Real Gold Doesn't Tarnish
19 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Highbridge Gold is the confluence of everything that makes this venue the legendary, infamous delight that's captivated golfers across the Upper Midwest and the nation. The host venue for Nate Doss' 2007 Pro Worlds victory, Highbridge features five primary courses on-site, plus a bonus campground course used primarily for glow rounds. The five courses on the hill are the main draw, with each one unique enough to showcase a different flavor of the richly diverse land. Gold is a bit of everything combined into one long, difficult, championship routing. The design, like the rest of the courses on site, is a Chuck Kennedy masterwork, interweaving placement-focused technical holes (Hole 14, for example) with long distance grinders (the legendary Hole 8, a 1426 foot par 6). However, the true character of Gold lies in its many holes that combine the two elements. Hole 3 is a brutally long hole that gently constricts the fairway with every shot before completely stovepiping it into a tightly wooded approach that could be a brilliant standalone hole in its own right. Hole 11 demands a choice of layup or crush off the tee to position around a small pond and set up for a challenging approach to a sloping, protected pocket green. Even relatively open holes like 18 provide a lot of fun and, in this particular case, one of my favorite greens in all of disc golf - a small rectangle protected by a front-facing rock wall that forces placement and power control to make your approach sit up where it needs to be for a clean putt. Fun to play and extremely photogenic as you look back down the fairway.
All of the courses at Highbridge are beautiful, and even the least scenic points on the property blow away most other routings by a country mile. Gold is probably the least pretty course here, but that doesn't stop some great drives (Holes 8 & 12) and approaches (Holes 2 & 18) from reminding you that you're in the middle of the gorgeous Wisconsin Highland. Also, I hold the unpopular opinion that the half-completed structures and failed Jokinen projects that line the fairways of Gold give a sort of spooky charm. Look for my current favorites -- the abandoned car and cabin on Hole 11!
There's two sets of concrete tees on every hole, with the golds dramatically more maintained than the whites. The course uses DISCatchers in good repair.
Assuming you can find a golf cart that works, Gold is a ridable course. I prefer to walk, but riding would probably save a lot of strength and time.
Cons: When you put aside all the drama and nonsense surrounding Highbridge, which are a con unto themselves for most (see other thoughts), there's really only one complaint that stands head and shoulders above the rest - Highbridge's inferior maintenance. It's a roll of the dice if the grass will be mowed on any given day, and tree trimming & rough control appear nonexistent. To make matters worse, Highbridge is approaching a relatively advanced age (14 years for most of the complex) where decisions should be made regarding tree removal, which will almost certainly never happen. When the courses are maintained, the level of maintenance is usually inversely correlated to its difficulty. You may come across an open fairway that's been mowed impeccably, only to play to a soggy green with waist-high grass. In all fairness to John, taking care of five courses with limited help is a rather difficult task, but that doesn't change the fact that unfinished mowing and trimming is a gigantic headache for us players. Depending on the status of the maintenance when you play, a course's rating could fluctuate by as many as two or more discs. Timing your visit to coincide with the intermittent mowing is just par for the course here. The Highbridge Hills - Wisconsin forum thread on this site is extremely helpful for providing detailed course condition updates.
For Gold in particular, there have been a couple of design compromises that neuter some special holes. Hole 12's green and the entirety of Hole 13 have been relocated out of a swampy area on the right hand treeline into the drier and easier to maintain open pasture. I assume these original locations would be salvageable with a little maintenance TLC, so it sucks to see them changed just because they're a pain to mow/trim. As a result, I've dropped my rating one half-disc.
Gold is currently the hardest course to play blind. First-timers will almost certainly want a map and some hole distances, as the newer tee signs here are the weakest at the complex.
