1 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Just a fantastic course. Thoughtfully laid out, lefty and righty mix, long and short, legitimate par 3, 4, and 5 holes, positively identifiable fairways (!)....the design is really great.
I usually find myself craving a longer course. This one made me feel like a cross of disc and ball golf, where you legitiamtely don't just drive and put.
This course will get much harder as the (freshly installed) trees mature.
Highly recommend playing.
Of note, they are fixing some of the gripes in other reviews: baskets are now labeled, there were maps out at the sign up so the jump to tee ten was no biggie.
Cons: Benches would be sweet, and the pad for 10 is kind of in the way for 3.
Other Thoughts: I drove about an hour. Well worth it. Layout wise this is one of the best, if not the absolute best, I have played.
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
John Houck Designed Course Is Worth The $5!
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Everything about this course has been done first class with seemingly no expense spared. After playing the new course across town being built on a shoe string budget, this place felt like the Taj Mahal.
The course sits on the property of an old ball golf course just over a mile outside of Monroe. The property features a semi-well stocked Pro Shop and I understand a Bistro is in the works. The loaner box is a great idea if you want to try out a disc before buying. The $5 fee for unlimited all day play is more than reasonable. There is a red metal box for your donation if the Pro Shop is locked. Parking is plentiful and picnic tables are provided are the warm up area. There is also a fire pit for those chilly NW evenings.
There are two sets of tee pads. The blue were over-sized trapazoid shaped, concrete. The reds were concrete with a couple of rubber matted ones.
The signs were wonderful,John Houck design.
Houck did use every bit of the property to the fullest. The terrain is mostly flat with a touch of elevation and two holding ponds for water run off. These are both used to the max with the # 15 basket being placed right in front of the pond adding a slight pucker factor to that otherwise short easy downhill throw and then you have a fairly easy carry over the other pond on # 16.
75 trees have been planted on the property. I believe they're mostly Cedar (they're extremely grabby) and as they mature, they'll greatly add to the course's over-all challenge.
To add some challenge, Houck often has you teeing off through an initial tight opening. I think six of the first nine holes feature this aspect. Frankly, I found it a little tedious.
The course is fairly long, Par 63 from the Blues, but not overly difficult. Even from the longer Blues, it doesn't compare in difficulty to Sea Tac, Shelton or Steilacoom.
# 13 with it's it's 909' length, right dogleg, Mandos and trees was a challenging hole for a old duffer such as myself.
Cons: I followed a group ahead of me so didn't have to concern myself with about navigation issues but there are a few. The long walkout from 9 to the red barn for # 10.
Blue # 6 is confusing. looking out from the tee box, you see three baskets including one straight ahead just past the big fir tree. Wrong, You're throwing to the basket to the right!
Walking up to hole ? while players were throwing down # 10, I almost got drilled. Keep your eyes open here guys.
Some benches would be great and I'm sure they're forthcoming.
A sani-can would be nice over by the red building. I kept looking for a place to go and almost everywhere is visible from the surrounding houses.
Other Thoughts: What a great addition to Washington's stable of courses. Thank you John Houck for your design and to Paul Clark for making this happen. My only selfish thought is, I wish they could have built it in Pierce County somewhere.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Worth the drive and the money
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: It took well over a year of rumors and false start dates for it to happen, but the rumors turned out to be true. John Houck was designing a pay to play course in Monroe, and it was going to be a doozy. I chose to avoid the crowds of opening weekend and instead sat in fair traffic on a Monday to get my rounds in. I've gotta say: I'm impressed.
Houck clearly knows what he's doing. To those uneducated in the world of disc golf course design, the man is a legend. This was the first Houck course that I've played (to my knowledge), but if it's any indication of what he does? I definitely want to play some others. So about those pros:
Equipment - The baskets are fresh out of the box, so no complaints here. It seems that the DisCatcher has gotten deeper, but it catches just as well. Putting tall flags on top of each one was great as well. A friend of mine had his high putts stopped by those flag poles at least three times today, but that isn't why they're great. They just make the baskets easier to spot on those longer holes.
