Neither terrible or fantastic! It's decent!
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Before I updated it today, the course condition note for Smash Park DGC read "This course shouldn't be played by anyone." Challenge accepted!
When I arrived at Smash Park (otherwise known as Lightning Bend Park) I could immediately see that quite a few people were ignoring the advice quoted above. This place appears to be popular with the locals, and after playing my round it was easy to see why.
Smash Park DGC features 18 wooded holes, many of them fairly tight but none of them absurdly so. All of the holes have trees placed to create obstacles and force you to shape your shots. There is a good mix of left turning, right turning, and straight holes. Some holes play near low-lying wetland areas, but these areas were far enough off the fairway (at least in November) that it would take a very errant throw to lose a disc.
There is a practice basket between the parking lot and hole #1. All of the baskets have clearly seen more than a few discs, but they are in fine condition. Some of the baskets are raised on wood pedestals, which was a nice aesthetic touch as well as added challenge.
A course map is posted on the kiosk near the parking lot, but you probably won't even need it. The paths between holes are well worn, and there are some arrows pointing towards the next tee where needed. There is also nice signage after the fifth basket to indicate where you can cut the course off to only play eight holes, if desired.
Picnic tables and trash cans at many tee pads.
Permanent outhouse on site in the parking lot. It was locked when I played though, so not very helpful.
Cons: The tees are less than ideal. The tee pads here are artificial, made of something that looks like astroturf. They were in OK condition but concrete pads would be a nice improvement. The tee signs have seen better days. They looked like they might have been pretty nice at one point, but they have taken a beating over the years and the ink has washed out on some of them, making them illegible.
Most holes are pretty short. There is actually an ace board attached to most of the tee signs, and many of them are full of signatures. The back half of the course does have a few longer holes.
There isn't a ton of variety here. The holes all start to feel the same after a while. There is a little bit of elevation but it isn't enough to really affect play.
I played this course on a warm day in November, and bugs were a non-issue. However, I have been in enough areas like this in the Michigan spring/summer to know that they could be a major nuisance at that time of year (as previous reviewers have discussed at length). At those times of year you would definitely want to wear long sleeves, bring bug spray, and maybe even a bug net.
Other Thoughts: This course has a few very positive and a few very negative reviews. In reality, I feel it falls solidly between those two extremes - right around the current average of 3.0. Funny how that works out. If I had played in the buggy season I might have given it a 2.5 instead.
In addition to my reviews written here, I have my own rating system and notes to simplify my decision of which courses to return to. It has only Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Level 3 courses are my go-to courses, worth a drive and on my regular circuit. Level 2 courses are decent, not good enough for me to drive out to play all the time but if a friend wanted to play that course I would say "sure!" If that friend wanted to play a Level 1 course I would say "nah" and ask if they wanted to play one of my Level 3 courses instead. Smash Park falls squarely at Level 2 for me. It's about a 45 minute drive for me (from Grand Rapids area), and it's not worth making that drive regularly to play this course. If you're local, it's a nice option - especially in the non-buggy season. If you're looking for the best courses in Michigan, this course is not one of them.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Hidden Gem in the Making
Pros: • Scenery: SMASH is laid out through a nice wooded park in Central Michigan. Beautiful walk through the forest with plenty of elevation and wildlife to enjoy.
• Baskets: Arroyo Vortex Baskets. Best of the best. Bright colors for visibility, 20 outer chains, interlaced inner chains, ZERO chance for cut throughs, however they require firm putts.
• Variety: Plenty of elevation, left-to-right holes, right-to-left holes, wooded tight lines, a few more open holes, bunkers, water, only a few repetitive shots.
• Challenge: Pick a line and hit it! This is a densely wooded forest with tight lines. They are most definitely there, but there are several holes that you have to nail a gap or three. Not a poke-and-pray course, but certainly not large openings. Hit your line and be rewarded, get off your line and risk some great punishment and additional strokes.
• Maintenance: Plenty of trash cans, very little garbage on the ground, brush has been cleaned up and tee signs are on point.
• Layout: Several great walking paths that do not at all interfere with the disc golf course! Always great to see. Very easy to follow the course from hole to hole, no confusing "where's the next hole" moments.
• Extras: Nice pavilion and picnic tables at the entrance, plenty of parking even for good sized local tournaments, and a solid practice putting area with a good basket and some small trees/elevation to practice different putts.
Cons: • Stumps: The crew did a good job of clearing out lines and making a challenging wooded course, however, there are lots of small stumps left for you to trip over and/or break a toe.
• Short: The dense forest requires you to hit your gaps, however, this is mostly a mid and putter course. Most holes require accuracy over bombers. Not the worst thing in the world, but some long open holes are always fun to air out. There is open land to the west of the main course that could be utilized. (more in the "Other Thoughts")
• Bugs: No surprise in Michigan and not a lot can be done, but be prepared and bring some repellent.
