Down Home Rustic Fun
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Even though I was just joining the tournament and playing his course for the first time at the Goat Path, Greg mentioned to me that there weren't any new reviews since he changed seven holes on his home, 'private' course in central Kentucky, so he really wanted to know how his changes would be received (I've added a link to the new map and the Goat Path singles Facebook page). Personally, I think they're a hit!
The Goat Path is a unique, rustic experience for avid disc golfers who venture into the region around Mammoth Cave national park. It's within striking range of all the great courses in Bowling Green, and should be added to your wish list if your travel plans bring you here for a spell. The course is mostly hilly and wooded, but not overly punishing in either way, IF you can hit your intended lines. The woods holes range from 175 to 280 feet in length, and use the elevation tremendously well. There's a 190 footer that looks reachable uphill, until you realize it climbs at least 50 feet up there (making it play more like a 340 footer). One of the signature holes has to be the "shot off the rock" (now #8), which requires a zippy, straight, controlled putter shot off the top of a beautiful rock outcropping.
Adding a lot of variety, there are seven holes mostly out in the open, but cleverly chosen to force a variety of lines: a huge (400') downhill, right to left hook into a narrow finishing gap on 1, there's a sweeping left to right, easily reachable shot on (new) 11, BUT there's a dropoff beyond the basket and a fenced pasture 40' to the right, hole 15 is an uphill S shot that's only 250', but is not as easy as it looks, and then there's a 357' up-slope hole 17 that finishes with a really mean basket position between a pair of small pines.
In fact, one of the memorable aspects of the Goat Path is the occasional (dare I say sadistic?) tricky basket position. Hole 13 shoots out of a pretty tight gap, and is only 237 feet, but Greg stuck that basket JUST under a falling tree trunk. Nasty! In all, if you've got skills at the Intermediate level and above, you might really thrill to the challenge level of this course. It seems that it could be a little frustrating below that, because of the tree kicks you will experience in these woods.
There are obviously multiple tee options for almost every hole, and the tournament lengths chosen this year each had a very nice wooden sign, hand painted with the general layout and distances. There were a smattering of nice benches along the course, and the flow cycles back near the start after 10 and 17-18, so you are never an impossible distance away (even if there are times out on the course you might feel like you're really out in the woods). The nice thing about the baskets and signage is that fluorescent tape and paint is used on baskets and arrows so you can readily see where you need to go.
The character of the course (starting and looping back to the goat pens and the barn) wasn't really lost by not using the pond/goat pen shot. You can still interact (carefully!) with that big billy goat there. Besides, the options are still there, if Greg's got the time to mow the hay down for disc golf. I'm sure none of us would want to work that hard year round. This is still a goat farm, not just a disc golf course, after all.
Cons: Clearly, when I say 'rustic', I mean that this is a mostly wooded course that doesn't get your usual quantity of year-round foot traffic. So, when (not if) you kick off a tree, you will encounter some briars, and often a really difficult recovery shot. I was lucky enough to come for the winter tournament, so these weren't as tough as they have to be in the summer months.
The tees are level, but natural and mulched, so some folks might include them in the 'con's section. I actually found them to be very adequate. In the same vein, the baskets are really varied, and often home made out of a piece of an old grill, a cut-off barrel, or a wheelchair wheel. There are good practice quality baskets mixed in, and some older, shallow, single ring of chains baskets that can frustrate you as much as the others, but they're the same for everybody playing, and they often make the most unique clunking sound. They aren't exactly going to ring out in the satisfying way a $400 piece of equipment might. On the other hand, these catch well enough that there were at least three aces (that I heard of) out of 71 players for the 2014 Goat Path tournament.
I don't have any major complaints about the course flow, but caution needs to be taken in a couple of places. Hole 1 is (very) blind from the tee, so wait for groups in front to clear. Likewise there's a little fairway walking and/or backtracking on 5 and 14. And when you throw on 9, watch for folks on the 2nd tee.
