Sure, Just Run Over My Disc.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (2.647 Rating) A nice city park course playing through a light to moderate tree canopy that appears to have had a small layout tweak in the last year or two.
- CHARACTER - Brand new professionally done hole signage that has all the appropriate info except next tee direction. There are lots of alternate basket placements on this layout. A majority of the holes have at least two placements. Hole (11) has three placements labeled on the signage but during my round it was located at an unmarked 4th location on top of a tree stump. Other items include a great looking and updated course map by tee (1), lots of picnic tables, shelters and a restroom. Missing items include tee seating, extra tees (only one hole) and a practice basket.
- TEES - Adequately sized concrete tees approximately 5 feet by12 feet that are in great condition.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - I'm going to have to play this course again during the spring as the pictures I found on Google street view look really good. I personally scored the course above average but I wouldn't call it stunning. The park in general appears to be well taken care of and the park buildings aren't rinky-dink looking. The creek running along a few holes has an untouched natural appearance to it and has a nice bridge crossing it on (10).
- NAVIGATION - Not flawless but I didn't find it too difficult solo and first time. As stated, great course map. I'd take a picture of it as there is one sizable layout gap after (14). Next tees are generally within sight of the prior basket and there a couple directional cues along the layout. The signs towards the end of the layout weren't to the same caliber as the rest of the layout.
- SKILL LEVEL FRIENDLY - The one set of tees are at optimal difficultly to please the widest swath of skills levels. Beginners should be able to throw out here and learn the game without too much oppressing punishment. Advanced players in town will have just enough here for it not to be a bore fest.
- FORGIVENESS - The odds of losing a disc due to an errant shot is very low with two exceptions. In the event that one lands in the creek, and it has rained recently, it's possible that a disc will be carried far down stream. Also, throwing in the marshy overgrowth along (17) is a poor decision.
- QUICK PLAY - A single should easily complete an entire round in under an hour. Groups of four will probably finish in about an hour and 45 minutes.
- MAINTENANCE - The grounds appear to be mowed weekly and the park was very clean. I didn't notice any areas that had significant overgrowth other than along the creek and on the left side of fairway (17).
Cons: Overall a solid course but Sparkman has a few of the typical city park issues.
- SAFETY HAZARDS - Several holes on this layout play along or across walking paths. Roads come into play several times as well. I personally threw one into the street on hole (7) and had a nice car driver run over it as I was approaching to get it.
- UNIQUENESS - A touch below average. The layout lacks defined fairways. Most plays are relatively straight and with a spattering of trees. Baskets are never located in well defined pockets and overall basket guarding is mild. All of the holes are listed currently as par 3s. (17) might be able to be lengthen by a hundred feet or so if the course leadership ever wanted to include a par 4. (17) is also a good hole to throw a roller on. I did try a roller and failed epic style. Water is in play a few times in the form of a creek on holes (3), (10), (11) and (12). Elevation is minor and its only moderately apparent once, on hole (10). There's a triple mando right out the gates on (1), I'm undecided if I like it or hate it, most likely indifferent.
- LACK OF CHALLENGE - On my first play I got to experience the most difficult configuration that the course can offer as every basket was in the far position. With all back placements, the layout reads as intermediate but still very approachable for recreational players. I'm going to assume that I must have played right before or after a tourney, so this is likely not the normal configuration. With a mix match of front and back placements, I would expect an 850 rated rec player to come in at around 3 or 4 over par. Regardless of the set-up, advanced players will not be challenged by these wide lines to the baskets.
- DISCONTINUITY - A big gap separates the final four holes from the rest of the layout. Be sure to have a map or a picture of the one on site as the journey is 500 feet to the north. Once finishing (18), it's another 500 foot walk back to the parking by tee (1).
- SPACING - The holes are somewhat tightly packed together along with the other park amenities. I ended up in other fairways a couple times. I kind of wish they had put two or three more holes over with the final four holes to alleviate some of this issue.
Other Thoughts: A really fun recreational course that can double as an intermediate course with all back placements. A good choice for road trippers on I65 looking to play one additional course before or after their intended destination.
Advanced players will be underwhelmed by this course but there are many far less challenging courses splattered across North Alabama.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Not typical city park level short, with a decent mixture of lengths (sub-200 to nearly 400). Is mostly made of mildly wooded parkland, with moderate elevation, clear water, and OB all coming into play at times. Most holes have a few route options but favor one or two over others without just forcing them.
All 18 holes have concrete tees, 13 holes now have fairly nice tee signs, and the layout has been altered since I last visited - it now flows much better throughout the front 13.
