7 Helpful / 0 Not
Beauty Is In the Eye of the Axis-Holder
Pros: 1. Variety. While this is the "easiest" and shortest of the three layouts at this multi-course complex, don't let the name fool you; this is no beginner course, and even advanced players could find some enjoyment out of a round here (although Beast and Goliath are far better tailored to anyone intermediate or above). A variety of wooded and open holes lead you through some of the park's gentler topography, but you'll encounter quite a bit of elevation and should find yourself throwing many different shots. Being so near Lake Michigan, wind is also a near-constant feature on this course, and a frustrating feature at that (though definitely not a con!). Being from the Lake Michigan coast in Wisconsin, I felt like I was playing the Michigan version of a Silver Creek/Vollrath hybrid (which to people unfamiliar with those courses means I had a TON of fun here)! Many holes had various routes to the pin, which only adds to the fun factor when you're playing in a group here since you'll probably see people take the lines you missed or didn't see. Some great scenery on this course also, although the most spectacular views and elevation are reserved for the Beast/Goliath courses.
2. Maintenance. The county presumably takes care of a lot of the upkeep here, but the MCDGO is obviously very heavily involved. I got to experience this course during the 2012 AJ Open (my wife and I were traveling and decided to enter this tourney at the last minute rather than "play around" the event schedule, and I'm glad we did!) and it was in top-notch shape, but I understand that's pretty much the norm out here. Players seem pretty mindful of using the trash cans, and I'm sure the Michigan bottle deposit plays a role in keeping broken glass and plastic bottle litter to a minimum.
3. Pay to play. All of the Mason County courses, as well as Flip City, are a measly dollar (that's right, $1) per person per round. Even at this bargain, people still complain and/or refuse to pay ("disc golf should always be free" mentality, as well as just inconsiderate jackasses), but I guess those folks are everywhere. Pity. There's an honor system of "checking in" where you put your money in an envelope and sign it, and then during your round you may be subject to spot checks to verify that you have indeed paid (with the punishment of being kicked off for a year if you're caught sneaking).
4. Multiple courses on site. Two awesome 24-hole layouts (Beauty and Beast), as well as a very challenging reverse course (Goliath, which is Beast played backwards from unique tees) make this a disc golf destination, and with Leviathan a few miles up the road, the fun Scottville course nearby, and Flip City within a half-hour drive, you'd be advised to rent a house or camp somewhere and make a little disc golf vacation here (which is precisely what my wife and I did)!
5. Tee signs. New colorful signs have been added to all of the Ludington courses (including Leviathan). Beauty features red signs, Beast has blue, and Goliath has black. The signs have no depiction of hole layout, but feature the "mitten" of Michigan with the hole number and distance.
6. Tees. Nice concrete tees on all 24 holes. Some inconsistencies in sizes, but overall they were installed properly and level.
7. Baskets. I seem to remember Chainstars out here, although the course page lists DISCatchers. Whatever they were, they were all installed properly and still in pretty good shape.
8. Amenities. This large park is pretty dedicated to disc golf, but there is a playground, some picnic areas, restrooms at the pavilion, multiple parking lots (you may want to utilize different lots as a local depending on when you play, which course you're playing, and where you decide to hop on the course), and I believe dispensers for scorecards/course maps near the check-in. I highly recommend stopping at the Pere Marquette Expeditions supply store on the way in - great microbrew selection, as well as discs or whatever else you might need!
9. Navigation. Although I had the benefit of playing in a tournament, the course map and paths made getting through the course a breeze. It seems to be a very popular course, so anyone who finds themselves questioning where to go will probably be able to find locals to help.
Cons: 1. Design. Overall the holes are very short and averaged under 250' (I was throwing either my Axis or Rhyno for most tee shots), although the shot-shaping required keeps things interesting and it never really gets bland. One area of repetition I felt needed mentioning was three nearly identical holes - #11, #A, and #18, all a RHBH hyzer to a pin on a mound, although the holes all played different lengths and different heights, so again they weren't super-repetitive, and were fortunately broken up by other holes. The RHBH hyzer required on #5 is not impossible to execute, but may be seen as an unfair requirement off the tee by some.
2. Litter. I know I mentioned the cleanliness in the pros above, but this is worth mentioning - cigarette butts. Even during a sanctioned event with players who seemed to know their PDGA rulebooks, I observed countless players (from rec divisions up through open!) disposing of butts not on the ground, but IN it...the predominantly sandy soil in Western Michigan is apparently viewed as a large ashtray, and players tended to make a little hole with their foot, dump the butt, and then cover it up, as if this negated the "litter effect." Now, I'm aware that this is not "the norm" and that many Michigan golfers are respectful folks who don't litter, but I felt it was worth noting since even in the rec divisions I've played in Wisconsin, people KNOW that if you drop even a butt on the ground, you can be DQ'd.