Other Thoughts: The thing that impressed me the most about the Goat Path is the fact that Greg obviously isn't just a guy who thought it would be cool to have a home course, and looked for lines to suit his game. Knowing that a huge number of players are right hand back handers, it felt to me like the flight lines were intentionally chosen to add a little challenge, without being overly mean. The straight-ish, thread-it-through-the-trees shots often finished just slightly right of the 'best' lines. When he 'rewards' the rhbh-ers with a right to left fade, the lines have to be spot on to park the shot, and then there's usually a tricky green.
If you get a chance to play in a Goat Path tournament, bring a few extra bucks for the tip jar because the included lunch is amazing. I've played in a lot of tourneys already, but this is the one of the nicest food and fun combinations I've ever had (shout out to the folks who do the Redneck Open as well: what is it about the more remote, country courses being so hospitable?).
…and this course would get a much higher numerical rating with more of the 'bells and whistles' folks are coming to expect. So I hope folks are paying more attention to the reviews' text than to a numbers game. The Goat Path isn't about a number. It's about enjoying our sport to its fullest.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Goatpath plays over rolling Kentucky hills. The course plays about half of the time in the open and half of the in the woods. The more open holes are generally longer and most have elevation, either rolling hills (9, 16, 18) uphill (8, 17) or downhill (1, 10, 11). The wooded holes are all shorter and technical (the longest being right around 280ish) and are a great test of a player's finesse game. Two tees on 16 of the 18 holes allow for a more beginner friendly course from the shorts
The course uses Out of Bounds areas extremely well and mostly for safety purposes. 11 and 18 are great examples of how to use OB to make challenging but fair risk/reward. On 11, the player has the decision to either bailout early over the pond and have a long downhill layup shor or to risk a long S shot over the OB goat pasture and pond for a fairly routine layup 3. On 18, the player looks directly at the OB goatpen and then 60 ft left of that is more OB, and has to make the decision to either be risky and throw a long (350'ish) R-->L shot splitting the OBs for an easy layup or to lay up short of the OB and have a tricky upshot with guard trees that are in OB.
If you get off the fairway in the open holes, you are generally screwed and all the open holes have areas that you can get off the fairway...so long, SAFE shots are at a premium in the open.
The technical holes are all very good tests of a player's short game. There is a good mix of straight, L to R and R to L holes. There are good uphill (4, 14) and downhill shots (6) in this part of the course. Accuracy here is at a premium as well, if you get off the fairway there is a lot of thick brush around. So generally low and safe shots are recommended. A couple of holes have the teepad placed just right for me where the first few trees cause me great distress when planning my route to the tee. A good example of this is hole 2, where the first big tree is just in my error zone (I hit it in the first round and dueced in the second round)
A lot of good, either fast or well protected greens are here. Fast, rollaway greens on 1, 7 and 15 make for nervous, puckered putting. Well protected greens on 13, 14, 16, 17 make the player throw smart and accurate layup shots.
There are several unique parts of this course that add to the ambience as well. 6 is the signature hole out here, it is a short downhill hole with a ton of elevation change, and the kicker is that you throw off a a large cliff-style boulder(this is one of my top ten holes in Kentucky). The basket on 7 is sitting on a knoll on the ground and it is in your head the entire time you are putting at it.
Some of the homemade baskets are cool and creative. The basket on 11 is an example of a tough homemade basket that looks and sounds cool (someone called it the R2D2 basket on my card.
Nice homemade signs at each hole (I think all holes had signs, if not all, then most)
Cons: Some of the tees can be slick at times, but overall they are good natural pads.
Most of the baskets are homemade, most catch well. I felt like I had to putt gingerly at most though.
