Welcome Back, Sugaree
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Sugaree is a true disc golf wonderland, with holes chock-full of character in a gorgeous setting. I never wanted to leave.
Set in mountainside woods, elevation is always a factor and obstacles are abundant. The challenge factor is high but creatively implemented, with risk/reward the likes of which are rarely seen. It's an unrelenting series of disc golf brain teasers, with most every hole forcing decision-making and a shrewd evaluation of your game's limits. Elevated tees, cliff-side death putts, do-or-die landing zones, branching lanes, bottlenecks, fairways bordered by the steepest of slopes, it's all here, in combinations that make the heart swell and the head ache. Distances can tend to the shorter side, but elevation and general challenge conspire to make you earn every inch: Sugaree has some of the longest holes under 250' that you will ever play, and generally just feels epic and sprawling given the environment, variety, and number of holes to play. There are some change-of-pacers too, a few more spacious holes that relax the round momentarily, wisely implemented to soften the blows that will surely come. Sugaree will get you, but it will also give you chances to just watch your disc fly and take it all in. It's a challenging course but never a beat down, if for its uniqueness and beauty if nothing else. And there's a lot else. The originality of the design and its harmony with the terrain is just through the roof.
The course can be played a variety of ways, with a loop of 18, the full 25, and even a Super Course layout that combines multiple holes to make for 600, 700, 800-plus foot long sprawling monsters. I'm determined to play the Super Course on my next visit.
Rich, the course designer and owner, could not be a more gracious and enthusiastic host. Helluva guy.
Cons: In terms of the layout itself, Sugaree's cons, such as they are, lie almost exclusively in the nature of the terrain. It's in the woods on the side of a mountain, so distance drivers need not apply. Lines, landing zones, and quarters in general are often confined, though most holes allow for creativity and variety in how they're approached. The holes here rarely dictate a singular playthrough.
Given the terrain, when things go wrong they can go very wrong. Missed putts can fall dozens of feet. Unfortunate skips can plummet into the abyss. It's never a surprise, though: it's quite clear what you're getting into.
There's a lot of precision-focused golf, so consider yourself forewarned if you're the grip it and rip it type.
Leaf clutter can hide discs.
The homemade, hanging baskets might bother some, but I found them fine. They can even occasionally work to your benefit, shifting to allow a high putt to fall in. When I'm standing on a boulder considering making a run for birdie at the threat of having my disc go over the side and fall 40 feet amidst beautiful terrain and great company on one of the most unique courses I have ever played, the last thing I'm thinking is, "I wish these were DISCatchers."
The tee boxes can occasionally be a bit too short or slightly slick, but the course's emphasis on accuracy over distance favors standstills and short run ups to space-eating drives.
Other Thoughts: Sugaree is a bucket list course, simply put. I've played some great courses - Moraine, Selah, Harmon Hills, Whippin' Post - and Sugaree sits easily among the group. It doesn't have the refinement or upkeep of a Selah, but its one-of-a-kind character makes it my all time favorite course. It's a special place that I consider myself lucky to have visited, and I'll be back again at first opportunity. Thank you, Rich!
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 2 Not
Other Thoughts: This course reminded me of this ghetto hole-in-the-wall restaurant we used to eat at once a week. Every few months it would be closed because of a kitchen fire or a health code violation. The tables were wobbly and the windows were coated in some greasy film. But it was far and away the best barbecue I've ever had. Famous athletes at one table, the mayor at another.
Sugaree doesn't have the bells and whistles of a typical 5-star course. It just has the finest mountain disc golf experience I've come across.
First, finding the place. If you come from I-40, take 181 all the way until the stop light and take a left (Newland is one way, Linville the other). Sugar Mtn Road # 2 comes first, and Sugar Mtn Road #1 is after that. It's around some greenhouses. The gravel driveway is not that obvious, but the .8 mile mark is accurate. Keep your eyes open. And take a screen shot of the directions on your phone. The cell worked some on the course, but not so much while looking for the course.
There are a few parking spots by the donation mailbox. Please leave donations. Please do what you can to keep this place open.
