Beast, for sure...
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Beast is the "middle" course in terms of difficulty at Mason County park...but don't let that fool you into thinking it won't live up to its name.
Concrete tee pads at every hole...grippy, and mostly in good repair. They were fine, length-wise, for me, but somebody with a big run up might have to make the grass to concrete transfer many times here. One tee pad per hole
Discatcher baskets, in good repair, and caught well. One pin position per hole.
First things first. While there's a decent amount of shorter (<250') holes, the thing you'll remember here is the multiple "air it out" holes. Right away on hole 1, you're throwing a bomb off the top of a sizable hill. Darn near every hole on the course has some sort of elevation factored into it.
A good amount of obstacles on most holes, especially the shorter ones. While there are a few wide open bombs, they are placed well in the flow of the course; you won't get bored with them. Lots of tree lines and thickets make placement crucial. For how open a lot of the holes are, I was surprised at the amount of shot shaping required. Beast is sneaky that way.
24 holes, with tee rudimentary (but nice) tee signs. Navigation is mostly easy...we had a few drinks and only got crossed up a couple times.
Cons: Again, one tee/one pin position is a bummer, but with three courses on site, it's not as big of a deal as it could be at singe course sites.
With all the open elevation, wind can be a complete butt kicker here...and with Lake Michigan right next to you, I'd imagine the wind is almost always blowing. Damn you, Mother Nature.
If you don't have a big arm (at least 300'), this course is going to beat you up a bit. Even the shorter holes can take some arm, with elevation factored in.
There's some opportunity for lost discs here, especially on a few holes (3 comes to mind). Errant tee shots can be punished fairly hard in some instances.
Other Thoughts: P2P ($1), no big deal. Ample parking, pavilion w/ bathrooms, 1972 playground next to it. There is camping onsite, but you'll need to reserve it in advance...it usually fills up.
With the fantastic views of Lake Michigan, multiple bomber holes, and plenty of technical shots to be had, Beast is really a top notch course. Add some benches, throw in some extra tee pads, and improve the signs, and you've got an easy 4.5 on your hands. I tried to rate it as a single course, but it's tough to do with two outer fantastic courses onsite.
Beast is a long test of skills, and you won't be sad that played it!
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beautiful scenery
Baskets in good condition
Variety of shots needed
Great natural scenery
Very good local convenience store with a solid selection of beer and discs.
Cons: Short teepads
Many blind shots
Beast is a great compliment to Beauty, and has many of the same pros and cons. Despite this it is a course that stands on it's own and feels much different. Beast starts off with a massive shot from the top of one hill, down a valley and back up another hill. This is the signature hole on the course, and is a great beginning to your round. From there you will play several hilly holes, followed by flatter more open holes before you head back into the hills again. Lake Michigan is in view more often on Beast than Beauty, so if you want to enjoy lake views this is the course for you. On the other hand, this course is more likely to be affected by stiff breezes off the lake as it is more open and exposed. There was no significant wind either day we played here, but talking to locals I was told it can add an additional layer of difficulty many days.
Beast also suffers from Beauty's shortcomings. The teepads are short and the signs are nothing but a number. You do not play near the road as often as Beauty, but there are still a couple of shots where it could come into play.
If Mason County dropped money into good signs and extending the teepads both Beauty and Beast would be 5 star courses. Given the high level of disc golf enthusiasm in West Michigan I hope at least one of these things will happen soon. I would be willing to pay $2-$5 per round for these amenities. As the course stands it is well worth $1 per round.
