RHBH - bring your understable plastic
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I had an enjoyable round at Crane Hill, which started off with:
-Easy to find
-Plenty of parking
-Easily the busiest course I've seen in western MA. I didn't have to wait at all, but there appeared to be plenty of regulars, which courses like UMass, HCC, and Conway don't have.
I enjoyed the mix of open and wooded holes. Many open holes had something to challenge me. I really liked hole 2, although a birdie seems really hard for someone like me who can only throw 300 feet. There were an adequate number of birdie looks and plenty of holes that punish you for hitting an early tree. And there are lots of trees!
It was my first time playing the course, but the signs/maps were good (updated since the pictures on this site) and I used the bricks under most baskets to find the next tee.
The tees are very good. And there are two pins in place for every hole, maximizing the playability of the course. This is a big plus in my book, even though it didn't impact my single round. I also like the stream and the secluded wooded beauty of the course. And the course is clean and has nice benches.
I played in early April, but I assume there are no problems with thorns or poison ivy or brutal rough, which is a welcome change from my usual courses of UMass and Northampton.
Cons: -Too many fairways are too tight in my opinion. The fairways are fair, but an intermediate player like me got punished a bit too much and I think beginners would be frustrated. Neither pin position is suitable for beginners. I wish that one of the pins offered more open fairways. This course is really good for advanced players given the two pin positions and difficulty.
-I did get turned around a few times navigating the course. I probably spent about 5 minutes heading down the wrong paths trying to find where I was going.
-The tee sign/map on hole 16 misled me. The A pin is straight ahead, not to the left.
-No trash cans on site (that I saw)
Other Thoughts: This is neither a pro or a con, but lots of A pins require RHBH throwers to use understable plastic. Definitely adds challenge to already challenging fairways on many holes.
Comparing this course to others in the area, I liked it more than UMass and Northampton (which I gave a 3-disc rating) and HCC. It lacked the charm of Flat Rock (which I gave a 3.5) and the golf wasn't as good as Tully (which I gave a 3.5). I think I slightly prefer Conway (which I gave a 3.5), but the two pins on every hole convinced me to give Crane Hill a 3.5 rating. It's got a lot going for it and playing it regularly will make anyone a much better disc golfer. Enjoy!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
The Crane was good enough for Miyagi
Pros: The course plays on and below an imposing wooded bluff. The variety here is among the best of any Massachusetts course. The first several holes are primarily open holes, which transition to the woods, and the course finishes with the more open, longer holes. I played the shorter baskets, and distances ranged from 132 feet (which was not a gimme birdie but not a gimmick either) to over 550 feet.
Oh, and the baskets. There are two of them on every hole. I have to give huge props to courses that do this because there are so few that do. It adds to the replayability and gives some nice, additional looks. With a few exceptions, they play pretty different. One of the uphill wooded holes (around 5 or 6) has the A position as a short turnover shot that is reachable with a full uphill drive. The B position is a very tough hole farther up the steep hill, requiring a couple full, accurate throws up a challenging grade. I wish I'd gotten to play the B position.
I really like that no particular skill set is rewarded here. You need accuracy to handle the wooded holes, and distance will be rewarded on the more open holes. I even got to throw a couple rollers here, which is rare in this part of the country.
Tee pads are all rubber and level. Navigation was generally easy (see below).
Cons: The multiple baskets are great, but on a few holes they two baskets don't really make the hole any different. Holes 1 and 17 come to mind.
The tee signs are not the crappy wooden things you see in the pictures. They are real tee signs on real posts. Two small complaints: I wish the tee number was larger on the sign. A couple times there are two tee pads near the basket you just played, and it would be nice if you could see more easily which is the next one. Second, the lines to the baskets shown on the signs are not always representative. For hole 13 we threw to the right, only to discover the A position was actually straight ahead.
The hill is huge, but the course only makes use of some of it. I wonder if the rest of it wasn't usable due to steepness, or property lines, or something else?
On a few of the wooded holes, there were more spindly, thin trees than I'd like to see. They usually don't add anything and just clog up legitimate lines.
Other Thoughts: I played on a snow-less January day, so tall grass wasn't an issue. It looks like they mow the fairways, but I could see the tall stuff off of the early and late holes hiding discs.
