1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This is the Dana Vicich-designed course that is used for the Swinging Bridge Open annually. It's split over two parks, the holes connected by a "swinging" bridge, which basically means a suspension bridge (or three). As stated by others, this flat park could have had a lackluster course, but instead, given the vision of Mr. Vicich, has a course that is fun to play, changes over the season based on foliage, and is absolutely the best that could have been done with the setting.
Note that most will enter via Chautauqua Park and park in one of the spaces near the pool building, with Hole #1 right there. This is a reasonable option. The other option, equally reasonable and perhaps with less of a parking crowd, is to park near the boat launch at Play Park (take Mill Road from the center of Pontiac), which is right by the basket of Hole #14; one could then start play at Hole #15 and go "round the horn" to wind up back at your vehicle. During busy summer season or for an event or tournament, this is much preferred for parking, avoiding lines at Hole #1, etc.
The par for this course is interesting and worth a discussion. Every tee pad has a very lovely sign, indicating feet and par. The total par for the course based on these tee signs, confirmed by the Pontiac official website (from which one can download a scorecard to print out) is 66 if one tees off from the near side of the river on Hole #18, or 67 if one tees off across the river on Hole #18 (that is, tossing the first throw across the river). That course par is wonderfully generous for the novice player, very encouraging as many holes require fewer strokes than the tee sign indicates. (Hole #2 comes to mind, listed as a par 4 that most can birdie, and many can eagle). When a tourney is played, the par is usually set for the 18 hole course at 57. Remember though, that par is relative and one should aim to best their own personal best score, or best those players in their tournament, regardless of the stated par.
There are trash bins at every hole. The place is well-kept by the Pontiac public works dept. (thanks, gentlemen and women).
Unlike many courses that play to mostly backhand throws, and hyzer bomb after hyzer bomb, this course is different; it has holes that are forehand preferred, some that play both BH and FH equally, and some that force a straight shot; this was deliberate from the designer and a sign of experience--thanks, Dana.
Cons: No benches at any holes (simple tree trunk benches at even a few tee pads might be a nifty Eagle Scout project).
Flat, no elevation change. The town of Pontiac might consider that a "sledding hill" be constructed with heavy machinery in the center of the wide expanse at Play Park, right in the fairway of Hole #14. Dana could then incorporate the hill into holes #14/#15/#16--albeit, one could not play the holes when it snows as kids with inner tubes will convene, as should be the case in fresh snow.
The place truly has few cons. I disagree with those that say the course gets "redundant"; the trees make it fun and the park is pretty.
Other Thoughts: The use of park structures in the course is astonishing. Hole 18 uses the river with a great risk-reward profile both upon crossing the river (longer crossing to aim at the basket for risk-reward option) and on the fairway drive which runs alongside the river--go right, glub-glub-glub. Hole 12 plays toward the park entrance stone structure, then over by a boulder the size of a small car. Hole 6 has a tree mando where one must go through the trees--a ten foot gap--or take a stroke and a drop zone immediately in front of the tree gap. How fun! Hole 10 runs parallel to a long chain-link fence for 300+ feet (OB on the other side if one jumps the fence with a disc), but offers a longer route inside the trees; again, risk-reward. Hole 11 is short, but has plenty of right sided and sidewalk OB to make things interesting. Hole 16 plays to a hole on the far side of an old backstop, which sounds as tacky as white pants after Labor Day, but plays wonderfully and adds great spice. Hole 17 forces a proper anhyzer and soft near-basket landing to avoid a river roll. For the tourney only, the basket is elevated in the chimney of an old fireplace. Great stuff!
I suggest to any serious frolfer to play the Swinging Bridge Open to see the course set up by Dana, understand the OBs and lines, and it gives a great new meaning to the course as a whole (note: all roads are OB). Check it out anytime for a fun round that will improve your skills.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - I'd like to make my first 'pro' about the course design, and commend Dana and anyone who helped him. I'll just say it - there wasn't much to work with here aside from sporadic mature trees, and a couple places to incorporate the river. This is probably the best designed course I've played with the least to work with, if that makes sense. It doesn't make up for all the course's shortcomings, but it makes for a fun, interesting, and enjoyable round. There were all sorts of chances for this course to be installed and be a lazy 2.5 or a 3.0 type design. It isn't.
- Gorgeous old city park, especially in the fall. I'll bet all times of year, actually. Historic pool facility from the 1920s, awesome hanging bridges across the Vermilion River. Love historic places like this.
- Nice kiosk at the start of the course, including a map, as well as a box with scorecards and parks department pencils. The scorecard has been previously uploaded on here - you can see that it's been done right. Perfect.
- Good course signage.
- Nice pads and Innova DISCatchers. All well installed.
