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.
There's Magic in These Woods
18 Helpful / 1 Not
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: There are 5 holes out here that are absolute crap shoots especially with the mandos in play and are more about luck then true skill. Be prepared to lose discs here as the water hazards are no joke and are unavoidable. As much as I love the property I feel the luck and unnecessary hazards on this course cheapen its appeal. I've heard more than one top level player refer to this course as "circus golf" and I tend to agree.
Other Thoughts: 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 the amenities are top notch and the Dufranes make for incredible hosts.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Wonderfully technical course
Pros: This course is a technical course that will challenge even the most seasoned player. All shots are required to even imagine getting par on the entire course. This course challenged my abilities more than any other I have played and should be visited by everyone in the Houston area.
Cons: The only con I can say about this course is that it is not available all the time. This is a private course and its availability is subject to the owner Steve so call ahead and make an appointment.
Other Thoughts: I work part time at one of the prisons here in Huntsville and found the names to be fun and amusing. Shawshank is a course with character which is something of a rarity in disc golf courses.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
28 Helpful / 0 Not
Escape to Shawshank
Pros: Originally a pig farm, Shawshank has 23 solid holes over a 23-acre lot of varied terrain. Apart from a few big downhill bombs on the back end, most of the course is tight playing through alleys of trees, good elevation changes, and over water in big risk versus reward shots.
Holes range from 189' to almost 600', and will push you to be accurate with every shot. For example, hole 5; "The Tunnel" plays through a 208' alley of pines with about a 12' lane to the entire way. If you can keep your disc straight on this course - you will be rewarded.
Each tee box is marked by a homemade hole number and yardage sign usually crafted from wood or granite, and the pins themselves are in good shape for private course standards.
BEST HOLE/S: #5
Cons: The tee boxes themselves have been transitioned to rubber pads, and though not as good as concrete IMO, it's a huge step up from the natural and gravel pads Shawshank used to have.
The biggest personal issue with Shawshank is that technical borders on silly with some holes. Hole 4, "Jail" is a 305' hole that involves more luck than skill in attempting to thread your disc down an 8' fairway. If you end up on the left side of the pin you'll understand why this hole was called jail. Also, hole 15, "Death Row" is aptly named since it's 276' of zigzagging putts. A pro might hyzer over the trees if they know the line, however regular players will be forced to make a 126' midrange putt to a 10' square landing area if they want a shot at hitting the next alley and escaping with a 4.
WORST HOLE/S: #3
Shawshank is an excellent mix of technical holes that go from wow to sometimes bordering on the absurd. I found myself wishing multiple times that if holes like 4, 13, and 17 would be thinned out a bit, it would make it much better - but that is obviously part of the challenge. Basically, if you love tight and technical, then this place will rank high on your list.
There is another component of Shawshank that one usually doesn't consider in a course. Personality - and this course brims with it. From the owner Mr. DuFrane, to the course name and hole names like "The Green Mile," "The Conjugal Visit," or "Death Row." There's a playfulness of the course and its design to truly make you feel like you've escaped upon completing the round. I find it compares well in many regards to Dalaiwood
, one of my all-time favorite courses up in Washington where you emphasize technique over power. Then you combine it with a flair that only a passionate owner and a privately run course can muster.
The course itself feels like it floats somewhere between the 4.0 and 4.5 mark for design, creativity, diversity, and difficulty, but it's the overall Shawshank experience that just pushes it up between a 4.5 and 5.0, and something to seriously consider when choosing to play this course. Sure, you're just playing a round of disc golf, but the overall experience is you what you wish all disc golf experiences should be.
28 of 28 people found this review helpful.
19 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: One of my favorite courses, Shawshank is one of the better balanced courses that I have played. The course provides a very wide variety of challenges forcing you to throw a bunch of fun and interesting shots. You will throw down hills, you will throw up hills. You will throw hyzers and anhyzers. There are three holes going over water and quite a few that provide some of the tightest and trickiest tunnels you will find in the area. If you have a good controlled drive you will be benefitted by the layout of this course. If you are just a big arm who maybe struggles some with your lines, this course can eat your lunch. This course will give you your money's worth and whenever you get the chance get out there.
Cons: There are some holes which go a little beyond the challenging stage and end up in the category of just plain silly. I think particularly of one hole which S-curves taking nearly ninety degree turns after about 100 feet. It is in a very tight tunnel and if you miss it by as much as a couple feet you will find yourself being torn up by the thorny rough.
The only other con that I can think of is the fact that this is a private course and primarily played only at tournaments. I am convinced that if this were my home course and I was able to take on its challenges with regularity, I would be a much better disc golfer then I am today because of the way that it makes you execute tough shots.
Other Thoughts: Among the highlights of this course are a hole in and out of a pine forest. Unless you are impeccably accurate or can throw a controlled roller you will be doomed on these.
This course is the type that scores can swing by wide margins very quickly. At the latest tournament a player shot 1 down in the first round followed by a 23 up in the second. With the potential to pick up big strokes on holes you have to stay focused and approach each hole with a plan and using your head. Once your head goes out here, you might as well kiss your butt goodbye!
19 of 19 people found this review helpful.
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