Crane Hill exceeded my expectations. Based on the map and the pictures, I assume the multiple baskets are a recent addition. This is a really good course that is worth going a little out of your way for.
On that note, beware that while this course looks like it's right off of I-90, the interstate system in Massachusetts doesn't have a ton of exits, so it might be 10-15 minutes more than you're anticipating. Make the time. It's worth the trip.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Diverse and fun
Pros: Great variety of open versus wooded, elevation change and left versus right finishing holes. Basket placements offer diversity of holes where you need to play it safe, complemented by a number of holes where you aren't afraid to go for it. Hole 14 is a gem, it may be short but you better pick the right right disc and the right line. You could easily warm up by playing a hole 1 to hole 18 loop a few times if it isn't busy. Two baskets for each hole offer a couple different layouts. Locals were friendly and helpful.
Cons: Confusing layout for those who aren't familiar with the course. Because of lack of signage, sometimes need to walk up the fairway a bit to find baskets and figure out your lines. Not always immediately clear which layout a basket is for.
Other Thoughts: I don't usually write reviews, but felt Crane Hill deserved a recent one. I really enjoyed this course. Although the lack of signage could be frustrating the first couple of times you play it, I think after a couple of rounds you'd have no problem. Install some picture signs with the alternate basket placements and better signage from basket to next tee and there would be no cons here. Definitely will go back as often as I can.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Rubber Tee Pads
Pros: As of October 29, 2013 the course has alternate baskets at every hole. 36 holes total now! Nice variation of wooded and open shots. Nice use of elevation. Good flow to holes.
Cons: Lack of signs. Muddy parking late winter and early spring.
Other Thoughts: All Tee Pads are rubber now.(since fall '11) This has not been changed on the course review yet. It has improved the course quite a bit. New signs are going in this year! Nice course
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pristine, natural course
FOR COURSE MAP AND SCORECARD:
I have played 8 different courses, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, and Florida (including Cliff Stephens, home of Ken Climo), yet Crane Hill is the most beautiful course I have ever played. The designers have done a fantastic job preserving dramatic natural elements of the property and incorporating them into the course. A few examples come to mind: The old-growth oak on 8 has a huge branch that hangs low over the fairway, forcing a low flick or turnover drive from us RHBH throwers. Another, even bigger oak shades the 9th tee, which has a ring of benches around it. A stream gurgles its way down the hill next to the tee (it's a downhill drive), following the fairway its entire length, making for a beautiful spot to take a break. Here the RHBH-friendly fairway follows an old footpath, and at 350+ feet in the middle of the woods, this hole requires both power and precision. The new hole 14 (aka "The Ravine Hole") is my favorite on the course; the ravine itself leads down to Twelve Mile Brook, which forms the northern border of the course. At the 14th tee, the ravine is less than 200 feet wide; it's short but kept interesting by a narrow driving window framed by 2 tree trunks. The basket is perched just on the far edge of the ravine, so an unlucky landing may well roll to the bottom, 30 feet below the rim (oh yeah - don't fall off the tee!). Watching people drive from the bottom of the ravine reveals the genius of this hole - while the net elevation change is ~0, the fairway is 30 feet up in the trees! Finally, your round will end with a wide-open, slightly downhill 380' drive across the field to the pin, which is nestled in a stand of low (apple?) trees. It's a lot of fun to really let loose with a driver on this easy hole, especially after taking some bogies on 15 and 16 (which will probably happen as often as not).
Cons: Crane Hill is a tough course! Forget about driving the pin on most holes; shooting even par requires a proficient shot every time, and in the woods, you'd better be darn near perfect - or better yet, lucky. Some holes like 6 and 11 have no clear route to the basket, so luck will often decide between birdie, par or much worse. Other holes have only one realistic route to the basket, so it's hard to get creative, especially after an errant drive.
Many people have complained about navigation on the course. There used to be nice plywood signs, but they didn't last more than a year or two. At the beginning of my review I posted a link to the original course map, but 13 and 14 are slightly different after some recent changes.
People have also complained about the natural tee pads, but I have been told by the course designer that cement pads are in the works.
