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Columbia, MO

Harmony Bends DGC

4.845(based on 61 reviews)
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18 0
EspressoPatronum
Gold level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 18.9 years 256 played 247 reviews
5.00 star(s)

One of the Great Disc Golf Experiences of This Era

Reviewed: Played on:Apr 10, 2024 Played the course:once

Pros:

Basics:
- Innova DISCatcher baskets in great shape
- excellent full color tee signs at every tee with maps and suggested
flight patterns
- dual or triple concrete tees for every hole
- flawlessly maintained park with beautiful natural scenery
- dual pin positions per hole (1 populated at a time)

Amenities/Extras:
- ample parking
- practice basket
- pack in/pack out course, but still has some garbage cans on
course
- hole numbers on baskets
- good use of next tee indicators
- some built in bridges and stairs
- some benches throughout course
- kiosk with large course map at start

Course Design/General Thoughts:
- fantastic incorporation of elevation change
- mix of open and wooded holes, but leans more wooded
- fairways are open enough to be fair but include obstacles
- generally a pretty long course with several par 4s and 5s
- three tees offer options for multiple skill levels, though none are
easy
- excellent incorporation of winding creek
- navigation is mostly very straightforward
- rough/undergrowth is minimal and very manageable
- good variety of hole distances - though few are super short

Difficulty/Uniqueness:
- very few courses combine all of the elements you see here in 18
holes
- quite challenging for most players but fair and not punishing
- forces a variety of shot types and shaping; you will need a
complete game to score well
- high risk shots on steep edges are well thought out

Cons:

- would be nice if the tee signs indicated which tee you were at
- supposedly, flooding issues - no indication of any issues Apr 2024
- some creek crossings have uneven/wobbly rocks
- may get more buggy in summer
- road noise from interstate is a slight downer

Other Thoughts:

It's very satisfying to say I finally made it to Harmony Bends. It unquestionably lived up to the hype. On an epic 5-state road trip, I have to say that this was one of my top 3 experiences, but it would be really hard to pick a favorite - and that says more about the quality of the other courses than being a knock in any way on Harmony Bends.

Let's start with the cons, because they are brief. It's all nits, as far as I'm concerned, and nothing that would make me bump this below 4.75 - which means it warrants my 3rd ever perfect 5. Being near the interstate means despite the serenity of this park, you definitely can hear road noise. It's a bummer, but also means this course is super convenient to get to vs. most 5 star courses. The tee signs here are phenomenal - but I wish they'd indicate "red tee" vs. "white tee" vs. "blue tee". Personal pet peeve of mine, but still very minor. Otherwise, as others have said a few of the creek crossings are a bit dicey. I like the natural stone crossings, but making them a bit less wobbly might be a good idea. I saw ZERO evidence of flooding when I was here - maybe I got lucky, but it seems like this has been much improved over the years.

Everything else about this course was an incredible experience. You feel immersed in nature, and as you don't circle back to the parking lot during the round - a con for some - I feel like you really just get lost in the course, which adds to the experience for me. The basics are top notch here - fantastic tee signs, great large concrete tees, multiple pin positions, and classic Innova DISCatcher baskets with those nice yellow rings to see at a distance. Maintenance also appeared good here. I saw one trash can that some vandals had lit on fire, and parks & rec was already there cleaning it up.

Navigation was pretty straightforward, though I did consult my map a few times. Hole numbers on baskets did help, but the fairways are open enough here it's not always a sole obvious path. However, flow felt good. Built-in bridges and stairs on the most treacherous areas helped traverse the terrain. Elevation change here is in the upper echelon of courses I have played. I think Justin Trails - Big Brother in Wisconsin and Hummel Park in Nebraska might be my all-time champs for steep terrain, but Harmony Bends is pretty notable. It is incorporated into the course so well - there are uphill shots, downhill shots, baskets perched on edges, throws along hillsides, flat shots - everything. A few holes are more open and bring some real distance, but none felt so open and effortless the course was disjointed.

I budgeted for 2 hours here, and I think I came in slightly below that playing solo - it is a long course, but can move at a decent pace.

A full third of the course plays with water, which is a great challenge. It was lightly raining on and off while I was here, but I honestly loved the ambience of that with the creek throughout. This course is quite tough, but didn't feel absolutely punishing. Beginners could get very frustrated, as even the red tees are long. White/blue are closer in length, but both would be considered "really long." However, the red tees give an easier look for players with some experience. Pars are fair and as the fairways aren't "dense woods" style, multiple paths to the basket often exist. I love a good dense woods course more than almost anything, but Harmony Bends excels at creating an ideal moderately wooded course. The terrain will wear you out, and you should come with boots, a good attitude, and some stamina.

The course starts off in excellent fashion throwing over multiple bends in the Harmony Creek. Yes, I ended up in the water multiple times on the first hole, and I loved it! This reminds me so strongly of Idlewild, which was one of, if not the first iconic course to implement this type of hole. Harmony Bends is the 2010-onwards version of this type of course with all we've learned through decades of course design.

The course proceeds to play up and down some steep hills, with hole 6 having a nice basket up on the steep section of a hill. Hole 7 is the first really open shot, once you get off the tee set back in the woods, and hole 8 takes you over multiple creek crossings and right up the hill again.

I particularly enjoyed hole 13, which was kind of unexpected. This is a tough 500-ish ft. hole curving to the right with creek to your left and trees on the right. A little open for my usual tastes, and not the type of shot I'm great at. In the past I would have thrown a forehand shot here, but I'd been working on a big-air anhyzer I wanted to try throwing here, with the area over the creek to the left wide open without a ceiling. This would have bombed if not executed correctly, but I threw an understable anny shot perfectly on the rightward curve I needed. Immensely satisfying, and one of the best examples of how this caliber of course both rewards good shot selection and also can punish poor choices. Ability to throw a variety of shots will immensely improve your play.

Hole 18 was under construction to grow grass while I was here, but an alternate hole was in place, which I found excellent - though it was a bit confusing where you were supposed to throw from and which areas you needed to stay out of. Regardless, it was nice the park had a temporary hole set up at all.

Ultimately, in fewer words - Harmony Bends may be the best course I've played in over 250 courses. I don't know if it's my favorite (though certainly top 10), but it's probably objectively the best designed course. It is well-deserving of a 5 and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for ultimate disc golf experiences.
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19 0
DFrah
Gold level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 6 years 249 played 242 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Everything in Perfect Harmony

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Oct 16, 2023 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Harmony Bends DGC is the main attraction of Strawn Park in Columbia, MO - about halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. I arrived with high expectations for DGCR's current #1 rated course in the US, and it did not disappoint.

I'm not sure if the course was named after the two creeks that run through it or the shape of the fairways, but it's an accurate descriptor for both. The "bending" wooded fairways here range from moderately tight to moderately open, and require all kinds of different shot shapes. Nothing is thread-the-needle tight here other than maybe #12 off the tee, but nothing is wide open either. Many holes were clearly designed to allow multiple paths to the basket - not only off the tee, but also for approaches.

The park has lots of elevation change and it is used masterfully in the course design, including several baskets perched on the edge of steep slopes. The creeks mentioned above come into play on six holes total. The starting and ending holes involve throwing across the creek multiple times, which is always memorable for me. The placement of the water hazards makes you think about how far you throw and maybe laying up, vs. just throwing as far as you can. You won't lose discs in this water though if you do judge incorrectly.

Some memorable holes for me:
- As mentioned, the creek crosses #1's fairway several times. The hole has a moderately open fairway with a few old growth tree trunks. The basket is up on a ridge somewhere between 530' and 830' away depending on your chosen tee.
- #8 from the Blue/White tee is a wicked little 200' throw up the side of a steep hill, with the danger for discs to roll back down into a creek below (fortunately the water is signed as casual for this one).
- #9 plays 250' down a wooded valley and up the other side (where you'll find the Red tee), then the fairway kinks to the left and up and over a tighter wooded hill for another 400' to the basket. There is a big downhill behind the basket if you overthrow it. My approach shot came up short, and I ended up taking the extra stroke to lay up instead of trying to run it from the edge of my comfortable putting range.
- #10 is the longest on the course at 900'-1000'. You tee off from the top of a big hill through a narrow gap in the trees, straight ahead onto a moderately wide fairway that flattens out the rest of the way to the basket.
- #13 is a gentle 350'-600' right turn with water on the left and a huge living tree lying sideways on the fairway making a big arch.
- #18 was my favorite on the course. It starts off playing downhill in moderately wide woods for 300' (Red tee at bottom of hill), then flattens out but the creek crosses into play on the left side of the fairway. The creek undulates back and forth along the left side of another 500' worth of fairway, then you finally have to throw across it again at the end to reach the basket.

