Could Have Been Epic
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (4.104 Rating) One of the top courses in Alabama.
- SKILL LEVEL FRIENDLY - Unlike Inverness, Clay appears to be very approachable for most recreation players. The red tees appear to be true reds (Recreation level). In addition, the back (blue) tees appear to be challenging enough for advanced level play. This is great for an intermediate level player like me, where I can choose between running for aces or taking a beating.
- CHALLENGING - The back tee and back basket combo will no doubt challenge lower end advanced players to stay pace with par. Several 300 foot holes that need some precision. Figure a typical 940 rated player will average around par from the backs. Rec players playing the front tees should also hover around par or be a couple under.
- CHARACTER - Clay has a bunch of great amenities. Thankfully this mountain course is stacked with seating and the benches were only omitted at one or two holes. Tee (1) has seating room for something like 15 people. It's as though they are encouraging players to admire or laugh at every throwers drive. Good shading at a majority of the tees as well. The tees are a mix of concrete and artificial turf. Although turf tees in the mountains are less than ideal, but they are still ok. I understand the difficultly of hauling concrete ingredients up the side of a mountain. There are two practice baskets adjacent to tee (1). Most holes have duel tees and there are alternate basket locations. There are even two actual baskets at 5 or 6 holes as well.
- NAVIGATION - Good, but with a couple of needed omissions. Great course map and community board just behind tee (1). The hole signage has been done professionally and has all the information that a well traveled player expects from a great course. Direction cues below baskets to keep players on track. I only peeked at my map twice. What's dearly needed are basket placement indicators. After throwing at a nonexistent basket location, I began running up all the blind basket fairways. Which is not fun on a course with elevation changes. Lastly I'll point out tee (A) which occurs after hole (11) and allows players to skip two holes. Probably not the wisest move for safety reasons as tee (A) and tee (14) can't see each other.
- SHOT SHAPING - The first five holes are rather other open, however after the beginning stretch, being able to correctly move a disc along a planned path is going to be key to score birdies from the back tees. Holes (6) through (15) are fully wooded and holes (17) through (19) are heavily wooded along the right side and have their basket buried deep into a right breaking pocket.
- ELEVATION - Lots of it. Unfortunately twice as many up shots compared to down shots.
- UNIQUENESS - In addition to elevation, There's a really nice mix of hole types. Although not labeled, I'm pretty sure that hole (1) at 838 feet, is a par 4. The holes range from completely open to heavily wooded. Water comes into play a couple times. Be wary of throwing long on (19), water is lurking just beyond the basket. There are even a couple of manmade wooden enclosures on (3) and (4). This bodes much better than what likely would have been an obstacle free shot. Missing elements include a par 5, doglegs and a well defined left pocketing shot.
- RAW BEAUTY - As of this review, I would put Clay in my top 15 most beautiful courses that I've ever played (207 courses). As mentioned above, great terrain and elevation. Great views from atop the ridge, large gorging dry washes slicing though the base of the ridge and hordes of wooded areas. All these elements make Clay a definite treat to walk and to play along.
Cons: A great course with just thoughts of what could have been.
- MISSED OPPORTUNITIES - Make no mistake, Clay is a great disc golf course, but wow, there are some misses. The property that Clay sits on is some of the best disc golf land I have ever come across. Huge elevation changes on the property, over 250 feet of grade change inside the park boundaries, vast wooded areas and a 10 to 15 foot wide creek. Are these features used? Yes, sort of, but it seems like it could have gone so much farther. A perfect example is hole (16) where the shot is around an 80 to 90 foot drop. The tee shot easily could have grown further up the slope to be 400 foot long, and become a 125 to 150 foot monster down shot. Another bummer was the use of the creek which is almost completely ignored. At 10 to 15 feet wide it's the optimal size. Just wide enough to make it register in the shot process, but small enough to be able to fish a disc out. Hole (21) easily could have been a play across it with a bridge being right there going back to the parking area. I also question the over use of the top of the mountain. Nothing like being on a ridge and seeing all the great terrain, but throwing shots along the flat top portion.
