The tale of two halves
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: La Benite DGC is almost like two seperate 9's. The front half, minus holes 1 and 2, is tight technical woods golf. Tough but fair lines that reward accuracy over power. Placement and just generally staying on the fairway is paramount on these holes. The back 9 is the polar opposite. Basically wide open bomber holes with the wind being your main challenge.
The tees are concrete. One tee pad per hole for the front 9 and 3 of the back 9. Six of the back 9 have shorter tees which makes it less absurd for the lesser powered players to stay even. The tees were good sized, level and had good grip. No compaints with these and definitely appreciated the shorts on the back half.
The baskets are light blue banded DiscGolfPark baskets. These things are basically Innova Discatcher clones. I honestly don't know what the difference is between the two other than the next tee arrow on the bottom rung of the cage. Which, by the way, is an awesome touch. These baskets catch great though. One pin position per hole.
The flow of the course is generally pretty easy to follow. Gets a little iffy on the back 9, but the next tee arrows on the cages really help.
The tee signs are pretty basic but serviceable. They feature the hole #, par, distance(s) and a basic hole map. The tee sign is only located by the long tee on the back half. It does show the location of the short tee though. They also feature a next tee arrow on the signs, which I honestly stopped looking at once I realized they had the arrows on the baskets.
There's a few benches scattered about, which is appreciated on the more open holes on a hot day like today.
The course is permanent and free to play. Probably not going to be the busiest course around, though there was a couple other groups out there on a warm Monday afternoon.
Cons: The back nine has some obnoxious walks between holes. It's not the worst I've ever seen by any means, but usually it's to get to a better area for a hole to be, not just another pretty much wide open hole with a tree or two. Probably a good 700' walk back to the parking lot too.
The old barn skeleton on hole 18 was the only "interesting" thing on the back half. The problem is that it kind of plays stupid. And is the reason for the long walk back to the lot.
The grass seems to not be mowed as well on the open field holes. It wasn't horrible, but there was a few times we were looking for shots for a minute or two only to have walked right past them.
The rough on some of the wooded holes is pretty gnarly. Not really lose a disc gnarly, but sharp and thorny kind of gnarly.
A few of the hole maps didn't really show the hole shape very accurately. The double dog log hole was the most aggregous in this regard. It shows the first dog leg being a 90 degree turn, which it was. It also shows the second one the same, just the opposite direction. It was more like a gradual turn, maybe 15 degree angle.
Other Thoughts: This was a hard course to rate. While I really liked the front half, other's might hate those holes but love the open bombers. So I guess it has something for everyone. It's a good course though. There has been some trees planted on some of the more open holes. So in 20 years those holes should play a bit more challenging. That didn't do those holes any good today though.
It's suggest giving this one a shot though. I enjoyed my round there and would possibly check it out if I'm in the area again. Not as good as Bad Rock Creek imo, but a fun course in it's own right.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
In Good Time
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: LaBenite is a flat, but technical course in a field next to the Missouri River. Thick woods are present on the front nine (except hole 1) while the back nine is much more open (and long) with the tees and baskets strategically placed to provide plenty of challenge. Large concrete tees on every tee, and the baskets are bright blue DiscGolfPark baskets which (as far as we know) were the first installed in all of Missouri. (Hyvää Suomi!)
The driving range has three tee pads to launch from with 100, 200, and 300ft distance markers. Three practice baskets present with plenty of room around each. Tee signs at every long tee show a map and distances for each pad and any OB for the hole.
Six holes (10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18) have short tees to mitigate some of the challenge. Some are there to simplify the tee shot (11, 13, 18) while the others cut off a significant amount of distance but put some more difficult trees in the way of the tee. These tees make the course far more scorable for the intermediate player, but they don't weaken the course at all.
The wooded holes are no joke here. Completely surrounded by trees, shaping your shot down the fairway is important, whether it's a hole that's reachable with a putter, or the double-dogleg par 5 that is hole 8. While the forehand/backhand balance is very good in these woods, they are a little more righty backhand friendly.
Speaking of hole 8, let's talk about it. A low ceiling off the tee leads to a cleared landing zone about 200 feet up the fairway, from there it's a 90 degree turn to the left, down a short tunnel and into another jungle of trees, but if you land that second shot correctly (to the left of that tunnel) there is a clear upshot to the pin. Going for the pin on your second shot is almost impossible due to the number of trees in the last part of the hole which absolutely justifies the par 5. A birdie requires two perfectly placed shots and a very confident upshot. This is the course's signature hole, to be sure.
As we move out into the open, the shots get bigger, but not really any easier due to the placement of tees and pins. Massive distance is needed on 10, 11, 16, and 18, while the other holes are a bit shorter, but still difficult to navigate. Hole 12 is a sharp right-finisher with some wispy branches in the way of a high hyzer, and hole 15 has two small gaps to choose from about 50ft from the pin. The walking paths that run the length of the park on the back half add some ever-present, but not overly challenging OB.
Cons: The first and most obvious con is how flat the park is. The only elevation to be found is the berm separating hole 2's fairway from a parking lot. Thick woods border the right side of this hole while the basket is on the left, halfway up the berm. Decent hole, but it does gather water at the base of the berm.
The second issue is drainage, and this is due to a few factors. The first is that the course is on a flood plain right next to the Missouri River, and the second is that this was an unattended field for many years and the uneven ground holds in a lot of water that would otherwise drain off. This leads to very marshy ground for a long while after a rain and very little in the way of ground skips. The mulching out of the wooded fairways means that there is little to no grass in the wooded fairways (3-9) and they get nasty quickly in the rain and stay that way for several days. The rough is the worst part of the wooded holes, it gets really swampy to walk on. Hopefully the mud will give way to grass quickly.
