19 Helpful / 0 Not
Forgettable in Harper's Ferry
Pros: Nestled near the historic town of Harper's Ferry, this pretty park course is a welcome addition to an area that would benefit from more courses nearby. That said, Sam Michael's Park could use some work. Though there was some interesting disc golf throughout the round, the design leaves much to be desired. That said, there were some nice elements to the course such as open-format holes, some elevation, and natural beauty that any regular disc golfer would appreciate.
Set at the back of Sam Michael's Park, the course plays through a combination of open fields and young-growth trees as well as some ball fields in the middle of the round. The first hole opens from the gravel parking lot through an open field After you walk through a fence line to your right, you are met with holes 2-7 criss-crossing their way through tall grass and a few trees in the open field. Holes 8-10 meet the ball field fences and then holes 11-13 play down and along a small stream. Hole 11 is probably the signature hole: a 436 par 4 through a well-designed fairway and short trees. Holes 14-17 follow along a power line path on the back side of the park. Hole 18 is a cool little tunnel hole through the trees running parallel to 17 (back toward 17's tee pad), but is really out of place with the rest of the course.
The elevation on this course is used quite well. Hole 1 is slightly up hill and then nearly every hole from that point forward goes back and forth, up and down. Hole 14 is up hill and over a pond, which added a bit of difficulty. After a short down hill on 15, 16 is dramatically up hill again in a deceivingly difficult 171 footer. If you want your exercise, this is a good course for you.
As with many park courses, this course sports lush, leafy trees and abundant green grass in the summer. The stream and pond add some water beauty and the overall maintenance by park caretakers is evident. The only draw back to the beauty would be holes 15-17 as they play along the power lines, but the view of the valley is a nice compensation.
Cons: Unfortunately, this course appears to suffer from design (or park restrictions) that have left it a forgettable experience. Though the fairways were mowed and the baskets were high quality DISCatchers, with limited navigation, no tee pads, no signs, an inaccurate map, and some flow that did not make much sense, the course has the feel that the designer started and then stopped after getting the baskets in.
Because the issues with the natural tee pads, poor map, and lack of tee signs has been addressed in previous reviews, I won't address that much here. Just know that I had similar problems finding where to start each hole. What I will mention is the navigation and flow was not very intuitive (for a good breakdown of the first nine holes, see Crooow's review). I also struggled to find where to tee off throughout the course, searching for too many minutes for the little white markers that were shorter than the grass and difficult to see. The 15 minutes it took me to find hole 13 was frustrating. Turns out, you have to walk along the stream from hole 12's basket until you find a little bridge on the left. Once you cross into the other field, you must walk up to the top of the rise behind a large tree to find the tee markers. Navigation was a little easier after that, though the quality of the holes decreased. I think there was a lot of potential for this course, but as it stands there really is not enough to bring me back.
Other Thoughts: I usually would make a comment here about the fun factor. I had fun, of course, but it was not much because of the course. I just like playing disc golf and have fun most courses I play. This course did not detract from the fun I had, but it didn't add to it much either. It was a fairly standard park course, except without the basic amenities to make it good.
Odd Quirks: For some reason, the day I was there there was a guy practicing the Scottish bagpipes near hole 18. That was not the soundtrack for the round I was expecting, but I do enjoy Celtic music, so...
Also, there was a group of kids in an archery class playing right across hole 13's fairway, which made for an awkward experience. Fortunately, they stopped to let me throw (parked it with a gallery watching!) and then we all walked up the fairway together (me to finish the hole, them to retrieve their arrows out of the targets).
I was tempted to give this a 2.5 because there were some decent holes, but I feel a course needs some basic things like clear and maintained tee pads, or at least tee markers that are taller than the three inches of grass around them so we can see where to go next in order to receive a high rating. Without the fun factor, this course falls to a 2.0 for me. Though I was just driving through, even if I lived nearby, I don't think I would visit much.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Open course which is great for practicing shots, trying new discs, beginners and having fun with your family or friends. The course has a good mix of long holes and short holes. It is lightly wooded but the trees and vegetation are strategically placed to make all of the holes creative and challenging. Baseball fields are also used strategically as hazards. It is unlikely one would lose a disc here but the holes are still challenging.
