4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: It is mentioned in every review, but the way elevation changes are utilized by this course is phenomenal! Along with its other great strength, the way it utilizes the various creeks to create dynamic holes, with consequential OBs, this course is very memorable. It travels up-and-down and all around the woods of R.L. Smith Park, and at times you might honestly forget you are in Charlotte, NC. Especially when you consider you are likely to play a full round without running into anyone else on the course. (Definitely don't have to worry about waiting behind a small group to finish playing their hole.)
There are a variety of shots needed to get clean drives off the tees, without ever feeling very repetitive. Some holes even have dual fairways with multiple lines. Some holes also had some fun lines to throw that might not be readily apparent to newer players. (Hole 3's amazingly fun spike hyzer line comes to mind.) Luckily this course is located almost entirely in the shaded woods, because the up-and-downs would get unbearable if left exposed during Charlotte's muggy summers.
The park features some of the cleanest bathrooms I have ever seen at a public park, water fountains, and more. The course has various benches and a couple trash cans throughout.
Cons: The rough in the summer has a tendency to get out of control. Holes 1-4 almost become legitimate island green drives. If you miss your line, you might end up saying "goodbye" to your disc.
Despite reviews here, I found the signage between holes fairly lacking. While there are some signs, I ended up at the wrong tee on more than one occasion. This could get very frustrating due to the quick elevation changes.
The mosquitoes on some of the holes near the creeks can get pretty bad in the summer month. Make sure you wear your bug repellent or eat a banana before playing here. (Fun Fact: Mosquitos are less likely to bite you if you eat bananas.)
Hole 18 is already showing signs of erosion problems from people cutting straight down the fairway instead of taking the trail on the right side of it.
Other Thoughts: All-in-all R.L. Smith is a great course, and definitely has a unique feel to it when compared to other Charlotte courses. It is worth noting that I have only played in the summer, but I don't see it becoming a regular course in my summer-time rotation. The course is too overgrown, the navigation is a bit too cryptic, and the mosquitoes and ticks were pretty bad. Right now I can't rate this higher than a 3.5, it seems on par with many of Charlotte's other courses. (Especially when I consider that many of them are in better shape at the moment as they are getting cleaned up for 2018's Am World Champs.) But I will be back in the fall and/or winter time to re-evaluate this score because I really believe this course has potential to earn a higher score from me.
I will also admit that seeing this course with a rating over 4.0 may have raised the hype up too much, but this course has been on my To-Do list for years. Hopefully when I come back under better conditions, and more realistic expectations, the course will grow on me. If you choose to play here in the summer, make sure you check for ticks during and after your round. I pulled off 2-3 today.
Favorite Holes: 3, 12, 18
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Signs are great, I can't see people getting lost looking for holes.
-Seems like a solid amount of different options off the tee. I feel like I throw the same number of backhands and forehands. There is a even a hole with the teepad pointed in 2 different directions, which is pretty cool.
-There is a park area between the parking lot and the first tee box with nice bathrooms.
-Practice basket before the first tee.
-Fair amount of OB - I was happy to stay out of the creek yesterday, but I've been in it before.
-Elevation - it is used so well throughout, on multiple holes. The contrast between uphill on 2/9/12 and downhill on 3/8/16 come to mind, but elevation comes into play throughout. 18 is also a cool ending throwing downhill over a big ravine.
-I love that most holes are in the woods, very secluded. Makes those hot days a little more bearable.
Cons: -The rough on a few holes can get pretty rough, but I guess that's the point of rough. I wish I was good enough to stay out of it.
-There are a couple of blind tee shots that can make things difficult if you play alone. I spent more time looking for a couple of errant tee shots than I'm used to (8 and 10).
-Only two par 4's. Even though it is much more difficult than a pitch and putt par 3, I wish there were a few longer holes.
Other Thoughts: I really like this course. It is one of my favorites in the Charlotte area. I think I would bump my score up to 4.5 if there were a few more par 4's or 5's thrown in.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Very good, but Charlotte offers better
5 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: + Excellent use of elevation. There are elevation changes on every hole. This is RL's biggest strength. The elevation is used well, and the up and downs are frequently drastic. It helps keep the course feeling diverse hole to hole and avoid feeling repetitive.
+ Great variety of lines offered by the course. Straight shots, left turning holes, right turning holes. Excellent pin placement on many holes, e.g. #7 and #14, creates good risk / reward for a par 3.
