28 Helpful / 0 Not
Thanks for the feedback!
Pros: We have completed our signifcant redesigns of the courses, thanks for the feedback. We utilize DGCourseReview.com as a way to see what people like and don't like and try to enhance the positives and correct the negatives.
Red course - it is now truly beginner freindly. I just played it this morning and was inside 50 feet for birdie on every hole (I'm a 960-970 rated player). There are no shots over water, the walk is much shorter, and we are excited to be able to host beginners and families that want to play Maple Hill but used to be afraid of it.
White course - no changes that I can think of. The first hole is over the pond (you need a 300' drive to clear it). If you can manage hole 1, you'll be fine and have a fun challenge ahead of you.
Blue course - this used to be a quasi-tweener course. We redesigned several holes and this is now a truly challenging and different course. Tom and I are not sold on hole 9, but Dave loves the risky shot down the road, so we'll keep it for now. Other than that, we are all very proud of the Maple Hill Blues. Regarding the "tweener" holes mentioned below (10, 17 and maybe 16), 10 needs about 400 feet of distance to reach. Every course needs to reward big arms at least once. 17 has a very fast green and a dog leg. IMO, there is much more challenge to it than a boring up and down for 3. 16 is quite reachable but requires a well timed end of flight fade to get a look at the putt. It is a nice (and picturesque) challenge.
Gold course - we made a few holes harder, more scenic, and potentially signature. I can't wait to see the top pros give it a try at the Vibram (Labor Day weekend, 2011). Watch it live at maplehillopen.com.
Ticks - we released 10 quail on the hole 11/13 hill (aka, the Cutler Place). Hopefully they will fill their bellies with ticks.
Upkeep - we are doing a much better job at keeping the grass shorter and the course prettier thanks in large part to Dave Jackson who is working full time on the course and in the pro shop. This also helps to keep the ticks down as they like tall grass.
Water - If you don't like water, play the Reds. If you want a challenge, the water will test you mentally. Two other notes - we've got loaner discs if you want to chuck one of our discs over the water instead of your own and we hire divers to retrieve discs and we will give you a call if and when we find them.
So, thanks for all the feedback, keep it coming. We will continue to improve the course. Stop by and give the new configurations at Maple Hill a try, and keep posting your reviews here.
Cons: I picked up five or six cigarette butts during my round this morning. We should get more trash cans on the course.
28 of 28 people found this review helpful.
24 Helpful / 0 Not
As Good as it Looks on Video
- All that I Hoped it Would Be. I have seen enough video of the Vibram Open to have been set up for a huge disappointment... however, Maple Hill was all that I hoped it would be. All the memorable holes from the videos (1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18) lived up to expectation.
- 4 Options. With each hole having two tee-pads (sometimes more) and two pins, Maple Hill had 4 options for play: red, white, blue and gold. Every tee-pad and pin had two color-coded flags designating the tee/pin for that hole. The system of flags - in combination with the tee-signs - worked really well, and I never had any trouble identifying what was what.
- Championship Level. Maple Hill has it all when it comes to "what a championship level course is supposed to be": long, extremely demanding golf with opportunities for punishment, multiple water holes, several other OB features, numerous Par 4's, and fantastic amenities.
- Pro-Shop. There was a huge pro-shop stocked with nearly everything you could probably ever want. They had a great selection of plastic from all the brands (Innova, Discraft, Lat64, MVP, Gateway, Legacy, DiscMania, etc...), and had bags, straps, towels and anything else DG related. They also had snacks and drinks for sale.
- Pyramids is Down the Street. It's nice to be able to bag two courses in a new state and not have to drive very far to do it. Pyramids DGC is just down the street (apparently the cousin to the owner of Maple Hill). It's a fun course and worth bagging since you're going to be so close to it anyway.
- Par 61. My only complaint about Maple Hill was the seemingly low Par as compared to other "championship level" courses I've played and love: Harmon Hills, Idlewild, Iron Hill, Nevin, Renny Gold, Fly Boy and all 3 at the IDGC. I would have loved to have seen three or four more Par 4's, and a few Par 5's out there.