Cons: The grass tee boxes are poorly marked with small white markers often covered by grass. The tee boxes can also get muddy forcing one to tee off outside the box for safety. I have heard the park has a plan is to add concrete tee boxes in the future though.
On hole 16, there is no real fairway. It is a long hole uphill but there is no strip of mowed down grass leading to the basket. So a good drive will land you in tall grass unless you are a pro and drive it within 20 feet of the basket.
Other Thoughts: I got a scorecard from the main office at the park and the total par is 58. There are four par 4s, holes 7, 11, 13 and 17 with the rest par 3s.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Okay Park Course
Pros: Good condition DISCatcher baskets with bright yellow bands. Numbers on first 9-10 all of which are easily seen from the pad. Variety of straight, right-turning and left-turning fairways. Arrows on all baskets pointing to the next tee area. A little elevation change. Has a practice basket. First hole is wide-open which I like as a warm-up. Course eases you into it, starting with the simplest holes. Mostly isolated from other park activities; played on Saturday morning and had the course to myself.
Cons: Natural tees; only one tee position and one pin position on each hole; current map is inaccurate; no long holes; tall grass on several fairways (see below); tee markers can be hard to find (see below); 1st time navigation. Woods are not used much. Long boring walk from basket #18 back to the parking lot (if you care about such things).
Other Thoughts: The tee markers here are four white plastic corners for the natural tee. They are very low (to prevent hitting the lawn mower) which means they are also hard to spot from a distance especially when there are lots of stray leaves with whitish bottoms. For example, I could not spot the first tee from the parking lot and it wasn't until I got to the basket that I saw them so I went back and played the hole again properly. One of the markers on #17 was already cracked.
Hole #1: Right next to the parking lot. The tee is near the gravel path which runs between this hole and the practice basket (hard to spot). The hole is a straight slightly uphill shot which is a nice warmup.
Hole #2: If you follow the current map, you would walk through the tree line and turn left and start down the path and walk for quite a while seeing basket 4 off in the grass to the right and then eventually basket 6 at the edge of the woods. Then you'd realize the map must be wrong and go back to the original tree line and follow the path cut into the grass and see the tee markers right after the turn. This is another straight hole slightly downhill with a few trees in the fairway. I deuced it.
Hole #3 is similar to #2, a little longer and again the grass is not a factor.
Holes #4 and #5 are cut through three-foot high grass so if you go off the fairway, beware ticks, poison ivy and snakes.
Hole #6 is short with a right-turning curve to a basket in the woods. I deuced this one.
Hole #7 is a longer wide tunnel shot and is accurately depicted on the map. It's a fine little hole.
Hole #8: I searched for this as depicted on the map for a while before giving up and heading over to the next tee behind the center field fence. When I holed out I saw this this is actually #8 not #9 as it is on the map. Annoying.
Around this point the baskets stopped being numbered so I'll just say "next hole" as I think I played 18 holes (the flow was pretty obvious) but the numbers get fuzzy in my head.
The next tee is up along the fence in left field past the building - very hard to spot. An okay hole with the basket protected by a few trees.
The next hole was my favorite because the fairway does a double twist and there is a tree in it. Not that exciting but did make me strategize a little.
The next holes all blur together. At one point you cross a stream and the tee markers are in a field but up behind some trees so it took me a while to find them. There's a hole where you throw across a small pond which has a little stream beyond it. Only a problem for beginners. Then you throw down to a basket near a utility pole which gets you to the last three holes. Nothing wrong with these holes - just very routine.
