Bucket list ticked off!
7 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Reviewing a couple of years after the fact as I've finally decided to start getting some down on paper - some memories are a bit hazy (including the date played)
Selah was a bucket list course, I have played a few other Houck designs but this was the one I wanted to play more than ever, especially hole 7, pictures of which had me salivating.
I spent a few days on this incredible ranch with some friends staying on site and had an fantastic time playing Lakeside and Creekside all day long. I've only reviewed Lakeside as Creek is a bit hazy in the memory! (some beer may have been consumed)
There is a lovely mix of holes at Lakeside, no two are the same. I'm a fan of par 4 golf (when done well) and the par 4's and even 5's (always a little dubious about disc golf par 5's but these nail it) are excellent, incredibly well crafted, you can tell how much thought went into each hole and placement.
Hole 7 lived up to all my expectations, we played reds and blues and this hole was just perfectly placed for both. First round on the blue it tempted and teased me into going for the three and promptly swallowed my disc! Further rounds I was more circumspect playing safer routes for the 4's and 5's but even playing safely each shot you take is a challenge.
I liked the much maligned hole 14, great tee shot options and by the end of the time there I was starting to work out which were giving me consistently better looks. (we threw a lot of discs)
Terrain away from the lakes isn't the greatest but the Holes are designed beautifully to make full use of what is there.
I found myself using just about every shot in the bag and enjoyed throwing the lines so much, I would throw another and another (I came back with a few less discs than I started, although did restock in the pro shop)
Lived up to just about all my expectations.
I'm putting price in to play as a pro here, I would have paid more. Happy to pay for this level of facility and still doesn't compare to what I used to pay for ball golf.
Cons: You had to use the carts. Don't get me wrong, I like the chance to use carts but having to use them I'm not so keen on . They're not cheap and once the novelty has worn off I don't really enjoy playing from a cart. I love walking and disc golf is a walk enhanced, but the course is stretched out and if you want a few rounds a day in you will need them.
No toilets or anything out on the course - a couple of benches would be nice -and trash cans
Couple of holes were just a bit unmemorable, good holes and technically well designed, just hard to look back and be wowed by them. I've had to look back at pictures to jog the memory.
Navigation wasn't always the greatest although I hope that has been improved in the meantime, it was certainly talked about.
Other Thoughts: Delighted I got to play and had an amazing time.
Everything is screaming at me to give it five stars but the description of five stars is " There is absolutely nothing that could be done to improve the course. It is perfect in every possible way." and it's not quite. but only just not. I want to rate it at 4.9 as 4.5 seems harsh to what it was, the best fun with buddies of my disc golf career.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
22 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: I had the chance to play the Selah Ranch and Trey courses in late October. I had all courses to myself both days I was there (which was a weird feeling). What an extraordinary experience it was at all of these courses. At the end of the day, Lakeside was the best of these courses. DISCLAIMER: This review is my experience after playing the long tees. Here are my pros at Lakeside:
Intro) I played Creekside first and then made the trek over to Lakeside. I have to say that I have never had more anticipation or excitement as I drove to a course. Its about a 5 minute cart drive from Creekside to Lakeside and it was PERFECT. That five minutes allowed me to reflect on what I was about to embark on and it actually really pumped me up. That cart drive, while probably not intentional, was great for just getting me even more excited. The best things in life are worth waiting for....and that 5 minutes of waiting as I drove from hole 18 at Creekside to hole 1 at Lakeside was pretty fun.
1) There's no point not to start with best part of this course, and that's the MANY signature holes. The course had multiple signature holes. Holes 4, 7 and 15 are simply some of the best holes in all of disc golf. Period. More on 7 below. These three holes are really not even signature holes --- they are holes you will never forget. These holes stack up with such holes as Hole 1 at Maple Hill, hole 3 at Flyboy, etc. These are transformational holes that transcend your imagination. Hole 15's inclusion may surprise some, but that teeshot on top of the hill is just breathtaking. Its one of the times when an option hole really works well (more on that below when it doesn't work). You can take the right gap, which is a little more open, and give up a chance at getting there in two and having a chance at eagle. Or you can go up in the middle and put yourself in the catbird's seat and have a chance at getting to the green in two and a chance for eagle. I took the harder gap, hit the gap and then threw a nice shot and gave myself an 80 foot putt for eagle. Hole 4 was just STUNNING. After throwing my drive (which, for most players, is probably a RH hyzer shot that will go out over the water and fade back) I stood at my second shot and just took pictures for five minutes staring out over the lake. I had a 1000 acre ranch to myself with literally no soul in sight. No one was at the B&B, the ranch manager had left and no other disc golfers were at the course. It was me and Selah. It was inspiring and breathtaking at the same time. It was peaceful and quiet. I couldn't help but stare at the lake. The day I played I had not one ounce of wind. Seeing the lake completely still was like looking at the world's biggest mirror and seeing the reflection that is the beauty around that lake was stunning....
