A Castle's Kingdom
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Ahh... Castle Hayne. Just north of Wilmington, NC, it is a short drive from the beaches and waters that tourists flock to year, after year, after year. That's how I feel about Castle Hayne too.
Castle Hayne isn't flashy. It doesn't have amazing views, mountains to climb, ponds to cross, but what it has is solid golf. That is what makes me keep on coming back.
Most holes have the main amenities that most love. The large concrete tees, check. Descriptive, full color tee signs, check. Functional baskets, check. These three important features automatically make this course better than some.
The holes themselves are well designed as well. There are the holes that you should two, the multi-shot par 3s and 4s, the long, tight shots. They bend right, left, or both on the same hole! These holes all wind through the woods of Eastern North Carolina, with the fairways covered in Pine Needles and sand, hinting at the nearby ocean.
The park itself is very nice, with a nice playground, as well as other amenities for others to enjoy. It felt like a safe environment, and overall, everything was very well kept.
Navigation was somewhat easy, the paths are beat in, and their are some navigational signs, and once you play once, playing again would be almost automatic.
Cons: There are two main components keeping me from giving this course a four, with a few other small things that would bump it down to the 3.5. It is still one of the best 3.5-4 courses I have played nonetheless.
First, is something they couldn't help. The design of the course was absolutely great. I loved the holes that I played, but there is no elevation. You are playing at sea level, and will never go above or below it. I always want to throw those downhill shots so you can watch the disc glide forever, but you can't here. I knew that going in both times I played, but it's something I want in a course.
Second, was the amount of standing water on the course. There were a couple of holes where I was up to my ankles in puddled water. The water wasn't always avoidable, often covering a 20x10 area of the fairway, or just next to the basket. The water was quite hard to miss, and I left the course wet on a sunny day.
Navigation to some holes, especially the temp holes and the ones that made you cross the road, were hard to get to. I skipped the temp hole that is hole 5 because of this. Make sure you check the tee sign, but it isn't always the next hole you see.
There was never a wow factor in my eyes. A lot of that is the lack of elevation, water carries, and other specific factors considered "wow-y" Castle Hayne is just really solid golf, just not spectacular golf.
Other Thoughts: Castle Hayne is a course that has seen a lot of different players over the years, and I am pretty sure it pleased almost every one of them. It is aging, but aging well. I want people to continue playing here or many years to come!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
The Castle, still Awesome!
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I've been wanting to play the Castle for some time now and finally had a chance to last year. I wasn't disappointed, an excellent, well taken care of course that challenges your game many ways.
The baskets are all in good shape, the large concrete tee pads were great and the tee signs were excellent. Especially playing your first time, it was great having the hole layout on the tee sign, since the woods are thick and there are some blind tee shots, its great knowing where you are going.
Has holes going left and right (including the short Hyzer #2 and short Annie #9), and down and up on the front nine. #7 starts with a tunnel drive, then finishes downhill to the basket. #8 starts with an uphill bending drive, then this massive Par 5 finishes slightly downhill.
The back nine places a premium on drive placement, #12 is a 90 degree right turn after your drive, place your drive in the right spot, then follow the narrow fairway to the basket on the right on this Par 5. #17 is a dual fairway Par 4, choose your path to play this hole well.
Very little interference with non-DGers in this park. Most of the way around, you get the feel that you are the only one there.
Benches on most holes and nice restrooms at the start, near the playground.
Cons: A new park road has cut into #4, #5 and possibly #6. But these are still very good holes that don't give you a breather.
Additional dual tee pads would probably make this more playable for less skilled players. But with nearby Arrowhead and Joe Eakes, there are other options.
Other Thoughts: I can see why this is one of the higher rated NC courses. Not a lot of elevation change, but what there is here, is used very effectively. It is a wooded course, but most of the fairways are fair, without being punishing. Plus, you can tell the local club takes good care of this course.
Even though it's long, for a wooded course, at 6500'+ there are some short ace runs on 2,9 and 16.
