2 Helpful / 1 Not
Black Bear Park
Pros: This course is actually a wildlife sanctuary in Cook County, including a variety of trees and wetland areas with diverse plant and insect life. Virtually every hole includes some trees with which to contend, while holes 1-3, 7-9, and 13-18 are entirely in the forest. Water also comes into play on many of the holes ranging from tiny creeks to a sizable lake in the center of the park. This course features very short holes, only one of which measuring over 300 feet (Hole #10: 301'), which would make it ideal for beginners. The good amount of hazards somewhat balances these lacking distances and could make for some frustrating holes, and realistic recovery shots to scramble for par.
Cons: - Lots of insects because of the trees and water, also there is poison ivy on course per the tee box signs
- Very tight design with holes very close to one another
- Walking path throughout course often goes right through the fairway; golfers often wait to tee off for people walking
- The short distances are going to be too undemanding for most skilled players
Other Thoughts: This course is pretty new with the park dedication officially in May 2010, so overall it is in good shape. The course is short with plenty of hazards in the trees and water, particularly on the last six holes. There are plenty of trash cans, clearly visible mulched fairways, and the tee boxes have either an artificial grass pad or a white line painted on the concrete path (both slippery when wet). Perhaps the best appeal of this course is the challenge on the golfer to use mid-range and approach shots effectively to maneuver around the course.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 6 Not
C = An average experience
Pros: For a brand new course, this one is amazing. It is immediately obvious that lots of planning and conscientious hard work has been done to make this place beautiful. From underbrush being cleared completely, to well mulched paths, to amazing signage and astroturf tee pads this course will impress!
With the first 9 holes playing along an asphalt walking path and the entire course in view of neighboring houses (nice neighborhood too!), it is amazing how natural it feels. The use of cattail marshes and ponds on 4-5 holes gives some challenge and some unique prairie beauty.
With holes mainly in the lower to mid 200's (with a few shorter) and a few longer it caters to the beginner. It pains me to rate this course as low as I have, but I am attempting to accurately and honestly compare the playing experience to other courses I have played. What I personally like and how this course stacks up in my list of 18 hole courses:
1) Holes with good risk/reward. Fair, but harsh punishment for bad decisions or execution. == C-
(Most of the holes are too short to conceive of getting a bogey 4 on. There are a few very tight holes - unfairly tight where even accomplished players can only throw and pray…..poke and hope.)
2) Holes that have rewarding birdie opportunities for me. I'm a Blue level player (950ish skill) who throws 300' accurately, 360' max. == C-
(Only 2 holes I would put in this class (10 & 17) but those are offset by several <200' holes.)
3) More wooded than open - lots of variety of shots required caused by hole shape and topography == C-
(It is about 2/3's wooded - holes where the woods come substantially into play. Problem is, almost all the throws are straight ahead with just slight fade to the right or left required. Very little creative shot making is required)
4) Natural beauty (Appalachian beauty preferred) and seclusion. == B+
(As stated above, the beauty and serenity of the course is what makes it stand out.)
5) Bonus points for multi-throw holes with defined landing zones, good risk/reward and multiple options to play them. == N/A
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 this course will draw me back to itself again and again and again. See my profile for specifics on my rating philosophy.
I fancy myself as a connoisseur of good course design and I am a competitive Blue level (950-ish rated) with mid-level power (accurate to 300' with max D of 360'). Since I have played a decent number of courses (150+ 18-hole, 90+ 9-hole as of late 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…..and that's the fun of things here.
13 of 19 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Reviewing before course completion
Pros: - Lots of shot variety
- Tight gaps and unique fairways in the woods (assuming that the wood chip path is the intended fairway)
- Water holes flirt with the water but are not to dangerous.
- Wind moves through the course nicely
- Although short it does force accuracy from the tee.
- Tee signs look like they will be nice large and well marked. (stand is there sign is not)
- Love the Turf tee pads. Really similar to throwing from grass.
Cons: - Holes criss-cross over each other.
- The path that runs throughout the course is on the fairway of almost 3/4ths of the holes. Summertime will bring heavy traffic and probably make the course very agitating to play.
- Lack of a parking lot is going to cause huge traffic issues with the local neighborhood
- Alot of the holes tee-off from the path. There are no markings on the path for "official" line.
- In such a confusing layout there should be numbers on the baskets. If you follow the woodchip path and use the tee signs you can easily navigate.
Other Thoughts: I am reviewing this course before the course has been officially finished/opened. I am not going to count against this course for the features that have not been implemented.
The course really works your short game. Its a nice change to the other local courses that are longer and more open.
For the land available a 12 - 15 hole course would have made a far more challenging course. An easy way to improve the course difficulty would be to tee off from the path further behind the tee. Allows you to put thos putters and mids away and bust out your drivers.
Favorite Hole #18 - The finishing hole is a bit intimidating when you walk up to it. I'm guessing its like 280'ish dead straight. The majority of the fairway is a open area with in the woods and a high ceiling. Right as you reach the creek that runs across the fairway (~ 3/4ths the way down the fairway) and then down the entire right side, you encounter a tight mess of skinny trees with few gaps to get through. About 10-15' past the creek the gaps in the trees open up a lil more. The basket is slightly up a short steep hill. Pick a line and rip one out, hopefully you make it through some sort of gap.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 0 Not
Disc Golf meets the McMansion inhabitants
Pros: Despite that its official opening will be in 2010, Black Bear is an old-style Frisbee golf course. The shots are on the short side (there was one 300'ish hole, the rest were under 300') and much of the course is heavily wooded. The tees are either incorporated into a paved walking path or are Astroturf, so there was good footing off the tee. The baskets were new DISCatcher Pro's and were all in good shape. The course is still being completed, but large tee signs were being erected at each tee. The park itself was still under construction, but there seemed to be a lot of resources being used there. It should be a very nice park when it is done.
