RHBH - bring your understable plastic
Pros: I had an enjoyable round at Crane Hill, which started off with:
-Easy to find
-Plenty of parking
-Easily the busiest course I've seen in western MA. I didn't have to wait at all, but there appeared to be plenty of regulars, which courses like UMass, HCC, and Conway don't have.
I enjoyed the mix of open and wooded holes. Many open holes had something to challenge me. I really liked hole 2, although a birdie seems really hard for someone like me who can only throw 300 feet. There were an adequate number of birdie looks and plenty of holes that punish you for hitting an early tree. And there are lots of trees!
It was my first time playing the course, but the signs/maps were good (updated since the pictures on this site) and I used the bricks under most baskets to find the next tee.
The tees are very good. And there are two pins in place for every hole, maximizing the playability of the course. This is a big plus in my book, even though it didn't impact my single round. I also like the stream and the secluded wooded beauty of the course. And the course is clean and has nice benches.
I played in early April, but I assume there are no problems with thorns or poison ivy or brutal rough, which is a welcome change from my usual courses of UMass and Northampton.
Cons: -Too many fairways are too tight in my opinion. The fairways are fair, but an intermediate player like me got punished a bit too much and I think beginners would be frustrated. Neither pin position is suitable for beginners. I wish that one of the pins offered more open fairways. This course is really good for advanced players given the two pin positions and difficulty.
-I did get turned around a few times navigating the course. I probably spent about 5 minutes heading down the wrong paths trying to find where I was going.
-The tee sign/map on hole 16 misled me. The A pin is straight ahead, not to the left.
-No trash cans on site (that I saw)
Other Thoughts: This is neither a pro or a con, but lots of A pins require RHBH throwers to use understable plastic. Definitely adds challenge to already challenging fairways on many holes.
Comparing this course to others in the area, I liked it more than UMass and Northampton (which I gave a 3-disc rating) and HCC. It lacked the charm of Flat Rock (which I gave a 3.5) and the golf wasn't as good as Tully (which I gave a 3.5). I think I slightly prefer Conway (which I gave a 3.5), but the two pins on every hole convinced me to give Crane Hill a 3.5 rating. It's got a lot going for it and playing it regularly will make anyone a much better disc golfer. Enjoy!
The Crane was good enough for Miyagi
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course plays on and below an imposing wooded bluff. The variety here is among the best of any Massachusetts course. The first several holes are primarily open holes, which transition to the woods, and the course finishes with the more open, longer holes. I played the shorter baskets, and distances ranged from 132 feet (which was not a gimme birdie but not a gimmick either) to over 550 feet.
Oh, and the baskets. There are two of them on every hole. I have to give huge props to courses that do this because there are so few that do. It adds to the replayability and gives some nice, additional looks. With a few exceptions, they play pretty different. One of the uphill wooded holes (around 5 or 6) has the A position as a short turnover shot that is reachable with a full uphill drive. The B position is a very tough hole farther up the steep hill, requiring a couple full, accurate throws up a challenging grade. I wish I'd gotten to play the B position.
I really like that no particular skill set is rewarded here. You need accuracy to handle the wooded holes, and distance will be rewarded on the more open holes. I even got to throw a couple rollers here, which is rare in this part of the country.
Tee pads are all rubber and level. Navigation was generally easy (see below).
Cons: The multiple baskets are great, but on a few holes they two baskets don't really make the hole any different. Holes 1 and 17 come to mind.
The tee signs are not the crappy wooden things you see in the pictures. They are real tee signs on real posts. Two small complaints: I wish the tee number was larger on the sign. A couple times there are two tee pads near the basket you just played, and it would be nice if you could see more easily which is the next one. Second, the lines to the baskets shown on the signs are not always representative. For hole 13 we threw to the right, only to discover the A position was actually straight ahead.
The hill is huge, but the course only makes use of some of it. I wonder if the rest of it wasn't usable due to steepness, or property lines, or something else?
On a few of the wooded holes, there were more spindly, thin trees than I'd like to see. They usually don't add anything and just clog up legitimate lines.
Other Thoughts: I played on a snow-less January day, so tall grass wasn't an issue. It looks like they mow the fairways, but I could see the tall stuff off of the early and late holes hiding discs.
Crane Hill exceeded my expectations. Based on the map and the pictures, I assume the multiple baskets are a recent addition. This is a really good course that is worth going a little out of your way for.
On that note, beware that while this course looks like it's right off of I-90, the interstate system in Massachusetts doesn't have a ton of exits, so it might be 10-15 minutes more than you're anticipating. Make the time. It's worth the trip.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Rec Player Perspective
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Tee Boxes are great. Level, Rubber Pads, size appropriate to the hole length
-Nice Baskets... two on many holes
-Variety... up, down, left, right, open, wooded... and wooded, and more wooded.
-Very clean (exception is behind the parking lot)
-Practice Basket near parking lot / Kiosk
-Very pretty in all seasons. 18th hole especially in Spring and Fall
-Plenty of parking
-Has enough play to be vibrant, but rarely is "crowded"
Cons: -Lacking some amenities like bathroom or even a port-o-potty, trash cans
-Very challenging for a recreational skill level player. This course can be very frustrating for a beginner, and and can make for a long day for even an experienced rec-level player. But this is a Pro NOT a con for better players.
