Major Course Upgrades
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (3.192 Rating) A heavily wooded technical course.
- COURSE UPDATE - From reading a bunch of reviews, there appears to have been a sizable update towards the end of 2016. There are several reviews that had rightfully mentioned the con for the re-use of fairways. However, the re-use of the fairways is no longer present, and the Flying Dragon is now a full 18 hole course with 18 stand-alone fairways.
- RAW BEAUTY - Wow is this course is charming. I pulled out my camera several times to snap pictures. The larger field stones on many holes have bright green moss on them and its appearance really added a euphoric touch that I wasn't expecting. Of the 33 courses I've played in Alabama as of this review, I have Flying Dragon slotted as the fourth most beautiful behind Inverness, Clay and The Eagle.
- EXTRA BASKETS - 5 holes have extra baskets (3), (5), (11), (12) and (17). Definitely a bonus to see a feature like this as it adds an extra element skill level friendliness. The course map indicated an extra basket on hole (14) as well, but it was not there on my October 2017 round.
- CHARACTER - Above average. In addition to the extra baskets, it was great to see two practice baskets spaced 200 feet apart. Great updated course map and community board on the approach to tee (1). Tees weren't the greatest (see cons) but they were almost all shaded and there were a few seating areas and garbage cans spaced along the layout.
- NAVIGATION - I had only a couple backtracking issues but it was partially my fault by starting on hole (3) and not being there to snap a photo of the course map. A lot of the walks between holes have an intuitive path to take and there are next tee directional arrows on the hole signage.
- CHALLENGING - I loved the intensity of the needle lines on this course. There were several times I stood on the tee only to walk off and grab another disc. Being able to perform magic tricks may seem like the only way to run it to the basket clean. I played the short baskets out here and just cracked par as an intermediate level player. Advanced players playing to the back baskets will probably average two or three down. So with this in mind, the back baskets read as advanced and the front baskets read as intermediate. Rec players who can throw straight but lack distance will probably enjoy the engaging challenges as well.
- UNIQUENESS - About average, but for courses without elevation or water features, really good. To start, lots of crafty tunnel shots. There are several twisting fairways in both directions. Some are abrupt pockets while others are gradual bends. There is one par 4 on (12) which I would consider a moderate dogleg. There is one shot which starts in the woods and ends in an open field, hole (14). (14s) basket also kind of lies in a sinkhole surrounded by bedrock. It was a very fun and unique basket condition to putt at. Finally, I'll mention (18), which is definitely the oddball in the layout as it's the only open shot. There is lots of beautiful landscaping along this hole but the ending looks like a built-up dirt pile.
Cons: Only a couple issues with flying dragon, but the first three noted below are correctable.
- TEES - They are artificial turf over gravel. From the old pictures I looked at, they appeared to look great at one time, but that is no longer the case. Several holes are uneven now and are beginning to show pitting. A few of the holes have completely lost the artificial canvas and are now straight up gravel tees. Hole (14s) tee which incorporates a slab of natural stone looks great on appearance, but is a bit sketchy to throw from. All stated, these tees are still much better than natural tees. It would be nice to update these tees to concrete in the next year as their condition will increasingly become more of an issue.
- OPEN HOURS - What horrible park hours. The park gates close at 4PM on weekdays and do not open on weekends unless there's a special event. The disc golf course itself is open from sunrise to sundown.
- PARKING - Players that choose to play here when the park gates are closed, say a Saturday afternoon, they will have to park their car 1500 feet away from tee (1). There is also a sign warning of towing for vehicles left after sunset.
- TERRAIN - Players that have bad knees or ankles should probably avoid of playing here. There are lots of rocks on many fairways and I personally smacked a couple smaller stumps and tree roots. Despite being mostly flat, this course does not appear to be cart friendly.
- NO ELEVATION - As stated above, this course is on a really flat site. I don't think any of the holes change more than ten feet, up or down.
- BEGINNER FRIENDLY - Players with under 50 rounds in the bag should stay clear of this course. Way too may tight lines for players not adjusted to releasing at a consistent point. The Flying Dragon should be a good course for recreation players, especially those players that enjoy a tough challenge and those who won't easily get frustrated when they hit a tree on 4 or 5 consecutive tee shots.
Other Thoughts: Players that prefer technical courses will love this place. It won't coddle players throwing errant shots every which way direction like at many other sports complex courses I've played. Players that do however prefer the more open and forgiving layouts should consider nearby Sparkman Park. There is still room for improvement at the Flying Dragon, especially with the tees. I could definitely see myself uping the rating to 3.5 at a future date if the course continues to improve. I definitely look forward to playing here again.
