Excellent course that could be Phenomenal, and maybe even 5/5!
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: + Easy to find, close to the city
+ Great elevation
+ A decent mix of hole lengths
+ Ace run hole with downhill danger on 3 sides
+ Massive downhill bomber
+ Easy navigation without signage
+ Rough is easily manageable = no lost discs
+ Gorgeous hilltop view with observation spot
+ Good benches
+ Good baskets, okay tees
+ 24 holes of excellent golf
+ Clean with forest growth under control
+ Bugs weren't terrible after the first 3 or 4 holes
+ Decent risk vs reward
Cons: - Tee signs aren't great
- Pretty mild hole layouts
- Moderate challenge level
- Single tees/pins (a big con for this course to me)
- Crowded with many inconsiderate teenagers
- After hole 19/20, the course's intensity fizzled out
- Trash bins necessary
Other Thoughts: I played in the evening on a Friday in the middle of July with three other intermediate players and can easily say it was a very satisfying and fun round. For the most part, the baskets are visible from the tees, so there wasn't much of a disadvantage for the three of us who hadn't played here before. It would definitely be a great place for a solo round workout. The round played smoothly once the groups in front of us stopped playing and vanished (yessss!), but at that time the course seemed to be a social hangout for a lot of snobby teenagers looking to get away from their parents who just didn't care about rate of play. Very little consideration. That's neither her nor there, but it's worth noting in case you visit at a peak time.
Despite having a really fun round and all of us scoring well, I have to be honest and say that I was underwhelmed. I expected lot more challenge, a bigger hike, and a more diverse layout. Halfway through the round one of our group said that the majority of the intended lines seem to be straight. The fairways are indeed carved wide and clear for the most part, and I realized that throw straight = throw less is definitely true here. Because of this, Hickory is the only course that I've played that has made me think multiple tees or pins are actually necessary. I especially believe alternate tees placed way higher on the hills would better use the massive land available. With the tees in their current location there were a few decent hikes, but not as big or as many as I expected. That being said, Hole 19's hilltop view did not disappoint. That is one of the coolest holes I've ever played. Loved it. After hole 20, though, the intensity fizzled and it was back to just relaxing up north.
For as much as I liked my one and only round at Hickory Hills (so far), I believe the course could be so much more! And even though my expectations were high and I left a little underwhelmed, objectively, it really is an Excellent (4/5) course and deserves a great reputation. I can easily see why Hickory is revered by many, but Carly's Playground (5/5) is more massive and challenging, and Myles Kimmerly (4.5/5) makes way better use of elevation and diverse layouts and is more difficult and fun without multiple tees or pins. Suttons Bay (3/5) will also give you a little more diversity without your hiking shoes (and as a brand new course, deserves way more plays than it has in its first season!). All four made for a 5/5 disc golf weekend up north!
Thank you for reading!
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: The course plays through a hilly park with little interference from other park users. Elevation comes into play on most of the shots, with a couple great empty your bag type shots and lots of cool holes with hills in play on the drive and around the green. A few holes have rollaway potential and dropoffs if you go long on your drive. There is good punishment on most of the course, with rough that will cost you strokes for missing your line but that isn't so thick you'll lose discs.
There is a good mix of hole shapes on the more wooded sections of the course, calling for a balance of left and right turning shots and several straight holes. The open sections of the course offer a little more distance and more emphasis on shot placement.
The course is well kept, especially for the amount of traffic. The signs have hole layout and distance, and the flow of the course is easy to follow. The concrete tees are in fine shape.
Cons: The course ends in a disappointing way. The open holes along the road don't offer a whole lot of challenge and are anticlimactic after the downhill bomb. There are a lot of shorter holes on the course, which can feel a bit repetitive. The tees are a little worn down, and when combined with some sand can get pretty slick. There is a lot of soil compaction and erosion on the wooded fairways due to the heavy traffic.
Other Thoughts: This is a very fun course, and worth the stop if you're in the area. Beginners will find the course tough, but not to the point of frustration. There are shorter holes mixed in and the rough isn't so thick that errant shots end up lost. Experienced players will find nice variety and some challenging shots, with some easier ace runs mixed in.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Beautiful and Challenging
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: To start off, I want to mention that I played the course during the Hickory Hills Open 2012 event (2 rounds w/ OB and Mandos)
There are many Pros to this course, here is a brief list;
-This course features every shot you could want to throw and more.
