19 Helpful / 1 Not
Must Play if You're In Texas
Pros: Shawshank is a constant evolution. Everytime I play, the course is better than before! Everything about this course has a prison theme (even the dog is named Warden). All holes have unique names to fit this theme (ex The Green Mile, Solitary, Conjugal Visit). The new 23 hole par 71 layout is very demanding, testing every shot in the bag, from a cut roller to spike hyzer. Yesterday, Steve told me that someone once commented that the course was as twisted as the designer. The long positions on the holes that have alt pins make this even more of a challenge (#'s 1, 2 and 9 specifically).
The land itself is beautiful with manicured fairways and no other course in the Houston uses elevation like this place, specifically numbers 10 and 17 (546' and 512' respectively). These 2 holes run parallel more or less, down tree lined fairways with #10s basket being about 40' from the edge of a pond. Its quite a sight to rip one on a straight line on these 2 holes.
Water comes into play on 3 holes with 3 different ponds. #6 can be played safe by throwing a RH anny or FH, but it's truly rewarding if you can throw 300' dead straight over the dock and pond. On #18 you are forced to throw across another pond to an elevated basket on the other side (261').
#4 and 5 will be difficult to birdie or even par without using a cut roller as you are forced to throw into a cluster of thin trees arranged in rows about 6 or 7' apart (in both directions). #4 throws into this and #5 is throwing back out.
As far as course amenities, the signage is the best I've personally seen with custom iron signs showing the length, par and name of the hole. There are benches on literally every hole and as far as I remember a trash can also. Steve even went so far as to put posts up at each hole as a flat surface to record scores on (each of these posts even had 2 pencils already in it! - its the little things!). The boxes are quality wood frames with rubber pads.
Cons: Nothing really, except the fact that its 40 minutes from my house, but that certainly can't take points away from the course. Previously, there were some drop offs at the end of a few tees, but that has been addressed already.
Other Thoughts: The Dufranes are excellent people and their hospitality takes an already exceptional course to another level. Steve is always kind enough to keep sodas and water stocked in a fridge in his shop (donation please). He has offered umbrellas during an unexpected rain storm. On weekends it is not uncommon for him to be cooking outside (yesterday was fajitas) and visitors are always invited (please offer donations - this all comes out of his pocket). Steve will almost always jump in on a hole or two, but watch out - he'll beat you using only a Roc! If you are coming to Texas or are already here, be sure you stop by this one of a kind experience - you won't regret it.
Also, this is the site of the 2011 US Masters, and I think that should speak volumes about the quality of the course.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: 1) This course is on private property and will never see a ton of traffic so you should always be able to get a nice calm round in here.
2) Steve - the designer and owner is very passionate about his creation and the sport of disc golf. He loves to talk about his course, how it was built, and his game.
3) I was laughing out loud numerous times on the course because I could hear the cows int he pasture. They sounded like they wer ebeing led to slaughter and for some reason I just couldn't shake the laughter. It sounds sadistic that I would get enjoyment out of cattle slaughter, but I had just come from the Texas Prison Museum where I got to see "Old Sparky" so perhaps the souls of those killed in that chair got to me.
4) Well designed course incorporating some really cool parts of a really cool property. There are no wide open holes just holes with some forgiving lines, holes with tight dense woods in spots, holes that are throught he middle of a tree nursery with the gap being only about 5' wide. There is elevation used tremendously well on this property. Boy it is fun to throw down holes #10 and #15.
5) Pond on Hole #6 is a true risk reward. There isn't much of a safe play on that hole however because if you want to go right of the pond you have some serious tight gaps int he trees to deal with. odds are you will get knocked down and then have to throw a pretty risky approach to the green which may or may not force you back over the water you were trying to avoid in the first place.
6) The holes are all named, having something to do with Jail or the movie The Shawshank Redemption. The owner's name is even Dufrane like the guy in the movie.
7) Benches and garbage on many holes. It is nice to see a private course as clean as this one too, so obviously either people are using the garbage cans or someone is walking around picking up the garbage all the time.
8) Nice attractive sign announcing you are at the course. It is nice to see someone take all level of their course to the top level!
9) Riser poles on a couple of the baskets to help you see the baskets over the rise. That is a nice touch and it helps the first timer for sure.
10) Steve has been out overseeding with Ryegrass . . . how often do you see this? Well I saw it one other place . . . Bud Hill in Memphis . . . another private course where the owner takes a lot of pride in the conditions.
