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.
26 Helpful / 2 Not
Try to stay out of "Jail"
An impressive array of holes make this a very enjoyable course to play. Lots of tricky holes will challenge your ability to accurately place a disc. Two big downhill holes and three uphill holes make good use of the elevation on the property. There are two holes that are perfectly straight shots to the basket down ~8ft wide fairways with walls of trees on both sides. One hole is literally a maze of trees that cause an errant throw to ping-pong from tree to tree. Three different holes require crossing ponds; none of which are hard to cross by themselves, but either pin placement, elevation, or distance from the teebox make it challenging. One hole features a tree walled fairway that makes a 90 degree right turn and then slight s-curve to the basket. The signature hole is the "Tin Cup Island hole" that requires you to land your tee shot on a grass island (bounded by concrete driveway) from ~250'. After three misses (with penalties) you then have to throw, lying six, from a metal cage ("jail") about 60' out. Scoring 8's is not uncommon on that hole. Tee signs have had hole distances added to them as of Nov 2008. "Next Tee" signs for all holes added Nov 2009. Also in Nov 2009, large solid rubber tee pads/boxes added to several holes greatly increasing footing on some previously treacherous boxes. Course also has LED flashlights strategically placed for lighting the front nine fairways for night golf.
With a lot of trees this course favors players with a good short and mid-range game. There aren't many holes, by my count: four, that really let you air out your drive for some distance with little fear of hitting a tree, or two, or three. No course map led my group to play one hole to the wrong basket. (Course map added May 2009.)
Several of the holes out here, specifically #4 and #14 rely significantly more on luck than golf skill. Holes like that can ruin a round. Another hole (#15) is a 282' par 4, that is best safely played with consecutive 120' shots and a couple putts. That hole takes a lot of heat from critics.
While I enjoyed playing this course a lot it had a few too many trees for my taste. Hole #4 was just a maze of trees with virtually no fairway and I think that plays a bit too much on luck vs. skill. I would like to see a couple more open holes to add balance for players who can chuck a driver for distance.
The course creatively plays off the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" by naming each hole relative to something from the movie, or a prison theme.
This course is on a private residence. While it is not open to the general public you can call Steve to schedule playing times. It is the site of the annual "Great Disc Golf Escape" Tournament, and hosted the 2011 PDGA US Masters Championships.
26 of 28 people found this review helpful.
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