17 Helpful / 2 Not
Shake It, Sugaree
Pros: The tightly wooded course sits on the most beautiful piece of land I've ever seen used for a disc golf course. Big old trees, cool rock outcrops, and scenic vistas are all around. You feel like you're really out in nature. Other than the tees and baskets, and occasional benches and steps, the only sign of anything that resembles civilization are the Christmas trees you see on a few holes. Because of its private nature and remote location, it will never be crowded, and I can't imagine it would feel crowded even with a tournament going on.
Amazingly, nearly the whole course plays downhill. Only two holes play uphill, and one only marginally so, yet there aren't any crazy climbs or hikes between holes.
The course is full of great golf lines. There are no gimme holes, just holes asking for quality golf shots to be thrown. Nearly every hole is a signature hole. The fairways are fair, will punish you for bad shots, but not too severely, and reward your good shots. There are plenty of birdie opportunities for those who can execute great golf shots, with a good variety of long and not too long, and left and right turning holes. The overall quality of each hole is perhaps the biggest strength of the course.
Some of the most precarious pin placements you'll ever see are at Sugaree. The baskets are an innovative design, all are hanging, and they catch well. Because they are hanging baskets, they can fairly easily be moved, giving the course a little different look. The hanging baskets also allow for many of the more challenging placements. The tees are all nicely done carpet, giving a comfortable feel under your feet, with plenty of traction.
Probably the biggest pro is the course's owner and designer, Mando. He is a great guide and gracious host, with an evident love for the game, his course, and the land on which it sits, an absolute joy to play disc golf with. It's really cool to see how much work he's put into the course, and I feel blessed to have had the chance to enjoy it.
Cons: Not much, but here goes. There are two fairways that cross, although you're throwing well over the top of hole 2's fairway when driving on hole 6, which is a valley shot, and the course is never crowded, so it's really a non-issue.
Several of the holes are blind shots so a spotter is a good idea on those holes. There's also a chance of losing plastic due to thick leaves in places in the fall, along with the possibility of a bad kick off a tree sending a disc out of sight.
It's also a seasonal course, and you need to set up a tee time with Mando, so you can't play it just any old time. With that in mind, it feels like a special treat when you do get to play it.
Other Thoughts: There's not much else out here. The nearest store is miles away. There is no restroom or water fountain, so plan ahead. Bring sunscreen when the leaves are off the trees. I got cooked when I played here in April, not realizing there wouldn't be any foliage on the trees yet. Bring your hiking boots and A game, and enjoy the scenery, it's beautiful in Western North Carolina, and this hilltop is a fine example of Appalachian Beauty. Sugaree is a destination worthy course, one to plan your summer road trips around, if you get the chance.
Thanks to Mando for the great course, and letting me enjoy it.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I'll start with the aesthetics. This is one of the most beautiful places I've ever tossed a disc. The course is set on a hilltop (or mountaintop), almost all in a lush hardwood forest, with huge granite outcrops. 35' sheer cliffs, boulders rising 15' tall and 60' across, everywhere. Though on a Christmas tree farm, only on a couple of holes do you encounter the trees, throwing over them and having a rather fragrant walk from tee to disc.
As a private course, you're likely to have it to yourself. It is absolutely peaceful, far from the highway or other human sounds.
Not normally part of a course review, but Rich is such a great host and guide that he's one of the amenities, too.
The layout is very fine. Unlike most mountain courses there are not a lot of huge uphill & downhill shots. It mostly consists of tight wooded shots more or less along the contour, some elevation but not extreme. Half the course is "signature holes".
And some of the most memorable basket locations you've ever played. Baskets located near, or on top of, boulders, and near steep slopes or even sheer cliffs.
There are great benches, steps, and teepads (though they are 10', and I have a 12' runup). A lot of work has gone into them. There is no signage, but that is by design.
Due to the course's altitude, and perhaps its shade, its much cooler than neighboring regions. Rich claims that some summers it never gets over 85 degrees; our visit was probably 15 degrees cooler than our home in South Carolina.
Cons: The cons are generally minor, and mostly aspects of being a private course, and new, and a one-man project. I mention them for those to whom they may matter.
Starting with the fact that you need to schedule a tee-time. The owner is very accommodating, and you're going to need a guide, anyway. No chance you could navigate this course without one.
There are also places with random trees in the fairways, or a few awfully tight gaps. As time goes by, this will surely ease up.
We visited in July and the undergrowth was knee-high in the many fairways---but not real dense, so hardly affected play. Bearing in mind, again, that there's just one person doing the maintenance.
If you have a strong desire to "grip it and rip it", you won't find much chance here. No real open shots; this is a wooded course.
All 18 baskets are homemade, hanging baskets. They catch fine but some people may have problems with non-standard baskets, or the fact that hanging baskets may sway in the wind or spin after the previous putt.
