8 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: One look at this awesome course and you can tell the designer takes the sport of disc golf seriously. Mr. Defrane took this property and turned it into possibly the finest course found in this part of the state. There are no two holes alike on this course. Even the first three holes are different in their own right. There are so many holes and so many shots that have to be made here to score well. I will highlight my faves here: Hole 4 "Jail" a Par 3, 305 Ft. shot off the tee into a thick forest of trees! Get your roller shots ready or prepare to play ricochet among the trees. Hole 7, "The Green Mile" a 600 Ft. shot through the middle of two rows of trees on each side of the fairway. Hole 18 "Conjugal Visit" A 261 Ft. Hole that is all pond. And Hole 15 "Death Row" a 276 Ft. narrow fairway that winds in two different directions before you reach the basket. (One of the most excellently designed holes I have ever seen). There is so much more here, but the holes just mentioned are my faves. There are several holes here that are like signature holes including 23 the "Tin Cup" with its basket as an interesting water fountain. So much fun here to be had. This course has to be played to be appreciated!
Cons: The only con I can see is the course is so far out from any major city, but that only increases the anticipation even more to play this magnificent course once you reach there.
Other Thoughts: Excellent course. Fine attention to detail. Thanks, Steve. I look forward to playing this great course again sometime!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Not even sure where to start. If you can master this course you can do well on any. Very challenging, but a blast. Well designed. So many different shots. no hole feels " just like the others". 23 if played the way its supposed to definitely takes this course to the next level skill wise. Go there play it you won't regret it.
Cons: Basket markers would be nice... That's about it..
Other Thoughts: Conjugal visit (18) is a blast. 200 ft lake. If you are scared of losing a disc bring a blizzard. Monday nights is Monday night lights ( night golf) the front nine is lit up and 23. Mini doubles tourny if enough show up. It's a lot of fun. Be there at 6:30
2 of 7 people found this review helpful.
a Texas gem
19 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -amazing piece of property, well-designed course, tons of fun shots!
-beautifully maintained and landscaped, looks great
-teepads are great, baskets in good condition, signs on each hole, stairs and benches, 'next tee' signs
-prison theme, each hole has a name, really clever
-tons of great elevation changes: long downhill throws and sharp uphills
-varies from lightly wooded to heavily wooded, a few are crazy tight!
-secluded, picturesque, quiet, never crowded
-course owner, Steve, is a really great guy and obviously puts in a TON of work here
-Warden, the course guide, is an awesome dog!
Cons: -it's a punishing test of accuracy. if that's not your thing, too bad.
-a bit out of the way but i say it's a good thing
-a few unintuitive navigational spots, print the map
there's not much to say here. this course has it all: elevation, distance, ace runs, water hazards, tons of signature holes, a premium on accuracy, risk/reward, you name it
the one thing i could complain about is that the holes are not secluded from each other. the property is relatively small and you play through some areas of the course multiple times and it could feel cramped. this is not really much of a concern though since you should have the course to yourself most of the time. the course lacks that "epic" and grandiose feel of being in the middle of nowhere. but for the land it is on, this course could not be any better.
Other Thoughts: This course is an experience. Out in picturesque nature on a perfect piece of property for a disc golf course, the pictures here do not do it justice. Like the book/movie it is named after, the prison-themed Shawshank is a true test of character, patience, and careful planning.
As I said above, this course is a punishing test of accuracy. The holes range from lightly wooded to hellish corridors with 100 degree turns, from 180' to over 600', up and down hills and across ponds. It favors only the consistent player and demands a variety of shots and line-shaping to score well.
The holes are all very straight forward. There is a required shot and except for the more open holes, that's the only line. Lots of good early trouble and some well placed late trouble also. The basket locations are well planned and all the baskets have movable bases so Steve can tweak them as he likes. The signs have the hole name and distance to the basket. The signs are magnetic so when he changes basket locations he can just swap them out. Steve also said he was planning to redo all the tees again soon (they already look great!) with stone borders instead of wood. The tees themselves are great, I would never miss concrete here.
This is the perfect place to spend the day playing incredible golf. Most definitely a destination course, I would recommend it to anyone as one of Texas' most unique courses. I had given it a 5 previously but after playing some more top tier courses it couldn't hold up anymore. That said, I can't imagine a better course on this property.