-Signs rotted away a few years ago. The old signs were nice. But Navigation really isn't too bad for first timers, just print the course map on this site before hand or look for the arrows on all of the baskets.
Other Thoughts: This course gets a wild variety of ratings, and I tried to be objective in my ratings. I'm an "older" (almost 60) player, and I can't throw more than 200 feet with much consistency.
I think some of the problem with this course is it's really set up to be a challenge to tournament players. REC players like me see the course this way:
1- Straight and open, but to par it I'll probably have to nail an 175' approach shot, then a putt in the windiest part of the course.
2- Some trees to negotiate, a long mostly open par 3.
3- Short but tight. Almost impossible to keep a drive in the fairway, which makes the approach fraught with danger from numerous trees
4- Where is the basket? OK if I don't roll down the hill
5- A decent 200' drive will leave a short approach, but you might have to bend a putter or a mid to get close.
6- Downhill to the "easy" basket. Not a bad par if you can avoid trees.
7- Short uphill. Good par chance if you can avoid an early tree.
8- Another downhill. Just avoid the early trees
9- Cool benches and Tee area, short basket reachable if you can avoid the trees... creek will eat an overshoot
10- Par 3? Really? Not for a rec play. No way I'm getting a drive where I can have a look at the basket unless I get a really lucky roll.
11- Downhill, but a tough Par 3 for a Rec player... trees will eventually grab a drive, and the approach will need to bend and curve just right.
12- OK, a half way decent drive and a "smart" touch approach will lead to a make-able par putt.
13- New short straight basket helps, but the tree in the middle of the already narrow fairway is intimidating. My best percentage is to throw at the tree in the middle... which means a good drive gets punished. Can the mando be ignored on the short basket since there is no advantage to "cutting" the fairway? Another hole that should be a par 4 for a rec level player
14- Hey, a "birdie-able" hole with a nice touch drive, though it's certainly easy enough to hit a tree and be down in the gully.
15- A tough dogleg right even to the short basket. Really a four is the best I can hope for.
16- The hole I fear most in Western Mass/Northern CT... Long and a narrow tunnel and even the "short" basket is a long way out there. Feels like a par five to me and will to most rec players.
17- Fun hole after the 13/15/16 gantlet.
18- Beautiful hole, and I have made par here, but it takes my best drive and then some kind of big hyzer approach to get around the apple trees to have a par putt.
I respect that this is a challenging course that rewards players that can throw long and accurately, but I understand how it can frustrate others. Course Designers need to remember there are more rounds played by us "hackers" than by good players. That said, I understand why the better players in the area love Crane Hill.
Bottom Line is this course while lacking in some amenities, this course holds its own with the better courses in New England.
Random Closing Thought: Until today, I hadn't played this course in over a year. Last time I played it one of the "locals" chewed me out for driving too fast in the parking lot (10 MPH instead of the posted 5 MPH). I thought the guy was just being a jerk, but now I know he was just being protective of a course he loves... neighbors had complained to the town about the dust. Since then the road has a coating of some fresh cinders, today the driveway/parking lot didn't seem to be any dust issue. The local core of players may not be all that warm and fuzzy, but they are not as scary as I once feared.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Diverse and fun
Pros: Great variety of open versus wooded, elevation change and left versus right finishing holes. Basket placements offer diversity of holes where you need to play it safe, complemented by a number of holes where you aren't afraid to go for it. Hole 14 is a gem, it may be short but you better pick the right right disc and the right line. You could easily warm up by playing a hole 1 to hole 18 loop a few times if it isn't busy. Two baskets for each hole offer a couple different layouts. Locals were friendly and helpful.
Cons: Confusing layout for those who aren't familiar with the course. Because of lack of signage, sometimes need to walk up the fairway a bit to find baskets and figure out your lines. Not always immediately clear which layout a basket is for.
Other Thoughts: I don't usually write reviews, but felt Crane Hill deserved a recent one. I really enjoyed this course. Although the lack of signage could be frustrating the first couple of times you play it, I think after a couple of rounds you'd have no problem. Install some picture signs with the alternate basket placements and better signage from basket to next tee and there would be no cons here. Definitely will go back as often as I can.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Open and wooded.....
Cons: Muddy driveway, No Trash Cans or picnic tables by by Tie box 1. The practice basket is in a mud pit. Some tie boxes are too short. Grass in open area's is long.
Navigating this course was very difficult being there are no markers or signs. You have to guess by following what looks to be a path or white paint on trees.
In the woods a lot of smaller trees could be cut down. It is obvious this course is not maintained very well.
Other Thoughts: About 20 volunteers, a couple of weekends, a few chain saws, a couple donated picnic tables and trash cans would make a world of difference. Not to mention the town of Wilbraham picking up the trash on the weekends would be the icing on the cake.