Teepads - The teepads on the blue tees are impeccable. They start out wide in the back and taper to a normal width at the front, so the player has a multitude of options for how to approach their drive. The red tees were okay, but clearly weren't the prime focus when everything was being installed. All of the pads were textured, with the exception of the two rubber pads on the course (both red tees). You won't have to worry about grip even on the rainiest of days.
Signage - The signs are beautiful and offer a good idea of where you're throwing. I would have almost preferred satellite images, but these are beautiful. Every sign also gives credit to John Houck as the course designer.
Variation - Houck used every inch of the land here, and it never gets repetitive. You have your longer holes like 1 and 18, your uber long holes like 13, and some stupidly short holes like 4. The easy holes that are randomly thrown into the round allow you to either drive your score down or get your feet back under you after a bad hole or two. I like the variation. We don't need another SeaTac (original 18). He also brings the elevation into play whenever possible, places baskets on sloped greens, and even places one right beside the pond. Hole 15 might be my favorite one on the course just because of the risk/reward ratio. It's an easy ace run, but with the pond right behind it and downhill it's just plain fun. You also get to throw across the pond on the blue 16, but it isn't really a challenging throw. Think hole 1 at Lakewood. Of course there are shots for all types as well. Right and left turning, long S-curves, big hyzer lines, short hyzer lines, etc. There's also a decent amount of variety between the red and blue tees. Even the ones that are only a few feet apart offer different looks around trees or bushes.
Design - I've pretty well covered the design already. I do have to say that I like the inclusion of so many mandos and OB though. Otherwise it would be a fairly open course and would get boring. Having these also makes shot placement much more important than it otherwise would be. It's obvious that the designers had a big budget here. A lot of the fairways that would have just been stupidly open have trees freshly planted in them. Once these trees grow in it will really add complexity to this course.
Amenities - The pro shop lacks variety in discs. If you don't throw Prodiscus or Westside you're out of luck. But it's there, it sells beverages and some snacks, and even has a "loaner box" which I've never seen before. He also has tester discs if you want to try before you buy. The course has bathrooms and three practice baskets (two are hidden over by the 13 teepad). My favorite feature on the course was probably the kids selling water, granola bars, and Gatorade out of their backyard by 14. They saw a need and filled it. I fully endorse supporting them even if they have nothing to do with the course at all.
Cons: You probably didn't think I'd ever get to the cons, did you? Well I have. And they're here. It's a new course, so I'm sure that many of these will be fixed in time. But they must be pointed out anyway. Keep in mind that I don't allow some of these "cons" to affect my rating (cost, lack of certain amenities, etc), but I still include them because I try to review this for any reader… Not just hardcore discers. So I'll start with those that don't affect the rating:
Cost - Tall Firs is absolutely worth $5 a day. You can pay, play, leave, and come back without being charged again. The grounds are in great shape, and as long as they stay that way I won't have a problem with paying. It's only when you're charged to play and upkeep suffers that I have a problem with it. Being charged is not a con. If you think it is, go somewhere else.
Amenities - Being a pay to play course, I would expect some basic services to be provided, like trash cans and benches. I'm sure that this will be fixed in time, but as of right now the course is trash can free (not trash free sadly) and bench free. The bathrooms are by the pro shop, but we didn't notice that until we'd complained about peeing on a tree or five. So remember that they're there.
Now on to the real cons (many of which are included in "pros" too):
Equipment - The course is three days old and a few of the baskets are already askew. I don't know who's been climbing on them, but knock it off! Whoever runs the place should do equipment checks at least weekly to make sure that everything is still pristine. I hope that they do.
Teepads - I have no complaints about the blue tees. The red ones really do seem like an afterthought though, and many of them are too short. Take hole 13 for example: It's "short" at 700+'. We still need a decent runup for a shot like that, so why not provide a full length teepad?
