3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: George Ward Park, home to the nearly three decades old disc golf course, is a Birmingham classic. Named after the city's mayor from the early 1900's, Ward was a proponent of park land and oversaw the purchase of the 100 acres at Green Springs, which of course now bears his name. Fun fact, to encourage public use of the parks, he had signs warning people to "Keep Off the Grass" removed. That's something to ponder as we play along the grassy rolling hills of this beautiful course.
Look for rolling hills, green grass (freshly cut if you time it right), mature trees, manicured fairways, rock features, and a creek. It's all here in this excellent city park. And while not a natural feature, there's also a network of out-of-bounds sidewalks helping to define the fairways or shape the greens. Park roads do step in from time to time as well. These areas are aptly but sometimes disparagingly referred to as "concreeks," depending on how well you avoid them. There are a few holes that tip toe into the wooded hole description but overall this is a fairly open course with again, mostly large mature trees that are as much about the aesthetics as obstacles. Look for several mando's that will tighten a few of the holes as well.
The holes, given their open nature, surprisingly give a good variety of shots. Besides the diversity in hole lengths, there is a certain amount of shot shaping and placement necessary to score well. And of course, the rolling hills bring in some elevation shots that make the course interesting and fun. Overall, despite a similar landscape across the course, the layout does a great job keeping you from getting a sense of repetitiveness. What's more, you'll find two permanent baskets on each hole. Besides providing a shorter and longer option, some creative combinations can always keep things fresh. For example, try winner of the hole picks the basket on next hole or play short on odd holes and longs on even. This obviously provides almost an endless combination. And keep in mind, there are three pin locations, so look for baskets to be moved for even more fine tweaking. It would be hard to predict or track the exact measurement of the course without some unnecessary accounting. But you could probably figure around 6300' for the main 18-hole course, add about 1660' for the six-hole spur.
Note, the additional six-hole bonus run in a more wooded area (holes A-F). I sort of got the impression they are like an unsung step child both in terms of design and maintenance. And while I did look at a few lines, a tourney round and sudden pouring rain kept me from playing them. Pictures on the site as of this review look much cleaner than what I saw in person. With that said, I love shorter wooded holes and they would offer a change of pace and quench the thirst of a more precise, shorter throwing player.
Besides the dual basket feature, the course and park have lots to offer as well. You'll find a generous parking area, situated perfectly at hole 1 and 10, tying in the two nine-hole loops. You'll discover all the info you need at a kiosk complete with a course map and such. Once you make your way to hole one and starting your round, you'll notice a nice paver path and mulched/landscaped area around a roomy concrete tee. It certainly welcomes you to the course. The nice and roomy concrete pad theme continues throughout the layout. Indeed, you'll also feel right at home with all the benches at the tee boxes as well. Tee signs lead the way with all the appropriate info needed to help you select the right plan of attack.
To score well, you simply must play clean. For the average player, on the longer pins, par golf is nothing to be ashamed of. You just need clean upshots and be putting well. Picking up birdies will go a long way to help erase mistakes or get an edge over the competition. For an advanced or open player, the door is open to shoot in the 40's. Playing the short baskets is a birdie fest, a fun layout, and perfect if you are in a hurry to run through the course.
Cons: There really is not a lot to gripe about. You can expect non-disc golf playing park users to delay your round. It could use some longer technical holes to balance the course a little. Overall though, the course is solid, and I happened to enjoy it. Folks with their minor personal preferences will find things to like and dislike but again, nothing in the deal breaker category.
Other Thoughts: I can see why the locals like this course. They seem to take ownership and it shows. I played with a local fellow at the tourney who has been playing the course for years and said he rarely hits any of the other local courses in town. While I can't imagine limiting myself to one course, I get it. If you are content with park style golf on a fairly open course, this one is for you. But even if you are not quite as restrictive on you course rotation and like to get around, you should still enjoy golf here from time to time. Again, with all the basket options, it's great for players of all skill levels & experience.
