Northern Michigan's Newest Calorie Killer
9 Helpful / 2 Not
First on the list of Pros is a sense of accomplishment from completing this course. Playing the Blues, I put up a +21 first time playing, but came away from the course feeling great. Distance alone isn't the reason. Yes, although all 19 holes from the Blues clock in at almost 8000' with massive elevation, it is the technical aspects of the course that really add up to a sense of "mission accomplished", regardless of your score.
Flow. Although the front 9 are predominantly dogleg left holes, with more dogleg right holes on the back 9, the serious elevation mix keeps the flow of the course fresh and challenging. A nice mix of woods and field holes that favor tight shots. Lots of tees bracketed by trees and fairway lines that must be worked for success.
Bombs away!!! Finally a ski hill course that utilizes the full capability of the big slopes. Holes #6 & #13 blast down the back and front slopes of the hill respectively, and #5 is a loooong sludge up the hill. Beautiful vistas from the top of the hill are a well placed so you can enjoy the view as you catch your ragged breaths.
Independence from other activities. Trails abound here, especially on the front 9, and LOTS of other people are around hiking/jogging/walking the dog, but the course largely stays off the beaten path. Although you still must be mindful of the safety for these people, the danger factor to "civilians" is pretty low. Kudos to the designers.
Full-on exposure to Lake Michigan will make wind a massive factor here. Coupled with the elevation, the challenge level is rivaled only by Silver Mountain here in the North, IMO. (and Silver needs five additional holes to match it)
Rolling, rugged terrain. There are many steep slopes and crevasses that are utilized for game play. Baskets are rarely on even ground, and there are many spots where the ground slopes off into oblivion, giving otherwise vanilla drives and approaches a serious risk/reward factor. Even the holes that are mostly flat all have multiple undulations that make that extra 15-20 feet of distance you put on it the difference between a clear shot at a birdie and a pray for par.
Good parking, easy access outside of town, onsite port-o-potty, and little wasted movement on the course.
I will admit, I am being a little generous with my rating. This course has been in the ground barely a month, and I am giving the benefit of the doubt to things like the temporary signage and half finished tees, as the work is clearly not finished.
However, a few things stick out.
Although there are plenty of nice cement and framed gravel tees, there are a couple built of tees that are wood with carpeting on top. It was dry when I played, but these screamed danger to me in wet weather.
Copious stumps. If the work stops when the tees and permanent signage are in, my rating will drop. Many, many holes have stumps from the cutting done for the fairways. An ankle roll is easy without constant vigilance regarding where you step. If these are not all removed from the fairways, my rating will go down down down.
Dangerous access to some Am tees. There are many switchbacks to help you safely traverse the elevation in many spots, but clear access to some Am tees is lacking. I suggest you "take the long way" if you see a shortcut, because the slopes are steep and the dirt can be very loose.
Lackluster Am tees. The Red tees really offer little more than a shorter distance with the same look. I doubt I will throw from them unless forced to do so. If I am to hike this monster, I'm getting my money's worth.
Holes #8 & #12 especially need work. Fundamentally they are strong holes (esp. 8), but they are so rough around the edges that they really interfere with game play. #12 has no real gap at all to hit, and the turn on #8 is so sharp that even with par at 4 it is unreasonable. I am confident that a couple of seasons play and a session or two of trimming will take care of this.
Last few holes are really lackluster, and seem designed as more of a way to get you to your car, than presenting you with discreet challenges that are on the level of the rest of the course. That said, ignoring the rest of the course, they are still some pretty cool little holes.
No water hazards.
This course is so reminiscent of Hickory Hills (right down to the humdrum final holes) that I had to laugh. After all, if you are going to use a course as a template, might as well use one of the best in the area, right?
I grew up skiing this hill and sledding the area during my elementary school years, so my expectations were high and I was excited to see how they used the land available. I am glad to say I am pleased as punch. Many of the holes I thought of are there, and they found many more that I didn't even consider.
I recommend spotters on this course, as well as sturdy hiking boots and lots of water. Pack enough, because you won't see the car again until the end.
If traveling to the area, I suggest you hit this course in the AM, and then head over to dead-flat River Road for the afternoon round. In - that - order. Seriously, this course is a hike and a half. Although there isn't the massive sand you find on most other area hills, this round is a workout.
I tip my hat to Ric Evans and all the people who made this course happen, and I implore all you DGCRers to come and take your best shot at taking the North's newest gem.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Killer hiking course!
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: +One of the best 'hiking' courses I have played!
+Tee to basket layout was so well thought out, with full advantage of the topography and views taken into the design layout
+This is NOT a metro course, put on your 'big boy' pants and ready for huge par 4's, awesome elevation changes and killer lines!