3. Safety issues. These are minor, but cons nonetheless. Many holes play near roads (and one plays OVER a main entrance road), but with disc golf awareness being so high out here, it didn't seem to be a negative for the non-discers; in fact, there were people out for walks who would stop to watch people play a hole, occasionally cheering or asking questions. One other area of concern is crossing the tee area for #18 on your way from #17 to the #D-F loop. After playing a round or two out here it wouldn't be an issue, but the unassuming passerby or first-timer could potentially wander into someone's tee shot (and with #18 favoring a big RHBH hyzer to the pin on the hill, drives will more than likely be starting out more to the right, where the path first exits).
Other Thoughts: Mason County is a true Midwest DG Destination, up there with the Highbridge complex, Lemon Lake and possibly even Charlotte (I have yet to experience the latter two)! With 3 excellent courses here (I didn't even have time and/or the balls to tackle Goliath on this trip, but will definitely be back!) in addition to Leviathan a few miles away (which plays like 3 separate courses IMO), Flip City, and a brand new course that will rival all of them in the works at a nearby community college, as well as a few "okay" courses, plan a vacation here and plan to have a BLAST! The nearby state park makes a great side trip with some spectacular dunes and views of the Lake, and the entire city is very "touristy" and full of friendly people and lots of activities or just a chance to relax and soak in some great sunsets.
If you're coming from Wisconsin, plan a trip across on the S.S. Badger, which leaves from Manitowoc and lands right here in Ludington! And to all the disc golfers in Western Michigan, hop on the S.S. Badger and come check out our lakeside courses...we've got Silver Creek, Winter Park, and Rollin Ridge all within reasonable distance from port, and I guarantee you our locals are just as friendly!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beauty is the easiest of the Mason County Parks.
-Signs, they show the footage to the holes and are very nice looking.
-Teepads, they are nice and cement.
-Baskets - Nice with two rows of chains to catch the discs.
-Shot Variations. There is a lot of shots on this, a little bit for everyone. A lot of it's more short and technical, with good basket placement.
-Benches have been added to a lot of holes (from what a bunch of people had said) and also seemed to have trash cans almost every 3ish holes(better then some of the others)
Cons: -Throwing over the Road. There are a few holes that you throw over the road, scary to do sometimes and can make for a wait as cars will come by and people with dogs.
-Teepads , although they are there some of them are kind of short and can be covered in dirt.
-There is no service here, or anywhere near it.(atleast for verizon)
Other Thoughts: When I played this I had played it in a tourney(played doubles before had which also had the map on the score card) I never grabbed one of the score cards they had to check out, but this made it really easy to find your way around and see the holes. They do have a few blind shots, so grab a card.
It's pay to play but 1 dollar should never be to much for anyone here. it's defiantly worth it.
If you are looking for a place to stay the Mason County Camp Ground is about a 2 mile drive to the park. We stayed in the cabins and they fit four grown men on beds with a picnic table for about 13 bucks a person.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beauty is an excellent course with a more wooded feel than the other two courses at Mason County Park.
While this is the shortest course, I wouldn't call this course short. You'll need your driver on several holes, especially at the beginning of the course. Once you move into the woods you'll need to tighten up your tee shots and disc down to score well. I was thowing Rocs off the tee for almost every shot in the woods.
RHBH players have a couple ace runs if you can control your hyzer, but there isn't a lot of favoritism aside from that. You will need to throw straight, right, and left to score well.
Just like the other two courses, the variety here is awesome, . There is elevation, blind tee shots, protected baskets, and small windows to hit off the tee. I usually prefer a course with more distance, but I had a blast playing Beauty.
The tee pads and baskets were all in good shape.
Cons: The biggest problem with Beauty is the confusing signage once you move into the woods. Some of the tee signs are either too worn to read or just mislabeled. There are next tee signs on the first seven or eight holes, but as you move into the woods they are fewer and farther between. The navigation itself is pretty easy, but the poor signage makes for a lot of confusion.
As I mentioned in my Pros, there is not a lot of distance required off the tee once you move into the woods. Players who rely on distance off the tee to score well will struggle here, but players who favor a more technical course will thrive here. This isn't as much of a a con, as it is the inherent nature of the course.
Honestly, there isn't a lot to complain about here besides the poor signage. If the tee signs were upgraded, I would rate this as a 4.5.
