The Birth Grounds Of Disc Golf In Alabama
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (2.633 Rating) (REVISED - replayed October 2018) A historic pine tree filled layout that's fun to play.
- HISTORY - According to the PDGA, this is one the first courses to have the chain baskets in the world, somewhere between 3rd and 5th. A Steady Ed Headrick and Tom Monroe creation back in 1976. This notice by itself, makes Brahan Springs a destination course.
- FUN FACTOR - The perfect place to bring three friends and a six-pack. There are ample opportunities for birdies. Errant throws are not further punished even though there are lots of pines to weave around. The odds of losing a disc is near zero and for the most part, just about no areas where you'll have to search in the overgrowth. On my first 2 rounds here I showed up solo but ended up finishing in a group. It's just a fun place to throw a laid back round.
- ACEABILITY - There are lots of opportunities to run at the chains. Most of the holes play between 200 and 300 feet and have a clear line to the basket. The windows to the basket are tight on many holes but there's always almost always path. Skip plays are a very real possibly and its often the best way to run at the chains. I have three aces as of this revision on holes (6), (8) and (18) and about dozen or so chain outs in 90 rounds.
- CHAINS - Brand new MachXs. Hole (2s) basket was damaged in June 2018 and was swapped with the practice basket.
- CHARACTER - Above average. To start, average adequately sized 4 by 10 concrete tees. All the tees are shaded and wind protected, except for the open holes (1) and (2). Benches are at 80 percent of the tees. There's a community board with course info. Practice basket and two shelters with a couple tables. The only substantial drawback is no extra tees and extra basket placements are limited to four holes.
- SHOT SHAPING - Although the holes are on the shorter side, players will still need to put some thought into just about every shot. Lots of flight path planning is needed. Several holes have multiple lines to the basket. IMO, (7) is the only wooded hole without a pure line.
- SKILL LEVEL FRIENDLY - This course draws a wide swath of skill leveled players. You'll see Advanced players out here working on their short game lines but also Beginners as well.
- QUICK PLAY - I've run all 18 hole solo in 40 minutes. Groups of four will generally take about an hour and a half.
- HOLE SIGNAGE - Brand new rocket themed hole signage. Leap years better than the non-existent signage pre spring 2018.
- NAVIGATION - Improved as of May 2018 as the tee signs have next direction arrows on them. There are also a few directional cues in the trees. There are a couple tricky transitions, (5) to (6) and (11) to (12), so be sure and peak at the sign on these holes. I have already had a few occurrences where first timers have asked me for directions.
Cons: Not too many issues of substance with Brahan Springs Park. The biggest minor drawback is the uniqueness of the last 16 holes.
- UNIQUENESS - For an almost fully wooded course, one of the lowest courses I've scored in terms of variety. Holes (1) and (2) are both wide open shots and then the last 16 wooded holes all have a similar feel. These 16 holes all weave through a tall ageing pine canopy. Sure the lines will cut left and right, but the surrounding elements are always the same. The lanes are moderately defined. Pockets to skip into are either loosely defined or non-existent. There are no water elements to contend with other than maybe the casual water in the ditch along holes (3), (11) and (12). No par 4s or 5s, no doglegs or forced overtop plays.
- ELEVATION - Very little out here. Maybe 3 or 4 holes dive or climb by around 10 feet. Mastin Lake is the only area course with a bunch of good elevation changes.
- AVERAGE CHALLENGE - The difficultly out here is just south of average. As an Intermediate player with about a 920 rating, I've been averaging about 5 down out here on league and tourney rounds. There are only four holes that will challenge advanced players; (1), (3) (7) and (17). Advanced players I've met seem to typically shoot 6 to 8 down or more, unless their talent is skewed heavily to throwing bombs. Advanced bombing type players sometimes can't even break par.