- I was the First Person to Play the New Hole 16. As I was playing the course, I could hear some chainsaw work going on. When I finished Hole 15, I was unable to find the tee-pad of 16. I walked up to the person with the chainsaw (Dave) and asked where the Gold tee-pad was... he told me they had to remove the tee-pad and redesign the Hole... which was a bummer because the hole had a fairly demanding water crossing off the tee. However, he also told me that he had just finished cutting the new fairway and I would be the first person to play the new Hole - Bonus! I went back and played the old hole too... crushed both drives and had birdie looks at both.
- Overall... With all the hype I've heard, and all the video I've seen, I could have easily been disappointed in Maple Hill... but I wasn't. Maple Hill was definitely worth the hype of being one of the best courses in the country. When you combine an amazing piece of private property, with championship level golf, famous holes that live up to the hype, multiple water holes, massive bombers over Christmas trees, old rock wall OB features, a complete package of amenities, beautiful scenery, and more... you get a disc golf destination like no other. Any serious disc golf course bagger would be foolish to be anywhere within 200 miles of this course and not go out of their way to bag it.
My Score: a very proud 63 from the Golds
24 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Top notch, in every way.
22 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Let's get this out of the way: I LOVE Maple Hill. Love it. So much. Almost as much as Elaine.
18 hole course located on a perfect piece of frolfing land. The grounds are immaculate, the feeling is wonderful...I just don't know what else to say about it.
Brand new MVP baskets on every hole. While these aren't my favorite baskets in the world, they did the job just fine. The multiple colored flags on each basket made it easy to discern which basket you were throwing at. Multiple baskets on many holes.
Multiple tees on most hole. Some pavers, some rubber mats. The pavers (which I usually don't like) were kept up very well and we didn't have any issues. Every skill level should be able to find a tee they feel good about throwing from.
No super crazy elevation (depending on your perspective), but plenty of up and down to create some fantastic downhill bombers. There is still more elevation here than most other courses.
Some of the best water shots I've played anywhere. At many courses, water shots are just "throw over this water", and while Maple has some of that, most of the water is punitive of errant shots, not just short shots. There are bail out spots on most, and big risk/reward for being aggressive on others. I'm not usually a fan of multiple water shots on a course, but they're so well done here that I couldn't help but love it. Oh, and hole 1 from blue or gold is probably the coolest opening shot in the 360+ courses I've played.
Tons of New England ambiance all around. The rolling hills, the quintessential rock walls (Hi Dave!), the atmosphere (my disc went real fahhhhh)...it all adds up to a fantastic experience. Playing hole 18 up to the clubhouse, with people on the deck/bleachers watching your shots coming in...that's just fun stuff. Everything here just feels like what disc golf is supposed to be.
Last (but definitely not least), the shot variety is superb. As a guy that throws around 400' and 940's rated, it felt like everything was attainable, but tough. That's my kind of golf! Fair OB's, tight lines, open bombers, technical shorties (this is from the blues)...I left feeling like I had used nearly every disc in my bag. Me likey.
Signage was great, and navigation wasn't an issue, although it didn't hurt that I've seen the course on video about 1000 times. The clubhouse also has scorecards w/ maps to help.
Cons: Any con is very much nitpicking, in my opinion.
Would love to see all concrete tees here.
MVP baskets aren't my favorite, but they're fine, and that's just personal preference.
Some people may see P2P as a con, but seriously...buck up, tiger. It's worth every penny.
If this were your home course, you'd have real issues with traveling to other courses and not being disappointed. That's a con, right?
Other Thoughts: In conclusion, Maple Hill rocks. If you've played Flip City, it's the same vibe, but more bigger and more awesome. It's got everything you could want, and maybe some things you didn't know you'd want.
I have commitment issues, so I don't know if Maple Hill is #1 on my favorite course list, but it's definitely top 3.
Who am I kidding. This is my favorite course. It's the third 5.0 rating I've given, and there wasn't a doubt in my mind. Just get there...you won't be sorry.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful.
22 Helpful / 0 Not
Pro-level course with something for everyone!
Pros: Pro-level challenge, but with multiple tees/baskets to suit everyone except maybe the beginning player.
Every tee is clearly marked and every basket has color-coded flags to clearly demonstrate which basket you should be shooting at when there are multiple baskets on a hole. Tee pads on the ground are rubber, but done solidly, while elevated tees (on slopes) are of wood construction, similar to a deck. Plenty seats, tables, trash cans, etc throughout the course to make DG'ing easier.
