5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: My review comments come primarily from playing the pro tees.
Pines is the newest and most outwardly diverse of the three Blue Angel Rec Park courses. The diversity is owing to its split location: the front 9 play in the woods adjacent to the Oaks, while the back 9 play in a pine forest (from which its name derives) across the street from the Palmetto course. These different locations have distinct feels; it's almost easier to consider Pines as two 9s rather than as one 18.
The back 9 are what sold me on this course. With some nice length, at least from the pro tees (the tee sign pictures I posted seem to be the accurate lengths), these holes generally demand a lot in the way of line shaping. From the pros, there are four or five distinct S curve holes that really test your control, both for the particular angles they take and the tight alleys they fly through. I was pleasantly impressed with the shot shaping these holes demanded. Other holes on the back 9 help to provide some nice variation, be it the huge anny or potential roller from 14's pro tee or the big hyzers on 12 and pro 15. All in all the back 9 are a nice group of holes that really elevated my overall perception of the course. I love the wooded environment and emphasis on both shot shaping and risk versus reward. I also like how the woodedness varies from hole to hole, be it the bottleneck on 10, the skinny pines peppered throughout 14, or the dauntingly tight and thick-roughed 13. The types of lines here are equally varied.
In all, the level of challenge sits nicely for a mid 800s player like myself: upgrading to the pro tees can challenge my game without offering fruitless frustration, and downgrading to the ams helps me to have a more casual round without threat of losing interest.
The tees are awesome. Perfectly level with the ground, the concrete tees allow you to start a run up from behind should you need the extra room. But you probably won't, because they're plenty big to begin with. They played great.
Navigation is pretty easy, with arrows to the next tee always present to guide the way. There are one or two points where these take a few moments to find on the back 9, and the transition from the front 9 to the back 9 may be awkwardly long for some, but it's well apparent and easy to get to, so I have no complaints.
The water coolers spread throughout the course are a great touch, and the upkeep is excellent. Numerous portapotties are accessible. It's hard to beat the location, too, with two other quality courses on site. Together, the three courses at Blue Angel Park make for quite an enjoyable destination. Having three 18s also helps relieve congestion: even on a busy Sunday I found myself pleasantly alone for much of my rounds. The woodedness helps enhance this.
Cons: The front 9 at Pines offer a reprise of the golf found on the Palmettos course: tight and in the woods, with a canopy of tree branches often providing a ceiling. These holes somehow seemed less interesting to me than the Palmettos. They play a bit longer and more open than the Palmetto course, but have the same basic feel: each hole generally involves hitting a single distinct line or window. While there's a decent challenge level here owing to the omnipresent woods, these 9 collectively play fairly straightforward - there isn't a lot to think about on these holes in terms of shot selection and risk versus reward. As such, Pines' front 9 is probably my least favorite stretch of 9 on Blue Angel's three courses. A few holes on the back 9 mirror this straightforwardness, and compared to the technical shot shaping found elsewhere on the course, come across as drop offs in quality. This is a relative statement, though. None of the holes here are out and out duds, mainly due to the woods, which are ever-present in some capacity. It could even be argued that these more straightforward holes offer a nice variety to the greater challenges found on the back 9.
No elevation. I don't always ding courses for this in the uber-flat coastal south, but with the pleasantly-surprising legit elevation on the Oaks, it can be freshly missed when you move to Pines.
No alternate pin positions. Any variety lost is at least partially alleviated by the presence of Palmetto and Oaks, but with so much attention to detail and course development otherwise, I'm surprised there aren't at least a few alternate pin positions.
Also, yes, you have to pay. It's a negligible cost - $3 per person to enter the park, and another $2/person (paid on the honor system) to play the round. That's less than $2 a course if you play all three, and the fantastic level of upkeep certainly justifies such a marginal cost. Still, it's not capital "F" free, which could be a con for some.