Navigation - While all of the signs are lovely and there are maps available at the pro shop, navigation was a chore at times. None of the baskets are marked with anything other than the Innova logo, and none of them have tape to guide you to the next hole either. It's relatively easy to find your way around, but tape and numbers would go a long way. Throwing a disc in the general direction of three unmarked baskets can be a bit maddening for a first timer. It would also help if the rough, mandos, and OB were more clearly marked. I'm sure that over time the rough will grow in more and be more obvious, but right now it's hard to tell where you aren't supposed to throw without walking the full hole in advance.
Flow - The course flows really well overall. There are a few unnecessarily long walkouts though. While these walkouts lead to some fun holes, they still have to be noted. The walk from 9 to 10 is the most confusing. See my "Other Thoughts" for tips on that.
Other Thoughts: Just a few tips:
-There's a red metal box by the pro shop for you to pay if nobody is there. It's on the honor system, but do it. We want to keep this course. So bring cash just in case there's nobody there.
-The walkout from 9 to 10: If you're at the 9 basket, look to your left along the fence and then follow that asphalt path. You'll see that red building by the 3 fairway. The 10 tee is right there (red and blue combined).
-The walkout from 12 to 13: If you're playing the blue, cut through the parking lot toward those random baskets over there. You'll see the teepad just on the other side of the parking lot. If you're playing the red, just walk straight past the basket that's just past 12. That's 18. You can see the teepad ahead of you and slightly to your left.
-The walkout from 15 to 16: Go counterclockwise around the pond to the blue, and clockwise to the red. Blue is way more fun.
This course is great for the area. It offers something for every level of player except complete beginners. Being in Monroe (a haul from just about anywhere) and being pay to play means that it won't get overcrowded by those players who have no regard for anything. You know who I'm talking about: The people who take over the course, carry two discs in a shopping bag, throw their trash on the ground, and refuse to acknowledge that anyone else is there. Those people won't frequent this course, and I love that. Is it the best course I've ever played? Not by a long shot. But it finally gives us people up north somewhere to play and improve our overall game (short, long, open, technical, etc) without having to drive all the way to Sedro Wooley, Lakewood, or Stilly. I'll definitely be back.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Beer is Allowed!
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: *They sell beer in the pro shop. The course is considered a golf course, so beer is allowed in the pro shop and on the course. No beer in the parking lot or at the picnic benches.
*Brand new Innova baskets with flags
*3 practice baskets. Two near the pro shop. One other by the blue 13th tee box on the other side of the pro shop building.
*Driving practice net. You can huck your discs and not have to chase them!
*Great signage and concrete tees (some rubber mats).
Cons: *Blue hole six is confusing. It looks like you're shooting at the basket under the big tree, but its the basket to the right of that big tree (there is a red maple 100-150' in front of it)
*No benches. Opening weekend, there was some waiting time when teeing off. I might need to invest in a chair. Some shade can be found near most tees.
*Dangerous when walking from hole 9 to 10 on the cart path. Blue tee #1 drives across that cart path.
Other Thoughts: *$5 green fees per day. You can come and go as you please and you can play as many rounds as you want.
*Has a "Links" course feel. Fairways are in full view of each other.
The course has a feel of Lakewood (West Seattle) old golf course with rolling fairways, water hazards and sandtraps. Short open and wooded holes like Howling Coyote and Silver Lake. Great course, it will get tougher as the trees grow up.
I had a great time! I only played the red tees and scored pretty well. Blue tees are next!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Worth the Price of Admission
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Tall Firs has something for everyone. Red Tees for beginners and rec players. Blue Tees for the intermediate and up. It's got length which is unique compared to surrounding courses. Tight tree lines, winding open Par 4's, an epic Par 5. I was expecting it to be longer to be honest, but John Houck has designed a course that rewards great shots and punishes bad ones. Every new course should subscribe to acheive that goal. Love the slopey pin locations too. Played 4 rounds and never got bored
- $5 admission lets you play all day!