This course normally features three layouts - Blue, White, and Red. I played one round from the Reds and then another from the Whites. Most holes have three separate large, trapezoid-shaped concrete tee pads which are positioned to not only make the holes longer or shorter, but in many cases provide completely different looks at the pin. A couple of the holes have a shared tee for the Blue and White layouts. The targets are yellow banded DISCatchers. There is one pin position per hole which is used for the normal three layouts. For tournaments only, some of the pin positions are apparently moved to create an even more challenging Gold layout (I.e. the "Gold" layout is Blue tee positions to the alternate pin placements). All of this is conveyed perfectly via large, colorful tee signs that appear at each tee. The tee signs also show the suggested flight path(s!) from the current tee, broken up into segments for each throw if you were going to birdie the hole.

The hole distances are appropriately challenging from each tee. As a decent rec-level player, I was happy to shoot -1 from the Red tees despite an awful triple bogey on #10 (the pars are the same from all tees, which I like). My round from the White tees kicked the challenge up several notches to a level suitable for intermediate players. The Blue tees appear to provide championship level challenge. Regardless of your chosen tee, you'll experience a good RANGE of hole distances as well - shorter "short" and "long" holes from the Red tees and longer "short" and "long" holes from the Blues.

Navigational signage is great, with large signs that are color coded per layout. White stakes/paint are used to indicate OB areas on several holes. A couple of Mandos are clearly marked. Benches are installed at selected tee areas.

The attention to some other little details really impressed me. There is one spot where you have to cross another hole's fairway during a walk between holes - but there is a warning sign posted. There are staircases built into the steepest hillsides. There are large rocks in places where you need to walk across the creeks (maybe don't bring your cart for this one though). There is a signed option to play holes 1-8 and 18 for a 9-hole round if short on time. Recycling bins sit alongside trash cans at strategic spots around the course.

The front of the course has one of the most beautiful kiosks I have ever seen, complete with a large course map and a little seating area around it. There is a practice basket and restroom (open summer only) on the opposite side of the parking lot. There is also a porta potty near hole 9 and 18's tee.

Cons:

This course is only about 1/2 mile from I-70. You can hear the traffic from the freeway throughout the course. This always takes away from the aesthetic for me.

A couple of very tiny gripes:
- The only indication of which tee you are at on the tee signs is the little flight path lines - which only emanate from the tee you are standing at. It would be nice if these more obviously showed whether you are at a Blue, White, or Red tee box - e.g. by making that color pop more or something. I threw from an incorrect tee box once early in my first round before I got the hang of it.
- The Red layout could use a few more benches at those tees. And it would be nice if all benches faced the hole, instead of the way some of them currently face sideways.
- There were a couple of places where there was a Next Tee sign present, but it wasn't close enough to the previous basket to be visible from it.

Other Thoughts:

Somehow, this course is entirely free to play. You just show up, the same way you would with your local park course (I suppose for those players lucky enough to live in Columbia, this IS the local park course). They don't even have a donation box that I saw. I would have happily threw in $5 or $10 to play a course of this caliber.

The potential drainage issues with the terrain here have been well documented by other reviewers. Visiting in the fall after what I understand was an unusually dry summer, this was not an issue at all for me. To me, this is just an availability thing to consider when planning your trip. Other top courses are closed at certain times of year. Maybe travelers should avoid going too far out of the way to visit this one in the early spring (when things are presumably wetter.)

This was my first course played in the state of Missouri which was my 15th state played overall. It was also my 7th course played out of the current "Top rated" 15ish courses on this site (Flip City, Idlewild, Rollin Ridge, BRP, Maple Hill, and Highbridge - Blueberry Hill being the others). Out of those courses, I'd say this one felt most like Idlewild - particularly the holes near the creek and the other tough, long wooded holes.

Harmony Bends is obviously a must-play. I played a ton of great disc golf over my week in Missouri and this course narrowly beats out Eagle's Crossing, Hanna Hills, and New Melle Lakes as my pick for best course in the state. On my personal ledger, it slots in as the second best course I have ever played behind only Maple Hill. With my biggest Con basically being "it's next to a major highway, wahhh!" (which some would understandably actually think of as a Pro), I have no choice but to hand out my third ever 5.0 rating.
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24 0
SneakyJedi
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 15 years 149 played 83 reviews
5.00 star(s)

A Truly Special Course

Reviewed: Played on:May 22, 2023 Played the course:once

Pros:

- Gorgeous property with features that seem divinely placed to create the perfect canvas for a disc golf course.

- Excellent course equipment including the best navigational signage I've ever seen.

- Fun and varied golf from start to finish with excellent diversity of greens and fairway types, shapes, and lengths.

- The three sets of tee pads and gold basket positions allow for just about everyone to enjoy and be challenged by this course.

Cons:

- The extreme elevation and natural creek crossings can make traversing the course difficult and/or tiring.

- You don't really loop back to the parking lot before Hole 18.

- Well documented flooding concerns, though I did not experience any issues during my round in mid May.

Other Thoughts:

My trip to Harmony Bends was several years in the making and easily one of my most eagerly anticipated rounds. It resulted in two lost discs, a thorn deep in my foot, a broken windshield, and was still one of my favorite rounds I've ever played. The course is located only a couple minutes off of I-70, which makes its exceptional terrain all the more surprising. You will play up and down hills of significant elevation, across and along meandering creeks, through fairways running the gamut of woodedness, throwing left, right, and straight to many precariously placed baskets. And all of that through one of the most scenic parks I've played across the country. I was fortunate enough to have the course to myself on a Monday morning, and routinely stopped just to enjoy my surroundings.

The course equipment is top notch. The concrete tee pads are large and grippy, the yellow banded DISCathers are easy to see and catch well, and the signage shows you everything you need in a clean and colorful format. Directional signage is unmatched with color coded arrows pointing the way to each tee on the next hole, I never had to reference a map or UDisc. There are benches at most tees, bathrooms and a kiosk with a course map at the parking lot, and a porta-pottie and trash and recycling bins between Holes 8 and 9.

The rough is generally manageable and the fairways very well maintained. The grass was a bit long on much of the back 9, but not enough to cause irritation. I did manage to find what felt like the thickest and tallest rough to the left of the fairway on Hole 12 and lost the first disc of my round and got a thorn through the bottom of my shoe and into my foot for the trouble of searching. I also lost a disc on a second drive into the creek on Hole 18. Even with my bad luck, I don't think this is a course with a particularly high chance of losing discs.

A storm had rolled through the area about 2 days before my round, but it must have been relatively dry ahead of that as I experienced none of the sloppy or flooded fairway conditions others have noted during my late spring round. I similarly had no memorable issues with gnats, mosquitoes and the like. The course information lists the course as Somewhat Cart Friendly, but I would not advise taking a cart with the amount of elevation to be scaled and the couple natural/rustic creek crossings. This course could be challenging to traverse for more out of shape golfers or those with lower body/joint issues. I finished my solo round in a little over 2 hours and was tired but not exhausted by the effort.

The round is bookended by two stelar par 5's that easily make my Dream 18. The intermediate 16 holes are filled with a great variety of par 3's, 4's and 5's, many of which would be signature holes on most other courses. As is standard with Houck designed courses, landing zones are important on the par 4's and 5's, and multiple routes are frequently available on a give hole. I tried out both forehand and backhand lines down different alleys on multiple holes. I'd have loved to play this course all day trying out different lines and different tees. The White tees suited me well as a ~930 rated player. I think I could have managed fine from the Blues, but certainly had more birdie opportunities from the shorter tees, and felt like it was the most fun option for me. A number of the Red tees seemed overly short or took away from the epic nature of holes from longer tees, but it's still nice to have a shorter layout available for less skilled players or those looking for a quicker round on this gorgeous track. Just about everyone can have fun here and the best of the best will be challenged by the gold layout. It would be nice to see a second set of permanent baskets for those pin positions.

