Worth a Round or Two
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I have to admit, Ballou was an afterthought. It wasn't on my original Saturday plan but after finishing up in South Boston and realizing we had the time, a spontaneous side trip to Danville was in order. I wasn't expecting much but I was more than pleasantly surprised with the course I found. As I would likely have never otherwise played the course, I have to say that it was one of my better spontaneous decisions. (at least disc golf related)
Ballou rolls over a variety of terrain, including light woods and rolling hills. Between the landscapes and the elevation changes, each hole manages to present a different look.
There are some open holes that let you throw over distant hills to baskets that you can only locate by reading the tee sign. There are gaps that you have to hit all over the place, some far down the fairway, a few right in front of the tee.
For many, the favorite hole is going to be one of the over-the-valley holes, although I couldn't single out one of them over the others. They're all fun and challenging in slightly different ways.
There is a newish looking walking path in the park (Don't worry, you never throw over it.) that probably is the reason for the slight redesign and if so, I'm grateful, because the new 4 might be the best hole on the course. The blue tee takes off from elevation by the sidewalk but both run parallel to a winding creek for one of the longer holes at Ballou.
The changes likely coincided with new tee signs which are excellent and show the distance, the elevation change and uniquely, the "plays like" which combines the first two numbers into an useful bit of information.
Throw in easy navigation supported by next tee arrows on the baskets, and two nicely-sized tees per hole and you have a course that is certainly worth a round or two.
Cons: What there isn't is a ton of length. Only one hole over 350 feet, and only four over 300. There are no real water holes, and really not too much challenge for advanced players. For intermediate, blue level players, this will be a great course but beginners and experts alike may be disappointed.
I'd also say that the finish is not great. I've grown a bit tired of the last hole is the longest thing that a lot of courses have. I need a bit more than length to cap off my round these days, and 18 here is just a longish hole through the center of a city park.
That said, this isn't a course with specific flaws. If it's not great, it's just because it's not great. It's not standout. It's merely above average. But for the land available, I'm very happy with the result.
Other Thoughts: This is a course that is worth checking out. Worth the trip from Greensboro. Worth the trip from Burlington. Worth the trip from the triangle if in combination with Edmonds.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Side Trip Recommended
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Other Thoughts: Course is situated in a park of about 110 acres, the second largest in the stable of Danville city parks. For a city of this size, Ballou Park is an unusually well appointed and maintained example in the English landscape tradition of parks, and the disc golf course is already very polished and playable for being so young.
The course winds around the park's north side in more or less a clockwise fashion, and is mainly sequestered from other park activities, however walking/biking trails are threaded through several holes and the nature of the park itself promotes 'wandering' from other park goers. Alertness and consideration, as usual, are good practices. Course does not feature returning 9's.
Equipment and amenities are superior, including a distance marked practice green and an ornate and very sturdy information kiosk. Creek fords are first rate and sturdy throughout. It should be noted that policing one's own refuse is required on the course. Tee pads are above average but some may feel the blue tees slightly undersized. Way finding could be a minor issue, as the only 'next tee' indicators are on the previous tee and there are several instances where adjustments to the course have left 'spare' tee pads to find. Small colored directional arrows that hang from the basket's bottoms would solve this first timers' problem quite easily. In the 5 cases of a shared tee pad, the addition of blue stripes to complement the white ones, both on the pad and sign, would also be more consistent/less confusing.
Average hole distance from the whites is about 260' with 11 holes between 200' and 275'. From the blues, the distance variability is more evenly spread, the average hole distance is 335' and only 3 holes are 480' or better. From either set of tees, there are plenty of scoring chances due to the general openness of the course, light forgiving roughs and very few ob areas. Penal rough exists on about 1/3 of the course, but reaching them requires a large mistake (usually greed) and thus your penalty is 'fair'. Ballou #2 is very forgiving of even middling mistakes overall and gets high marks for encouraging learning while retaining a challenge and for venue appropriateness. I found it very fun to play and not as taxing as some of my own local courses. It has a light-hearted, playful mood.
Ballou #2 has excellent use of elevation changes, with every type except 'over-the-hill' represented (#14?) and exhibits excellent variety as well, as the design also includes 4 essentially flat holes. Balance would be the only formal design sticking point as the course strongly favors stable counter spin shot shapes from the tee, especially the blues. Greens are generally open, unobstructed and flattish; only a few exhibit significant slopes or drop-offs and are balanced overall regarding spin receptivity.
Ballou #2 has one very exceptional hole, #16 blue, which is one of 4 'cross-the-valley' type holes here. A 480' right-to-left par 4, one is faced with the 'how aggressive can I be' question off the tee, as landing zones both before and after the creek ford are solid plays. I venture to say the hole is nearly un-pinnable from the tee, even for those with great power as the hole sits about 20' higher than the tee and both sides of the narrow fairway are bordered with some fairly penal rough (the London Plane trees here tend to soak up a disc rather than allowing penetration, but only when in leaf). 60' or so down from the pin a protective cluster of large oaks/maples will catch weak up-shots. Most golfers need to play 2 very good smart shots here to get a shot at a 3. Rollers and the 'over-the-top' approach on this hole are so risky that success with it (them) would be an anomaly. Prove me wrong and show it on YouTube.
The course's routing is very mild, with a low-key start that eases you into the more technical areas of the course. The turn is punctuated with good scoring chances and the round ends with a bittersweet difficult sequence (#15-18). Overall, Ballou #2 is a very solid effort and a course the local club can be very proud of. Should you be passing through, I strongly advise stretching your legs here.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: Course flows well, very natural setting right in the middle of town. The signs were simple but helpful. Good use of terrain and vegetation.
Cons: There were several trees down. The tee for 4 is hidden by a down tree. Look up the hill to the right from 3 basket. Lots of up and down.
Other Thoughts: Saw a couple of deer.
0 of 10 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Multiple Tees
Color Signs with hole and next tees
Nice use of elevation changes
Couple unique holes
Hole 18 puts you out right at the parking lot
Some of the holes aren't well cleared out or maintained.
The wooded holes don't have much of a fairway so good luck.
Woods aren't forgiving.
Other Thoughts: This is a long course with a lot of walking. However it is a very nice and fun course. Baskets can be hard to spot but overall this was a great course to play and would recommend it to others.
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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