Course navigation was pretty easy, even without a map, most holes had very good marking for the next tee, and a lot had a well worn path right to the next tee. The map (on the scorecard available in the beginning barn) was handy though for orienting yourself while on the course, and helped clear up some confusion for me on exactly where hole 12's basket was.
The scenic beauty of this course is amazing, and the use of the terrain and flora available is nothing short of magnificent!
I also had a chance to chat with the owner for about 30 minutes while waiting for some rain to clear, really great guy. He was even going to loan me an umbrella in case it started raining again while I was playing! I also ended up getting a sweet star Ontario roc with the Maple Hill stamp for a great price! I got to see the lost and found room, and let me tell you, he could make a fortune off the volume of discs that have been found, but alas he is a great individual, and catalogues them and will return them if contacted (I believe a list of these discs is on the course website). There were literally hundreds of discs waiting for their owners. How many private course owners take this much time and effort? I know of only one other that goes to these lengths, Howie at Holler in the Hills.
My memorable holes (I won't write a novel and mention them all, since they were all pretty memorable, but here are my favorites):
1 - I can't not mention this hole. Everyone knows what a beast it is, but I have to restate it. The view from the tee is downright intimidating. A solid 30-40 foot elevation drop, with a good sized pond at the bottom, and the basket perched JUST on the far bank. I went hyzer, lost in the ditch on the right, and still managed a 4.
4 - Downhill shot through the woods, a narrow path to hit. I was so excited to clear down close to the basket until I realized it was not the basket I was shooting for from the tee I was on. Dangit.
5 - Another cool shot through the woods, this time on level ground. The pro route over the water on the left with a right turning path was very tough, especially since my forehand is horrible.
8 - Long-ish carry over the water, basket just on the other side, abutting a hill. This one was a little less intimidating and safer than 1, but still quite a challenge. I dropped into the water RIGHT before the green, so luckily there was a pole there to reach the 5 feet to retrieve my waterlogged disc.
9 - Start with a platform (deck) tee, then throw up a corridor over a hill. Then you have to go down and back right, clear some water to the green. The course site says that 17 people got a three on this hole during the Open, I would love to have seen those, as this hole utterly kicked my rear.
10 - Amazing uphill drive with trees left, a steep rise, then the basket is protect in a castle-like turret at the top that is elevated ANOTHER 5-6 feet.
11 - Another downhill-looking shot, but without the water. The trees however, are a challenge of their own. Being a Christmas tree farm (?) there were tons of rows of fairly tall conifers (6-7 feet mostly). If you find your drive in the thick of these, good luck getting out easily. The basket is on a cool little "ridge" just into the woods (although the anchoring looked like it needed to be redone).
14 - Out over water again, then back left, hard line to hit, even harder basket to reach. It takes a pretty hard hyzer to get there.
16 - CRAZY shot out over some marshy area, then up and left through some thick woods. Pack a lunch for this hole, and whatever you do, don't hyzer out on your drive!
18 - Monster 650 foot par 4. Nothing overly complicated except its uphill, with trees on either side, and some in the fairway. Website again states that 12 people got threes in the Open, I can't imagine!
Cons: I have to qualify my cons. The first is a small con for me, the rubber tee pads. I prefer concrete but these are so well done I can't really detract from my score because of them.
I generally think of pay-to-play as a con, since I've seen so many other free courses that are exceptional, but again this doesn't factor into my rating because well, it is simply more than worth $5 to play this course.
My only other con, which is legitimate, is the nasty soft ground in a few places, most notably on hole 12's fairway. There are a bunch of 1x8 decking boards laid out, but it was treacherous. Filling that area would allow that area to be easily traversable, or perhaps some sort of stepping stones. Anything would help, but I suppose the boards were better than stepping in ankle deep muck. This is literally my only true con!
Other Thoughts: My rating of a 4.5 means just what it appears. This course is almost perfect. I have played the likes of top 10 courses Idlewild and Holler in the Hills, as well as the legendary Renaissance Park, Hornets Nest, to name a few, and this one almost tops my list. I would say it is a close second behind Renny. Like I stated before, the only true thing I found wrong with it was some swampy areas on 2 and 12. Fix or do something to bypass those and it's an honest 5 in my book!
