5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Garden Grove is one of the many new courses that has opened up in the Triad region since I moved away. It is an advanced level course that places an emphasis on accuracy and placement. The course seems like it is still a work in progress, but the technical nature of the course is very apparent. There are new Veteran baskets on the course, all of which are in great condition. 18 white rim baskets on the course, and a blue rim basket for practice. Each hole has concrete tee pads and nice, durable tee signs.
The area behind the Town Hall, which is where the course is, also features a picnic shelter (with a soda machine), dog park, and a playground. On the far side, at Volunteer Park are a couple of ball fields.
At the start of the course there is a kiosk with a nice map of the entire course layout. The kiosk also seemed to be stocked on scorecards that were printed on nice cardstock paper. I didn't see this until I was already on my way out, so I forgot to check to see if there was a picture of the map on the back of the scorecard. Either way, this was a nice touch.
The course itself will require you to throw many different shots with a wide variety of fairway distance and shapes. While there isn't much elevation to be had at all on the course, it will still test the full range of your skill set through multiple tight gaps and guardian trees. Multiple par 4s and par 5s are featured here, and they truly stand out as some of the more memorable holes on the course.
You can tell which holes have received the most treatment to make the course really grow into its full potential. If I had to describe this course with one word, I think that is the word I'd use: potential. To me the course felt like it opened up a lot once I reached Hole 13, and some of these later holes really showcase what some of the earlier holes will become. Hole 13 also features an elevated basket, which really mixes things up.
The course features two 9-hole loops that allow you to return to your car at the turn if you need to restock on water, snacks, etc. It also features many holes that will offer split fairways, giving players choices on how they want to approach the green.
The course does a great job of introducing itself to you with a nice Par 4 on the first hole. You throw a placement shot down an open fairway to one of two gaps in the tree line, where you are rewarded with a slightly wider fairway for your second shot if you can reach the farther gap. Hole 18 is a beautiful par 5, that is definitely eagle-able. If I had not had my second shot slip out of my hand a tad early I would have reached the C1 within 2 throws. However, if you miss your line slightly or throw even a touch too far, you might be scrambling for par.
Cons: Garden Grove currently is suffering from the same "new course woes" that almost all new wooded courses suffer from. While frustrating, they are something that many of us are already used to and I am sure most of these will go away with time. as the course sees more traffic. The rough will certainly clear out as time passes. My only real concern here is that the course is definitely built for Advanced level players, and that could limit the amount of traffic it sees.
The tee boxes here feel like postage stamps. I almost never use an entire teepad, but I was forced to start off of the pads here because of their short length. I was informed by a local there there are plans to extend the teepads. This will be a huge help because other than their length, the tees are in great condition.
I imagine that Brother Dave designed this course using the Stan McDaniel thought philosophy for wooded courses. In the sense that Stan often removes a few trees as possible and let them fall over with time as the course beats in. I enjoy this style of course design, but there were a couple of holes that felt like the fairways needed some TLC. Some of the split fairways seemingly disappeared before reaching the basket, and others had awkward elbows in them that didn't seem to have natural disc flight in mind. If I remember correctly Hole 15 was like this, where what seemed like the most obvious line (the outside line on the right) was built to where you could be 30 feet from the basket and be forced to plinko through walls of trees to reach the basket or continue past the basket to reach an actual gap. Of course, over time some of these trees will probably fall over, leaving just enough guardian trees to keep things interesting. Hole 12 is a great example of this, once that fairway is groomed around the edges, to where every path is playable, I think it has the potential to be the kind of signature holes that people want to travel to come play.
Most of the putting greens could use some work. Many of the baskets are placed right at the edge of the fairway and give you zero leeway for driving even 15' past the basket. However my biggest concern with the greens, and the course in general, was how often I noticed a crushed wire fence in play. I ended up getting my foot caught in it on one hole while throwing in what would usually be a tap in. I may have been 10' to 12' from the basket. The buddy I was playing with noticed it as well.
The navigational signage could definitely use some improvement. While the two nine-hole loops are nice, they felt a bit contrived, which makes the overall flow of the layout confusing at times. There is decent navigational signage using mini discs, but more obvious signs would be helpful finding some of the holes, like Holes 9, 14, & 16.
Holes 10 & 11 were probably a low point on the course for me. Neither of them are bad holes, but I actually thought I walked in a circle for a moment, as they felt nearly identical. Both were just over 200 feet long, and had split fairways where the left line was a hyzer flick and the right line seemed a bit too tight for me to want to mix things up. If something could be done to distinguish these holes a little better from one another, even something as simple as a raised basket one one of the holes, I think it would really help keep the whole course feeling fresh throughout.
