A Top Tier Course You've Never Heard Of
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Friends of Punderson is a course-bagger's dream: that top-tier, well-groomed, challenging gem that you've never heard of. I knew little about the course entering my round, and left truly impressed. There is a ton to like here.
The course plays entirely through the woods, integrating the lake at several points, providing some scary approaches, a risky over-the-water route or two, and a few mid-fairway OBs. There are several signature-quality par 4s that demand an exhausting degree of precision from drive to putt, as well as many lengthy, challenging par 3s from the blues and whites. Birdie runs are in the minority here, and even these are technical enough to go wrong fast, with OB, elevation, and numerous fairway and pin-guarding trees. There isn't a true gimme hole at Punderson, and even breathers are hard to come by.
Punderson forced me to play it safe in a way that few courses ever have. The lines are so specific and so demanding that throwing a safer, more controllable shot was almost always was the wiser decision. A near-perfect shot isn't always good enough, and while sometimes that demand is to Punderson's detriment, it's nevertheless a defining characteristic that I can appreciate. The lines and landing zones are generally well thought out and extremely varied, which keeps things fresh.
The tees are fantastic: three sets of large, level concrete tees on all 18 are in at this point, with all three offering a challenging round. Duel pins on several holes allow you a much-needed say in controlling the challenge. Signage is great and helps with navigation: there are a few quirky spots (such as how the back 9 loops back to cross behind 1's tee), but it's all easy if you grab a map at the helpful information kiosk at the course's entrance. Practice basket with marked distances is a nice plus. Parking is prevalent, and a portapotty is nearby.
Grooming is *extremely* well done. This course is carved completely out of the woods, and a ton of effort has clearly been put into cleaning up fairway and rough alike. While there are still some spots where your disc can be swallowed, these are minimized relative to the thick woods the course plays through. Lots of nice touches marking pathways and fairways.
Cons: Punderson is probably the first course I've ever played that I really thought a slight widening of fairways at points would go a long way towards improving the course. It's always a fine line between demanding and lucky, and that line varies between players, but there are some shots here that if slightly widened or trimmed would maintain all of their challenge and lose a lot of their luck factor. Many are just so particular and so intensive in their combination of angle, window, elevation, and landing zone that they punish anything less than perfect execution. The result is that aggressive play is discouraged, since the odds of something going wrong far outweigh the potential benefits. This detracts from the mental game and gives the course a claustrophobic feel that it doesn't always benefit from. It also deters you from attempting some really interesting shots in the name of preserving your round.
An ideal version of this course would for me do a better job of more evenly changing up its pace. The first eight are all extremely demanding and focus on long, multistage holes. The easier change-of-paces begin to appear starting at hole 9. One or two birdieable par 3s earlier in the course would go a long way towards mixing things up. Hole 4 has the distance to be one, but its unnerving OB and tree-studded fairway prevent it from serving as such. The change of pace is there; I just wish it was better distributed.
The challenge found on even the red tees makes this a pretty beginner-unfriendly course. That's not a huge con; it just limits Punderson's appeal a bit.
Other Thoughts: Friends of Punderson is a fantastic wooded monster-type course that doesn't get talked about enough. It stands with the best in the region, on par with stalwarts such as Moraine, Deer Lakes, and Orange Crush in character and sophistication. I was really taken aback with how great this course was, and nixed plans to play elsewhere during my travels that day in order to take in another round. The low rating on here is clearly a product of an earlier stage in the course's development. Don't let it deter you.
I do think the cons I mentioned keep Punderson from being truly elite, but it's close enough to be unable to call. I'd encourage you to make the trip and see for yourself.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Big championship style course
-Great hole designs
- Awesome elevation changes hole to hole
-Very large tee pads
-Pars and distances stamped into the tee pads
-A few holes with alternate pins
-Very accurate tee signs
-OB's are clearly defines
-plays pretty well during wet conditions
-Benches and trash cans all over the course
-Very scenic along the lake
Cons: - Some white tee pads were still being worked on but still playable
-Parking lot is kind of small but didn't have any issues
-A few bugs but thats nature
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
An Addicting Challenge!