This course gets enough play that I don't recall a lot of time searching for discs when in the rough. Most are worn in pretty well.
It was a lot of fun to play this in the afternoon after a beach trip with the family. The woods keep the sun off of you. Definitely the must play for any DGer in the Wilmington area.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Challenging to Say the Least
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Located in the middle of an absolutely beautiful park.
Plenty of Parking
Bathrooms located near tee pad for #1.
Great selection of holes throughout the course. Not tons of elevation but there are several semi-open holes and countless wooded holes that provide wicked technical difficulty.
Signage was pretty good and distances and pin positions were very accurate. (Hole 3 was under some construction while I was there however)
Concrete Teepads were in great shape and baskets were accurately marked.
Cons: Bring a map the first time you play. Navigating can be a slight challenge the first time.
(I played this twice while on vacation and by the second round I had no issue)
Other Thoughts: This course was really fun even though it kicked my butt. Not a course I would recommend taking a extremely new player to as it can be discouraging, but for those who have played some other courses this will challenge you and force to you learn your discs a bit better and expand on the throws you use. The length on some of these holes will benefit you if you have a bomb of an arm.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
A Classic Course Facing Challenges
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I had a tough time settling on a rating for Castle Hayne. It's a legendary course, and it's easy to see why it's rated as highly as it is: amazing hole designs, beautiful setting, challenging wooded holes, but wide fairways. It also has par 4's and 5's, holes with landing areas and sharp doglegs, blind tee shots. It's got it all.
Unfortunately, it's facing serious growth challenges. Namely, the powers that be pulled a couple holes to accommodate park expansion. I was told by a local that they installed a couple of temp holes to make a full 18, but I missed one of them. The navigation wasn't clear. Also, there are trucks and construction equipment going in and out of the park, lots of mud and muck.
I say all of this to explain why I had a hard time settling on a rating. I played Castle Hayne 4 years ago (didn't rate it then) and think it was deserving of its 4.25 rating. I would have given it a 4.5. Today when I played it, there was standing water and mud EVERYWHERE, plus the construction and navigation issues mentioned above. It probably deserves a 3.5 as of today, but I just couldn't bring myself to rate it lower than a 4.0. Call it a brand name bump.
Castle Hayne is just a classic. Anyone passing through the Wilmington area should play it. It's a little bittersweet--you can tell it's not as great as it once was--but I hope and expect they will figure out the park construction issues and make improvements. Regardless, it's a solid course and players of all skill levels will enjoy it.
1. Very challenging
2. Beautiful and well maintained
3. Good facilities
4. Tons of variety
5. True par 4's and 5's
6. Nice big tee pads
7. Good signage for each hole
Cons: I mentioned the cons above:
1. Bad drainage issues
2. 3 holes knocked out by construction, 2-3 temp holes added back, but not intuitive to navigate
Other Thoughts: Castle Hayne is a true North Carolina classic. It's facing development challenges now, but is still a very good course and I expect it will be a truly great course again soon.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Good distances - most are around 300 range, although I did encounter a 700 drive. Course is well labeled, availability of trash cans, and great use of the park area. Underbrush isn't bad at all, though some areas seem thick, is reachable. Concrete Ts. Trees were spaced well enough to create a challenge and not too narrow.
Cons: Went on a Wednesday evening, slightly crowded as there was a group both in front and behind me. Read on other reviews that the course is very crowded on weekends and judging from my middle of the week experience, I believe it.
Other Thoughts: Bring bug spray. Bathrooms available, located centrally in the park.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Castle Hayne is legendary throughout the southeast for good reason. This is a very well-designed course that offers a great balance of fun and challenge and makes the most of the land given. The amenities are great here with plenty of parking space, a practice basket, local club information, and bathrooms. Plenty of benches and trash cans as well.
For much of the course, scoring well means being able to throw long, accurate lines, dodging many trees in the process. While it plays in the same kind of wooded setting throughout the entire round, you will get to experience many different holes and shots.