+Hole 1 is an awesome par 4 with an expertly designed long tee layout
+Hole 3 is a little off the beaten path but the 'hobbit' hole is well worth it
+Hole 4 is one of my favorites with it's naturally raised tee on a cliff throwing down a narrowing uphill winding tunnel
+Hole 5 is an insane steep uphill that gets your arm in shape for the crazy 600'+ downhill bomber on hole 6
+I like the righty backhand route on hole 7
+Hole 8 is 'crazy' with it's narrow horseshoe shape through a gulley with steep banks, elevation changes and trees with the basket placed on the edge of another hill, nice!
+Hole 9 is a hike but well worth it up to the pro tee, the line to the basket and the view is killer, sit there long enough you may have deer come up on you too!
+Hole 10 is going to become a legend! The elevated cliff with tempting options across this par 4 field down a narrow curved fairway to the basket tucked neatly at the end is incredible!
+Hole 12 is abit sketchy but I hear it may be altered
+Hole 13 is another downhill bomber, the view is breathless both off 13 and 6 which are atop the same hill. Stop and chill here for a few, it's that cool
+Holes 14-19 are some of the best I have played as far as wooded courses. Righty's lefty's, forehand's all stand pretty equal on this stretch.
+Again, the tee to basket placements are just awesome taking advantage of natural hills and even building some.
+Hole 19 has to be one of my favorite holes anywhere, ever!
+Mixed tees, but work well with the environment
+Close to downtown Charlevoix and Petoskey, US31 and gas stations, easy to find
Cons: -I need to figure out a way to make more time to help make this place even more awesome
Other Thoughts: ^Huge thanks to Ric Evans, Brian Christansen and The Chain O'Lakes Disc Golf Club for all their work to make this happen! This course has been in the works for a couple of years by the extremely hard work of a few volunteers!
^This is a hiking course, be ready to hike!
^It's still a work in progress but very very playable
^Good signs, maps, benches and trash barrels are on their way, good things come to those who wait! Temp signs and arrows are in
^I highly recommend playing this course if you are able to!
^It really will not take much more to make this one of the best courses anywhere!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Great New Course
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Downhill bombs made from ski hills top the best of those at Hickory Hills or Silver Mountain. Hole 6 is a thrilling, super-steep 670 foot hole facing the west, with hilltop views of Beaver Island (25 miles away!) and Charlevoix. This hole is open enough on both sides to throw with confidence, with perilous rough on the left to discourage weak throws. Aim to the right, release and let it fly down the hill while soaking in this terrific new addition to northern Michigan disc golf. Those who have played Hole 16 at California's Coyote Point at Lake Casitas will recognize the resemblance.
Hole 13 is a similarly steep downhill hole with stunning views of Little Traverse Bay, with the added benefit of being shielded from winds out of the west. Hole 13 requires a little more finesse due to being slightly more narrow than Hole 6, but is still a thrilling drive down to a protected basket at the bottom of the hill.
Holes 14 through 19 meander through woods on the wind-protected backside of Mt. McSauba, and have more-than-adequate room for skilled drives. These holes benefit greatly from brand-new elevated tees with large, trapezoidal cement tee pads. Hole 19 is the best of the last series of holes, with a highly-elevated tee pad and several huge trees providing plenty of lanes to throw through. Hole 10 is perched halfway up a densely-wooded hill, with a small opening to a grassy field with an extended, narrow fairway along the edge of a road. About half of the holes now have cement pads (some also have cement short tees), with earthen pads accounting for most of the rest.
Cons: Several holes are still not quite ready for prime-time, and could arguably be redesigned or eliminated. Holes 1 and 2 are quite challenging, but with many stumps and rough terrain impeding foot travel along the way. Some areas have long, grueling walks between holes, with the walk between 8 and 9 being the longest. Signs that had helped point the way on some of the holes have been stolen or are missing. Hole 8 is the weakest on the course, with a steeply-sloped non-fairway adjacent to Hole 6 that is very difficult to traverse, with a particularly high pain-to-gain ratio. Hole 3 is a pleasant, short hole with a protected basket behind a dune, but is significantly out of the way from Holes 2 and 4. Hole 5 has a short, narrow fairway with a 90-degree turn up to the top of the hill, but is a tiring, steep uphill hike. Hole 12 has a pin position with a beautiful view of the beach, but also has a oddly-placed tee pad (not yet cement) along the ridge of a dune with no real lanes to drive through.
Other Thoughts: This course was very hard to rate, with divergent high and low points. This course has the potential to be the best course in Michigan north of Traverse City…or with even more work, a 4.5 or 5.0 level course. With further work on this course ongoing, the course rating will likely increase in months and years to come. The course as a whole is quite challenging even for advanced players, especially from the long tees. Several tough holes on the front nine would be manageable with long, accurate RHBH drives.
The work required to create a course of this type is staggering, but the class-leading potential of this course aspires to a higher level than the typical city park course. Thanks to those at Chain O' Lakes Disc Golf Club (including dgcr's nickrockey) for all of the hard work done in making this exciting new course a reality.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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