Cons: Once I was standing on the tee for #2, I could see eight baskets. That's usually not a good sign. The park is rather small and the 18 holes are crammed in there. The heavily wooded nature of the site cuts down on some of the danger factor of having the holes so close together, but it still made me feel uneasy.
Most of the wooded holes don't have much in the way of a defined route to the hole, so you just poke and pray. Despite this, the course really wasn't all that challenging. It really is just a pitch an putt.
The flow was poor. The course starts on one side of the park, then moves to the other side of the park and comes back. You end up shooting back at holes quite a lot. It was a little confusing, but there were good signs. The tee for # 2 and # 4 are in the same place, and I went the wrong way the first time and played # 4 when I should have played # 2. Other than that I found my way around. The baskets do not have numbers on them, and given that so many of them are so close together they really should be marked.
There is some water on the course, but the holes are very short and it is really hard to use water effectively on short holes. The water really does not come into play. There is a little bit of elevation, but most of the holes are flat.
The park is in a new neighborhood surrounded by McMansions, and the walking path is heavily used by the local yuppies. With many of the holes using this path as a tee off area, conflicts with the neighbors will be inevitable.
Other Thoughts: While 18 holes is nice, this site could have had a 9-hole that was better designed and more challenging. Instead, there are 18 unremarkable holes crammed into this small space. This is a case where less would have been more. It should be a nice place for a recreational round. It seemed like it would be a good spot for a local league. It was pretty OK, just nothing special.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Black Bear Park
Pros: Black Bear Park is very new. The baskets at the park are nice new disc catchers. There is a concrete path that winds through the park and many of the holes tee off of this path. Back in the wooded holes that don't shoot off the concrete path there are nice astroturf tees which provide good traction even when wet.
There is a decent mix of technical holes and easy open holes. Even some of the open holes provide a decent challenge. Hole 10 is a 300' shot along a pond. It is open, but the basket is well guarded by trees and brush. A shot close enough for an easy 2 could easily turn into 3 because of this. The more wooded hole have some tight lines provide a decent challenge.
The park is very well manetained. Through all of the wooded holes there is a mulched path to follow making it easy to get around even if the ground is a little soggy. The mulch is also around all of the baskets at to at least 20 feet.
The signage at the parks appears to be barebones in prepartion for more enhancement. Wooden posts with a place for some sort of insert have hole numbers spray painted on them. Even as it is the signs are easy to spot and have the distance listed which makes it easy to get around.
Cons: Black Bear Park is very short. You won't need much more than a fairway driver or a midrange if you have a big arm. There is only one hole ever 300 feet in length.
Pedestrians are a huge concern. I played at 5PM in March and the park was overflowing with extra people. The park has a walking path that winds around the ponds that frequently has walkers and joggers. There is also a basketball court and a playground near hole 1's tee and 18's basket. Since most of the holes use the pedestrian path that runs though the park as a teeing area, there can be some delays while waiting on people to be safely out of the way.
Other Thoughts: Holes 7 and 8 are missing the baskets. It appears as if someone took them off of the pole (as the pole is still there).
Compared to the other nearby courses Black Bear Park can provide some unique challenges despite it's short length.
There is water in play on holes 1, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, and 18 that come in the form of a few ponds and a small stream. Though it would take an errant shot to land in these because most of these hazards are close to the tee or a good ways off to the side.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Short with conflicts
Pros: The park is tucked back in a nice small neighborhood park. There is a walking path in the middle of the course in which many of the holes play on. There are several tight wooded holes. The underbrush has been totally cleared so looking for discs is not an issue. For the most part this course is pretty flat. There is some water but it takes some really bad shots to find it.
Nice big tee signs.
Asphalt or Turf Tees.
Brand new Innova Discatchers.
Variety of shorter holes. Open, tight. There is only 1 hole over 300ft. Works your mid and putter game.
Cons: The description says this course is landscaped for disc golf. I don't think that is an accurate description as it's landscaped for a walking path that the course plays on. The day I played there were a ton of walkers on the asphalt path. A 1/3 of the course plays directly down the walking path. I had to wait on all those holes.
Hole #5 is absolute classic poor design. You throw right over a dock where people tend to gather. Check out the picture.
This park is not very big and 18 holes were crammed into it. There are 2 places where you have to walk across another fairway to get to the next hole. There are also several areas where baskets and tee pads are very close together.
Several of the wooded holes are poke and hope type holes with no route to the basket.
This course lacks challenge. I am a 985 rated player and shot a -9(45) the first time seeing this course. My Intermediate level rated friend shot a -5(49).
The water really doesn't come into play unless you throw some really really bad shots. This was a feature that could have been utilized more.
If you are in the area i'd say go ahead and stop to play this course. Do not travel out of the way to play this course. It is not worth it.
This could have been a killer 9 to 12 hole course but it's a short/easy 18 hole 4,205ft course.
Check out my Illinois Top 10.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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