If you are anywhere NEAR this course, and I mean within a few hours' drive, you must make time to play it. For a pay-to-play private course (maintenance on the course is well worth the $5) it probably has the highest bang for the buck I've seen yet.
Keep up the awesome work, and you better believe I'll be back for a second round if I get back to Mass!
22 of 22 people found this review helpful.
19 Helpful / 0 Not
Everything I hoped it would be
Maple Hill is a spectacular monument to what Disc Golf should be.
The course design is top notch. The course plays through lightly wooded but extremely "fair" fairways, over and around ponds and small Christmas tree patches. The use of elevation and natural OB (ponds and old stone walls) make this course extremely challenging but still extremely fun to play. Many of the holes are thoughtfully laid out so that the need for distance and accuracy are well balanced. Even on the longest holes it is important to consider where you are going to land on your drive so that you will be set up for your next shot. Whereas on the short holes you better be accurate. There are no true grip it and rip is holes on this course (which I wholly approve of).
Many of the holes on this course are so picturesque or unique that they would be the signature hole of any other course. Also Maple Hill has such a nice isolated/exclusive feel to it. Even when there are other people on the course you can't really hear them since there is such a good spread between holes, so that you feel like you have the whole place to your self (and sometimes you really do!)
The entire course and all of the facilities are immaculate. The landscaping is perfect, the grass is always mowed, the multiple baskets are in great condition, the fairways are clear of debris, and everything looks recently cleaned.
The tee pads and baskets are in perfect condition and the tee signs are pretty much as nice as I have ever seen. The signs provide a very accurate description of the hole with the relevant distances.
This course has four different layouts that you can play. Red, White, Blue and Gold. The Gold layout provides an amazing challenge and getting under par is great accomplishment. The different layouts really allow for all skill levels to enjoy this course, from beginners all they way to the top pro's in our sport. The gold layout really brings the ponds into play and if you are worried about losing plastic the Maple Hill crew is amazing at retrieving and returning discs (Lost and Found
All of the people I met that are associated with Maple Hill were amazing. Steve Dodge and family are all great people and very welcoming.
There is camping onsite, bathrooms, a very, very nice pro shop with drinks and snacks available, and a sweet clubhouse with games and a cool deck to chill out on and watch people finish up on #18.
Cons: The only cons that I can list are really just nitpicks like it is a pay to play. Although this is really the only place I have ever played where I felt that it was completely worth every cent (I would have paid more).
It closes from Thanksgiving to Christmas to sell trees
I came to this course with some high expectations and Maple Hill exceeded them all. The course is amazing, the atmosphere was perfect, and the people were great. I have only ever given out one 5 disc rating before and I feel in my opinion that this course is even better than that one (Deer Lakes
in Pittsburgh). The terrain is just absolutely perfect for disc golf. Plus this course is literally only a 3 minute walk to another great course Pyramids
I love that Steve Dodge and his team looks to tweak the course ever year to make it even better. The willingness to change is much better than the course designers who feel that when the course is in the ground then it is perfect and should not be changed for at least ten years.
Some of my favorite holes were #5, #13 and #18.
#5 from golds is a sweet hole where there are two choices from the tee. One is a narrow RHBH through the woods that leaves little chance for a duece but is relatively safe. the other is a RHFH or BH anny that carries water the entire way to a pin that is 8 ft on the shore.. If you land safe its a drop in 2 but a tough drop zone for those that land in the water.
Hole #13 is a cool downhill shot into a gap in the woods. There are trees guarding the right side of the gap and a hill running away on the left. On this hole I saw FH's, BH's, OH's, drivers, midranges and putters all used off the tee. It allows for great creativity from the tee and the pin is well guarded with a steep hill running away behind it.
#18 is the best finishing hole I have ever been on. A full powered drive is needed with OB to the right and Christmas trees to the left. This is followed by the dilemma of trying for the narrow island green on the second shot or laying up. Keep in mind that if there are other people around they will be sitting 2 feet away from the green or on the deck above watching to see what your choice will be. This is a truly epic finishing hole.