There are a few uninspired holes. Hole 1 (as some hole 1s are) is a hole to get you into the meat of the course, but it does have some OB on the left. Hole 14... I don't know what happened here. It's a 400 ft backhand hyzer. I guess it could be a decent score separator between 2s and 3s. And before the locals jump on me, there are additional trees and dirt planned by Dick Parker and the city to ramp up the difficulty on these holes. Those are the two that need it most.
The old barn framework at the end of hole 18 is... annoying. The basket is placed directly behind it (no more than 10 feet) and the optimal route is to go right through the structure's middle, but the upshot to the structure must be perfect to have that line. Otherwise, the only option is a hyzer around everything which will inevitably leave you with a longer putt than desired.
Too many of the wooded holes are poke and pray shots. Holes 3 through 6 are all this way. 3 and 5 (which play like the exact same hole) have only two or three very small gaps for a backhand, or a very, very small forehand gap that still has tons of trees to fight with to get to the green. Hole 6 has four or five guardian trees that span the entire fairway about 100ft from the pin, and with the size of those gaps, hitting one is just dumb luck. Hole 4 is a tiny fairway the entire 500ft to the green and getting off to the left or right is punished overly harshly when the fairway is only 8-9ft wide at the most.
Other Thoughts: LaBenite is still in its infancy as a course. The design and layout are difficult and well-done, and as some of the issues work themselves out I'm sure my rating will improve. The mowers have done a top-notch job at clearing out what was a field of unkempt grass and turning it into a playable course, while Dick and his crew have done excellent work putting in excellent amenities. Given a little time to age and grow some grass, this will become a very worthy stop on a trip through Kansas City.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Who needs elevation?
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Labenite Park is a fresh course with a lot of varying pars and a good variety of challenges. There are not one, not two, but three practice baskets, and all the baskets have arrows pointing toward the next tee. Being relatively new, some things like the rough haven't been beaten down yet, but the fairways are clean and the grass in the open is well-taken care of.
This course uses multi-shot holes well. With two par 5's and 5 par 4's, all of which have different first and second shots and some decent obstructions, this course certainly has more teeth than a par 54 course usually would.
The wooded holes are all well designed and have multiple lines available. Rarely is the left line an exact mirror of the right line; the left side may be a slight hyzer for a right-turning shot, while the right side might be a more extreme hyzer or a straight shot. With interesting fairway shapes, some low ceilings, opportunities for skip shots, and doglegs on holes 2 and 8, there is sure to be some challenge no matter where you land.
The open holes, for the most part, provide good opportunities to air it out while requiring you to be careful how the disc flies and where it lands. Holes 10, 17, and 18 play near a treeline, holes 12 and 15 have low ceilings, and holes 10, 11, and 18 have a large tree in the middle of the fairway that you can go to either side of. As a result, there are decisions to make beyond which disc flies the farthest, but because some of the holes are pretty long and open, landing off to the side on the par 4's is usually okay, which lets you take a few more interesting lines.
Even a few holes that would otherwise be rather boring have something in the way. Most notably, 17 could be an easy RHBH hyzer, except for one tree that blocks that shot. The hyzer is still available - it's just a much tighter line. A few other holes on the back nine have a tree in front of the basket that makes the green difficult to access and sometimes makes for some obstructed putts, something that's difficult to achieve on open holes.
Cons: There's virtually no elevation change to speak of. Sure, this course has a lot of good variety, but it becomes much of the same type of thing when the front nine is "flat and wooded" and the back nine is "flat and open". Even the holes that are a little more on the boring side (1, 9, 16) would be much more spicy if there was some elevation change. This also means long downhill shots, dangerous greens, and tricky footing are nearly nonexistent. The only exception is hole 2, which is one of the better holes on the course. Also, basically every hole on the back nine plays straight east or straight west, which gets a little repetitive.
A few holes are just too open. Hole 14 is a joke, and many others have wide open lines. Sure, they may have some obstruction on some side, but when you can take some standard hyzer and have nothing to worry about, on several holes, it starts to become a problem.
The undergrowth is pretty bad on a lot of the front nine. This is partially due to the course being so young, but it's a problem on holes 4-8 especially. It is annoying to search for discs in and there may be a lot of poison ivy in the summer, but because there aren't a lot of taller bushes, going off the fairway often doesn't punish you very much. As a result, on some of the multi-shot holes (namely, 4 and 8), there are a lot of gaps you might be able to hit, and some of them will have you flying over some weeds.
The "prison" in front of 18's basket (see pictures) is dumb and should be taken out, unless you want to play a double triple mando. The hole is interesting enough already.
Other Thoughts: This course overcame its limitations pretty well. There is certainly an upper bound for how good this course can be, and while that ceiling hasn't been reached, I think it's pretty close. Several trees have been planted on the back nine recently, and while they don't affect the course much right now, they will when they grow up. A lot of holes could use alternate pin placements as well, without majorly changing the course. A 4.0 is possible for this course in the future.
There are a few old gravel roads that go around most of the holes on the back nine and could make for some challenging OB.
The "bathrooms" by the parking lot don't have doors. Go figure. Oh, and where the doors should be is in plain view of highway 291. Yes, this paragraph is the end of my review.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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