Harmony Bends catapulted itself to the very top of my favorite courses list after just a single play. It really is something special and there is no wonder why it has held a spot at or near the top of the highest rated courses on this site. It is both challenging and accessible, a true pleasure to play. This is a property worth traveling hundreds of miles to, and I would highly suggest hitting up Eagles Crossing and many of the other excellent courses in the St. Louis area, as I did. It made for a truly epic trip that I am looking forward to repeating.
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31 0
thrembo
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 49.1 years 242 played 195 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Reviewed: Played on:May 25, 2023 Played the course:once

Pros:

Fasten your seatbelts because you will be on a disc golf roller coaster of a ride! This course is a Houck masterpiece. Insane elevation changes inside of one of the most beautiful dedicated parks for disc golf you will ever see. Seriously some of the most gorgeous holes ever. I constantly found myself comparing these holes to my favorite holes on other courses. The course features a wide variety of distances and looks, typical of a Houck-designed course. The tees are massive trapezoids and are two to three per hole. The gold level has its own pin placements. The tee signs are the best. The next tee signs are the best. You won't get lost here and shouldn't need a map. There are wooden and rock stairs to aid in the steep climbs and creek crossings. There wasn't a speck of trash on the course and it is very highly maintained for a rustic course. And the most important thing, the course is the most fun and appropriately challenging for every skill level except beginner. Simply put, the course is amazing and a must-play!

Cons:

I will have to dig deep to find any cons here.

Bring bug spray. The course is quite wooded and rustic so plenty of insect activity. One of my card mates found a couple of tics on him.

The course features some rustic creek crossings on uneven rocks. They look really cool, especially on hole 1 but are not for the faint of heart. I strongly encourage sturdy shoes for this course. I would caution new players, fragile players, and low-level rec players as this course is a brutal challenge, has crazy elevation changes, and is very rustic in nature.

We didn't experience any of the flooding issues that others have listed as a con on our visit. Either we got lucky or played at the right time of the year or hopefully, they are addressing the issue and fixing the drainage problems.

Other Thoughts:

Wow just wow. The course was in nearly perfect condition when we played it and became an instant favorite. I love-love rustic courses, and this one left me fully sated. Those that prefer a more open city-style course might not like it as much. Still, it is pretty refined for a rustic course and I think that most folks would enjoy a round here except for the most feeble among us and new throwers/low-level recs.

For me, the course was truly mind-blowing. A must-play and I give it my highest recommendation!
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34 2
knobby325
Gold level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 9 years 326 played 248 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Not Quite DG Nirvana 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Apr 18, 2022 Played the course:once

Pros:

-Championship Level Layout
-Large Concrete Pads, Multiple Pads per hole
-Top Notch Signage, especially for next hole
-Wide Variety of Challenges, elevation, technical
-Scenic piece of land
-Good baskets, practice basket
-Various tees make some real changes to the hole, especially on #8, #10, #13, #18

Cons:

-Water, Drainage is poor in several areas, can flood with lots of rain in the area, making the course unplayable
-Safety, mostly on hole #1, but also on #18. The stepping stones to cross the creek can be treacherous.

Other Thoughts:

Harmony Bends DGC is a championship level course in Strawn Park on the western edge of Columbia, MO. The course makes wonderful use of the terrain in the park. Signage is top notch with some of the best next tee signage I've seen. There are some real differences between the tees making for an unique experience for all levels. The elevation is taxing at times, bring plenty of water in warmer times. One of the big detractors, for me, is only the fault of the piece of land. Drainage is poor in areas. I played after some rain, not impassible or unplayable, yet some of the course was dodging the wet areas. #2 Blue and white tees were surrounded. #5 blue and white tees were also waterlogged. Lots of water in various places along the length of #10. Another issue was in the safety of crossing the creek. You cross 3 times on #1 and once on #18 (assuming you stay on the right of the creek on #18). All 4 crossings are on steeping stones. The creek was low enough that these were prominent, but I mis-stepped on the third crossing on #1 and took a tumble and was wet from the thighs down and dunked half my cart/bag. I saw "somewhat cart friendly" and chanced it. Somewhat cart friendly on #2 - #17, but tough on #1 and #18. Did see a couple of other carts on the course, so some try it. The mechanics are top notch, signage, baskets, design, skill level (although even the red tees are almost 6200'). I went out of my way to get to this top rated course, and while it was excellent, the safety keeps it from a "best of the best" rating for me. The playability from a water standpoint keeps it down for me, too. You could add better crossings on #1 and #18, not much you can do about the water/flooding issue. Go and experience it. Probably don't take a cart. I won't rush back out of my way to play, but it would be the one to play, if in the area.
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30 0
Pevio
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 12.1 years 190 played 120 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Stunning, Majestic, Incredible… I’m running out of adjectives

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Jul 14, 2023 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Harmony Bends features one of the most diverse, challenging, and unique collections of holes ever assembled. Every feature here is manicured well, giving a perfect mix of difficulty, fun, and even lots of scenic views. Parking lot, practice basket, bathrooms, tees, and signs are all in good shape. Note: For most of this review, I'll be talking about the white and/or blue tees, since they're more challenging and more fun if you only get to play one round.

Par 4's. The six of these here are all true two-shot holes, with at least one defined landing zone, but that all give options no matter where you land. Hole 2 is amazing, giving two fairways off the tee, a slight turn to the right, some parts of the rough that are tighter than others, precarious pin spots, and an intense long pin. It's a perfect example of choosing what risks to take, if you know what the reward will be and if you know how you will be punished if you don't execute properly. Holes 13 and 15 have large open landing zones but wooded approaches, and the river on the left on 13 may make a lot of people take a safe first shot or two. Holes 5, 11, and 17 also have lots of options and opportunities to get to the basket if you are anywhere on the fairway.

Par 5's. There are four of these on the property, and they all have all kinds of different lines, two elevated tees, risk-reward opportunity, and a lot of challenge on every shot. On hole 18, you can throw over the creek, like, every shot, but the safe line to the right side is much more wooded. Sure, you'll be scared for your disc if you take the aggressive lines, but that hole is a fantastic design. Hole 1 has you playing over the creek as well and gives some crazy eagle opportunities like 18 does. While calling the creek OB is a little strange, since it makes holes 2 and 18 a little too punishing, it is sometimes deep enough to lose discs in, so it's probably the right call. But if you call the creek casual, you're not ruining the structure of the hole at all.

I'll even talk about some of the par 3's. There are never more than three par 3's in a row, and most of them provide some interesting options, sides of the fairways you'll want to land if you can't get to the green in one, and a lot of dangerous greens (though some greens have rocks to reduce rollaways). There's the token super wooded straight shot (hole 12), and while hole 14 is a bit odd, it is unique and it's good that there's exactly one hole like it on the course.

This course manages to provide various fairway shapes without massive doglegs. While regular doglegs are fine, they often alienate people who don't have a certain shot, or too severely punish shots that don't land in the perfect landing zone. But here, there are several holes where you may want to go one direction then fade back towards the center, or where you can play the hole like a dogleg or take a more aggressive shot that curves around the entire fairway. Some holes force you to bend a shot a certain way, but still provide plenty of options as to how and where in the fairway you do so. The only true dogleg here is hole 2, and even it is only a 45 degree or so bend.

Every bit of care imaginable has been put into this course. There are numerous signs pointing you toward the next tee, and they tell you which way to walk depending on which tee you're playing. This is important since the tee signs don't identify themselves as being red, white, or blue, which means you may need to pay attention to the signs on the way to the tee to know which tee to go to. There are also stairs to help you get up or down slopes on four holes, and rocks to help you cross creeks. This course receives great maintenance, which is good because the land requires it.

