A hilly, unique disc golf experience!
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I have to start with the elevation change. It is intense. There are uphill holes and downhill holes. There are holes along the hillside. There are holes where the tee and basket are both high up but you have to throw across a steep valley in between. All of this elevation change is used well and never starts to feel repetitive.
The pin placement is great, with a variety of hyzers, anhyzers, and straight shots. Many pins are not visible from the tee. Several pins are located on the edge of steep inclines making for a great risk/reward factor. This course is on the shorter side but provides many technical challenges with tight fairways and plenty of trees to contend with on most holes. And did I mention the elevation???
The infrastructure is in great shape here. As some other reviewers have mentioned, the course was renovated a few years back. I never played it when it was a pole hole course but now there are 18 yellow DISCatcher baskets in great condition, plus a practice basket. There are large cement tee pads and color tee signs for each hole showing the distance and path to the basket. There is a map posted at the front of the course and another one at the top of the valley where several tees and baskets kind of converge (the maps are pretty small and can be mistaken for generic signposts from a distance). Even with the maps, most holes have "next tee" signs or it is otherwise clear where the next tee is. You won't get lost on this course.
This portion of the park is disc golf only, so there won't be any other park users to contend with.
It's honestly just a pretty park. Taken as a whole, the course plays up and down a steep valley in a relatively quiet area. From the top of the valley you can see the Grandville Castle in the distance (locals will know what I'm talking about here). Some of the tee pads have nice wooden fronts for decoration. There are also several benches throughout the course to sit down, take a break, and enjoy the view.
Cons: As mentioned above, the overall length is pretty short. The only hole above 400' is #18, a wide open downhill bomb to end your round. Definitely not a "grip it and rip it" type course.
There are some holes where the fairways are a little close together. The separation distance would be sufficient if the course were flat, but because it's so hilly sometimes the combination of an errant throw and wind can push your disc onto an adjacent fairway.
Some of the holes have so much elevation change that it can start to feel a little treacherous walking up and down the hills. I'm not saying to bring your rock climbing gear, but make sure you wear shoes with good grip and walk carefully.
Some of the rough is pretty thick. It isn't particularly unpleasant to search in, but it's still possible to lose a disc.
Other Thoughts: My signature hole is #13. It's short (194') but angles sharply to the right through thick trees, and steeply downhill (so much so that you have to walk down some switchbacks to get to the pin from the tee). If you can avoid the trees and get the right flight path it's probably an easy birdie, but I haven't managed it yet.
With the recent improvements this course is significantly better than the ~3.0 average rating it currently holds on here. This is a must-play course if you are local or visiting the area. I wouldn't quite call it a destination course, but there is no other course within a 20 min drive of Grand Rapids that offers this much elevation change and arguably none that offers this much technical challenge. Play it!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Renovated Must-Play Course
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: When I was looking at courses to play in the Grand Rapids area , Johnson Hills Course , circa 1993 , kept reaching out and grabbing me . I read that this was an old pole hole natural tee course prior to 2017 , so I knew the equipment and redesign on some of the holes would be good . When you turn on to Butterworth St , be patient . You will see a park and then park signs down the road . Keep going maybe another mile before you see the dirt parking lot on your left . You will see a couple of visible baskets by then . I never saw a kiosk when I pulled in and the map I printed off did me no good . There is some good navigation on this course that lets you get by with most of it without the map . The first hole is on the left side of the parking lot and down just a bit . in the open area . the first hole is a sweeping anhyzer 300' . Good sized cement tees at every hole . Yellow banded Discatcher baskets are in play here . They are especially easy to see for the woods holes in the back of the course . This is yet another one of those local Grand Rapids course with great signage that gives you a picture of the disc path and distance . Elevation , ELEVATION !!!! You almost have to be part goat to negotiate these hills . You either have to be throwing from a hill to a hill , up a hill , down a hill , or on the side of a hill . I never saw such extreme elevation since playing West Virginia . The course flows pretty well , except maybe 10-11 . You can easily end up at #12's tee pad . #8's tee pad stuck out in my mind . Big cement pad with a wooden front for decoration . Classy move ,,,,,,, Fairways were mowed and well taken care of . The course is not going to scare a pro or even a good am but I am sure that was not what it was intended for . If you are a disc golf junkie , then you have to play this course . The smell of this course wreaks of uniqueness .The course starts off with a couple of anhyzers on 2 of the first 3 holes , then settles in to a series of mostly hyzers . Lots of clever pin placements . Even though it had rained and the course was wet , it was still turning out multiple groups of players . I saw a dad with his 2 sons , saw a few twosomes and a foursome that drove all the way up from Tampa to spend a week playing lots of Michigan courses . They were impressed by the Johnson Park Course , too . Wait until you look up the hill to #17 , a 313' hole that plays like a 450' one , with another great tee area . Some of these tee areas have places to sit , nice touch . I had no problems with some of the holes being short . Lots of risk reward shots are involved with these . One of my favorites was #12 , a straight throw to a basket guarded by some trees in front of it , and a huge drop off behind and to the left side of it . If your disc gets up and rolls to the bottom , you are going to need at least 2 throws to get back . I threw a putter , lucked out and stayed on top just a little over top of the basket . I blew the putt , but it only rolled about 15' down and was able to salvage par . The next hole ( #13 ) was my favorite . a hyzer through the trees that drops about 15' down on the way . There is a long stairway/path that leads you down to where your disc has hit that tree you were avoiding . I missed the trees on this occasion and landed next to the pin . ( my only deuce on the course ) . #14 is the shortest hole on the course ( 131' ) but a tough birdie . It hyzers and up the hill . #15 drive comes out of the woods , and turns a little . #16 is a downhill anhyzer to a basket that is nestled in about 20' or so of woods . Then 17 goes straight up the hill , to #18 , an almost perfect top of the world drive ( 487' ) . If you keep your drive semi low , you will feel what it's like to throw +400' . My signature hole was 13 , followed closely by #18 . This course is a must play for locals and should be on the immediate checklist for travelers looking for great courses to play . This part of the park is secluded and should have only disc golfers on it .
