An up north experience unlike the others!
Pros: + Brand new for everyone, so the course is an adventure
+ All the water holes add extra risk vs reward in ways that made them REALLY fun
+ Pond water was super clear, also with lifebuoys! (no swimming, though)
+ Mixed design of open, wooded, sparse trees, natural obstacles, and water holes added great variation
+ All holes have signage
+ Lots of trash cans, course was perfectly clean
+ Tee pads and baskets are perfect (the two circular tees were not really an issue for us, and actually kind of reminded us of the roots of powerful disc throwing)
+ Groomed and mowed
+ Nine 300'+ holes, a few eagle opportunities
+ Shorter holes had water or thick woods involved
+ Long branches trimmed and placed next to ponds to be used to retrieve discs
+ Suttons Bay and the attractive setting of the course
+ Change of pace from the very hilly courses in the area
Cons: - The layouts of the wooded holes seemed sloppy
- No tees in the woods, not even tee markers in most cases (some flags were there)
- Random pin placement around corners and in notches
- 13-18 were insanely buggy. I'm talking you ruffle up the rough and watch 30 mosquitoes wake up to destroy every bit of exposed flesh nearby (repelled decently by 98% deet)
- Roughest rough I've ever battled; fierce clearing of the rough with a weedwacker would be amazing (soccer socks or pants recommended)
- It looks like the park's construction of soccer, tennis, and picnic areas will eat up a lot of the space devoted to the course (there was already a picnic table sitting around the 90º curve of hole 2's blind fairway)
- Hole 1 playing over the road could be a problem if it's busy
- Wooded holes seemed cramped and still need some trees cleared
- Flow of the course hindered a little by the way 15-18 backtrack through ground already walked earlier in the course
Other Thoughts: Played by four intermediate level players on an 85º July afternoon. There was no one around at all. We were all super excited to drive up M-22 to Suttons Bay to play the course, and we had a good time (even though I was thwacked in the privates by a springy bush branch, red lower legs from the thick rough, lost a disc on 13, and almost eaten alive by mosquitos on 14-18 despite putting 98% deet on). Despite obvious problems with the layout, it's worth it. Plan ahead and you'll be happy: bug spray, a variety of discs, long socks/pants, and be prepared to spend a little time in thick rough and possibly fishing a disc out of one of the shallow ponds if you're unlucky.
The course is equalizing. There are some fairly tight woods that highlight accuracy, some creative line-shaping opportunities, as well as frustrating get out of trouble shots for sure. A few good drives of ~300' will give a couple chances to snag birds (along with possibly generous pars). Decently mixed with baskets placed left and right of the fairways, so not really righty or lefty-favoring.
Although the wooded holes seemed quite awful at the time, I do want to give them credit for clearing the super thick nastiness. That being said, the wooded holes weren't short and sweet, they were all a little lacking in one respect or another, and really pulled the rest of the course down. They were what I liked least about Herman. Specifically annoying was the way a few baskets were placed sharply around corners or in notches of woods. I know this is going to sound lame, but such gimmicky(?) placement added unnecessary challenge to the short/wooded holes to make up for lack of distance. I would prefer the fairways' do their own talking and dictate the placement of the pins. It felt like you had to use annoying "get out of trouble" throws that relied on luck rather than skill to birdie after what should be considered great throws off the tee.
That being said, in contrast, the open holes weren't just simple wide open easy holes. There are good distances to air out some long drives in the middle of the course, but there was always something to make them interesting. Some trees, some rough, or quite often a little risk of getting close to water with bad throws spiced things up. The open holes were also made slightly more challenging by lining some fairways with unmowed grass, but not in excess. The holes that significantly feature the clean and clear ponds were what made this course shine, though. The water was never too much of a challenge for even beginners to handle even when the baskets were placed mere feet from the edges (especially fun in my opinion). And if you lose a disc in a pond, a golden retriever or a long branch (thoughtfully provided) would get it back.
The course probably plays smoother in the fall/winter when the forest isn't fighting back with the full violence of nature. That was also when the course was completed, so some of the pitfalls may have been unforeseen. That's just an assumption, though. Rest assured, however, I believe this course is well worth your time even in the hot, buggy summer. Especially before the rest of the construction turns the park, currently devoted to disc golf into a combined recreation area with tennis, soccer, picnicking, and more. I'll definitely play here again and next time I'll be more prepared. I really want to play Herman this fall. If they keep the baskets in during the winter, I'd love to come up then, too!
Thank you for reading!!
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