I don't think the use of the three tee settings was perfect, but it is good to have the options. It seems to me the white tees are the most popular, since they have the teeth that the blue tees do, but don't remove any complexity like the red tees do. But you can also play a mix of tees if you want some ace runs that the red tees offer but also want to spice things up with the crazy challenge the longer tees offer.

Cons:

While the red tees are made for people with ratings under 900, a lot of those holes are just easy. Several holes under 200 feet, and several par 4's under 400. Now, people who will be getting eagle looks on some of those holes probably shouldn't be playing those tees on a regular basis (unless you're reducing what you call par into the 50's), but they still don't provide some of the challenge they could, while they keep the lost disc potential on several holes. And the white and blue tees, while much better, aren't much different from each other most of the time; if they're different pads, the blue tee is a slightly harder version of the same hole, and usually doesn't change anything significant. That said, that was probably the design, and the times when the blue tee has a tough gap to hit off the tee, while the white pad doesn't, shot selection is much more at a premium.

There are occasionally some weird navigation spots or spots where conflict between holes could happen. Getting between holes 12-15 is a bit odd, and on hole 2, you're throwing towards the tees of 5. Other times, the red pad gets in the way of the line from the longer pads. Hole 4 is the best example, but it can happen on 3 and a few of the longer holes, depending on where your first shot lands. Fortunately, the tee signs are out of the way and don't block tee shots from the longer tees.

A few holes just aren't super hard. Holes 8 and 16 stand out, being ordinary uphill shots with not a lot going on. They're fine for the white tees, but since blue and white tees are the same on both holes, they make the blue pads lag a little bit. Longer blue pads on those would be nice, but there's probably not enough room for them. Also, holes 3 and 6 are also touchy uphill woods par 3's (and are better than 8 and 16 in my opinion), so having even more holes like this is a little redundant.

Other Thoughts:

Most holes have a championship pin used only for tournaments. It does make them much more exclusive, and it makes sense given that some of those pins are super tough for the casual player, but it makes the easier holes stay too easy. While I like the pin position on hole 1, a left pin closer to hole 2's blue pad could be pretty good as well. Of the championship pins, hole 2 is by far the best.

I know drainage is an issue and is a legitimate knock on this course… but the course is amazing and only a few times a year are more than two holes unplayable.

I normally give comments on opportunities for design improvements. And here they are: There are none. There were so many trees cut down to make this course possible, and the ones that weren't cut down were left intentionally to produce great holes. There are even not a lot of bushes in the rough, which makes finding discs easier and reduces luck regarding where exactly you land. The only changes I would like are a few more long blue tees or a few long pins available more often.
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35 0
Tyler V
Gold level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 17.1 years 154 played 105 reviews
5.00 star(s)

An Exquisite Championship Course Full Of Challenging Terrain, Mossy Trees, and Exciting Disc Golf 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Nov 6, 2021 Played the course:once

Pros:

Harmony Bends is a championship-level 18-hole course on the edge of Columbia, Missouri. Designed by John Houck (also known for Selah Ranch and WR Jackson, among others), this course is currently rated 3rd on Disc Golf Course Review, behind only Jarva and Selah Ranch - Lakeside, and has hosted Pro Tour Silver Series events that can be found on Youtube.

Location of Harmony Bends is in Strawn Park, a plot of land acquired to ultimately serve as a trailhead. Just minutes off I-70, Strawn is close to plenty of food and gas options, along with everything else Columbia has to offer. This course is easy to hit if you're traveling along I-70, and with 4 other 18-holes in Columbia, you could certainly make a day or weekend out of chucking plastic in this town.

Park Amenities are straightforward at Strawn Park, with the disc golf course and future trail being the main attractions. Around the parking lot, you'll find a non-reservable shelter as well as bathrooms and water fountains that are open during non-freezing seasons. There was a port-o-john available in the parking lot during our round yesterday. Parking may fill up during busier days, but even with a full course we didn't have an issue with this. Other park-goers may be present as well to enjoy the park, as the hills, creeks, and trees make for a great setting for a hike.

Course Equipment at Harmony Bends includes everything you could ask for. Each hole has 2 or 3 tee pads, all of which are large, concrete, and very nice to throw off of. The baskets, including a practice basket near the parking lot, are DISCatchers that are in good shape. The signage on site is some of my favorite signage I have seen thus far. At the start of the course, there is a large sign showing a course layout, all distances and pars, rules, and other info. Each tee sign has distances, pars, a great graphic of the hole layout, and even drive routes drawn out, along with directions to the next tee. There are also several signs between holes with directions to the different tees for the next hole, making it very hard to get lost here.

Course Design at Harmony Bends makes the absolute most of the land, including just about everything a disc golf would want in a course. This plot of land includes creeks, tall trees, and varying terrain, and you will see all of it during your time here. This course has three different tees to choose from with white and blue tees sometimes sharing. These three tee options provide three consistently different options in terms of difficulty, providing a course experience accessible to a wide array of skill levels.

Shot Shaping varies greatly on this course. As primarily a RHBH player, I quickly noticed a larger percentage of right turning shots than I have seen on any other course I have played thus far. There are so many holes on this course that will challenge right-handed, left-handed, forehand, or backhand players, while also providing players plenty of opportunities to throw the shot they are most comfortable with.

Distances also provide plenty of variety at Harmony. Ten holes on site are a par-4 or par-5, with the par four 5s being spread nicely between holes 1, 9, 10, and 18. Red tees alone range between 123 and 904 feet long, with the white and blue tees ranging from short 200s to just short of 1,000 feet. Overall, you'll find a nice mix of small ace runs, to longer two shot par-4s, to Par-5's that most folks will find possible to hit with multiple good drives.

Use of Land is pretty much at its highest potential. You will find holes navigating the creeks, holes sending you up and down steep hills, valleys, hills, and shots requiring accuracy through tight gaps. Every part of this park feels tailor made to host a top-notch disc golf course.

Difficulty changes greatly between the different tee pads, allowing you to choose what spice level you want for your round. The red tees are much shorter than the other ones, providing challenging but more accessible distances and fairways. The white tees switch between being shared with the blue tees or being 50 to 70 feet shorter than the blues, providing a round with a little less pepper while you work your way up to the blues. The blues (and golds during tournaments) will provide you with the full pro tournament experience.

Course Highlights are hard to narrow down here, as a large percentage of the holes at Harmony Bends would be a highlight or top hole on most other courses. Each of the four par-5s is terrific and different from the others, with creek shots, downhill tee drives, and fairways that make you choose between different gaps through the trees. Hole 7 is a very fun downhill shot into a large green, tempting you to go for broke for an ace. Hole 15 is a great two-shot hole, with a drive to the base of the hill followed up by a placement shot up a large hill to hit your birdie opportunity. Every par-4 on this course is a genuine two drive hole, each requiring different shots and incorporating different terrain to traverse. No hole on this course feels like filler, even the shortest ones. Everything here is great.

Cons:

Drainage, as you may have read, is the biggest issue Harmony bends has. The sign you see on the road right before the park notes that it is inaccessible during high water, which will give you a hint of what this course can experience. The creeks on site connect to the nearby Missouri River, and after heavier rain a good portion of this course can be inaccessible. If you are planning to come play Harmony Bends, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast as well as local disc golf pages to make sure the course is good to go, as it will shut down at times, especially in the Spring and Summer. The local disc golf club and city do what they can and are working on this issue, and it seems like work gets put in to reopen it as quickly as possible when it does have to be closed.

Standing Water and Mud, understandably, can be present long after the previous rain shower. This was most noticeable on holes 10, 13, and 15, as each one of these had mud or standing water despite the last rain shower being a week ago. Only hole 10 had water in a potential landing zone though, so this issue was of minimal concern. Just watch where you step on some of the lower areas.

Holes 12, 13, and 14 make for potentially weird transitions, as hole 14 runs between holes 12 and 13. Signage directs you around hole 14's fairway and green, though given where 13's red tee is, many folks will cross the fairway. Everyone was really good about watching before walking across and giving right of way, and this is the only spot where flow and navigation were even a little wonky.