-Holes are diverse and ever changing including; Doglegs both to the left and right through moderately wooded areas as well as long open holes with spectacular views
-Elevation changes throughout the course will have you playing up and down the hills
-The course starts and ends at the parking lot
-TeeSignage shows you where to throw and where to go next (Hole 17 was the only teesign I couldn't find right away)
-Baskets are in excellent condition and catch discs well
Cons: Not too much to mention;
-A couple long walks from basket to next tee
-If you are not familiar with the course, scouting ahead for basket placements may be necessary on a few holes
Other Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed playing this course, from the spectacular view of the Traverse City from the teepad on Hole #19 to the several risky dropoffs near the basket positions on a few holes, this course was full of fun.
It is physically demanding to navigate in some areas, as there are a few climbs up some steep hillsides.
Bring plenty of fluids and snacks to keep yourself going!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
Way fun course!
Pros: This was a challenging course with lots of elevation changes, rewards, and consequences. I think it was the most challenging course I have played yet. It was fairly busy, but the locals were all quite friendly and would help point you in the right direction.
Cons: You can get stuck if you forgot to look where the next tee pad was going to be. The nearest public restroom was about a mile away (complaint by my daughters).
Other Thoughts: Thanks for such a fun course. A score card and small map would have been helpful and nice, but we did fine w/o. I can imagine that in the Spring this course would be much less forgiving and disc hungry, especially near the beginning. I hope to get back there (5.5 hours away).
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: - Course is set in a very hilly ski area/park that also has an abundance of forest. Seemed like there wasn't much else going on when disc golf is in season, maybe a stray hiker or two.
- Majority of the holes are set in the wooded section, which has a mix of tight lines and more forgiving ones. Good balance of light rough to serious jail, shot placement and line shaping are both helpful to stay out of trouble. Elevation changes are also a constant factor in a good amount of these holes, with some brutal rollaways (#6, #18), a sinkhole fairway, and a variety of sloping shots. The terrain automatically provides noticeable changes on almost every hole.
- Open holes also provide awesome looks, beginning with everyone's favorite, #19. Awesome downhill bomb (unofficial pro tee up top? It's a huck!). The distance, gradient, and scenery make this both a breathtaking vista and epic golf hole. Tricky basket placement, too long can mean dense forest or a descent into rollaway hell. Other open holes are solid as well, with a few more downhill shots and some length for bigger arms. Some road OB present here as well, and tricky basket placements bordering the forest.
- Good variety of lines overall, there are some obvious hyzers and anhyzers due to well defined fairways. Forest was pretty dense off the cleared path, so execution was important to avoid hitting trees. Line shaping key with some tricky/protected basket placements.
- Hole lengths of all sorts as well, from putt/approach to some real bombers for the big arms. Mixed up well throughout, a lot of back and forth.
- Good baskets, teepads are different but in good shape, great signs. Easy to navigate for the most part.
Cons: - Biggest drawback at this course is some repetitiveness in the woods. Some tricky lines, but the terrain, hazards, and feel do not change that much. A lot of straightish shots with similar challenges, of varying length and difficulty.
- A lot of the holes here are also pretty short, with five being under 226'. They have some tricks, but any halfway decent shot will usually guarantee a par. The longer ones can also be broken down into easy drive-approach with some wide open fairways.
- Later holes with road OB on flat ground are a boring way to end the round. Some fantastic looks at this course, and some forgettable ones.
Other Thoughts: - This course has an amazingly high fun factor, mostly due to awesome elevation changes as well as constant smaller ones. Great mix of long and short, open and wooded, with a decent variety of lines. Fantastic views of the surrounding area and the ski hill itself are an added bonus. Experienced players will look to score low here, yet everyone should enjoy it regardless of skill level.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Watch out for Rollaways!
Pros: - Hickory Hills has a great variety of gorgeous terrain. The course starts off in a moderately wooded forest with moderate elevation changes. Broad, well-defined, mostly open fairways cut through the woods. After a few holes, the course starts climbing up and down the hills and working in and out of the woods. Several open holes play near the ski hills. Eventually, the course climbs the largest hill and the major elevation changes come into play, including a HUGE downhill bomb (#19) to a pin located next to another large drop off of several hundred feet. Finally, the course winds down the hill, plays a couple of holes adjacent to an old roadway and finishes off back at the parking lot.
- Decent risk/reward. Most of the risk/ reward stems from the elevation, with several great pin placements (#6 and #19 stick out in my mind as particularly tricky). Go long on either of these and you'll be in trouble, especially #19.