As I mentioned in my review of Beauty, Pere Marquette Expeditions has a solid selection of discs from MVP, Axiom, Discraft, Vibram, Innova and other brands. They also carry a great selection of beer and cigars including my personal favorite the Acid line from Drew Estate!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
6+6+6+6 = Beast
Pros: 1. Variety. From the signature first hole with a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan, the looming reservoir, and a gorgeous downhill bomber shot of 574', you're sucked into this course. The next few holes are a lot of fun, but it wasn't until #B (the sixth hole if you're playing all 24) that I was like, "Wow" again: A blind RHBH anhyzer with an OB parking lot running alongside most of the left fairway to a pin 315' away (I'm glad my wife was with to spot for me and vice versa!). Elevation is present on nearly every hole, and the wind here is no joke! Seriously, when I played it was the type of in-your-face screaming headwind that would take a cocky overconfident nose-down putt from 40', pick it up, and throw it 60' back at you (okay, so that wasn't happening over and over, but it happened to me and my wife on the same uphill putts on #5, and the wind was a HUGE factor on most of the holes). Hole #C was a really cool risk/reward tee shot with some nasty-looking OB in the fenced area. Even the short holes (8 under 250' with 3 of those under 200') each had their own unique challenge, so none of them really seemed like filler; #8 is probably one of the "Top 3 Toughest Holes Under 150'" I've ever played! I found myself forced to throw a variety of distances and angles of RHBH anhyzer shots, which was great as I had been focusing a lot on that shot before my vacation, and was able to continue to work on it here. It feels good to let loose with a driver and a big hyzer on #11 (I think I'd been teeing off primarily with my MVP Axis aside from #1 and #5), taunting the OB road, and #15 presents a pinch point of twin pines about 50' off the tee on a 333' hole favoring a RHBH hyzer. Hole #18 I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with: Gorgeous finishing hole with a demand on precision off the tee to a defined landing area (I got cocky and almost wound up in the T-intersection of the road but was safe just at the corner), and if you pull this off you should have a reasonable chance at your upshot through the paths up to the green to save par; I got extra cocky with my second shot and bombed my Ace Race Hornet up to a blind pin, no one in my group saw it, and it was declared lost after a half-hour of searching; I took a 7 on the hole and left the course upset, but having had a beastly blast of a round (and I was contacted on DGCR by AikoAdam not 2 days later, who offered to send it back; thanks, AikoAdam!!!).
2. Maintenance. The county presumably takes care of a lot of the upkeep here, but the MCDGO is obviously very heavily involved. The entire complex was in top-notch shape for the tourney, but I understand that high level of care is typical on these popular courses. Players seem pretty mindful of using the trash cans, and I'm sure the Michigan bottle deposit plays a role in keeping broken glass and plastic bottle litter to a minimum.
3. Pay to play. All of the Mason County courses, as well as Flip City, are a measly dollar (that's right, $1) per person per round. There's an honor system of "checking in" where you put your money in an envelope and sign it, and then during your round you may be subject to spot checks to verify that you have indeed paid (with the punishment of being kicked off for a year if you're caught sneaking).
4. Multiple courses on site. Two awesome 24-hole layouts (Beauty and Beast), as well as a very challenging reverse course (Goliath, which is Beast played backwards from unique tees), make this a disc golf destination, and with Leviathan a few miles up the road, the fun Scottville course nearby, and Flip City within a half-hour drive, you'd be advised to rent a house or camp somewhere and make a little disc golf vacation here (which is precisely what my wife and I did)!
5. Tee signs. New colorful signs have been added to all of the Ludington courses (including Leviathan). Beast has blue signs, Goliath has black, and Beauty features red. The signs have no depiction of hole layout (which is a con when playing Beast or Goliath and needing to scout ahead), but feature the "mitten" of Michigan with the course name, hole number, and distance. Sufficient enough.
6. Tees. Nice concrete tees on all 24 holes that for the most part were installed properly and level.
7. Baskets. I seem to remember Chainstars out here, although the course page lists DISCatchers (looking at my vacation photos, they certainly LOOK like Chainstars, too!). Whatever they were, they were all installed properly, were in excellent condition, and caught well.
8. Navigation. Aside from a few tricky areas noted below, the paths, signage, and course map (if you have a scorecard) were sufficient in navigating this course.
9. Amenities. This large park is pretty dedicated to disc golf, but there is a playground, some picnic areas, restrooms at the pavilion, multiple parking lots (you may want to utilize different lots as a local depending on when you play, which course you're playing, and where you decide to hop on the course), and I believe dispensers for scorecards/course maps near the check-in. I highly recommend stopping at the Pere Marquette Expeditions supply store on the way in - great microbrew selection, as well as discs or whatever else you might need!