+ The stream comes into play during many holes and adds to the risk on certain shots. #4 and #8 are much more interesting with the OB water in play.
+ Plenty of shade and benches, two things anyone golfing during summer in Charlotte will appreciate.
- Not as heavily played as other Charlotte courses. There are at least 6 or 7 more popular courses than RL, so you're more likely to go an entire round not seeing anyone.
Cons: - Only two par 4's and no par 5's. The vast majority of these holes are drive then putt, drive then putt. This is easily RL's biggest downside to me, as courses like Nevin and Renny Gold offer more par 4's and par 5's, which make the course feel more interesting and diverse. 16 par 3's automatically disqualifies it from being Charlotte's premiere course. The elevation changes help keep the course from feeling repetitive overall, but it would have benefited from a higher par in my opinion.
- Some boring holes. #2 I've never taken a par or worse on, easy putter anhyzer. #12 is pretty but super easy. #6, #13, #15 and #17 are easy pitch and putt flicks, #11 I don't care for, #16 is a gimmie birdie if you avoid going long, #18 has cool elevation as play but its just a basic 300' straight shot.
- Continuing from above, basically almost half the holes here are simple pitch and putt birdie holes. The other half feature awesome elevation changes, fun pin placements and interesting OB usage, but that's only half the course.
Other Thoughts: I think RL Smith is overrated. When I think of the top courses Charlotte offers within the 485 loop, three courses come to mind. Renaissance Gold, Nevin, and Hornets Nest. I've always found RL Smith to be a notch below those courses, although it would be towards the top of my list of "Charlottes second-tier courses"
That's not to say this is a bad course by any stretch of imagination. Charlotte is an area you have to view within context - it has an abnormally high concentration of disc golf courses, and many of them are very good. Charlotte's 6th or 7th best course would easily be a destination course in a normal city that has 1-3 18 hole courses courses.
There is a lot of difference of opinion of which ones are the best, but if I had to list my favorite Charlotte 18 hole course down to RL, it would look like this:
1. Renny Gold
2. Hornets Nest Web
4. Angry Beaver
So its surprising seeing RL within .05 to .10 of courses that to me are clearly a cut above it. I don't see how RL and Renny Gold could essentially share the same rating. Renny Gold has much more epic holes (#2, #13, #14, #18), more par 4's, two par 5's, is a more diverse and challenging course overall and has two other courses on site. RL offers more shade and to me that's the only thing it has over Renny.
But, like I said, none of that is to take anything away from this being a great course. It just so happens to be situated next to a handful of better courses. I think RL is loved because it offers a diverse wooded course with that signature Charlotte feel, but isn't quite as intimidating as the toughest courses in the area. If that's your speed, you'll love RL, but if you truly want to be tested, you're better off at Nevin / Renny Gold / Angry Beaver / Hornets Nest Web.
If I could rate it a 3.75 I would. I'm going with 3.5 instead of 4 because I think the courses rating is slightly inflated as it currently stands.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Course in the Charlotte Mountains
2 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: -great layout
-some of the best elevation in the Charlotte area
-beautiful in the summer
-less rough in the winter
-Charlottes best course that is easier than gold level
-18 is an epic finishing hole
-no hole feels the same
-never crowded (play every week and only seen three people in the last 4 months)
-ace run and difficult birdies
Cons: -summer bugs can be pretty bad
-rough is very rough
-sometimes the sewer that runs along a few holes can smell (very rarely)
-18 needs stairs
-Teepads could be bigger
Other Thoughts: This might be overrating this course a little bit. Its a 4 star course but it's the best 4 star course in the area. I just wouldn't feel right giving this 4. My home course Bradford is a definite 4 but, I much prefer this course over that one. There are just more epic and unique holes here.
2 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Beautiful, hilly and challenging layout
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I've only been playing for a few months, so this one is from the perspective of a real beginner. I am a lifelong "regular" golfer, trying out disc golf now as an alternative.
I've played about half a dozen courses in the Charlotte area lately, and this one is by far my favorite. One great aspect of this course location is proximity to downtown. It only takes about 15-18 minutes from the center of Charlotte to get here. The park itself is really nice, with good restrooms and water fountains. I didn't feel at all like this one was in a sketchy neighborhood. I believe this is close to where the old Pawtuckett golf course used to be.