Other Thoughts: With more twists and turns than a telenovela, the saga of Highbridge Hills has captivated golfers in the Upper Midwest for years. Regardless of where you fall between the two extremes of "John is a con artist" and "John is a harmless dolt whose reach exceeds his grasp", it's hard to visit here and not be charmed by the ramshackle enthusiasm of it all. Sure, it'd be great if a competent management team took over the complex, maintained it to perfection, and charged $20/day in greens fees to play what is probably the greatest collection of courses at a single site in the entire world. But where's the fun in that? Up here, disc golf still feels firmly tied to its DIY roots, as one man tries to hold it all together with chewing gum and string. Even as people (including myself) complain about the neglect of these world-class courses, it's important to remember that this version of Highbridge holds value as well. If you're looking for a true frolf adventure, Highbridge is the best place to find one. For now, it's best to enjoy what we have and hope for better days down the road.
PROTIP: Take a moment to rest on the shaded tee at the palate-cleansing intermezzo of Hole 7. The early woods holes can be brutal, and you'll want all your strength for the Hole 8 monster ahead.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 22 Not
Pros: The course has some potential as there are great elevation changes and many trees.
Cons: My friends and I went to High Bridge expecting a great course but were very disappointed. We got there a few days after a music festival and the course was trashed. There was garbage everywhere, even on many baskets on the course. The course was also just run down. It looked like the course was probably very good years ago but is just run down now. The grass was quite long and it was very easy to lose a disc because of it. It seems that John has too much to maintain. He should cut High Bridge down to 2 or 3 good courses instead of having 6 courses that are all run down.
Other Thoughts: Overall this course was a big disappointment. I was expecting the "mecca" of disc golf but instead found a course past its prime. This course does have some good potential though. John just needs to get some help.
6 of 28 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: High Bridge Hills Complex is incredible, and this course along with Granite are easily my favorite. Great elevation changes, great mix of technical holes and distance.
One of two courses you can rent a cart for and ride the whole way.
Has a 1400+ foot par 6!
Cons: Likely not the course for you if you throw under 250 feet.
I recommend Spring or Fall for this course as the ruff can become difficult to find your discs especially if you are playing the day/days leading into when they will be mowing it.
Other Thoughts: John is one heck of a guy and all the courses are worth playing.
4 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Long and demanding.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Disclaimer: This is a review of the course before the idiotic music festival.
Gold is the long, more open 18 at Highbridge Sports Complex.
Concrete tees on every hole. Most have multiple tees, although the shorts tended to be overgrown and not well kept. This is Gold...play the longs, dummy.
Chainstar baskets, mounted well enough. Like everything at Highbridge, they're showing their age, but they still perform. Many holes have multiple pin positions listed, but I doubt the pins actually get moved. One thing the do really well on this course is pin placement, though. Lots of tucked baskets, hillside baskets, and more. You really have to think about where you place your drives to be able to get at some of them.
Gold has distance. Lots of it. Sure, there's a few deuce opportunities (although they require decent shots), but the main attraction of Gold is long placement golf. How many places have a 1400+ foot hole? Not many. You get plenty of opportunities to blast drives, but they need to be accurate in most cases in order to get good lines for a second shot.
The design here is really good for how open it feels. One of the members of our group commented on how there were hardly any NAGS (not a golf shot) on the entire course (at least at our skill level). There's not a lot of tweener holes, which is nice. Also, while it feels open in some areas, even then the obstacles force you to work a certain line.
Plenty of tight tunnels here as well, especially at the beginning. By the time you get to hole 8 (the bomber), you're happy to be out of the woods. The first set of holes has a few that are deuce opps, but it's also littered with long, winding, tight fairways. Control is the name of the game there.
Cons: The tee signs were the old laminated paper signs, and they're rough. Navigation isn't really an issue, but still.
It's Highbridge. You're looking at 50/50 that it will be mowed and in good shape. Gold does seem to be John's baby, though, so it gets more attention than some of the other courses.
It's hard to get past the fact that Gold feels like the preamble to a horror flick in several places. Multiple unfinished cabins, a small shack that we were sure was used for some sort of animal torture, and just general malaise all over the course.
Oh, and there's a bear den in between holes 8 and 11/12. My buddy and I got chased (chased meaning we cried like little girls when the bear was 100 yards away) up hole 8's fairway the first time we were up there.