Other Thoughts: Garden Grove is a course with a lot of really cool ideas and concepts. When playing, you can tell that it has been designed by someone who loves the game, and has developed a lot of ideas while playing. I am giving Garden Grove a 2.5 for now, but I think the course has the potential to grow into something that deserves a much higher rating. I've played a couple of brand new wooded in Charlotte before (Squirrel Lake, Angry Beaver, The Scrapyard) and got to watch them grow over the years into some of my absolute favorite courses as they saw more work and traffic. I look forward to playing here again in a year or two to see how it has grown. With the effort BrotherDave seems to be putting into the course, I wouldn't be surprised if, when I do, my rating rises to be somewhere around a 4.0- and possibly become my favorite course in the Triad. It definitely has that much potential!
Favorite Holes: 1, 8, 13, 18
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Garden Grove in Pleasant Garden, this is the course to play!
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Great, brand new Veteran baskets, very easy to see, especially with the logoed frisbees displayed on top.
Concrete tee pads.
Very good course map at the first tee and tee signs throughout.
Plenty of Innova minis used as next tee signs. This is very helpful in the middle part of the course, where several holes come together.
Five Par 4s and one Par 5, its nice to have mult-shot holes on what appears to be a small property. More on these later.
There are a variety of hole types, in addition to the length, left, right, straight, split fairway and a couple of ace runs.
Practice basket right near parking lot.
Nice restrooms and shelter convenient to first tee and after #9.
Cons: First and foremost, the concrete tee pads, while nice and smooth, are way too short. Most are flush to the ground, especially on the back, so the problem is minimized, but they need to be larger.
While the practice basket is nice, its in a rather small, sloped area near the walking path. It seems it might be better to have it near the first tee. But maybe the designer didn't want that activity so close to the first tee.
#12 - a very interesting design for this hole, Par 5, multiple paths, with a 90 degree turn in the fairway. But, after playing it, there are at least six 90 degree turns on this hole. If you take one of the first routes available, you have to make two or three 90 degree turns to get to the green area, and in most cases, that limits the length of your throw. It really affects the flow of the hole. Also, a bridge is needed on this hole.
Fairways are still a little rough and thick rough areas, and this was playing in February. This is pretty common for a new course cut through woods, I'm sure it will improve.
Other Thoughts: This seems like a lot of Cons for a course I really liked, but wanted to get those out there in the early stages of this course. The designer is one of our own, BrotherDave, and knows all of these, but I wanted to give him another opinion.
This is definitely the Blue level layout that BD was looking for. As you pull into the Town Hall complex it doesn't look like a huge area, but he did a great job to lay out 18 unique holes, using all the terrain available.
Most of the holes are heavily wooded with only a few "open" shots, #1 tee shot and the approaches to 13 and 18. The wooded fairways are fair to make the shot necessary with only a few very tight, #2, #5 and #9 come to mind.
#10 and 11 are both split fairway Par 3s, with 10 a little longer. You need to pick your line and go for it.
I'm not sure about the established Par on a couple of holes, 5 and 18. #5 is heavily wooded, Par 3 with an S curve fairway. It turns right, then left back to the basket. At 335' it wouldn't normally be a Par 4, but a 3 seems like a helluva good score. #18, heavily wooded, 681' Par 4 that bends left and ends on an grassy hillside, with the basket around the corner on a steep slope. I just don't see a lot of people getting all the way to that hillside in 2 shots, plus its a very fast green. Either way, its a very good, tough finishing hole.
A couple of my favorites were two of the Par 4s:
#7 - 464' with OB down the right side, straight tee shot to a fairly open landing area, then it tightens up, slightly downhill and right to the basket.
#13 - a little longer at 486', again a fairly open tee landing area that is blocked with trees, except for a gap on the left, hit that gap, then it opens up, to the elevated basket.
The course finishes pretty strong, 480' Par 4 17th, that reminds me of #17 at Hornets Nest, and the 680' 18th. Both require several pretty good throws, so save something for these. They have the potential for some serious scoring separations.
I think pretty soon this will be known as one of the best courses in the Triad, somewhat overshadowed by Keeley Park right now, but this will be a highly rated wooded course.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: There are some very neat and unique shots. Some of the fairways are top notch. Some of the basket locations are pretty neat also. There are some really good golf holes out there.