- In general, lots of different shot shapes between holes. Mostly done by tucking pins just behind trees or lines of trees. Very intentional.
- #8 - I like the two obvious options on this hole, either holding a flex line through up the middle straight at it, or a big sweeping hyzer over the road to the right to skip into the pin.
- #10 - I was NOT expecting to see a tight hole like this until I got to it. Not a lot of trees, but enough along the fairway to require your first 100' of drive to be perfect.
- #12 - Love it. Picturesque hole with a pin location 20 - 25' from the river. Great risk/reward design.
- #17 - short hole, but skip/rollaway potential into the river.
- #18 - just short of a 200' water carry over the river for the pro tee. Really no line at the pin, just requiring you to get over the river near the amateur tee pad.
Cons: - Essentially no elevation on this course for the designer to work with, and thus occasionally repetitive. Mostly big mature trees shaping fairways, which gets a little tiresome.
- Some long walks between holes. Navigation on the course is fine, but the layout is pretty mediocre. Not much else they could do though.
- Roads and pathways throughout the course that come into play. Actually, any other activities in the park probably provide the chance for some interference.
- Really no specific holes for my cons, other than a bit of repetitiveness on #1-7.
Other Thoughts: - #6 - great look of a hole, but ridiculously demanding. Not sure if I love it, or hate it. Rollers aside, the best chance for two is to nail the 6' tree gap 50' out. Otherwise you're probably getting an easy 3 if you take one of the wide routes, leaving yourself a 40'-70' approach.
- Probably right around a 3.25 rated course, I'll give it the bump up since I was so impressed with the design for what was there. You'll have a fun time here, even if it's not the most technically demanding course.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
A River Runs Through It
Pros: Lots of fun, interesting, creative holes (mainly on the back nine).
Great variety: Holes range in length from about 180' to almost 600', and uses just about every available obstacle.
A river literally runs through it, and has been brought into play on a few holes in some imaginative ways.
Several long holes (such as 3, 14, 16 and 18) that are fun to play, and not just boring crushes.
Hole 2's tee is not where you'd expect. Most designers would have placed the tee in the area bounded by the park road, but the tee has been placed up on the riverbank, forcing you to throw back across the road to the pin (there are good sight lines and not a lot of traffic--I don't see this as a safety issue).
Hole 6, while short, has a well-placed young tree close to the tee that basically forces you to throw through a narrow gate of mature oaks if you want a legitimate deuce attempt. A very creative solution for a short hole.
Hole 10 is a real risk-reward gut-shot that forces you to make a hard decision: play safe or risk terrible punishment. There's more on that in the "Cons" section below, but I at least applaud the desire to bring some decision-making into our sport. If that makes this review sound indecisive, so be it, but I believe there can be both good and bad in the same hole.
Hole 12 is another hole where I'm conflicted--again, see Cons below for the flip side, but there are several quirky elements to this hole that I like, namely the crumbling brick wall, the boulder to the right . . .and the ever-present river to the left. Hyzer out here at your own risk.
There's a long, narrow, swinging, wooden bridge that you must cross twice to access several holes (it's perfectly safe). Great call to bring this element into the round. It gives you a close-up look at the greenish, slow-moving waters of the river. I'm guessing the green color might be due to algae, and it's probably not always this green, but it gives it a very unusual appearance.
Hole 14 is almost 600', which is open for the first half, then requires you to navigate some mature trees, an old wooden fence, and the road on the right for the approach. A very good hole.
Hole 16 is also a two-shot hole, with a cemetery on the right (hate to sound redundant, but see Cons below). The part I like about the hole is the second shot, which requires one to navigate a big old chain-link backstop fence that used to belong to a now-abandoned baseball field. All players will end up having to navigate around or over this thing. You'll need a delicate touch with that hammer throw, or perhaps enough creativity to even make up a new shot, to get over it . . .especially since the pin is only about 30 feet beyond it. A fun, albeit frustrating hole.
Hole 18 is the best hole on the course by far, which is exactly what you want for a finishing hole if the land will allow for it. The tee shot must go across the river, which is about 150 feet to carry the river and bordering vegetation--no biggie, just pretend it's not there (yeah, right). The hole then takes a sharp right turn and carries another 350 feet or so to the pin. The river parallels this last leg, and the vegetation is about 15 feet high, so you can try to cut as much of that fairway off as you dare. Play it safe and get a 3 or 4, or go for the pin and play for a 2 or 3 . . . but if you turn the disc over too much it will disappear forever in the greenish murky depths. Just a fantastic risk/reward hole, one of the best in central Illinois.
(By the way, there is a Rec-level tee on the other side of the river for those lacking intestinal fortitude. This is probably necessary for new players, but it definitely robs the hole of its glory. This tee should rarely be used, and certainly not by any self-respecting competitive player!)