Other Thoughts: This is a new course; 2 years old; much re-designed; and undergoing constant improvements. Within a year or two it will surely be a 4.5 to me. They're also working on a 9-hole "super course"; essentially combining two regular holes into one monster hole, that should provide as much wooded challenge as any disc golfer might ever need.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 8 Not
Pros: Beautiful setting. Placement of unique hanging baskets is challenging and interesting. Great flow from one hole to the next. Fun to play with the designer/owner. How many courses are you able to do that?
Cons: Rich is hard to beat in doubles. It was my first time, however, so there is always a new day. Should be able to make up 3 shots next time.
Other Thoughts: Awesome time. Don't let Rich carry the cooler. It is his secret training/warming up for each hole strategy that gives him the edge.
1 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 4 Not
Great wooded course
Pros: Great course through the woods. We played with 8 people on a Bachelor party and it was plenty of fun for all of us. We played with the owners son and his friend (Mitchel I think) and he was the nicest guy around. There are some beautiful holes with the trees and rock outcroppings playing into each shot. I would recommend this course to anyone of any skill level that wants a great course and a unique experience.
Cons: Would be difficult to play without a guide. Luckily we had Mitchel to show us the ropes.
3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Stellar Views, Stellar Pin Placements, Stellar Tee Pads, Stellar use of Time & Property on top of the ridgeline. Playing Sugaree was an absolute treat for this long time disc golfer. The integration of large rock outcroppings into the course layout is both stupendously appealing and stupendously butt-puckering when making putts outside of 25 feet. No need to repeat what all the other's have said about this course (I agree with comments in PRO's section)....just PLAY This Course if you can (and have skills and love of the game). Your ability, imagination, creativity, course management, and patience will all have opportunities to be tested while hiking this wonderful course and if you're lucky you'll have a personal tour with the course architect. We played several mountain courses over a long weekend and this course gets my vote for most aesthetically pleasing (so many 'signature holes' to choose from).
The homemade baskets are just one more, very positive, signature element. THANKS to Rich & his kids and all the folks that put their time into making this gorgeous course!!!
Cons: I didn't experience any cons on this course. Some comments from other's I just consider part of playing a true mountain course and/or a private course. One thing I didn't get at Sugaree that I did enjoy at some other mountain courses was the tee shot looking out over an extreme elevation drop. These shots can be perplexing for disc selection, initial direction and thrust. However, Rich has incorporated equally challenging downhill shots that require precise distance control which may be a better test of skill (with stroke choking consequences for miscalculations or poor execution). Any course that can put a smile on your face at the same time you're thinking 'double bogey will be good after that drive' makes my A-list.
Other Thoughts: If you're coming from the flatlands allow plenty of extra time to complete a round in the mountains, especially if it's a new course to you. This course has a great South & West exposure which makes for an excellent afternoon on a sunny winter day. I will definitely play this course again and again as often as I can arrange to get there!!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: This course is AWESOME! The hanging baskets and carpet tee pads give you the vibe of a private homegrwon course, but the layiout and function are as good as any course that I have played. The holes are laid out as challenging but playable. Rock formations were used as pin locations and provided great scenery. The tree farm provides a surreal setting for DG and every hole was a top notch DG hole. No throwaways or contirved holes on this course. If you throw a well thought out drive and manage the course, every hole can be parred but there is trouble lurking everywhere. Rich and Cory were fantastic hosts and the round was truly enjoyable.
Cons: Lack of sigange and the need to play with the host. No big deal, but it does require some planning-the course is well worth it!
Other Thoughts: Private courses rule! Thank goodness for the dedicated disc golfers who spend the time, money and labor to make these courses some of the best in the nation. Thank you!!
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 8 Not
Sugaree - Most Excellent Course
Pros: Well layed out and challenging course. Baskets are all hanging and homemade, but catch the discs well. Almost all the tee pads are carpeted and are prenty big to get a good throw off. This is definitely a course worth driving a couple hours to play.
Cons: Needs some hole signs with distances and sketch.
Other Thoughts: This course was one of 4 that we played over a 3 day trip. It's a very scenic course with lots of rock formations. Very much enjoyed playing this course and would paly it again in a heartbeat.
0 of 8 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Amazing topography, beautiful rock formations, hospitality beyond belief. I loved this course. We played as the sunset, the ridge faces west so we got amazing optics as we explored this magnificent course. Not a long course but ultra-unique, very fun and somewhat challenging.
Cons: It is still evolving, it will just get better as Rich, the owner, refines this masterpiece. Not really a con, but I thought I'd try.
Other Thoughts: I love the fact that Rich has the dedication and vision to build a DG course in such an amazing place. Disc golfers are great people and Rich exemplifies what I love about this sport. Thanks!