Cons: Holes 14-18 currently lack tee signs (but do have little numbers written on tape attached to the posts for the signs-to-be). Holes 15-18 are across the parking lot, which makes for a longer walk than anywhere else on the course, but it's better that they're there rather than crammed into the remaining land near the main body of the course. Hole 15 has a portable basket (black Westside?) instead of a permanent installation. 17 is still a bit rough - brush piles and some rough rough left.
Other Thoughts: While there aren't any holes that make it particularly difficult to play through the air (i.e very low ceilings), there are several solid opportunities to play rollers off the tee.
This course is a world different from when I was here in June - a world better. Accordingly, this whole review has been rewritten. Overall, there is yet room for improvement - this has the potential to be a really great park-style course. I understand that further improvements are in progress, so I'm rather excited.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: If you haven't been to Sparkman in awhile it's time to take another look. Here is why it is better than before.
- The maintenance crew has done an incredible job cleaning up this course, clearing trees, brush and debris around the course and park in general.
- They added a lake. Not a pond, a LAKE. Complete with walking path. New holes are being added around the lake.
- Additional pin positions make this course interesting and with the tree growth the lines can be tough to hit, but they are there. It is not impossible to shoot 6 to 10 down at this course even with the longer holes.
- Signs are coming and we have even discussed benches.
-Concrete pads on all holes except the newer ones in the field and a few alternate pins.
-Very scenic park with good elevation, nice full grown trees, walking path, shelters, bathrooms, and a creek.
Cons: - the course does not have an updated map and needs an official starting point with welcome sign. If you are not from here, the layout can be difficult to follow. New signs are not in place yet.
- The old 16, 17 and 18 are still a long walk behind the ballfields and 18 often becomes a flood zone.
- Heavy rains cause the creek to rise suddenly - be cautious there are a few snakes.
- Water still tends to pool around Holes 7, 8 and 9 near the bathrooms after big rains and can be messy/muddy.
- Due to the walking path and playgrounds there are a lot of people that walk the trail and can come into play if you have an errant throw.
- ENOs Hammocks are all the rage. There are several holes including 13 and 14 where kids like to hang there social club ENOs and it's usually smack in the middle of the fairway. Really wish they would pick up their trash as well. Tired of toting out bottles, cups, cans, food wrappers and other trash.
Last but not least - FIRE ANTS. These things are everywhere and several baskets have their mounds at the base of the poles. Be careful, 100 bites from fire ants and you could end up in the ER. Really wish the park would spray for these pests.
Other Thoughts: NOTE: Course is Still under development and may end up having a slight redesign. But all this to say the park is looking great. It's getting more play and the new holes make for an interesting layout. Look forward to the finished product. Good work to those who are keeping up the course. Once things get finished this could easily be a 4-5 star course.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Challenging course with lots of variety. Some holes are a blast to play. Literally minutes from my house so I play it all the time. Beautiful public park setting with tall pine trees for excellent shading without limbs hindering most of the shots. A great course to learn on which I learn something new everytime I play on the course. No longer multiple baskets to confuse you where to throw like it was a few years ago.
Cons: I'll mirror what everyone else has said about holes 4 and 5 not really fitting with the rest of the front nine. They are far too long and quite frankly incredibly boring not to mention horrible in the summer heat. There needs to be sort of obstacles that can entertwine both holes such as a group of trees and a few benches that can provide shade and a break from the long walk as well as an obstacle for those of us who don't throw 300+ from tee-offs. The rough around that is just that to say the least, which is incredibly overgrown and full of thornbushes. the creek that goes from one side of the park that involve about 8 of the holes is incredibly overgrown, with lots of trash built up from the creek washing out over and over again. Ive seen a lot of snakes in the water so be extremely careful when you pull a Randy and dump a disk in the deep part of the water. Holes 16-18 takes about 10 mins to walk from hole 15, and if the ballparks' gate is closed you will be forced to walk all the way around them to reach them. Lots of predestrians and children around the playground areas and when a pavilion is rented out you might as well go around because cars will be parked all through the course. Updated descriptions on each hole should be paramount especially on a good course, they are no longer prevelant and are more confusing than help. There also needs to be a course map at the beginning of hole 1.