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course is a wooded technical romp through beautiful state park grounds complete with mature hardwoods, a pond, multiple tee-pads for each hole, and tournament ready play.
The Reds are themselves rather technical and challenging. With only a sprinkling of gimmie-ish birdies (4,10,11,13,17), the course is primarily made up of great number of tough but fair par 3's which make for solid, feel good, deuces. The layout flows nicely from hole to hole. Three difficult par 4's add some variety.
The Blue layout is par 69 and a fun, fair test for any ambitious golfer. By far the defining type of hole for this layout is a par 4 from 450-600 feet (1,2,3,5,6,10,16). These par 4's twist and wind all different directions and require a good variety of shots off the tee. Many of the holes offer you a chance to match or advance the position you would start at from the Red's (with an extra stroke added to par of course). There is a fair degree of risk reward as many birdies require two great shots, while on the other hand one can assure a par or at worst a bogie by playing more conservatively. This layout also offers some very demanding par 3's and three very legitimate par 5's. The Blue pads here at Punderson are a wicked, yet sweet test of disc golf and makes me glad to visit the area.
Both layouts highlight land which is highly accommodating for disc golf, both in terms of variety and interest, as well as accessibility.
Cons: The Red layout has some virtually un-twoable mini par 4's (but labeled as threes: (7,14,15 short, 18). Also I would say that as the Red layout stands now it is more challenging than a traditional Red layout. The SSE estimate for this layout on this site (46?) does this layout no justice as I would estimate the SSA to be closer to 52 (par 57). I do see this likely softening some over time though so it is not a huge knock for me.
There is still a lot of Poison Ivy on the final four hole loop which to me is the biggest con of the course.
Other Thoughts: As of this review the front (Red), and back (Blue) pads have been poured (no middle pads). Earlier in the summer when playing here only the Red were in so it is great to see some quick progress.
This course has some big walks between holes as well as many long holes depending on the layout you play. Grab a map and watch for the bright green signs so the layout is easy to navigate.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
True Love of Disc Golf
Pros: Um mm... Beautiful. Loads of pine trees and awesome scenic views of Pine Lake. Course is absolutely stunning form the blue tee's. Reds as well can be a whole lot of fun and quite challenging. Nice and I mean very nice benches and picnic tables through-out whole course. Offers wide variety of holes including elevation and mild water hazards. Very wooded course which can be beneficial in summer because all the shade. Located in very nice state park, very clean course. Fairways are very well kept and just wide enough to be tricky but still fun. Tee boxes are by far my favorite of any course Ive played just freaking huge! Course has a porta-jon in the parking lot. Definitely one of my favorite courses in the area even tho there are only 12 holes.
Cons: Can become pretty muddy after a rain. Mosquitoes can be nasty too. Some tee boxes are tamped gravel instead of concrete. Not the best course for beginner due to the heaviness of the woods, Could still be fun to tag along though and try:) Parking lot isn't to big at all.
Other Thoughts: By far worth checking out at-least once if you love disc golf. They have really put a lot of work into this course and it is truly an amazing one.#1 takes you to a 90 foot wide fairway of grass and bordering pine trees. With a swooping dog-leg right down hill over 460' from the blues. #2 another huge dog-leg right from the blues. In my opinion a true par-4. #3 from blues is one of my favorite. You can take a low ceiling backhand anny. Or go for the more open, pretty, dangerous shot. With the huge hyzer out over the water and pray to make it back through for the easy bird. #4 has two pins. Goes uphill 300 or so for first pin. Then another 160 around some trees guarding a pin on this hillside for second pin. Love this position. Well as you can see course has a lot to offer so I wont go on. I'll just let you go and find out. :)
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Gargantuan, fun word
Pros: - Portable bathroom at the parking area year round
- The entrance is marked by a Disc Golf Course sign and there is very nice Kiosk
- The map is high quality and accurate but generally not needed because the paths are so well defined
- Practice basket located by Hole #1
- Three Tees per hole!