11) 23 holes now as Steve has added 2 more holes into the design 12A and 12B. Its always nice to play courses with a lot of holes, it just extends the fun!
Cons: 1) The tree behind #6 basket seems a little close to me. I typically would like to see at least 15' around any given basket because I feel like those should be automatic putts, or at least free of obstacles.
2) The rubber tees were a little bumpy in spots probably due to settling. I never had a problem with them being slippery just lumpy and uneven on a few occassions.
3) There is some rust on some of the chains. It doesn't seem to affect the catchability but it is noticeable. If I remember right he had a couple different kinds of baskets. SOme may have been homemade but I am not 100% sure on that. Too many courses in too short of time for me. Sorry!
4) Hole #13 was kindof a goofy hole. I tis like a 90 degree shot both shots are under 100' and the gap is only about 8' wide. It just seems a little gimmicky. Noone will make a 2, most will make a 3, but a few people who get off the fairway will take a 4, that doesn't necessarily mean it is a good hole.
Other Thoughts: This was a really fun course. Steve said it was designed for Masters players which although I am not 40 I throw a lot like the better Masters players would. I do not throw far, but i am pretty accurate. They are hosting a big Masters tournament this year actually. It should be interesting to see how those people play in that tournament. Its a challenging tough course, there are some birdie opportunities but a lot of risk/reward that can lead you to take bogeys or worse in some spots.
This is just another great private course that leads me to believe the future of disc golf is going to be pay to play. People that want to play ebtter courses will need to be willing to spend a few dollars. If this is the course that i get to pay for a $5 fee, well then I am all in. I love the quality the cleanness, the private property aspect meaning nobody else around typically. It also reaffirmed I need to buy some land to live on that has some land like this so I can make my own private course. It would be a lot of fun to do the work on my own and design a course on my own property.
This course is definitely a 4-4.5 disc course. It has the amenities of a 5.0 disc course, but I just cannot give it that score. Ideally I would say I could give this a 4.25 but that is not possible, but I almost feel like giving this course a 4 would be too punishing considering all the things they have going on here. I guess I would consider it to be one of the lower 4.5 disc rated courses I have played. Concrete tees would help because they are more consistent, but there isn't much else I would recommend to upgrade the course from the 4.5 rating. It is hard to quantify, I just don't quite feel it is worthy of a 5.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Course is set on private property, so it is guaranteed to be exclusively used for disc golf (property owners trump all, of course). There are a few separate forested areas, a big sloping hillside, and multiple spots with water.
- Four of the first seven holes are set in and around a large cluster of small, thin trees, set in rows to create very very thin tunnels. A few holes require a dead straight shot off the tee to keep in the hallway; anything that strays too far is guaranteed to be in tough jail. #7 has a wider fairway, but a small kink with a guardian tree makes it a very tough line.
- A ton of other holes are completely encompassed in a more gnarly forest, with many different looks. There are some lightly wooded ones, like #19 and #20, some tighter lines, like #11 and #12, and some that are downright ridiculous, like #13. Excellent variety in lines; super straight, big and small s-curves, hyzers, anhyzers, each hole has good character.
- Holes #8 and #9 force an accurate RHBH hyzer, with dense forest on the left and OB to the right/practically straight. Landing pin high is one of the few ways to get a good look at the basket; the thin fairways are tough to hit cleanly. The rest of the holes are set in more open areas, with trees both big and small littering the fairways and greens. The island hole (OB pavement) is a nice touch as well.
- Very good variety of elevation changes on the back side of the course. Two long downhill bombers in the open area must be under control to avoid the numerous mature trees. The uphill shots are mostly in the lightly forested areas, amongst three or four holes. The slopes are definitely noticeable and are a big factor.
- Awesome variety of shots involving water at this course. The first is on #6, which has a drive through a tight window to even get to the pond. #10 has water as a backstop for the bigger arms, as the downslope allows drives to just keep going. #16 is directly over a larger pond, and #19 is a short uphill shot over an tiny bowl (OB if dry too).
- Good mix of hole lengths; there are some shorties, some long ones, and a lot in between. Distance is usually not nearly as important as accuracy, but there are definitely places to really air them out. Probably one par 4, the long and narrow #7.
- Baskets are protected in some spots, to the point where you wonder how they got them back there. Lots of little trees are speckled in front of #2, #9, and an alternate hole (A?). #16 is elevated on a hill, with barbed wire way behind, and #19 has water/OB right in front.