Hole #16: no, no, no. The tee spot is an area carved out of the tall grass. The direct line to the basket is all tall grass. If you want to play it safe you have to throw way to the right which is definitely an added stroke. I spent 10 minutes looking for my very bright red disc on this hole. Hole 17 throws along the edge of the tall grass so you could end up with another search if you go offline. Neither will be a problem for anyone who throws 300 feet routinely but the rest of us will not enjoy these.
Hole #18 is a short slightly downhill tunnel shot which I deuced.
I vacillated on my rating. It started out as a 3, moved up to 3.5, then down to 2.5 and finally setlled on 3. NOne of the holes are challenging but they can be fun for the intermediate player. The problems are fixable: put numbers on the rest of the baskets; get a better map; get real tee pads and tee signs. I realize the last may be a restriction from the park or that they may be waiting to see if they want to re-locate any of the tee areas. But it made first time navigation frustrating. If I lived closer to this park, I would probably play monthly as it has enough fun factor for me. But it lacks the "take time to figure out the best strategy" factor - you pretty much know the best line the first time. No real risk-reward holes, just "don't screw up" holes.
From the wall posts, you can see that I came here and played before the tee markers were installed using the original map (so my 'first' time navigation is really my second time). Some of the holes I played were ridiculously longer than the "correct" layout. So there is good safari material here. A set of alternate longer tees could also make this course more of a challenge. I'll probably bring my friends here when they hit town combining it with Clark's Run, Poor House Farm and/or Jim Barnett. Or maybe even a warmup for Paw Paw.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Pleasant park-style par 3 course
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The first half of the course (holes 2 through 7) features nicely designed holes winding through a field of scattered smallish trees. I expect this section to become more challenging as the trees grow.
The back nine is considerably more open but still has some nice holes mixed in. I particularly enjoyed hole 11, a longish slightly downhill drive through well-placed trees. Hole 18 is also fun, a 210' or so ace run down a reasonably generous tunnel.
Pretty park, especially when the flowering trees are in bloom. Practice basket near the parking lot. Mild elevation changes in play on many holes.
Next tee arrows on most baskets so navigation was reasonably straightforward for the first time playing the course.
Cons: The second half of the course was more open and less interesting, despite a few nice holes. Disc-eating rough may come into play during the growing season on some holes.
A baseball outfield fence lines the right side of the fairway for two holes. Youth baseball practice was going on when I played, so this represents a potential safety hazard.
May 2022 update: Brick tee pads have been installed, but they are woefully undersized. Teepad lengths ranged from 5 to 6-1/2 feet or so, and widths ranged from roughly 2-1/2 to 3 feet. I do not have a long run-up, but found myself wishing for a longer teepad on nearly every hole.
No tee signs. Could use a directional arrow or sign to show the way back to the parking lot after playing the last hole.
Other Thoughts: This is a pleasant park-style par 3 course that makes good use of what natural obstacles are available. Tee signs and larger tee pads would be beneficial as the course matures.
I look forward to seeing the course improve over time as amenities are installed and trees grow. If larger tee pads and signage are added I may revisit my rating.
The 2018 course map linked on DGCR needs updating now that teepads have been installed.
Good-sized dog park on site with friendly dogs and a poop bag dispenser. Never know when that might be handy.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Practice basket and driving warm-up area.
Directional arrows on baskets and key locations.
Next tee near previous basket, but not too close.
Some ace runs and birdy opportunities.
Single basket position, single (currently natural) tee location.
Bit of a walk from basket #18 to parking lot.
Dampness/flooding potential for a few holes on the back.
A bit too right on a couple holes may go over the fence onto a baseball field.
Course plays on gently sloping land to the sides and behind some fine-looking baseball fields.
While there are scattered rows and pockets of mid-sized flowering and other trees, the course is primarily open.
A third of the shots are wide open, a third are right-turners, and the others are mixed - a couple tunnels, a couple with a tree of two to miss mid/late flight, and a couple over small hillocks.
Favourite hole: #11, the longest one, gently downslope, requiring an S-shape, or a long, high right-turner.
Fine for beginners and intermediates, bag-n-go for advanced+.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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