Let's Have A Hand For Handyman
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Handyman is clearly the crown jewel of Dayton-area disc golf, and stands as a testament to modern design in an area primarily comprised of older courses. Nearly every hole is memorable in some fashion, either because of the fantastic strategic design or the 8 you carded in a moment of John Daly-esque weakness.
Great design can be found throughout HAH, with holes that require both hyzer and anhyzer shots off the tee, as well as creative approaches that rely heavily on good placement (holes #1, #6, #14, and #18 are some of my favorites). Many holes are par 4's because of strategic difficulty rather than sheer length, which makes for a much more interesting and rewarding experience. Every birdie at Handyman is earned.
Two large and sturdily constructed concrete pads can be found on each tee, along with superior tee signs that are both attractive and informative. Routing could be confusing for first-timers, but visible next tee signs help put players on the right track. Every hole plays to Innova baskets with the potential for multiple basket positions.
In addition to the top-notch amenities, the course is well-maintained and drains well, with occasional mud but nothing that will ruin your shoes.
Cons: While the design of Handyman is the course's greatest strength, it's also HAH's greatest weakness. Disclaimer: although many (if not all) of my complaints were a result of the designers being handcuffed in some capacity, they still negatively affect the course.
There are a couple throwaway holes in #4 and #12, but without them it would be a VERY long walk between the front and back sections of the course. As it stands, some long walks to the next tee remain, but nothing that will leave you in agony or throw you out of a rhythm.
Holes #6-9 (especially the locally infamous #8) feature a "water" hazard that stinks to high heaven, and takes away from the otherwise pleasant woods. Hole #8 requires a not-insignificant carry over the widest part of this smelly creek, and if you throw your disc in the drink you'll have a very difficult time getting it out due to the 18 inches of muck beneath the shallow water. Don't throw a disc you can't afford to lose.
Finally, despite the thoughtful design, I personally feel that the course lacks the aesthetic "wow" factor. Unlike regional favorites Pike Lake and Idlewild, there aren't any breathtaking tee shots that make me pause and admire the natural beauty. As a discer who gives nearly as much consideration to the view as the gameplay, Handyman comes up a bit lacking.
Other Thoughts: Although I gave the course a 4.0, it really feels like a 4.25. Valid but nitpicky items keep HAH from a 4.5, but there's no doubt in my mind that Handyman was created as well as it could possibly be based upon the available land and restrictions placed upon the designers.
Bottom line: this is a SW Ohio must-play, and succeeds admirably as a difficult yet highly enjoyable wooded disc golf experience.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
I got Manhandled by Handyman
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Very challenging course in a clean, well-maintained suburban park, pleasantly free of graffiti when I visited.
Great variety featuring densely wooded holes, varied terrain, and perhaps a couple of holes open enough to provide a break from playing lumberjack. Wonderfully designed to bring all available elements into play; uphill, downhill, over troughs/gulleys, pins on or near slopes or water to increase risk/reward possibilities. Water comes into in play a couple of different ways, as do OB, a mando, and a flat open field.
Fairway shapes run the gamut with left/right doglegs, fairways that hook hard, straight shots, some requiring more complex lines and more than a few blind pin placements. I wouldn't recommend playing solo your first time through. Some holes pretty much force one or two obvious lines. Others offer more choices, but all of them make you choose a strategy and execute off the tee.
Good mix of distances, but the Handyman doesn't offer up easy birdies - they gotta be earned. The Handyman works hard for a living. If you wanna earn his respect, you better work hard, too.
Dual tees offer different looks, lines and levels of challenge in addition to changing distance considerably. The whites were very challenging, often feeling longer than posted distances given the well-wooded nature of many holes - think placement over distance on these. The blues in the woods looked brutal for all but the most skilled players, requiring both distance and finesse - somewhat reminiscent of Nevin in that respect.