- 11 of the Tees are concrete and very large (Gargantuan)! Just fantastic work! All other tees are natural or stone and are kept in good working condition.
- Very nice Tee Signs, one per hole
- There are some signs pointing to the next Tee, but as I said, the paths are so well defined that you really don't need the help.
- The baskets are in great shape and are well labeled
- Even though Hole #1 starts a few hundred feet from the parking area, the entire course flows extremely well and Hole #9 ends at Hole #1.
- You will need a mix of shots to play this course. By the time I had finished I really used every disc in my bag.
- Scenery and Landscape; Gorgeous-Beautiful-Stupendous-Stunning-Amazing. Yeah, all that describes this heavily wooded course. Once inside you feel like you are deep into a Montana wilderness. I spent half my round just looking out into the spectacular forest.
- Upkeep. How do I put this? The upkeep is so good that it literally looks like they sweep the paths! The volunteer work for this course must be off the charts. The paths are marked by sticks and logs to either side and they are well mulched or swept completely clean. All fairways are trimmed and clear.
- The lake not only adds beauty to this course but also adds to the course as a tough obstacle to get around. A great addition and an intelligent use of space.
- You may have very light traffic from some fisherman down along the lake maybe hanging out by Hole #2 but other than that you will only have light traffic from disc golfers
- The overall distance of this course is perfect for rec players and above but I would say that a beginner may be overcome by the technical skills required. There are 3 holes over 400' that are in some tight wooded fairways that twist and turn a bit and that roll up and down steep hills. The elevation is awesome and truly adds to the game play and to my exercise routine. There are some beautiful rolling hills and ravines that you will throw across as well.
- The course is very clean and there are plenty of benches scattered everywhere
Cons: - Long walk from the parking area to reach the practice basket and Hole #1.
- Hole #4 crosses nearly over top of Hole #7's Blue Tee near the picnic table. Be aware of your surroundings when teeing off here.
- Small parking area. I suspect this would be a huge problem for tournaments.
Other Thoughts: - Holy smokes! What a fantastic course and just an honor to be able to get over there and play. Really can't say enough about how much I appreciate all the hard work that went into this course.
- The course is highly challenging. Very long and technical fairways will test you to your max.
- The most challenging hole for me is Hole #1. You have a simple right turn which is also down hill and a little tight, but this hole just tears me up. You do have the option of playing it safe and but the temptation of landing the right turning drive for distance down the hill is simply too tempting (I've not once made the shot correctly).
- My favorite hole is Hole #6. Very beautiful and picturesque. This hole tees off from the blue over small rolling hills on a downward slant over a small ravine 320' to the pin which is somewhat hidden on the left. Hole #3 is my runner-up for my favorite hole. Plays with the lake along the right and heavy woods to the left and a lot of obstacles in between. The safest root just might also be the most dangerous, a high hyzer bomb RHBH out over the water with fingers crossed that you make it back in through the trees to land safely on the fairway. Then you shoot toward a basket that is behind a barrier of trees.
- I do not know much about the rest of the park but it seems monstrous and has cabins to rent, ball golf, playgrounds, pools, skiing trails and beaches. A bit of research and I'm sure you'll find this to be a vacation respite.
- As of 08/28/2011, there was more clearing being done and a sign is up for holes labeled A, B & C. I could see a basket already in place and boards set up to pour another one of those fantastically HUGE concrete Tees.
- There are only 9 holes but it is expanding. Even if it wasn't expanding I would still tell you that this course IS a destination course. You need to get here and see this awesome course winding through this beautiful forest. Make the time, try it out, it's worth the trip.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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