Other Thoughts: The course no longer has multiple baskets at most of the holes and the footage for each hole needs to be reconfigured. Hole 13's pin has been moved about 100ft up the creekside making it further to shoot but easier for stray discs to not get OB in the snake infested rough. The course does feel like an original 9 hole course that was later added to a 18. With OB (busy road, walking paths, pavilions, water hazards, overgrown bushes) on every hole and mando's around the pavilions a 54 par is absurd. Hole 4,5,11,17 should be a par 4. This is a great course that I play about twice a week. The pro sides of the course far outweigh the downsides. In my honest opinion I recommend playing the course during the week in the morning or early afternoon during the week to avoid most of the pedestrains.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Good course with some correctable flaws
Pros: A good beginner course with a decent amount of shot variety and some challenges for novices/recreational players. Course is in a well maintained park and has made use of some nice features of the park. Only a few real long holes and a variety of pin placements for repeat plays. The longer holes are pretty wide open and "grip 'n rip". The water in play is a fairly narrow creek that is omnipresent on about 5 or 6 holes, but not real obstacle for most seasoned players.
Cons: Difficult to navigate. First 3 holes are easily found, but 4 and 5 take a second to locate. 6 was tricky as the signage wasn't exactly clear as to the direction the pin was from the tee box. While the variety available for pin placement is a plus, it is also a minus as the multiple options plus a disorganized course make it a challange to locate the correct pin at times. About every other tee box was missing a sign. None of the pins were marked with a hole number or even a target to indicate which tee box they were facing. Several holes criss-cross very near each other and make obvious tee-to-pin play difficult. No benches. No maps available anywhere online that I could find. There are spots that seem to hold water after rain that could be troublesome if they don't dry out quickly. As other reviewers have said, the course weaves in and out of a playground, ballfields, several pavilions and a walking trail. It wasn't especially busy when I played it, but I can understand how this could be an issue at times.
Other Thoughts: An online map or some permanent markings (arrows) on the tee boxes indicating direction would be a HUGE help to the playability of this course, especially with the holes 4 and 5 and 16-18 being somewhat seperate from the main body of the course. The signs that were up seemed fairly recent and were extremely well done. Likely part of a tournament.
The "flow" of the course is somewhat choppy with a little bit of doubling back at times moving from one pin to the next tee box and then of course the hike to play the last three holes on the south side of the ballfields.
All that said, there were some challenging holes for a pure recreation player like myself with a good mix of LH and RH shots and some multiple-choice drives (not just one way to play the hole). I think anybody with above average arm strength and average accuracy would birdie most of these holes. As Decatur doesn't have a course of it's own, the visiting player has this course of the variety in Huntsville.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Nice baskets! Love the mixture of different types of holes. hard to loose a disc on the coarse
Cons: it floods easy on some holes. Wish they would provide coarse maps. It was hard to find hole 16-18
Other Thoughts: watch out for the mandos
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Baskets. They are nice Mach's.
-Tees. Nice concrete tees big enough to do everything I need.
-Signs. Good signs at every hole. I noticed they were movable, which seems good if the tee is moved.
-Nice shot variety. You'll use long shots and short drives, hyzers and flicks. Some holes are wide open and others are fairly wooded. #5 has and island green, which add challenge and character to the course.
-There's plenty of parking and restrooms are available along with some pavilions.
Cons: -Many pedestrians. The course has a nice walking trail entwined within it and there are generally lots of walkers on the weekend.
-The course flow has a few flaws. Holes 1-3 play in the same field and give a feeling of being cramped. Holes 16-18 are a pretty good ways away from hole 15's basket. They seem like afterthoughts.
Other Thoughts: This course is setting in a scenic park in a small town. It has a lot to offer as far as challenge and shot variety. With the rules for the SNAC tourney, there was lots of OB. Some of the OB comes from road and parking lots; other comes from the walking trail and small creeks going through. There's a fair amount of benches and trash cans. The course is pretty well maintained with the trees pruned and grass cut nicely. I was disappointed that the course wasn't closed during the SNAC. We had to wait on fivesome to play in front of us when we got to hole 1.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 1 Not
Could Use These Improvements!
Pros: Sparkman Park is a large multi-use large park and there-in there seems to be one of the problems with the course. That is the interaction between the disc golfers and it's many park users. The course plays over a widely used jogging/walking trail many times forcing us to sometimes wait for other park users to pass. The courses has some elevation, forces you to use many throws, has colorful but moveable tee signs and nice teepads. Many holes have multiple basket locations. I did have a little trouble navigating the course. See comments at this end concerning this problem.
Cons: Holes #4 and # 5, as brought up by previous reviewers are poor designs. The long walk to the last three is not a preferred option. There were 5-6 trees down on the course as the result of a windstorm. They affected the navigation of the course and also the play. I'm really surprised the parks department hadn't removed them yet as they appeared to have been down for quite a while.
Other Thoughts: I would have really enjoyed played this course more if with a few improvements were to be made.
1. Large, round, visible numbers atop the baskets. Man, this would really help the player navigating this course for the first time. If this is too expensive, see option two.