Cons: I know that money was poured into this course , bringing it a long way from what it was , but there are a few cons that need addressing . #1 It can be very easy to lose a disc . Not only in the foliage next to fairways , but an abnormally high grass on some of the holes . I saw people besides myself losing their driver just off the fairways on #2 , and #18 . I looked for my drive for over 10 minutes before finding it on #18 . By the time I found it , water had seeped into my waterproof boots . Please cut the grass before letting it get that out of control or some enthusiasts will lose interest . #2 the map I printed off was not any good . If you don't have a good map on your kiosk , then just have some friend in graphic design draw a crude one in about 15 minutes and buy him a burger . #3 This one is important . The elevation is so steep here that I not only saw 2 people slip and fall trying to walk up the fairway , but I fell , too . Not one of my finer moments . maybe some rock or wood steps would go a long way in keeping the players upright . #4 this area is primitive , meaning no amenities such as water , bathrooms or trash cans . Please carry out what you carry in . No multiple tees . or multiple pins . Some consider this a con , but I didn't .
Other Thoughts: I know that it looks like I slammed this course , but my cons are mostly suggestions ( except cutting the grass down and putting a better map up online ) . This course has come so far in the last couple of years . I would be playing this all of the time if I lived in the Grand Rapids area . The course is underrated in my opinion . Incredible amounts of elevation , many risk/reward shots . A good start hole with a great finishing hole , with 16 good holes sandwiched in between . My recommendation : PLAY IT !!!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
The hills have baskets!
Pros: I played this course years ago with poles and was impressed by the elevation change and unique challenges presented by the dramatic changes. At the time I was super happy to have played it and was confused why other parks had baskets while this gem seemed to be neglected. Fortunately this conundrum no longer exists. Thanks to a number of sponsors this park is in tip top shape.
Brand new innova disc catchers. Brand new cement tee pads. Brand new tee signs. All the equipment is in great shape, no gripes.
I believe a few of the holes went through a re-design in the process of building this course. A lot of the holes I remembered from my first trip out and seemed familiar but I believe there may have been a few changes as well but the time in between my two rounds was long enough that I can't be sure beyond saying that a handful of the holes play the same.
Elevation change is used in a variety of ways. Two shots crossing ravines to hillside baskets one of which that forces a left to right hook. One straight uphill fairway that makes a 180 foot hole play like 300. Hard left hooks going uphill, soft left going downhill. Hills that drop off precariously behind baskets that force distance control. The long straight uphill fairway followed by the nearly 500 foot downhill bomb in holes 17 and 18.
Hole 18 is a super fun way to end your round. Certainly a tee that you can stand at and empty your entire bag and wish you had brought more discs to huck. From what I can remember every single course I have played that features significant elevation change seems to end with a big downhill hole to end the round. Maybe this is an unwritten rule of course design? Make us forget about that putt that rolled 60 feet down the hill after hitting the cage by making us feel like we can drive 500 feet. Is that it?
A couple of shots have blind baskets which I think adds to the desire to play a course over and over again as it rewards familiarity.
Cons: I felt as though a few of the holes would benefit from some more foliage. A couple of them just seem like the only real obstacle was the elevation and since every hole pretty much deals with elevation in some manner it seems kind of like a filler hole when that is really the only challenge.
A little bit heavily weighted on RHBH throws. Can only think of two instances that really favored a anhyzer line.
Some tough par 3's but no true par 4's on the course. The land is certainly there and I think throwing in a couple holes that require multiple drives to reach the pin would be great.
Other Thoughts: I wish I lived closer to this course. Super enjoyable round through all the ups and downs (see what I did there?). Thanks again to all the sponsors that made the restoration of this park a reality, great job.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 7 Not
Two words: poison ivy
Pros: * Short
* Fun challenging curves
* Good, new Innova baskets
* Nice concrete tees
* Beautiful scenery
Cons: * Holes are extremely narrow
* So easy to lose a disc
* SO MUCH POISON IVY
Other Thoughts: If you're allergic to poison ivy, you will probably get it if you play this course.
If it wasn't so bad, I would LOVE this course. so much fun.
2 of 9 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Juicy Hilly Course Waiting For Your Call!