Cons: I do not like to rate a course because it is new and not beat in yet. But this course needs foot traffic really bad. All the fairways are super tight and if you get off of them then you are in jail. Tons of thorns. Fairways have a lot of sticks and cut down trees laying on them.
The teeboxes are super short. Like 3 or 4 feet long at best. Makes for a tough run up especially for the longer holes.
Most of the greens are super tight and gimmicky. I am more a fan of tighter lines with a fair green.
Other Thoughts: Ill give this course a year or 2 before i try it out again. It could be a great course down the road. Right now it feels like it is just a small teepad and then a basket thrown into the woods. I see signs or work and I understand that it takes a lot of time being that I have installed a course before.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
*Warning: Biased Designer Review*
6 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Normally it's good for people to refrain from reviewing their own work but since I'm highly critical of myself I can probably get away with this.
Okay, here we go. This is a very Charlotte-esque wooded style course behind Pleasant Garden's town hall. It features 19 Dynamic Veterans baskets (one practice basket) and 18 concrete tees. Mostly par 3s with five par 4's and one par 5 to deal with. Practically every hole is designed with challenging the modern Blue level player, which was something this area badly needed. With the exception of a couple "must-gets" the par 3s are designed to be "tough but fair" with birdies rewarding to get but not implausible. The par 4/5s are generally technical rather than multi-rip but a fairly blurred distinction between the two I think.
Many of these holes are very John Houck inspired, with multiple lane fairways for your Choose Your Own Adventure enjoyment. Others are more reminiscent of Harold Duvall gems like Castle Hayne, like hole 13 which requires two solid throws and a putt on a raised basket to card the birdie. The course is almost entirely wooded but Holes 1, 7, and 13 make use of what open spaces were available to sprinkle in some variety. The wooded holes vary from the very technical gauntlet of hole 6 to the fairly open but shape-shifting beast that is hole 12. Lastly, the course is designed so that players can play the front 9 or the back 9 loops and not have too far a walk from the parking lot either way.
The course is much easier to navigate now thanks to orange sign minis donated by Alex McLaughlin. This is vital because the nature trail that weaves around this course can lead 1st time golfers astray easily. The transition from hole 13 to 14 and hole 15 to 16 would be a curve ball without them also. For the most part, the course flows fairly well and not terrible to navigate. A large map greets you at hole 1 and also at hole 18 if you happen to park in the soccer field parking lot. The white baskets are nice and visible but also have high vis frisbees attached to the tops to aid in spotting them (thanks to Tom Bullock).
Not a great deal of elevation or water elements but what exists is used quite well, such as hole 18's pin placement on the hill, hole 16's subtle valley shot, and hole 12's spring. The woods are a nice mix of tall pines and lots of deciduous trees.
Cons: Most of these are new course related. The rough is still very rough. Every species of brier and also grape vines carpeted huge swathes of this property and had to be tamed. Poison ivy was copious and probably will be fought for a few seasons. Ticks were atrocious everywhere in NC this year but absolutely Biblical plague levels bad here. Fortunately they're non-existent right now and hopefully with all the increased play the course is getting will be less and less of a problem come next Spring. It will take a considerable beating in this Fall and Winter to alleviate the roughness of some of the hole's roughs but it's not too bad now. Just keep a sharp eye on your disc as much as possible.
The tees are small. That's my fault due to a miscommunication with the park. But they're fairly flush with the ground, a good texture, and will be easily ran upon for the most part.
Some of the holes are still playing tougher than their listed par. I'll be tweaking and working on these constantly to improve their scoring separation. Hole 18 in particularly is devilishly difficult to birdie and requires flawless play just to par right now.
Hole 12 plays over a section of the nature trail. Normally I would eviscerate a designer for doing this but I talked myself into it b/c the juice is worth the squeeze IMO. This trail is seldom used in general and this section even less so. I took great care in avoiding conflict with the trail otherwise though. Hole 12 also needs a bridge over the spring if you take the left fairway, we're working on that.
Other Thoughts: Hopefully this review brings some attention to the course and encourages more people to scope it out. It's getting more and more popular every week and I'm very pleased with it. I just want to quickly thank Mayor Carla Strickland and Parks and Rec. head Jason Peterson for putting up with me. Also a huge thank you to all the volunteers, most notably Brother John, Tom Bullock, and my 2nd in command, Dustin Maynard. Hopefully I'll have some Red Tee locations scouted out this Fall and Winter to make the course more accommodating for beginners but no real timetable on permanence. I'll update this review a lot so check back occasionally. Cheers!
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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