Cons: 1. Navigation. Only one major area of concern, where there is confusing signage after #6 pointing to #C and #7. Let's just say that I figured out where to go eventually (after finding #8's tee), but I couldn't describe properly to a first-timer how to get through this section of the course. You apparently go left after holing out on #6, and then have to backtrack after #C to find #7's tee. Better signage (or more visible signage if it's there) will instantly alleviate this.
2. Tees. MOST were in good shape, but the follow-through area on #5 (big drop-off!) made me poop a little thinking about what would happen to me if I wasn't careful.
3. Litter. I know I mentioned the cleanliness and maintenance, but this is worth mentioning - cigarette butts. Even during a sanctioned event with players who seemed to know their PDGA rulebooks, I observed countless players (from rec divisions up through open!) disposing of butts not on the ground, but IN it…the predominantly sandy soil in Western Michigan is apparently viewed as a large ashtray, and players tended to make a little hole with their foot, dump the butt, and then cover it up, as if this negated the "litter effect." Now, I'm aware that this is not "the norm" and that many Michigan golfers are respectful folks who don't litter, but I felt it was worth noting since even in the rec divisions I've played in Wisconsin, people KNOW that if you even drop a butt on the ground, you can be DQ'd.
4. Design. I guess I was just a little disappointed with the "big picture" of Beast when I stepped back and took it all in. I think I was expecting a bit more, and I know my wife certainly was expecting a LOT more (she's easily intimidated, but don't tell her I said that!), because she walked away amazed at the reachable hole distances and her score (yes fellas, my wife keeps score when she plays!). That's not to say it's an unimpressive course, but I think there's definitely potential to "beef up the beast" by adding some awesome new alt tees and pin locations.
Other Thoughts: Beast is 24 holes of enjoyable, difficult, but surprisingly not-too-arduous disc golf at the fantastic Mason County complex. After playing 2 rounds of Beauty during the 2012 AJ Open (my wife and I were traveling and decided to enter this tourney at the last minute rather than "play around" the event schedule, and I'm glad we did!), I was itching to finally make that trek up the hill where I'd watched so many groups hike up and tee off down what I knew was going to be a memorable first hole. It's imperative to take a rest on the bench at the top of the hill, and understandably there will be a temptation to throw more than one shot from up here, but I was comfortable with my tee shot and anxiously rushed on, eager to see what else was in store for me. I had convinced my wife to tag along, but she remained hesitant for the first few holes -- a fear that subsided once she saw that there were some very doable holes for her skill level as well.
Mason County is a true Midwest DG Destination, up there with the Highbridge complex, Lemon Lake and possibly even Charlotte (I have yet to experience the latter two)! With 3 excellent courses here (I didn't even have time and/or the balls to tackle Goliath on this trip, but will definitely be back!) in addition to Leviathan a few miles away (which plays like 3 separate courses IMO), Flip City, and a brand new course that will rival all of them in the works at a nearby community college, as well as a few "okay" courses, plan a vacation here and plan to have a BLAST! The nearby state park makes a great side trip with some spectacular dunes and views of the Lake, and the entire city is very "touristy" and full of friendly people and lots of activities or just a chance to relax and soak in some great sunsets.
If you're coming from Wisconsin, plan a trip across on the S.S. Badger, which leaves from Manitowoc and lands right here in Ludington! And to all the disc golfers in Western Michigan, hop on the S.S. Badger and come check out our lakeside courses...we've got Silver Creek, Winter Park, and Rollin Ridge all within reasonable distance from port, and I guarantee you our locals are just as friendly!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
A Beastly Good Time
Pros: - Beast starts off with a monster downhill bomb that forces players to stay out of the dense woods and thicket while going back uphill to a precarious pin position. This sets the tone for the rest of the course. Massive elevation change, dense and punishing (yet very fair) woods and thickets, stunning scenery, and a wealth of technical challenges designed to test even experienced discers' games await those willing to challenge the Beast. Wind howls off of Lake Michigan, a stone's throw away. 24 holes of Beast will leave you worn but loving disc golf with every fibre of your being. Seriously epic disc golf.