I'd say this layout is 95% through wooded areas, with a small portion on #2 basket and #3 tee that pops out into an open area. That being said, it makes for a major challenge for beginners. There is no shortage to variety on the holes, right from the beginning. Very few are actually flat, too. You will face a great deal of elevation gain and loss on this layout. It feels like you are playing and/or hiking through a mountain area.
Course designers did a fantastic job weaving this around Paw Creek and some of its tributaries. You get up close and personal very quickly at the basket on #4, perched fairly close to the edge on two sides. #5 is a really nice hole as well, with a fairly wide fairway gradually climbing uphill and to the right. There's a great bend in the creek with big rocks just below the basket here.
Hole #12 was by far one of my favorites. Tee pad is built into a square deck with benches that overlooks Paw Creek. The hole goes straight uphill with a basket perched in the middle of a big outcrop of granite boulders. Excellent hole!
One of the other back nine holes has has two fairway routes with dual tee pad. The most drastic of all elevation changes comes on #18. What a finish! From the tee pad I think the hole drops about 40-50 feet down to the creek and then slightly back uphill to the basket. Let one go off this tee pad and watch it sail forever.
Cons: I honestly can't think of any drawbacks of this course. I'd say it isn't the easiest track to throw on if you are a real beginner, but I had a blast. You also need to be in fairly good shape to be ready to trek up and down some steep hills. Also, be prepared if you chuck some wayward shots to walk across some rocks to pull a disc out of the creek.
Other Thoughts: I will definitely make this a regular stop for me, because it is such a short drive from downtown Charlotte. If you are a disc golfer flying in/out of Charlotte-Douglas and you do have some time to spare, this is very close by the airport. I'd highly recommend it to anybody.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: -Good signage
-Excellent variety of terrain with elevation as well as water hazards
-adequate tee pads
-Challenging but Fair
-multiple fairways on some of the holes
-interesting use of rock formations to tuck baskets into the hillside
Cons: May be a little too tough for beginners, multiple teepads would be nice on some holes
The course could use a few more "to the next tee" arrows/signs for non-locals
Tough/slippery terrain may not be suitable for some people
Other Thoughts: I had a ton of fun playing this wooded course, on my way through Charlotte,
had 1 birdie on 12, putting up into the rocks/basket from below- a lot of pars and a few bogeys/double boges :(
It's not a course for the faint of heart, or beginners, or non athletic people, the terrain/footing is hazardous especially with the wet leaves, and rather extreme elevation changes
Overall- a very nice and well built/designed course
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Extremely Fun, Challenging Course
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - The signage at this course is outstanding. The signs are very detailed, have not been vandalized, and are easy to read.
- There is a great mix of long holes and short holes on this course which make it fun. A few holes are even aceable.
- There is a lot of elevation changes on the course. I had fun trying to navigate the steep hills with my throws.
- The course is very well maintained and is pretty clean for a public course.
- I loved that 3 holes (3, 11, and 13) had a right track and left track to throw down. I've never seen this on any of the courses I've played and it is a a great idea to let players mix it up.
- Although there is a creek and river bed that go through the course, there really isn't much in the way of water hazards. The only holes you really need to watch yourself on are 4, 8, and possibly 7
- I loved the U-turn hole (#9). That was just a fun hole made challenging by the U-turn and mando.
- My favorite hole of the course was probably #12. There is a very nice, elevated tee box and you throw towards a basket up on a pile of rocks.
- The location is real close to the airport. So for those traveling, it is really easy to get to via taxi or rental car.
Cons: - This is not a good course for younger players or those with mobility issues due to the steep terrain.
Other Thoughts: This is one of the best courses I've ever played. It had everything...short holes, long holes, elevation, lots of trees (some with openings, some with a tight fairway). Most importantly, it was a lot of fun. I'll definitely come back to this course next time I'm in Charlotte.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: RL Smith is a BEAST. I always compare courses to other similar ones I've played. I've never played anything quite like RL Smith. The best way to describe it, again, compared to what I've played, is this: "If Rock Ridge and Highland Hills had a baby, it would be RL Smith." Explanation: Rock Ridge is an exceptionally fun, well-designed wooded course with some great par 4's, variety, and everything you could want in a challenging course. That is RL Smith. On the other hand, Highland Hills has crazy elevation--huge downhills, uphills, boulders, and death putts. That is also RL Smith!
+ Terific variety. This course will test every shot in your arsenal.
+ The elevation is off the charts. Some holes are incredibly steep, but if you like watching the flight of the disc, you'll love this course.