Other Thoughts: I played this course first before moving on to Beast, then Goliath. If you're trying to take on all 3 courses on the same day, Beauty is a nice warm up since there is less physical distance to travel and you won't wear out your arm.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
The Beauty of the Three
Pros: - Good 24 hole course, mostly situated in the trees and brush, a few outside (roughly 8+)
- Variety of challenges
>High, low and medium terrain
>Condensed, breathing room and wide open
>Way left, way right and straight
- 2nd and 6th (blind ACE, has happened) very possible ACE holes, try it out :)
- Using drivers will work on some holes, but is overall a mid-range course
- Some tough putts
- Some benches, trash cans on every hole along with signs on every hole.
Cons: - Very dense brush, losing discs is a almost guarantee (bring visible discs)
- Smoking and beer allowed, so if this bugs you, beware
- No phone reception in park (so make necessary calls before entering)
* Overall, not really any cons on the actual course
Other Thoughts: - Does have bathrooms, which are pretty clean, and sinks/soap/etc.
- $1 optional (might as well pay it, its a beautiful course! and would like to keep it nice, the guys keep it up with cleaning trash)
*NOTES: When you get to the last four holes, you will cross the 18th/24 (if your counting all by number) and then take the RIGHT path, and it loops back to the 18th
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Complex- Beauty is one of 3 courses at the Mason County disc golf complex (Beauty, Beast, and Goliath). The courses are spread over a generous and gorgeous piece of land near Lake Michigan that contain hole styles in all combinations of 1) flat, up, and down; 2) varying degrees of open to densely wooded; 3) left, straight, and right; 4) long, medium, and short. The courses all begin at the same large parking lot. The 3 courses themselves are at different levels so that everyone will have a course suited for them if you had to pick one. However, the courses also complement each other well, to give you a very well-rounded overall experience if you do play multiple courses (recommended). At the parking lot is a covered picnic pavilion with really nice restrooms. The pay-to-play boxes are conveniently located next to hole 1, and at only $1 day to play it is easily worth that price. The courses didn't appear to see a high volume of disc golfers, so if you are looking to get away from the over-crowded big city courses, this is a great place to come.
The Course- Beauty itself is the shortest and easiest of the courses here, but by no means is it simple, easy, and boring. (In fact, it ended up being my favorite because of the accuracy it demanded.) The distance of the holes allows just about all skill levels to enjoy their round, but what it lacks in distance it makes up in technical accuracy. Beauty offers many birdie chances and a few ace runs. Many of the holes play in denser woods than the rest of the complex, where fairways are tight, but there is always a realistic path from tee to hole. Elevation is a factor on many holes as well.
Cons: The Course- I expected to find better tees, signs, and baskets at a place this (i.e. Lemon Lake), but unfortunately the baskets are showing age, some of the tees in the woods are rubber mats, and the signs definitely need to be improved. Especially around the part where you get to the lettered holes, it seemed to get a little confusing, and I am not even sure we ended up playing all the holes. I am usually not a fan of changing a course from 18 to 24 or 27 if the result is the flow and layout become confusing and unnatural. And why not renumber the holes from 1-24 instead of inserting a letter hole here and there?
There is decent variety in the holes, but not an excellent mix. Once you get in the woods, you are there for a while, where I prefer to mix it up from open to woods more. The entrance road runs alongside the course and you actually have to play over it, which to me seems like a bad idea, but we never saw another car, so maybe it is never an issue.
The Complex- The courses did not appear to get top priority maintenance, which is unfortunate considering the potential for having a truly special disc golf experience here. Navigation was not too much of a problem, but things like more informative tee signs, other signs along the way, and a course map would have been beneficial and would have improved the overall experience. The parking lot also looked old, and the pay-to-play boxes were dented and rusted. Sadly, the overall appearance was one of neglect. We played in mid-summer and only saw one other group here the entire day.
It is odd that the courses lie between Lake Michigan and the big Reservoir that towers over the course, yet there are no water hazards anywhere ("Water, water everywhere and not a drop to throw a disc over/in!") The reservoir itself is kind of ominous looking as we thought it was a prison because of steep walls, barbed wire fences, multiple watch towers, and warning signs to keep out. (Found out later looking at satellite images that is was water, not a prison!!! During our round a siren horn went off, making us think a convict had escaped, but it was just the signal that they were about to let water out of the dam into Lake Michigan!!!)
