Drive By Shooting
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 1) Good place to work on long drives
2) Golf carts
3) Some cool target placements
Cons: 1) Lack of signage/inadequate signage
2) No concrete tees/ripped flypads/dirt tee pads
3) Navigation problems - bring map
4) Uninspiring course design
5) Lack of obstacles
6) Interference with/by ball golf
Other Thoughts: Scenery: 3/5
Difficulty v Fun factor (5/5 is best mix): 2.5/5
Course design: 2.5/5
I played this course for the first time last Sunday at the Sunnybrook Spring Fling PDGA tournament. I played from the long tees both rounds, so this review will only apply to the longs.
I signed up for this tournament as soon as I saw that I could play disc golf and use a golf cart both rounds. When can you ever do that in disc golf? Also, I was intrigued by the design - a disc golf course interwoven on and with a ball golf course.
Let me start with the positives. First, (and this has little to do with playing the course itself) this is disc golf at a ball golf course, so you have golf course amenities (and more). There is a clubhouse with an eating area, a restaurant, a bar with alcohol, you can play ball golf, and you can do bowling if you like. There may be even more activities there.
Second, when you go to play your round, you have the ability to rent a golf cart. I strongly suggest renting one if you're going to play from the long tees.
Third, if you are trying to practice your distance drives, this is a good place to do it. There are very few obstacles to get in your way and 12/18 holes are over 650', with two being over 1,000'.
Fourth, they have some inventive and unique target placements. Hanging targets, a target mounted on the crook of a tree, targets on raised surfaces. This is pretty neat.
For me, that is where the positives end. As much as wanted it to be a blast, it just wasn't. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't exhilarating like I imagined it would be. Let me start by commenting on the hole design. Now, I realize that they were limited by what they could do since they are sharing this course with ball golf, but....most of the holes are straight ahead from the tee with very few to no obstacles at all in between. This makes for a very repetitive and monotonous round.
Next up are the tees. For being on a ball golf course, I was surprised to see that there were no concrete tees. Maybe they have plans to put some in later, but for now there are none. Most of the holes do have rubber fly pads, but it seemed that many of these were damaged. Some fly pads had grass growing up through the tears in the pad. Some holes had just dirt tees. This didn't affect my driving ability, but I could see it affecting it if there was a recent rain. Further, I guess I expected more considering the venue.
The signage was either nonexistent, or was inadequate on many of the holes. A few of the holes had tee signs, but they were more like markers than signs, as they only had the hole number and distance - no hole map. Since the holes are so long, I found myself constantly looking and walking around looking for the target. This makes bringing/using a map critical when playing...and not just for locating the target, but also for navigation. There are no arrows or other indicators to tell you where to go for the next tee. Bring a map!
The last problem is, again, not the designers' fault, but is a function of the location. There were many times where I had to yield to people shooting ball golf. Conversely, there were many times that people playing ball golf should've yielded to me, but I was ignored. I know people that play ball golf are probably annoyed by disc golfers, but don't hate the player. I didn't put the course there. Further, I paid $60 to be there so I had just as much right to be there as they did.
My overall impression of this course: It's fun as a novelty-style course. It's an opportunity to play on a course with golf carts and I could see it being fun to play a round and then heading to the clubhouse afterward. That said, it would not be on my list to play on regular, or even semi-regular basis. It's too expensive, the design is lackluster, and the tees/signage/navigation aren't up to "par" for paying $30 a round. The total average of my ratings is 2.25, but I'm rounding up to 2.5.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Big air and lots of water
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Plays on a functioning golf course with rolling terrain, a winding brook, and lots of open space.
• First, you have to appreciate the scale of this course… it's MASSIVE (nearly 8,000' from the shorts and 11,600' from the longs for 18 holes), with bomber hole after bomber hole, where you can really appreciate the full flight of a well thrown distance driver.