Crowdedness is by no surprise a factor that you can run into on this course. My friend and I had to wait a bit at each hole, with groups in front and behind us. None of the waits were too long considering how busy this course was. Considering that this course isn't always available to play and we came on a 60 degree sunny day during a time of year that doesn't guarantee that kind of weather, I wouldn't have been surprised to see the course busier. Some locals mentioned this was the busiest they've ever seen the course, which honestly feels like a good thing in a way. Keep in mind this course on any given weekend will have a mix of locals, folks driving in from places like KC and St. Louis, and likely folks from much farther away given the reputation this course has. Give yourself plenty of time to get through the course, as it would take a while if you had this park to yourself.

Physical Demand is something to be ready for, especially if you have any issues with mobility. There is some great infrastructure in place in terms of bridges and staircases, but other spots where you will need to walk up or down steeper areas or cross creeks using large boulders. You will walk close to two miles when playing Harmony Bends, and much of that will be up and down hills and other tricky terrain, especially if you have a bad shot. Folks with carts will have a hard time in spots as well. Follow rule 18 and limber up before playing this course.

Bugs, especially mosquitos, can be bothersome during certain times of year[/b]

Difficulty shouldn't be underestimated by newer players, even if you're going off the red tees. A lot of shots on this course are next to steep drop offs and thick brush, not to mention the creeks that can get deep in spots. If you're a newer player, know that this course is high on difficulty. There are plenty of places to lose a disc if you griplock or have some other kind of bad drive.

Other Thoughts:

If there is one piece of advice I could share with anyone planning to hit a course like Harmony Bends, it would be to not give yourself too little time to play the course. To rush through this course would be a disservice to the course as well as you.

Harmony Bends is truly an exquisite disc golf experience and has everything I would want in a disc golf course design. Every hole flows very well into the next and provides something different from just about every other hole on site. Just the first few holes go from a long par-5 to a tricky par-4, to a couple shorter par 3s, to another par-4 - and this continues through the whole course. There is truly a little bit of everything here.

One of the best things about Harmony Bends is how absolutely beautiful the property is. Other than a couple spots where the neighboring subdivision runs close to the park edge, you are secluded in the woods for your entire round. Between the creeks, the rockwork, the old mossy trees, and the hillsides you get to look over and throw off of, you can really get entranced in the experience of playing a round here.

This course was exceptionally busy during my round, and if this was one of the local courses in St. Louis, I may have gotten impatient with waiting so much, or angry with the group of seven and their dog that weren't letting people play through (you know who you are). But at Harmony Bends, the waits between holes were opportunities to take in the views. To chat with the locals. To process the previous hole and to game plan the next one. Every part of the experience at Harmony Bends was perfect.

My round at Harmony Bends provided an experience and vibe that I've only felt enough times when playing disc golf to count on one hand, competing with a round at Idlewild, a round at Eagles Crossing, and a quiet round at Mt. Airy at dawn. When you step up to hole 1, you know you're in for a real treat, and the course does not let up until your putter hits the chains on 18.

In interviews from the ribbon cutting ceremony, John Houck mentioned that the goal with Harmony Bends was to make the best course in Missouri, and to create a top ten disc golf course. I have only played 112 courses so far, a fraction of what some others on this site have played and a mere sliver of what is out there. But I can confidently say that if Harmony Bends is going to fall out of my top ten, it will take a whole lot more course bagging to get to that point.

If Harmony Bends isn't on your bucket list, add it. If you live within a day trip of this course, make time for it. It took me far too long to finally play Harmony Bends, and I am already thinking about when I'm going to drive the two hours to play it again.
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39 0
Shadrach3
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 5.7 years 321 played 314 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Flawless 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 3, 2021 Played the course:once

Pros:

The best course I've ever played, as of my first 195.

-Amenities: Fully-stocked Houck course. Practice baskets, restrooms, multiple sets of concrete tees, awesome signage, DISCatchers, next tee signs all over the place, bridges and walkways, benches.

-Multi-Tees: Three-four tees per hole. The reds are substantially easier than the others. Whites and blues are quite similar, just 40-50' shorter on the whites. The golds, when present just make the blues a little more impossible. This setup also means that a wide variety of skill levels could love this course, not just advanced players.

-Beauty and Terrain: Hard to ask for more in a plot of land. It feels secluded, it's got hills constantly, plenty of holes on two beautiful rivers/creeks, lush woods but plenty of spacious fairways too. I suppose you could ask for a stunning Rockies-style vista, but that's about it.

-Variety: All over the place. Variety of lengths, slopes, shapes, and scenery. Harmony Bends is one of those courses that has enough uniformity but gradual variety so that you feel like you're on a journey with no destination, but then when you finish you realize you're back where you started. I would say that the variety comes out much more in person than on video coverage.

-Shot Shaping/Gameplay: You guessed it, incredible. There are so many options for how to attack holes based on your strengths, and I totally loved it. There are long driving par-4s, short touchy elevation plays, a couple of downhill bombs, plenty of risk/reward scenarios, water danger, and truly just some of the best sport golf that I've ever seen. I can't pick favorites because there were so many good ones. I'm at a loss for words except to say this was the most consistently thrilling shaping I've seen.

-Multishot Holes: 10 holes with par-4 or par-5, which is a really nice balance.

-Elevation: Superb. Lots of it, but some respite occasionally.

-Navigation: Basically flawless thanks to next tee signs.

-Maintenance: Again superb.

Cons:

I guess I have to include something?

-Climate: Hot and humid in the summer, as you could expect. Make sure to hydrate because you'll sweat a lot. Plenty of bugs too.

-Disc Loss: I'm really grasping at straws here. Terrible shots, especially on blind holes, could see a disc find a spot of undergrowth that you didn't have in mind (I lost one that was found the next week). There are also water hazards that offer varying levels of forgiveness if you splash in.

-Drainage, I Guess: I had zero issues with this. But, if you read below you'll find out it is not an uncommon issue to be flooded/marshy.

Other Thoughts:

I'm not sure what else to say about Harmony Bends except it's the best course I've played. Excellent variety and gameplay, and shockingly, it's even free. Expect to be entranced.
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35 0
Surge5
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 9.9 years 170 played 168 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Harmony and Scenery 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 2, 2021 Played the course:once

Pros:

Three huge concrete tees on most holes. There are five holes the white and blue tees share a pad (3, 4, 8, 9, 16), but on the rest of the holes you'll find the red pad shortens the hole somewhere between 75' and 225'. The white tee is your normal challenge, and the 13 holes that have blue tees add 50-100 feet to the hole. That extra distance on the blue pad almost always makes for a very tight gap or low ceiling added to the round.

The DisCatcher baskets are in great condition for being so used. A few numbers are off, but in the end who cares? The practice basket is in just as good of condition.

The holes themselves are excellent because a lot of them hold multiple challenges, yet they never try to do too much at once. Hole 1 has two creek crossings to contend with, and to access the green it's up about 10' in elevation, but the trees aren't very obtrusive. Hole 5 has a massive elevation jump right off the tee, but after that is just some trees to contend with to get to the basket. I'm going to skip over the challenging greens on 2, 3, 8, 9, 12, and 15 to jump to the last two holes. Both holes do a lot, but again, not too much. 17 has a few trees to fight off the tee, but nothing major, then a long drop to the bottom of the hill where you'll need to access the basket that is kind of sitting on a plus sign + of dirt rises. A missed approach will stick you in the ditch having to lay up again. 18 starts with a yawning drop in front of you - I'd estimate about four stories - then you have the creek running right along the left side of the fairway for the next 400' while you contend with a lot of trees, then a creek crossing to a somewhat tame green for this course's standards. The holes that put a huge premium on shot placement (9, 10, 15) have relatively easy greens once you get there.

The distances vary pretty wildly. You go from a 190' Hole 8 to two holes later your shortest option being 904'. It makes for a lot of variance in your play throughout the round. A lot of good positioning is required to get a low score, especially off the tee. Getting in the fairway is the only chance at birdie on the long holes, and getting off that fairway too often will leave you with some ugly 6s and 7s.