Other Thoughts: Gold is an asskicker. A wonderful, beautiful asskicker. In pristine condition, it's closer to a 5.0 than a 4.5...it's just hardly ever in pristine condition. Big shots, tunnel shots, tough birds, great pin placements...it's all here. Not to mention some great scenery. The fact that it's on a property with so many other great courses helps the cause, for sure.
It's a long round. Your arm will be tired. And then you'll want to play it again. A must play.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Gold has seen better days
Pros: -Good mix of length (although it is skewed more towards longer distance)
-Good mix of shot shaping required
-Good mix of tight, wooded holes and open holes
Cons: -Fairways are in awful shape, grass gone on many holes. In it's place is lumpy mud.
-Garbage is everywhere.
-In general, the course and amenities are badly in need of repair.
-Signs are at each hole, but mostly destroyed
-Benches are at each hole, but mostly destroyed
Other Thoughts: As much as I wanted to like this course, I couldn't. The basic structure and layout are definitely there to be a championship caliber course. If you look at the photos of the course on here, look at them with a grain of salt. Yes, the holes are still that length and shape. But, imagine it with garbage everywhere and multiple fairways destroyed from car tire tracks turning it into a mud pit. Not only that, but the buildings on the property are in serious disrepair. The "clubhouse" at the beginning was filthy with broken glass. The concession area was not open and from the looks of it you wouldn't want anything from it anyway. This was midday on a Saturday by the way, so everything should have been open.
On to the course itself, I can't stress enough: the layout, distance and hole shapes are all top notch. This is definitely a course for the more advanced player, especially because of the severe distance on several holes. There were additional challenges presented with the terrain in such terrible shape, not as though the course needed more challenge. Additionally, the course has had issues with being mowed lately. On this particular day, it was badly in need of mowing. The first nine holes were worse than the last nine. There were times when the grass was thigh high and that was supposed to be the fairway. All in all, I was thoroughly unimpressed with the course and actually quit the day of disc golf early because of the condition of the Gold course. I had planned on throwing at least one more course and maybe two, but enough was enough. In it's current shape, I cannot recommend this course. If it gets fixed up (which would take a lot of time and money) then by all means I would come back. But until that happens, I will not be back.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 7 Not
Best Course, Best Compound
Pros: Great range of hole types, nice range of distance (including the 1650 ft. hole... hell yes).
Very well designed holes. Never encountering anyone else - total privacy and leisurely pace.
Cons: Occasionally the grass is long - literally, that's it.
Other Thoughts: Highbridge Hills is the most incredible place in the world. So much so that most people end up making an annual pilgrimage of it with their best friends. I will come here at least 1-2x per year for the rest of my life and it is my #1 priority every year.
John, the course owner and manager, is a special soul and incredibly has never played a full 18 holes on the complex - a complex that is among the best in the world. He is a wonderful enigma.
0 of 7 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 10 Not
Total disc golf destination
Pros: Highbridgehills over all is a top disc golf destination. The gold coarse is more for the top line player.Distance off tee is must some tee shot require accurate placement to set up accurate 2nd shot to basket. Out of all the coarses there this would be the more difficult one. A pro I think would need to throw over400 feet from tee to compete.
Cons: Can't say to much there. Although if one player has a substancial advantage off tee in distance you would have hard time tring to compete.
Other Thoughts: I traveled around the last few summers playing disc golf coarses. the highbridge hills complex is the best place I have played hands down
0 of 10 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 3 Not
Highbridge=Disc Golf Heven
Pros: The Championship Level course at Highbridge brings all the elements of the course together with tight fairways, big bombers, ace runs and water holes. this course has it all without any little dinkers to fill it in. This is a must play if you make the trek to highbridge (which everyone needs to do).
Cons: There is no system to keep track of what pin position the basket is in, strongly suggest playing with at least three preferably four or more so you can team up to take on this monster and split up scouting/spotting duties.
Mosquitoes can get bad from the end of May to through June so bring the bugspray and long sleeves. Since this is a multiple course complex keeping up on the mowing can be a bear, check with John to make sure it is in decent shape.