There is a great variety of long holes that force you to hit landing zones as well as holes that give you a chance to reach the green from the tee. There are holes that force you to hit a specific lane and many holes where you can to choose from multiple lanes.
The best quality of Castle Hayne is that it forces you to think on every shot and you will use a lot of different discs in your bag in the process. Drives, upshots, and approaches must be carefully calculated in order to hit tight windows. Drop offs on the side of 7 and 12's fairways make staying on the fairway critical.
There are some unique holes here that you won't experience elsewhere. 12 forces you to weave through many trees where you have to land straight in front of the tee to hit the landing zone before you make a 90 degree turn to the right. You then play through a tight alley to a well-protected pin.
There are a lot of little things that make this a special course, extra work that helps the course achieve its maximum potential. Hole 5 was dug 4-5 feet into the ground that really changed the shot and caused you to throw higher than normal. Sadly, that hole is no longer part of the course and I enjoyed being able to play it while it was still around. Mandos offered on some of the shorter holes (2 and 9) also help give the course diversity. Creeks come into play a few times, both running through and alongside the fairway.
Navigation is absurdly easy for the most part. The course conveniently loops back to the parking lot and bathrooms after the front 9, and you're never too far from your car.
Very well taken care of with cleared fairways and limited rough. You can tell a lot of work has been put into the course in order to make it visually appealing, technical, and fair. The tee signs, tees, and baskets are in great shape with the tees being very long and comfortable.
Cons: I think the biggest detractor of playing here is that you are throwing on dead flat land for most of the round. Efforts have been made to give some elevation change, but you can only do so much when you are this close to the coast.
Finding hole 10 isn't obvious for first-timers. While there is a sign on the edge of the woods where 10 is, you have to know to walk past the bathrooms and cut through the center of the park to get to the opposite side to find it. Luckily, there should be plenty of people to ask.
This is one of the more crowded courses that I've played, even on a weekday morning. I assume it's usually that crowded and then some due to its popularity. Be prepared to wait on some holes.
Tees for 4 and 6 play very close together, there is a sign telling you to wait until the other group is done.
Personal preference: It would help to have some holes that were in a little different of a setting, maybe a few more that play from open into the woods and vice versa. Still, the design is awesome with the setting that it's in.
Other Thoughts: Now, this review may be a little bit dated as I played the original 18 before some of the holes were closed due to construction. While this will be a temporary problem, it's great that they will eventually expand the course and shows the vision of the local club. I really enjoyed my round and would love to play here again. This is definitely a course that blends well together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I'd give it a 4.25 if I could, very close to being a 4.5.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
-balance of enjoyment/difficulty
-few (if any) similar holes
Cons: *Note that all cons listed below are only listed because there is nothing awful about this course, and I'm nitpicking*
-only one set of tees.
-moving between holes can be slightly confusing (maybe 2-3 possible issues)
-tees for 4/6 are so close as to require a sign to let another group finish teeing before your group begins.
Other Thoughts: No water fountain. That's not really a con since many courses don't have it, but if you're reading the reviews you're probably on vacation, so it's probably hot, which means you should take some high quality H2O to drink.
Great course. This is a high 4 for me. I've still yet to find a course I'll rate a 4.5, but this is probably tied with Beaver Ranch/Conifer Park in the Rockies as the best two courses I've played. I think there is a way to improve this course to make it a 4.5 by making the putting areas more interesting. Add in a man-made sand dune or a hole here and there on each "green", and it would take this course to the next level.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 9 Not
Pros: Nice concrete Tees and signage. Fairly easy to navigate.
Cons: Floods after a good rain.
Other Thoughts: I haven't reviewed a course in a long time because I think the review and rating system should be split. I don't need to go on and on about things already said. So I will point you to the review of reposado Trusted Reviewer - Diamond Level who says it very well. I've traveled a lot and played a lot and wouldn't think twice about going out of my way to play this course again. I could have played a hand full of other courses yesterday but went a bit out of my way to play just this one and was a bit let down.
