urban park with variety
Pros: Nice course in moderately busy urban park though activity was away from course. In fact, no one else was on course during nice midweek summer afternoon and very few people encountered away from road around lake. Course offers different layouts with 2 or 3 tees (blue, white, red - we played white) and 1 or 2 targets (we played the short baskets). Most baskets are newer, yellow-rimmed and easy to spot though some are older, weathered and difficult to see in the woods. Course is fairly easy to navigate, especially with map available here under Links/Files. Almost every hole has signage with hole info & sketch, I think always with the white tee (blue and red tees marked with painted posts when separate). There are occasional signs pointing to next tee (including some on/beneath the baskets). I like that the course offers some variety with a good number of woods holes, elevation, and open grip it and rip it holes.
Cons: While I like the variety here, that variety largely splits course in half. The front nine plays mostly in or along the woods. These holes were pretty brushy in spots and it would be easy to lose a wayward disc. There's a fair amount of garbage strewn about too, some prickers and poison ivy (though not much). The back nine was a little repetitive with moderately long holes over grass. The woods are almost never in play in these holes and obstacles are fairly rare such that the back nine really seems like practice in throwing as far and straight as possible. There are some mind games in these holes as roads and the fence could come into play, especially if there's a stiff breeze. Lastly, tees are mostly natural but fine if dry. Several have carpets which were still slick a couple of days after rain.
Other Thoughts: I was a bit wary of this course given some of the Cons posted by other reviewers but we had a pleasant round here. I wouldn't suggest playing by yourself, at least the front nine in the woods. Compared to nearby Druid Hill, I think that I like this course better because I found it easier to navigate as a first-timer and less crowded.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Like Two Different Courses!
Pros: Since I've never played the course previously, I have no opinion about re-designs or what the course was like before. Lake Montebello is a vibrant high usage park with a variety of walkers, joggers and other physical fitness enthusiasts getting their workouts in. The course plays along one side of the lake, cuts into the woods for 6 holes and then continues along the lakeside and back for the rest of the way.
The baskets are a combination of old rusted ones to brand new models. The signs were laminated ones which won't last, especially back in the wooded area. The tee pads are mostly natural except for for some small carpet pads in the woods.
A couple of the holes have two baskets. I liked the second basket placement for # 2. It made for an interesting "green" near a water drain.
# 7 from the top was a fun little ACE run.
The open area features lovely views of the lake and quite a few fun downhill tosses on #'s 10, 11, 12, 15 and 17.
Cons: The wooded area was dingy, grubby, run down and frankly, kinda scary. I wouldn't feel real comfortable playing there towards dusk. I gotta feel like there's been a few rapes, muggings and murders in these "spooky ole woods."
And there were a few places in the woods where the navigation was a little treacherous. Some well-placed steps would be a welcome addition in a couple of areas.
In the areas along the street, I think other park users could be a concern at times as they might picnic right in the middle of a fairway. I could see times when you might want to just skip a hole.
Other Thoughts: I'm appreciate the fact that there's been some recent work done on this course. There wasn't anyone playing on the very warm summer day when I played it. It doesn't look as though anyone ever plays go into the woods to play. I'd probably feel a little more comfortable going in there with a partner or with a group.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Negative Nancy is gone, and Mediocre Mary is now flirting with Positive Peter.
Pros: Before the redesign, it's safe to say this course was a big letdown. So now after the redesign, there are some real good golf shots to experience now that the construction is gone and the shot variety has increased. However unfortunately I still have a slight feeling of being let down. Let's start with the good stuff that's been done well.
All the crazy temporary fencing and barriers surrounding protected trees is gone. Most of the filler holes are extinct, and the new shots in the woods after hole 1 are for the most part very interesting drives: combining tunnels, uphill, downhill and dog leg fairways. These holes take advantage of some unique features present like the tunnel spillway-thing up on the hill (although somewhat creepy). Cool deal with the dual basket on some holes. And I like that some of the paved walking trails and roads were used for some tee zones, way better than grass or carpet. The people that designed those new holes definitely deserve some Kudos and, yes, this course is now worth stopping to play if you're in the area with a buddy or two.
Cons: Unfortunately there are still some bads and still some uglies: boring holes, filler holes, crossing fairways, some rusty baskets, tiny carpets for a handful of tees, and a few safety concerns. I'll address each, but I also will preface the list by feeling confident most are already planned to be fixed eventually so I didn't let those affect the rating.
Persistent wind, mild elevation change, and 500ft doesn't make wide open holes any more fun than they actually are, and unfortunately, other than the parking lot OB on hole 17, there aren't enough trees or other terrain features to add any challenge. 17 white/blue is the best hole on the course after 12. The other 5 feel very repetitive and bland adding nothing new until the putt on 18's elevated basket.
