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.
3 Helpful / 4 Not
I love the Beast
+ cement tees
+ really challenging well thought out holes with the exception of maybe 2
+ Plays well for both strategic and big arm players.
+Really cool topography
+some really wide open shots let you try out some crazy stuff!
+Really good light hiking
+Pretty good ratio of trees to wide open
+Not sure if I really have a favorite hole here, most are pretty well played
+Risk vs reward is pretty good, most holes are pretty forgiving
+Really is just a great course I can't wait to get back to!
+good course for all types of throwers
+Pretty clean and maintained
Cons: -Can't really play if it is windy
-One of the holes you have to pay thru / over a parking lot then another is really close to the parking lot which could be a pain if there were cars
Other Thoughts: ^bring bug spray
^Play with bright discs!
^One of the holes plays on a blind 2 track that people often hike up, so watch for them
3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Cruelty and the BEAST
Pros: Beauty is pretty and Beast is ugly.
Beauty is dainty and Beast is...beastly!
You are pretty much in Beast Mode from Tee One as you tower over the entire park from the mammoth hill at its centre. You can see everything from up there - the tops of trees, the giant reservoir, even all the way to Lake Michigan. It's as zen as you can get. The wind whips around you and howls past your ears as you line up your throw straight into it. AND THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING.
While I can't say it gets "better" from here (because this is the best rip in the entire complex), Beast certainly lives up to its name. Much tougher tossing compared to Beauty, the lines are taut and the distance is measurable. It is challenging every step of the way, and unlike Beauty, it is much more difficult to recover from errant shots. With several signature holes throughout, Beast does an excellent job of utilizing the park's varying terrain. Here are a few of the highlights:
#1 - Bombs Over Baghdad (no further explanation needed)
#3 - Throwing down into the grove with the massive reservoir as the backdrop, the line is deceivingly cramped; a trick of the mind.
#4 - Super tight line to follow unless you try and heave your disc over the orchard and into the clearing for birdie.
#A - A sharp hyzer following twin gravel tracks, be careful of the steep drop that follows the fairway on the right. Great risk/reward.
#5 - Truly epic launch over a fairly open field, over a road, and then up a big hill to the pin. The wind can really catch your disc here, and not in a good way. Make sure you plan for the headwind.
#D - Great rip & pray hole; a short clearing throws you dead into a thick pine tree line. There is the smallest of openings; not big enough to call a fairway. Just hope you've got enough juice on your drive to get a nice drop for birdie.
#16 - A crazy cramped 50 feet off of the tee, you must arc your shot to land in the clearing beyond. The pin sits cozy in the sand under some pines.
#18 - Beast ends almost as well as it begins with one of the longest holes on the course. You are firing back over the main road into a clearing patched with trees and brush. The first shot is the most important because if you get stuck behind (or in the middle) of those sparse bushes, your approach is blind and can cost you fatal strokes. And look! Beauty #1 is right there. Hmm...guess I'll start another round!
Cons: Two Cons here:
1) Goliath is Beast backwards, so be ever vigilant as you play through; I almost took off a guy's face. Luckily we only came across one or two groups as we played through. Be courteous and wait your turn to throw, and all will be well.
2) Hole #B. This is a pretty bad setup, firing blind onto the pavement of a parking lot. My disc was cut up before I realized it. Seemed like they tried to squeeze this one into the back of the complex.
Other Thoughts: Like I said in my review of Beauty, this complex is top notch and the best set of courses in our great state of Michigan. Everything lived up to my expectations, and in some cases, wholly exceeded them. I will be back to play Goliath on my next trip up to Ludington. Kudos, boys!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: Elevation changes, great mix of trees and open terrain, tests every type of throw you can make and uses all of the discs in your bag. Very well maintained and clean. Beautiful views of the lake
Other Thoughts: View from hole 1 is unreal
1 of 11 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.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beast is a phenomenal course that features awesome variety, challenge, and scenery.
