4 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This course was a bit of North Carolina tucked down south in Charleston. I walked aways from the parking lot back past a small climbing establishment and down a trail to find the first tee. The vegetation was different, a lot more scrub palms, but I was struck immediately by how tight I was. At the same time, the line immediately presented itself. I played fast, needing to make up the time I spent finding the place(see below) but it was fine, because no time was lost looking for discs or standing at tees puzzled about what I was supposed to do. These are some tight, tree-lined fairways, but the lines are there, with some straight shots and some well-crafted doglegs.
The flow of the course is very well done. Navigation aids are present when needed and the paths that lead from hole to hole are obvious and pleasant. I don't think there was a single head-scratching moment and that really makes for a fast and fun round.
There are even a few memorable holes. 6 doglegs left to find the basket on a large embankment, offering a steeply upwards putt. The 11 tee sees discers climbing a curving ramp to an elevated tee that sticks out over the surrounding landscape like an all-too-welcome thumb.
Cons: What the course does need is tee signs. The small posts that mark the tees are wood-covered, which makes them tough to spot. The flow keeps you headed right for them, but something more visible would be good. It's possible that in summer they would be even tougher to spot.
There is also a complete lack of information about the hole. Most holes I deduced where to throw based on the fairway, but sometimes I was wrong. It's a nice course and it deserves tee signs. Knowing the distance and fairway curvature would be very helpful here as most baskets are not visible from the tee. Again, this didn't affect my round but this is a problem that will likely be worse in summer.
I would also say that this course is on the easier side of the balance. There's not a ton of distance and the lines are all hittable. I'd also admit that it possible that this course swings too far the other way in the summer months. With a ton of growth, those lines could be swallowed up. With a bunch of underbrush, the speed and ease of the course could disappear.
I found a course that was in great condition but this is Charleston and I'm aware of what Charleston vegetation looks like in the summer. So my pristine November experience has to be balanced somewhat with what it will look like in the other half of the year.
Other Thoughts: I'll make no claims for how this course plays in the summer, but I couldn't recommend it enough in the winter.
The worst part of my experience at James Island had nothing to do with the course but with finding the course within the massive park. I understand that disc golf is not their most popular activity, but neither it nor the climbing wall were easily found. (and more than one employee was unaware of the course's existence. I'd say that the directions here could be more specific as well. (I'd rewrite them myself but at this point I have no idea what I did, and "drive around aimlessly asking everyone you see" would probably not be too helpful.)
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
on the way up
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The property where the course is located has awesome potential.
The flow is pretty decent.
18 New Disc Catchers.
Course is technical in nature and accuracy is at a premium.
Numbers 6 and 11 have fun factor and are unique to Low Country environment.
Navigation was fairly easy from hole to hole, not always intuitive, but there were signs.
Beautiful surrounding park.
The course is set behind the climbing wall area and is well separated from other park activities providing a unique feel of solitude in the woods.
Cons: Tee pads are natural and could be improved. As play increases they will erode.
Many baskets not visible from tee and no signs indicating location of basket
Other Thoughts: Update Jan 2014: Wow! The improvements are huge. I realize that winter helps, but there has been a massive cleanup. 18 shiny new baskets and it hardly resembles the course i originally reviewed.
This course is similar to Tidal Creek in West Ashley. I realize that the course is new, but it makes me sad to see the wasted potential of such a dynamic piece of land. I understand not mowing down the forest, but some strategic cleanup would improve things dramatically. In the hands of a competent designer this course has the potential to be really good. It would be money well spent to bring in a competent design firm to create a technical challenging course. Maybe it is just my preference but a course can require technical shots without being an overgrown mess. I hope that the reviews given here might spur some action.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Slightly better than Tidal Creek, but a chance to be even better
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: James Island County Park features an interesting course. It's very similar to Tidal Creek, but has potential to be even better than that course.