• Tee pads: They aren't horrible, but they are artificial turf. Good grip, but not always smooth and some are a bit short.
Other Thoughts: While I do greatly enjoy the course, there is room for improvement. With a few stumps trimmed closer to the ground and a few (few, not many at all) trees removed, this would easily bump my rating up. I would love to give this a 4-star or more as it's one of my favorite courses, but it's not quite there.
For a few local tournaments, they have used the very open sandy field area to the west of the main course for alternate holes. There is a GREAT opportunity to add in some more challenging signature holes (super narrow tunnels through low fir trees, downhill sandtrap shots) and also allow for 3-4 bigger air shots without any forest. I would absolutely love to see this area used for some open bombers to make this into a 24-hole course! That would get me up to 4.5 stars and make this my top course in the Grand Rapids area.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 2 Not
Get ready to get smashed
Pros: Plenty of trash cans and stumps to sit on. Not much trash or vandalism. A couple really good two shot holes on the back nine (13 & 15). Overall good design and flow.
Cons: Too many trees. Challenge and hitting lines is a part of a good course, but too many "poke and hope" shots here. Removal of a few trees would bump this course up to 3.5, maybe 4. Carpet teepads are okay, didn't like 'em, didn't hate 'em.
Other Thoughts: Not sure what I expected at this course. Like a lot of things about it. Baskets look cool, but not thrilled with the way they "catch".
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Mix of short and long holes for all skill levels. Clean park with picnic tables! Option for quick 9 holes or full 18!
Cons: Few water hazards if that scares you! Bring bug spray and a spotter for some holes! Very wooded for a nice challenge.
Other Thoughts: Great course! Can't wait to play again.
2 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 8 Not
my favorite course
Pros: holes range in difficulty, great pads, amazing scenery, a great course for beginners and for the most avid disc golfers.
Cons: only real con (and I know it is not Mr. McCarty's or any of the designers faults) is the vandalism on the picnic tables and trash cans.
Other Thoughts: this Is the first course I ever played on and I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves the sport of disc golf. my favorite course by far.
1 of 9 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 6 Not
Smash Park Is a piece of heaven
Pros: Smash is a great switch up to the other courses in the area. It has a great layout, and the up down elevation provides excellent aerobic activity for those looking to shed a few. I encourage others to take advantage of this park before it becomes a popular destination, and all the holes have groups waiting, like the others in the area.
Cons: As for any cons i would have to say mosquitoes are an issue, as with most Michigan parks and my backyard. Bring your preferred method of insect control.
Other Thoughts: Come have a good time and leave your review.
5 of 11 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 5 Not
major local bias
Pros: New baskets
Hole 13 is a quality hole
Very little poison ivy (which is unusual based on the handful of Michigan courses I've played).
Cons: Course is totally unfinished. Stumps,lumpy faux turf tees, no real line on several holes etc.
As others have said, mosquitoes and horse flies are out in FORCE patrolling the low lying areas.
Other Thoughts: I played this course in the middle of a 3 ccourse tour east of Grand Rapids (I played Fallasburg first and Bertha Brock last) and it was the most forgettable of the three. The course isn't bad, but there is a lot of work to do. I don't want to add fuel to the fire, but even for a native Texan the bugs were thick. But since that seems to be a sensitive subject, let's talk about improvements totally in the control of the designer.
The tees should be torn out. Natural tees would be an improvement over these. I know concrete isn't in everyone's budget and try to not grade down too much for that, but these are bad.
There is brush everywhere. I almost got the impression some of it was deliberate, but it was never 100% clear.
Clear the stumps, please!
And while y'all are at it there are many holes that need some trimming/clearing to define a line.
The course has the potential (as currently laid out) to be average to good, but doesn't come close to living up to its potential. I'm fairly sure if drive to Fallasburg even if I lived in Belding, and judging by the relative amount of traffic at both courses I'm not alone.
7 of 12 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 10 Not
Good technical course
Pros: Tight lines, nice baskets, very clean, tee signs, great scenery, friendly locals, always improving, variety of shots
Cons: No open holes, stumps in the fairways, bugs,no practice basket
Other Thoughts: My favorite course. I think this is a hidden gem of west Michigan
5 of 15 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: SMASH Park, unlike any other park that I have been to, has an incredible following of volunteers who are always willing to put forth their efforts into making this course better. There will be very few times that you will find a piece of trash on the course and odds are that if you do it will be picked up within 24 hours. The course has a nice flow of short, long, backhand/hyzer, and forehand/anhyzer shots. It is very technical and will challenge even the most experienced players. The designers are working on changing a few holes to increase the distance as well as add "placement shot" holes. The astro-turf in the beginning was the only route that we were allowed to go. The city did not want concrete in the park and they accepted the turf. If you read about this kind of material it is easier on the knees, durable, easy to maintain, and is increasing in popularity in courses all over the world and especially in Europe.
