Gatlinburg Could Produce Better
9 Helpful / 0 Not
- practice basket
- concrete tees (decent except for hole 9)
- relatively basic baskets but all in good repair
- decent full color tee signs
- excellent elevation change on most holes, especially 1,2, 6, 7, 8, 9
- course map and scorecards are a nice touch, although the scorecards show the basket locations and not the fairways, making them less useful than they could be
- some good technical challenge on fairly wooded holes
- wooded holes still generally have good lines
- could be viewed as a pro or con, but a good place to get in a quick round
- virtually no rough and well maintained course
- hole 2 permanent tee sign missing
- multi use park with track, playground, horseshoes, etc. in the vicinity, though generally not major safety issues
- hole 9 doesn't end very close to hole 1
- hole 9 tee pad is very tiny
- really long walk around track from hole 2 to hole 3, and navigation is not made clear at all
- hole 9 is very steep to hike down, could benefit from stairs
- remarkably short with only one hole over 300'
- no benches or garbage cans on course
I will start out by saying I did enjoy this course. Mills Park is a fun, albeit very short course. Ultimately, I feel like it's currently a bit overrated. The best thing I can say about it is the elevation change is very indicative of being in the mountains. However, with the incredible mountain terrain and views of the Gatlinburg area, I have to feel like there could be a much better course in this area. Unfortunately, I have a feeling Gatlinburg's main focus is not disc golf - probably focused on the tourism!
I think this course was pretty well designed for the space available in the park, and despite being multi-use avoids major safety issues. With that said, the navigation and flow could be a lot better. I recommend parking by the track and starting with hole 3, then playing holes 1 and 2 at the end. This kind of splits the really long walk between 2 and 3, which wasn't well designed. At a minimum, some navigation aids should be put in place.
Most of the course tees, signs, and baskets are in good repair, but there's no wow factor here like I get from most of the Gatlinburg area scenery. The elevation change definitely adds some intrigue, and being from the Chicago area I did enjoy that.
Hole 9 really has a very small tee, but as the hole is about 170' downhill, it doesn't exactly need a run up either. While this course was fun, I feel like it was too short for anything but a fun, really casual round, with 3 holes under 200' and only 1 over 300'.
Previous reviews mentioned gnats, which I saw no sign of. Perhaps since it was early April they weren't an issue yet. Several reviewers also mentioned hole 2 having absolutely no line, which I didn't find to be the case. I'm an intermediate player and in 2 rounds I easily cut through to near the basket. It's possible the trees have been thinned out in the last few years making this one a bit more realistic.
There aren't a ton of courses in this area, and it's worth playing if you're there, but I definitely wouldn't go out of my way for it. The good news is since it's away from the parkway, you can avoid most of the Gatlinburg traffic by using the bypass. If you can drive a bit, courses out towards Knoxville will be a better use of your time.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Hole #1 is the best of the course. Decent length, right to left shot up a hill. #3 is a good hole. You have to play a little left to right to get close to the basket. There is a near-vertical drop off just a little right of the hole. Paper maps provided. Only 9 holes is actually a positive thing.
Cons: #2 is a mess. Heavy woods with no clear path to get through. #8 is another hole where you are sure to hit trees with your drive. The tee and basket are both very high but there is a deep valley in between and the uphill to the basket is heavily wooded.
#9 is super short and almost straight downhill. The throw is easy but the descent is something else. Getting down the hill is a free-for-all of roots and mud. Maps don't show the tees, only the baskets. 3 and 7 are tricky to find the first time.
Other Thoughts: This has 3 good holes (1, 3, 7), 3 mediocre holes (4, 5, 6) and 3 rotten holes (2, 8, 9). Add in mud, lots of walking and you get a course that is more novelty than fun or challenging. If most courses were like this one, I'd give up the sport.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Fun holes with some nice views and a good amount of challenge
Cons: Can be tough to find some holes. Hole 2 missing sign.
Other Thoughts: Hole 3 is on the other side of the track.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Best Option Near Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I went to Pigeon Forge with the family for a long weekend. My oldest son and I -- avid course baggers -- snuck off to play the only two public courses within 45 minutes of the area, both 9-hole tracks: Walters State and Mills Park. While each course has limitations, if you have to choose one, Mills Park is the one. (You can read my review of Walters State for a run-down of that course.)
+ Great scenery and aesthetic beauty, including the course itself, the park and high school campus the course plays through, and the surrounding mountains.