- Good amenities: adequate signage, decent concrete tees, trashcans, and benches or logs upon which to sit.
Cons: - This course can get extremely busy. I don't normally consider this a con, but it bordered on ridiculous how many people we had to let play through (I was in a group of five on a road trip). Expect a steady procession of players on weekends and nice days.
Other Thoughts: - I wish Hickory Hill's wooded holes were a bit tighter and more technical. Several holes on the front nine were stunningly beautiful, but not much of a challenge golf-wise. The wide open fairways don't provide much risk, and even errant shots *usually* will end up someplace that gives a decent look at an upshot.
- Hickory Hills is one of the most aesthetically pleasing courses I've played. The view from #19 of the city is gorgeous, and in general the course exudes a peaceful secluded nature vibe.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
Winter 9 Review
Pros: Hickory Hills is keeping a 9-hole course up all winter.
Cons: It's pretty short, but they did the best with the space that they had.
Other Thoughts: I'm happy that Hickory Hills is keeping a 9-hole course up all winter long. It uses 3 or the original holes (hole #2 is now #4 and hole #3 is now #5). It's a very short course. Can be played in about a half hour, but hole #9 ends right where #1 begins so it's easy to just play an extra round if you want to. Lots of tree hazards on the 6 "makeshift" holes.
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Very challenging course with tons of variety. Very nice mix of holes, open and wooded with a lot of elevation change. Beautiful scenery being that it is on an active ski slope. On hole 19 you get a lovely view of Traverse City and what I believe is West Bay.
Cons: The hiking up and down the hills may get a little old for some people but, for me that is part of disc golf and why I love it so much.
Other Thoughts: The only reason I didn't give this course a 4.5 is because they take the baskets out in the winter time because of skiing.
0 of 4 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: 24 holes of fantasic hillside chucking await you upon entering the forest at Hickory Hills! Good signage throughout helps you meander the alleyways carved through the trees. Lots of trash cans, concrete tees and shade. The shooting lanes at this course were tight enough to make you heave an honest throw, but open enough to keep you from getting too frustrated. Decent array of shot selections. Great view of the trees and the town/Bay below. Buy discs @ the liquor store nearby, on the way up the hill. Several old growth trees are something special to take in on hole 1.
Cons: People don't want to use trash cans so i found myself "cleaning up" the whole round. Vandalism found me picking up a tee sign from the trailside and carrying it up the hill, back to its rightful place where I propped it up against a tree. Lack of open hyzers and distance shots, except for the last few holes so not a huge deal.
Other Thoughts: Be prepared for quite a hike, lots of sand and no facilities. A must visit course if you are in the area!!
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Only The Strong
Pros: Played this course today on one of the most lovely days I have ever breathed breath. Just amazing in its beauty, this glacier cut paradise took my breath away. Rights and lefts and downs and ups. Nice change in flow from up to down and then to flat for a few before progressing again into the wilderness for some fantastic hills and ravines and again to some flat and straightforward holes that you might find anywhere. A Very solid mixture. Visually stunning at many points throughout the round. Mine eyes hadn't seen such a magnificent piece of land with disc baskets installed until this day. This sprawl features twenty four holes that will make you realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things. Ravines and hills and natural formations that whisper of something greater will swallow you up and immerse you in their wonder. This course is neither long nor extremely difficult but it offers some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever laid eyes upon paired with a game that I love. Truthfully, the land traversed is of the most awe inspiring I have ever wandered but I don't get away much.. Disc golf becomes an added benefit really.
Cons: I have heard this place is heavily played, but an early arrival and some ambition allowed us to move about freely and absorb the scenery. It can be argued that variety is lacking in terms of technicality. This course offers up no water hazards, but it offers hills as major hazards. This is a looker course first and foremost, but it does offer some challenging shots and some well designed holes. It quickly becomes an oh my for the unitiated like myself.
Other Thoughts: Glad I brought ample hydration implements as suggested below. Glad I threw down some hardcore deet force field as I was getting dive bombed by flies that wanted me in the worst way. This place was something we made a trek for and it delivered. It is impossible for me to tell you in a review how fantastic of a destination this is. It smatters the elements of fun and challenge and stark beauty into an unforgettable experience. I wish that I was able to play this course whenever I want, but then it would lose it's majesty. The hills and landscape are an adversary and the reward is basket chains. Take time to visit Traverse City. Unbelievable. I am so glad I was blessed enough to get a chance to play at Hickory Hills. Thanks to God and the Bogmonster for making this journey possible.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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