2) Hole 7 deserves a place for its own, as stated above. This hole, in my opinion, is probably the third best hole in all of disc golf. Its that amazing. The teeshot is not spectacular, as the hole forces you to throw a shot that doesn't exceed 350 feet. Also, its a little scary to throw a RH hyzer shot off of the tee as that will fade towards the water so a right-handed player with a sidearm is the ideal shot with a throw that carries about 325 feet. The second shot becomes a little more breathtaking as the lake comes into play a little bit more........BUT its the third shot (unless you can throw 500 feet and go for the green on your second shot) that really is probably one of the most memorable shots you will have throw. I left myself about 350 feet to the famous island green and threw my shot to the right side about 25 feet from the basket. This shot is as intimidating as it gets. And I was lucky enough to have no wind that day. There is no shot in disc golf that gets your adrenaline going more than trying to hit an island green from 350 feet. Simply stunning. You can't help but smile. Getting up to the green really allows you to see the beauty of this hole even more. I am reminded of Kevin Costner in Tin Cup..."when a defining moment comes along you define the moment or let the moment define you." In a tournament round, this hole defines the moment. Not much more to say besides.....AMAZING
3) At first I was a little disappointed at the $40 cart fee but after playing two rounds I can tell you that it was worth....every.....dollar. Oh my goodness! It is completely amazing to play disc golf with carts, especially on a massive course such as Lakeside. It was a little bit of a bumpy ride, but who cares. Carts on a disc golf course!
4) Signs, signs everywhere signs! The signs were amazing. They were so detailed and really helped me as I was playing by myself. Every little detail is spelled out for you, from the preferred route to the out of bounds to the obstacles. A+ on the signs!
5) Concrete tees and baskets were great. The baskets are newer because its a newer course and I had no complaints on the tees whatsoever.
6) Navigation was actually a little tricky in a few spots, but this was 100% completely mitigated by the fact that the carts reduced my "finding the next hole" time by 90%. I do remember a few times getting lost (I had a tough time finding hole 15) but as I said, the carts make that so much easier.
7) I have to talk about the design. The design was great (more on that below). You can really tell that an INCREDIBLE amount of thought was given to the design. Hole 2 is, in my opinion, the best example of a perfectly designed hole. From the long tees this hole measures in at 528 feet, which is hardly a par 4 for a fairly open hole. HOWEVER, what makes this hole completely amazing is that the long throw is not the best throw here. A clump of trees is essentially in the middle of the fairway about 350 feet from the tee and that extends about 100 feet towards the basket. The lake guards the right side, and going way left is a very tough shot. Unless you can throw a 550 foot hyzer around the trees and over the lake (and if you can, you deserve a chance at eagle) then you are a little perplexed as to what to do. Throwing a 400 foot hyzer puts you smack into the middle of the trees and risks your shot hitting a tree and dropping down in the water. This is why its a beautiful hole. Houck has forced you to "layup" off of the tee for the best possible chance at birdie. So I threw my Drone off of the tee about 215 feet. I had a 300 foot hyzer for my second shot that probably was more like 335 feet because of the curve required. I put myself just outside the circle and missed the putt. But I gave myself the best opportunity I could for birdie. Great hole and a beautiful design. Very thoughtful.
8) Wooded Par 4's - I thoroughly enjoyed the wooded par 4's and thought they used the terrain very well. I thought the lines were clean and really offered a nice challenge. A birdie on these holes felt like a true birdie. In particular I was a fan of number 10 and the second shot on this hole to a nicely protected green. Also, hole 9 had such a great and tight tee shot that required a tight hyzer that didn't go much further than 300 feet. It was a placement drive ALL the way, which was followed by a curve to the right going towards the green. It was a snaking fairway that really caught my attention.