Other Thoughts: I find it hard to assign a rating to Blue Angel Park's Pines course for two reasons. First, it's hard to rate the course in isolation when part of the experience is its complementary 18s in Oaks and Palmetto. I always have this problem rating destinations with multiple courses. Second, the distinct locations of the front and back 9 send mixed messages: the front 9 is 2.5-3.0 level, whereas the back is solidly 4.0 in my book. In the end, I decided to split the difference with my 3.5. I wanted to give a higher rating for the high level golf on the back 9, but consistency is an important part of my overall assessment of a course, and the front 9 are definitely not 4.0-worthy.
In contrast to what some other reviewers have said, I came away from Blue Angel Park feeling as though its three constituent courses had very distinct feels: Palmetto is tight and quirky, mostly short but with some deceptively longer holes that can feature extreme angles, and Oaks is more overtly challenging in its higher level of woodedness, sporadic elevation, and tendency towards longer holes (from the pros, at least). Pines is in someways the wild card of the three courses, depending on how you weigh the letdown of the front 9 against the technical nature of the back 9. I had a tough time rating this course in particular and in relation to the others, but my overall experience at Blue Angel was a resoundingly positive one. This destination is well worth a visit for even the most well-traveled golfer in my eyes.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Same site as two other (similar) 18-hole courses.
Eleven of the holes have two tee locations. Long-n-wide concrete teepads. Benches and signs abound.
Flat , as one might expect for a course on the Florida panhandle.
(Minimal) cost to play.
For this review, I played the course from the short tees. Distance variations were small - a 100'-delta between the longest and shortest holes, and an average length of 246'.
The course has two "looks" to it. The fairways of the front nine have a (broad) walking path/utility right-of-way feel. Skinny, tall trees and thick brush line both sides of the generous throwing paths, and the sky is easily visible above. Obstacles (trees) tend to appear late - avoiding swinging too wide/fading too much, and staying in the midst of the turning fairways, is the challenge. Errant throws could find thick brush, and be difficult from which to recover.
The bulk of the back nine is similar to the Palmetto course, but longer, with the branches of mid-sized, scattered trees forming a thick, low canopy, and the trees themselves creating throwing lanes. The trees seemed taller, and the throwing lanes wider, than those of the Palmetto course. Minimal chance of disc loss, as the underbrush is minimal, and errant throws will likely offer a reasonable chance of recovery.
Shape-wise, two-thirds of the holes require a left-turn, some quite sharp, and typically occurred mid/late. A few fairways were straight in their entirety, and only a couple of subtle rights were needed. However, please note: in addition to adding ~100' per hole, the long tees often were offset somewhat sideways from the short tees, meaning many teeshots from the long tees would left-to-right S-shapes - certainly more challenging!
Navigation was fairly straightforward, but here are some tips:
• from basket-4, cross road to tee-5
• from basket-9,bit of a walk, towards/past Oaks course sign, to tee-10
• from basket-10, tee-11 is to the right, not ahead
• tee-1 of Oaks is near basket-18 of Pines
While I enjoyed all three courses, Pines was my slight favourite. Lots of left-turners from the shorts, and S-shapes from the longs. Come play all three courses for a great day of disc golf.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Nice Course, Could Be Better
Pros: Every hole has signage that is descriptive and a tee box long enough to be comfortable. Every hole also had an Am Tee and a Pro Tee. Lots of trash cans, water coolers, and benches.
Cons: Baskets were a little outdated. There was a little bit of trash, but nothing out of the ordinary. The front nine is narrow, the back nine opens up, I only wish it was mixed a little better, and not front and back.
Other Thoughts: I would play again, it was enjoyable.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: The front nine have very narrow fairways, which are a nice challenge.
The back nine open up nicely.
Cons: The front nine have very narrow fairways, with a lot of brush along the sides. If you throw out of bounds be ready to do some bushwhacking.
None of the holes are very long.
Other Thoughts: I played the Oaks before playing the back nine of the pines. Then I went back and played the front nine. Played all 32 in just over an hour, at a jog.
The maps are nice but not to scale and don't always explain the holes very well.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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