2. If # 1 is beyond the budget, how about a brightly colored strip of flourescent tape wrapped around the inner tube of the basket with the # of the hole written on it? At least, when I walk ahead I'd know what basket I was looking at!
3. Directional arrows painted on the teepads pointing to the basket. When I walk up to the teepad, it would nice to look down at the pad and know the direction of the basket. I 'm always nervous that those movable teesigns have been tampered with.
4. On holes with multiple basket locations, drill a 1/4 hole in the tee sign next to the A< B< C and insert a small bolt and nut with a washer (hopefully a brightly colored plastic one) into whichever hole ( A<B<C ) the basket is currently set. Tighten down with a wrench. Change bolt whenever basket location is changed. I've seen courses using this system and it's so very helpful . Make a couple of these improvements (especially # 4) and I could see this course being a 4. I enjoyed it and recommend stopping and playing it.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice, but too many cons
Pros: This 18 hole course is in a nice city park and is just a short drive off the Interstate. It has good concrete tees, very nice colorful tee signs, and multiple basket locations that are clearly marked on the tee signs. Most of the holes are in gently wooded park with a creek in play on several holes.
The town of Hartselle is a great small southern town that prides itself on Southern Hospitality.
Cons: The baskets aren't labeled and there were a few spots where multiple baskets are in view and pretty close to each other, which can make first timers unsure about which is the correct basket. Navigation from hole to hole was confusing a couple of times.
This park is very busy (at least it was on the weekends.) There is a walking trail around the perimeter of the course and runs very close to several holes. There is a picnic pavilion and playground near other holes where several small children were playing in the dirt right in the fairway. After waiting for several minutes and asking them to get out the way, their parents finally took some action and got them to move, but we were clearly inconveniencing them!
This course appears to me to have once been 9 holes and was later "upgraded" to 18 (or was planned out poorly.) I love 18 holes, but only if it adds to the course, and I feel Sparkman has some flaws. #4 and #5 are just very long wide open holes that are in an adjacent field across the creek that is not in the park. #5 has a great upshot over the creek, but the tee shot is boring as it is long, open, with absolutely no obstacles anywhere. #4 is just a tee and a basket very far apart in a wide open field (that is a field of mud if it rains.)
#16-18 are nowhere near the first 15 holes. You have to walk across the parking lot, down the road, and past the ballfields to find them
(There is no way to see them from #15. The only way you know they are there is you see #18 basket on the way in to the park.) #16 was unplayable because baseball games were in progress and people had parked there cars all over the fairway and surrounded the basket. #18 was completely flooded due to heavy rain, but I assume this is not like this all the time.
Other Thoughts: The overall appearance of the course is great, but it is just your average course, fun to play with a decent challenge for the average player. The many cons I mentioned are not a major deal, but it prevents me from rating this course in the upper half of the rating scale.
If you are looking to play a course on I-65 between Huntsville and Birmingham this will do, but the course in those two cities are by far better than Sparkman.
*Note: Zman44 and I played this course together on the same day which is the reason for the similar reviews.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Sparkman Park had solid tee pads and very informative signs. For, the most part the navigation was easy and the flow was logical. There were a solid variety of shots required. Course requires a blend of distance and accuracy. Bathrooms were available inside the baseball complex. Groundskeeping was good.
Cons: Holes 4 and 5 were thrown together. While 5 has a little design element to it as it plays back over the "ravine", hole 4 was a pin in a field. No obstacles...just a pin way out there in a field. These holes were extremely muddy. Hole 16 was nearly unplayable due to trucks being parked there for a baseball game going on. We made up a new tee box so as to not interfere with those watching the game.
Other Thoughts: I may be totally wrong about this but I would be willing to bet that Sparkman Park started out as a 9 hole course...and I bet I know what the added 9 holes were. When you have that perception of a course, it is usually not a solid course. There were some pretty nice holes at Sparkman Park. There were also some terrible holes. When the park is busy, there are a lot of non-disc golfing people around.
There was a toddler's birthday party at the main pavilion. 3 of them just played with one of the baskets. We asked the parents multiple times to keep them over by the pavilion while we played the hole. They didn't seem to care. We then explained that the discs were made of extremely hard plastic and would do some damage if they hit a child. They still didn't seem to care. After we stood there for about 5 minutes, I guess they figured we weren't going anywhere so they grabbed their kids and let us continue the round.
The holes that play along the creek were pretty well thought out. I liked the design of these holes.
Sparkman Park is your average course. Nothing stands out about it. There were some well-designed holes, and there were some horrendously designed holes. Add in a long walk to the finishing 3 holes and it balances out to an average/decent/typical course. All of the positive aspects that I see at this course are counteracted by an equally negative aspect.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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