9) I have to mention the B&B. I am a huge fan of architecture and this thing was stunning. One of the more beautiful buildings I have ever seen. It was insanely massive and I wish I could have stayed in it. If you are planning a trip here please make every effort to stay in the B&B. I was genuinely in awe.
Cons: I don't have many cons with Lakeside. Its one of the best courses in the world and the best courses in the world don't have a lot wrong with it. But I did have a few cons:
1) Hole 14 is a con all by itself. From the tee, this hole is absolutely marvelous. One of my favorite teeshots on the course. Having the ability to pick one of four or five or six or even seven gaps is pretty awesome. The issue with this hole is not the drive, but the second shot. Option holes are great, but they simply do not work for the second shot. Time and time again, option holes have proven to fail miserably when the designer forces options on the second shot. Option holes work great from the tee because you can define where the options are because the disc golfer is throwing from a defined location (teebox). The problem with option holes on second shots is that you can't define where someone will be throwing, and an extraordinary amount of luck will be involved on the second shot. I threw my drive on this hole and hit one of the left gaps perfectly with a RH sidearm shot. I got to my drive and had no shot to get to the basket. Having these tight option fairways on the second shot simply does not work. Trying to place the disc within an 8 foot circle from the tee is not possible; in fact, it invites luck. To prove the point, I went back and threw 5 more teeshots. Four of them hit various gaps, and 1 hit a tree. None of the shots that hit the original gap had a clean line to the basket. The lines are simply too tight and the landing zones are unfair. Opening up the lines and pushing the basket back would be a much better idea with this hole. Option holes are great, but don't work for second shots in my opinion.
2) The wooded par 3's were nice, but they were not entirely memorable. This is NOT the result of bad design or anything but this one fact: once you get away from the lake, the terrain is not that exciting. The terrain is pretty flat and doesn't really offer anything that is truly great. This is through no fault of the designer, but the terrain in the woods in Texas does not compare to the terrain in other parts of the country. To come up with a rating on a scale of 1 to 5, comparisons will be made that look at terrain versus other areas in the country. The lake holes are great but the terrain in the woods is above average, but not spectacular.
3) The course had one too many average holes to be considered a 5 star course. I think a 27 hole course can have more leeway with average holes and get a 5 rating, but for an 18 hole course I think having more than 4 or 5 average holes makes it tough to get that 5 star rating. Case in point: in my opinion, holes 3, 8, 11, 13 and 17 were pretty much average holes. There was nothing wrong with these holes by any means, but nothing about these holes stood out. Taking into account what I said about hole 14 and that means 1/3 of the course was average, at best. That may seem like a crude way to look at it, but its just a fact. Once again, you can't expect EVERY hole to be amazing and I get that. But the terrain in some areas of this complex simply didn't allow "GREAT" to happen. The terrain, while okay, was nothing spectacular.
Other Thoughts: Lakeside is a phenomenal course and I probably would give it a 4.75 if given the chance. Its one of the best courses in the country and is completely worth the trip and enthralling in so many ways. I would highly recommend playing the Trey Deuce courses as well and make it a worthwhile trip. Also, for those that think the cost is high...its not. This facility took A LOT of money to create and is worth every penny. The carts are an amazing feature and really add a ton of value. Support Selah Ranch!
22 of 26 people found this review helpful.
"Just" Excellent (or better)
25 Helpful / 9 Not
This course is, perhaps, the first private course that I have ever played that was set up to operate exclusively as a golf course. The pro shop has a limited selection of discs, new and used (no Innova discs). The used disc prices are reasonable.
There are bathrooms and showers in the same building. The shower and toilet access is exterior with separate doors for each shower or toilet. Camping is allowed on the premises, so the shower availability is very practical. As noted by everyone, there are carts.
The course is pay to play. $20 for all day access. Cart rental for all day is $40. I always count pay to play as a pro. The playing fee is perfectly reasonable and I certainly hope that Selah stays profitable. The course is currently for sale and when I mentioned it to the owner, he indicated that there are several potential deals, all of which will keep the course open. And as a private, pay-to-play course with a not insignificant playing fee, you generally won't have to deal with people who leave trash out on the course or are otherwise problematic or who aren't serious about disc golf.
The ownership, while super friendly and exceptionally helpful and nice (there's really not enough good things I can say about the owner), also doesn't tolerate trouble makers. Posted clearly inside and outside the pro shop are signs prohibiting diving for discs. The owner has a catalogued lost and found system and sells unmarked discs found in the pond for $5. The night before we arrived to play, the owner had found some disc golfers diving for discs. The morning that we arrived to play, those trespassers were the custody of the local sheriff. So keep that in mind if you are one of the idiots who think that you are entitled to do whatever you want on someone else's property. Also keep in mind that the owner apparently has night vision equipment and lives on the property.
