St. Francis Does Not Compliment My Game!
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: St. Francis Disc Golf Course is set behind the church of the same name. Upon driving up, I was immediately struck with rustic, Appalachian, one tooth in front, sort of feeling, And I don't necessarily mean this complementary. There is is a kiosk, old picnic table, benches and a sani can and it was all just kind of garage sale meets grandma's throwaways. The tee signs are homemade and fit right in with the rest of the decor. # 1 shows three basket positions of 320', 405' and 385'. A golf tee was stuck through the hole next to 385'. Later signs used sticks, old dried french fries, small animal bones and any material they could find. There is a locked donation box and I felt bad about only leaving my last dollar. The course does have nice concrete tee pads.
St. Frankie's has an abundance of some of my LEAST favorite disc golf course design features. In no particular order, they are blind basket placements, navigation issues and long straight, tunnel shots. Most course will have a sampling of each of these but at St. Francis, they were the norm. I don't believe I've ever played a course where the baskets were tucked away so well. I never found # 10 but that's OK because I never found a route to the basket. Maybe I was facing the wrong way? Navigation was a concern playing solo. I spent too much time trying to find my way. Starting at # 11 was the start of the tree farm gauntlet holes. And they went on and on and the baskets were still hidden. Finally on # 15, there was a basket visible and it was 300'. No problem, just fire your disc down there 300' on a line. Players who have played with me lately can testify that my maximum range while throwing a disc straight is about 75' tops. So it can be said that this course and I were not compatible.
However, on the plus side, I did think # 9 was a cool hole with three different routes available to players, straight through a minuscule window, an Annie around or a overhand over the top.
Cons: Kind of a grungy feel to everything.
Too many straight throws between rows of trees. I was bored by all these.
No route on # 10. I spent lots of time looking for it and never did find it. And all I accomplished was to get loster.
After playing # 16 on the power lines, I was so happy to come out into the open and I was greeted by ? A 280' gauntlet throw. Just scratch out my eye with a blackberry vine.
Other Thoughts: I don't think I've encountered a course more ill suited for my meager disc golf skills. The course is not that bad. Some players could flourish here. If I lived nearby and this was my only disc golfing possibility, I truly think I might contemplate a forced retirement. Might watch more Jeopardy.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
St Francis: Not the Patron Saint of DG
4 Helpful / 0 Not
• Fair variety with regard to fairway shapes, types and distances.
• Challenge appropriate for intermediate players, not too much for beginners,
• Tees, Baskets & Signs in pretty good condition. Signs even show current pin location.
• Front nine seemed decent, if unspectacular.
• Rotating pins keep things changing for locals
• Fun Factor: it's there, but nothing to write home about.
• Back 9 was weak, as if little to no effort was put into them. More strange/stupid than challenging.
• Too many pine tree tunnel shots... gets old fast. Just because they're memorable doesn't necessarily mean they're good.
• Navigation: not a complete disaster, but it's not good ... played with two other experienced players and we spent time looking for next tees, and needed help finding at least 3 holes. Also spent quite a bit of time searching for baskets, despite signs showing current location.
Other Thoughts: Not gonna spend much time on this review because I doubt I'm really helping anyone decide whether it's worth playing or not. St Francis simply is not a course worth traveling for, and nothing I say is going to affect whether locals do (or don't) play here. I can only recommend this course this course if you're already spending time nearby, or looking to bag a course to bump your courses played count.
18 decent tees, baskets and signs, by themselves, does not a good course make. It doesn't suck out loud, but if most of the courses I played were like this, I wouldn't be so enthusiastic about DG. The property doesn't necessarily stink. so I have to say it comes down' to weak design (particularly the back 9).
I've had a better time playing courses I've awarded 2.5's to, so call it a 2.25. If you're in search of a fun round, you can do better.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Tons of Potential
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Great mix of terrain, and good use of the site
-Very low traffic, decent signage
-Concrete tee pads, well maintained baskets
-Some very challenging lines, particularly on the back 9; the WPA pines provide a real challenge to lefties & righties
-Proximity to Gun Lake, a great vacation area of SW Michigan
-Decent flow to the course design
Cons: -Some holes really need "shaping" to provide some hint of a line
-Tough to lose a disc here, but until you really become familiar with the hole layouts be prepared to bushwhack
-I live in NY, so I only get to play here when we visit!