+ For a 9-hole course, you won't find many with the elevation and shot variety this one has to offer. Number 9 might be the most epic sub-200 foot hole I've ever played, on a 9-hole track or otherwise. It's only 165 feet, but it's basically straight down. (I'm terrible at judging elevation drops like this, but I've seen it described in previous reviews as a 40-foot drop and a 60-foot drop. I'd expect it's somewhere in that range.) There are trees lining both sides, so the shot is basically litter more than throwing a straight circle 2-ish putt. I nearly aced it and I imagine it's one of the most aced holes you'll find...for the simple reason that you'll want to empty your bag on this finishing hole.
+ Hole 1 is a good starting hole. It's about 250 feet, but plays much longer as it is a steep uphill.
+ Holes 3-7 are decent, with a mix of very short uphill and downhill holes, all between 175 and 265 feet. There are many ace runs and birdies to be had.
+ Course maps at the kiosk at the beginning of the course are helpful. Good tee signs, decent tees.
Cons: I tend to be a tough grader, especially on 9-hole tracks. Don't let my 1.5 rating scare you off (unless you have a serious aversion to gnats...but more on that in a second). As of this review (142 courses played and 137 reviews), this is my track record for "full" and "half" tracks:
90 full courses played (basically 18+)
3.36 average DGCR rating
3.10 my average rating
52 half tracks played (mostly 9's, but some 6's and 12's too)
1.98 average DGCR rating
1.40 my average rating
Of those 52 half tracks, I have Mills Park ranked 29. So, by rating and by rating, it's an average 9-hole course.
I would say Mills Park is above average in terms of aesthetics and its signature hole (see above), but it falls short in some areas...
- GNATS. First and foremost, if you don't like gnats -- if they really annoy you, you can't stand them getting in your eyes, etc. -- you might want to consider skipping Mills Park. I mean, they are really bad. I don't know if this is a year-round thing or just in the summer, but check the course conditions before you play. If "gnats" are mentioned, consider yourself warned.
- While hole 9 is awesome, and holes 1 and 3-7 are serviceable, holes 2 and 8 are big misses, in my opinion. Any time you have a 300-foot par 4, even if it's in the woods, you probably have a problem. There is no discernible line on hole 2, much less a fairway. You basically throw an air or roller shot as far as you can up the hill, then again down the hill to the basket. You're lucky if you don't hit a tree, regardless of how well you threw your shot. I just don't get what the design concept was or is for this hole.
- Hole 8 is not a good hole either. It plays uphill with an OB paved golf cart path winding through it. Obviously, you'll want to check traffic on the cart path before you throw. It's not so much of safety issue, but I just don't think it's a good spot for a disc golf hole.
- As much as I loved playing hole 9, getting from the tee to the basket by foot is a serious safety problem. When I played, the whole course was a little wet and slick from a recent rain. Not terrible, but not ideal. Well, hole 9 is so steep -- and all dirt -- with no stairs or even decent trees to hold on to -- that you're basically lucky if you don't slip and bust your butt. You're either going to get mud all over you or actually hurt yourself. I would suggest an alternate path be put in so that you don't walk down the steep slope and risk life and limb getting down.
- Very long walks in between holes 3 and 4 and hole 9 and the parking lot.
- While there is great elevation here and good variety in shot selection, it is very short and doesn't throw the challenge at you that you'd want out of an average 18-hole track.
Other Thoughts: Again, if you're on vacation in the area, this is your best bet (unless you're willing and able to drive a little further to the Knoxville area OR the self-proclaimed "Disc Golf Capital of Tennessee," Morristown, OR hit one of the most sought after destination courses in the Southeast, Harmon Hills). It's worth the stop...but don't forget your bug spray and wear sunglasses to keep the gnats away!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
It Ends Way Down Hill.
Pros: (2.183 Rating) A spread-out small city park course.
- SIGNATURE HOLE - Hole (9) is killer. A chip shot ace run with a 6 foot wide needle line that's downhill 60 feet and across a creek. Normally I would unload my bag on a hole like this, but considering I smashed the chains on my first throw, I saw no need to continue. Obviously, my disc slammed into the base of the basket after hitting the chains squarely, and so it decided to politely wave to me while jumping out of the basket.
- TEES - Average 4 foot by 10 foot concrete tees on seven holes. Hole (9) is a 4 foot by foot pavered standing room only tee on the hill side. I'd say these measurements were adequate for the length of the course.
- SIGNAGE - Adequate HB tee signage. They have all the necessary info for this short course. The signage on (2) was missing on my play.
- COURSE MAP - Great course map at the beginning of the layout as well as a box with scorecards with map picture. Man I wish every course did this.