About half the holes feature pin placements which rotate from A to B periodically. I'd say the B's were tougher to reach than the A's more often than not.
Seems designer(s) brought the pond into play as best they could on hole 5 given the constraints they had to work with (apparently not allowed to have a hole play over the pond), and the OB created by walk/bike path makes sense and creates additional challenge given that wind can play a factor on that hole. Likewise, the Mando on hole 12 makes sense as well (see cons).
Equipment was in tiptop shape. Tee signs present at both sets of tees; blue markers show the hole in its entirety, with position of whites and both possible pin placements. Whites show both pins, but only white tees. Bright yellow Discatchers look new and are easy to spot anywhere. Concrete tees were in good shape.
Routing/Nav was a bit confusing a few times, but nothing you shouldn't be able to handle with the color scorecard w/map (and pencils) available at the kiosk near the parking lot. Good use of Next Tee signs and the easy to spot tee markers help keep you moving along.
Course is aestheically pleasing with hardwoods, hills, fields and creeks. Several bridges get you across the creek and add a bit of charm and ambience.
Cons: Way more right than there is wrong,but:
I'm all for well-wooded, challenging courses, but I thought some of the wooded holes were a bit unfair at points. I like the idea of making you hit a window off the tee, but hitting a window off the tee limits the trajectories you can put a disc on. It's frustrating to hit your window off the tee, only to run into a pinball machine further down the fairway - maybe I just picked the wrong window.
A sign at the kiosk (next to the parking lot) indicated the pins were in the "B" position. Great idea, except the pins were in position "A." Not a factor in my ratings as this may be a one- time deal, but there's no substitute for spotting the pin yourself.
Hole 12: anything right of the tree line is OB. The mando makes sense (keeps discs out of backyards), but the OB doesn't. Keep in mind that the pin's directly in line with a long, very straight line of pines. If you run at the pin from inbounds (i.e. left of the tree line) and it goes anywhere behind the pin, it's OB, and essentially forces a layup for a lot of upshots unless your drive puts you in position to putt.
I'd have preferred 1 or 2 more open "bomber" holes around the field, if only to privide a more complete, well rounded course.
There's nothing like the thrill of throwing over water. The powers that be may have prevented it, but that doesn't change the fact that it's not present - it merely explains/forgives it. I'm not beating anyone up over it, or blaming the designers for something they couldn't do (kudos for using it as best they could). It doesn't make the course worse, but there's no denying the course would be better if "they suddenly changed their minds." It's just frustrating to see it there and simply walk past it onto the next hole.
Other Thoughts: More challenging than it is fun (at least IMO), HAH is a championship caliber course that's well executed for the most part, and sure to frustrate beginners - thus I'd only recommend it for intermediate players and above. Keep in mind I played in the fall, with no foliage, and had some recovery shots that wouldn't be availble in the spring and summer. That said, I was also too aggressive off the tee.
Even if it left me a bit butt-sore, HAH shows what you can do when a great piece of property receives great treatment. My biggest gripe might turn out be one of this course's greatest strengths years down the road - it should age nicely and maintain its intimidating personality over the years as time and weather inevitably claim trees.
Not a quick round - expect to walk a few fairways the first couple of times you play here.
A few long walks between holes, but it seems they opted for that rather than connecting good holes with "meh" filler holes.
While I don't like the stagnant water on holes 7-9, the designer couldn't really do anything about it and overall, I'm actually glad it was brought into play on those holes.
An excellent course overall, HAH scores very high on my list in terms of shot variety (which forms the basis of my ratings) but falls short of phenomenal because of the way you can thread the first couple of needles off the tee and still end up playing plinko further down the fairway. If I come back to see this has changed over time, so will my rating.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Ya Better Think It Through!