+ Fast greens! That may not be a pro as you watch your putt sail past the basket and roll 100 feet away, but if you like the challenge and risk/reward, again, you'll love RL Smith.
+ Multiple ways to play some holes (hyzer and anhyzer routes).
+ I liked the use of the creek running through several holes in the course.
+ The fairways are beaten in pretty good, and there's some erosion, but overall it's a very pretty and peaceful wooded park.
+ Playground, bathroom, fields at the entrance.
Cons: Not much that I could think of, but a few cons knocked it down slightly:
- Missing tee signs on about 2-3 holes, forcing you to walk up the fairway and figure out where the basket is.
- As with any course with serious elevation, you've got to be a little caustious that you don't slip or wipe out. That's not a knock. But the walk from tee to basket on hole 18 is especially steep and slippery. You're forced to run down the hill and hope for the best. Stairs would be nice here!
Other Thoughts: This course will kick your butt and you will like it! I had 1 hour to play it. Some locals at the first tee told me there would be no way to finish in an hour. I'd say that's right if you play at a normal pace. I'd plan for 2 hours. However, in my case, I jogged it and, amazingly, did finish in an hour. BUT it nearly killed me. Don't try that, but do try this course!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
First Impressions: Not easy!
Pros: Beautiful course, challenging, uphill, downhill, tight shots, very fun course to play. Really a nice walk through the woods, kind of felt like going on a little hike while playing, the wife had a good time just walking around.
Some holes here presented some very interesting shots I haven't experienced before, Looking at you #2!
The tee box areas and greens were pretty well maintained, it was good to see trash cans around I just wish people would use them.
Cons: Not entirely a con, but while the course is absolutely playable by anyone, it can be rough on a beginner. Some of the water hazards are HAZARDS for sure, and there are a couple of pretty difficult holes. If you're a beginner just expect that you're going to double bogey a handful and have a good time. :)
Also, my legs hurt!
Other Thoughts: I was born and raised up in New Hampshire, the woodsy setting of this course really reminded me of back home, great course to play just for the walk in the woods. Definitely a favorite.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Intimidating but fun
Pros: Very challenging championship level course that would aimed for intermediate to pro level players.
Baskets - 18 Innova Discatchers that were in perfect shape. No issues at all. A practice basket on site with markers to get warmed up.
Tees - One large concrete tee per hole. Very grippy and easy to find.
Signs - Signs were great. Billboard at the start with info. Signs at each hole had a map, distance, par, etc. Arrows throughout the course pointing you to where you need to go. Some were painted on trees. Really helped with navigation.
Variety - Right from the get go, this course is intimidating. Course is extremely wooded and extremely hilly. Many tight gaps that will make or break your day. Elevation on every hole expect for 4. Several uphill and downhill wooded shots as well as some longer holes through the woods requiring accuracy. A few chances for aces on the back 9. Multiple holes had a shallow creek running through or along them. Multiple blind shots due to elevation, woods, rocks, or all of the above. Course requires extreme accuracy as well as the ability to launch one. The rough is rough so if you get off the path, you will spend plenty of time locating it.
Elevation - Elevation is a major factor at this course. Not only do you need to be able to place your throw through the woods, but you need to be able to throw it up and down moderate to extreme changes in elevation.
Course gets easier after hole 3. Survive those and you are in the clear.
The paths in between the holes added to this beauty of this course. Even if you just walked the course without throwing, you would enjoy it.
Restrooms and water fountain on site. Also a playground for kids if they join in.
Large rocks on 9 and 12 with the basket on top of them. Very cool and unique feature.
Benches and trash bags at every hole. Helps to keep it clean.
Cons: Course is not beginner or intermediate friendly. An added set of amateur concrete tees on every hole (especially on 1 and 3) would take this course from a 4.5 to a 5.
Some of the holes need to be cleared a little more. Starting to grow in more than it appears it was intended to be. Can spend a lot of time looking for discs.
Trash along holes 2-4.
Long walk from hole 18 to parking lot. Room to expand and add a few holes to make more of a complete loop.
Other Thoughts: I absolutely loved this course. My second favorite in Charlotte behind Nevin. It was easy to navigate, it was very scenic and peaceful, it was challenging, and it was very enjoyable even though it was intimidating. What more can you ask for in a course?
I would recommend this course to any intermediate or pro level player in the area or traveling through. It was tough but it was worth it. The only way not to like it is if you find yourself off of the fairway.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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