I really wish there was a 3.75 rating option. I think it's a little stronger than a 3.5 but the course itself is just missing that wow factor to push it to a 4 in my mind.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
The Bham course IN Bham
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Two baskets (and 3 or sometimes 4 pin positions) per hole on the 18 numbered holes. While at least three different models are represented, all are quality baskets in good condition (the longer placements, however, seem to have gotten the best baskets on most holes - the orange-banded Chainstars or Mach Vs). The shorter basket on each hole has a big reflective green-yellow hole number - MUCH more readable at a distance than the stock DGA numbers.
Concrete seas: anyone who calls these monsters tees actually just has a funny lisp.
Distance: wide variety of distances, from some sub-200' short pins to some long pins in the 450 foot neighborhood, plus one over 600 feet. I played one round to the short buckets which measured about 4500 feet for 18 holes, plus another round to the long baskets, which measured just over 6000 feet for 18 holes, a respectable figure for an all par 3 course. The difference in distance between short and long baskets should allow play by a broad range of skill levels: I shot even against the short baskets as a lower-end rec player and +7 against the long set. A big arm will, however, make more difference than any particular technical prowess; I estimate a long-armed intermediate player could average about par against the longs.
Water comes into play on a few holes in the form of a clear, flowing stream/ditch.
Benches everywhere (usually multiple per tee), and quality tee signs, map, and course board round out the course amenities nicely. There is also a pro shop of sorts in the parking lot, run by a gentleman named Tom Monroe. You might have heard of him once or twice. If not, you should have.
Cons: Very open. Most holes have enough trees to cut off a few (typically wide) lines, but there is very little restriction, and no real concept of going off the fairway on most holes (excluding the OB concreeks). Only a few holes feature true rough off to the side (usually singular), and only one of the numbered holes is genuinely in woods of any sort; even it has a very permissive wide fairway.
You would expect, therefore, that a six-hole loop of woods holes would be a most welcome addition. Good news: there is one! Bad news: it isn't at all up to the standard set by the rest of the course. The holes themselves are mediocre; pretty much any 2.5 or 3 star woods course has basically these same six unremarkable shots. The supernumerary holes have a mix of carpet and natural tees. Moreover, it's evident that they just aren't cared for the way the remainder of the course is. When I visited, they had the same two to three foot tall undergrowth on the fairways (and even greens) as off. (Disclaimer: I found this especially bothersome as a big air bounce thrower, but I think it's evident that this is an issue either way)
Other Thoughts: Time of play is very reasonable: for a single player, plan on an hour for 18 holes, or 75-80 minutes for 24.
Even for such an open course, the lack of shade is exceptional. Expect the heat to affect you.
As far as park-style courses go, LeMaster in Trussville offers a slightly less open version of this same kind of golf at comparable distances; I think it's a better course, despite some work still in progress on its restoration. However, George Ward is also a fine example of the category, and makes excellent use of the available park land. As far as all courses period, GW sinks well below Inverness and Clay in my estimation, simply because they have a far greater degree of technical challenge.
Not following the provided directions to the course will result in a looooong walk up from the softball fields or the parking lot on Green Springs Parkway, which is where most GPS apps apparently want you to go.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Tom Monroe Land
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (3.638 Rating) A longer city park course with very good variety.
- EXTRA BASKETS - My favorite thing about George Ward is the two baskets on every hole, well 18 holes. This appears to have occurred sometime around 2013 from reading the reviews. Considering that there are no extra tees, the extra set of baskets really makes this course approachable to a wide swath of skill levels. The loop of holes (A) thru (F) only has the one basket however.
- UNIQUENESS - For an all par 3 course, the variety is about as good as it can get. There are huge distance variations from sub 200 to the short baskets, to over 600 feet to the long baskets. Shots will break into mildly defined pockets to the left and to the right. Some tee shots are heavily wooded while others are nearly completely open. There are a couple of really fun water clears along a creek. Finally, elevation usage has been well incorporated into the design with several shots going up and down. The down shots on (12) and (15) were my favorites being both down about 30 to 35 feet.
- CHARACTER - All the bells and whistles that a player would expect from a well established course with a big club following. In addition to two baskets on each hole, there is also a third alternate placement as well. At tee (1) there's a large community board with info, course map, lost sunglasses and someone's drivers license. There are benches on just about every hole and there's adequate hole signage. I didn't see a practice basket in my haste, but it looks like (9s) basket is the perfect one to commandeer with it being right next to the parking.