Green wooden arrows on trees lead you to the practice basket and then hole 1. I met a guy out there, he gave me some pretty helpful advice. When in doubt about where to go next, go uphill. That helped me a few times.
The tees are not raked concrete. They're gravel or carpet. They work just fine. There are pretty helpful and accurate tee-signs at every one of the 25 holes.
The baskets are homemade. I like to think that some state-of-the-art baskets might have held a putt or two that dropped out, but these baskets work just fine. They fit in very well and they're marked with pink or orange (bright) streamers so you can see where you're throwing. They can collapse a bit when you hit them (you'll see what I mean). Just be sure to readjust them for the next group. Pretty simple.
The fairways are not cleared or mowed down. This is a hike without a trail. Not for kids or rainy days. Though a beautiful hike. I'd give the hike alone a 3.5, even if it didn't have any baskets.
Blind shots too. You're in the middle of nowhere, so it's a good place to shut up and listen for your disc. If there's a chatty cathy in your group, leave them at home. Throw bright colored discs. I threw all oranges and yellows, spent some time looking but didn't lose a single disc.
Amenities - benches are plentiful and unique. Stairs - I wrote a review on Iron Hill and said to keep playing at least until 17 because of the sweet set of stairs up to the basket. Sugaree has about 6 sets of stairs like that, starting at hole 1. And several natural rock formations you climb. I would say that Rich has done everything possible to build up Sugaree, it's just that you can't do the every-week things like mowing mountain fairways.
Signature Holes - there are about 25 of them.
Rich stopped me in my round to introduce himself. The other golfers I met out there - also very friendly.
Some warnings - if you don't like to hike, if you throw green discs (bright colors only out here), if you're afraid of nature, if you don't want to drive or pay to play - this course is not for you. It's not for everyone. I've seen talk on here about categorizing courses. This is not a family-friendly course. If you bring your 9 year old out here you'll give it a 1-star. This is the Mt. Everest of disc golf courses. It's rugged and unpolished, but you'll agree that it was 100% worth the drive and you'll wish you had more cash to drop in the donation box. It's peaceful, beautiful, it's got epic long holes, ace runs, and it's pretty close to Elk Mtn if you have any arm left after your round. 160+ courses played and this is my first 5-star.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 0 Not
BEST course in NC
- Private Property. It's probably no coincidence that all the courses in my Top 5 are private courses (Harmon Hills, Sugaree, Area 74, Bud Hill, Brackett's Bluff). Private courses just have an ambiance... a uniqueness... an extremeness that makes them special.
- Orgasm Golf. I don't know how to sound un-biased when I try to describe how good the holes are... they're that good. Without describing every single Hole, I'm just going to say this: by simply standing on the tee-pad of Hole 1 you get a hard-on, and by the time you've finished Hole 2, you've jizzed in your pants. And then, on every other Hole, for the rest of the course, you have a disc golf orgasm. Orgasm holes for me: 1, 2, 4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17... not to take anything away from the other Holes, they were just really good foreplay.
- Pin Placements. Sugaree has some of the most amazing pin placements I've ever played (and, I just returned from playing Diamond X, a course renowned for exotic pin locations). Almost every hole has an extreme risk-reward pin placement. From the edge of cliffs, to behind clusters of rock outcroppings, to even the seemingly simple pin positions, Sugaree places a premium on shot placement and precise putting.
- Rich (Mando). Rich has been very accommodating during all my trips to Sugaree. From the PM's discussing potential dates and times, to his willingness to guide me around the course last minute, to his stashing of an ice chest on Hole 7 for that mid-round break, to his expert guidance around his crazy creation, to the ride up the mountain on the 4x4 golf cart... Rich is willing to go out of his way to make your experience at Sugaree the best ever. Thanks Rich.
- Beer Drinkers Course. Not only is the course on private property, which makes it legal to drink while playing... the course layout plays back to a central area, allowing you (or Mando) to leave an ice chest full of tasty brews on the course for that mid-round refreshment.
- Baskets. Let me start off by saying that Mando's homemade baskets catch wonderfully... too good actually. And, while I understand that Mando was able to make his baskets for about $27 each, there is something to be said for DiscCatchers (or most any other type of formal disc golf basket) - the sight-ability from the tee-pad, the sound they make when the disc hits the chains, and the "completeness" of the course with standardized equipment.