Other Thoughts: For more info about course changes and EVENTS (i.e. doubles league, monthly tourneys), check out New England Flying Disc Association: nefa.com
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: There was a very good variety of holes here. The course was thoughtfully layed out for the land. There were a few holes that were what I would consider memorable. There was good elevation changes, and the fairways were clear enough to experience good flight. The baskets were of good quality with the exception of 13 which had no basket. Just the base and a stick sticking out of it. 15 was a super cool hole that shot over a deep gully. The course was something that would be worth the trip to anyone in the general area. I really enjoyed my playing part of the course. Notice I said "playing". I would go here again if in the area.
Cons: Since I Noted "playing" let me explain. As you have or will read in other reviews about this course, the navigation info at the course here is among the worst I have ever come across. Only one other course I have played in Oklahoma was worse. I would venture to say without a doubt I spent as much time trying to find the next hole as I did playing. It really sucks to be on a high from just sinking a birdie to really blowing your next drive because your frustrated from spending 10 minutes trying to find the next tee. After walking up and down trail after trail and not even being sure that where you are throwing from where you are supposed to be. I had even read the reviews the night before about "piss poor" navigation as one reviewer put it. So I went to the town web site and printed a map of the course. The map did help some. Don't get me wrong. It was just a very bad experience as far as navigation was concerned.
Other Thoughts: To those of you who play this course regularly, please think of us out of towners who are visiting your wonderful course, and put up some signs, flags pavers or something to aid us in experiencing what there is to offer here. Even taking a sharpie and writing on the tee signs that are old and unreadable. Playing here has made me want to rethink the navigation on my home course to see if there are any areas that need better signage.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Great for All Skill Levels
Pros: -This course is located in a town owned "park", but more accurately is unused land converted to a disc golf course
-Course is secluded, so you don't have to worry about throwing over roads or near pedestrians
-Fair in its layout (good shots are rewarded, beginners have a chance, and advanced still find it challenging)
-Good mix of hole types forces lots of different shots (some low ceilings, wooded, open, narrow gaps) and this variety adds to a fun round
-New course so baskets are in excellent condition
-Practice basket is convenient right at the parking lot
Cons: -Natural tee boxes are very difficult to throw on in wet conditions (roots, rocks and dirt get really slippery)
-Tee Signs have not been well maintained (some are missing, some damaged)
-Baskets can be hard to see from a distance as there are no color markers
-I was lucky enough to play my first time with someone who knows the course well, but I could see the biggest con for a first timer to Crane Hill being the navigation. It can get confusing (3 to 4, 11 to 12, and 15 to 16 especially), so you may consider trying to meet up with locals or tagging along with someone there for your first time around.
-Hole 1 and 18 were really overgrown in June, but the course has been mowed since then
Other Thoughts: The course is still going through changes (the 13th hole is transitioning to a par 4 using the current 14th basket, and the 13th basket is being repositioned for a new 14th hole) and there is talk of putting in concrete tee pads. There is enough land here for another 18 in the future. I live only about a mile away, so I like the convenience, but I would drive farther to play this course in its current condition.
Added: Message me directly if you want any navigation details. I'd be more than happy to help anyone with course navigation if you plan on playing this course for the first time.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Exciting Course, nice use of natural terrain.
Pros: Decent signage, fun use of terrain. Baskets are in very good shape. Pretty easy to find out where to go. Nice diversity with some longer open holes, holes with elevation change, tight short holes, and holes friendly to righties and lefties.
Cons: Tee boxes and signage need updating. Was a bit overgrown when I played it. Mowing/trimming needs to be done to show more distinct fairways.
Other Thoughts: Very fun course and I want to return to play there again. Bring bug spray in the summer and bring water when its hot since you will get baked on some holes.
More to Come
Pros: This relatively new course is great and has lots of potential. Practice basket is a plus. There is a field big enough to warm up the longest drives I have.
Cons: I could not find any website or person with more information about this course. I had a hard time finding #2 from #1 and played 1, 18, 17, 2-16, which worked but meant I played the longest and maybe hardest hole last then had a long walk to my car. A course map would help. Too bad some of the hole signs have been vandalized.
Other Thoughts: Where are the folks that made this course? What happened that they have not put much information here?
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Crane Hill is Great
Pros: Free is good. Great course with everything. Open field, woods, uphill, downhill, long open shots, short technical shots. This course has the opportunity to become one of the better ones in the area. Well designed.
Cons: Not broken in yet. Lots of brush from lack of foot traffic. First time navigating was tricky at times but once the course breaks in it should be easier.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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