Filler hole and a crossing fairway is hole 11. Not sure why it wasn't eliminated during the re design. It's not even necessary to bridge between hole 10 and 12. The blue tee for 11 crosses the blue tee for hole 12. So I'm not sure why it's there other than to increase the total distance of the blue configuration. Let's look at hole 10 quick. I think the basket could be farther away from the road lower on the back behind it, the only reason being if your tee shot doesn't go as far as anticipated and you need to disc-up to reach the basket on your second drive, it's kinda unnerving to be staring at that passing traffic on the road behind the basket while you're getting ready to muscle a driver within putting range for a 3 thinking you may underestimate your distance and throw too far into traffic. I suppose regulars at the course will get familiar with how safe that throw is, but for visitors to the course it's gonna be a deterrent to playing the hole aggressively and that is no fun. I think eliminating hole 11 and moving 10's basket to the right could be a better option than where that basket is now. It would add some extra distance, eliminate the blind basket location from the tee, still force an accurate throw down the hill through the woods and bridge the gap between 10 and 12 naturally. Hole 14 is still a filler hole and I understand why. Call me unfair, but I'm still not a fan of playing next to the tall fence with barbed wire. Yes sometimes bad shots should be punished and it would take a beauty of a bad shot to go over the fence, but the wind will do bad things to bad players and cause bad course reputations and ratings.
The wooded holes on the steep hillside need some steps cut real bad. Scary descending and climbing some of those steep parts, especially when the dirt was dried out and loose. I'm not sure half of the grandmasters I know would play the holes they way they are. They would definitely struggle.
I will also point out that the new wooded holes are very rough edged and barely travelled. No doubt in due time the vegetation will get beaten down better and make everything much easier to deal with when finding your discs and playing from their lie. True, that's not really a con, but to get more people to play routinely, the best navigation aids (such as steps) help out.
The rusty baskets on holes 2 and 3 were depressing. Those are some great holes and to give them the rusties and hobble-together baskets is injustice. I hope those are planned for replacements. I'm assuming they'll get replaced so I did let my rating reflect the rusty baskets.
The tiny strips of carpets on some holes teepads are functional, yes, but a bit awkward. I'm assuming eventually they'll get replaced with better options so I didn't let that affect my course rating.
Other Thoughts: I still feel like this course is still a bit of a let down and think it has everything to do with its newness. Perhaps it simply needs more traffic. It also couldn't hurt to establish a more appealing method of tee markers and tee pads. It needs some new baskets on the best holes instead of the rusties. It needs some more charm somewhere/somehow out there in the open fields. And it still makes me feel unsafe to be alone in a few locations. I always try and be objective during reviews and consider how often I'd play the course if I lived right next door to it -- probably once per week in this case and I'd probably end up skipping 1, 14-18 entirely and just playing 2-13 repeatedly. If it were possible i'd rate this course a 2.75 because it's somewhere between "Decent/typical" and "Good". So after discussing with Positive Peter I rated it a 3.0.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice complement to Druid
Pros: Absolutely gorgeous trees. Nice neighborhood. Excellent use and design of an awkwardly shaped plot of land. Smart basket placement. Apparently well maintained. Finding next tee pad is intuitive... you don't need a course map.
Cons: Multi-use facility. Most walkers don't realize they're standing in the fairway. Construction on and near 5, 6, 8, and 9 (a temporary tee pad was set up for 9 as construction prevents hole from being played as designed).
Holes 2, 3, 4 have a common fairway. The teepad of 4 is on the green of 3. If this course was heavily played, you would have to keep an eye on everyone else throwing.
Some of the really large gorgeous trees are protected by orange snow fences that completely encircle the tree from a distance of approximately 10-12 feet from the trunk. Each fenced in area contains a sign that says it's illegal to breach the snow fence. These trees are all in play, right on the fairway. Eventually, these fences are going to be compromised by golfers trying to retrieve their discs. The construction crews were installing new fences around some of these trees on the day we played (Nov 2011).
I didn't like the left tree mando as part of a double mando on Hole 1. A weak case could be made that you are forcing people away from the fence. The right side mando at least protects the basket of 3 and Tee of 2. Meanwhile, a mando is badly needed on Hole 18 to protect anyone walking down 16's fairway. Half of the circumference of 18's basket is blocked by the drooping limbs. That seemed kinda dumb.
Other Thoughts: Swatso's review is good and I concur with most of his thoughts. The trees on this course are beautiful. The basket placement is smart and the course makes effective use of all the elevation changes. I liked Holes 6 and 8 the best due to the big elevation changes.
I liked that a lot of the holes were over 300 feet. Montebello ain't no pitch and putt.