- Good amenities on well-maintained site: clean bathrooms, water fountains, observation decks on top of the reservoir, decent signage, decent concrete tees, etc.
- Outstanding use of elevation. Great risk/reward throughout in almost every possible configuration minus water hazards.
Cons: - The signage could benefit from having a map of each hole. Many holes are blind and need a walk to check the basket location the first few times through.
- Not for the faint of heart or those with limited mobility.
Other Thoughts: - See my reviews for Leviathan and/or Beauty for additonal pros of the general area in which Beast is located.
- Just go play Mason County already, geez.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Aesthetic-perhaps the three most scenic courses in the state are in this complex. With great views of Lake Michigan throughout.
Signage-Accurate and plentiful. Next tee signs were plentiful. I also think though that the lettered holes (a-f) should have the same signage as the numbered holes.
Variety-meh, theres a fair amount, but you will also see this in the cons.
Risk/reward-While there is no water, there are plenty of tree-ponds that present an OB presence (hole C is the best example).
Baskets-Discraft, thank goodness. Visible when you can see the hole.
Cons: Variety-While this is listed above, I also believe it belongs here. There just isn't enough left fades to go along with the multitude of Right fades... strongly favors left handed (or forehand players)
Blind shots-tons and tons, had to know exactly where the pin is without scouting. Introduced my dad to the term "huck and hope."
Uncontrollables-Wind wind wind wind wind... Crazy windy both times we've played in this complex...Bugs, biting flies and mosquitoes are plentiful
Other Thoughts: all in all a pleasant experience... just need to play goliath to finish this complex up!!
edit: I may have been a bit selfish and subjective in my initial review. I may have spent a lot of time searching for discs on an extremely windy, rain threatening day to write the review same day and for that, I am upgrading it by half a disc. My review is accurate, but my rating may have been low.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Complex- Beast is one of 3 courses at the Mason County disc golf complex (Beauty, Beast, and Goliath). The courses are spread over a generous and gorgeous piece of land near Lake Michigan that contain hole styles in all combinations of 1) flat, up, and down; 2) varying degrees of open to densely wooded; 3) left, straight, and right; 4) long, medium, and short. The courses all begin at the same large parking lot. The 3 courses themselves are at different levels so that everyone will have a course suited for them if you had to pick one. However, the courses also complement each other well, to give you a very well-rounded overall experience if you do play multiple courses (recommended). At the parking lot is a covered picnic pavilion with really nice restrooms. The pay-to-play boxes are conveniently located next to hole 1, and at only $1 day to play it is easily worth that price. The courses didn't appear to see a high volume of disc golfers, so if you are looking to get away from the over-crowded big city courses, this is a great place to come.
The Course- Beast is longer and more demanding than the Beauty course. Hole #1 sets the stage as you walk up a very, very tall and steep hill from the parking lot to #1 tee, and as you reach the top (almost like the first ascent and crest of a roller coaster) you see the amazingly long spacious downhill opening tee shot (or shots because you will have to throw more than one). And as you look around you see much of the course terrain, and then, finally, on the horizon you see Lake Michigan. (It is also a bonus to get that climb out of the way at the beginning rather than on hole 18 when you are beat.)
Overall the course is more wide open, with isolated trees and bushes as most obstacles. There are a few tighter fairways mixed in though, and the rough on these holes were pretty thick in spots in mid-summer. Hole distance encompasses a wide range from 160' to 574', but Hole #1 is the 574', and it plays down a steep hill making it play shorter, and then the rest of the holes are under 500'. Not every hole has elevation, but the ones that do utilize it to the max, both up and down. I enjoyed the different feel that each hole offered and that you had no idea what the next hole was going to look like until you stood on the tee. It almost was like holes from different parts of the country were transplanted here, with the varying terrain that features a variety of trees and grasses. (The only other course I have ever played that gave me this feeling is Morraine S.P.)
