorites.
Other Thoughts: I can't say many bad things about the course. It is in immaculate condition, it offers a tremendous variety of hole types, it is a great balance of fun and challenge, and is as creative and unique of a course that I have played. I strongly believe that the course design uses the property to its maximum potential. Some cons that keep this course from being the best of the best in my eyes, however, were the lack of opportunities to be creative in how you approach the hole and the lack of challenging multi-stage par 4's. They're there, but not as many as I would like in a perfect course.
Either way, I strongly encourage you to go out of your way to play this course. I really can't imagine someone not enjoying their round at Shawshank.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 1 Not
Funnest Time You'll Ever Do
Pros: Shawshank disc golf course is a truly unique animal: a jail-themed private course that plays in the extensive yard of Steve Dufrane, a forehand and roller wizard who will call you out for carrying too many discs ("I'll kick your a-- with just a Roc and an Aviar"), then promptly spend 15 minutes breaking down your form and giving you insightful advice on how to advance your game. He likes to speak in zen master-esque riddles, and his course reflects this propensity for brief, memorable, hard to solve gems.
Shawshank plays across an array of terrain: thick woods, rows of pines (the "jail"), a prominent hill, broken patches of trees, and three lakes are only some of the obstacles you'll face, all harnessed by Steve to challenge and bewilder your game. There's a lot to like in the land, and it's expertly used. The course leans towards the shorter end of the spectrum, with a few long bombers scattered throughout. It throws a dizzying array of holes at you, such as hole 4's pine thicket "jail," with only the barest of lanes to the basket, hole 21's short uphill shot with a hidden pond (which we discovered the hard way), the winding 282' par 4 "Death Row" in the woods, 18's over-the-lake shot, or the closing hole 23's "Tin Cup" island green, where any shot outside the circle is OB. Cumulatively, these holes stress precision, placement, and shot variety with your midranges and fairways: there are a lot of forehand-friendly holes, and a few spots where a strong roller gives you the best chance for a birdie. I appreciated how much variety Shawshank offered within its predilection for sub-300' holes.
Then there's the atmosphere. Shawshank has a free-wheeling vibe, encouraged by its owner and embodied in its jailhouse theme, unique tee signs, comical hole names, and memorable decor. On site camping is available, and between those passing through and dedicated locals, Shawshank seems to have a passionate and active following relative to its being a private course in an out-of-the-way location. Friendly golfers are on hand to provide some tips for first-time visitors or play a pick-up doubles round. A sense of community and "we're all out here to enjoy the game we love" mentality pervades Shawshank. It's a unique place that'll put a smile on your face. I've never played a course like this before.
Grooming is immaculate by any standard, let alone a private course. The tees are excellent.
Memorable stretches: holes 4-8, which with the exception of 6 all interact with the pine tree "jail" in a variety of creative ways, from 4's scary pinball potential to 5's tunnel shot to 8's big hyzer around the outer edges, and holes 11-15, a tight, intense jaunt through the woods that can make or break your round.
Cons: I loved my day at Shawshank. It's a special course. But it's not without its shortcomings.
I really missed shot shaping at a longer range. I don't have a big arm (~375' max), but still felt constrained by the lack of opportunities to shape lines on this scale. The few longer holes at Shawshank all emphasize straight throws, and don't have a technical challenge proportionate to their distance. If anything, the longer holes tend to be the easier ones, without the nuance or quirks that distinguish many of the shorter ones. Shawshank's prevalent technicality largely focuses on your mid-range game, which is great, but limiting.
Similarly, I missed having some longer par 4s. The holes here are almost exclusively par 3s, and often zero in on a single line or problem that, though often engaging, doesn't allow for the rich possibility that longer, more multiplicitous holes provide. The two par 4s that are on site either force you to throw consecutive straight shots (hole 7) or lay up in tight confines (hole 15), and are lacking this multiplicity. This frequent constraint is actually by design: as Steve puts it, you're in jail at Shawshank, meaning you have to do what you're told or pay the price. While I appreciate the challenges Shawshank obstinately throws at you - they're one of the things that make it unique - I would have liked to have a few more opportunities to exercise autonomy during my round. I guess that's what happens when you pay a visit to jail. As it is, the course squeezes a lot of variety and challenge out of its par 3 format, but lacks the par 4s and 5s that would allow it to top other top tier courses I've played.
Other Thoughts: I had a hard time rating Shawshank. It's one of the funnest courses I've played: the vibe, the people, and the one-of-a-kind challenges here combine to make for a very memorable round. Getting to interact with someone as knowledgeable and enthusiastic as Steve was a unique, unexpected plus. The course is well-designed and immaculately maintained, and at this point in its life bears the fruits of all the hard work that's been put into it. On the flip side, the focus on par 3 golf felt a bit constraining for a top tier course over the course of 23 holes. Shawshank does what it does very well; I just wish it would step outside its comfort zone a bit.
Of course, all this is splitting hairs: no matter how you slice it, Shawshank is well worth a visit!
13 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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