I was lucky enough to play in the Vibram Open
this year and it was the best tournament experience I have ever had and after only one trip here I am already planning for an annual pilgramage.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Maple Hill is Marvelous
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Maple Hill is what the future of disc golf should be. A private course, manicured to perfection, with extreme attention put into every detail. Until you have played at Maple Hill, you most likely have not experienced anything like it. This course had been on my wishlist for 3 years, just as long as I have been playing. It is the home of some of the first disc golf video I have ever watched, and it is a large reason I took a liking to this sport in the first place. It lives up to my every expectation, and I had a very high bar set.
The first hole is a signature on any course. It starts off with a water carry, then around a rock wall with a guarded green. The water carry is not incredibly intimidating from the blue/white tees, but the gold tees can be terrifying. The water looks smaller in person, but the view is unparalleled, and it is much better to see this in person than a picture or a video.
There are many other signature holes to describe, as I believe most every hole on this course would be a signature hole at even a decent course, it's just that incredible. Most of them you just have to see for yourself. The pine trees, the rock walls, the ponds, the mountains. It's a great experience in the wooded and hilly Massachusetts.
Getting down to the layout, there is so much to be said. The Gold tee to Gold basket is one of the most recognizable layouts in disc golf. It can challenge the top pros at the annual tournament, but from my experience, it is every bit approachable to a player with an average skill level. However, this course is not just the Gold Layout. This course has four, FOUR!, unique layouts, ranging from an all par 3 red tee, and the championship golds. The red tees do not require many, if any, water carries. They are all reachable, and they are kept in just as good of care as the golds. The Whites and Blues are great courses for everyday play, as I'm sure that a local can't play the golds every time. Each layout was perfectly fit, and this course is not just meant for pros, it can be fun for everyone.
Navigation for this course is also well done. Signs pointing to each dedicated color, and paths that are well beaten. There is not a single walk that I felt unnecessarily long.
The new Black Hole Portals caught very well, and I was pleasantly surprised by them, because I have never played on them before. They are visible in the woods, but even if they weren't, the colorful flags atop every basket shows you exactly where to go. The tee signs are incredible as well. Very large, colored to fit the layout, and extremely detailed. The map includes distances, pars, and some added intricacies to make them better than the average.
Cons: Maple Hill is quite possibly the greatest disc golf course on Earth. I have not played every course in existence, and I can't speak for all the other fantastic courses that are sure to exit, but the experience here trumps all my others, hands down. However, every rose has a few thorns, and I am sure they will be trimmed eventually.
The paver tees are fantastic, and they look great too, but the rubber tees for the short tees are not as great. They are better than some rubber tees I have played on, but I think more pavers for all tees would be incredibly beneficial for this course, making it even more suitable for a casual golfer.
The course does not loop back to the parking lot after nine, only after 18. When leaving your car, pack lots of water, snacks, and extra discs for the few that you could lose in the water. I'm not too happy about losing one of my go to putters, but it is what it is. I shouldn't have ran that putt anyways, but you have to during a casual round, for the fear of being called a wimp.
I am not always a fan of a multiple basket course. I don't exactly know why that is, but they are not my favorite. This is executed to almost perfection though, and the other baskets almost never get in the way.
Other Thoughts: I want to write a review that shows that this course is the best that I have played, and a review that shows that this course is worth a trip. It should be common knowledge by now that this course is one of the best, as it is seen all over the place, but it is completely a different, almost surreal, experience in person. If there is a course that should be in everybody's wishlist, Maple Hill has to be one of them.
There are a lot of thoughts that I can describe as other, but the main thought is that this course took my breath away. If there is any other information that you would like to know, let me know, and I will do the best I can to explain to you why you should just make the trip.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course plays through hilly woods with ponds and stands of Christmas trees. There is incredible variety here, from tight technical woods shots to tricky water carries to bombs over the Christmas trees where placement is critical. The tighter holes offer punishment for missed shots, and have fair widths for the various lengths. The ponds are used perfectly to provide risk/reward options that are appropriate for the various tee levels, as well as adding some nice views.
With 2-4 tees and 2-3 pins per hole, there are 4 distinct layouts here. They are very different in terms of skill level, and offer great options for various levels of players. The red and white layouts go a little easier on the water carries and distance while still offering technical and interesting shots. There is great elevation on many of the holes, the hills are used beautifully to add challenge on drives and around greens.