Other Thoughts: The Complex- Don't let the names fool you. Beast is not scary, stupid difficult; and Beauty is not super-lame easy! Both are quality courses that will challenge everyone. Obviously having 3 course layouts on site in one area is a big bonus. Plan to spend the day here. These courses, along with Flip City and Leviathan also in the area make this one of the top DG destinations in the country.
The Course- This is a tough course to rate, because the holes are excellent and it gets bonus points for not being the only course here. However, no maps, poor signs, and the overall layout keep this from being an elite course. I give it a strong 3.5 (Very Good).
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 1 Not
B+ = Beauty plus!
Pros: What I personally like and how this course stacks up in my list of 18 (and more) hole courses (over 180 played):
1) Holes with good risk/reward. Fair, but harsh punishment for bad decisions or execution. == B
(There are quite a few wooded holes on this course (6-7) that are quite good at making you take some time planning your shot - including which route to take, line within that route, and disc to use to accomplish that route. And then there is the execution on those holes.....and the punishment for failing to execute. Unlike the other courses in the park, Beauty has some "early trouble" on some holes.....meaning you mess up bad, you get knocked down early, and there is a good chance your birdie run turns into a bogey 4. Other than 1-2 holes, this is accomplished without being so punitive that it could be considered fluky. There is a little less of this early trouble testing my accuracy than I prefer, but still pretty good.)
2) Holes that have rewarding birdie opportunities for me (I rate only from the long tees). I'm a Blue level player (950ish skill) who throws 300' accurately, 360' max. == B-
(With 10 holes under 200' and another 4 under 250' there is less reward for birdies based on length alone than makes for full on exhilaration. Several of these short holes however, have a good length/width ratio to add some spice and make them more fun/rewarding. About 9-10 (half a course's worth) are the type that fit my skill and preference, and a good thing is that there is only 1 hole that is too long to ever expect a birdie....and therefore a little boring....although the shape and narrowness of #12 keeps it interesting.)
3) More wooded than open - lots of variety of shots required caused by hole shape and topography == B
(The good split fairway holes (one kind of "thinking man's holes") mentioned in point 1 are nicely counterbalanced by the other holes; the majority of which are pretty open where you can just wing it, and then 2-3 that are tunnel shots that demand execution.....or be executed. Nothing is too crazy in the creativity required to navigate Beauty, but there is a very nice variety of different kinds of left- and right-turning holes (and straight). And, although the terrain is not extreme, the design makes very good use of playing up, down and across it.)
4) Natural beauty (Appalachian beauty preferred) and seclusion. == A
(As the course name tells you, this is really where this course shines the most in my opinion. Unlike Beast and Goliath, this course is not played along the road as much and the monster dam (a looming unnatural giant) is not in view too much. There is also the beautiful hardwood forest on one side of the course, balanced out by the more grassy and coniferous other side. Seclusion is really very nice on over half the course. If it were not for the park road cutting through the middle of the course, this Beauty would have an A+ for its beauty in my book.)
5) Bonus points for multi-throw holes with defined landing zones, good risk/reward and multiple options to play them. == NA....0 bonus points for this
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
I met my Beauty in MI
Pros: -While this is the easiest of the other Mason County courses, Beauty is no pitch and putt. This is a fun course, with tons of diversity in its shots. You'll need pretty much every type of shot on these holes, even if they are all around 300'.
-This course makes excellent use of all the elevation available to it. Uphill, downhill, and cross valley holes are plentiful and excellently used.
-This course had adequate signs, and trash cans at almost every hole. Mason County also has an actual playground on site, and a very nice pavilion with bathrooms. This is a new one for dg courses.
-This course has enough rough to punish bad shots, without the real chance to swallow up a disc.
-The park belonging to Mason County is so pretty and scenic. If I were to play this course again I'd certainly bring a camera.
Cons: -The concrete tees are good most of the time, but some are narrow and pretty short.
-The signs here could use some work, especially with showing hole layout for easier navigation. Including a course map with the scorecards could definitely remedy this.
Other Thoughts: While this course is within the reach of beginners, every level of player would still find this course enjoyable. Its got enough shot variety to prove entertaining to everyone. If you're in the area, you have to come to Mason County, and Beauty shouldn't be neglected.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
She's a Looker!
Pros: - Beauty: the name says it all. While the easiest of the Mason County DG courses, Beauty is no slouch when it comes to the level of difficulty. Although generally shorter in length than the more difficult Beast and Goliath, all phases of your game will be challenged on this moderately hilly, beautifully wooded 24-hole gem. $1 pay-to-play drop boxes and sign-ins help the local club maintain this world-class complex.