• High marks for great use of natural elements. Rolling terrain is nicely employed to create a few downhill tee shots, some uphill approaches and some rollaway greens. Water comes into play on half the holes (less prominently on #'s 17 & 18) and can definitely cost strokes (or discs), and although you have to get over it on many holes, it's all avoidable even if you can't throw 300 ft. Essentially all the fairways are wide open off the tee, allowing numerous lines (but forcing none), with creatively used trees coming prominently into play the closer you get to the pin. Every hole places at least a few problematic trees somewhere between tee and pin, and there are plenty of crappy lies due to vegetation, despite the open tees. Sunnybrook can be very forgiving of tee shots that stray from the intended line (assuming they don't stray into water), but can also punish with obstructions to the preferred line for your 2nd or 3rd shot when there's still a long way to go.
• Pin placements employ every trick in the book: rollaways, elevated baskets, well-tucked pins, near the water, in a tree (with only a few open looks out of 360 degrees), between two trees close together, hanging, well-guarded by several trees, on an open green that's mostly surrounded by bushes.
• Really challenges the basic aspects of the game:
+ Unquestionably favors distance off the tee.
+ Favors precision putting: Elevated pins, and sinisterly guarded baskets with tough looks from certain angles can easily turn missed putts into 3-putts as the come-back may suck… more opportunities to pick up add'l strokes on the green than most courses.
+ Favors well-placed upshots: Tough basket placements = lousy looks from certain angles, great looks from others. Since comebacks on missed putts can be 1+ strokes, placing upshots to get a good look vs. a bad look is key to low scores. Rollaways can turn a good looking upshot to crap - land flat or face a long putt.
• Several true par 4's & 5's.
• Despite being a bomber course, there are several holes where a noodle arm (like me) can score 3's and even 2's.
• Equipment: baskets are fine. A few tees have black fly pads, but the natural tees are in great shape - no issues in terms of ability to make a great throw.
• Aesthetic: Pleasant enough, it's nice and green, water adds a nice touch - but I've definitely seen nicer golf courses.
• Routing/Nav: Routing is good (flows OK from hole to hole) but Nav is horrid. MAP IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST for first timers! No signage of any sort, open layout w/long treks between some holes, rolling landscape, and no concrete all combine to make it particularly difficult for the unititiated to find the next tee. A few holes have black fly pads, but they're hard to spot from a distance. I've only played here for tourneys (where the tees are marked with flags or orange paint), but I'd hate to play a casual round on an unfamiliar course where everything's so open and expansive, you feel like the next tee could be anywhere.
• Lacks variety in terms of fairway types. # 3's the only hole where you have to hold a tight line with your tee shot… needs a bit more of that.
• Hard to know where the pin is on long holes your first time out - scouting up ahead on long holes is a drag.
• You may have to wait for golfers to clear out of the way on a few holes.
• Traffic noise where #12 leads to # 13 is a buzz kill.
Other Thoughts: If you need technical holes for a fun round, keep driving. If distance and water carries intimidate you, keep driving. If you like bombing it off the tee, and using mids and putters for precision shots, come on down (but don't plan on a quick round).
I'm a noodle arm myself, and like tight, woodsy courses, but there's something about Sunnybrook that's a lot of fun for me.
On a course as open and long as this, wind is a given - just a matter of how much and how well you handle it. It can change direction or intensity at the drop of a hat, but count on it being a factor… and it has a long time to work on your shots.
Ball golf tees and greens are ruled OB, more to encourage discers to completely avoid them, rather than to create additional challenge.
You gotta love the fact that this course truly provides many chances to gain or lose strokes to the competition in every facet of the game: driving, upshots and putting.
Somewhat ironic that so many different natural elements (wind, water, trees and terrain) play such significant roles and on so many holes, on such a civilized, well-groomed course (i.e. that feels anything but "natural" if you will)… much more so than many of the more "natural, fairly untouched, rough around the edges" courses I've played.
If the previous two points aren't characteristic of good course design, please enlighten me. Whether they pressed the gimmick button too many times (or not) with basket placement is a judgement call. I think they've created a lot of challenge with it, but can see how some will say they've gone overboard.
You may think golf carts are an unnecessary luxury, but if it's your first time here, you really might wanna go with a friend to split the cost, it'll save you a ton of walking as you scout ahead for baskets on this behemoth.