Some things to keep in mind.... there is a hole in the fence behind the basket of Hole 1. If you go over the fence, walk behind the basket and you'll see the hole in the fence. If your group has more than 1 car, consider parking one car near the basket of 18 and another car near the tee of 1. This will save you the walk back at the end of the round.
This course complements Druid Hill nicely. If you were planning a big day of disc golf in the City of Baltimore, you should play both Montebello and Druid.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Major in Length/Elevation, Minor in Obstacles
New baskets. New signs, containing all the basic (hole-#, distance, primary obstacles, direction to next tee).
Update 9/21/13: The course has undergone a significant redesign since its opening about two years ago, with ~1/3rd of the holes remaining the same, ~1/3rd gaining length, and ~1/3rd being completely new! In addition to adding several wooded holes, nearly all with elevation change, to the original homogenous offerings, the too-close-for-comfort parallel fairways have been eliminated, too. Three tee locations per hole, with the teesign typically at the white tee. Much better than before - pay a visit your next time in Charm City!
The course sits on an awkwardly-shaped piece of land, narrow in the middle, widening at the ends, which does generate some flow issues:
- Fairways 2-4 play alongside each, 2's being in the middle, so the chance of a disc landing in a neighbouring fairway is high for these three holes
- Tee-2 might occasionally be buzzed by errant discs coming from tee-1, or players approaching basket-3 with a right-turner
- Have to cross fairway-1 when moving from basket-11 to tee-12.
- Basket-16 is on the direct line from basket-17 to tee-18
- Basket-18 is located a bit far from tee-1
The day we played city workers were venting a pipe, so a kerosene-like smell pervaded the course. Don't know how frequently this occurs.
Tee locations are currently natural, although there are plans to install flypads.
"What it lacks in obstacles, it makes up for in length and elevation" was the comment made by my playing partner, which is a pretty good summary of the course.
The first five holes contain the most obstacles, large hardwoods, scattered about, needing to be avoided early and/or middle and/or late. Holes 6-8 play down into, back out off, and across a large, open valley, and number-9 continues the open-theme across flat land. Number-10, while quite short, requires a sharp turn to reach a basket directly behind a bush, and number-11 makes the most of the two large trees it has - the limbs of the first, near the teepad, force a low throw from the tee, and the second trees limbs also force a low throw to reach the basket it is guarding to its left. The first eleven holes form a loop, so it's across fairway-1 and up to the fence to find tee-12, an open shot from an elevated position. 13-17 play up, down, and across mildly-sloping land, using the few trees, their limbs, and a stump (which elevates basket-14 somewhat). Finally hole-18 is open and flat, but the basket sits behind one large tree with drooping limbs - it might as well be a thick bush, albeit a 70' high one!
A number of holes (2, 3, 5, 10, 16) have low branches quite near the teepads. It will be interesting to see how many of these will be trimmed away, and how many are intended to remain.
Moderate chance of disc loss. High, barbed-wire fence somewhat near basket-1, and along right-side of fairways 12 and 13. Thick bushes and undergrowth near basket-2, right-side of fairway-3, left-side of fairways 5 and 6.
Moderate chance of interacting with non-players. The sunny Saturday afternoon we played, fairway-6 (long, open, and downhill) was crossed by several groups of people. Taking the "high" route on number-8 potentially brings a sidewalk and road into play. A small group had set up chairs not too far to the right of fairway-18.
Navigation tips: Several tees are located near the road, so you can start at many locations. Tee-1 is located just after passing over a crosswalk located near an exercise area, roughly even with the point where the fence in the background quits paralleling the road. Other items:
- From tee-1, basket-3 is more visible than basket-1, which is farther left, near the fence, between large trees
- From tee-2, baskets 4 and 9 are visible in the far distance, somewhat right. Instead, aim straight away - basket-2 is roughly even with basket-4, but further left, hidden down a small slope, next to the edge of the thick brush/woods. Tee-3 will be to the left, prior to reaching basket-2.
- Basket-10 is hidden by the lone bush on the other side of the paved path.
- Tee-12 is up near the fence.
- Tee-17 is next to the building, with the basket atop the hill. A drop-off to a parking lot, not easily visible from the tee, encroaches from the left - stay straight, or a bit right.
Favourite hole: #2. One of three holes > 500', the first 300' is mostly open, with a large tree to miss early, and a few to miss late. A challenging approach through a denser collection of scattered large hardwoods, then dropping down a slope to reach the basket, makes for a tough par-3.
Installing flypads, trimming a bit, and adding a few directional signs would certainly add .5-1 points to the course's score. Certainly worth playing, and not too far from Druid, with a new-18 hole course joining the current 27-hole soon, and fun-to-play-but-hard-to-navigate Pine Grove also nearby.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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