- TERRAIN - Players with walking impairments or bad knees should avoid this course. It's a 200 foot climb up and down the mountain on this course (source Topoquest.) I consider myself to be in decent shape and this course wiped me out.
- SAFETY HAZARDS - 95 percent of the course is completely separated from other park uses. However hole (19) and especially (20) bring in hazards. (19) plays along the park access road. (20) plays alongside a pavilion and the shot is blind.
- FORGIVENESS - For this type of course, surprisingly not as bad as I had envisioned, but far from an open city park course. The most likely scenario that will crush a player's score and open up the possibility for a lost disc, is hitting a tree and the resulting ricochet sends it barreling down the ridge. Playing the short tees will alleviate some of this issue, but not it all.
- BEGINNER FRIENDLY - I wouldn't bring someone here until they've played at least a few dozen rounds. Way too many opportunities to lose a disc for untrained players. However, there is an open field with some baskets not part of the (21) hole layout. This would be a good area to teach someone the game.
- PARKING - The parking by tee (1) is not the greatest. A section of it is gravel but it seems that some people actually park on the grass closer to tee (1). There is paved parking nearby (17) and (18), I wonder if some players begin up there instead.
- TIME PLAY - Clay is not a quick in, and quick out bagger course. This one is going to take a solo player close to 90 minutes to complete. Figure a group of four skilled players could spend 3 hours here from the back tees.
Other Thoughts: One of the better courses in Alabama. I currently have it as the second best in the state behind Inverness and I've played 9 of the top 12 courses listed on this site. Clay, unlike Inverness, is very much more approachable to lower skill levels and this could be the ultimate course for recreation players in the state of Alabama. It's hard to find courses with this much elevation and still be this user friendly. So all stated, traveling recreational level players that are in the Birmingham area should definitely place Clay number one on their hit list. However, those that are looking, and that can handle a greater challenge, should choose Inverness as first option.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Has Discatchers in great shape, descriptive, accurate tee signs at all tees, benches, and a mixture of concrete and astroturf over gravel tees (the former mostly on the holes not located in the woods). Two baskets on many holes, though not all.
This course makes excellent use of elevation, playing up, down, and along a substantial ridge line in the woods. While only two holes are sharply uphill, there are several in a row that just play that much harder because of the elevation gain before they give way to a few left/right slanted holes and then 16, one of the most deceptively downhill holes I've played. All of the fairways in the woods are well defined and well kept. All of the greens are open enough to be reasonably able to putt from a good shot, though many are still quite interesting/hairy - ditches, slopes, water, etc.
Cons: Compared to the remainder of the course, the first few holes felt a touch underwhelming. Hole 1 is a literal driving range, distance markers and all, hole 2 is an interesting uphill over rough from the long tee but an open, level putter shot from the short, and hole 3 is a man-made obstacle hole with questionably effective obstacles - the fence is short enough to putt over if you misplace your drive.
A few of the tee signs have had some Sharpie edits made in order to accommodate new pin positions. The usefulness of the hole map is kind of lost in those situations, but the distances are still indicated - and I am grateful that the new/altered positions have been marked. On the holes which only have one basket but two pin positions, tee signs do not indicate which is currently in use, and the answer is not always visible from the tee.
Holes 14 and A share baskets/greens, and are potentially two or three holes apart, which raises the possibility of throwing at other players unintentionally. Given as A isn't particularly remarkable (or necessary to get to the next hole, though it may serve as a way to cut two-three holes out of the middle), I'm inclined to ignore it and only play the 21 numbered holes.
Other Thoughts: I keep hearing people compare hole 4 to Winthrop Gold's hole 7. There is some resemblance - Clay 4 has a bamboo structure around the basket with an opening up front, but it more resembles the double mando old version of Winthrop 7 than the newer triple mando - that is, Clay's version doesn't have anything across the top. Further, there's no indication that there is, in fact, a mando, so if you miss, you can pitch through the slats and take a par, which is probably friendlier to the average player.