Cons: Mosquitoes. They are thick as ever, but if you can find a course in Michigan (read up on your history as why it took so long for the settlers to come to Michigan...it's a mitten-shaped swamp) that doesn't have a problem with Mosquitoes I would be glad to visit. There are also several brush piles that need to be moved. Because the construction and maintenance was all done by volunteers there was confusion as what was going to happen to the brush. This problem is being addressed currently and should change by the end of 2015. Other than these two things I think the MDGE club that frequents SMASH is doing an excellent job with the projects that need to be done.
Other Thoughts: As one of the designers of SMASH Park I want to first take a second to recognize and applaud the few golfers on this site who take time from their day to give some "pros and cons" to the course I feel very attached to. Criticisms and critiques are what will keep the course moving forward and progressing to become one of the best courses in the area and hopefully a "must see" attraction for Michigan and the Midwest. That being said, I do not appreciate reviews like the one that was submitted by "TywinL". This type of person likes to hide behind a screenname and give pointless criticisms to something that is completely unavoidable. If he has played several different courses throughout the United States he would know that trying to treat an area of over 220 acres of public park land that is densely wooded is an impossible and fruitless effort. I can come to some sort of common ground TywinL. The mosquitoes are very thick and sometimes it makes it a little difficult to play. When times like these happen I sit back and think about why the park was built.
Cody "SMASH" Moore (You remember the sign at the beginning) passed away unexpectedly in 2012. He lived down the road and used the area to create his own mini courses. We thought it would be fitting to place a course there in his honor. So I cannot say that I appreciate your comment that this memorial should be "burned to the ground." Many people put in hours, days, and weeks to make this course a reality. You probably wouldn't know anything about that because you're probably the type to not actually help make a course better, but a bystander waiting for the work to be done so you can complain about it. I'm sorry that your experience at SMASH was unpleasant, however, if you ever expect this sport to move forward you have to be productive and not hide behind your keyboard. Have something constructive to say. Players who claim to be experienced should take into account the age of the course and where it will be when it does reach maturity. The courses that are being compared to SMASH are much older and have the luxury of being maintained by local or county government. Here at SMASH we do not have that luxury. I have talked to several professional players and course designers that have some of the problems that other players have had (length and elevation) however, they also comment on the age of the course 100% of the time. Please give us something to work with. If you have things that you think could change then please make them clear and we will discuss and potentially address them. If we want disc golf to move forward and succeed we need to work together.
9 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Never again unless I'm conducting Lyme Disease research
5 Helpful / 20 Not
Pros: Nothing at all. This should be burned to the ground and the baskets sacrificed as an apology to the disc golf gods.
Cons: Between almost breaking an ankle on the ridiculous Astro-Turf Teepads, never needing anything other than a Judge, and almost being drained of every ounce of blood in my body by the voracious bloodsuckers that inhabit the TWO swamps this course was designed around this was the WORST disc golf experience of my life.
Other Thoughts: This was the second course I played during a weeklong visit with family in Greenville MI, and after the Greenville course and this hellhole I was ready to write Michigan disc golf off as totally over-rated. Fortunately my cousin took me up to Flip City, Fallasburg, and Mason County Beast a couple days later and changed my mind. I won't bother reviewing most of those courses, as I feel like the reviews are spot on for them. However, I think there is a lot of local bias around this course and wanted to put in my two cents.
Honestly Belding, either fix the mosquito problem by treating the swamps or remove the course and put in a malaria research station. The choice is yours..
Sorry to all the locals who I offended. I realize you all worked hard, and if you think I enjoy tearing down all the work that went into the course you're incorrect. However, I stand by my statement. I've played all over the US, and NEVER had a worse experience on a course. To say you can't treat for mosquitoes is sophistry at best. Major metropolitan areas do it all the time. Simply say you can't raise the funds to do it. In fairness, I agree that there will be bugs at any course you play. It's simply part of being outdoors. However, I've never seen mosquitoes ignore bug repellent and swarm people the way they do at your course.
You claim you can do nothing about the mosquitoes, but I've got an idea. Build the course elsewhere. It's great that a kid from your town used to play jungle golf in those woods. Seriously, it is. But I'm not sure you've done his memory justice with what you've done. Sometimes a measured approach is best. Do 9 holes well (concrete teepads, room for expansion ie second pads someday, clear lines cut, etc) and then add 9 more. SMASH feels like it was hastily thrown together with little foresight for growth or expansion, using the cheapest materials possible, and put in the wrong location. Just one man's opinion of course...
5 of 25 people found this review helpful.
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