- Great Signage
- Flow of the course is easy to follow and doesn't put the surrounding homes in danger (Except a tiny bit on the Par 5 13, so be aware, don't be a hero and try to throw over homes or retrieve your disc from peoples yards)
- DISCatcher Baskets (Personal Favorite) with flags
- Outstanding Variety of Holes
- Pro Shop and Bistro under construction, looking forward to that!
Cons: - The tight alleyway with Holes 2,3, and 10. Gets congested especially when it's crowded. Gotta keep your head on a swivel in these areas and be aware of other golfers.
- There's a walking path that cuts across about 4 fairways that goes from Hole 9 to 10. I'm sure they'll find a way to remedy this.
- Red tee Pars are a bit generous, but I love the fact these are designed to get beginners involved.
Other Thoughts: It's a beautiful, challenging, and picturesque course, well worth the $5. The par 5 Hole 13 and par 4 16 over the pond are my personal favs.
Please be courteous to surrounding residents that border the course, to grow the sport we gotta show these people this is a legit sport.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Great Course - Welcome to WA John Houck
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: It has a good mix of technical and long wide shots with really no 'boring routine holes'.
The flow to the play works well, with the holes all tying together well and a short walk from the front 9 to the back 9.
The blues are, in my opinion, fairly dramatically different from the reds (with a few obvious exceptions). Some of the red and blue pads are very near each other, but bring into play some obstacles for the blues that the reds don't have to contend with.
Whether you play red or blue, the flow works very well for 'dive in and start throwing' with the first hole really setting a fairly casual tone, and the second hole warming into some obstacles, then BAM!... trees and turns. Then air it out and make the turns just a little... uncomfortable.
There are, no doubt, some long holes where you get to stretch your arm out (i.e. 13 - blue 909', red 699' - both par 5) and some where you gotta find the path, but it is there.
One thing that I found to be fabulous about John Houck's design is that the baskets are nearly all placed in such a manner that you have to approach them well or you can turn a birdie to a bogey or worse in a hurry. If you want "here's a flat circle with basket in the middle", look elsewhere. Most of the baskets are on hillsides or perched atop a small hill that will punish you with a long run-away drop if you miss. Hole 15, in particular has the basket on a moderate hillside that runs near directly away from the teepad... and into the water. It's not a long hole, but if you address the basket directly on the teeshot, your options are pretty much hit the ace or lose the disc - not a lot of grey area. This doesn't mean you have to be absolutely pinpoint accurate with every shot, it means you have to "approach the basket" - not just "throw at it".
Cons: One place that will clearly get some adjustment and maturing over the fairly near-term is that there are some areas where the fairways are very tight next to each other - for instance, the fairways for 2, 3, and 10 all share a very tight space, and 11 comes into play as it throws back in the direction of the 10 fairway and trees. This doesn't hurt the play so much, but keep your eyes open and, as they say, "your head on a swivel" - discs are coming in, and if you miss your line by even a little, you can 'unwittingly' find yourself standing in the middle of the next fairway over with discs coming off the teepad.
Another place there are sure to be adjustments is in placing some 'guardian trees' around a few of the teepads. In some places, you can walk up to a teepad, particularly the red teepads but its true for a couple of blues as well, and you don't know there are people throwing nearly across you until a saucer whizzes past your ear. Some of this will be mitigated by maturing trees, and some will probably have trees or other obstacles put in place to improve safety.
The third place there will be tweaking is in 'walking traffic directional and pathing'. Like having a drive that hits a tree and bounces, in some cases even a little, landing you unwittingly in another fairway, you have the opportunity to finish out your hole and start walking to the next without realizing you have just walked yourself into the flight-plan of some 'cannon-armed gorilla standing on the 3 tee (or the 1 tee) who you didn't even know was there and who has just let go of a 50mph saw blade aimed at your throat. No kidding people, when you are walking around, pay attention to where you are standing and what you are crossing. A particularly jammy area in this regard is in walking around the sand trap behind the second basket - if you go the wrong way around, here comes gorilla man and he's aimed at your head, and he just may have had a beer or two.