**Like this review? Hate it? Message me and let me know why! I want to make them better!**
19 of 20 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: I don't write really long reviews because I don't like reading them. I like to know why the course is good; not info on every hole but I could go on and on about Shawshank. Friendly people, great view, and great disc golf. Every hole is something new. The first 9 have a few open holes and an excellent orchard type obstacle that makes 3 holes very exciting. There is one pond in play over here that makes things a little difficult. Very challenging but very fun. The back 9 starts with a long bomb down a hill and the rest of the holes are played on the hill and in some woods. An excellent combination of lightly wooded to safari. 2 water hazards come into play on this hole. 1 is a 260 foot drive over the water (be careful). The other is over a small pond but when I played it no water was there. All of the holes are named prison terms which is fun and all the holes are marked beautifully. A beautiful piece of land in a beautiful part of Texas.
Cons: Pay to play, it's 5 dollars. Private course you should call ahead, but the people are really nice. 23 holes was a little long for me but I forgot to bring water. I also don't really like courses that take you 2+ hours to play. I get a little tired after the 2 hour mark (it might have only taken that long since it was my first time there). If you are a beginner or an intermediate who doesn't like challenging/wooded courses then you should stay away. Other than that I would play this course every day if I could.
Other Thoughts: Not for the faint hearted. This course will challenge and text you. A must play for Houston area disc golfers. I am from College Station currently and plan on making the drive as often as I can (at least once a month). Worth your time and worth your money. I give this course a 5 disc review because I think it deserves better than a 4.5 and would like to bring it's rating up.
12 of 15 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 12 Not
Pros: Everything about this course is amazing. The layout is utterly beautiful. a must-play for any serious disc golfer. The shots make you think to always question the way you're going to approach the hole.
Cons: Waupon..... Hole 6. 'Nuff said.
Other Thoughts: I enjoyed the dog, he was the best course guide ever.... even though he drank half of my bottle of water.
1 of 13 people found this review helpful.
26 Helpful / 1 Not
The DG Theme Park is Open
Pros: After 154 courses played, this was by far the most fun I have ever had playing DG. This course has 23 holes containing elevation, water, OB, wooded and open holes, doglegs, great pin placements, and even an island green. Every hole has a name that has something to do with the Stephen King novel/movie Shawshank Redemption or prison life in general. I can easily say there was not one filler hole on this course. Everything feels truly intentional and is well thought out. The elevated baskets were a nice touch on some of the holes. All the baskets are in great shape. The rubber tee pads were incredibly comfortable and in great shape as well. There are signs that keep you directed to the next tee and clean, easy to follow walking areas just adds to the whole experience. This is not an easy course even though you can usually reach most of the holes in 1 throw. There are two par 4's to give you a par of 71. They have a lost and found area for discs and are friendly as they come. I was treated so nice, in fact, I felt humbled by their hospitality. You really can use most every shot in your bag in one round here. It is so beautiful and mostly shaded for hot days. So much time has been taken with the little things to decorate and make the tee areas really nice. There are benches at every tee and a score stand that I am told will have the hole map on it eventually. I could write for hours on how amazing this layout was.
Cons: The only con I can think of is that some people will find some holes unfair because of how tight a fairway might be or the fact you have to land at a certain spot to make a turn. All I can say to that is, we are all playing the same course. Just enjoy it and don't get so caught up in all of that or you are going to lose out on the good stuff.
Other Thoughts: The Fun Factor is as high as it can be here. I think you could play this course 50 times in a year and not get bored. Most of the hole names were relevant to the kind of hole it was. #4, "Jail," was a matrix grid of trees where the basket is in the middle (Roller hole for sure.) #7, "The Green Mile," was an alley wide open of beautiful green grass, with a row of trees on either side of the alley 600 feet long. #15, "Death Row," is a tough hole where if you don't land your first shot in the right spot, getting to the basket in 2 is certain death. It is the most fun I have ever had playing a round by myself. I am already trying to get a group to travel for the day and it is 3.5 hours away. Yes, it was that much fun and the $5 fee to play is a no brainer!
26 of 27 people found this review helpful.
20 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.
20 of 21 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.
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