I had good fun at Gowen!!!
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: In Sanford, so there are lots of places to eat along with shopping just minutes from the course. It's very easy to find once in Sanford. Look for the old stone Gazebo beside the park entrance. Porta-Jons on site along with other park amenities... tennis courts, ponds, walking trails, ball fields, etc. Ample parking.
Hole #1 tee and hole #9 basket are about 50' apart, right next to the parking lot. The course signs are very nice, where they haven't been vandalized. (See Cons.) They show the distance and general layout of the holes, along with directions to the next tee. The navigation is pretty simple anyway... just follow the most traveled foot paths from most baskets to the next tees. The map available here on DGCR is also useful!
Single chain Lightning baskets might not be the "high end" baskets that some people require, but in any case, I feel that they do an excellent job of catching discs. The tees are a mix of sandy gravel, as is typical of Maine soil. I found the tees OK when dry. I had to "rake" them a bit to smooth them out, but didn't have any real trouble with footing, even on holes that required a run-up. They did hold water for a while after a hard rain.
The course could cater to beginners and experienced players. Some of the wooded holes could be frustrating for a new player, but learning the skills to navigate such holes is a lot of fun. The course isn't very long, but the lines made it fun for me to play.
For a relatively short 9 hole course, there's an excellent variety of hole types... There are uphill, level, and downhill shots. There are right turners, left turners, straight shots and possible S-Shaped shots required from the tees. There are moderately and heavily wooded holes, along with open holes. There are wide open greens and some fast greens. The fast greens definitely tested my confidence on some long putts (meaning I laid up a bit, even on short holes). Depending on the time that you play the course, water could come into play as a wet weather stream runs through the course that would affect at least two holes.
There was only one hole that I couldn't reach from the tee (#7). (For comparison, I throw my drivers about 325' consistently on level ground.) But I wasn't put off by the hole length, as I still used drivers off of three other tees and really enjoyed the variety of shots required off of the tee. (I threw 4 drivers, 2 mids and 3 putters for my tee shots.)
I didn't find any issues with "unfair" fairways at all and feel that all of the wooded holes did have clearly defined fairways. Yes, #5 is very tight, but I played the course 8 times and hit the anhyzer (RHBH) line cleanly 7 out of 8 times, with even my errant 8th shot still making it over half way down the fairway.
Cons: Unfortunately vandalism is the biggest issue for me on the course. The tee sign post for #4 was knocked over and laying on the ground. The tee signs were ripped off of the poles on holes #4-6. A couple baskets, #4 & #5, had obviously been planted and then pulled out of the ground. The original poles, with the concrete still on them, were laying on the ground next to the re-planted baskets.
There are walking trails throughout the course and you just have to be careful of other park users. Not really a con, just something to be aware of.
The grass doesn't appear to be cut very often on holes #1, #3 & #9. It's not really a big deal as it isn't a thick, lose your disc, type grass. It's just a little annoying. (The other holes with grass, #6-8, were all nicely mowed.) The "island of weeds and stickers" on hole #1 is also annoying. This area is right in the fairway for the hole and should be cleaned up.
If throwing to the right of the big tree off of the tee on hole #1 isn't considered a mandatory (and it's not marked on the sign or map as such), it totally brings the parking lot into play. Plus the hole #9 fairway plays very close to the parking lot and poorly thrown (RHBH) hyzers could easily end up hitting a car.
Other Thoughts: ***Updated 7-14-14. Baskets on #4 and #5 were listed as missing on the home page for a while. I just played the course and the baskets have been replaced with nice home-made baskets. The #4 basket is now down the hill from where it used to be, probably 30' from where it used to be. This makes the hole play a good bit differently. Instead of having a dangerous putt to a basket on the edge of the bank, you're approaching the basket down the same hill instead. The #5 basket is just a few feet longer than the original. The signs that were vandalized before have not been replaced or repaired. The tees are still rutty.***
***Updated 7-22-13 after playing several more times last week. Vandalism and lack of maintenance continue to be the main drawbacks to this fun 9 holer. Basket #4 is just leaning against a bush since pole got broken off. Tee signs are missing for #4-5 and #6 sign is defaced. Tees are rutty holes with sand/gravel in them. Grass still not mowed on #1,3,9. Based upon these issues, and more experience in general, I moved my rating down from 3 to 2.5.*** I don't have any public courses close to my home and I would be thrilled to have Gowen only 10 minutes away. It's not a destination course, but I had a great time there. I had the option several mornings of driving 20-30 minutes farther to play different courses in the area, but enjoyed Gowen so much that I played it 4 of 5 days that I was in Maine.
