10 Helpful / 2 Not
BEST course in Knoxville, aka, Stan McDaniel has been unleashed on TN
Pros: Morningside Park is truly a special disc golf course - 18 holes of fun, frustration and challenge. Put it all together, and I wish I could have more of it.
- Amazing hole layouts. With the exception of one or two holes, it seems every basket is placed to give the optimal challenge. #1 is a good warm-up hole (or what will be #1 once the work is done, and the basket is installed), after that things get tough real fast. #2 is a 460-foot par 4 uphill hole (plays closer to 550), which starts out over a narrow opening over shrubs/rough. From there, the elevation really kicks in on your second shot. Two great shots will give you a potential birdie putt. #3 is essentially just as long (445 ft), but plays slightly downhill, so it plays much shorter, and in turn is a long par 3. Scattered trees do come into play, potentially knocking down tee shots or second shots. This is one of those par 3.5 type holes, where you're pleased with a 3, disappointed with a 4. From there, the challenge continues.
- Great, rolling hills throughout the course. Including #2, there are five holes that are challenging uphill shots (2, 8, 10, 12 & 18). That doesn't include a number of holes that start out flat, or downhill, and could leave you with uphill second shots - #7 & 10. One of the devious aspects of this course is that anytime there's an elevation factor on back-to-back holes, you're always going uphill first. So, once you get to a downhill hole, you've just been beaten down.
- A great blend of fun & challenging and risk/reward. If you can enjoy getting your lunch handed to you, it speaks well of the course. There's an amazing four-hole stretch (10 - 13) of four completely different looks, all challenging, where anything, and any score could happen. #10 is another of those long uphill holes - 440 feet, plays much longer - where you're pleased with par. #11 has the making of being the face/most well-known hole on the course. Your tee shot is over & through an opening in the trees back to an uphill basket on the edge of slope/between two trees. If you're aggressive and straight, you might see a birdie, or easy three. An errant shot will be deep in the rough, or leave you a long, challenging uphill second shot. #12 is a long, uphill, dogleg hole. And that leads to #13...
- There are some evil/good frustrating holes on the course #13 is a downhill, dogleg right, 280 foot hole. There's a road to the right, so the natural thought is to through a left-to-right fade shot. The challenge here is that there's a low hanging tree, right in your path, forcing you to throw below the branch level (and risk leaving your shot short), throw straight (and risk it fading back to the left), or throw a crazy hook shot (and hope it comes back near the basket. On #16, there's a bench, and several trees, that are just on the edge of the preferred flight path, just enough to throw your shot off. On these two holes, you feel you should be doing better than you probably will shot. Or maybe that was just my problem.
- Expanding on the above comment, there are some great risk/reward holes. #7 is a great downhill hole to a basket on a mound, which makes the hole a lot more level basket to tee. You can be aggressive with approach shots & putts and risk sailing/rolling down the hill/past the basket, or you can play the safe shot and just land on the hill. #14 is a pretty tight fairway, which has a major slope on the right side. Throw in a lot of trees, and you can start left, and still end in trouble on the right.
- One of the most unique parts of the course, and the park, is how it's laid out. The course is essentially a giant figure 8, that crosses over road twice (or once under, if you walk through the giant pipe from #6 to 7) and runs next to a third road. The way it winds through the park (it feels more like a greenway), you can park along the road and start your round on almost any hole. You can park in the middle road (Hazen Rd makes a loop, look at the map), and start on #7, or you could park in the back (Isabella Cir) and start on #13. Now I don't know how safe these roads are, so do it at your own risk.
- The course is essentially broken into two parts - hole #1 - 6 & #16 - 18 are in the front of the park (near the parking lot, playground, etc.) and #7 - 15 are in the back. So, you can play a quick nine, it just won't be the conventional method. For the most part, the loop of #7 - 15 is much more difficult, #2 & 3 notwithstanding.
Cons: Only two minor issues with the course, others are with the park.
- The holes around the front of the park (near the parking lot, playground) seem like they might be hard to play if/when the park is crowded. The potential unplayables are mainly #5, 16 - 18. #1, 4 & 6 might have lesser potential risks.
- As great as the course is, it ends on a relatively low point with the last three holes. They're three of the five shortest holes on the course, and three of the least challenging - all are easy pars. #16 is a potential ace run, #17 is a decent risk/reward, and #18 is straight uphill, and potential roller risk. A lot of this is due to the lack of space and potential risks of crowds, but it's still a slight letdown. Even if #2 & 3 were turned into #17 & 18, that would be a much better, tougher stretch to end with. Something to think about.
- This course has almost no amenities. There's some work being done at the front of the course, so maybe things will get better. Still, there are no water fountains, only a couple port-a-jons, and that's about it. The positive side is that on the back of the course (#7 - 15), there are only walking trails, so you shouldn't have to deal with crowds too often back here.
- The parking lot is small and far away from the back of the course. As with many parks & disc golf courses, err on the side of caution and don't leave anything valuable in the car.
- There are a couple long walks, mainly the walks across the road from #6 to 7 & #15 to 16.
- Currently no baskets for #1 & 5 as of May '12. This is a temporary thing, so it's not even a real issue that should impact your playing experience.
Other Thoughts: Morningside is far and away the best course in the Knoxville area. This is the type of course that should be showcased, bringing people in to town to play. Just as Renaissance and Hornets Nest are the big-name/must play courses for anyone visiting Charlotte, Morningside should do the same for Knoxville. It's that good. Having a crown jewel like this also helps raise the profile of the other good courses in the area - Victor Ashe, Roane County, etc.
- I didn't know what to expect when I got here. Before it's redesign, it had a sub 3 rating. I was cautiously optimistic when I heard Stan McDaniel was doing the redesign. This course stunned me and my buddy by just how great it was. Think Hornets Nest with an elevation factor.
- Out of the 120 courses I've played, this course is one of the best. Anyone in the region - Nashville, Asheville, etc. - needs to make the two hour drive to play. Now I have an excuse to make a return trip to Knoxville. And I can't wait to head back.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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