Other Thoughts: I've played several courses in SW Michigan over the years, and this one has a lot going for it. It is fairly well maintained, and aside from some pretty blind tee shots, is a tough but fair test for intermediate/advanced disc golfers. With some creative tree work, this course would continue to improve...
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Fun little course!
4 Helpful / 0 Not
-unique course I haven't seen to many with the similar turf and terrain
-cool friendly locals will happily guide and converse with you
-good mix of holes. Wooded and open
-good challenge you will need to hit tight lines
-decent baskets and cement tee pads
-fair signs with multiple basket placements
-clean with port a potty and trash receptacles
-secluded and plenty of places to sit
-lack of variety. Fairly flat ground
-really tight lines and fairways
Other Thoughts: -
-fun little course with one a few holes over 300'
-pretty flat. Wind plays a factor
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice, well kept course!!
Pros: -Cement tee pads throughout
-Trash cans and receptacles for pop and beer cans on nearly every hole.
-Fairly accurate, nice tee signs throughout
-Very well kept course, the fairways and greens were very well trimmed and course flow worked well...
-Benches and great break spots throughout the course.
-A good mix of technical holes mixed with ace runs...
-Clean and Easy to navigate for the most part, we had no problems with flow...
Cons: -Several holes are similar in nature
-I did have to run ahead on nearly every hole to see where the baskets were placed. the tee signs have 3 positions and so guessing which spot it was in was a mystery at times.
-Clouds of brutal mosquitos, not really a con overall, just come prepared.
-I didn't notice any restrooms...
-arrows or signs would be helpful in several spots , I was wondering which way to walk a few times but it was pretty easy to figure out...
Other Thoughts: This is a great little course behind a church. The people who were playing were very friendly and it seems to be a very nice well kept place to disc. I had a great time, enjoyed the course and found st francis church to be a lot of fun, Its worth checking out.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Full 18 hole course, with intermediate-level challenge. No holes less than 150 feet, but it does have two over 400. Holes 1, 2, 3 and 4 have fun, semi-open drives with many S-shaped flight paths available. Terrific new cement tee pads added last year bring this course up to respectable standards. Has some interesting, high-risk drives through narrow paths of tall pines. Good chainstar-type baskets. Free course!
Cons: Has some signage to help navigation, but could use improved signs at the tees. A slight cheapness factor with some of the forest holes, particularly the earthen border between Holes 13 and 14. Has some weird alternate pin positions. Primitive, low budget signing could be improved.
Other Thoughts: Consists mainly of meadow holes on the front nine with both meadow and forest holes on the back nine, a mix similar to Saugatuck's course at Shore Acres Park. Friendly high-school age locals helped with navigation. Seems to be fairly low-security despite being on church grounds. Watch for speed traps in nearby Martin if you are coming from the South and West.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Very Good Short to Medium Length Technical Course
Pros: The holes are interesting and varied in terms of open and wooded terrain and shot selection. You won't notice the lack of elevation on this property because of the complete lack of boring holes.
The property has excellent Disc Golf arability (despite being flat) with open areas containing lots of clusters of trees of all sizes, plus a tightly wooded area (with those WPA-style rows of pine trees) for several consecutive holes.
During my first round, I found myself saying this a lot after finishing a hole..."A-ha! Next time I'm going to throw a _______ instead," or, "I'm going to try a different angle," etc. That's a good sign.
Good shots are rewarded and bad shots are punished on almost every tee. That's also a good sign.
A premium is placed on precision for much of the course. If you enjoy that sort of Disc Golf...where holes are sometimes a puzzle to solve, but not necessarily a place to pull out your big driver and throw bombs all day...much of this course will be right up your alley.
Nice new cement tee pads for all 18 holes... Adequate DGA New Mach II baskets. It appears as though there are some alternate pin placements in use since I discovered some sleeves in the ground. That's always a plus.
I imagine this course won't see a ton of foot traffic due to its remote location, either.
Specific exceptional holes...Right off the bat at Hole #1, you're playing a 2-shot hole with several small, tight, challenging but fair windows from which to choose at the tee. This hole is a sterling example of playing "Puzzle Golf."