Pros: Johnson Park, the former pole hole course, has recently (June 2017). been upgraded with baskets and concrete tee pads. There is also some great engineering going on. The baskets are Discatchers and the pads are nice sized. The tee signs are colored and show the route. But the star of this show is this wonderful piece of land with it's rolling hills and treacherous deep gorges. There are places where the rough is deep and foreboding but mostly there are these wonderful hills which are meant for classic disc golf holes.
The course is an excellent mix of tough uphill holes, very tight hysers and annies, fun downhill Ace Runs, throws over gorges and then finishes with this 487' yummy downhill blast.
I loved hole 12. What looks like a fairly easy little birdie opportunity turns very scary upon reaching the basket and seeing that it is set on the edge of 30' deep gorge that extends about 180 degrees behind the basket. This deep gorge is easily found off the tee or from your approach. And your putts can be terrifying, too. One of our group had his second shot slide all the way to the bottom. His SECOND shot trying to get out hit basket rim and rolled all the way back down again. He might have taken a 10 had his rollaway not rolled directly to him which allowed him to stop it from rolling completely to the bottom again. He admitted to an 8. We laughed our asses off.
As much as I liked # 12, I believe I like 13 more. # 13 is a great little 194' downhill requiring an sharp anhyser from a righty. Their is a route there but it's awfully tight. This hole has had some great engineering done with a flight of wooden stairs taking you down the very steep hillside.
Cons: Can get hot out here. Course does play out in the open quite a bit. Bring water.
There is a chance for lost discs or at least, some searching.
On hole 12, there is a Chance for the elusive 10. Not many disc golf holes are that risky.
Other Thoughts: I love this course. It's hilly but not exactly a exhaustive workout, just a comfortable fatigue building exercise. The treacherous gorges might get you or you might slide it up there for a gimme birdie. I can't imagine ever getting tires or bored with this gem.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 10 Not
Hell on Earth
Pros: Beautiful park with wonderful wild flora and fauna.
Cons: -No baskets- who the hell wants to throw at a stick in the ground?
-80% chance of losing your disc on every single hole.
Absolutely turrible disc golf course
Other Thoughts: Played 6 holes before throwing in the towel. Yes it was that bad
1 of 11 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
One of my Favorites
Pros: - Great crazy level hills through-out the park - in which one hole you go down a steep hill just to go up another steep one.
Cons: - Hard to find for new people. The first time I've went to this park - even with my car - I couldnt find where to go for at least 20 minutes, and even got sidetracked walking into the forest lands. I even asked a few locals with no help.
- Can get really hot during the middle of summer being up top of some of these high level hills, so best to bring a drink.
- Can get confusing trying to find some holes, as it seems a couple have dissapeared - but it should be expected since as the park is old.
Other Thoughts: - In order to easily reach the park, just continue down past the local park until you feel you have reached a gravel drive way to your left - of course though most people come from that direction.
- The last time I've took a bike ride to, there were two strange kids, and my brother swears one had a axe in his pants, so be careful around this park, as it may be a good idea to bring a back-up knife.
- Theres only poles, no baskets.
- No concrete tee pads, mostly dirt
- Despite some of the cons I have put down, this park is still one of my favorites cause of the crazy terrain - gotta give the park credit for uniqueness.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
coulda woulda shoulda
--aesthetic--I always start here. This course plays through the north end of Johnson Park in a DG dedicated area (during the summer). Johnson Park is a much larger multi-use park but this area is separate from the rest.
Routing/Nav--pretty easy with the map printed out...paths are pretty worn and easy to follow and with the lack of rain this year, the rough isn't all that bad...
Risk v. Reward/Terrain/Variety--The terrain here is impressive to say the least, the amount of elevation here is staggering for the city of Grand Rapids. There is truly a little of everything here, huge uphills, huge downhills, rights, lefts, tunnels, valleys, bombers, tight fairways. Great amount of everything here.
Teepads/posts/mainenance--I'm going to roll all the cons into one big package. If people would just leave this course alone and enjoy it for the dg course that it is, it could truly be the greatest course in Grand Rapids (not counting Fallasburg) I would have loved to play this course in it's hayday with baskets and great upkeep. It's dilapidated and run down and you have to truly use your imagination to imagine what this course once was...
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Fabulous course! Use your imagination!
Pros: Rediculous elevation changes, great use of terrain within city limits, never crowded.
Cons: Grass can be tall in the late summer, but this year its fine because we haven't gotten any rain!
Other Thoughts: This is a post game, no baskets. It's not the end of the world. The fabulous drives make up for it big time.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Very scenic with lots of elevation changes. The course is very well laid out and offers some nice challenges for both backhand and sidearm throwing styles.
Cons: The tee-pads do not offer the best footing for take driving. You can very easily loose discs with the long grass. Its very dry right now which makes it easier to keep track of things. TONS of poison ivy on the course. If you are prone to getting poison ivy be very careful!
Other Thoughts: This is a wonderful stick course, I think with a little maintenance this could be a top notch course! Regular mowing, and pruning would really help. Be prepared for some exercise, there are lots of hills!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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