14 Helpful / 1 Not
The Gold Course
Pros: The Gold Course at Winthrop is spectacular - to say the least. If you're playing Winthrop in its Gold layout, you're playing it championship week - with all of the emotion and awe that comes with that. There is a feeling you get playing this course, even if it is just the day after on "spectator Sunday."
Additionally - the course itself is very well put together. There's a nice variety of short and long holes, with holes 1, 3, 7, 17 all deucable with a putter or a midrange. A lot of the par 4's and 5's are birdiable with a nice 3. The ropes keep you honest, and force you to hold your arm in check. A lot of newer players may look at it as unnecessary distance and wide open fairways, but for a player with a huge arm the fairway starts to look awfully narrow and tricky 425-50 feet down the way.
Additionally the course is beautiful. On top of that sense of emotion and awe that you get, you hit hole 5 and take a look out over the water - or as you're looking off of 17's teepad or down 18's green... the views are stunning.
Cons: At times, despite the yellow rope keeping the course from playing too wide open, it really feels open. From hole 9 through hole 12 you really feel like you're out in the sun for a long time - it feels like far more than four holes and it can drain you.
Other Thoughts: This is Winthrop Gold - and it is the absolute best there is in professional disc golf. If you're playing Gold you're playing championship week, and nothing feels better. It really does carry the course a little. I rated it a 4.5... based on the course alone its a 4.0, in my opinion. But based on the feeling you get teeing off from hole 1, the feeling you get knowing that you're treading the same fairways that the best of the best are going to be heading up all week... that's worth the bump to a 4.5, without a doubt.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 2 Not
USDGC Layout = 5
Note: I played Winthrop the day before and after the USDGC, so all the ropes were up, benches and shade structures at every tee-pad, tournament tee-signs, the caddy book, the environment... What more could you want?
- This is GOLF. Winthrop Gold (with the ropes up) is the closest thing to "ball golf" you are going to get in DG. Mowed grass, defined fairways, OB, water shots, and perfectly designed holes make it feel as if you're playing a championship PGA course.
- The Ropes! I hate to say it... but without the ropes this course would be regular. They really tighten up what would otherwise be an open course. Holes 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 had fairways modified by ropes.
- Par 68. I love the Pars set for the course. Perfect use of Par 4's and 5's... and, they're gettable. Every hole on this course is birdie-able (for the advanced player), the way golf should be.
- Not too many cons in the USDGC layout. However, playing this course without the ropes up would, to me, be a CON. Navigation might be a bit rougher (especially with two courses sharing a section of land), and the long walks far less forgivable. The experience would be all together different.
- 5 Discs?? Winthrop Gold, in the USDGC layout (with the ropes up), during tournament week, is just one of those DG experiences you have to have. You feel like one of the Players. Every shot requires focus. Five foot tap-ins are knee-knockers... the championship tournament atmosphere and pressure of knowing this is the only time you'll get to play this exact course... it's exciting - 5 discs worth.
- 358 Day Reality? Without the ropes and week of USDGC hoopla, this course would probably be a 4. However, Winthrop would be an EPIC day of disc golf any day of the year. I'm coming back asap!
- My Score: +1 (with 2 triples and 7 birdies)
17 of 19 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 0 Not
A Let-Down after playing Lakeside
Pros: It's true that this course has a real country club feel with lovely manicured lawns, shrubs and trees, a large lake with fountains, and a "clubhouse of sorts" called the Shack. The course plays through immaculately groomed grassy fairways and trees and half work their way around the lake. Most holes play with a medium to long range power in mind. You really need a long arm to excel and enjoy several of these holes. One of the coolest holes is a hole that has it's green enclosed by tall bamboo poles with a 15' opening on the front side. Kudos to having a couple of labelled par 4's. The course uses many of the holes from the Lakeside Course, combines some holes on Lakeside to make longer holes, and adds some of its own (Holes 9-15 and 17).
Cons: The course is poorly marked - no tee signs, numbers on baskets are wrong. If I didn't have a map, it would have been really confusing as there are some long walks between some holes.