- TEES - The numbered holes have very nice adequately sized concrete tees.
- A THRU F - After (14), players can decide between a six hole loop labeled (A) thru (F) or to continue on to tee (15). I played the loop and found it to be much different than the rest of the layout. These holes are generally more short and more technical that the 18 numbered holes. I couldn't help but notice that two groups behind me transitioned right to (15) instead of playing the loop. So I wonder if it is used routinely or not.
- CHALLENGING - Playing to the back baskets appears to be upper intermediate to lower end advanced level difficulty, while the front baskets read as recreation level. I played the back baskets and I struggled to maintain par finishing 2 over as a 900 rated player. The letter holes are the easiest IMO and I had 2 birdies there. The numbered holes derive the challenge more from length off the tee so a player with a big drive will have a leg up on a technical player for that portion.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - One of the better looking city park courses. As mentioned above, there are elevation changes, wooded areas and water features. Hole (1) right out the gates has a play across some nice sized limestone boulders. Hole (13) is an awesome risk/reward play along an elegant 15 foot wide creek. The letter holes are a heavily wooded charming mix.
- NAVIGATION - I didn't have any issues other than trying the find the course. The course flows really well and a quick peek of the course map quickly cleared up the couple times I questioned my next move.
- TOM MONROE - To be honest, I have never met him and I did not know much about him until after I moved to Alabama. His name is associated with everything disc golf in Alabama and he is credited as the designer to ten courses I've played up here as of this review. It's kind of neat that a player of his stature is regularly associated with this course. Several reviewers have pointed out that he's often out at George Ward.
Cons: I typically find it easier to write about cons, but it was very difficult to find even minor flaws with George Ward.
- WALKING PATHS - Several holes bring a five foot wide concrete path into play. I waited on several tees for walkers and joggers to pass. However, waiting 30 seconds a few times over a round makes just about no impact on my ratings or my personal enjoyment of a course.
- GPS DIRECTIONS - My Waze app (GPS) did not take me to the course. The app seems to think that 19th Avenue connects to the parking area from the East.
- TEES A THRU F - The letter holes have sub-par tees. They are carpet mats if I recall correctly. Tee (C) has no mat at all.
- MAINTENANCE - Not too bad. There were lots of larger tree branches down along the layout. Perhaps I caught a bad a day. The letter holes look a lot less tended too compared to the numbered holes.
- TIME PLAY - Playing the full 24 holes in a four sum is going to take a while on this heavily used course. Figure around 3 holes. However, playing 18 with a skip of the letter holes should subtract 25 minutes. 9 can also be easily be done as well as tees (1) and (10) and baskets (9) and (18) are all by the parking.
Other Thoughts: George Ward is no doubt one of the better courses in the State of Alabama. I've played nine of the top twelve Alabama courses listed on DGCR and have it ranked 4th among the nine I've played. The perfect course to bring a group with a mix of skill levels due to the two baskets per hole. In all, it's a really great course. Not as exotic as a course like Inverness, but George Ward should have just about everyone wearing a smile on their face.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Really fun course. Mainly uses elevation and distance to challenge you, not very wooded. It has a few technical aspects but is not the most technical course. This course mainly tests your power, and then has you throw downhill a few times and uphill a couple times. Flows beautifully, hole 1 starts at the parking lot and hole 9 ends at the parking lots. Hole 11 starts on the other side of the parking lots and 18 ends right there as well.
Cons: Not really a con, but I don't have the biggest arm. I really enjoy short technical holes, and this course had none. Hard for me to reach many of the baskets, but that is my fault, not the course's fault. And, my GPS had trouble finding the course the first time and led me quite astray. I searched a good long while to actually find it.
Other Thoughts: The only restroom that was unlocked, was very far away at the baseball field. Many times I play the front 9 (it wraps back around to the car) drive to the nearby gas station for a drink and a restroom, and drive back for the back 9. Works for me
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Course has 2 baskets per hole which allows you the opportunity to play either from the tee. Course is well maintained and the flow of the course is logical. Holes 1-9 are on the north side of the park and holes 10-18 are on the south side of the park.