The rubber pads are level and in great shape, and the baskets don't show much wear. There are color coded flags on every tee and basket making the overlapping layouts easy to follow, and making the next tee obvious. The signage is excellent, with layout and distance for all tees and pins. An onsite proshop is always a plus, especially when it includes an extensive lost and found for all the discs pulled out of the ponds.
Cons: There were a few areas of the course where the grass was a little long and could potentially hide discs, this was the only place I saw less than stellar maintenance. On some holes there are other tees and pins that could be in play on a day where people are playing different layouts, could be a safety issue at times.
Other Thoughts: This is a destination course for sure, especially with another really nice course just down the road at Pyramids. True beginners won't have a lot of fun here, with lots of water and rough in play to punish inaccurate shots and plenty of tight gaps and distance to contend with. For everyone else, there are enough options here to find an appropriate challenge, from intermediate players all the way up to the top pros.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful.
26 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Maple Hill has got everything you look for in a championship calibur course. Ponds, lakes, streams, elevation variation... and big 'ol trees along with rock wall ob's nicely define fairways. 3 different layouts also provide whatever level of challenge you're ready for. You really must play smart on the Blue's and to a certain extent, also on the Whites. You may get away with going for it a couple times, but unless you're cashing at the Vibram Open, the course finds a way to punish you, and punish you big. There are no gimmies, and no "deuce or die" type holes on the blues as well, unless you're amazing. So, if you disagree, congratulations for being awesome, I still need alot of practice. I may have not played 100's of courses, someday... but I have a hard time believing this course (and I've said this for years now) isn't in the top ten in the country. You come here, and you'll agree, it is a five star course all the way.
What I also like about it is that because it is so big, the course can be fairly busy, and you feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
Cons: Water hazards can be tricky for some. Dropzones provided.
Other Thoughts: This is one of those courses that makes you better, because you must throw that shot just right in order to nail the gap or fairway, or tricky putt, and so on. Get your Hill on.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Maple Hill has it all. Four unique layouts, full service on-site pro-shop, and a staff dedicated to creating the best disc golf experience possible.
The signage is some of the best I've seen. Colored flags at each tee and basket and color coded next tee arrows make navigating the various layouts a breeze.
The beauty of Maple Hill is hard to top. The rolling hills and mirror-surface ponds put you in a state of disc golf euphoria, no matter how badly the course is beating you.
The Gold layout, as the Vibram Open layout, gets the star treatment. With very nice tees including a number of impressive tee platforms. Make the trip in August and the course will be perfectly polished for the big event. However the other three layouts get plenty of TLC too. They all feature well maintained rubber tee pads and clean fairways.
The course design is top-notch. Nearly every hole on every layout could be considered a signature hole. Figuring out Maple Hill is like solving a complex puzzle. It's clear that the staff takes a close look at scoring trends and if a particular hole is routinely scoring below par, it will be tweaked to provide a better challenge.
Play the correct layout for your skill level, and birdies won't come easy but bogeys will only come from mistakes.
Cons: There is no longer a 1-round fee. There is just a $10 all-day fee. So the cost of playing one-round could be a bit steep. Make it a full-day of disc golf, though and the $10 fee will seem low compared to the experience you get back.
Other Thoughts: The red layout is the beginner layout. It is by no means an "easy" layout though. It provides a nice challenge even for intermediate to advanced players. It emphasizes good line shaping and placement. With no water carries though, it far less intimidating for newer players.
The White layout provides a good test for intermediate to advanced players. Water comes into play a bit more, throwing over the ponds on 1 and 8. Nearly every tee-shot forces you to consider shot selection very carefully. Make the wrong decision and you will be punished for it.
The Blue layout will challenge Open level players. It plays like a longer white layout, with some great opportunities for the big arms to really let it fly.