- BEGINNER FRIENDLY - Not ideal, but still user friendly enough to have a vacation counterpart tag along in most circumstances. Completing a 12 mile hike up a mountain earlier in the day is apparently a disqualifier. The course difficulty is a tweener between Novice and Recreational level.
- QUICK PLAY - My wife was happy I bagged this one solo in only 30 minutes. Figure 45 minutes for a two-some and an hour for a four-some.
Cons: A couple of design complaints and 9 holer inadequacies.
- DESIGN - Hole (2) is ridicules. Sure it's a 304 foot par 4, but my gosh, absolutely no line. I ran up the fairway on (2) a good 100 feet as I could not define a line from tee. Then I shook my head all the way back to the tee and then blindly rolled the dice down a small lane in hopes to run it at least 150 feet. My resultant approach had views of the basket peaking threw the trees but with no line to realistically get it within 30 feet without some luck. Hole (8) is another quasi-poke and hope line for the last 75 feet. This one is just a right-hand hzyer chucked 200 feet and then praying is makes one of the many 2 foot gaps for the remaining distance. Other than hole (9), the rest of the holes aren't anything to write home about, design speaking.
- LACK OF CHALLENGE - Advanced players will be extremely underwhelmed by this course. 6 holes are under 250 feet in length and three of these are under 200 feet. Hole (2) and (8) offer a little challenge to par as there is no logical line to the basket, but even with these two holes, the course only offers lower recreational challenges at best.
- MULTI USE HAZARDS - I've seen much worse, but other park amenities are in fringe play on several holes. Hole (7) was probably the worst offender which tees off a park sidewalk and then runs along another path. Holes (3) and (4) also have a walking paths in play.
- DISCONTINUITY - I've never jumped around so much on a short course. Really not much the designer could have done here. The usable spaces to put in holes are pretty spread out in this small park.
- CHARACTER - A touch below average. As noted in the pros, average tees and nice signage. There is also a shelter and practice basket nearby tee (1). The baskets are average MachVs. As for things gravely needed, seating. I think there was perhaps one or two picnic tables commandeered and placed near a tee box. Other missing items include alternate pin placements and multiple tee pads.
- TERRAIN - Hole (9) is borderline terrifying to traverse. I started down with to much pace and was forced into a run to keep my balance and nearly wiped it at the base of the hill. This course is not cart friendly just because of this hole.
Other Thoughts: A reasonable 9 holer in a small town. This course is far from being a destination location, but the town of Gatlinburg definitely is. Every dedicated bagger with a family needs to plan a trip here as it will keep the family happy and the addiction filled.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - There are some amazingly beautiful throws on this course that are mixed in with some duds. Holes (2), (8) and (9) are all aesthetically well above average. However holes (3), (4) and (7) bring my score well back with all the manmade structures in view. Hole (7) has a burned out building on the left side. This I would assume is from the raging fires that sweep threw in November of 2016.
- UNIQUENESS - Not to bad for a niner, but overall average. There are no doubt some good elevation changes on a couple shots, but I was expecting this considering the area. Basically all par 3s except for the poke and hope 305 foot par 4 on (2). Water makes a fringe appearance on (9) and shots break both ways. What's missing here most is an opportunity to rip it. I was throwing mids or less on almost every tee and I'm not a big arm.
- NAVIGATION - Don't be an idiot like me and forget to grab a scorecard. I only took a picture of the posted course map and I was constantly looking at it. Even with the this, I still lost my bearings once. Navigation on this course is not easy without them. The tee signage on (2) is missing. There's a huge course flow gap between (2) and (3) and also (6) and (7). There is no dedicated tee pad on (7) and I personally had a tough time discerning where to throw to, even with the tee signage. The course also doesn't loop back to the parking area, so once finished, it's a 1,000 foot walk back.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Decent Little Course
Pros: Mixture of wooded shots and some open ones.
Fun/challenging short shots
Cons: Not safe on number 9 if you have kids. Extremely downhill. Just skip it
Other Thoughts: Had a stroller with my 2 year old and my 5 year old with me and we about killed ourselves on 9. They really need some kind of steps or something to somehow manage that drop. Other than that it's a fun little course.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Mills Park DGC
Pros: Mills Park features a beginner friendly, 2100' foot, nine hole course in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. A kiosk with info, scorecards, and a course map are all available. Speaking of the course map, it won't hurt to grab one on your first visit. A practice basket for a quick brush up on putting is also a nice touch. A pavilion with picnic tables and clean bathrooms are right at hole one as well. Mach 5 baskets, concrete tees, and tee signs round out the amenities. Overall this is a sufficiently stocked course for a small city park facility.