Other Thoughts: This originally was my 100th review in 2017 and its now my current home course. The course is great for Beginners through Intermediate level players. Some Advanced players will enjoy it too, as the lines require just enough thought to not make it a bore fest. Perfect for big groups with wide skill level differences and for those looking to shoot a laid back round. All stated, the biggest reason to check out Brahan Springs is the History. There are no older basket courses anywhere outside of California.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - Average. The 50 to 60 year old pines that occupy 90% of this layout looks really nice on first arrival. However, after you run 5 or 6 holes of what seems like the same backdrop, you'll realize that the course has a real monotonous feel to it.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 18 holes with excellent signs, teepads, and baskets. Navigation was easy- there are well-worn paths, signs on trees, and markers in the basket to help you get to the next hole. The course is old, but it is in excellent shape and appears to be well taken care of. It plays on flat ground around lots of very tall pine trees. The trees are so tall that leaves and branches are not in play, just lots of tree trunks to avoid. It is shaded nicely helping to ease the sometimes oppressive Alabama summer heat. The grass/pine straw fairways make it easy to find your discs. You have no danger of losing your disc on any of the holes (except possibly during periods of extreme rain, then the ditch lining a couple of the holes might hold water, but it was bone dry when I played.) This is one of the oldest courses around and it is pretty cool playing a piece of history.
Cons: The course is crammed into a relatively small area, and due to its popularity it can get crowded and feel somewhat cramped. The biggest negative for me, however, was the lack of variety- holes #1 and #2 are wide open, then the rest all look the same- 250'-300' around the pines to the basket 16 times in a row (look at the pics and you will see). We also had a couple of drunks ask us for money and cigarettes as soon as we pulled in the parking lot, but that happens at lots of courses!
Other Thoughts: This is a very old course, so it is what it is. You can get by with only 1-4 discs in your bag. It is great for beginners and families, or if you want a fun, casual round, but more advanced players will want more of a challenge after a couple of rounds here. This is a nice course, but so many courses have advanced beyond this one over the last 30 years. If you are in the area I do recommend playing it at least once. Also, Huntsville has plenty of courses and continues to grow as a nice disc golf destination.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Bumpin Bark Park
Pros: Occupying a flat, wooded plot - and one of the courses used for the PDGA World Championships in both 1983 and 1993, Brahan Springs is a classic.
Designed in the day when high tech was a super pro (midnight flyers were maaaayyybe just available then) - this course was very challenging in its infancy. Disc technology has transformed it into a pitch and putt - but the fact that it hasn't suffered the kind of tree loss that so many of its ilk have - it remains a fun and challenging little course. Flat makes it an easy walk. The woods make for some tight lines, with room for some creative shot making choices.
Teepads and signs were adequate when I was there last, and apparently still are.
Cons: Lack of topography makes a few holes sort of repetitive. Overall length is short by today's standards - so it's not a "big event" venue anymore.
Other Thoughts: When visiting Huntsville, "Bumpin Bark Park" is definitely worth a visit. Take your mids and putters and get yourself a fun warmup. Or take your newbie friends out and have a friendly laugh as they whack some pine trees with your favorite disc.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: This is an ideal course for newer players looking to hone their skills. Located in a small, square pine tree forest, the course weaves in and out of the many trees, testing your entire bag. The design is very good, with a lot of shot variety and every hole seems to have lots of different ways to get to the basket, but only 1 true fairway that requires good control of your discs to get the many birdies. There is very little elevation change and no shule. There are good concrete tee pads and tee signs on every hole. The are bathrooms across the road from hole 15.
Cons: This is your basic pitch and putt course, with very little challenge other than to get the birdie. With the way the trees are spaced out, there is always a recovery gap to the basket even after a bad drive. There are usually a couple of bums hanging around hole 3, but from my experiences, they have not been a bother. There are no benches, but the course is so short, you likely wouldn't sit down much anyway.
Other Thoughts: Although an easy course, there are enough trees to where every hole requires an accurate shot to get the birdie. As easy as it is for pros to shoot double digits down, the slightest bit of wind and being off target and it is just as easy for pros to shoot par or worse. It is one of the oldest courses in the nation and still a very fun course to play for all skill levels. You can play a quick round in no time. If you are a newer player or still trying to hone your skills, then I would recommend playing this course.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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