- Lack of Open Shots. Sugaree is a North Carolina mountains course, meaning trees shape the fairways and there are very few opportunities for open shots. However, because the course is located on a Christmas tree farm, I was hoping for a few more Christmas tree field shots like the ones I've seen in the video of the Vibram Open.
- The Best Course in NC. Trust me when I say that I don't take this lightly when I say that of the 45-ish disc golf courses I have played in the state of North Carolina, SUGAREE IS THE BEST!!! And, I have played a lot of the great NC Courses (including Ashe County and all the Charlotte big names). The totality of the shot requirements, pin placements, risk reward opportunities, extreme punishment for bad shots, and picturesque fairways create what I think is the best disc golf course in North Carolina.
- Come Prepared. Bring food and beer with you as opportunities to get those items on the mountain are limited. There is a small town nearby with a McDonalds and Hardy's, but for the most part there isn't a large selection of food and drink choices nearby.
- My Disc Score: According to DGCR's disc scale, a 5 disc course is the best of the best. Since I am calling Sugaree the best course in North Carolina, that must make it the best of the best and therefore a 5 disc course... even with the non-standardized equipment and lack of open shots.
- My Best Score: even / 57
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 1 Not
Don't come here...
Pros: Secluded mountain course set off the beaten path. You won't hear planes, trains and automobiles here. You can play a round without the distractions encountered at many courses.
Landscape, landscape, landscape. It seems that on every hole some unique feature is used in the hole design. It's not phony or contrived like some courses. There's just that many good features here. It's very wooded and technical with huge rock outcroppings everywhere.
For a private course this remote, the tee pads are great. They are all platforms that have been carpeted. I'm sure they'll wear over time, but even in heavy rains I had no problems with them. I've been on several private courses that offered far less for tee pads.
Guide Service. If you are able to play Sugaree and have Rich guide you, consider yourself lucky. His love of this land, and his joy for disc golf are always evident. There's never a bad day on Sugaree when Rich is around.
Technical disc golf lines. If you like wooded courses that force you to make shots and hit lines, this is your place. There are risks and rewards on every hole. Even a few of the seemingly 'easy' holes have some hidden dangers. Basket positions are almost always perfect adding to the challenge and fun of each hole.
Course flow. No long or brutal walks between holes. Just enough time to put on your bag, grab a quick swig of your favorite frosty beverage and tee off again.
Ingenious design. This course plays around a large hill in the Western Carolina Mountains, but there are no brutal uphill shots or climbs. And there is a remarkable number of downhill or slightly downhill holes. It's like some kind of cosmic trick the universe is playing on you to make sure your round is more fun. Just incredible.
Cons: Signs. You don't need them for navigation with Rich as a guide, but some of the baskets aren't visible from the tee. Even with Rich's guidance it's sometimes easy to get yourself in exactly the wrong spot. Signs showing the hole layout would be great.
Too far from my house. I'd play it every week if I could.
Other Thoughts: And now for the things some people really care about. Don't come here...
...if you need huge benches.
...if you need bag hooks.
...if you need a trash can at every hole.
...if you need a clean restroom with TP.
...if you want paved paths and mowed grass.
This is not a city park. This course is not designed for children and strollers. Adults only. Wear good shoes or boots. You're in the wilderness. There's rocks, rocks and more rocks. There are weeds and rough. It's the woods. There is not perfectly mowed grass fairways. Yet. You never know with Rich. He's constantly getting ideas and trying to improve his course. More holes are in the works, and I'm sure they'll all be up to his standards.
Sugaree has holes from 205' to 535'. Total length is around 5773 depending on what holes you play. There are a few new ones in their infancy. Every hole plays technical with no real air it out bombs. You need to control your disc and hit lines. Basket positions are great. Even on the shorter holes the hanging baskets are placed in areas to add risk or challenge. In several places if you miss your putt or approach it's down the small cliff with your disc. Or down the hill into the woods. There are few gimme shots here.