I was a little disappointed with this layout. Holes # 9-14 allow you to unload your arm. But the fairways are wide and LONG on most of these and moreover lack the elements of good design. I understand for the USDGC you want to showcase the arms of the pros, but what about accuracy? I have seen the layout for this tournament and they do place ropes to shape the fairways (#3, 9, 10, 11, 12), but as they stand, it is overkill and a bit dull. Yes, I probably will be scorned for this remark, but it's the truth. If there were ponds, trees - ANYTHING to add to these holes I would be more forgiving. I could go out to the fields by my house and get the same effect as this section of the course.
Other Thoughts: Be ready to be worked - bring lots of water, sunscreen (many holes in the open) and stamina as this course is twice the length of your average one
16 of 16 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Love It Or Not?
Pros: This is arguably, the prettiest setting for a disc golf course in existence. It's like playing at a well groomed country club. The lake in the middle provides not only much of this natural beauty but also her share of misery. This is the course that every big-armed player should dream about and hope to one day be able to play. The shot making skills needed here are almost beyond my comprehension. I see a couple of terrific risk/reward type of holes in play here. I'd love to watch the top pros make those kinds of decisions, under tournament pressure conditions. Each hole is unique and beautiful in it's own way. The bamboo surrounded basket is a very interesting and unique disc golf hole. Rollers can be a very effective tool on this course.
Cons: So I find the # 1 teepad and throw down to the basket (It's quite a lovely little hole, too). The basket says # 7. I'm immediately confused. There's no signage to help with navigation at all. I played my way around the lake, not really knowing which course I was playing or if I was throwing my 6 drives to right basket. There were some little markers (tee signs) flush with the ground, like grave markers. Occasionally, I would stumble across one of these.
Other Thoughts: When I asked about the lack of navigation aids, I was told everything must go through the college admin. I realize that no-one would want a bunch of ugly metal tee signs and arrows pointing this way and that. But how difficult would it be to stick the correct numbers on the baskets. That would have been a great asset in navigating this course. So rating this course is proving most difficult. I wouldn't give a great, shorter courses where pros would be bored a 5 so I don't feel I can give this awesome course a 5 when it is too over the top for about 99% of the world's disc golfers. I also subtracted 1/2 point for navigation issues. Sorry, Winthrop Gold, I apologize.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 4 Not
Too Much Water!!
Pros: Grip and Rip on a lot of holes. Very well kept. Love the bamboo hole #7? and #4 with the trees surrounding the green. A very distinctive course.
Cons: Lake. Lake. Lake. It comes into play on too many holes. After you toss 3 of your favorite discs into the drink--you feel like giving up and going home.
Other Thoughts: It is challenging--yes. Does that always mean enjoyable for the recreational player--no. This course doesn't have too much in the way of finesse shots--big arms will love it. But i didn't enjoy all of it due to water and wind=lost discs. Play the shorter "Waterfront" course and you might enjoy it more, if you are recreational player, that is.
7 of 11 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
What's the hype?
Pros: A few interesting tee shots, long course, plenty of opportunites to air out a long drive.
Cons: Confusing layout, basket and tee #'s don't match (tee says #5 basket says 20???) Without a map it's difficult to navigate. Not all holes have signs. Goose crap everywhere. Attack ducks! The tee box for 16 had a picnic bench set on it with no basket anywhere.
Other Thoughts: The locals (Obviously not disc golfers) told me to start by the "shack", but it turns out that the first hole is on the other side of the lake by the ball golf course. I just don't see what everyone loves so much about this course? It was my last stop on the way back from Virginia Tech back to Florida and I must say that the other courses that I played (Golden Hills VA, Hornet's nest NC, and Rennaisance park NC), were much more enjoyable in every way than this course.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
A- = A Great Course!
Pros: The real Gold course is designed to test the best players in the world (Gold level). It excels at that! My review is based on my less than world class skill level playing with all the yellow ropes - I am a middle of the road Blue player.
What I personally like and how this course stacks up:
1) Holes with good risk/reward. Fair, but harsh punishment for bad decisions or execution. == A (Achieved primarily by use of yellow ropes and pavement and water on 3-4 holes. I need to really risk a lot to get a birdie chance - that usually means playing a little stupidly.)
2) Holes that have rewarding birdie opportunities for me. I throw 300' accurately, 360' max. == B+ (Par on many of the holes is rewarding to me.)