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Pros: Sugaree is probably the most beautiful course I have every played!! Rich Minford, owner and visionary of Sugaree has created the ultimate mountain course that uses the shape of the land perfectly. I had the pleasure of playing doubles on Rich's team against my two friends Slim and Charles. I guess you could say we had a slight advantage since the architect was on my team. Rich walked us through each hole and explained the layout and what shot was preferred. This was a great help since many of the holes feature blind shots, steep terrain, huge rock outcroppings, cliffs, millions of trees, and oh yeah I forgot to mention, the basket are HANGING. Rich being a Christmas tree farmer has created hanging baskets out of tree holders, chains, rope, and some elbow grease. At first I was slightly skeptical, but when I was practicing behind Rich's house (warm-up area) I found that they were actually more receptive and forgiving than standard baskets and they could also handle a hard shot. Once you drain a few putts, you'll forget that the baskets are even hanging, until you play the course and see a few of the nasty pin placements on rock outcroppings and some even on small cliffs. Rich also spent a lot of time on the tee pads. They are unlike any that I have played and they are by far the best. The pad is made out of a mulch mix that is covered by carpet. The pads are longer and the carpet provides better grip. Many of the boxes are also elevated and I was amazed how many rocks were moved to each box to level them out. The main holes that really stood out to me were holes 1, 4, 8, and 15. Hole 1 is a long hyzer from an elevated tee pad over the Christmas tree farm. The view is spectacular, especially in the fall with the mountains bleeding yellow, orange, and red. Rich threw a great shot and I drained a 90 foot putt to start out with a birdie. Hole 4 is a challenging par 4 that gives two options on how to play it. The hole bends to right and follows a huge rock wall on the right side of the fairway. A good drive down the middle will leave you with a long flick (forehand) around the wall up to the rock garden where the basket is OR you can throw a Rich "HAMMER" or thumber up over the huge rock wall and park it under the basket for an easy birdie. Your choice. Hole 8 is an excellent par 3 that bends left to right with a rock wall on the left (backstop) and the pin hanging just above a 30-40 rock out cropping. A great photo hole and it really shows the amazing terrain the course is on. Then there is Hole 15. A tuff par 3 the break from left to right through a few tree to a basket tucked into some rocks. The hole looked pretty straight forward until Rich showed what lay beyond the basket, which was a 40-50 cliff maybe 3-4 feet behind the basket. Needless to say we all threw short and took par.
Cons: Bring toilet paper or you're using leaves.
Other Thoughts: Rich has made an awesome course and I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to play a first class disc golf course. If you are not distracted by the beauty of the landscape, a good score can be made if you "STAY HUMBLE". What I mean by "STAY HUMBLE" is that you must use good course management and always be aware of what is behind the baskets. I would say about 70-80 percent of the holes have huge drop-offs behind the holes which will lead to bogies and much worse. Accuracy and distance control are more important than aggression at this course. I would also recommend playing the course around the month of October the leaves changing in this area turn the mountains into a sea of gold, yellow, and orange. Make sure to stop by a store and load up on snacks and drinks. Also proper foot attire is necessary to tackle the extreme terrain here. My thanks go to Rich for all the hard work and the hospitality. This is truly a Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Where it's Christmas everyday.
Pros: - Intimate mountain setting. Not only is the course memorable, but the drive off the beaten path to get there is also a neat journey.
- Goes with the flow of terrain... doesn't try to manufacture difficult uphill shots as many other courses do.
- Soft and comfortable unique teepads. I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but these pads are actually better than concrete. They consist of a base filled with mulch with carpet on top. This allows the carpet to be removed (it's screwed down) to re-level the mulch anytime it needs it. Teeing off on mulch is a welcome change of pace.
- Baskets are another unique feature. They were designed by Rich's kids utilizing baskets that would normally hold trees. They hang from the air and are a bit wider than a conventional basket but still catch discs like a charm. I didn't have any problems with them.
- Several different routes can be taken on a few of the holes. One that sticks out in my mind is hole #9 where you have the choice of shooting on to the top of a fifty foot tall rock or playing through a narrow fairway with a steep dropoff.
- Rich grows Christmas trees on this property; they're integrated seamlessly into play and give the course character that you won't see anywhere else.
- The elevation of the course allows it to be 10-15 degrees cooler than the surrounding area.
- Four or five benches along the course allow you to take a load off every once in awhile.
Cons: - No restrooms. Make sure to stop at a gas station on the way in to prepare yourself and get something to drink.
- No tee signs. These aren't really necessary, though as Rich seems more than happy to guide visitors.
- Some may consider the lack of concrete tees and standard baskets as a con, but I don't believe they are in this case.
Other Thoughts: Rich has created a unique disc golfing experience deep in the Carolina hills. The course has only been in the ground for a couple of years and will continue to improve as Rich makes subtle changes to it. He seems to have a vision for each hole and is more than happy to listen to input from visitors regarding the fairness of shots. I recommend this course to anyone driving through who wants to spend an afternoon totally immersed in a unique and challenging environment. Rich cut a vacation with his family short by a couple of days to play his course with me. Drinking a beer with him and his friend Burt before the 12th hole will be one of the defining moments of my summer 2009 roadtrip.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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