The only amenities out on the course are the carts, period. No water, benches, trash cans or restrooms. The carts are a suitable replacement for everything but the restrooms. The carts also lessen fatigue to the point that I felt like I could have played all day. I was simply not tired after playing both courses, back-to-back on a 90 degree day.
The course has a significant variety of holes. Some along the shores of a small lake (or very large pond, depending on your perspective). Holes 1, 2, 4, 7 and 18 play along the shore. Hole 7 is a forced water carry from both tees no matter how you play it. It's a true island "green."
The remainder of the holes mostly wind through either heavily wooded or moderately wooded areas with some holes allowing open shots over water. There are few tight, tunnel holes. One notable exception is hole 14, which is apparently supposed to be an array of different tunnels, some straight, some hyzer and some anhyzer to a landing area then rinse and repeat.
Lakeside IS the more technical of the two courses on the property, but it is not overly technical. You need to be able to hit your lines fairly accurately on most holes, but the underbrush on most wooded holes is not overly punishing if you miss your line or hit a tree and go into the unmowed/uncleared areas. Additionally, the hole variety is blended well. The long holes are interspersed with shorter holes, just as the more open holes aren't all grouped together. There is no monotony and little to no repetition on this course.
There are some holes with significant elevation changes. The pro tees had more elevation changes. But there is nothing dramatic in the way of elevation. There are no top-of-the-world shots. The greatest elevation changes are near the lake/pond dam and around the baskets on two and tree. There is hidden elevation on hole 13, behind the basket. Frankly, the designer has apparently done what he can to negate elevation as a factor where it exists. Where there is a significant downhill throw, you will be confined to lanes to narrow to count on being able to hit.
To me the course plays shorter than the signs indicate, but a quick check on Google earth tends to corroborate the accuracy of the signs. The tee signs do a good job of letting you know where the basket is and they show the direction of the next tee. If you forget what was on the tee sign, there are other signs pointing to the next tee and you can "follow the beaten path" on most holes.
All tee boxes are concrete and of a suitable size. Holes have alternate tee locations with larger, trapezoidal tee boxes for the pro tees. Baskets are Innova DisCatchers and all are in perfect condition.
There are some very fun holes. To me, 4, 8, 10 and 15 stand out from the rest.
Cons: Carts. I played with a friend who I play with regularly. We routinely finish 18 in about 1.5 hours. The carts did not speed up play for us. $40 is a lot to pay for a cart for 3 hours of golf. It makes more sense if you play all day and if you split it with a partner. But the course is arguably built for carts. If you want to play on foot, there are no benches, water or restrooms. While a cart can carry all the water and extra discs that you want and you won't need a rest if you are constantly riding in them. But, if you don't have $40 to spend on the cart and are on foot, you need to pack your water in with you.
There is a lot of bare dirt on this course and it seems the carts seem to be exacerbating that to some extent. While the dirt can lead to added distance from skipping, the dew on the grass in the morning round made for some very dirty discs that were still slightly wet when they landed and kicked up dirt and dust that then stuck to the disc. Mud may also tend to be a problem after rains.
There are some less than memorable holes and at least one hole that is memorable for not so good reasons. 14 is actually kind of nonsensical and rewards either luck or insane accuracy. 3 and 17 seem to just move you along to the next hole. Almost all courses have holes like this and Lakeside is no exception.
There is no single hole that really awed me on this course. 7 is a unique hole, but coming from golf, island and peninsula greens have lost their novelty value for me. You either hit the green or lose a disc - you have virtually no choice. It would be easy to lose multiple discs and rack up many penalty strokes trying to hole out on 7. For a little perspective, I'm the kind of person who does not like artificially elevated baskets, hanging baskets and other such gimmicks. Honestly, I liked several other holes better and think 4 is a better water hole.
