Old Made New Again
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (Review note: Course comparisons made are to the original layout and not the first redesign. Number of times played is new design only) First, I love the placement of the new #1 tee box. Having the first box on the far side of the park makes it easier for golfers to park away from the soccer crowds. Plus, there is no more walk clear across the soccer fields just to start and end the course. It just makes sense.
Logistically, the course is laid out very well with only minor long walks between holes and making sure to end in relative proximity to the beginning. Signage is a major improvement, and having the increased number of "next tee" signs is extremely helpful for first-timers to the course. The concrete pads are ample sized and well-brushed for good traction.
The redesigned holes also place a premium on accuracy over distance, maximizing the small space the course designers had to work with. However, even with the focus on accuracy, none of the holes felt "unfair" in that chutes and lanes are so tight you have to be lucky rather than good. Finally, even a short layout, the designers made sure to just enough hyzer versus anhyzer holes to ensure all players are equally challenged.
BEST HOLE/S: #1
Cons: To me the cons are more like courses preferences. First, the course is short - clocking in at almost 4900'. There is one hole, (#6) where a big arm could even think about opening up. If big wide open long holes are your preference, then you'll love this new design just about as much as you enjoyed the old design. Overall transitions between holes are good, but first-timers can still benefit from the map because of the blind long walks from #14-#17.
One of my personal sad notes is I wish the lake had been incorporated into the new design a bit more. There are two holes, (#6 & #15) where the lake could even remotely come into play, but if you are an intermediate player or above - these will absolutely not be a problem. I remember when I first started playing disc golf, and holes 3 & 4 (old design) would loom to my newbie arm. Although they weren't fantastic holes in general, they are some of the few I will always remember simply because of the water - so nostalgia me missed that bit of challenge in this new course. #17 made me laugh because the old #17 was simply awful if you tried to run the chute, but the new hole is better but still similar in approach. However, you can still bomb it around the outside of the trees, so if the designers wanted to really make the players work - they need to make #17 a mando going left off the tee.
WORST HOLE/S: #17
Besides Agnes Moffitt Park
, Bear Branch is one of those courses that I've played for so long - it's more like an old friend to me. And unlike Agnes, it was a course that forced me to throw straight and accurate. It wasn't the best course, or really even a great course - but I loved it dearly and it helped ignite my passion for disc golf. So having said that - I'm happy to say that new course felt fresh, but thankfully didn't bastardize the feel the old wooded course originally strived to be. 3.5 discs might be a touch generous because it's still not the best course, and will never be considered a top tier course in Texas, but it's well-loved by a dedicated group of locals - and in the end that may be the most important thing of all.
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