Other Thoughts: I may be a little jaded just returning from my first highbridge Adventure. We played this beast in teams of three and I managed to hit in ace on hole 4, but on the way up we hit Blue Ribbon Pines, Bryant Lake and Mont Du lac and while those all have their perks, there is nothing like Highbridge in the world with 6+ Courses on one property, and this being the signature course (some might argue its Blueberry, but there is a reason this is the gold course), I have to give it a 5, please go and support John and have the time of your life at Highbridge Hills.
15 of 18 people found this review helpful.
19 Helpful / 1 Not
The gold standard
Pros: The course begins with six or seven holes with long, pleasant, tree-lined fairways that are not terribly wide. These are truly a test of how far you can throw with excellent placement. If you are the macho guy who only throws high-speed drivers off the tee, you are in for a humbling experience. The rough is not the worst I've seen by any means, but it will punish you. Many of these fairways also have small trees interspersed throughout the fairways, so playing multiple times will give you an idea of ideal landing spots for your next spot. You need to be thinking ahead.
Hole 8 changes pace in a dramatic way. It is over 1000 feet long down a gently rolling fairway. This hole gave me a feeling I usually only experience when skiing: the chuckling admiration of beautiful terrain you're about to rip through. Or in simpler terms, the feeling of "Whoa...really?" There is a pretty wide fairway to do your damage on, but it's thin enough that you need to keep it in control. You'll feel like a schmuck if you go in the rough and have a boring out shot on this hole. I'm anything but a grip-and-rip fanatic, and I loved this hole.
Hole 10 was one of my favorites, a long drive out to a left-sweeping fairway with an OB road on the right and a troublesome grove of pine trees to the left. They have no branches from the ground to about 4 feet, so you'll have a shot if you land in them, but it could be a forehand roller from your knees or a weird upside down shot. Fun hole.
The rest of the course features holes that are pretty similar to Granite Ridge: fairly long holes where staying on the fairway was crucial. Some of them were prairie fairways, others more wooded. Despite the monumental length, there were one or two ace runs as a nice respite.
Cons: Given the length, you never knew which position was in use, and you sure aren't going to walk these fairways before driving. Play this one more than once if time allows (I only got to play it the one time, unfortunately).
As with all the courses at Highbridge, the tee signs are mediocre. Some will show a straight shot when the fairway obviously bends. I'm skeptical of the distances shown (I think they underestimate the true distance). Some are faded and difficult to read.
All of the Highbridge courses have some issue with searching for discs. If you can play here with friends, do. I played this course more carefully and successfully avoided much of the tall grass, but it's not fun if you don't.
Other Thoughts: After playing Blueberry and Granite Ridge the previous day, I decided I was going to try to stay on the fairway no matter what, even if it meant a really unaggressive shot. I'm glad I did, and I'd recommend the same to anyone else. If you try to throw full drives, you'll end up in some bad spots and won't enjoy the course, and your score will suffer. I have never been so happy to shoot an 83.
I max out around 300 feet and don't usually enjoy ultra-long courses. I don't like playing in strong winds, and the day I played had sustained 30+ mph winds. And yet despite this, I had a blast playing this course. This is one that makes you realize what you need to do to get better. It's not about how far you can throw your warp-speed driver, it's about how far you can throw your putter and have a safe landing. If you have great long-distance accuracy with a faster disc, you just picked up some strokes.
I wish I could have seen the pros handle this at Worlds. And I can't wait to play it again.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
A slice of heaven
Pros: Another amazing course at HH. Long and tests your game in every aspect, shots, stamina, and mind. Not much to say that others haven't.
Cons: ...........A couple bigger trash cans but I'm sure that would help the bears more then us.
Other Thoughts: It might not be prefect in every possible way but its as close to perfect as any course I've played,(91 and counting). If you haven't made it to HH plan a trip, pack lots of food and drinks. Come to a wonderful inviting complex. It might not be your perfect city park but guess what its better. Your more with nature and the peace in your soul. Take a few minutes away from the disc golf to take it all in.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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