Other Thoughts: Greg and his family are great hosts. I played the course for the second and third times at the goatpath x-tier Dec 10 and he and his family and other volunteers made a most excellent feast for 70 folks, I highly recommend this tourney to any player, it was probably the funnest tourney I played this season. Greg has put a lot of love into the course and you can tell. If you get a chance check out the photo album. Give Dave the goat a scratch on the head when you go there.
One thing I thought would improve the course slightly is to lengthen one of the wooded holes. Not any hole in particular, just a beast through the woods is the only kind of hole this course lacks.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
The Goat Path Experience
Pros: - Nestled in the rural hills of Kentucky, The Goat Path, designed and maintained by Greg Shearer, embodies the DIY ethic that may best exemplify the roots of disc golf. Although perhaps a bit unpolished in places, The Goat Path is so damn FUN to play that any minor flaws are easily and quickly forgiven and forgotten. While situated on a very nice piece of land, it certainly isn't the most stunning private course I've seen in terms of raw terrain and pure aesthetic beauty; however, it's obvious that a lot of love and devotion has been painstakingly ingrained into it. The Goat Path isn't merely a disc golf course, it's a way of life lying at the heart of our game that can't be experienced at some public park-style course in the 'burbs.
- The course layout is cleverly designed with a tasty mix of open rolling hills, woods with tight short fairways (both uphill and downhill), a small pond, and mixed holes with both open and wooded areas. Scrub, long grass, and the general schule provide a deterrent to missing the fairway, while the mature deciduous and coniferous trees do their best to feed discs to the rough. Hole #9 leads players back to the house before starting the back nine.
- The course flows well from hole to hole and from style to style. At no point does it feel repetitive or cliche. A refreshing amount of holes captured interest throughout for one reason or another: one pin placement might be particularly tricky, or a stand of pine blown over by a storm captures the eye, or the novelty of avoiding an OB goat pen, or throwing off a mossy rock outcropping to a basket 50-60' below with only the narrowest of windows available through the tree branches.
- The baskets are a mix of homemade as well as brand name practice baskets. The homemade baskets are (in most cases) comprised of fairly heavy chains, wheelchair wheels, and plastic barrel bottoms for the bucket. They played surprisingly well, and were a blast to see in action. At no point during our round did they do us wrong, and that was with a group of six. The tee signs are also hand-made, and provide the hole number, distance to pin, next tee info, and a good map of the hole. Greg admitted the distances listed are estimates only, but at no point did they seem grossly inaccurate. Tee pads are natural and marked with brightly colored flags. Am and pro tees available on most if not all holes. Benches, stumps, and chairs are located throughout.
- Greg designed the Path to fit his particular style of play, while still catering to other players' strengths on certain holes. As such, much of the course will consist of shorter technical holes that play much longer because of the tight lines required by the fairways. Several longer open holes allow for the big guns to air it out a bit, while still having to contend with some sort of trick of elevation or vegetation.
- A couple of baskets are sheltered by fallen trees that have been incorporated neatly into the layout.
- As this is a private course, be sure to contact Greg prior to play. Greg's hospitality and guidance throughout the course completes the awesome experience.
Cons: - Greg closes the Goat Path during the late spring and summer months because of the large amount of apparently mutant ticks infesting the open holes' grassy areas as well as some wooded holes. Although I realize Greg is only protecting players from having a bad experience, the fact that the course isn't open during most prime discing months must detract somewhat from the overall rating.
- On some wooded holes, cuttings haven't been cleared from the sides of the fairways.
Other Thoughts: - This is a unique course; as such, I found it extremely difficult to assign a rating. In the end, I chose to rate the Goat Path a little differently than I normally do. The fun factor was too large to ignore completely. Also, as this course was designed for Greg's personal use, I factored in how successful he was at designing a course that suits his style of game. Thus, I ranked The Goat path a bit higher than I would by my normal rubric.
- Be sure to say hello to Greg's Dog-of-Many-Names (a sweetheart of a dog) and keep an eye out for the discin' kitty that might follow you around for a hole or two.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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