There is thoughtful use of the topography as you'll find both uphill and downhill shots along with hole eight's valley shot. You'll also find some sweeping left and right shots with a couple pronounced doglegs as well. Overall, for the intention of the course, the design certainly serves it purpose well.
Hole nine I guess is what you'd consider the "signature" hole as it's a fun downhill shot that will lure you into emptying you bag. It was a great way to finish the round.
Cons: You'll find yourself playing throughout a multi-use park so sharing some of the real estate is to be expected during busy times.
I thought number two was a bad hole. And par 4? Just because there is no legitimate line to the basket doesn't legitimize a par 4 on a 305' hole. Can you get through to the basket? Sure, but I seriously believe if I took 10 shots with my eyes open, and 10 with my eyes closed, we'd find similar results. Of course, to be fair, locals can probably find a sweet spot and send a repeatable shot with better percentages.
On some of the other holes, low hanging branches gave me the feeling I was taking a recovery shot out of the rough rather than a clean tee shot. Some careful pruning could help open up the course to what was probably the designer's original intention for the holes. The consolation is that it will add some challenge to the shorter holes.
There are couple long walks adding to some confusion as far as layout goes. It's finished off by the long walk from hole nine to the parking lot that was more frustrating than arduous.
Other Thoughts: Like some other reviewers, I couldn't help being somewhat disappointed. There were some fun shots here but overall, I had hoped for more. It wasn't terrible but hoped that with the terrain in the area that I'd find nine really fun holes. Instead, I found some basic disc golf in a crowded park. With that said, and despite what it may sound like, I am not dogging the course. It's actually a decent little course. Again, I had just expected more.
I would certainly recommend the course for those on track to add as many courses to the played list as possible. It will also satisfy your disc golf itch if you are in the area vacationing and need a break from reality!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Wow! Nice niner.
Pros: -I like Mills Park. It's probably going to shock you in a positive way. It's relatively easy to find because of there being arrows on how to locate it once you are within maybe half a mile.
-Has tee-pads and tee-signs. Which you won't always see on a nine hole course. Well maybe tee-signs. Shows that the county has a good interest in disc golf as the course is well kept too. And the mach pins are nice.
-Course starts well with a fun steep uphill shot. Hole is only 240' but I threw a mid, so it plays longer. It's up about 25' in elevation so that showed me promise. The next hole was a really unique dogleg right in the woods. But the ending is what takes the cake........
-#9 has to be the greatest hole in Tennessee that is under 200'. It really has to be. It's a beautiful drop shot with a small creek in play. I threw all my putters on this hole and had the audacity to do it again once I picked them up. The hole is literally STRAIGHT downhill. So yep. I walked back up it and threw those putters again. The great thing about this hole is that your shot will be unpredictable. You could somehow sail past the OB road, or hit one of the trees short of the basket. A true gem of an ace run.
Cons: -It gets extremely crowded. If you've played Waynesville before, well expect it to be like Waynesville. There was a high school soccer game going on and the bystanders were watching on hole 3. They were polite enough to allow me to throw beside the tee-pad where I'm not in their way.
-The tee-sign for hole 2 is missing. The tee-pad is still there but this hole is a dogleg so it took me a minute to find the basket.
-Hole 7. Not a good hole here. It's a big uphill anhy shot but directly over the road. Making it kinda silly. However, I did like the tall plant beside the basket. That was neat! I also didn't see a real lane to hole 8. You have to clear one of the two gaps separated by a tree in the woods and somehow get a lucky skip shot uphill around a number of trees. Picturesque hole for sure though.
Other Thoughts: -I really liked this nine hole course. I'd love to see more courses be designed in Cherokee. I saw some disccatchers on a private property but didn't go there, I don't think it's marked on this site either. But it's just a few miles down the road.
-You see a lot of variety here for a nine holer. More than usual I'd say because there are not two holes similar to each other. You'll see a gem of a dogleg right, and a huge dropshot where about 80% of the distance of the hole is lost because of the drop. I played three course in Morristown and got out of my way a little to come up here and didn't regret it.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: hole 9 is a sweet shot straight down. Baskets are in good shape.
Cons: holes 1 and 2 I could not figure out how to throw. I think there were some signs missing and I never figured it out. Some steep hikes on a couple holes and would around the ball fields and track.
Other Thoughts: Short course, okay for a quick round.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Fun little course
Pros: Some fun reachable holes for a rec player. Most tee pads are concrete, in good condition.
Cons: Some rough, steep slopes on a few holes. Layout is a little disjointed around the track and ball fields.
Other Thoughts: Glad to have a course to play in the area while on vacation.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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