Machfive916 review of Paul B Johnson Desert Fox DGC
Pros: The best part of playing the Desert Fox Disc Golf Course is that you get to experience Paul B. Johnson State Park. However, the course itself left me feeling a little disappointed, especially since I made a 2 hour drive for a day trip and was not staying overnight. My 3 star review is on the very generous side as this is a borderline 2.0 -2.5 stars were it not for the great scenery of the park and the potential that is still there for an above average course.
It would have been helpful if the park had signage directing you to the course (hole 1), but we had to drive aimlessly through the park until we finally saw the "Desert Fox" sign.
According to the I-Phone app "U-Disc", the course has 23 holes, as is reflected by the electronic scorecard. However, we only found 18 holes and this was confirmed by the map we printed and actually playing the course. I highly recommend using a map, as the path from hole to hole is not always entirely clear. I think the old course design had 23 holes; prior to the addition of the 9 hole Little fox course.
The first thing I noticed when we started (02/07/2015) was that the level of the lake was very low. Hole # 1 had a nice downhill shot with the basket being near the lake. Be careful of the water's edge, as even though I did not throw in the water, the ground under my feet was extremely soft and I was sinking a little. Note to self to only play this course wearing old shoes, as there is a huge potential to get them muddy and/or wet.
Hole # 2 feature a slight uphill that we had to play through a smokescreen, as the park regularly burns pine needles and leaves to keep the undergrowth at bay. Note to self to bring an extra towel to wipe the soot off my disc from all the recently burned areas on multiple fairways and greens.
Several holes have multiple tees (pro tee & amateur tee) to offer a bit more of a challenge. The baskets are showing their age and many are a bit rusty. However, the chains were all intact and functioned properly.
Hole # 4 is the signature hole and usually throws out to a small peninsula. However, with the water being so low, my throw was over a vast expanse of smelly, shoe swallowing, disc grabbing mud. Note to self to always bring my 18 foot telescopic pole to retrieve discs from water and/or mud.
The park's huge lake comes into play on multiple holes as it borders fairways, pins, forces water carry (when water is not low), and emphasizing precise disc placement.
I actually enjoyed the wood sections that forced you to throw within a narrow corridor of trees. Any off target shots were immediately punished with ricochets off of trees and/or discs entangled in thick blood drawing briars.
All in all it was a good day, and if I ever found myself camping here, I would be sure to play this course again. However, I don't foresee any road trips here solely for the purpose of playing this mediocre course.
One Wet Desert
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Paul B. Johnson's Desert Fox defines itself through its well-integrated, challenging water hazards. The park's huge lake factors in in a variety of ways, bordering fairways, backing pins, forcing water carry, and emphasizing precision placement. Peninsula greens, either formed naturally by water or through a combination of water and OB, create some significant scoring separation, yet the layout still affords many opportunities to play it safe if you're mostly worried about staying dry during a casual round. This is probably the best set of water hazards I've played outside of Selah Ranch.
The tree cover at PBJ DF is at a happy medium: every hole gives you an obstacle to think about beyond the hazards that are challenging placement. The incorporation of trees meshes well with the rest of the design, lending a technical nature without being tight. There are a few spots where things tighten up and move away from the water on the back 9, and while some of these are the course's weakest holes, the change of pace is still a welcome one.
Elevation is rare, but what is present is used well, with downhill shots on 1 and 3 (intensified by the bordering water), and 2's slight uphill shot through a tight window.
Two sets of tees do a good job of tweaking the challenge factor and providing multiple looks to the same hole.
The park is easy to find, has ample amenities, and offers an additional 9 in the form of Little Fox, which plays differently enough to Desert Fox (longer, more technical obstacles) to provide a nice complement.
Cons: Desert Fox shows its age a bit, both in its rusting baskets and its exclusively par 3 layout. Each hole focuses on making a single shot, with rarely a need to chain shots together.
The course loses a lot of bite when it strays away from the water. Without the threat of a lost disc or a penalty stroke, it reverts to a pretty standard, semi-open and flat public park course. Even with the threat of water, there's enough openness on many holes to lessen the pressure on line shaping: hyzers of your preference of backhand or forehand often suffice. Desert Fox's emphasis is really about hitting the proper landing zone, through its natural and manmade OB, and while this aspect of the course is an enjoyable one, it's a narrow focus that didn't carry my interest from 1 to 18.
While grooming seems good, the course seems to have seen better days. In addition to the aforementioned aging baskets, the natural tees can sometimes be rough, and tee signs aren't always present or obvious.
Navigation gets a bit gnarly at a few points, even with the map.