Misc, info. Hole #2 has distinct hyzer and anhyzer lines to play off of the tee, although this isn't very clear from the course picture. I hit solid chain off of tee #3 with a skip from my hyzered Predator. Thought that I had an ace but had to settle for the drop in deuce. The drop-off beyond basket #4 had me so spooked that I only made two birdies. It the shortest hole on the course at just 192' but I found myself laying up to ensure that I didn't blow 50' over the hill past the basket. Par 4 on #6 might be a bit generous for experienced players, but I'll still take the 3 Eagles that I got. :-) It's just a classic looking DG hole to me. #7 is the longest hole, by far, on the course at 410', playing probably 20' or more uphill. I still scored a 3 each time I played it. I could basically drive to the bottom of the steep grade approaching the basket, and then have a simple upshot and putt to follow. Oddly, even though #6 & #7 are the longest holes on the course, based upon them being par 4s and my avg. scores, they were the easiest holes on the course for me. And I really enjoyed the S-Line route in to the #8 basket off of the tee. Watch out for the tennis courts, though.
What can I say. I love disc golf. And I loved the variety of this fun little 9 hole course. Enjoy!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
The Gowen Park Experience
Pros: The course is one of the only free courses to play in Maine and the only one in Southern Maine.
Some of the holes are fun. Worth noting is hole 1, although you do have to shoot over the parking lot for the most direct route. Hole 7 is a picturesque hole, it plays just over 400 feet (longest hole) up to a beautiful rock wall with attached stone gazebo. Otherwise there are no other holes worth mentioning.
The park was not busy, even on a Saturday afternoon. The locals seemed to be cognizant of the course and were also friendly. My best bet is you could bring your dog along for the round also.
Cons: The course design is rather awful. Don't get me wrong, there are a few holes worth playing, but on the whole I'd even skip it and pay for a course that would better my game. And that's the travesty, the land available could have offered so much more by the way of layout. Gowen is filled with short dump shots and sometimes quirky holes.
The natural tee pads are hit or miss. I teed off from beside them to avoid a broken ankle. The sand is soft and often times the slope of the teebox is upwards.
Although hole 5 has been cleaned up, it is as if they threw down a (natural) teepad in the middle of a forest and just assumed putting a basket 200 feet away it made a golf hole. Not the case. There is almost no line to speak of, this is not a golf hole. Cut down a couple trees and we're talking.
Other Thoughts: My suggestion would be to take your discs and go throw them in the field at Gowen Park. Until the course is redesigned to be a golf course and not a quirky dump shot disaster, field practice is the only way you're going to improve your game at Gowen. I do love the aspect of the free course in Southern Maine, but I would rather pay to play a decent course than settle for Gowen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Fledgeling course with promise
Pros: - Free to play
- Tolerant and friendly locals
- A good wooded to open hole ratio
- Low traffic for a public park
Cons: - Absolutely useless signage
- Very little course maintenance
- A few less than inspired holes
- Only 9 holes
Other Thoughts: First of all, don't let the cons I mentioned scare you off: This is a course in it's infancy and it needs our help to grow up big and strong. I played a round with a local pro and he explained that all the cons are in the midst of being rectified as long as interest remains. Signs are in the making and there is a growing group that plans to maintain the course. The holes they have are being streamlined and there are plans for another 9 holes if the space can be found. This course is right outside of downtown Sanford and is very easy to find from 202. As you pull in, you can see several teeboxes (dirt with unmarked sign posts) so you'll need either a map, a local, or me (I'm a course guide) the first time you play. Hole 1 tees off from the tee next to the river and bridge (take note of basket 3 to your right) and hooks left over the parking lot to the little copse of trees. It's best to play the parking lot as OB as the only real shot at a deuce is by shooting over it which needs to be discouraged. In fact, for the sake of challenge and safety all roads should be considered OB. Hole two is easy to find from one's basket and shoots about 300 ft. through some straightforward woods. From hole 2's basket, follow the path behind it to find tee 3. Hole 3 is a clever little low ceiling shot that hooks left towards the first tee. From basket 3, climb the little hill next to you (don't cross the river) to find tee 4 and a very short hole with a heavily guarded basket. Now hole 5 was previously very rough and is still less than ideal, but recent tree removal has made it more manageable. Going down the hill from 4's basket, you'll find 5's teebox just across the path and down the hill a bit. You should see a thin path through the woods towards the creek where the basket is visible about 150ft away. You'll need a decent forehand hyzer or backhand turnover shot to have a shot at a 2. Once you hole out on 5, cross the creek (use the rock as a stepping stone, not the small logs) and climb the small hill bearing left and you'll find tee 6 which you probably saw from tee 1. Hole 6 is evident about 350ft away towards the street. Anyone over 5ft. tall should be able to see a small tree straight ahead from the tee. The basket is perfectly aligned with said tree. This is marked as a par 4 but is easily deucable with a decent drive. From basket 6, cross the street and go slightly left and you'll see hole 7's teebox. The basket is about 400ft away on top of the hill near the gondola. 