There's another unique one I liked (its # escapes me, but it's the one right before you enter the "WPA" or "Kimble Pines" portion of the course) where you choose between a very sharp anhyzer (that's more or less a layup for par) or you can play steeplechase with a row of pine trees at mid-length.
I actually did like a lot of the Kimball Pines/WPA style holes, at least the first 3/4 of their lengths. One of them that's notable is #12 (and perhaps the signature hole on the course?). It has you teeing down a long, long narrow and straight tunnel (maybe 350-400'? It feels like it, anyway...) that you can par if you execute two consecutive straight drives (perhaps with a midrange Disc) with no margin for error. The pin placement is a little wonky (see below in the "con" section), but other than that, it's fair and tough...especially if you nick a tree and veer off course crazily. I took a six once, and I parred it once. Not boring. None of the Kimball Pines/WPA holes are boring.
Finally, at long last, you get to grab your best long-distance driver and crank one on Hole #18. It was a legitimate full-out drive for me plus a lengthy upshot, and it had purposeful, small clusters of obstacles at several intervals throughout the hole, including a couple of small trees near the tee where you have to uncomfortably "buzz the tower" on them. The pin is tucked behind a nice cluster of trees (including a big one) near the parking lot. A good hole in its own right, and I'm not just saying that because it's the only truly open hole on the course and I was as relieved to play it as a thirsty person lost in the desert getting to drink a glass of water.
Cons: If you're looking for a more open course where you can take out your biggest driver and throw bomb after bomb after bomb, this isn't for you.
It seems to come with the territory of this brand of Disc Golf, but there are certainly instances of pin placements where blind luck is a factor for the second half of a hole. At least when that happens, the short game is more interesting. I found myself playing Twister with a lot of trees and branches to attempt putts after having executed good drives. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but good drives do indeed crash through stuff you can't see or plan for from the tee on a majority of the course, and a few of the pin placements are flagrantly bad in terms of this. (Some of them are in alternate placements. I saw empty basket sleeves in easier locations...)
Hole #14 is the poster child for this phenomenon. Located in the "WPA" portion of the course, it's reminiscent of the second half of old Cold Brook #9 when it was newer, but with added length. (I'd say it's 250'?) You do have a window and a direction through which to take aim, and once you execute it, you're playing "Plinko!" from the Price is Right after the hole's midpoint. Heck, probably earlier than that. It's a legitimate...and very tight and tough...little anhyzer hole with the removal of just two small trees, in my opinion. Still...It's not boring. :-)
The issue of signage and logistics has been addressed and noted from earlier reviews of this course. I don't pay much attention to those variables so long as the course isn't crazy. That's the case here, although I did have a couple of local people familiar with the course acting as my personal Sherpa. The trickiest point might be after finishing Hole #1. You have to almost double back from it to find Hole #2's tee which is in the direction of the southernmost boundary of the course. In most cases, you can look for where foot traffic has left paths, and in some cases, there are even crude arrows pointing you to where you're supposed to go. In any event, when courses don't have good signs, that con evaporates after a round or two and you've found where you need to go.
Lastly, I didn't notice any official place to relieve yourself...
Other Thoughts: The cactus!! I thought Shore Acres Park in Saugatuck had neat Michigan-style prickly pear, but this place takes the cake, especially in the first half of the course. It's all over the place. There was even evidence of it fruiting in a couple of clusters. Incredible.
The areas of the course not in the WPA pine woods reminded me of the terrain of the shorter holes in the sandy areas of Oxbow Park (Goshen, IN, my first-ever course). You've got that, and then you've got a flat version of Kimball Pines' tight holes (R.I.P.) for about 5 holes toward the end of the course.
About 15 years ago, I predicted that every small town in America would have a Disc Golf course, just like they have basketball and tennis. It's coming true. This, for God's sake, is <italics>Orangeville, MI</italics>. It makes nearby Martin look like an oasis of culture and bustling activity. I was surprised to not see someone playing a banjo on their porch.
And finally, this is a little gem of a course off the beaten path...on CHURCH property. There are scumbags leaving beer bottles and other trash strewn about. I even saw a whiskey bottle smashed to bits in one conspicuous location. I know a lot of people like to often flaunt public park rules and drink alcohol where it's verboten, as if they couldn't wait an hour to start drinking after the round. If that's you smashing whiskey bottles on a church Disc Golf course, would you please consider participating in other endeavors? Perhaps there's a Monster Truck rally in Grand Rapids you can go watch? ...