Very nice elevation in a city park. The signage was acceptable here as well. Both uphill and downhill shots are accounted for here. Tee pads are plenty ample allowing for a proper run up.
There are a few holes were mandos are in play to add to the challenge a bit.
A few of the holes are aceable and its always fun to run the chains. There is a little stream that comes into play on a couple of holes to keep you on your toes.
Good mix of short, moderate, and longer holes here so you can work on all aspects of your game.
There are holes here that play to the left and holes that play to the right.
Cons: Footing could be an issue due to the rocky terrian. I didn't encounter any problems but I could see the hills being slick as a good rain, please be careful.
Long walk from 13's basket to 14's tee which slows the round down a bit.
This is a multi-use park so there might be walkers on the walking paths, which come into play on a few holes. Please be aware before you throw.
Other Thoughts: This is a solid city park style course that offers a nice change in elevation and will make you work on a variety of shots. This is a good place for a beginner to learn the game and there are holes here to keep a veterans interest as well. Worth a play if you are in the area.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Rock n roll
3 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: My favorite course so far. Only played 18 and will definitely be back to play again and throw all 24. There are at least two pin options on every hole I played. Busy course even the day after Christmas. I would say it was very well-maintained. A lot of thought was put into making the pin placement challenging. Enough trees to be a factor and make you shave some of your shots but not enough to make it really frustrating. I would recommend this course to beginners and veterans.
Cons: They were only two pins on some of the holes maybe due to vandalism? Some of the distances look like they might be a little off.
Other Thoughts: Added to favorites.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Really nice, Club kept course.
Pros: -Nicely kept by the club
-A nice guy selling discs there at hole 1.
-Easy to follow
-approachable for beginners, can be challenging for other skill levels.
-Short pins are really easy if you just need a quick round.
Cons: -Needs next tee signs for the back 15 (including the inner holes).
Other Thoughts: Really enjoyed the course. I don't think it's challenging enough to earn a 4 or 5, but I definitely enjoyed it and so will you!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
My Home Course
Pros: -easy to follow layout
-many options for play
-benches at every tee
-multiple hole locations
-Tom Moore is the course pro
-perfect level of traffic
-good course for beginners and experts alike
-optional extra holes
Cons: -pretty short holes(but there are ways to play them longer)
-extra holes are occupied by several homeless camps
Other Thoughts: This is the first course I ever played on. I have been playing for a few months now, and having played several other courses around the south I still love coming back to this one when I am home.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 1 Not
A must play course
Pros: Great mixture of difficulty and diversity.
Cons: Course is located in a city park with a walking trail winding through the course, so there are lot of people in the way at times. One time we watched a couple make out for like 5 minutes directly in the way of our tee shot. They were just far away that our yelling didn't get their attention. No big deal, but definitely a con.
Other Thoughts: Definitely a course to play if you are in the Birmingham area. Most will enjoy.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
There is something really enjoyable here
-Concrete tee pads on all holes except the extra holes A-F
-3 possible pin locations for every hole
-Course flow is great! Love that you can easily start on 1 or 10 right from the parking lot, and both end at the parking lot as well.
-Pretty easy to navigate even the first time around without a map.
-No indicators of what pin location was being used with quite a few blind tee shots.
-Quite a few non disc golfers using the park, might have to wait on them to clear every once in a while.
-The drive to the course was through a rough area, never had any concerns while playing course though.
-Disappointed with the extra 6 holes A-F. They just seemed not up to par compared to rest of the course.
This is a very well thought out course and it was easy to enjoy the couple of rounds I was able to play here. In general the course is lightly wooded and pretty open except for a few areas. The elevation and terrain play very well here. The course flows really well and its relatively easy to navigate. It's not a very difficult course but it still offers challenges for all players. I felt like the extra holes (A-F) didn't really fit in with the rest of the course. They were definitely not at the same caliber/quality as the main 18. I did like that holes A-F were more wooded but that's about all that they added to the course. This course has quite a few really cool well thought out holes. This is a course I could enjoy playing multiple times.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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