The philosophy on tees seems, on most holes, to have been that the two should play differently primarily in terms of length, rather than the long one adding a dogleg or a completely different line or some other feature absent from the short tees, though there are a few exceptions. While I certainly respect the ball golf philosophy, I personally favor the other approach, which brings me to the elephant in the room: is this the best course in the state, or least in central AL? I, personally, have to favor Inverness on account of more demanding woods work, especially from the long tees, and more challenging usage of elevation overall, even though Clay may have taken a few holes to greater heights.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: My favorite Disc Golf course that I have played. Very unique, fun and challenging. Course flow and signage are perfect, couldn't be better. Very challenging course that used elevation, woods, mandos, and even manmade structures (like a fort with a basket inside) to make you use every part of your game. I loved every part of this course, and thoroughly enjoyed every hole.
Cons: Not beginner friendly. If you manage to throw off of the fairway and into the rough, it is VERY rough. It is too thick to get through in many places, thorns all over the place, and ants. After an hour and a half of searching, I lost 2 of my favorite discs and my friend lost 2 of his as well. I am also covered in ant bites and splinters and scratched from thorns. Play safe and avoid this natural OB, don't throw greedy like me! xD
Other Thoughts: I will probably bring a machete next time I play here, because of the thick foliage. this course is for advanced players, beginners probably wouldn't enjoy it. A good amount of hiking and 21 holes makes this course play long. This course is an hour from my house and it is WELL worth the drive. This course is a must play in the Birmingham area.
P.S. I didn't write a phone number on the discs so if you find some out there, may they serve you well. May your drives be long and your putts be short.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Stay Classy Clay
Pros: Clay DGC is a great course circling a hilly park with good mixes of open grassy holes and wooded brushy holes that often feature significant elevation change and some water. Long and short concrete tees that were pretty good. A few holes had more than one basket. The signs were mostly pretty decent. Hole 1 is just flat and brutally long with trees lining the left side of the fairway. 2 is fun, throwing blind over rough up a small hill, and bending right medium distance. Man made obstacles on holes 3 and 4 in the form of wood fences and bamboo walls. Number 5 is uphill and pretty long with a mando making you go right of a tree and use the center of the fairway from the long tee. 6 is where the woods come into play, and will be present throughout the center portion of the course. Fun shots of all shapes up and down through trees with nice fairways. It opens up some on the later holes. 16-19 play on the fringes of the parking lot, open left side and basket tucked into trees along the right edge. 20 is short and open, uphill, with a funky double basket target. 21 is a long downhill bomb with lots of open airspace.
Cons: A map would have been great to have, I overlooked hole A, as well as hole 20 somehow. It was the third course of the day and I was to tired to double back. Having multiple baskets on some holes can create confusion if you are not familiar with the layout. Mud was pretty heavy in a few areas because of recent rain.
Other Thoughts: I enjoyed this course very much, but it could have been even better with improved navigation, and maybe a little dryer. Not as intense as Inverness, more elevation than the Trussville course, and more difficult than George Ward. A very good course that compliments the others nearby very well. Definitely worth playing, glad to have made the trip.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Wow! So this course is super great. Long distance holes ( which I really like) , lots of obstacles, man made structures, and elevation change.
Cons: Only con that I can really state is that it's a really long course, so you might not have the energy to play a 2nd round.
Other Thoughts: Definitely a must play course. It is tough, but fun nevertheless.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This is a solid course for any level of player. The course starts out on a wide open super long hole that has distances measured out to the pin that is 600'+. It is a great way to get warmed up for what is ahead. Quick tip as this confused me, head to your left after 1 to the gate that says no trespassing and that is where you walk into hole 2. That was confusing to me...just pointing you in the right direction. Hole 2 is a blind toss up the hill with plenty of nasty stuff and a drop off behind the pin. The next 2 holes are "man-made" challenge holes, 4 being a near exact copy of the bamboo mando hole at USDGC. I thought that was fun to see how I would do there. It plays slightly uphill being the only noticeable difference. After that you start up the hill playing a double mando uphill shot that takes you to the holes on the top of the hill. While those got a bit repetitive and had a few mosquitoes here and there they provided an excellent challenge. You really have to play your shots right to not roll down the hill. I was fortunate enough to not have any rollaways. Double astroturff covered pads with 2 pins on almost all holes. That confused me a bit (saw the same thing at George Ward) and is not something I am accustomed to. I get the plus in retrospect after I got over just being confused at what I was looking at. Coming back down the hill was fun although they could have made better use of throwing down the hill around holes 13-14 with a lot of wasted space walking between those holes...would have made a fantastic "top of the world" shot. The last few holes were fun and challenging at the bottom of the hill. Good to know there is a nasty little pond just past 19s pin and a creek right behind 21. Just something I wish I had known from the tee.