- TIME PLAY - Expect a typical four sum to play a round in about two hours, give or take.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Technically demanding: tight lines through the forest, with shots that veer off the fairway being pretty heavily punished due the density of the underbrush etc. I found myself discing down and accepting less distance to gain control on quite a few holes, and realizing I probably should have done so on a few more. Did not feel repetitious at all: pretty much every hole felt like a fresh challenge. Design: success.
Tee pads are fake green stuff (think putt-putt course) over gravel in a wooden frame. It's a novel setup to me, but I like it. Tee signs are reasonably illustrative color signs on metal, and indicate multiple positions where present, distances, and par (3 throughout, except for the long pin on 11). Baskets are new Discatchers, and the few that are suspended are still at "normal" height. Also, on nearly all (or maybe all... now I'm unsure) of the holes with two pin positions, there are two baskets, allowing play to either the longer pins or the shorter as desired.
Practice area is pretty sweet. Two baskets, well apart from one another, with room enough to work some practice upshots as well as putt.
Cons: Almost completely flat, but that's the land that was available, as far as I can tell. Given everything else this course demands, this doesn't wind up feeling like much of a noticeable drawback - it's mostly level, but not a field by any means.
One hole tees off from a textured spot on a large rock, which provides little room to step up to your shot.
Barbed wire fences at a few points that hide well in the woods.
Pretty short, aside from one hole which was pushing the short end of par 4.
Dead as can be - never seen another soul out here playing.
Other Thoughts: Older reviews mention 12 fairways, with 6 being partially reused to make 18 holes. This is no longer the case. There are 18 completely separate holes.
There are a few tees that are just gravel in a frame without the turf/carpet stuff yet, but they're just as serviceable/playable for the time being, whether played with a run-up/step-up or not.
About the terrain: Rough, rocky. Mostly level, but this feels like a small hike nonetheless. If you drive a cart, expect to have to pick it up a lot. Also, the flying dragon has to be mentioned. It is way worse than a regular brier plant, with pinkie-sized spikes. I might recommend pants if you expect to go off the fairway very many times. There are particularly large clumps of it right of the fairway on 16 and left of the white pin on 14, and boy, do they put the sh in shule. Also, if playing in a group, consider spotting each other on 18. The rough is exceptionally tall (though less spiky than elsewhere).
Check out the photos here on DGCR - they give a good impression of the course's character.
Overall, I really do recommend local-localish players stop by when they have the chance. I feel like this is a course that really challenges accuracy in about as many ways as could be fit in. It isn't one of those top N "has it all" courses, but it is quite technical and quite enjoyable.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Flying Dragon course is a creative 18-hole technical woods course. I appreciate the thought put into the theme of the course (the name and the lettering on the signs) to go along with the imported signature foliage found throughout the course.
The overall design is good. It is what you would expect from a parks course of this type. There is some variety in distance from hole to hole and the fairways are shaped with straight, left, and rights. The very creative dual fairways make the most out of the given space giving the round 18 holes vs 12. I liked that these dual fairways had baskets in very different locations ensuring the tee shots were not repetitive.
The turf-covered tees here are sufficient they were flat and in good shape. The Discatchers are in great shape and have numbers on them.
The signs are terrific, colorful, and detailed. They clearly explain the hole numbering and which tees are shared and who has the priority to tee off if groups arrive at the same time playing different holes. There is also plenty of good navigation signs, which are important since you loop back to many tees twice, so there are lots of paths from holes to other holes. I had no trouble finding my way the first time playing here. The large course map at the parking area is also very nice and informative.
Also included is one of the best practice areas around with 2 baskets-1 by itself in a well-manicured grassy area (like a ball golf putting green) another near a tree and small hill with a putting game of 21 built around it. The rules for the game were posted on the tree and the basket is surrounded by several multi-colored stone markers worth different point values- very cool!
Cons: I felt a couple of the holes on the back 9 need some wearing in still (understandable being a relatively new course), the terrain on these holes was still pretty rough and there was lots of dead or dying foliage in the fairways ruining the beauty that is found on most other holes.
Some of the paths between holes were overgrown, a challenge in the summer to maintain I know.
The dual holes work for sure, but I do think 18 separate holes is preferred (which seems to be in the long term plans for the course.)
I do wonder what impact the dual tees would have when the course is crowded or during a tournament, it might get backed up waiting on others to tee off if groups get there at the same time (instructions say to defer to the higher number hole.)
Other Thoughts: This is a decent technical wooded course that should only get better over time as the course wears in a bit. Be sure to bring good shoes as some holes on the back play over lots of rocks and many paths on the back are large rock stepping stones. Also, be careful if wet.
I could not figure out the purpose of the two hanging baskets (3 and 9) that were suspended above the ground at normal height. There were no issues with their playability, just seemed unnecessary to hang them considering they were placed over ground that appears it could have been installed the normal way.