The Gold layout is designed to challenge the world's best. This is the layout used for the Vibram Open every year. Every tee provides a unique challenge. A big arm and wide skill set are required to succeed on this layout.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
From The Rec Perspective: Maple Hill Reds
Pros: I'm a rag-armed "old guy", middle of the pack Rec Player who loves the game of disc golf and has traveled enough to have played some of the best courses in the United States. Full disclosure, I volunteer at the Vibram / Maple Hill Open annually and enjoy watching the pros compete over the Maple Hill Gold, a breathtakingly beautiful and challenging layout. But most "average players" can't hope to carry the ponds and navigate the perils on the Gold or even the Blue course. I've tempted fate and played on the White Course, but I know I truly belong on the Red Course. So the big question is if "Maple Hill Gold" is truly one of the "Best of the Best", how does the Maple Hill Red Course hold up? For the Rec Player, is Maple Hill still worth the drive/expense and still hold up to that "Best of the Best" rating?
In a word, YES! I'll get to my hole-by-hole description below, but the Red design stands on its own to be a memorable and fair challenge to the Rec skill level player.
- The signature 18th hole pretty much plays like the Gold, albeit with a 200' shortcut. Plays at 455 feet from the reds, still a challenge to hit the "island" and make birdie.
- The Red course takes most of the water risk out of play unless you really grip-lock or get too aggressive on a birdie putt.
- Holes manageable by a Rec skill level player, with lots of Risk - Reward decisions. Play safe, throw it well, a par is likely. Screw up or take a risk and miss your line and bogey or worse is possible.
- Professional baskets, well maintained. Maybe not upgraded to state-of-the-art every few years like the Gold, but the Red baskets, like everything else at Maple Hill, are first class.
- Greens are fair and not gimmicky. A few may flirt with water, and OB, but not so scary that a rec player can't "lay up" and take what's there. Get greedy and you might have a birdie chance, but you also risk bogie on some of the holes.
- A mix of tee pads... seems to be still evolving. Some rubber, pavers, cement... but all provide solid footing and are adequately size.
- Signage, navigation, scorecards first class.
- Portopotties, benches, trash cans.
- Not necessarily the place I'd introduce new players to Disk Golf (after all, almost anything else after this will be a disappointment), it's pretty newbie friendly. The undergrowth is fairly clear, not too much time searching for lost discs.
- The Maple Hill Pro Shop is well stocked with discs, drinks, snacks, and other goodies. (Marshall St. just down the road along with the excellent Pyramids courses). For a real treat, rent of the Sap House for a party and enjoy the games upstairs!
- Several practice baskets between the Sap House and the first tee. Even a net cage to loosen up (it's up by the Gold #1 Tee).
- Great places to grab food nearby, even a pizza delivery (order on your mobile phone, sign on the 17th tee.) Annie's Hot Dogs is local legend not far down the road.
- Mix of open holes, left turning, right turning, wooded, up, down, up-and-down, down-and-up, favors no particular style. Easy to say "use every disc in the bag" but I only carry five so that's not really saying anything.
- Beautiful New England forest, stone walls, glacial kettle ponds, some interesting wild life. That big black snake on the dam is pretty friendly, don't harass it.
- A good vibrant environment. Even during the week there will be people playing the course if the weather is nice. Busy weekend might fill the main parking lot, the there is more parking just down the road. Seems to be tournaments, "Birdie Bashes" and leagues, and various other activities, not just for pros!
Cons: - Can be crowded in nice weather on weekends. I once got behind an entire college baseball team there for a season-ending celebration. But hey, this is Disc Golf, make friends with the group ahead or behind you, relax, and enjoy the vibe. Everyone (mostly) is friendly out here.
- The four courses (Red, White, Blue, and Gold) are a bit of a mash up, the holes share fairways, tees, and/or baskets with each other and occasionally diverge and re-merge. This means a group you were two holes behind may block you (Red 12 is between Gold 13 & 14, for example). For the most part, things flow remarkable well, if you do cross paths just enjoy the company.
- Most dangerous thing out there is the deer ticks (carry Lyme disease), mosquitos, and poison ivy, but Maple Hill is no worse than any other New England woods course.
- Overshoot or grip-lock and you can find water on several holes, even on the Red Course. Some holes equipped with retrieval devices. The ponds are occasionally cleaned out and notification of found discs seems pretty good.
- Drains pretty well, but in early spring or after a heavy rain a few places need a little extra time to dry out and can be muddy.
- Red Course not available around the time of the Maple Hill Open, and the whole place closes during the "Christmas Tree" season. If you get there and the Red Course is closed, just go across the street and play Pyramids Silver, not a bad consolation.