Tee signs are incredibly helpful. Distances and mapping are both done well... oh and there's a sign at every single tee box (that's 49 professional tee signs). There's a bench at every white pad if I remember correctly.

The elevation is used to absolute perfection. Small rises are placed at a distance that makes them an obstacle (Holes 2 and 12), while larger changes are a bit easier to overcome (5, 8, and 16).

Maintenance is top-notch. The greens that are mulched are set up to where they probably wouldn't need any work, yet there's been work done anyway. Grass is mowed by someone who knows the course and it's fairways, and the large elevation changes on 7 and 15 have (mercifully) had stairs added in a way that shouldn't be an obstacle. The rocks used to cross the creeks are all solid and placed well enough for anyone to use.

There's the option to play 1-8 and 18 for a 9-hole round. You skip some of the longer holes and yet still get some good distance and elevation.

Cons:

One pin spot. This is my only "real" complaint. I'd love to see a little bit of moving the basket around, and there are a few holes that have alternate pin spots... how about using them instead of just saving them for tournaments. I know a couple of them are just to get to that 200' mark for tournaments but there's no reason 2, 5, 11, 13, 15 and 16 couldn't have the gold pins used every once in a while.

Some of the pars that are justified for the longer tees just do not apply to the red tees... except if you're specifically gearing the par for that skill level. However, I would much rather see what I should be throwing than for the course to pretend I'm doing well. (1, 9, 11, 13, 18)

A few holes are a little simple. Not un-fun or un-challenging, just simplistic. 6, 11, 12, and 14 suffer from this. And that may just be because I enjoy wooded golf more and those are more open.

Other Thoughts:

This place is fantastic. Between challenge, maintenance, and creativity, no round will ever be, A: the same or, B: boring. It provides a tough challenge for all skill levels while not making itself inaccessible to newer players.

The park itself was pretty quiet on a Monday morning in the summer... but I imagine when Mizzou is in full swing it gets very busy.

I would personally rate this my second-best course I've played, only behind Wilderness DGC in Wisconsin. The amount of different shot shapes you run into more than makes up for the space constraints forcing a few sub-200' holes.

If you're going through MO in I-70, you have no excuse for not stopping here. 100% a destination course. You can combine your trip here with KC or STL if you desire, but make a day of it in Columbia and take two trips around Harmony Bends. You will have no regrets.
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23 0
toddnick
Bronze level trusted reviewer
Experience: 6 years 86 played 31 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Houck Magic 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 28, 2019 Played the course:once

Pros:

So, I was going to World's last year to spectate...flying to Peoria from Buffalo, NY...I noticed that it was only a 4 hour drive to the number 1 rated course on dgcr...so, I flew in 2 days before World's to drive to Missouri and hit this place twice...

It ended up being in the highlights of the trip along with udisc scoring McBeth and KJ the first round and watching from just behind KJ when he threw in from 384 feet for eagle on hole 14...I had to enter a number of feet into Udisc live and he told me he just bought range finder and it was 128 yards .so I entered 384 feet for all the world to see...

This place is magic...and the most John Houck design ever with multiple fairways several times...great mix of short and long holes...starting in hole 1 you learn that positioning is key to scoring...

Great tees, baskets, signage, etc.

Easy to follow, I never got lost...

Lots of memorable holes...including the first and last holes which is always great on a course...my favorite was probably 18, a tremendous par 5 with tons of risk/reward, a gorgeous creek wandering precariously along lines, and a great payoff approach shot...

Almost no holes that felt like fillers in the grand design...something rare in disc golf design...

Cons:

hole #8, I believe it was, was not my favorite...sharply uphill short par 3 that almost puts you in a houses backyard...it takes away a little of the atmosphere to see a house right ahead...

Other Thoughts:

This is only my 3rd five star review, along with Iron Hill and Deer Lakes...and I've played 8 of the top 25 courses at DGCR...Harmony Bends, Brewster Ridge, Deer Lakes, Moraine, Sabattus, Idlewild, Muddy Run and Maple Hill.

Why is the not a NT or Disc Golf Tour event here every year?

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31 0
bigreddog
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 12.3 years 198 played 63 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Best in midwest, maybe more 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 6, 2020 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Elevation 10/10. There are some massive elevation changes on this course, and very good variety. Many of the holes also have multiple elevation elements (not just straight uphill/downhill/sidehill, but rolling or changing throughout)

Use of obstacles 10/10. This course has a great variety of obstacles, from large mature trees (including one growing almost sideways across the entire fairway), to smaller young trees, to a winding creek and also a river. The most unique obstacles are some very cool rock formations, most notably on hole 5 but also present on some others.

Decisionmaking required 10/10. This is probably the best course I've seen when it comes to presenting players with multiple viable options for how to play holes, as well as providing good risk/reward with hazards (especially the creek). Several wooded holes have multiple fairways through the woods, and the more open holes have obstacles placed.

Navigation 10/10. A very well done course map at the first tee. Tee signs are very informative and are located at all 3 tees on every hole. There are also many signs at the end of the holes pointing to the next tee. The signs between holes are especially nice because they have different arrows pointing to each of the 3 sets of tees. They're definitely needed too because a couple spots would be pretty confusing otherwise.

Variety of openness on shots 10/10. This course has a great mix of wooded holes and more open holes, but the open holes still have enough obstacles/elevation to provide a challenge. It also isn't how some courses are where the long holes are open and the short holes are more technical either, and the most technical holes still give you routes that feel fair.

Variety of distances 10/10. This course is very well known for having some long bomber holes, but there is a good mix of short holes as well. Even from the back tees, holes 2, 3, 6, 8, 12, 14, and 16 are under 320 feet. There are also 4 par 5's, and they are all legit par 5's that take 3 good shots to birdie. Pros would be able to have eagle chances but even for them it takes two phenomenal throws. Coming in at par 68, this is the closest I've seen to a ball golf course.

Variety of shot paths 10/10. This course will make you throw every shot in your bag, you need to be able to throw right to left and left to right accurately, sometimes both on the same hole. The elevation changes also favor overhand shots from time to time.

Maintenance 10/10. This course is very well maintained, it has been well mowed and clean every time I've been. There are solid benches thoughout and some very sturdy staircases for some of the steeper slopes. Very impressive for a park with exclusively disc golf.

Comfort 9/10. They've done pretty much all they can do at this course, there are lots of benches and shade. It can get very muddy and stay muddy for a long time after rain on the holes by the river (10-14). This past weekend it hadn't rained in about 5 days but there were still some swampy areas. There is a water fountain and pavilion with picnic tables, and a port-a-potty by the first tee.

Reasonably challenging all levels 9/10. The top pros in the world will be challenged when playing from the back tees, but even casual recreational players will have a ton of fun here playing the short tees. The middle tees are great for advanced players. The placements of the tees are fantastic and should be a model of how alternate tees are done at other courses. Most courses with short and long tees just kinda put all the short tees 50-100 feet ahead of the long tees, but really the tees should be more spread out on longer holes and it's okay to be closer on shorter holes. The goal of the tees should be that players they are intended for throw the same number of shots to get to the basket, and this course does a great job of that. The only reason I gave this a 9 and not 10 is the water on a few holes can be intimidating for VERY new players.

Cons:

Let me preface this section by saying none of these would be cons on another course, and I am just putting them here because they aren't as spectacular as the rest of the course.

Alternate tee/basket positions 8/10. As I mentioned above, the alternate tees are fantastic. However, there are 5 holes with no alternate pins and the other 13 all only have one, which are only used during tournaments. You can still get variety by playing different tees, but more pins on some holes would be nice.

Finding discs 8/10. For the most part the course receives enough traffic that you won't lose a disc in tall grass or the woods, but there are some blind shots over hills where you could get a kick off of a tree and not know where your disc ended up and spend some time looking. 13 and 18 are the biggest threats to lose a disc with the river and creek on the left respectively. The creek comes into play on other holes as well but as long as it hasn't just rained it's usually low enough you could still get your disc pretty easily.