Other Thoughts: Desert Fox was a fun course that becomes a worthwhile stop when considered alongside the longer, more wooded and technical (and for the most part drier) Little Fox. It's also only a short drive from Ashe Lake, making it easy to hit all three. I personally preferred the more wooded confines at Ashe Lake, but PBJ makes for the better pair of courses considering Ashe Lake 9's novice focus. I'd say hit Ashe Lake if you only have time for a single 18, and hit PBJ if you only want to make one stop but can take in all 27 on site here. But hopefully you can get the best of all worlds and hit both stops while visiting the Hattiesburg area!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Not a weekend destination.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -Well maintained course that sees heavy to moderate play, regularly
-Water hazards and/or road O.B.'s are in play on most holes; this limits your options and makes you play the course as intended
-Maps, scorecards, bathrooms and vending machines at office near parking.
Cons: -People, people everywhere. If you play on a weekend during the warmer months be prepared to explain to park-goers why they shouldn't use the baskets as clothes lines, drink holders, etc.
-Holes that have water in play (almost 50%) will likely have someone fishing in the exact spot you need to throw
-For a State Park it had surprisingly few benches and/or trash cans on the course (plenty of seats and trash cans nearby just not convenient to disc golfers)
Other Thoughts: The park office no longer sells discs... :(
Don't forget to play the "Little Fox DGC" while you're there.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: It has some long holes with good obstacles; but yet still has good tight holes. the water hazards are challenging; but not overwhelming. It is a good course for professionals and beginners alike. It is a challenging course; but a lot of fun.
Cons: It is built in a park so a few hole run by a road, which makes you have to wait for cars to go by sometime. It also has a few walking paths so you have to be careful about pedestrians.
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I haven't played this course in years and the new layout was radically different than the original. Where the original followed the lake but didn't really put it in play (especially for RHBH throwers), this layout makes you constantly be aware of the water hazards on about half of the course. In addition the course features some tightly wooded tunnels and plays very evenly for righty's and lefty's. Multiple tees on most of the holes, though the "blue" tees are currently marked with wooden stakes with a paint strip on top. Course navigation was easy with the park-provided map and several small next tee signs scattered throughout the course.
I really did use a healthy variety of shot types and the swing in thinking after being in the open for 8 holes and then moving into three tightly-wooded holes, then back into the open for a few holes, then woods, then lightly-wooded and then finish in the open. Very little repetition, even on the first eight as you have to be aware of the water and its effect on the chosen flightline.
Some features of the course are the signature peninsula shot on 4, the over-water shot on 7, the short right-turn ace run on 9, the putting mound on 13, and I really enjoyed the variety of shot required for the am and pro tees on 15.
Amenities abound as the park office has discs, maps, restrooms, drink machines, etc. The lake is a favorite area destination in summer so you have ample opportunity to cool off, go fishing, camp (primitive and cabins), or just relax on the beach. The new splash pad within walking distance of hole 2 is a major draw for the kiddos.
Right around the end of hole 8 is another, newer 9-hole course (Little Fox) with all new baskets. We didn't play that course during my last visit but you could easily walk from 8's basket to the 9-hole course, play it, and walk right back to the 18-hole course since the Little Fox course ends pretty close to hole 9 on the main course. This presents a pretty good opportunity to play 27 holes. The 9-hole course appeared to have more elevation in play as that was the high side of the lake.
Cons: You have to pay at the gate ($3) and that might turn off some people. A few natural tees might annoy some golfers. The layout plays much more along the park roads than the original so the road is in play on a few more holes (maybe 4 total). The rough is ROUGH. Stickers, thorns, etc. especially on 9-11 and 14-16. Stay in the fairway or prepare to bleed. The walk from 13 to 14 was a little tricky as the next-tee sign was partially covered by a vine and the path needed some weed-eating.
One thing that bugged me personally was the difference in the yardage on the park-provided score card (which matches this site) and the yardage on the tee signs. Speaking of tee signs (large diameter PVC pipe), the majority of the holes have multiple tees and many have been re-used from the previous layout and haven't been updated with new flightlines or yardage. No big deal, maybe I'm just too OCD.
Other Thoughts: Having played the original layout, it's really hard not to compare the current layout to the old. I much prefer the current course. It's more challenging, has more variety (both hole layout and shot variety), uses more of the park, and is overall more fun. The amenities added to the park (namely the splash pad) are a bonus as well since golfers can bring their families or camp on the park grounds while having access to a pretty good course. The Park Office has some discs and in general is extremely DG friendly.