- There are some fun and/or challenging hole layouts here. The course has some shorter holes that offer a chance to be more aggressive (#5, 6, 11 & 12 are good examples), while there are some challenging ones that require pinpoint accuracy. #10 is the only long hole on the course (462 feet), and it's pretty close to being a really good hole. Make the fairway a little wider so people can be aggressive off the tee, and this hole will be really good.
- The course offered a first for me in the Charleston area: a true hole with elevation. #11 has a drop-off of around 20 feet from the tee down to the basket. The basket is on a raised hill (apparently they do exist in the low country), down to a basket deep in the woods. The hole could be even better if a little more length was involved, requiring more than just a putter or mid-range disc off the tee.
- Course does an adequate job of flowing easily through the woods. There are some next tee signs, which help. After several holes, I discovered that the course map didn't provide much help. But, if you follow the walking path (which sometimes doubles as a fairway, but more on that later) and the next tee signs, it's pretty easy to navigate your way through the course. Things could be better, mainly having better tee signs, and more next tee signs, especially on the long walks.
- The course is isolate from the rest of the park activities. You start behind climbing wall, but after that, the course has the land all to itself. There's also some great scenery throughout the course, with water to the left of #5, the hills on #6 &11, and the water behind #9. #10 had the best nature/wooded feel of any hole on the course. I wished there some more holes like that on the course.
- The course has a better natural environment than Tidal Creek. By that, there were less swampy areas than Tidal Creek; although; mud is still an issue days after a rain. That's still better than the standing water you get at TC. There were also less spider webs, large spiders, and less wildlife (mainly snakes). I'm guessing a lot of that has to do with being further from water than TC, but it's still an advantage.
Cons: The course still appears to be a work in progress, so some of these problems should be fixed. They're what are separating a so-so course from being a pretty good one.
- There's a definite lack of true fairways throughout the course. It's one of the same problems that have hampered Tidal Creek. Too many holes were built based on existing paths, making the fairways as wide the walking trail. You can tell there's a resistance to cutting down trees, but it results in an unnatural feel. That also poses another major problem:
- A lack of variety of shot-making is required to play the course. The first time I played, I threw a used, mid-range disc I found years ago for 80% of the round. I didn't want to search for discs in the woods, so I played something I could throw straight. Basically, I was throwing 180 - 220 off the tee on most holes. And regardless of the hole layout, if I stayed in the fairway, I was ensured of an easy 3. The only hole I needed more disc was on #10.
- Because of the narrow/unnatural fairways, there's way too much luck involved in this course. On too many holes, you cannot see the basket from the tee. After hole #6, I quick walking the hole, searching for the basket. My goal was just to throw it straight down the fairway. Well, the rest of the round, I had 4 blind shots (two tee shots, two long approach shots) land within 6 - 8 feet of the basket. There's something unsettling when you get tap-in birdies without ever seeing the basket.
- Of all the narrow/'not really a fairway' fairways, #16 was by far the worst. It's a straight fairway for the first 100 feet, makes a sharp right for the next 40 feet through a 10 foot opening, and then straightens out/goes back to the left the last 50 - 60 feet to the basket. I'm far from a pro, but I don't know how many people are going to make that shot on a consistent basis.
- In addition to the narrow fairways, some holes have low ceilings because of the trees/branches. After a bunch of narrow fairways, getting to a relatively open fairway on #5, throwing a straight shot, only to have it knocked down because of the low ceiling. So basically, on every hole, you're either having to make sure not to go left or right, or too high, or both. Oh, and keep an eye on the ground so you don't trip on roots/stumps, or step in mud.
Other Thoughts: The James Island course grew on me as the round went on. I think it's because I saw all the possibilities this course could offer is the designers were given the opportunity.
- The course starts out frustrating with bad/no fairway holes, and ends with a couple holes like that (#16 & 18); but, from #5 - 15, I really enjoyed the round.
