One of the designer's impressions.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Intro: As one of the course designers, hopefully this won't come across as overwhelmingly biased. I've played many of Maryland & Virginia's best since Turkey Hill was first opened. And now 4 months after first opening the course I honestly feel it holds up very well by its own merits. Turkey Hill will continue to increase in challenge as many areas with immature trees grow up taller and fill in some trivial gaps. Until then, every hole is still enjoyable and unique in its own right. I rate this course "4.5 - Phenomenal" because I feel that is an accurate description of the course.
Equipment: Quite simply, no expense was spared. This course features dual 6'x12' concrete tee pads (Red and Blue) and dual baskets (Red and Yellow as of 8/26/14) on almost every hole. #10 and #12 have one tee pad, and #11 currently has one basket. #12 and #13Red have rubber fly-pads mounted on beautiful wooden platforms. Professional tee signs at each teepad are accurate to fairway distances, measured with both a wheel and laser, which we used only to measure over water and rough terrain. There are benches and trash cans at many tee pads. There's a practice basket next to the dedicated course parking lot. A gigantic course map and kiosk at hole 1, with a beautiful brick patio leading you to the first Blue tee pad. From hole one, directional signage will guide you to the next hole which continues throughout the course, with many foot bridges and even a beautiful wooden stairway-to-heaven between 13 and 14. There are porto-jons by the parking lot, near 2's tee pads, and some behind the tree line after hole 9.
Designing the Course: The course plays as a large counter-clockwise loop around the perimeter of the park. Hole 18 ends where 1 begins, and hole 10 starts on the opposite side of the park. During the design process, we were restricted to where the course would begin and end, so we had the choice of designing clockwise or counter-clockwise. Many reasons were identified why counter-clockwise was the best choice, namely saving the large lake water carry for 18 instead of 1, and also forcing the long walk between 1 and 2 in the beginning of the round instead of the end. Given our options, we chose the proper play direction.
Hole Layout: We started by identifying the best holes on the course and designing the rest around them. Holes that are prime examples of this are #4, #8, #10, #13, #14, #17, #18, which IMHO are the stand-outs. Every hole on the course was designed with the Blue teepad and B-pin in mind first (the long-to-long format), and then the Red to A-Pin (short to short format) second. We made sure both basket locations were diverse enough to allow for 2 permanent baskets per hole without much interference created from each other. Our ultimate goal was to build a course that challenges the adept and entices the beginner. I strongly feel we succeeded at both. One example is that both water carries are forced from the blue tee pads on #4 and #18. However they are not forced when playing from the red tee pads.
Hole diversity: This course will challenge the player to execute every throw style. Long bombs, tight tunnels, uphill, downhill, dog legs, sweeping turns, split fairways, specific overhand options, water carries, ob zones, fast greens, elevated putts, downhill putts. Be careful of some of the more innocent looking fairways. They can be the most punishing, such as hole 11; A short 200ft steep downhill throw, tightly guarded by trees, with an OB ravine 40 feet behind the basket. So carry a diverse bag of discs. You will need them.
Cons: Having helped with the design, my only true disappointment was not being able to design/play further back into the north woods (where 10-13 are). While that option is not yet completely off the table, there are many environmental hurdles that must be overcome before the course can be extended. Holes 11, 12, and 13 will likely be revamped if the opportunity ever exists.
Many comments have been made about drainage issues on the fairways, namely hole 1, 6 and 14. This year (2014) has been one of the wettest years on record and yes these spots often had inches of standing water days after the last rainfall. To address this issue, the Parks department has installed a swale across hole 1, an elevated wood chip foot path down hole 6, and has relocated the B-pin basket position on hole 14. Drainage has not been an issue since these changes were implemented.
Some fairways as you progress through the course have a feeling of being too wide open, namely Holes 1, 6, 14, and 18. The Parks department has future plans to plant some trees on the left side of hole 1 and 18. Hole 6 and 14 were bush-hogged completely during the design phase and we have identified areas on the fairways where gum trees will be allowed to grow up. Gum trees grow fast. By 2016 the trees should be 15 feet tall and the flight lines should tighten up.
There is a long 700ft walk around the left side of the dog park between hole 1 and 2. It is really the only tricky navigation area, but 3 or 4 signs guide you along the path. Once you play hole 4, the walk is most likely forgotten about.
Holes 2 and 3 play close to practice soccer fields and can be prone to pedestrian traffic on school nights. It isn't terrible, but it can be a concern for errant throws depending on the tee pad or basket you'd prefer to play to. These fields go more or less un-used during the day and on weekends.