Other Thoughts:

Overall Challenge 10/10
More Exact rating 4.92

This is the best course I have ever played, I'm thankful to be within daytrip distance of it. It's essentially a course made up mostly of what would be a signature hole on most other courses, I would say holes 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 18 all meet this criteria.

This is definitely a championship level course that anyone should play if they have the opportunity. Watching the pros play it on youtube doesn't do justice to just how extreme the elevation changes are.
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21 5
Breh
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 14 years 192 played 190 reviews
4.50 star(s)

2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Jul 21, 2020 Played the course:once

Pros:

Not sure where to begin! Great parking with bathroom at the start. Giant kiosk board with the layout/pars and total distance. Multiple pads for each skill level red/white/blues. We played from the blues and this course is epic. Great John Houck design with hole 1 being an epic par 5 through the woods along side a creek. Then sitting on top of little ravine. There's so many Good holes and shots on this course with great range of distance and elevation. Baskets are pristine disc catchers, and the layout flows nicely. Good mix of par 3/4/5 and lefty righty holes. Some fun iconic elevation change shots and cool holes. 13 over the river is one of my favorites. This course will make you better and bring your best game. Great use of woods and open play. Great navigation signs for next hole

Cons:

You can tell flooding is a major problem here. It was July and a lot of ground was still mushy and muddy on the back 9. The long course combined with humidity and heat can beat you up. Couple holes like hole 2 you need to walk up to see the pin same with hole 6 and one other make sure you're playing right basket as you can see a couple on some holes.

Other Thoughts:

This is truly a destination course. Falls just flat of a 5 star to me more like 4.75 but would be epic tourney course. Prolly wouldn't throw from the blues again but great time and a must play for any avid disc golfer
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33 0
wolfhaley
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 20.1 years 1051 played 616 reviews
4.50 star(s)

2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Jul 10, 2020 Played the course:once

Pros:

Where to begin. Harmony Bends is located in a beautiful park with a couple creeks meandering through the hills. This is definitely a Championship caliber course but it offers good challenge from the short tees for recreational players like myself. Fantastic design, which has been stated numerous times already, but it really is top notch. Challenging but fair.

The baskets here are your standard DISCatchers. Bright yellow bands on the top make for easy spotting in the shadowy woods. These are all numbered and catch great. One basket per hole. I liked the fact that baskets were positioned as close to any drop off or rollaway potential. This makes you decide if you want to run it for the birdie or risk blowing past and taking bogey. I paid the price a couple times.

The tee pads here are phenomenal. HUGE brushed concrete pads. All are level and have fantastic grip. The majority of holes have 3 tees per hole. A few share a pad, Blue and White usually if not always. That was only the case on a handful of holes though. These things are some of the best I've seen anywhere.

The tee signs are great too. Very much like the other signs of courses in this region. They include the hole #, par, distances from each tee, any applicable OB, next hole arrow and a nice and descriptive hole overview. The map shows the multiple routes to the pin from each basket, and even suggested landing zones. Top notch once again. They even show the Gold pin placements. None were in play when I was here, but it's nice that they show them.

Every type of shot in your arsenal will be tested here. The design dictates that you be accurate to succeed. Ending up off the fairways will cost you strokes. But if you execute you'll be OK. There's a great mix of distances here as well. Four true par 5's I believe it was, a lot of 4's and some 3's to let you catch your breath. Very well balanced.

The upkeep of the park and the care given to the course is amazing. Stairs up and down the steeper sections, mulched walkways between holes, gravel paths. The rocks in the creek are even strategically placed to serve as stepping stones. Me and the wife had our carts with us. The stepping stones made crossing the creeks simple. The park was just all around in tip top shape.

The elevation here is EXTREME. you'll be traversing up and down hills for the whole round. It really adds to the challenge for picking the correct disc for each throw. But what it really challenges is your stamina. This course is a workout. Be sure to bring lot of fluids. I mean a LOT of fluids. One of the more taxing rounds I've ever played. Highbridge/Idlewild kind of taxing.

Oh and did I mention that the course is free to play? Yep it even has that going for it which is borderline criminal if you ask me. It's permanent too I guess. Always a bonus in my eyes.

Water comes into play on about a third of the holes. Hole 1 and 18 feature multiple shots over the creek on each hole. It's present on quite a few others as well. There's a couple where you could end up in the creek off a bad rollaway or tree kick. It's always in the back of your mind on these holes.

Cons:

The one thing holding this course back is the drainage on the back nine. It's been pretty dry recently it seems, yet there was quite a few spots of standing water. Nothing like I'd imagine it'd be like in the spring, but wet nonetheless. There were more muddy spots than standing water, but both were present.

A couple goofy spots navigationwise, nothing too major. I'd advise bringing a map or at least have one up on your phone if it's your first time playing.

While I did bring my cart, I'd highly advise against it. It's doable, but it's just much easier with a bag. Not a con really, but dragging your cart around gets irritating real quick. It's a good thing the water was low in the creeks or it might've been impossible. More something to keep in mind than a con.

Other Thoughts:

There's not much to say that hasn't already been said. But man, this is a fantastic course. I came here expecting greatness and it delivered. Is this a destination course? Absolutely it is. If you're into disc golf even a little bit you'll love this place. Highly, highly recommend this course if you're anywhere nearby or passing through. Hell, I suggest you take a road trip to play this one. Just don't do it in the spring. That's the one thing holding me back from giving out my first 5. The drainage issues, while not a big deal on my visit, are clearly evident. If this place is dry though, there's not much, if anything, better.
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28 0
REDARMY
Silver level trusted reviewer
Experience: 16 years 53 played 35 reviews
4.50 star(s)

Go Already! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Sep 9, 2018 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Stunningly beautiful, and a nice quiet park make for a pleasant round of golf.

Requires every facet of your game to shoot a good round. It will very quickly expose your weaknesses, whether that be lack of power or accuracy or shot-shaping.

Multiple sets of pads make it a genuine challenge for any skill level. I'm a weenie-armed rec player and I played the short pads. It humbled me a couple times even from those distances. I may not get good enough in my lifetime to even attempt the gold pads. Still the best course I've ever been to.

Plenty of amenities/places to grab a bite just up the road.

Within driving distance from STL and KC. Get up early enough and you'll have plenty of time to play 2 rounds there (Which i highly recommend. Unless you're a local, it's an absolute waste to drive out there and play only 1 round).

Cons:

Doesn't loop back after the first 9. Minor quibble maybe, but it'd be nice to be able to stock up on water or snacks/change clothes/whatever after 9 instead of having to haul everything with you the whole game.

Not a lot of parking. I can't imagine where people park when a big tournament comes through.

The oft-mentioned problems when it rains hard.

Other Thoughts:

It sucks that I wrote this review so late and all of the good points have already been covered. All I can say is; I drive 300' feet or so, have horrible form, and can't putt for shit, but I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 rounds I played there and hope to have the time to get back out there very soon. Its awesome having such a high-caliber course within driving distance.

If you're on the fence about playing here, smack yourself and GO!
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6 32
mdeeter
Experience: 12 years 109 played 4 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Definitely a top-5 course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 1, 2019 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

It's gorgeous and very well-kept. It can be played from long pads for a competitive round or from the shorts, for fun-casual players.

It's a good course for all ranges of players.

Cons:

It's not in my home state :(
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4 21
johndlong80
Experience: 16 played 1 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Incredible course! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 18, 2019 Played the course:once

Other Thoughts:

I've only been playing for about a month and I drove from Jeff City to Columbia with the intention of playing an easier course, bit the allure was too great. It was fun trying such a nice tough course early on to see how far I have to go. Great experience!
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35 0
mrbro855
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 10.7 years 368 played 105 reviews
4.50 star(s)

Lives up to the hype 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 22, 2018 Played the course:once

Pros:

This was course #250 for me as well as review number 100.... Certainly was the appropriate course to hit both those milestones on!!

Not much left to say that hasn't already been stated by previous reviewers.... All the right standards for tee pads, signage, elevation use, design, etc....

Definitely designed to be Championship Caliber and was successful in that regard.

Several signature holes were especially eye- catching:

#1 Great use of the winding creek with basket placement on a hill on the other side of the creek. (Words don't do the visual justice!)