0 of 6 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
A Local Gem
Pros: There is a practice basket right by the parking lot so you can warm up before your round. Well kept teepads and very few spots to lose a disc. Fairways are fair and the rough can be punishing but you very rarely feel cheated. Overall, this course provides a nice amount of challenge and makes you use a bunch of different shots to do well.
The course starts you off with an easy hole 1 to get you warmed up, open 300 or so foot shot. This is followed by a more challenging hole 2 that is still comparatively open. After you've had this chance to get warmed up, it's into the woods where you will be challenged to make good shots. Compared to other courses in New England, the fairways are not super tight, and they are definitely fair. As the course is currently laid out (see other thoughts for alternate pins), 3 is a straight shot down the tunnel, 4 is up hill about 200-250 then turning right and up the hill for another 150 or so, with plenty of rough on the sides. Hole 5 can be played with a turnover or flick down the left side of the fairway or there is a tight line down the right for a hyzer or straight shot.Hole 6 is downhill and to the right protected by some trees, both midrange hyzer and anny ficks work well. 7 brings you back uphill with an easy hyzer shot. 8 is a turnover or flick down the hill (sort of a longer, mirrored version of hole 6. Holes 9 and 10 really challenge you to hit the right line with the right disc and the right angle to get that birdie. Both are basically long shots down a narrow fairway with plenty of rough to punish you if you nail a tree. Hole 9 also has an OB stream behind the basket and down the right side of the rough. Holes 11 and 12 are shorter, both deucable, but 12 is a very tight tunnel shot that it's easiest to try and play a disc that will skip straight. 13 is an awesome and challenging shot, shooting out from the woods to the field then back into the woods, curling towards the left with a mando at the entrance back in. Then you've still got about another 150-200ft of work to do. Playing big skip shots, anny flicks, or sharp hyzers is important here. 14 is the hole everyone wants to deuce, incredibly short, but if you go long you are staring at a death putt down a huge hill. Also just enough trees to knock your disc down into the pit and you're looking at a put that is about 20 feet straight uphill. Hole 15 is just cruel, if you get into the rough, just pitch out and do not try to be a hero, it never works. 16, 17, and 18 all have you back in the open with 16 being a short placement drive then another drive to the basket (big turnover if you are playing to the long position). 17 is a turnover or flick and 18 is a great hole to finish on with a wide open slightly downhill shot about 350' away.
Cons: Bad signage, and going from hole 3 to 4 might confuse some people (hole 12 is right next to the end of 3 and many new players could easily end up skipping half the course).
Hole 15 will kick your ass. This is the only hole I really dread at this course.
Other Thoughts: There are alternate pin positions on holes 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 16 and there were shorter positions (though I'm not sure they are used anymore) on 4, 12, 13, 15.
Random doubles league on Thursday evenings and a great community in general make this one of my favorite local courses for sure.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Tee pads are flypads that are done well, no lumps and they are not slick, some are a little short but they are manageable.
Cons: There are NO signs at all. Only can find the next hole by followings paths and some had a rock under the basket pointing you in a general direction.
Other Thoughts: This is my first review. This course has a rating of 3.42 at the time of this review and I was like that's just way to high. The lack of signs and directions are the first thing you notice. It was hard to find the holes and if you did you did not know if you were playing them in the correct order because they aren't even numbered. Most baskets are blind and you have to walk up the fairway to see them. The OB is not marked by rope or anything you just have to guess whats OB. The fairways on a couple of holes start out fair but then like hundred feet to the basket its a crap shoot no real lines. There are a couple holes that have broken limbs and branches hanging down in the fairway. You throw a great shot the right line and boom branch hit right in the fairway they need to be trimmed up. This courses only saving grace are the tee's which are solid. A mix of open and wooded hole I like. and some I could do with out. Played 2 rounds here and they will be my last two.
0 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Nice terrain..nice scenery...nice day of disc golf a lil of everything wood shots wide open shoots up hill and a interesting 14 th hole
Cons: Signs..almost none but I emailed the course layout out I found here to my phone and was relativly easy...and when we got a lil lost a local helped us right out and we were back on course
Other Thoughts: If you go down the road a lil to Springfield famous daves BBQ is not far and we ate there and it was excellent lunch..plus there's a lot of other places for lunch right around
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Rubber Tee Pads
Pros: As of October 29, 2013 the course has alternate baskets at every hole. 36 holes total now! Nice variation of wooded and open shots. Nice use of elevation. Good flow to holes.
Cons: Lack of signs. Muddy parking late winter and early spring.
Other Thoughts: All Tee Pads are rubber now.(since fall '11) This has not been changed on the course review yet. It has improved the course quite a bit. New signs are going in this year! Nice course
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
Great course with experience
Pros: Great changes in elevation
Nice mix of open and tight holes
A challenge on every hole
Cons: Tee boxes need help
Navigation can be a problem
Other Thoughts: Many reviewers post that navigation is a problem, and I can see why. The signs are non existent and the little yellow arrows on the ground pointing you in the right direction are getting buried, however on Saturdays and Sundays there are usually plenty of locals who enjoy playing with new comers, myself included. Thursday nights the course hosts a random double's league. If you know where your going and aren't too picky about footing on drives, this course is a gem.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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