Yes, I said hanging baskets. Don't be afraid. They are homemade and catch great. I've never had a putt bounce out that I felt should stick.
Enjoy Sugaree. Enjoy Rich's company and land. It is simply a great experience.
Local Amenities: If you're going through Boone while in the area there is lots of food and drink available. Peabody's has almost every kind of beer you can imagine. It's across from the Hampton Inn, or next door to the new Courtyard. And I always try to get to the Coyote Kitchen while in town. Great bottled beer selection, and Mex-American food to match. Chips and a variety of salsas, Kobe beef tacos, jerked chicken, etc. It's all good. Make a weekend of it. Sugaree and Boone might just be the #1 disc golf destination on the East Coast.
June 2012 Update:
There are 7 new holes at Sugaree. Now you can start your round at the base, and work your way up the hill. These new holes keep with the Sugaree tradition of tight, technical lines and great basket positions. A few are also longer than many of the original 18. #25 also adds the dimension of an awesome downhill bomb to this course's features. It's a little tight so it is not truly a top of the world shot, but it is a beautiful hole. One of the best finishers around. There are also some nice wood-carved signs showing hole shape and line on most of the holes. Once the new holes beat in a little they shouldn't be too much more challenging than the original 18. This course continues to be a great example of mountain disc golf. A must play.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
THE disc golf Experience
Pros: First off this course is currently the higest elevated course in NC. I looked on google earth it sits atop a high plateau at 4,080' from sea level which is amazing! Now to mention the huge carpeted tee-pads that are so comfy to gip and rip on, hanging baskets on every hole and an awesome course owner
Amazingly shaped fairways with mature hardwoods, and rock outcroppings on well over half the holes which adds such a peaceful factor to the round
Careful basket locations hanging over those outcroppings, the list goes on and on and on..
Everybody has already hit the nail on the head with the other reviews, not much more I can add but ill try
Every hole has some sort of wow factor, just for example #8 has the wildest S shaped tree that sets up for a "S" curve for a birdie. 15 basket is perched atop a 35' rock outcrop so park it dont putt it! Every hole except number 1 has some sort of ultra-scenic rock outcrop that comes into play, whether its the rock 'mando' around the approch of number 2, or the rock 'mando' around the bend on the infamous 17 (bet you wont make par on this one hehe). The handcrafed rock bench on number 7 is worth pausing on and taking in the view of a heavily guarded fairway and yet another hanging basket over a 20' rock outcrop. Two sets of tees for the ladies and beginers give different lines and still not gimme birdies for more experienced players. If you can tommy or thumb it your chances for recovery are higher just because of the height factor on some of the boulders you will encounter if you hit an early tree of the tee. You can get sneaky out here as the rough is somewhat spaced out, but really focus on your intended line as the peaceful mountain atmosphere embraces you. Just stop and realize how beautiful this place is and be thankful for such a creation. Along with the great course owner, pure scenic beauty that surrounds you the entire round, and the most phenominal Risk/Reward on every hole this makes Sugaree by far the greatest creation of a disc golf course that can ever be!!
Cons: Absolutely None!!
Other Thoughts: Sugaree also has a great putting area with 3 handmade baskets spaced about 100' apart, which is usually not in the amenities of private courses.
Lets just say this is the Augusta national/Pebble Beach/St. Andrews of Disc Golf!!
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 2 Not
Sweeter than it Sounds
Pros: Hands down, the most gorgeous course I've ever played. If Heaven had a DG course, it would pale in beauty to Sugaree. Huge, scenic boulders and rocky outcrops abound and all are cleverly utilized by the designer. You know how some courses feel like they went out of their way to use natural feature, and many holes preceding and following really suffer for it? There's none of that here. We even played it out of order to be near the vehicles if the weather got too bad and it still flowed very well.
The course has fantastic golf lines. Not a single bad hole really, variety is amazing. The best thing about Sugaree is that for a mountain course, it doesn't make you walk/play uphill that much. Just superb design.
The baskets are hand made and they catch better than some production baskets. Really cool, they all hang I believe.
The tees on the established course are I believe framed dirt covered by carpet. Pretty good tees in good weather I imagine. They were soaked with rain when we played and they were still quite serviceable.