Cons: The Course- We found navigation a little confusing with the Goliath course intermixed in: criss-crossing fairways, possible sharing of tees and baskets (not sure), you definitely see extra baskets that you are not playing to and never play to, and when looking for the next tee you see extra tees that are for the other course. (tees are clearly marked as to which course it is for, but it is hard to see from a distance.) Also, we were unable to find #16 (we looked everywhere and never found a basket or tee. We think it was in the woods but we never found a path leading to a hole.) Somebody, please make a map!!! The inserted newer holes did not look like official holes, but more like poorly planned holes designed by locals that only the locals play, may not be the case, but that is what it looked like to me.
The Complex- I expected to find better signs and baskets at a place this (i.e. Lemon Lake), but unfortunately the baskets are showing age and the signs definitely need to be improved. Navigation was not too much of a problem, but things like more informative tee signs, other signs along the way, and a course map would have been beneficial and would have improved the overall experience. The parking lot looked old, and the pay-to-play boxes were dented and rusted. Sadly, the overall appearance was one of neglect. We played in mid-summer and never say another person on this course.
The courses did not appear to get top priority maintenance, which is unfortunate considering the potential for having truly special disc golf experience here is amazing. I am usually not a fan of changing a course from 18 to 24 or 27 if the flow and layout make the course confusing and unnatural. And why not renumber the holes from 1-24 instead of inserting a letter hole here and there?
It is odd that the courses lie between Lake Michigan and the big Reservoir that towers over the course, yet there are no water hazards anywhere ("Water, water everywhere and not a drop to throw a disc over/in!") The reservoir itself is kind of ominous looking as we thought it was a prison because of steep walls, barbed wire fences, multiple watch towers, and warning signs to keep out. (Found out later looking at satellite images that is was water, not a prison!!! During our round a siren horn went off, making us think a convict had escaped, but it was just the signal that they were about to let water out of the dam into Lake Michigan!!!)
Other Thoughts: The Complex- Don't let the names fool you. Beast is not scary, stupid difficult; and Beauty is not super-lame easy! Both are quality courses that will challenge everyone. Obviously having 3 course layouts on site in one area is a big bonus. Plan to spend the day here. These courses, along with Flip City and Leviathan also in the area make this one of the top DG destinations in the country.
The Course- This is a tough course to rate, because the holes are excellent and it gets bonus points for not being the only course here. However, no maps, poor signs, and the overall layout with the extra holes and sharing things with the Goliath course keep this from being an elite course. I gave it a 4.0 (Excellent).
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Check out the views!
Pros: This course has a more open feeling than beauty, and some more length and length variety. Many fairways are grassy with some brushy rough, but not so many low ceilings or tightly wooded holes. There are a few wooded holes, and they are nicely scattered through the course to add variety. There are some really nice elevation shots, and that starts on the first hole with a great view and a fun shot from the top of a large hill.
The design uses the property extremely well to create a variety of hole shapes. This course is more about shot placement, and makes a great complement to the line shaping needed on Beauty. The rough is punishing enough to make you pay for an errant shot, but not so much that it eats discs. There are some ace chances, and some long bombs, and great variety throughout that keeps you guessing.
The baskets are in decent shape and catch well. The concrete tees on the main 18 holes were nice pads, and apparently the letter holes have concrete now too. The park is beautifully maintained, and makes for a very scenic and relaxed round.
Cons: The navigation here can be an issue with Beast and Goliath sharing the space, and it could also potentially result in some safety issues with people playing both directions. A little better signage would be really helpful on all three courses here. The holes along the road and old parking lot lose some of the secluded feeling, and could be a safety issue when traffic is heavier. The letter holes aren't quite up to the standard of the rest of the course yet, but it seems like they're still a work in progress.
Other Thoughts: This course by itself is a fun and challenging place to play, and when combined with the other two great courses in the park is definitely a destination course. Beginners might be frustrated by the thick rough and some of the longer holes. More experienced players will find some great challenge and variety, it's not the toughest course around but it will make you pay for poor shot placement.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Not really Beastly...
