Swallowing fire on a mountain
25 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Just on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Fire Mountain Disc Golf Sanctuary is an impressive creation that offers fantastic aesthetics, impressive scenery and some of the most difficult disc golf around.
The term sanctuary fits. The course is off the beaten path and you’re most likely to hear the rustling of small animals in the woods or the gentle rapids from Raven Fork that is in play on several holes. During the walk to the first hole, there’s a bench placed in front of a lovely overlook of the river that divides the trees with the mountains as a backdrop. Upon arriving at the first hole, there’s an enormous map with layout and distances for each basket. Strategically placed boulders offer a walkway to the first tee as well as optimal seating at each teepad. Every hole features a detailed sign and a short paragraph related to Cherokee Nation history or folklore. The artistic quality is first class, and it’s obvious that much care (and money) was spent to add some excellent touches that contribute greatly to the atmosphere and experience.
Near the parking lot, there are three practice putting areas in the woods with varying levels of elevation and surrounding trees that provide a foreshadowing of the course to come.
The course design is impressive with specific drives required on many holes. Most of the course is fairly flat; however, there are a couple holes that require throwing down a hill. The designer manages to limit the uphill throws by introducing short climbs when walking to the next hole.
Half the holes randomly include a red basket (short but difficult) and a yellow basket (long and more difficult).
Cons: The course is long. Very long.
The course is narrow. Very narrow.
If you depart from the needlelike fairway, you’re probably screwed. You will likely be facing jail-like tree groupings and briars in your quest to return to an open area. I’m nearing 500 courses played, and Fire Mountain is top of my list for most challenging. I played it in December; I shudder to think of the ruthless challenge it serves up in summertime.
The course description says Fire Mountain has “tight but fair fairways.” That’s balderdash. These fairways aren’t fair. There are numerous holes that call for a 350-foot drive without flex but also require navigational skills of a precise fighter pilot in order to dodge the trees sprinkled all over the fairway. Consequently, you won’t get to use your whole bag here. In fact, you could bring a putter, your most stable midrange and a couple of fairly straight drivers and be fine. Several of my favorite discs never left my bag during two rounds at Fire Mountain. Even though the course demands distance, it’s more imperative to throw straight.
The par of 56 on the short version of 6,300 feet is laughable. As one friend said, they created mostly “tweener” holes but decided on a par-3 designation for all of those. Another friend said the course would be so much better if every hole was 100 feet shorter. That said, even if par was 4 on some of the most difficult holes, it wouldn’t increase the fun. Like previous reviewer MellowRob said, pars will feel like birdies.
The walk from the parking lot and putting areas to the start of the course will take nearly 10 minutes.
Fire Mountain is in the middle of nowhere. If you want an easier course to lick your wounds afterward, too bad. The next closest course is about a 40-minute drive away.
Other Thoughts: There are so many things that Fire Mountain gets right. But the implausible and continuous brutality is such a detriment that it affects my course rating. In many ways, this is a 4.5- to 5.0-rated course. However, I’m deducting an entire point because the extremely narrow fairways lead to a punishing experience that doesn’t match the promise and plummets short of its potential.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
A championship-level hidden gem
Pros: Great tee pads-- 5' x 12' concrete with no drop-offs and perfect texture. Signage everywhere-- beautiful and informative tee signs, lots of "next" signs to direct you to the next pad. Two nice course signs and three putting greens on the property. A sweet pavilion in the middle of the course.
This course has a very natural look and feel. The views of the river are gorgeous. Several greens are located near the river and surrounded by rhododendron. Stone staircases throughout (the one on Hole #1 is spectacular). Huge rocks serve as seating behind the tee pads.
A great mix of lines off the tee-- although a dead-straight, 300 ft. drive will serve you best on many holes. Several Par-4s-- some of them are definitely birdie-able, some are very challenging. Most of the par-3s are loooooong. Two potential ace runs...maybe. Only one hole is under 300 ft.
Cons: The course is brand new...needs a few years to mature. Builders obviously dealt with some invasive plants by cutting poison ivy vines the size of my arm from trees...and more than a few grape vines. A few years of beating them back will make this course a 5+.
Other Thoughts: This is definitely a championship-level course. Even the red (short) baskets (there are 9 of them) are challenging. I saw a bull elk that must have been over 700 pounds. He didn't bother me but he scared the crap out of me. The "Watch for Wildlife" signs are real.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Young championship caliber course that will occasionally brutalize you.
20 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Brand new 18 hole championship course in Cherokee area near the Great Smoky National Park, just off 441 at the western terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Course is located adjacent to the Ravens Fork River, and water can come into play on a few of the holes on the back 9. A shelter (with fire pit) in middle of course invites groups to spend the afternoon in the woods near a beautiful flowing river.
3 putting areas near parking at the road, then you access the course area via a 1/4mile or so hike along an access road. Holes are clearly marked and rock landscaping near the tees is wonderful. Lots of "Next Tee" small arrow signs on trees indicating flow. 1 large 5x12 concrete teepad per hole, some holes have 2 pins red(short) and gold(long), and many holes have alternate pins placements gold and red. It can stretch you with tight D if that is your thing.
Cons: Not really cons, but decided to condense my thoughts on course play itself in this section. The course itself is very young and heavily wooded. The fairways are tight to very tight for the most part. Once the leaves come in, it will get even tighter.
After being pummeled by the dense rough thru the first few holes, I eventually pulled my midrange out and attempted to stay in the narrow fairways as much as possible, with limited success. Many notable holes, tees and pins, but it was all a blur as we were racing darkness and pushed quickly thru the back 9 in an attempt to get all 18 in.
Accuracy is paramount on this course. Get off fairway and you will no choice but to play back to it many times. And you will use every shot style in your arsenal and then some. Troubleshots out of jail were commonplace. Felt like a Paul Bunyan wannabee many times with all of the treesmacks. To quote my playing partner: pars feel like birdies, and birdies feel like eagles on this course.
Other Thoughts: Overall, this an incredibly challenging and somewhat raw course that has the potential to be world class once it gets broken in and fine tuned a bit. The foundation with the initial install is very solid, and the setting is wild and picturesque to say the least. I gave it a 4/5 based on this room to grow.
Be warned: This course will humble you, frustrate you, and sometimes brutalize you. You may cuss....alot. You may have to get back to the basics and be forced to limit the damage many times. Success is savored here.
In the end, it is an enjoyably rewarding experience to finish and reflect. If you are in the area and want a challenge, this course is definitely your huckleberry.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful.
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