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Some of you might know about Toby Keith's "Songs from the back of the bus". One of the tunes has to do with 'complimenting' Willie Nelson for the potency of his, ahem (something that we're not technically supposed to discuss on this site). The title is, "I'll never smoke (ahem) with Willie again". Well, when it comes to this course in Fairborn, OH (just East of Dayton), I feel like Toby: I've just not developed the tolerance for how strong this course is. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing, but, as a sub-900 rated player, I'll paraphrase
"in the fetal position, with drool on my chin, I'll never play long tees in Fairborn again!" ;)
Handyman Ace Hardware DGC is one of the best supported in the region, has an incredible website (see links), and is intentionally being developed and refined to compare with other great Midwestern courses used for major competition, like Mt. Airy and Idlewild in Cincinnati, the Brent Hambrink Memorial in Columbus, and Seviren Lang or Charlie Vettiner in Louisville. From the long tees, and in the neighborhood of 8000 feet, this course is a true challenge to the talents of Advanced to Open disc golfers. Even from the short tees (over 6200 feet), it can be difficult for Recreational to Intermediate arms to get anywhere near course par (forget par 54, that's just going to bruise your ego).
From the kiosk (including really nice scorecards with a map) and practice basket at the spacious main parking lot, to the large, level, concrete tees (occasionally with a durable bench and trash receptacles), to each of the DISCatcher baskets, H.A.H. shows off the ongoing effort and commitment needed for a quality course. The holes have variety galore, considering there are already multiple tees and pin positions setting up entirely different lines as early as the second hole. Signage is excellent, showing each option, along with the obstacles, distances, and directions you'll need to reach the often blind baskets. You will work your way into and out of woods many different times, and even face water hazards on more holes than you expect. You'll see the pond on 5, but with or without tree hits on 6-10, you could go into one of the drainage/creeks. Even the long drives you'll face coming out of the woods on holes 3 and 4 demand very precise release points from the long tee.
The long tees will give you a number of memorable holes: 2 seems to have more wood than air as you try to fade left off the tee, and finishes hard to the right in the tricky pin position. 9 has a really challenging tee shot through a narrow gap, over a blind creek, and then a wide fairway zone to the basket that leaves a grove of trees to navigate, and the deep creek long to the right. Oh, and a ridge top basket with a smaller creek beyond. 11 is tight as heck if you take the direct route, while the short tee sets up a more generous second fairway to the left. The basket is still a couple of hundred feet beyond where these fairways converge. 18 long is a true finishing hole downhill through the woods with challenges galore if you don't have the skill to handle this one.
Cons: This course is improving as it gets into it's early maturing years, and some of the trees that made it formerly impossible, have been cleared to make it merely difficult. The trees that remain can be extraordinarily frustrating for players below advanced level skills (see below). And you do still need to watch out for the little stumps (now buried in fall leaves) as you work your way down the fairways. I only stubbed three toes my last time there.
The one thing that keeps striking me here is the occasional long walks transitioning to different parts of the course. I know however, that inserting an uncharacteristically short hole here and there might change the flavor of the place. Maybe there are some thoughts toward branching out in the future with a few letter holes (a la Idlewild?).
I know the design always has to work with what is given, but the deep water along holes 7-9 is kind of nasty, still, and a little trash-filled. If the parks department can ever do anything about making that a fresher body of water, the course would certainly benefit.
Other Thoughts: As a player making the transition from recreational to intermediate skills, this course requires me to play almost every hole for position. That is, with the exception of holes 8 and 16 short, I can only keep my score down by thinking, "what kind of tee shot is going to best set up a good approach for a three, and not get me into 4-5 (6, ugh 7?) territory?" And I believe that's what they intended to do here: to bring out a strong mental game for the majority of the competitive disc golf community. And maybe to set up a course where it would be fun to just watch the top tier players go after some real risk-reward opportunities (they have the skill set to attack this course in an entirely different way than the rest of us!).
So, a final thought: if you love a really challenging, woods course, and have really good control of all the different types of shots, plus the 'D' to shoot out through a tight gap and carry over 400', this may be the course for you. If you're just starting out, I might say wait to play this one until your skills match up to the potency of this (ahem).