-No golf carts. OK, I got spoiled by Selah Ranch. If they were available I'd gladly pay $40 to motor around Maple Hill and maybe get in 36 or even 54 holes on a long summer day. I suppose there would be some logistics to getting carts around Maple Hill, over the streams, up and down the hills...
Other Thoughts: - Easily in my top five, along with Selah Ranch Lakeside, Creekside, Frost Valley, Nantucket, and Black Falls. Hey wait, that's six?
Hole - by - Hole for a Rec Play:
1) Stand at the White Tee on the first hole. Marvel at the beauty as you stand under the old windmill tower. Look for fish jumping in the pond ahead of you. Now do the math. Figure out that you need a 300' carry off the tee to clear the pond. Remember that you barely throw 250 with any consistency. Slink over to the Red Tee. Tell the rest of your group you're just watching out for them.
Now stand tall on the red tee. You've got a nice straight downhill shot at the basket just 265' away. But before you card that deuce you're going to have to negotiate some bushes and small Christmas trees and depending on the recent rain a dry ditch or a small stream. If you make your birdie say loudly that "I usually play the Whites...".
2) A 265' version of an interesting second hole for the pros. OB stone wall along the right, a grove of trees short and to the left, along with a stream bed. Takes some courage to shoot for the gap between the stone wall and the trees, I always seem to need to scramble out of the grove to save par.
3) A big dogleg right with through a moderately tight gap. Pretty well treed the whole way. Try to cut the dogleg at your peril, those threes are unforgiving. "Only 260'", but still a par is a good score for a rec player.
4) Downhill straight through a very tight gap on a 300' downhill adventure. Some other lines to the basket available too, but you'll need to be either good or lucky. Too aggressive with your approach could easily roll down the hill into water.
5) This is one of my favorite holes to spot at the Maple Hill / Vibram open, as the pros have to come over water for any chance to get close to the basket. For the Red Course, the basket is shorter and pulled way to the "wooded" side of the fairway, taking out that terrifying water carry. Still 195' and heavily treed is no easy birdie.
6) Again, the Red hole is a shortened (240') and easier version of a classic, with a stone wall OB on the right, a well treed fairway, and the basket tucked away on the left with water and OB lurking off to the left.
7) Uphill, well treed, but a reasonable fairway. 240'
8) The Red tee is pretty far up the dam taking the water carry out of play, but the basket is well protected by some trees up the hill from the edge of the pond. You can get wet with a bad throw (yes, by personal experience)
9) Start off of the platform tee box, up and then down, short 260' par 4 with lots of trees and water if you roll one past the basket.
10) The famous castle hole, always well landscaped in summer. A generous shortcut for the Red course, uphill and straight. Plays much longer than the 230' listed. A wide fairway but don't get too far off line. Many times I seem to end up with a short par putt... to a basket 15' above me! Another one of the Signature holes that translates well to the Reds
11) A nifty 290' bomb downhill, in and among some Christmas Trees. Just a few feet can make a difference from having a straight look at birdie or having to bend something to get close.
12) Downhill across a swale, 250' and reasonable open, though the area around the basket can get gnarly if you are off target. From the tee you get a good look at one of the classic holes on the Gold Course, the big carry over the pond to the basket on the isthmus, and you can be thankful that you are playing the Red course.
13) Short (190'), but very tight and uphill. A missed birdie putt can easily end up further away than where you started.
14) A long and wooded par 3, down then uphill. At 270' one of the tougher pars on the red layout.
15) A moderately tight line, the reds get a generously shorter basket at 255'.
16) Short, and some out-of-bounds changes makes this a bit easier than the old days. At 225' you can get a birdie opportunity if you can avoid the trees.
17) Uphill and 200', nothing like the signature "over the Christmas Trees" bomb on the golds. A birdie opportunity if you can bend it around the big trees guarding the basket.
18) Ah, the signature hole, shortened considerably for the rec player, but still, you might have a gallery watching you and you play to the same "island" basket that the pros play. It's a par four, an uphill drive to an open fairway, but way left is some trees that can be trouble, and the stone wall looms on the right. Many ways to play this hole, for the conservative rec player you might want to throw your second shot up toward the right edge of the Sap House laying up short to minimize your throw into the virtual "stone wall" island. If you make the island you should have a short putt for par.
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