I can sympathize with travelling players who come for a casual round and feel frustrated as hell finding their way around. Additionally, while I appreciate what the designers have done here, the property succumbs to an inherent lack of variety. These factors keep me from rating it higher.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
are we there yet? no, you kids shut up, it's a long ass drive...
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Aesthetic-- plays intertwined with a ball golf course. Essentially you play simultaneously with ball golfers. in this reversal of fortune, I think you have more to worry about than the ball golfers.
Carts!-- a very sweet addition and much needed as this course is a beast of a different color... damn near 2 miles long for 18 holes.
Champion Caliber-- This course is damn near champion caliber if it weren't for those pesky ball golfers... the hole scopes are IMMENSE. I mean, two holes >1000'. it's insane how big this place really is..
Water-- use of water here is key. Water carries require about 300' drives on a normal basis.
Cons: Teesigns/teepads-- or the lack there of. neither are great. I hate flypaper and the lack of teesigns on both tees made this place uber confusing.
Routing and nav-- as said above, the lack of any sort of signage makes this place a navigational nightmare.
Gimmicky basket placements-- so many in trees or hanging or on a stump. Couple this with having to search out the basket every hole this makes it weird.
Other Thoughts: I wanted to love this place but just didn't..
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Ball course w/ a new disc course
Pros: Big long course. Nice to get a cart, fashion your bag to the back, grip it and rip it. A few rubber tee pads set to the side and front of the ball pads. Brand new baskets, many hanging in trees, tucked into woods, elevated. Very unique and challenging. Water in play on about five holes, and a 300' drive gets you over all the driving water, a couple in play on approach and behind baskets as well. Could easily play in a pair of golf shoes of tennis shoes, it was nice to be out of a pair of boots. Ball golfers were very curious and cooperative. Though, I imagine the cart out there helps alert them you are there. This is a new course last season and ball golfers and management just getting used to the idea. A lot of time spent on PR. Course plays along the ball course with baskets short, left or right of greens.
Cons: Management is a mess, pro shop had no clue as to price, condition, equipment. Navigation was a problem. The provided map is awful and a ball scorecard is nessesary to cross reference. Missing tee pads, those that were there only identified with orange survey flags. Not many hole numbers no distances or clue as to where the basket (often hidden) is. A pair of binoculars would be helpful. The disc holes are numbered opposite of the ball holes. (1-9 ball holes are 10-18 disc holes...) just to add to the confusion, for no benefit. Missed holes 2 and 3 completely. A healthy dose of attention is required, you are on a ball course and they can hit into you from a long way away, though the disc course stays out of the way mostly. Getting a couple beers at the turn was a nightmare. I just got the impression the whole place (motel, bowling alley, bar, restaruant, poker room, ball golf, disc golf) are poorly run. Maybe just the time of year.
Other Thoughts: Played on a open ball course as "swat" golfers are playing as well. We rented a cart and were inserted into the tee times. Pace of play sometimes presented a challenge, as we played as a twosome. It is so natural to simply walk to your disc, but in order to maintain a slow enough pace to fit in with swat golfers, getting in the cart and tossing each disc, was vital. A little love from a club or a couple disc golfers could make vast improvements in a short time here. Tall flags for the pads and baskets and a decent map with distances would make navigation easy. I had a great time out there, despite the unintentional attempts by management to make it tough. A couple comments about "old timers" not happy with the installation, but if they were making money with "old timers" this course would not be here. Lots of positve feedback while there will help. $20 a piece to play with a cart, not the listed price here or on Disc Gof Scene. This would be a blast with a foursome of decent disc golfers, not in a hurry.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Golf carts, beautiful landscaping, great bar and kitchen inside clubhouse. Very difficult to lose a disc, unless you hit water.
Cons: Very long course. 500' bombers, or solid 600-700' rollers in play on most holes. Not necessarily a con, but not every player has these shots in their arsenal
Other Thoughts: 3 hanging baskets! 1 basket mounted inside a tree, very well guarded from about 80% of the circle. Great pin placements make this a risk/reward course very keen on placement.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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