Pros: The first positive aspect that comes to mind regarding Mason County - Beast is the groundskeeping. Fairways are mowed and the roughs are most often taller grasses. Baskets and tee pads are in good condition. The view from the first tee is amazing. We played Beast before Beauty and this view was a wonderful introduction to the property. Much like Beauty, the course was designed to test a number of different shot-shapes. However, unlike Beauty, there was sufficient variation in hole lengths.
Cons: There are really only 2 cons that I can think of. First, the navigation is very confusing. Goliath intertwines with the Beast and on a number of holes multiple baskets are in view from the tee. The best example is Hole #8 in which the fairway seems to follow a slight hyzer path up a moderate hill. There is a treeline down the right side of the fairway. A basket is on top of the hill. However, this is a basket for the Goliath course. The correct basket is through the wooded treeline on the right with no gap. This hole was pretty ridiculous. The good news is that this was the only hole on this course which I felt was poorly designed. The second con was the maturity of the extra holes. Like Beauty, they just seemed thrown together. No concrete tee pads had been poured. In a few years, natural processes will probably rectify this, but for now there is a noticeable difference.
Other Thoughts: I really enjoyed this course. I thought there were some excellent holes. While researching which courses to play on our trip, I guess I had envisioned Beauty being short and fun while Beast being long and difficult. I was right on with Beauty, but Beast really surprised me. It wasn't as difficult as I had expected. It was challenging, but not over-bearing. In short, if you are a moderately skilled disc golfer, don't be scared away by the name.
I enjoyed the layout of this course much more than Beauty. This course had some wooded holes, but was mainly open with designated fairways. You needed to be accurate to stay in the fairway, but there were multiple options off the tee. Many of the fairways were lined with dense bushes. I didn't list this as a con (because I like that the rough is punishing) but it could be difficult to find errant shots. Even if you can find it, expect a thorn or two as you retrieve your disc.
There are some really amazing courses in Michigan and the Beast at Mason County is no different. It is well worth the stop if you are in the area. Considering you have Beauty and Goliath on-site, and Leviathan and Flip City within a short drive, this is definitely a destination area for disc golf. These courses are well-maintained and fun to play.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Tough, confusing, challenging...
Pros: - well manicured holes
- great mix of woods and open fairways
- lots of elevation changes
- amazingly beautiful park with 3 courses
- good mix of long and chalenging short holes
- nice baskets
- lots of "thread the needle shots."
- a few big hill bomb shots that are amazing views.
- benches at most holes
Cons: - favors left handed throwers
- rough is very rough and punishing
- extreemly confusing layout, you will never figure this park out without a solid map or a guide who has played it before
- some rubber pads
- minimal signage, the ones that are there are pretty crappy and simple made.
-thick rough that loves to hide discs, coming out of the rough you definitely will be bleading from your legs or arms because of thorns and sharp vines everywhere. You are forced to play safe and keep it on the fairway.
- I dont like the fact that the "goliath" is just the "beast" played basically backwards, seems like a horrible idea where people are throwing at each other often around blind corners and over hills. Its a little unsettling.
- no cell phone signal available, if your well into the woods and get hurt you are in big time trouble for sure.
Other Thoughts: We were very confused for about the first hour here until we bumped into friends who were willing to guide us through the park. There are very few signs to help someone who hasent played there before. You will see several tee pads and several baskets from one spot and its a little difficult to figure the right hole to throw at. This is an extreemly long punishing park, it will punish you from begining to end. I had blisters on my feet after hiking through the course but I had a blast anyway. Its very beautiful right along lake michigan and some of the vantage points from the holes is amazingly beautiful. With better signs the park would probably be more more fluid to navigate. Plan on a whole day if your going to play more than one of the 3 parks at mason county complex. Its a great course but has potential to be better.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
Pay to Play
Pros: well marked.
it is tough but the best suited for my type of lefty play.
it has lots of diffrent types.
keeps you interested and slightly chalanged.
there is more then one course here so once you are done you can go on to another one.
Cons: if you get a disc not on the "fairway" on some holes most of the time you will not see it again. I have lost a total of 3 discs on this course in one round, no other has gone even close.
not many trash cans along the course.
Other Thoughts: this the bst marked of all the courses in mason county park. I got lost once on both of the other ones.
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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