Mando is extremely gracious as a host, I cannot thank him enough for putting us up, showing us the course, and even fixing us breakfast (sorry I couldn't partake, my stomach isn't very friendly in the AM). His family has instantly become some of my favorites I've met in the DG world, just a swell group of people.
Cons: Signage, there isn't any really. Of course, not really necessary since you need Mando to guide you anyway.
The fairways could use some foot traffic, there's some vegetation that needs to trampled down.
Some of the tees have quite a little drop off in front of them, so those who like to carry themselves off the front during their drive should be careful.
Some stickers, nettles, briers, and other disc golfer unfriendly plants pop up here and there.
Other Thoughts: We played in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm and I still had a ton of fun. That's a big reason why they got a 5 from me. It's pretty rough, especially if you're used to well manicured park courses, but for a private it's pretty amazing and the perks of being private way outweigh any roughness.
I love all the holes, including the new ones, but I think the course would benefit more from a cessation of tinkering with hole designs in favor of smoothing out the roughness, especially in the tee department. I don't imagine it's common to play there during a monsoon but some flush, concrete tees would go a long way in making even the worst rounds that much more enjoyable.
So, if your idea of fun is playing disc golf in the jungle from Jurassic Park, sans dinosaurs, I say that Sugaree is right up your alley.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
This IS disc golf
Pros: Challenging. Excellent tee placements. Excellent basket placements. Wonderful variety of holes. Q: How can you almost always be throwing downhill?! A: ingenious and passionate course designer/owner. Rich is awesome. He is the kind of disc golfer I want to be when I grow up (whenever that is). Great company. This course is what disc golf is meant to be. It's tough, it's fun, it stretches you to use shots you didn't know you had. It's gorgeous...and I've mostly played it after the leaves fell for the season. I feel like part of some elite yet welcoming club when I play there. I literally dream about this course and the natural beauty there.
Cons: Not for the beginning player. You want to be on your game and you need to be in decent shape. This course is on Rich's land, and he is graciously sharing it with us. Not meant to be a "con" but meant to caution the player that this is not your average public course, and you must be respectful of this fact.
Other Thoughts: I am blessed to be among the list of people who have played Sugaree. It is easily my favorite course for a variety of reasons. Thanks Rich for allowing me to play.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 2 Not
Shake It, Sugaree
Pros: The tightly wooded course sits on the most beautiful piece of land I've ever seen used for a disc golf course. Big old trees, cool rock outcrops, and scenic vistas are all around. You feel like you're really out in nature. Other than the tees and baskets, and occasional benches and steps, the only sign of anything that resembles civilization are the Christmas trees you see on a few holes. Because of its private nature and remote location, it will never be crowded, and I can't imagine it would feel crowded even with a tournament going on.
Amazingly, nearly the whole course plays downhill. Only two holes play uphill, and one only marginally so, yet there aren't any crazy climbs or hikes between holes.
The course is full of great golf lines. There are no gimme holes, just holes asking for quality golf shots to be thrown. Nearly every hole is a signature hole. The fairways are fair, will punish you for bad shots, but not too severely, and reward your good shots. There are plenty of birdie opportunities for those who can execute great golf shots, with a good variety of long and not too long, and left and right turning holes. The overall quality of each hole is perhaps the biggest strength of the course.
Some of the most precarious pin placements you'll ever see are at Sugaree. The baskets are an innovative design, all are hanging, and they catch well. Because they are hanging baskets, they can fairly easily be moved, giving the course a little different look. The hanging baskets also allow for many of the more challenging placements. The tees are all nicely done carpet, giving a comfortable feel under your feet, with plenty of traction.
Probably the biggest pro is the course's owner and designer, Mando. He is a great guide and gracious host, with an evident love for the game, his course, and the land on which it sits, an absolute joy to play disc golf with. It's really cool to see how much work he's put into the course, and I feel blessed to have had the chance to enjoy it.
Cons: Not much, but here goes. There are two fairways that cross, although you're throwing well over the top of hole 2's fairway when driving on hole 6, which is a valley shot, and the course is never crowded, so it's really a non-issue.