I could see myself, if playing here regularly, just throwing two drives off each dual fairway and playing both holes at the same time if there was a way to do this and not skip other holes, example: 1, 2, 6/3, 4, 5/7, 8, 15/9, 10, 11, 16/12, 13/17, 14/18.
Overall, I enjoyed the course and would not mind playing here again in the future.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Challenging, but one of the best courses I have played. I enjoy the scenery as it relates to the name. The dragon is unforgiving and relentless on your golf game. If you want to hone your throwing skills you must play this course.
Cons: Course has many rocks and thorns which relates to the theme. Dress appropriately for these conditions.
Other Thoughts: Come slay the Dragon if you can. Perfect theme for this Dragon of a course.
Whomever designed this course did a great job. A lot of work was done to make this experience so enjoyable.
0 of 6 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
Fun in the Shade
Pros: Well layed out, challenging, map on each hole.
Cons: Lots of undergrowth if you get off course. Watch out for poison ivy.
Other Thoughts: Short course because entire course is layed out in dense woods. Narrow fairways but a fun course to play, even for a beginner as long as you don't become frustrated.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The tees are astroturf-covered gravel beds for the most part and while uneven, aren't generally problematic. A few of the tees are starting to age with use and weather but most are in good shape. Most of the fairways were "paved" with wood chips which help with defining the fairway. There are tiny garbage cans scattered throughout the course. Navigation is pretty easy with the provided signage/indicators. The hole signs are great and provide all the necessary info. The holes are pretty balanced from a righty/lefty standpoint and reward line-shaping with many birdie opportunities and the occasional ace run on the front nine. The underbrush exists, but it isn't overwhelming and wayward discs were easily located. I'm always a fan of hanging basket and the one on 6 was a surprise that I enjoyed!
The course is nominally flat with some typical north Alabama rocks and scrub throughout. The last few holes featured this terrain and had some signature feel to them. Plenty of length too. Overall the course reward straight-shooting mid and fairway placement without catering to big arm egos. You hit your line or you're adding a stroke on pretty much every hole.
Cons: The choice to use the astroturf-on-gravel for the tee design is somewhat questionable as I know from experience that this construction can deteriorate quickly and provide a somewhat hazardous tee in the future. Currently, the bulk of the tees are level and in pretty good condition. There's on walk that's a little long (13 to 14) and the trail could use some beating in, but wasn't too bad really. The garbage cans don't have the largest capacity so they fill quickly.
There is some real proximity issues in the front 9 as several tees/fairways/baskets are really close to each other. However, nothing some heads up play won't address.
The way the course utilizes double fairways is both a pro and a con, in my opinion. While I appreciate the effort into getting a full 18 holes into the limited land available, it does add a touch of repetition to the course. If there is the ability to expand this course, this nitpick will quickly disappear. As it stands currently, a busy course might make for some confusion and frustration.
The operating hours for the soccer complex may turn off a few people, but parking outside of the gate and walking in wasn't a big deal.
Other Thoughts: The bulk of this course is of the short, technical, line-shaping quality through the woods. Balanced play, plentiful parking and a couple of practice baskets are all great features. The double-use fairways are a unique solution to a available land issue, but aren't that big of a detractor from a solid addition to the north Alabama golf scene. While not the longest course, it was both challenging and fun and I look forward to playing it again.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
landscaped with Rocks!
Pros: Placement, a technical course. Very nice looking landscape, the fairways were paved with wood chips. The rocks are very cool and unique to the course. Very nice local players! Great signs, best I have seen, and new baskets. More than one basket (usually) per hole.
Cons: Shorter course, no longer open holes. No water hazards, still not completed. (as of 3-12-13).
Other Thoughts: I gave this a 3 disc rating, but will be surprised if this course does not shoot higher as soon as the final 18th hole is put in. There were two new holes in the ground when I played. They were great holes, using the natural terrain with the rock formations, it was beautiful. The rocks (and they were profuse) add some difficulty as they can stop a drive dead or they can give it a serious skip.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Finally a course in Decatur
Pros: Nice new baskets
Short for new players
Great for working on accuracy instead of distance
Informative map a beginning
Most holes have multiple 2 basket locations
Practice basket outside of course
Cons: Put at Jack Allen Complex which is only open 7-5 Mon-Fri...closed on weekends when most can play. So on weekends must park at gate and walk uphill to the course to the left.
Will be a whole lot better when the other holes are completed.
Can be a little rough in the summer with the vegetation...a lot of thorns.
Needs concrete pads instead of outdoor carpet.
Other Thoughts: Nice course that's not yet completed (only 10 holes)...if u do not have a lot of time its a good place to go with a good mid range and putter and be done within a hour or could play twice. Again would be nice of the city to actually put it somewhere that was 7 day accessible but hey it is a start, would have gave it 3 instead of 2.5 cause of this.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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