- It's not like I'm even calling for a ton of trees to be knocked down. For example, if only two or three were cleared on #6, you'd have a real fairway and the makings of a great hole. It's a dogleg left, to a basket on a slight (maybe 8 - 10 feet tall) hill. There's too much luck involved to clear the trees. Or just a whole lot of skill, which the average player at this course probably doesn't have.
- Also, by making the fairways, well, actually fair, you increase the risk/reward factor. Throwing a mid-range tee shot on every hole isn't the answer for making a good course. You want to give players a reason to be aggressive.
- All that said, if given the opportunity, this could be one of the better courses in the Charleston area. Instead, you're presently left with just a slightly better version of Tidal Creek. Oh, but the possibilities of what could be.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Totally New Layout
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beautiful surrounding park.
Brand new layout that is now a permanent course as opposed to the movable, temporary course that existed in the park before.
The baskets are brand new Innova discatchers.
A few of the holes are very scenic and border the canal and the tidal plains.
Holes 6 and 11 are worth the trek alone. Really great use of terrain for a cool uphill approach on 6 and a really nice elevated tee on 11.
There appeared to be some discs at the Climbing Wall shop that could probably be rented or purchased, not sure which.
Course appears to continue to have good continuing updates. The first few holes seem to have been cleared of some of the trees making play a bit more realistic. Now there are also some (mediocre) navigation signs between the holes.
All the baskets are now discatchers!!! Huge improvement
Cons: Insanely narrow. Course got very monotonous as every hole was a tiny chute through the trees. Some trees have been pruned on the first few holes, but 16-18 remain epically narrow and borderline not even worth playing
Tee markers now have numbers on them, it would be nice to see a distance on them. Plus navigation is still really tough, so hole signs would be nice. Currently, the navigation (and the one mando on the course) are flimsy signs tacked to trees.
Dangerous plants/animals. The course is literally lined with poison ivy. Plus the staff warned of gators...but I didn't see any. Some of the walks between the holes need to be clarified and better cut through the woods.
Course is only open during times when the climbing wall complex is open.
Other Thoughts: The course has moved location. It is now located by the climbing wall complex. It is nice to have a permanent location for disc golf in the park. Hopefully with some more foot traffic and maintenance this course will improve with time. Right now, it is in its infancy, needs traffic, and needs a bit more tree cutting.
The location still makes you think disc golf is a bit of an afterthought at this park. The wooded area of the course is suitable for little else. Course largely has the feel of 18 baskets plopped down in the heavy woods. Once again though, with some more maintenance and a little bit more tree pruning, this could actually be a really nice layout.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Now 18 Holes!
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: *Great mix of tight holes, from some open to some heavy wooded shots.
*Hole 6 and 11 have great elavation shots, making it impossible not to have fun.
*9 New Innova Discatchers in great shape, catchs very nice.
*Easy navigation, utilizing tee signs pointing to the next hole and all 18 tee boxes have wooden 4x4 post with numbers.
*Very challenging to a player of any skill level. Alot of trees and very tight fairways the width of a 1 lane road on some holes.
*Although the course in placed right into the woods, the maintance is fairly good, it was easy to navigate because of the trails being designed with chopped wood and branchs to guide you.
Cons: *9 Portable goals in rough shape. I realize that by using these existing goals the designers were able to build 18 holes. However, these goals tend to spit alot more shots out. Pinpoint accuracy and soft hands is key.
*Wildlife may be a turn-off for some. Even with the park maintance being good, snakes, gators, spiders, and nats are still present. Bug spray is a must and would not recommend bring little children.
*Newer Players may become overwhelmed with the tight wooded fairways here, if they do not have good control off the tee.
Other Thoughts: Alot of untapped potenial waiting to be unleashed here. I would like to say thanks to anyone involved in making this 18 hole course. It is fun to play, easy to navigate, and has major possibilities to become a state-wide landmark for disc golfers.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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