- Moderate elevation throughout. Be prepared for a stunning mix of up and down through incredible wooded fairways and over open grassy stretches. Several holes offer multiple paths to the basket, each with their own unique set of risk/reward decisions.
- Stunning scenery includes orchards that over-look Lake Michigan, wooded slopes, grassy expanses dotted with brush, and the strange pleasure of playing along the tall slope of the looming Reservoir, somewhat eerie in its presence, monolithic in stature.
-Amenities include: benches and thrashcans located throughout, restrooms and drinking fountains, playgrounds, scenic areas, etc. Camping and Pere Marquette Expeditions (sells discs, minis, boats, bait, with a solid selection of beers, etc.) located nearby. Located down the street from another top-notch course, Leviathan.
-Proximity to Lake Michigan insures a bounty of wind to help your disc fly at the bidding of the dg gods.
Cons: - Concrete tees do the trick in most places, but occasionally prove to be quite short and narrow.
- Signage is adequate where it exists. After a certain point, several holes lack any markings before signs reappear regularly. This compounds a somewhat confusing flow (in a place or two only) for first-timers. Our group of 7 missed three holes, although our mistake was immediately obvious. Flow wouldn't be an issue 2nd time through for most players.
Other Thoughts: - This fair and balanced course provides a splendid variety for players of all skill levels. Not beyond beginners, this course will still force experienced discers to hit their lines and stay on point.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Location-- Beautiful park with three of the best five parks in northern lower michigan. Views of Lake Michigan throughout the park.
TeePads-- Big, appropriate size, Cement.
Variety-- TONS. There was every type of shot you would want here. Heavily wooded, open, moderate woods, up and down hills, through trees.
Lettered holes-- A was hard to find, but the DEF loop was kind of fun at the end of the course.
Cons: Navigation is much better with the tee signs being in place on >90% of the holes....
Wind/bugs-- Understanding that these are uncontrollable. it still sucked and I didn't ding for this.
Other Thoughts: even through the wind and bugs made it a little less bearable, it was a good day in ludington. How could it not be?
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 1 Not
Wooded and Tough
Pros: Mason County - Beauty is the shortest of the 3 courses in this park. The park is absolutely beautiful and seems to be totally set apart for disc golf. The entire round was very peaceful. Tee pads were in excellent condition. Baskets were in fair condition. There was enough variance in the course to keep it interesting. The wooded holes were very tough but fair. Hole #1 was a very interesting opening hole. I find the slight anhyzer to be a much more difficult shot than the big sweeping anhyzer. Be prepared to hike up a hill to the first tee for both Beauty and Beast.
Cons: My biggest problem with Beauty are the extra holes. My buddies and I had a running joke that Michigan must be full of 24 hole golf courses as well. Really, what is it about Michigan and 24 holes? From an outsiders perspective, it looks like the clubs that take care of the courses are in an immense competition. One course went to 24. Then another course went to 24. Then everybody tried "keeping up with the Jones's". I have no problem with 24 holes. However, they need to flow with the rest of the course. Beauty gets confusing because you never know when you are going to be looking for the next numbered hole or if they are going to throw in a letttered hole. Just go back and renumber the holes 1-24. It's that simple. Yet everyone in Michigan feels the need to have a Hole E. I think that my problem with the additional holes at Mason County is that they seem thrown together simply for the sake of having more holes. They are not on the same level of maturity as the rest of the course. My only other con is the lack of distance lines. There are a handful of holes on Beauty that require a fairway driver. However, most of the course is shaping your mid. Over 24 holes, there could be more variance in hole length.
Other Thoughts: Restrooms are available in the pavilion by the parking lot and are pretty nice for park restrooms. There are enough benches and trash cans throughout the course. I didn't notice any litter on any of the courses in the park. Navigation on this course is much easier than the other two courses because the other two courses intertwine.
This course seems like it would appeal most to the experienced, but not professional, disc golfer. I simply mean that many new players would find the tight gaps to be difficult to hit. Some of the closing holes on this course could be down-right intimidating to a noob. On the flip-side, there really isn't enough of an element of challenge for the professional level player. The lines on the wooded holes are straight-forward and can easily be executed. If you're one of those players who is "in the middle", (like me) you should really enjoy this course. Beauty gives the average player the opportunity to shoot a low round if they are on their technical game. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth the stop. The park is a serene place to play.
As for my rating, while Beauty is a "very good" course, it is not quite to the level of "excellent". It simply doesn't have the variety in length to garner that level. Some people may take this as a slight to the course, but it is not meant that way. It is still an above-average course that most any player should enjoy at least once.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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