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.
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.
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.
20 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: I'm not sure how much I need to extoll the virtues of Castle Hayne. It's a wonderful park. It's incredibly clean and well-kept. The tees are some of the nicest that I've seen. The signs are neat, informative and original. The course flows easily and aside from finding the tenth tee, no visitor should have trouble following the course.
That praise of the basics should not imply that there isn't much to exclaim about the layout of the course. It's a great layout. It's tough and players that aren't challenged by Castle Hayne are probably liars. Entirely wooded, rarely will a player be faced with a throw that isn't technical in some way. It's varied in the sense that there is a solid mix of left-turning, right-turning and straight shots. While it is somewhat cliche, it is accurate to say that you might use every shot in your bag here.
The fairways are extremely well-done. Tight but reasonable and fair. Punishing for those who miss their line but always offering a proper path to basket. No leftover trees, if you go off the fairway here, there is only one person to blame.
I'd imagine, also, that this course does a very good job of providing scoring separation. The cream should rise here, to use another cliche. This isn't something I care about typically when rating a course but with all these technical angles, I'd imagine this is a great course for determining a true master of the game.
And if there isn't a great hole here, there isn't a weak one either. Everything here is solid. Long holes considering the width of the fairways. Tough pars throughout the course with long threes and true fours. If challenge is the most important thing for you, this a course you will enjoy.
Cons: Honestly, it just didn't knock my socks off. I don't mean this isn't a very good course. It's a course without much in the way of flaws. But it doesn't have anything that stands out and marks the course as unique. There isn't anything I'm going to remember down the line and think, "yeah, Castle Hayne." While challenging and obviously of high caliber it fails to claim a place among the elite courses of the state, at least for me.
Part of that is the lack of real changes in elevation. A lot of people will say things like "the course designer did the best with what was there," and in this case, that seems to be the case, but I'm not rating the job the designer did considering the available land. I'm judging the play experience and that means comparing it to all the other courses and the way that they make use of elevation. In the same vein, there is no real water obstacles here. (One creek along the side but it only affects play slightly) And it may not be fair, but two of the ways in which courses often create memorable holes are just not present here. To my mind, Castle Hayne is like a lot of courses in the state. Maybe a little tougher. Maybe a little cleaner and better appointed. Maybe a bit-better designed. But not that different.
If I seem like I'm being over-critical, it's because I'm trying to explain why I gave it "only" a 3.5. The good qualities of Castle Hayne are legion and well known. And I can see how many have grown to love it. But to this traveling player, it doesn't call out to be played again the way that some do. There is a reason why, if you look through even the glowing reviews, you don't find many specific holes mentioned.
Other Thoughts: I feel like this whole review was written in a more matter-of-fact tone than I typically use. I think that's reflective of the course. It's matter-of-fact. By the book. It's very well done, but not incredibly imaginative. And really, that's a pro and a con. The serious competitor will likely love this course and what it requires of his game. The wanderer who wants to see something original may not care for it as much. It's very well executed, technically flawless. But it doesn't venture too far from the manual.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 6 Not
Newbie players review
Pros: This park has all the amenities. The course itself has great signs showing different baskets and lines on each sign. Trash recepticals throughout the course. Benches if you need to sit and take a break. For more experienced players several very challenging holes.
Cons: As beginners we found many of the holes crazy hard. Very busy park. College kids drunk playing disc golf was a little of a downer. Very hard to find where to go after hole 9. Some holes where super long turning a par5 into 9 shots for my girl.
Other Thoughts: I don't mind college kids or drinking. Don't even mind drinking and golfing but when your too drunk to throw a Frisbee your too drunk to be in the par. (man I miss being that age ha ha) This course is off the hook but is defiantly suited for a more advanced player.
1 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 3 Not
Flat but Fun
Pros: I like tight wooded courses, being from Charlotte and all. I liked this course for its brutality, reminds me of home. Little if no elevation change means lots of well planned cutting to shape fairways, and greens. Some might say a little too excessive at times; a tee with a forked tree six feet in front of you, for example. Bring a buzz or other trusty midrange and test your turnover shots, and a driver comes in handy for skip shots, and a couple open holes.
Cons: I visit family in Wilmington and considering this is the only park around, it is gonna get some play. It is out in the sticks a little bit, and knowing those woods, I would bring a bucket bug spray in the summer. Besides the fact that the park is relatively flat, I can not say anything bad about it. It was a busy day there, with a doubles tournament, but my wife and I played through three or four groups. So, don't expect a run through on a gorgeos day like this one.
Other Thoughts: After seeing the cool wooden signs with the hole layout,(complete with little nails for important clusters of trees in the fairway), I realized the importance, and effect good signage is to a course. I say three and a half discs, three for the course itself, and a half for the super cool signs. This course is worthy of being in the top ranked N.C. courses, even though it is short in length.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Course is clean and has added a practise basket right near the 1st tee pad.. Clean bathrooms.Each hole has a bench by the tee box. Also has good signage for each hole. The course members do a good job keeping this course maintained well. Front nine easier than the back nine. Has a good mix of play. It is pretty much all in the woods, but the course uses the woods just right for its dog legs and opens up for log straight drives. Be sure to look at the information board at the first tee box showing the course, it will show you where the back nine starts which will make it easier for you if you haven't played this course. Course opens at 8am and closes at 11pm so you can play at night using glow lights.
Cons: This course gets really busy. A little hard for first timers who play this course to find the back nine. Some players who bring their dogs with them while playing and let them just run loose, so watch out where you step.
Other Thoughts: If you are in the area be sure to play this course or even near by. The back nine gets really muddy after a good rain and takes a while to dry out. I play lots of courses and this one I would place on my top ten. It is best to play this course early in the day if you don't like crowds. Weekends this course gets really crowded. For a county course it is really nice. Watch out for the stream on hole eight, the stream has taken lots of discs including mine. Most of the times players who get in there and retrieve them will call you, so make sure you put your name and phone number on your disc.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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