Perhaps the biggest con for me however was the lack of par 3 holes with a reasonable chance to birdie with a driver/putter combination. Some of the holes that are most enjoyable to me are holes with a reasonable line to the basket that lie in the 320' to 370' range and that reward a skillful, full-strength or nearly full-strength drive off the tee with a chance at a birdie putt. Of the 18 holes on this course, only seven (7) are designated par 3 and, of those, none even approach 250'. Of the par 4 holes, only two holes (holes 2 and 10) are reachable from the Am tees with a long drive, but 2 is guarded so well in the front by water and in the back by a steep drop that an aggressive approach is foolhardy. I enjoy shaping midrange and putter shots off the tee, but many of my favorite holes are par 3s that fall in the 300-400 foot range and this course has not one such hole. This is one reason that I really liked hole 10.
The par designations seemed generous to me. My PDGA rating is under 900 but I shot 5 under from the Am tees on this course, including an eagle on hole 1. My scorecard app scored this as an 889 rated round.
Other Thoughts: It is difficult to not have high expectations when one of the reasons that you are playing the course is that it is ranked as the best in the world. I tried to keep my expectations tempered knowing that I would be reviewing it because I review all the courses that I play. But honestly, this course had no wow factor for me.
Lakeside is not in my top 5 most fun courses to play. From the Am tees it isn't in the top five of the most difficult or challenging courses. It doesn't require every shot in your bag though it does require a lot of shot shaping. It is a very nice course, but not the best that I have played IMO.
Lakeside is an excellent course. Is it best of the best? Not in my opinion, though it is extraordinarily good. I certainly look forward to playing it again and playing from the pro tees. I also recommend it to everyone who finds themselves in northeast Texas. This is easily worth the trip from anywhere nearby.
UPDATE: Having now played this course multiple times, I really can't bring myself to change much about my review. One of the things I commented on as a negative was the cost of the carts. However, the carts are actually a really big positive. I just think that they are a bit overpriced. These carts save you from one of the most uncomfortably hot places in North America during the summer. I've played in 110 degree heat in Arizona and Nevada and I'll gladly take that, any day, over 98 degrees and 80% humidity.
Also, one of the best ways to play this course is by mixing tees and even holes from Creekside. I highly recommend skipping 17 and 18, both very forgettable holes and finishing out on Creekside starting at hole 14.
25 of 34 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 4 Not
Epic, if not perfect
- Hole 7, by far the most memorable hole I've ever played. Such a mental challenge. You know you can make the shot onto the island, but the prospect of losing a disc weighs heavily. It can make or break your confidence for the rest of the round.
- The scenery. Such a beautiful piece of property, very peaceful and picturesque.
- Wide variety of shot shapes and lines required. Never felt repetitious.
- Multiple concrete teepads on each hole, each giving a very distinct challenge.
- Extremely challenging without feeling obnoxious, or intentionally annoying.
- Due to the cost and location, I'd imagine it's never crowded.
- Not free ($20/day).
- Not really walkable, and golf carts are $40/day and only have two seats and are loud.
- Not much elevation change.
- Nitpicking here, but the course is a little raw, not manicured like a nice city course.
It was very difficult to not give this course a 5.0, as it seems almost everyone else has, but according to the site, a 5 is "perfect in every possible way". While it's an amazing course, the cost and lack of elevation keep it from being perfect in my mind. Definitely going to make at least one weekend trip a here a year from now on.
14 of 18 people found this review helpful.
19 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: I don't really have anything to add that hasn't been said in previous reviews. But I'll point out a few things that I appreciated.
The course is very difficult, well thought out greens that are tricky for the most part. The scenery and the environment were hard to beat. Worth every penny and every second of time spent away from home
Hole 2, 4, 7 are truly great holes, very fun to play. The holes that are more wooded are all really fun and just a bit different enough from one another that it doesnt get to be monotonous.
Cons: Hole 14, as grodney said, is just silly. I was really put off by it, not because its the worst hole ever made or anything, just that, compared to the obvious thought that went into a lot of the other holes, it seemed like this one was a brain fart in comparison. Its a truly terrible hole. Too much luck factor. It is three-able. But there are way too may trees in the fairway, and guarding the basket.
Other Thoughts: Great atmosphere, well designed course, very nice people on site. Houck is a genius.The amenities are great, carts, porta johns, pro shop, lodge area, showers etc.
If its hot, id bring as much to drink as you can, and some snacks.
19 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: johnrhouck
Glad you enjoyed it, Pwingles, and thank you for the wonderful compliment. I'm sorry you didn't see the virtues of #14 -- it's just such a misunderstood hole. To help players see the vision, we are actually making a video of the hole, so stay tuned. Hope to someday change your mind on that one.
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