Other Thoughts: The reds are pretty generous with the pars - probably should cut back a stroke and make some reds par 3 while the blues are 4.
I am sure this is where I will play most often, and certainly that has some to do with its proximity to my home, but it is also because it is a great place to play and it seems to offer some of everything. I expect that the air traffic control (and 'foot traffic control' for that matter) functions will get worked out - these are fairly small glitches, but glitches for sure, and can be adjusted whether it be with trees, man-made obstacles, walking paths, signs, or arrows, it can be adjusted - for now, keep your eyes open (a good idea when walking around a DG course anyway). - Update - Having played a couple rounds on the day 'after' opening day, it was quite a bit less crowded and the areas that seemed like 'big concerns' (2, 3, 10) were not as scary. They are still pretty tight together, but I think the issues can be solved with a little signage and a walking path (a cool little wooden bridge would be super neat, over the sand trap behind the #2 basket).
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
BG 2 DG Conversion
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This is the first John Houck designed course in the state and is on an old piece of land with lots of history. This used to be a par three (ball) Golf course and it was foreclosed on some time ago and now it has been bought and converted to a DGC.
The tee signs and tee pads remind me of Horning's Hideout near Portland, OR. Both the signs and pads are extra large and the tee signs show amazing detail as well as accurate distance from tee to basket. There are free course maps available at the pro shop (where you pay) for the few tricky areas but overall navigation isn't too tough. The biggest problem is getting on the tee pad, looking out over the fairway and seeing two or three baskets that could be the correct one but a little investigation and you can figure it out easily.
I really like how the course keeps you from getting comfortable like a really good baseball pitcher will change speed and location this course switches between par four 550+ feet mostly open holes to 225 foot holes in dense trees. It goes like that for a while back and froth. The property has some small hills and a little bit of elevation that was mixed in beautifully. Holes like #10 make me smile with a moderately low ceiling, moderately wooded well defined fairway downhill, dogleg right. Then the basket is tucked up under a tree with low hanging branches and on a small hill making your upshot tricky if not careful. This hole is only 265 feet or so but is one of the toughest par three holes on the course as well as one of the funnest.
There is a lot of out of bounds here both 'artificial' and natural. There are two ponds on the course with the blue tee for 16 throwing directly over the pond, with maybe 200-225 feet needed to clear, this hole is also slightly uphill making this a little harder than you might think. The previous hole (#15) is a short downhill throw with the basket on the top of a slope heading straight for the pond 20 feet away. Usually I would call a downhill less than 200 foot hole an ace run but unless you hit the ace you're going to have to go fishing or wading for your disc. The artificial' out of bounds is of course neighbors yards, across paths and across adjacent fairways that have been mowed and flags have been placed in the grounds to help out even more. The course is a bit crowded in areas (more on this in the cons sections) so the OB in these circumstances as well as the mandos protecting certain areas not only maker the course harder but are necessary in keeping it safe as well.
Cons: Like I said the course is a bit cramped in areas and there are a few spots where it can be a little dangerous. The walk from nine to ten takes you across two or three fairways and every time I go through that area I keep my head up and pay close attention to what's going on.
They have went and planted trees on the open holes and this will make it more challenging and fun right now they aren't tall or big enough to really effect shot selection or punish bad throws. This will take care of itself with time though.
The short tee pads (red) are designed with new players in mind and do that quite well as these holes are the same par but are much much closer than the more interesting blue pads. I'm not a huge fan of shorter tee pads (even though sometimes it's needed) I'm much more interested in just different tee pads. I like two tee pads with two different kind of shots maybe the red blue pad is a hyzer and the red pad is somewhere else and is an anhyzer but they are roughly the same distance but I digress...
Other Thoughts: The history of this property dates back to 1928 when it first opened as a 3 hole (ball) Golf course and is interesting, I recommend checking out the history of the course on the Tall Firs Facebook page and you don't need to have a Facebook account. This place has a club house/pro shop and a bistro is in the works as well. You've gotta hand it to Paul Clark and John Houck for getting a decent course here in Snohomish County.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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