Cons: Holes 1-9 are just ok. That is not the designer's fault, as he did a very good job with the available land. They have a "crowded" feel, and there are a few occasions where a basket is too near to the next tee pad. Players will need to be watchful, especially once the course gets more players, and even more especially during tournaments when the course is full.
Hole 8 could be a safety issue--there is a pavilion to the left of the fairway which doesn't come into play, however, picnickers park along the road right next to the basket because it's the shortest walk to that pavilion. Cars will be hit on this hole.
Hole 10, while interesting and a real test of courage (as mentioned above), could be a big safety issue. It is 300+' along a neighborhood street lined with houses and parked cars. The hole is bordered by a fence, but the fence is not high enough to stop most shots. It's only a matter of time before someone or someone's car or house gets hit, and that will lead to problems. It's a pivotal spot in the course, as a hole is needed there in order to link up with the rest of the course, but perhaps a shorter hole would have been better, with the tee more out in the open. It's not as challenging that way, or even as interesting, but it's a lot safer.
Hole 12's tee is difficult to find (a problem that I'm sure will be rectified once the tees signs are in). Look for an existing old sidewalk area next to the old swimming pool, marked with red flags.
Hole 12 could also become a safety issue. It's a very interesting hole, and fun to throw, but again, safety could be jeopardized. You must throw across a sidewalk leading to a frequently-used bridge. Sight lines are decent, so it might be ok, but if your drive is long, you will be headed into the street. Also, there is a boulder to the right of the pin that has some sort of placard. I didn't read it, but it's strange that they allowed this to be in play.
Hole 16, while a fun hole, plays alongside a cemetery. Some locals said this would eventually be a mando hole, which will work just fine for experienced players. But again, most players will ignore this and take the easiest route to the basket, which unfortunately is right over the edge of the cemetery. Safe to say, there will be discs ricocheting off headstones on occasion.
Other Thoughts: The course, in fact the entire park, almost appears to be an island. The river runs almost entirely around the park on all sides, adding interest and enjoyment to the experience.
The designer has used the river wherever possible. There are some holes early on where one might think the river could have been used more, but those areas seem to be used heavily by fisherman. It was a good decision to avoid that conflict. As mentioned, the river does come into play on a few holes, and it will make you think before committing to your decision.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Great New Course
Pros: The course is now complete with very nice, new concrete pads in place and was in excellent condition.
The course plays through a very family friendly park and flowed very well throughout the park with good use of the natural features.
I am beginner and this course was very beginner friendly with a few longer holes to challenge everyone.
While there are not tee signs, if you utilize the map, the course if very easy to navigate and the new Innova DISCatcher Pro Baskets are easy to see.
The Tee Pad for #12 is the concrete area near the pool. Don't get confused (as we did) and start to utilize the Alt pad for #18!
#12 and #18 are really neat holes and the tee shot on #18 over the river is quite visually daunting for both beginners and pros! The Alt tee pad for #18 is back over the bridge - if you chicken out ;-)
Cons: No Tee signs is the only very small draw back I have for this course. I always enjoy having a tee sign with a map of the hole at the start of each hole, but that might just be personal preference.
Other Thoughts: We planned our stop to Pontiac on our way back to St. Louis from a weekend trip to Chicago. My sons and I really enjoyed this course. This is well worth the trip as the small town of Pontiac was very beautiful and has many restaurants and a nice downtown area that you could also visit after your round. We will definatley add a stop to play a round at Chautauga Park Disk Golf Course each time we travel between St. Louis and Chicago. This course will be spectacular in the fall with all of the colors but leaves could be a big problem in finding disks - will have to see.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pontiac is Fresh
Pros: The course is located in the middle of Pontiac. It's fairly flat with the Vermillion River splitting the course. There are a lot of large trees scattered throughout. Most of the course plays in the shade.
Excellent concrete tee pads. Plenty spacious. They took care of the slick pads by grinding the front of them.
Brand new Innova Discatchers.
Tee signs with hole # and distance.
This is a very beginner friendly course. The only place to lose a disc is in the river. It's a nice walk in the park.
This course is very easy to navigate once you find the first tee. There is a course map, score cards, and pencils located on the information board near #1.
Holes #11 & #18 are really nice holes. 11 is a cool stright shot between trees and a rock fence. The long tee on 18 plays across the river as a par 4. Awesome hole.
The swinging bridges at this park are awesome.
Hole #12 has a huge boulder to the right hand side that comes into play and the river on the left.
There is a decent variety of with several par 4's. There was a lot of thought with the design and I felt they maximized the potential of the land.
Cons: The tee pads were laid and coated. They are going to be slick in rain. They did take care of front part of the tee.
The tee signs do not have the hole description.
This course is pretty wide open.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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