3) More wooded than open - lots of variety of shots required caused by hole shape and topography == B (With it being a quite open course, it does hot really force you to shape your shots on most holes per se, but you do have to hit your chosen landing zones well. Great use of terrain around the club house.)
4) Natural beauty (Appalachian beauty preferred) and seclusion. == B+ (The course is very beautiful in a county club sort of way, but there is only one spot on the course (tee 4 on the ropes course) where you remotely feel like you're "getting away".)
5) Bonus points for multi-shot holes with defined landing zones, good risk/reward and multiple options to play them. == A+ (Although attained mainly by artificial feeling yellow ropes, the design is impeccable. For me it is mainly on the 2nd throw....and the beauty of that is that every round you are faced with a new set of challenges depending on where you land.)
Cons: The "real" Winthrop Gold is only in the ground for USDGC week (late Sept/early Oct). It is only really open to the public on Spectator Day (the Sunday after the USDGC is over)....but you need a tee time. I think you can probably sneak on in the week leading up to the USDGC at certain times of the day. Without the yellow ropes, the majority of the intrigue is gone......only a few holes still have some sharp teeth - 2, 5, 8, and 13 come to mind.
Other Thoughts: It's all about feeding the addiction, so I ranked this course subjectively based on my own "personal addiction factor". The grades above tell how well the course will draw me back to itself again and again and again. Since I have played a decent number of courses (125 18-hole, 64 9-hole as of mid 2009), my hope is that players/explorers who have similar addiction tastes will find my ratings list helpful as they choose courses to play and explore.
I fully expect others with different tastes/philosophies to disagree with me....that's the fun of things here. See my profile for my rating philosophy.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 11 Not
A Disc Golf Staple
Pros: A true test of physical ability and mental stamina. When the ropes are up take some off and get in between them. Throwing as hard as possible will not mean your killin' it.
Other Thoughts: It is no wonder that this is home to the USDGC. The people that make this course and event happen are bringing Disc Golf to the next level.
2 of 13 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 2 Not
Winthrop Gold Course
Pros: World class amenities. From the pro shop to course maintenance, this course is at the highest level.
Cons: NOT for beginners.
Hole 17 OB lines (personal dislike).
Other Thoughts: This course is for advanced and pro players. Beginners will hate this course. Even experienced pros will find this course long and grueling if they are not playing at a top level. It plays on and around the Winthrop University campus, close to 10,000 feet in length, maybe more. Ive only played this in tournament situations so don't know if there are alternate tees, I don't believe there are. For the most part, its fairly wide open if compared to a course like the Rennaisance course in Charlotte, NC. There is yellow OB rope, narrowing the fairways on almost every hole that will limit your disc selection to ensure a successful in-bound drive off the tees. This is one of the few courses ive played that demands accurate, fairway drives as well, instead of a layup shot after your initial drive on 70 percent of the holes.
Excellent use of foliage on the course, no unfair or unusual looks from the tee box to the pin, although you might have trouble seeing the basket on some holes, they are so far away from the tee pad (holes 5 and 13 for example). The fairways are top notch, well maintained kentucky blue grass, I believe. Course management is huge here, a person should score much better the second time around after playing it once, as your course knowledge will benefit your decision making in disc selection and placement down the fairways. This is a factor not present on most disc golf courses available to play anywhere so makes this course very special in that regard.
All your skills will be challenged on this course, if you like rollers you can do that, if you like overhead shots you can do that too, to your hearts content. Most people who do well here can throw backhand accurately 450 feet or furthur. The furthur you can throw accurately, the better you will do scorewise. There are a handful of shorter holes on this course but the majority of tee shots are big-arm friendly. Each hole has a character of its own, so you don't get bored with repetition from hole to hole. I would like to play this course without the pressure of competion to see if it will be as enjoyable and challenging at the same time as I think it is.
No matter what kind of situation you may be in playing on this course, it's a must-play if your in the area. I would like to see more courses like this, only perhaps with slightly less emphasis on having to throw big to be competitive, but that's just me and my lame ability to throw farther than 400 feet.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 12 Not
Pros: If you want a challenge, then you've come to the right spot. Some holes are nearing 1/4 mile in length.
Cons: Will humble you quickly. Tee/basket numbering is crap.
Other Thoughts: Sunbathers around the lake mixed with a large amount of goose crap can be frustrating.
1 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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