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Getting better, great location
Pros: Great out of the way location, on a very nice piece of quiet property. Layout is potentially very sweet, and so far with not a ton invested it is already looking good. all 18 holes are in, and nice baskets are set up. Lots of rest stop benches and tables.
**Update** as of June 24,2012 tee pads are in for about 13-14 holes. Course was trimmed up a bit too and looked very nice.
Cons: As stated in other reviews - navigation is tough on some holes. For the most part its easy enough to scout out, but there are a couple of holes where the tee is unmarked - 9/10 and 18 are worst.
Also - the wooded back nine is very tight in pathing, could use some trimming.
Other Thoughts: Print out a map from the links here before you play the first time, it will help a ton.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
keep on the straight and narrow or teh suxor for you
--property/aesthetic--nice piece of property behind an episcopal church. plenty of cactus(odd that we're so far from the lake) pine forest.
--baskets--nice DGA's. Grippy with orange bands on the riser.
--maps--available at the start, nice but I think some of the tees have changed
Cons: --NAVIGATION--in huge letters because it was a disaster. Trying to find where pins for the tees are is nightmarish in places. (which bleeds into..)
--Fairways--there are no definite fairways on over 50% of the holes. Makes navigation impossible in places (which bleeds into...)
--Signage/tees--Signage is missing on over 50% of the tees which makes the tees (which are just kick strips, sometimes, flags others) somewhat impossible to find. Prime example is #9 to #10. I ended up throwing to #11's baskets because it was the only one that made sense looking at a solid wall of trees but apparently you're supposed to muddle your way through big bushy pine trees (newb-hyzer style?) to a basket around the woods in a sand pit!?!? So confusing. The map did help in places in others, not so much
--Back 9--as has been said before, the back 9 sucks. throwing down 7' lanes of pre-planned trees with a 7'ceiling for >400' is redonkulous and stupid
Other Thoughts: the potential this place has is astounding, it just hasn't realized it yet. when it does, it should be a really quite good course!
also, updated the location from shelbyville to orangeville since the orangeville sign is 5' from the entrance to the church.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Let me first start out by giving a huge thank you to all who were involved with the development of the course. It's great to see new courses around the area being developed that clearly have smart people behind the wheel. For anyone interested, this course is now a full 18 with baskets. Anyways.
-Very nice shot variation required here. It would've been very easy to make this course a throw and go, but nearly every hole requires at least some thought process before throwing. Basket placement is very good with the exception of one hole (I think 8 or 9).
-Very well maintained (so far), nice setting and scenery. TONS of cacti. You wouldn't expect it, but look down and its very possible that you'll be standing near some.
-Course maps available on site. The maps are a little weird, to be honest, but navigation isn't too bad, generally there are signs and paths to mark the way, although sometimes scouting the hole ahead is necessary to even know where to shoot.
-Could very possibly become (or maybe already is) camping friendly. There are more than a couple areas around the course that are out of the fairways that could definitely house a campsite. I will look into it.
-Nice hole variation going from front to back 9. Completely different courses almost.
Cons: -Dirt tee pads, I expect something else will likely be put in, as they were just recently able to afford the full 18 baskets. Something for the future.
-When I played this in the summer, it was unbearably overgrown in some places, ESPECIALLY on the back nine. I played the full 18 on 11/3/2011, and it was much much better. Hard to tell whether or not it was because of the season change or maintenance that had been done, either way, wear pants and shoot straight.
-(Opinion)Back nine gets old, quickly. This is one of those courses that will evolve over time and become more friendly, but as of now, some of the holes on the back nine are simply lane-less. The first few aren't too bad, very tight and low fairways, but it just keeps going.
Other Thoughts: All in all, I really really like what has been created here and I do recommend for anyone in the area to check it out. I have heard that a few tournaments were held here recently, which I also like to hear.
I live about the same distance from this course and from Robert Morris, and while I enjoy Robert Morris a lot, I will likely play this course much more often, not only because it is free, but because the difficulty level is slightly lower. It may not have the elevation changes like RoMo does, but it certainly makes you vary your shots and has everything even a seasoned disc golfer would enjoy.
With teepads and a couple changes to the back 9, this course becomes a solid 4 for me.
Disc Golf in Michigan lives.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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