I was impressed that they put tee signs on all pads. I know that costs money and is one of those extra nice touches. All in all, a spectacular course and I can see how this is rated the highest in the state at the moment. I think George Ward is prettier and Inverness is harder but this one had the extra things that made it overall the best course of those three.
Cons: Like I said above, wasted space between holes 13-14 and 14-15 that could have been used for a top of the world shot. Just a missed opportunity at one more cool feature to an already cool course. The course doesn't favor rollers even though a few holes would have been ideal as the grass was too high and has grass trimmings on it that kill your roll. That's it...everything else was right on track.
Other Thoughts: Tough call between a 4 and a 4.5 on this course. If I am ranking it against all Alabama courses then definitely a 4.5. If I am ranking it against a larger number of courses then a solid 4.0. Being most people reading this are from all over the place I went with the 4.0.
Can't wait to play this again someday when passing through...great job to whoever designed and upkeeps this course!
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Clay DGC didn't disappoint at all!!
-Great Layout in a very cool environment. Loved playing up, on top, and down the hill.
-Quality turf tee pads. 2 pads and 2 pin positions for almost every hole. Signs at every pad with detailed and useful information.
-Hole #1 doubles as a driving range with concrete distance markers in the ground.
-Plenty of practice baskets, benches and trashcans throughout the course.
-The first couple of holes and the last few are out in the open without any tree coverage. It can get really hot on a sunny summer day.
-Holes 3 and 4 with the man made barriers. I'm just not a fan of this type of thing, but it does add some variety to what otherwise would be wide open holes.
-I felt like 16-19 were pretty much the same hole with very little changes.
This course has a really great feel to it. It starts out pretty open, and really tightens up as the holes move up into the mountain. There are some really excellent holes at this course. Playing from the short tees this is a relatively easy course, great for newer players. From the long tees this course really forces you to hit your lines to score well. The rough can be very brutal if you miss the fairway. You can really see how much hard work was put into making this course what it is. It is definitely worth playing a round if you are in the area.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 1 Not
The future of golf – elevation, length, open, wooded with par 4’s
Pros: I played this course blind from the long tees during the Bamboo Classic in August 2014 and although I played badly this course is still one of the best I have played of the top courses I have played which include, BRP, Rollin'Ridge, Grand Central, Stoney Hill, Warwick, Ashe County, Trophy Lakes, IDGC courses and others. Below are thoughts on several holes,
#1 - Start off on a no frills, straight forward par 4/5 which is around 1000' in in a field. It was neat for some of the younger guys playing the hole because the fairwary is marked with distance from the tee throughout the fairway and many people warmed up here as well to measure distance.
#2 - Do not take this hole lightly. The hole is a good 350' - 400' up hill over a mound and a 2 is a great score on the hole.
#4 - Bamboo hole - Similar to #7 at Winthrop but longer and no ob but the wall has thick bamboo surrounding the green If you throw passed the green you still have a putt.
#5 - Monster uphill hole that looks much longer than expected with double mando. If you can get 30' - 50' through the mando, you still have a treacherous putt. I was told that someone aced this hole which is incomprehensible to me.
#6 - #15 - Majority are masterpieces and some of the best and most challenging holes I have ever played.
#6 - Great, short, tight hole that is a slow anhyzer for rhbh up a hill into the woods.
#11 - Accuracy is a must on the teeshot but I get the feeling that 2 for many ams is phenominal.