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Great layout. Very challanging and makes for a beautiful hike.
Cons: Still a bit to many trees on some holes with no defined lines/fairways. With so many trees, a good score on some of the holes is more based on luck rather than skill. However the course is new and constantly improving
Other Thoughts: Course is improving all the time.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: hendersondayton
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Thank you for your review of HAH!
Can you remember what holes you are referring to that you felt had no defined lines? Also, did you play from the White Tee's or the Blue Tee's? This makes a huge difference as we are still working on the blue tees.
Pros: Fun course, made me us rhbh and rhfh. I had to use hyzer straight and anhyzer shots. Had risk reward between going for it or laying up before the creek. I really enjoyed playing this course.
- scorecard and map provided. Thats awesome. Really helped on a few holes where the next ree was further away.
Cons: None really. The last reviewer felt the trees on the holes werent fair, but playing fron the white tees i felt i could see the right shot for a low score on virtually every hole. Blue tees looking really tough though, but i didnt play them.
Other Thoughts: It was 45 and windy as all heck (20mph) but i really enjoyed this course. Like my pros said. Every shot in my book was needed to score well. That is the definition of a good course to me. Im not much of a woods course fan, but slowly learning them and this was a good one. I highly recommend playing it.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Awesome, challenging course, with fields and spacey wooded areas.
Cons: Needs to a mini bridge on Hole 8 over the swamp, rather than having to go back to the bridge you just came from.
Other Thoughts: Great, Tough, course, with some nice field shots and lots of areas to roam in the woods.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Great course design! The variety is fantastic. There is elevation used, open/wooded holes, turns, distances, and risk/reward. There are plenty of signs of a lot of hard work done by the locals. The fairways and paths will become nicely defined with time. The park property is perfect for a DG course.
- easy navigation
- perfect tee signs
- multiple large concrete tee pads per hole
- alternate pin positions
- well maintained
- challenging and technical
- extras including benches and trash cans
Cons: The creek/ drainage ditch comes into play on a several holes. It is wide and disc retrieval can be tough. Some parts of the creek are backed up with trash and green scum. I am a big fan of water holes but I thought this ditch took away from the course because of the nastiness of it.
Some fairways might be tight but I think it adds to a nice variety.
Other Thoughts: This is not a course you can finish quickly. This is one of the most mentally challenging courses I have played. The distances and obstacles will have you out for a nice challenge.
I definitely recommend playing here; this was the top course I played on my Dayton area trip.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 2 Not
Definitely worth the time, a beast in waiting
Pros: I made a quick stop here on my way to Michigan and only played the short tees so my review will be based off of that. Though I only played the shorts, I looked down the fairways from the longs and can't wait to come back again for the longs. Each hole has dual pads (white-am, blue-pro) and dual pin sleeves that force vastly different shots and even more precise course management. The white tees in the current layout come in at around 6300' with the blues at 7800' so there's no shortage of long holes, several of which I'd consider legit par 4s. Between most holes are signs directing you to the next tees so navigation is a breeze. Handyman has a good mix of open-to-wooded, wooded, and semi-wooded holes so there is very little repetition among consecutive holes. There is some elevation here particularly early in the front nine and consistently after number 12. Those holes that do not have significant elevation aren't any easier with water coming into play on most of these. I don't know how deep the water is but it appeared rather stagnant when I was there and might be deep enough to lose your plastic in. The wooded fairways range from moderately open to some very tight lines that must be managed alongside dealing with a low ceiling that's waiting to swat down any errant shots. The wooded fairways also force you to hit a line or landing area in order to have a chance at running at the basket, and venturing off into the rough will cost you at least a stroke. Also, the fairways are carved in such a way that skilled shot-shaping can be rewarded over laying up. The open holes leave a lot of space into which to throw but require long range distance control to have a chance at a birdie. A good number of the baskets present a big risk-reward putting situation with either a big roll away potential or water lurking close by. The layout doesn't provide a half loop at nine so once you're in, you have to be committed to the entire round. I enjoyed that feature of the layout.