Note: The course map shown on the webpage linked here is the old layout, not the current. The park office has scorecards with the new layout, however.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 2 Not
Scary for good reason
Pros: The elevation was good practice and a challenge. If you don't play much water this course definitely gets you thinking. No hole looks like the other. Want to work on a certain shot then I'm sure that you can do it on one of these holes.
Cons: Course is better for left handed throwers. All the discs on hole 3 through 8 curve toward the lake.
Other Thoughts: Love being able to wake up in the morning and go play disc golf. Good to camp and play. Had fun camping and playing.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Great Hole Variety and Nice Views of Geiger Lake
Pros: Decent bit of elevation change on some holes. A great mix of open, tight, and all shades in between of tree densities. Pretty views of Geiger Lake with a few baskets near the water's edge, including the signature peninsula hole #4. I used just about every disc in my bag at some point, as the course is not repetitive at all and each hole is unique. The water is shallow enough to retrieve discs a couple of feet in.
Cons: A few of the teeboxes aren't the greatest and not marked so well, but they're good enough for most players. A little bit of dense shule here and there, but not much.
Other Thoughts: This course was thoroughly re-designed following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I think the previous reviews are talking about the transitional course that was here for a few years after the storm that was not as good as the current design.
The current design has a couple of holes that are rough because they are new holes cut from thick woods, but I am sure they will clean up nicely.
The pro tees are a good challenge for pros and the am tees are just right for ams in my opinion.
If you like good, hole-in-the-wall type BBQ I recommend Rose's BBQ which is 9 miles north of PBJohnson on Hwy 49. The turkey leg is the best!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
Rest Stop to Stretch My Legs
Pros: Nice park setting. Clean.
I loved the island hole over the lake a very nice shot.
Cons: For me was really hard to navigate course got lost several times. Some holes unplayable as they had FEMA trailers in the way. I really hated the basket on top of the "pyramid dirt pile".
Other Thoughts: Not a bad course and would play again if in the area but will not make special trip just to play. I am sure course in better shape since the huricane damage.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The course plays through a wooded park around a lake. Most of the holes play through mature trees with limited underbrush and multiple options off the tee. There are a few wide open holes, and a few densely wooded holes mixed in for a little more variety. Several holes have multiple tees to give you a chance to mix things up. There is a variety of lengths with several ace runs and a few longer holes where you'll pull out a driver. The wooded holes make you use some different shots, and have some good punishment for errant shots with thick rough.
The concrete tees are plenty big enough and are in nice shape. Most tees are numbered, some have nice hole maps and distance on the large pvc pipes marking the tees. The baskets are a little rusty but catch fine. There wasn't too much trash around, and the course steers clear of walking paths and roads for the most part. There are a few shots that bring the lake into play which makes for some fun risk reward, especially on hole 4 which plays across a narrow arm of the lake to a small peninsula.
Cons: The course feels scruffy and unmaintained for the most part. The wooded holes are pretty overgrown and need some clearing. Unfortunately the water level was really low when I played, so none of the water shots actually had water, I don't know how often this is the case, but it left large expanses of ugly smelly mud to throw over.
The course is poorly marked, so there are some navigation issues at times. It would be nice if the tee markers were more consistent, the couple with hole maps and distance were great but the rest only had hole number (a few didn't even have that). The design gets pretty repetitive, with way too many shots that are basically straight, and either open or with just a few mature trees. More holes in the woods would make this course more interesting and fun, and a little more creative use of the water would add a more risk/reward challenges.
Other Thoughts: This isn't a bad course to play if you're staying in the campground here, it's got a few fun holes and some water shots to keep it a little more interesting. Beginners will find a couple of the water shots a little daunting, and the few wooded holes pretty punitive, but otherwise it's a very beginner friendly course. More experienced players won't find much challenge, and not enough variety to make it worth going too far out of your way to play.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Fairly nice tee pads. Tee pad markers have the course layout on them most of the time. Hole 4 pro pad is a good hole, one you wont forget. Course seems to be decently maintained.
Cons: Many of the tee pad markers dont have course layout.
Hole 3 has no path, its almost like they just decided to put a disc behind a large group of trees without actually considering placement. Several holes have this feel. IMO there are just way too many EASY holes. It has a lot of straight shots with no obstacles except for the water which really is not a challenge, more of something to throw over instead of land. Most of the water holes are easy, and just do not take advantage of the water.
Pro shop did not have a single disc to sell.
Other Thoughts: I saw this course had a 4 disc rating, and was really looking forward to it, but it turned out to be a huge disappointment. If you are staying at the state park, go ahead and play it, but IMO there is no reason to go out of your way to play here. Big disappointment.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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