- Unique tee signs have distances; the map shows the way. Teepads are very good, and baskets are in great shape, permanent or not. Navigation is very easy with the map and directional signs.
Cons: - While there is a wide variety in hole lengths, there are 4 holes under 210', and 11 more holes under 305'. The average hole length hides the large number of the shorties. As such, there is an overload of shots that value accuracy to the extreme, with distance being a means to an end. Some of the short holes, like #13, are borderline unfair, at least to a casual or even experienced player.
Other Thoughts: - This course pretty much has everything, minus gargantuan elevation changes and 8000' length. The two separate forest areas are very unique, and very challenging. Some extremely tight lines and tight windows, and some uphill shots with more leeway. The holes by and over water are great as well; laying up is almost as tough as getting it in one shot. The open holes are no slouches either, the long downhill shots and the island green are very enjoyable.
- Heads up for some barbed wire, especially on the long end of hole #16.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 2 Not
Shawshank, Huntsville Texas
Pros: Well maintained, well established, well designed. Dogs allowed
Cons: Pay to play. No restrooms
Other Thoughts: A private course owned and maintained by Steve Dufrane. Pay to play $5, for all day access. Go to the house and knock on the door. This course has a good balance of long and short holes, focusing on technical aspects due to excellent course design. Lots of foliage, mature trees mostly, making several tee shots challenge your accuracy instead of distance. There are slight elevation changes throughout the property which adds to the course playability and fun factor. Excellent use of water hazards as well. This course is not exposed to the elements because of all the trees and bushes so wind is not a big factor.
The tee pads are rubber on a wood-framed compacted sand area. The custom tee signs are up to date and have pertinent information about each hole, every hole has a unique name. Benches on most of the tees. Baskets are well marked and visible from the tee areas, except for the blind shots of which there are several. Average hole length is closer to 300 feet than 400 feet. There are also some extra holes being put in bringing in the total hole count around 21, not sure how many total but it is more than 18.
Because of the technical level being so high on this course, I believe advanced and pro players will find this course more to their liking, beginner players may become frustrated or feel some of the fairways are just too hard to negotiate. However every hole has a well established fairway the AVERAGE player can negotiate with the exception of hole 5. Hole 5 has a high F-luck factor if you can"t throw a forehand cut roller, left or right handed off the teepad.
The atmosphere and character of this course will leave you with a good feeling once your done for the day, and if your like me you will look forward going back to play the course again. This course is well above average for all aspects. The property is a bit out of the way so you need to bring all you need for your round as there is nothing at the course to purchase and the closest place to get anything is several miles away. If Steve is there you may be able to buy some discs from him but that's about it.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 2 Not
Shawshank: Doin' time is fine!
Pros: First and foremost, the Warden is fair, equitable and the perfect host. Enough can't be said for enjoying the experience of incarceration in this highly technical detention center. It will test not only your skills moving from cell to cell, but it will your mettle and strategy.
The grounds are well kept even in the winter months. The course signage is well thought out and the tee signs are as technically unique as the course. Inmates are guided from cell block to cell block without error. The rubber tee pads are perfect in both wet and dry weather.
The elevation changes support the length of the holes nicely, and the view downhill to the pond is amazing regardless what time of year you are serving time.
Parking is easy and straightforward.
BTW, my cellmate birdied "Death Row" with a monster Anhyzer last week. Seconds before launch shout "Go big or go home". It seemed to work for CH!!!
Cons: I haven't served enough time at Shawshank to come up with any reason not to play this course as often as I can. Any arguments about the course being too technical, or absurd, should be immediately detained in solitary for 30 days in the hole.
Other Thoughts: For my next round of detention, I'm making it a point to serve my time at night, and take advantage of the LED lighted holes.
Shawshank is perfectly located within the boundaries of the Sam Houston National Forest, make sure you plan your directions well.
Call in first and check in immediately at the Wardens quarters.
7 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: You have almost every type of shot you throw tested. Great variety, very challenging, and great people. Love the elevation and canopy. Definately a shot-maker course. I am looking forward to playing it again for a little redemption.
Cons: Limited parking is the only con that I can think of and that would only be for large venues. This is already being addressed by the warden. So there are no worries.
Other Thoughts: If I had to pick 5 favorites, they would be as follows: #7 (The Green Mile), #10 (Alcatraz), #12 (Solitary), #15 (Strip Search), and last but not least #21 (Tin Cup).