0 of 9 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Great layout. Excellent for new players to challenge traditional throwing styles and begin to develop other Technics. Love the change in elevation, well marked holes and tee pads. Whomever maintains this course takes pride in their work and I express my thanks.
Cons: Maybe could use some more visible / bright colored tees but with excellent tee maps it's ok.
Other Thoughts: Will go out of my way when in the area again to play.
0 of 5 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Best course for miles around
Pros: Castle Hayne. The name says it all. The lore of this place precedes it before even stepping foot onto the course. Another Harold Duvall beauty that the NC coast deserved!
Now that that's out of the way, let's dig down into the details. Upon arriving at the park you'll find the beauty of the place inspiring. It's located a stone's throw from the beach but you could be fooled into thinking you're hundreds of miles away.
The park is very well maintained with bathrooms and other park amenities at the park center. Driving past hole one (and seeing hole 10 perched up overlooking the fork in the road) has a way of building you up for the upcoming round.
The course is technically challenging. Most holes are heavily wooded with tight fairways to traverse. There were many right/left/straight shots, however the vast majority were pretty long (standard Duvall affair, not a bad thing in my opinion). So for those looking for a short shot here and there, there aren't many to be had here.(Head up the road to Arrowhead park)
The signs are well made and there aren't any major hiccups with navigation, apart from finding hole 10. The front and the back 9 both come back to the center of the park, allowing you to easily start on the back.
Challenge! This course will require your game to be on its best. Like I stated previously, there aren't many places to air one out, but if you can snap off a long drive that is also very precise, you'll be greatly rewarded! Am's might find the challenging aspect frustrating at times, but it should inspire them to improve their skills. Hole 12 is a unique little devil. Rip a drive, but not too far or you'll go in the creek. Then rip another drive down the fairway, parallel to the creek and hope you don't dive left. Then finish back up to the right (yes, that's a U shape) for a challenging and unique hole. I like to think of it as the moat for the Castle [Hayne]. Luckily I was able to grab a 3 on this hole but others are not so lucky I'm sure.
Despite being heavily wooded, the course doesn't seem to have many trouble spots for losing discs. If you find yourself really far off the fairway it is certainly possible, but probably fairly rare. The water hazard on 12 is sure to have claimed some plastic over the years, but what's a good course without the fear of drowning?!
One unique thing that Castle Hayne has that I had never seen before were fairway distance markers. You'll see these all day long on a ball golf course, colored spikes in the ground in the middle of the fairway to mark the remaining distance to the hole(basket), but this is the first I've seen in the dg world. Not sure what the overall consensus is regarding these but I thought they were pretty neat.
Cons: There is virtually zero elevation change, but we are at the beach after all, so you can't really fault the designer for not incorporating any, it simply doesn't exist. Nevertheless, a con compared to courses nationwide.
There is also a lack many open holes. Apart from hole 1, which still has ample amounts of trees to hit, every hole requires a precise wooded shot in some manner. Hole 18 is mostly open, but starts and finishes in a wooded alcove. If you're looking for a good mix of open and wooded, you won't find it here.
The biggest con for me was the time in which I played it. We played after a brief thunderstorm (which is sure to occur often at the beach) and nearly all of the fairways on the back 9 were unplayable. I say unplayable, but we played them. What I should have said was, you won't come out of the woods very dry! The course holds water like you wouldn't believe. Several of the holes had standing pools across a 50-60 ft fairway. I only played once and this may indeed be a rare occurrence, however I'm free to speculate that a course at the beach is bound to get a lot of rain and in the case of Castle Hayne, this doesn't bode well for a dry round...
Other Thoughts: Pros should (and do) enjoy this course. It requires the utmost precision on most holes in order to post a good round. Amateurs will love it for the challenge as well, but please have this in mind when going to play for the first time.
It's easily the best in the area and conveniently located to Wilmington and the beach. You shouldn't hesitate to play this course, and even drive out of the way to play it if necessary, but I'd advise trying to time it for a dry spell or you'll need to bring some rain boots and maybe a snorkel! (This is a slight hyperbole)
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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