#15 - Another possibility for my favorite hole because it is a midrange or putter across a valley to a tight green with lots of elevation.
#16 - Great, short, downhill hole from a narrow teeshot to wide open green but do not go long or you will be in the woods. Can be played with a putter or throw a thumber for more accuracy
#18 - Another great hole that I played in the long position that can turn a 3 into a 5 due to mando, creek and elevated basket. The short pin placement also looks fun to play as the hole is on an island.
#19 - Fun short downhill with lots of ob. Great chance at 2 or circle 4.
#20 - One of the most unusual holes I have played and only about 125' - 150' uphill to a blind shot (reminded me of the tee shot at Rennaisance from the gully but the mound is much higher at Clay). It seems many private courses now have hanging baskets and a basket in the ground (the first time I ever both was Trophy Lakes in 2005 and once again TL has this now) but this hole has two (2) baskets stacked on top of each other (the top basket is for Pro, bottom basket for Ams). I have no real positive or negative perspective for this but I do think it is a throwaway hole and when I posted a pic on social media, a few people were outraged which was a little startling. The designer did a great job having a hole here due to the terrain (slope next to building ) and it would be too dangerous to make this hole longer or to the right.
#21 - Great finishing hole with a chance to bomb a drive to a well thought out green.
Cons: Could be frustrating for first time players or players without distance as you start out having to throw bombs on the first few holes until you get in the woods and up on the mountain which require accuracy.
Other Thoughts: Between Inverness and Clay for best course in the area. Birmingham has fantastic courses and I wish they would host a Worlds or a US Masters as the courses are phenominal. I think I would have started the Clay course with a tee near the bottom of the mountain between #5 and #21 or have the course start on #5 as the open holes are not great but fun if you like to throw bombs. I also do not like seeing lack of originality on holes such as the bamboo hole. This happens a lot now such as baskets in the ground or hanging baskets as well at other courses. If it were not for #1 - #5 I would have easily rated it 5 stars.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
One of the Regions Best Courses MUST PLAY!
Pros: Excellent design, Multiple tee pads and pin locations, Hole 1 doubles as a driving range with distance markers, very well manicured property, lots of trash cans, the great wall of Bamboo and DANNY SELF
Cons: no restroom on site...unless the baseball fields are open.
Other Thoughts: from the AM pads the course is relatively easy and really fun for beginners. From the Pro pads you get to experience the area's best course!
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This course is incredible. It feels out of place in middle of nowhere Alabama and would probably feel more at home in Charlotte,NC.
The variety you find on this course is perfectly balanced. When you approach the first tee to find a wide open bomb for a very, very long way, it's underwhelming, although you do have the very nice distance markers to let you know that last time you posted in the daily "how far do u throw plz reply" thread on DGCR was accurate or not.
The course immediately gets more interesting over the next few holes, with a much improved version of a very famous USDGC hole.
Upon getting to hole five, you look upon a very, very steep uphill shot. At the very top, you see trees, lots of trees, suddenly granting you tremendous energy and strength to get to possible superior holes.
And superior they were.
From hole six on, this course shows you why those first five holes are needed, this course is complete in every way, every type of shot in every type of terrain with every type of elevation. All of this in a public course that was meticulously groomed upon my visit.
All of the shots are so well thought out and visualized, and you have incredible teepads and perfectly taken care of baskets so you only have yourself to blame. I did not sense a tree branch that needed to be removed, or a stump that needed to be shredded, everything here is as it should be.
This course feels so isolated from everything else in the world, but it's only a short drive away from civilization. Complete private course feel.
Cons: None. It can't be a five solely because it's just not that level of golf, but it can be a 4.75 easily.
Other Thoughts: This is a players course, truly. This is a course you can improve all aspects of your game on, you'll learn to throw big in the woods, you'll learn that your touch approach game could probably use some work. This is an absolutely wonderful job and the land is used to it's potential perfectly.
I love this course and every single aspect about it. Everyone may not feel the same, but this is a course you come to with your friends, have it to yourself, and waste the weekend away on.
Please play this course.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful.
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