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
i sucked and had fun
Pros: This course is an absolute joy.
i got my butt kicked, and smiled the whole time.
this course has every shot ive ever seen, or tried.
2 new holes just went up an they are awesome 12a is 300ish? strait tight shot with a well guarded pin. for a rec player, a beast up the right side will get you in a lay in 3 range.......maybe :)
12b is tight, not that the previous 11 holes werent already making you want to skip the hole, this one makes you use a light placement shot...get it right, and your making a 50-60 footer for bird....get it wrong....hows your forehand rollers to get into the fairway?
the course is so well maintained i'm surprised the pine needles aren't picked up by hand!
benches everywhere, same with trash receptacles.
the course owner called me i think 4 times throughout the day to see how it was going. to me that means alot about this course instead of just making it very frickin hard. it has personality.
best holes are 4,5,10,15...you'll see
Cons: when i was out at the recent tourney watching, i saw some pin placements, not the alternates. a few times i threw to the short placement and was exstatic i hit the line and parked it. then there was no basket....it was another 50 or so feet away. not really a con for a casual round, having those alt distances would make you go up and look a little harder for the basket your first time out. this would definatly take this place to the next level.
other than that....simply amazing
Other Thoughts: if you never play shawshank your really missing out
the us masters will be there next year, so if anything come out and get a good round in, then see how they do, you might not be far off.
bring your chainsaw.
i think this place gets its highest rating for the hospitality of the family that runs it. they are disc golfers, and they are exactly the kind of people you want to be around when you start and finish a round.
i need to learn the dogs name, he kept thinking he had the box at every hole.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 13 Not
Pros: This course will test every shot in the bag. Heavily guarded by pines with a nice mix of left and right hand shots. If you get lost just follow the dog.
Cons: This course is not for the faint of heart.
Other Thoughts: To play, call first. (281)682-9446. $5 per person.
2 of 15 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 3 Not
Great Difficult Course
Pros: This Course has got everything. from Water to elevation to trees to wide open. I mean this course is a top notch course in the Houston area. This course will make you work for your score. they are working on new tee pads and the one that are done are great. this course gives you opportunities to use every disc and throw that you have.
Cons: it is in the middle of no where! Maybe two of the holes are almost just to crazy hard.
Other Thoughts: this is a course that you should play all the time. I wish it wasn't so far away or i would be trying to get here alot more.
When the Tee pads are done I will Edit this rating up to a 5 star.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 0 Not
There's Magic in These Woods
Pros: Located on a marvelous private piece of land this course is brimming with personality and variety. Literally no two holes are a like and they all challenge you in very different ways. For anyone used to playing the typical Houston course this one is a different animal all together.
The first thing you'll notice is the property and what a great piece of land it is for a disc golf course. From the hills to the fully mature large trees this course represents east Texas landscaping at its finest. I've never been on a course where so many people would stop and take pictures of holes and the properity.
As for the holes well they will make you pull every shot you have out of your bag and maybe some you didnt know you had. I had never thrown a roller in competitive play until I played this course its just that varied. To me the biggest asset this course has is elevation. Living on the Gulf Coast the biggest hills I see are usually artificial (Terramont) but these changes in elevation are all natural and spectacular. Being able to throw down a 579 foot fairway through trees and watch your disc just "GO" is an awesome feeling.
As far as the standard disc golf amenities, this course has begun to install some really great, elevated, rubber teepads and the tee signs are unique and ecletic. The cages are portable but very solid and allow for multiple variations in course setup.
Finally I would remiss if I didn't mention the family who lives on this course. The Dufrane's are wonderful hosts and if you ever get to participate in one of there tournaments it is a sight to behold. They are a warm, welcoming family and their hospitiality is second to none.
Cons: Their really isn't lot of bad things to say about this course. The lack of teepads on some holes can be tough but the natural ones still do a pretty nice job. Holes 4 and 13 are crap shoots especially with the mandos in play and are more about luck then true skill. Be prepared to lose discs here (i lost both my Buzzz's on 6) as the water hazards are no joke and are unavoidable.
Other Thoughts: After playing this course for the first time my initial reaction was "WOW what a cool course" and since Ive played it twice more that impression has yet to fade. Without a doubt Shawshank is the most unique course Ive ever played. This course has its own personality and manurisms. It will show you love and treat you good one moment but also bite your head off and crap down your throat the next. But in the end you will feel honored to have played it and yearn to experience it again.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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