Cons: Considering the age of the course, I was really impressed with the work that's been done so far but its still quite rough around the edges. Multiple times during the round I found myself in what I'd consider fairway (compared to looking at the rough) but the underbrush/weeds were still untouched by a weed whacker or sickle. I imagine in due time this will be cleaned up but I couldn't overlook this fact right now. Also along those lines, there were many half inch to three inch stumps still sticking out of the ground which weren't helping in traversing the course or getting any favorable skips on shots.
**Update - I have been informed by the course designer that several of the cons have been addressed such as more clearing of the rough and little stumps as well as the addition of benches throughout the course. Guess I should put this in the pro section but it covers what I said in this section.
Other Thoughts: This is a tough, fun layout that can challenge players of any caliber. Located right off the highway, its easily accessible and well worth the time for any serious player. I'd really like to rate this course higher but with the work that still needs to be done, I don't feel that I can. I plan on getting back up to Handyman Ace later in the year for at least another round and will readjust my rating according then.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 6 Not
Fairborn , OH Handyman Ace Hardware
Pros: Course is very challenging with multiple water hazards and an across the river shot. Trees are strategically place to increase challenges and dual pad locations allow increase in difficulty as desired. Course offers open holes and wooded holes with increased difficulty and also dual hole placement on varying days.
Cons: Some areas have a bit too many trees and should be trimmed back. A few holes are difficult to identify hole location from T-pad and may need a map to navigate these holes.
4 of 10 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 3 Not
Pro level course with constant improvements
Pros: Being a fairly new player to the sport of disc golf, I've tried to play as many of the local courses as I can. That being said, this course is the only one in the Dayton area that I consider to be a pro level course. From the moment you arive you can tell this course is different. There is the large engraved rock course sign, ball golf style scorecards, white and blue tee pads, and well thought out pin placement. The course even has it's own website, which includes a mobile version that has a hole map, hole length, par, overview, improvements list, and photos. I've also been told that QR codes are being added to the tee signs so you can use your smartphone to go directly to each holes mobile page. So many courses in this area look like they were installed and forgotten, but this course is under constant improvement. You can feel that those that manage the course really care about maintaining and advancing it as the best course in the area. It's this constant improvement and care that pushed me towards giving this course a 5 star rating.
Cons: This is not a beginner's course. It's long and it's challenging. Even from the white tees you must carefully plan your next throw. No throw and go here. The last time I played here some of the wooded fairways needed to be a little more defined, but I've heard that's either been taken care of, or will be soon. Expect a long, challenging, but fun game out here.
UPDATE: I hate to do this, but I'm going to have to drop the rating from a 5 to 4 discs. There are just too many holes with completely undefined "fairways". Just because there is a flight path on the tee sign, doesn't mean that flight path actually exists. There seem to be several tee shots that feel like the only thing you can do is throw and pray that you don't hit a tree. I'd rather rely on skill than luck. This is also going to make your scores inconsistant from day to day, making it harder to determin if you're getting better or worse, or just lucky or unlucky.
UPDATE x2: So, now that I have a little more experience under my belt (and the Fairborn BID is coming up) I decided to tackle HAH again. I found that this course really relies on thinking, much more than others. You can't just throw towards the basket, get there in 3, then move on. For most of the holes you really have to take the time to plan each throw. I think this is what makes HAH a Pro level course. it's not for the casual 'throw and go" player. Just by planning my throws and being careful I was able to knock 7 strokes off my game, and could have knocked off a few more if I'd have taken a little more care.
Other Thoughts: Plan your throws carefully. Don't just think about your current throw, but the next one too.
13 of 16 people found this review helpful.
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