The course starts out with a "top of the world" shot where you tee off from the highest point in the park. This is the easily the best hole 1 tee shot I've ever played. From there pretty much every aspect of your game is challenged. There is a ton of elevation, short and tight wooded shot, long flat shots, and a multitude of different angles off the tee.
For most players, I would recommend playing Beast if you only have time for one course at Mason County as it combines the techinal nature of Beauty without the relentless punishment of Goliath. All three are awesome, but Beast is the Goldilocks of the three... it's just right.
The course flow here is better than Beauty, and there are only a couple navigation issues, but nothing major. The tee pads are all concrete and provide plenty of room for a run up.
The land itself is some of the most beautiful disc golf only land I've played on.
Cons: Beast was by far the most crowded of the three courses the day I played. Count on having to wait for other groups to play, as well as keeping an eye out for players on Goliath throwing at the same basket.
As is the case with the other two courses, the signage is pretty weak. Numbered sign posts exist everywhere, but they offer no discription of the shot, so if you're unfamiliar with the course, you're forced to walk the fairway until you see it, which sucks on some of the hilly shots.
The navigation from #6 to Hole C then back to #7 is pretty confusing, and it's easy to skip C if you don't know where you're going.
The distance and challenge makes this course pretty unfriendly for beginners and weak armed players. Due to its proximity to the lake, wind is likely to be a factor most of the time.
Other Thoughts: Mason County Park is the best concentration of disc golf coures in a single location I've played to date. Make time to play all three when you come here, because they all offer something different.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: - Course is set in a large park that has lots of hills and some forested areas. This course shares baskets with some alternate tees, so there could be a conflict there. Otherwise pretty much devoted to disc golf.
- Majority of the holes are in open fields/hills with large trees and other bushes to provide obstacles and force some line shaping. There are some more open ones that really demand a specific line, like a big RHBH hyzer on #1, #A, or an anny like #B. Other holes have more options to get to the pin, but have a lot more obstacles. With some serious hole lengths, these are more about good shot placement to set up a clear approach.
- Other holes are much, much tighter and demand a certain line to reach the pin. This ranges from tiny, tiny windows like that on #8, to some moderately tight tunnels, to general hyzers and annies. The main hazards here is thick rough off of the fairway on either side, or big trees also to the side. Many spots where backdoors are hardly present.
- Constant elevation changes to be found here, of many types. #1 plays from hill to hill, #B is an elevated teepad with a blind shot to the right, #5's basket is perched on a hill, and there are some valley shots mixed in as well. Lots of blind pin placements due to the elevation changes and/or twisting lines. Rollaways definitely present as well.
- Lots of variety in hole length; lots of short shots, but also 4 over 400'. Average hole length at 295', good mix above and below that.
- A ton of different shots needed, with plenty left, straight, and right lines to be found. Some shorter holes probably have a great OH route as well, especially up and over hills.
- Good teepads, baskets, and numbered posts. Navigation is pretty straightforward, except after #6 (#C's teepad is next to the road).
Cons: - My biggest gripe with this course is the constant terrain. Lots of open air with patches of forest and stuff in the way. Very, very few areas inside a forest, if that. It gets pretty repetetive after a while, and the challenges remain the same from start to finish.
- A lot of shorter holes, with 10 being under 250'. That's nearly half the holes, and the lines aren't interesting enough to keep it fresh. After playing a few times, I could see it getting very stale once the lines are dialed in.
- Biggest hazard here, other than some dense rough, is a bunch of road OB. It is used well, especially the blind empty parking lot on #B, but it's not a huge challenge to avoid it.
Other Thoughts: - I am a little confused why this course is called Beast, with so, so many short holes. There are some bombers, no doubt, but they are overshadowed by the many approach-length holes. Not too much in the way of obstacles, either, usually just big trees on the long ones and rough on the short ones. That said, there are a ton of different lines to hit here, and shot placement is definitely important. More experienced players may be a little bored, everyone else should have a good time and try to score well.
9 of 11 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.
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