7 is the only hole on this course that can be reasonably considered a par 4 as you need to have a decent drive and a good uphill approach to birdie. Most locals play it as a tough 3. Now for a bit of a walk. From hole 7 go up the stairs to the gondola and head towards the tennis courts across the park road. Near the fence is tee 8. Basket 8 is the one you saw tucked into the woods by the road as you drove in (aim for the area to the left of the mammoth tree and to the right of the steep hill). Some locals like to tee off from the gondola for hole 8 for a very different hole. This is only advisable when there is light/no traffic as the shot crosses the street coming through the park.From basket 8, cross the park road again towards the covered area and you should see tee 9. Basket nine should be easily apparent just to the right of the parking lot about 200ft. away and along the creek. There's no real good spot to cross the creek until the bridge so cross just to the left of the tee unless you landed on the right side.
I had upgraded my rating slightly now that the signs are being upgraded and hole 5 has been cleared up a bit, but now I have to reduce it as vandals have severely damaged baskets 4, 5 and 6. 4 has been cobbled back together but 5 now sits on the ground as does 6. With proper tee pads and replacement baskets on 4, 5 and 6, I will add 1 and with 9 more holes, I would add an additional .5 depending on the quality. So this is potentially a 3.5 rated course in my book. It's no fun crossing the streets so much, but there is rarely any traffic and the locals are likely to stop and let you cross just so they can ask some friendly questions about the game. If you see a little old woman with a St. Bernard and a small white dog, leave her be. The dogs are friendly but one of the guys I was playing with asked her to keep her dog from picking up our discs and she threatened to "touch his face if he touched her dog". Yikes. Aside from that there has been minimal foot traffic and the folks I did see were very friendly ( I almost drilled a guy and his dog and his only response to my apology was that he was amazed a Frisbee could move like that and where could he buy some). I recommend that anyone in the area (maybe heading up 202 to one of the many quality courses within a half hour's drive) stop and check out this new entry into the world of Disc Golf (before they destroy the rest of it!). A final note; the Wal-greens pharmacy down the street sells Innova, Discraft, Gateway, Latitude 64, Westside, and even Legacy discs!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Off to a great start ...
Pros: Set-up in a public park, this course is FREE to play. The park is relatively small, maybe around 15-20 opn acres and the course plays primarily around the periphery. There is clever use of the natural obtacles, mostly oak trees, some mildly hilly terrain and an absolute juggernaut of a pine tree in the middle of hole 8 fairway. There are a couple grip n rip holes to haul off on, the rest are lightly wooded areas, primarily grassy. Some of the parks non-disc golf features like gazebo, gardens and large monument feature add to the ambiance of this course. The park itself is very well maintained and has ample parking. On a sunny saturday in the early fall there were at least 3 other groups of disc golfers. Gowen park is a welcome addition to the sparsely coursed York County.
Cons: For now, it's only 9 holes - Hard to say where 9 more would fit though, not sure how much of the wooded area behind the park is available. As with so many course, there is some poison ivy to contend with if you get off track a little. The course is oddly consuming of this established town park, hopefully there isn't a tea-cup poodle walking curmudgeon out there raising a stink with the town that they fear getting hit by a disc. Cautious play will help mitigate this potential. Might be a good idea to add a mando or two as well.
Other Thoughts: Still under construction - but obvious in-progress being made. 4x4 sign posts were set at each hole. Nice graphic signs are in the works it would seem by the pictures here. For now, we did have to guess a couple times and ask some regulars we came across - Hole five in particular was noted as "throw over that blow-down and you'll be fine". I'd imagine there is some clearing work planned for that fairway. Tee boxes are dirt as of yet.
Couldn't find anything posted in the park or on Sanford's web page that disallowed dogs. We brought ours on a leash with a pooper-scooper and saw a couple other park go-ers with dogs.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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