Several of the holes are blind shots so a spotter is a good idea on those holes. There's also a chance of losing plastic due to thick leaves in places in the fall, along with the possibility of a bad kick off a tree sending a disc out of sight.
It's also a seasonal course, and you need to set up a tee time with Mando, so you can't play it just any old time. With that in mind, it feels like a special treat when you do get to play it.
Other Thoughts: There's not much else out here. The nearest store is miles away. There is no restroom or water fountain, so plan ahead. Bring sunscreen when the leaves are off the trees. I got cooked when I played here in April, not realizing there wouldn't be any foliage on the trees yet. Bring your hiking boots and A game, and enjoy the scenery, it's beautiful in Western North Carolina, and this hilltop is a fine example of Appalachian Beauty. Sugaree is a destination worthy course, one to plan your summer road trips around, if you get the chance.
Thanks to Mando for the great course, and letting me enjoy it.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 8 Not
Pros: Beautiful setting. Placement of unique hanging baskets is challenging and interesting. Great flow from one hole to the next. Fun to play with the designer/owner. How many courses are you able to do that?
Cons: Rich is hard to beat in doubles. It was my first time, however, so there is always a new day. Should be able to make up 3 shots next time.
Other Thoughts: Awesome time. Don't let Rich carry the cooler. It is his secret training/warming up for each hole strategy that gives him the edge.
1 of 9 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 4 Not
2012 update-25 holes !
Pros: May 9,2012 updated review.
Secluded, disc-golf-only mountain top farm in WNC located within an hour and a half from several other great courses; Harmon Hills,Elk Mountain,Richmond Hill,Mars Hills,Warriors Path,Black Jack, the Spine,Simple Pleasures,Ashe County Park and Highland Hills. A nice side trip for northern dgers heading to Charlotte or a worthy destination for anyone looking to beat the summertime heat.
The unique feature of Sugaree is the topography which is very gradual for a mountain course, but includes numerous ledges, cliffs and boulders. These come into play on the vast majority of the holes, providing elevated pads, framed fairways and precarious basket locations.
The course plays predominately through a middle aged maple/hickory forest, but is accented by pockets of old growth oaks and hemlocks. The understory has been thinned and cleaned over time making finding your disc easy except on holes with rhododendron or Christmas trees. There is also an abundance of visually appealing groundcovers since the course does not see much traffic. The combination of all these things provides off-the charts aesthetics.
After leaving the practice area, you more than likely play in total seclusion and at your own pace. Navigation is now easy, with green arrows pointing to the next tee. Signs and scorecards verify your location. The course flows well with short walks to next tees. Tee pads are carpeted on the original 18 with leveled pea gravel on the new holes. There are now 25 holes and no two are remotely alike. The baskets are home-made with recent upgrades, eliminating the past need for "re-setting" the baskets. The are easy to see with orange and pink high-viz duct tape unless you are color blind. Baskets are all uniform and do the job.
The completely wooded layout features a dozen holes which are frequently mentioned as "signature" holes by our guests; 1,4,6,9,10,11,15,18,20,22,23 & 25. Multiple lines are a popular theme and the course remarkably only has four uphill holes on the course. Basket locations compare favorably with any course I've played (in the east), if risk and reward is your thing. You could easily throw a forehand,backhand & overhead shot JUST ON THE FIRST HOLE, so having a full arsenal is definitely an advantage.
Benches are in place where they are needed most, with more on the way.Practice area is next to parking area, on the way to hole #1. On site camping available. On site lodging available June 2012.
Cons: The course does not loop back to the parking area before finishing 25 and is now 2 1/2 miles. Pack water or arrange to have a cooler dropped and retrieved from a central location (#10 teepad).
Other Thoughts: The goal in designing Sugaree was to incorporate the most visually appealing natural features on 100 acres and tie them into a challenging but fun course with flow. Benches, signs and rockwork were all added within the framework of the existing aesthetics. We basically had two options for targets; home-made baskets or having an object course, so if you need a $350.00 basket to shoot at, there are plenty of other options.
16 of 20 people found this review helpful.
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