Many comments are made about 13's Blue tee pad (par 4) being not positioned perfectly. While yes it could have been better, the 2nd or 3rd time you play from it, you'll find it's not as "useless" as some claim. It definitely requires a skillful throw to make the dog leg and avoid running out of bounds down the side slope of the fairway. Not every hole should be trivial and this one is far from it. As for not knowing where the baskets are when first played, look at the tee signs and go walk down the fairway halfway. A completely blind throw will likely result in a rough experience.
There is still some poison ivy on the course, mainly in the high-rough areas of the fairways. But the Parks department has done a very thorough job eradicating the ivy from the wooded fairways and some other portions of the course. The tick and chigger population in the woods has subsided as well, and will continue to as the course receives more foot traffic.
Other Thoughts: As many have stated, this course is in a great location and is very easy to get to. There are plenty of nearby food options. If you like craft beer, check out the Red Oak Bistro a few miles south on 301. They have over 70 brands of craft beer to choose from, and even have 4 wines on tap.
The Southern Maryland Disc Golf Club and Charles County Parks Department have entered a partnership in caring for the course. The park has staff & equipment onsite daily to upkeep and maintain the entire park. The guys do a heck of a good job keeping the fairways mowed, including mowing around a couple tee pads that in the woods with grass growing around them. The SOMD DGC organizes clean-up days, prepares the course for events, and runs weekly leagues and volunteer clinics for the public.
Last but not least, there is a very large, well established dog park between 1 and 2 and as such the course is very pet friendly. We are grateful for the local dog park patrons allowing us to invade their existing park land and strive to fundraise for the local Humane Society as often as possible.
The TL:DR version - Turkey Hill Park is full of features that every disc golfer no matter your skill level will enjoy and be challenged by. It's right off highway 301 and is clean, family friendly, and pet friendly. With dual tee pads and dual baskets on [nearly] every hole, there are 4 different playable configurations to try to conquer in one day, or spread it out into multiple trips.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Possibly Maryland's best course.
Pros: Overall, it was a joy to play this course. I really liked the variety of holes: some through the woods, some over water, and some open in fields. All concrete red and blue tee's was also a really nice touch.
Hole 3: Nice scenic basket placement near water.
Hole 4: Blue tee throws over water.
Hole 7: Painted tee box on abandoned road.
Hole 11: Incredibly short hole to the extreme right.
Hole 12: Uphill and short.
Hole 14: Basket on a mound.
Hole 17: Basket A is brutal. Approach is through a narrow, curved path that leads to the basket off of the fairway. Woods on right, water on left.
Hole 18: Two tiered retaining wall "wedding cake" style that the basket is placed on. The water on 18 is very intimidating and hard to clear.
Cons: When I played in early May, there was only one basket on each hole. I am looking forward to having both sets of baskets on each hole.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Excellent New Course
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Two full size cement tee pads on every hole (except one shared pad). Parking lot at hole 1 and large beautiful course layout diagram. Tee signs at both pads with distances and both pin locations shown (only one pin location used at a time). Nice directional signs to lead you from hole to hole. Nice variety of holes (see below): open, wooded, uphill, downhill, water throws. Great local club (SOMD - Southern Maryland Disc Golf) and good support by the park system. Friendly people; beautiful park; lots of parking; easy access off Route 301; plenty of food choices nearby; athletic fields and dog park; right next to Fun Haven Golf with batting cages and mini-golf; dog-friendly park; benches at every hole (I think); plenty of rest rooms. Practice basket next to parking.
Cons: Not much. Course didn't drain well after rainstorm. Could use bag hooks as a future enhancement. No indicator of which pin location was in use although in most cases you can see the basket from the tee. Only a couple of truly challenging holes - they all play fair but some people want every hole to be hard. The water will intimidate some beginners (even with the bailouts).
Other Thoughts: Course begins with some open relatively easy holes and then you get to the first water throw on 4 which isn't that scary (unless you are new to DG). You start getting more trees at that point as you wind around the border of the park and the fun picks up. #11 is a short downhill with a big curve (from the longs i.e. Blue tees). #12 follows with a short but steep uphill. Then came #13 which features a big left turn on a hillside through a gauntlet - a very nice hole. #14 (I think) features a basket on a mound which adds more fun. You finish with a longer throw over water to a very scenic elevated basket in a double ring of stone.(see the photos on this site).
The course is a lot of fun and worth the drive. I only played the course once (from the Blues) but the Reds look fun for inexperienced players and do give a different look to many of the holes. I wish I could remember details about the other holes but overall it was fun. I expect to be back.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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