#10 Top of the world shot through a relatively narrow opening to a landing area on the way to a basket 900 feet away. and

#13 Right bend needed with a downed tree looking like the St Louis arch in the middle of the fairway, forcing an over, under or around shot.

Overall scenery was great with the rock bridges over the creeks and else where to the variety of hills....

Cons:

I' m really struggling with that walk from 12's basket to 13 tee where you have to cross the middle of the 14th fairway to get there.... Looking back at the map, I get where the designer wanted to incorporate a piece of the creek for 13's blue tee pad tee shot but....

I just feel if it were an average course, reviewers would be more vocal about the negative aspect of that transition.

Also, for an old guy like me, the walk from basket 8 to tee 9 was quite the uphill hike. I won't complain about hole 15's climb as that was part of the approach to the basket.

Other Thoughts:

Reviews are all about point of view and expectations...

For me at my age and with a mediocre tee shot at best, I knew that coming to this course would be very challenging. This is not the type of course that I would play regularly just for fun.....

That said, I was able to appreciate the design and layout seeing that it is a phenomenal championship caliber course.
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Designer response by johnrhouck
Mark, I'm so glad you enjoyed your Harmony Bends experience. On the walk from #12 basket, I just want to clarify that anyone going to the White or Blue tees on #13 has no business going anywhere near the #14 fairway, and in fact there should be a sign directing them away from #14. If you think that sign is no longer there, please PM me, and I'll talk to the parks department. If you are going to the Red tee on #13, you obviously CAN walk through #14, but you certainly aren't obligated. Obviously, we would all encourage players to walk around if there's someone driving or approaching on that hole.
I'm guessing that you were playing the Red tees, and I just want to say how happy I am any time I hear that someone with a rating below 874 is using those tees, because that's what they're there for -- so that EVERYONE can enjoy that beautiful course. It's not just for more advanced players. Thanks.
28 0
blake833
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 14.1 years 160 played 140 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Nearly untouchable standard 2+ years

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Nov 16, 2018 Played the course:once

Pros:

Driving up it doesn't look like much, with the small parking area, and the park which you would think would need to be bigger for a course with this reputation, but holy cow does it deliver.

The first hole is a multiple choice par 4 or 5, with various landing zones separated by a winding creek, and then the basket on an elevated landscape at the end. This is one of the best starting holes I have ever played, and it set the pace for great holes for the whole course.

With multiple tees from Reds (which can still be incredibly challenging) to Gold (on some but not all, and are always challenging), this course is a place even beginners who just like beautiful walks would still enjoy.

This course asks for every shot you have. Forehand and backhand, flexes and anny's, sharp fades and doglegs, touchy approaches and monster rips. And the kicker- none of them feel forced. Some magic combination of great land and great designer let's this course feel so natural as you play through it.

I would be remissed to not impress once again how beautiful this place is. It was a little snowy when I was there a couple days after a heavy snow fall, but warm enough where I took off my jacket after I started playing for a while. The creek was running with snow melt so it was crystal clear, and the sun was shining kisses down on all the baskets.

I could go on and on about all the things I loved about the holes, because it seems like at least 12 of the 18 are signature holes. Huge downhill shots (which may still require a touch of accuracy), creek carries, old trees, huge rock formations- it just has it all.

Cons:

It was a little slippery with the leaves and snow melt. But that's just a thing right now and won't last.

I may have noticed some of the erosion other reviewer have cited when I was there, but I don't particularly remember any of it after basking in the glory of this course.

Other Thoughts:

I went out of my way on a trip from New Orleans to St. Louis to play this course, and my only regret is not doing it twice. On this trip I also played the Trey Ranch courses, Harry Meyers, Selah Ranch courses, Harmon Hills, Idlewild, and let me tell you- this course is so much better I think they should expand the rating systems to reflect it. 5+.
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10 2
Guezo
Experience: 2 played 2 reviews
4.50 star(s)

A Treasure! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Nov 21, 2018 Played the course:once

Pros:

This is a great course! It plays through some low bluffs and mature forest surrounding Perche Creek. There are up to 4 tee pads (red, white, blue, yellow) on each hole, offering a variety of challenges and distances. Signage for this potentially complicated situation is very well done...I had no problem whatsoever navigating the course. But there is a trick you need to figure out for identifying which tee pad's map you're looking at...left as a challenge for the reader! Variety of distances and challenges, enough trees to get your attention but not oppressive amounts. This might be the first Houck-designed course I've played since I started paying attention, and I get it. Yes, there are alternative lines on many holes, and as a lefty I think that would be much appreciated in a competitive context.

Cons:

There are some slopes that are muddy and difficult to climb, could use some Eagle scouts to do stair projects. There's no drinking water, and only porta-potties for facilities. None of that really detracts from the value of this park, but it might help to know what's there before you go.

Other Thoughts:

I hate spending time looking for a lost disc, and my bag consists entirely of high-visibility orange discs. This is OK where I live in Colorado, where the ground is brown, green, or white, depending on the season. It doesn't work well in places with autumn leaves. Based on the covering of now-brown maple and oak leaves on the ground at Harmony Bends, I presume there's a couple of months where orange discs would be difficult to work with.
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33 1
The Valkyrie Kid
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 46.1 years 1562 played 1507 reviews
5.00 star(s)

John Houck, You’ve Out Done Yourself Here! 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Oct 7, 2018 Played the course:once

Pros:

As I drove into the small parking lot at Harmony Bends DGC @ Strawn Park, I was a actually a little underwhelmed. I was expecting something a tad more grandiose. What I found was a staging area that could found at most county park disc golf courses, a sign with course map, a practice basket, gazebo and a couple of porti potties. The course features three and sometimes four separate tee pads, the short Reds which can still play up to 904', the Whites, the longer Blues. Thirteen holes have the even longer and more difficult brown tees showing that John Houck obviously has a sick, demented personality disorder.Everything here has been done first class. There are extra large tapered concrete tee pads at each tee pad as well as the great John Houck tee signs. The yellow Discatchers show up well, even at these long range distances. A few extra dollars was spent on additional navigational signs. I so appreciated them leading me in the right direction.

What sets this course apart all others is the design. The land is very good but not quite asgood as other great courses around the country. Every hole here forces you to make a decision of some sort. Do you try to carry the creek? Or lay up? Do you go for that ultra scary putt when the basket sits just four feet from the creek? The epic downhills are not just open big air shots, they're epic downhills like # 7 where you need to thread your shot through a narrow window some 200' from the Blue tee pad or # 10's 996' hole which starts with a downhill which needs an accurate tee shot and ends almost a kilometer away to a basket through the trees.

# 15 is diabolical. From the Blue tee, it's 525' and ends with the basket at the top of this steep hill. Stairs have built there with 37 steps. I wanted to invoke the Chutes & Ladders clause which states if you land in a designated area, you can carry your disc up the 37 steps. Is there some way for someone to carry me up those 37 steps? I was a little exhausted by this time.

None of this prepared me for # 18. From the top tees (Blue and Whites) it plays over 800' and possibly crosses the creek three times. I tried to drown my favorite driver in the deepest part of the creek. Thank you to Patrick, an agile young man, who somehow managed to climb down the ultra slippery 6 foot bank and fish my favorite driver out.



Cons:

This course is not built for recreational level players. Even from the shortest Red tees, it is challenging.

# 8 suffers from serious erosion and drainage issues. These will have to be addressed by city engineers.

Even with the wonderful staircases on # 10 and 15, there are other places where steps would be welcomed.

Players on # 14's tee pads need to be alert when players are teeing off from # 13.

Other Thoughts:

In my opinion, this is the best designed disc course anywhere. The difficult choices and decisions you have to make on almost every hole are unprecedented. Is it the # 1 course in the world? Hell, I don't know. Colorado's Beaver Ranch and Oregon's Whistler's Bend are more scenic. I think Flip City and Hillcrest on Prince Edward Island) offer more interesting terrain. I certainly can't deduct any points because i'm not good enough to play Harmony Bends. It's a 5. Intermediate and above players should not miss any opportunity to play here.
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