Quality, technical woods golf
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: To preface, my reviews of both courses on site are very similar as they essentially just play as a single 18 hole course. I am rating the courses as if they were separate 9 hole courses, like they are listed on DGCR, and not as a full 18. If the full 18 was listed as a single course on DGCR I would rate as a 3.0; hole design worthy of a 3.5, maybe a 4.0, but it's brought down by the cons.
1) The Golden Eagle half of the 18 is a little more open than the Bald Eagle, but the technicality of the par 4s brings them pretty much equal as far as technicality goes. All the holes have lines to hit and missing them will punish you with tough scrambles for par, or worse. If you have a big arm and are feeling risky the par 4s are all eagleable, though a couple would definitely require something magical and are way beyond my abilities.
2) Variety is a plenty, much more so than the other 9 on site. Holes 1, 2, and 7 play in moderate woods. 3, 4, 5, and 6 are more heavily wooded. Hole 8 is very open with the basket situated on a tricky green and hole 9 is a truly unique experience that plays right on the beach of Lake Pepin of the mighty Mississippi River with a beautiful backdrop of the multi-hundred foot high bluffs along the river's edge. Unlike the Bald Eagle, there were no holes that forced a forehand out of me (left handed) off the tee and definitely plays slightly biased towards LHBH/RHFH players. There are also multiple raised baskets, and hole 3 is situated inside a multi-trunk tree that can leave some tricky putts, even well inside the circle.
3) While I don't recall them on every hole, there were benches and other places to rest mid round near a few of the tees. There are no trash bins, but being a private course with little traffic there's no litter to speak of.
Cons: 1) The density of the rough is a little bit much in some places. Nothing was overcrowding the fairway but getting off the fairway at all on holes 3, 4 or 5 is quite the adventure and you won't get anything much more than a pitch out unless you get lucky. The tee pad for 5 also had a decently sized pile of logs on it that made it a bit difficult to play. Not foliage related, though similar, but the infrastructure and cables holding up the ropes course that hole 7 plays under is quite awkward to play around.
2) Natural tee pads, but they are in good shape so it is not a major con at all, but just something I don't like on courses. Also no tee signs, but most tees are marked with little flags, framed with little logs, or visibly different than the surrounding ground. Hole 8 is completely unmarked and you just have to know where it is, using the course map we teed from the wrong spot. The wooden tee pad for hole 9 on the beach is quite good, though, no complaints about it.
3) The baskets are a bit janky, homemade looking targets but they catch fine. Comparable to Mach IIIs, so no real complaints about them. Just mentioning it since some people may hate them.
4) Navigation is difficult. I knew this going in, especially since Matt wasn't able to meet my brother and I there to show us around, but it's still worth mentioning and something I'd consider a con. With the course map we had to do a little back tracking in some spots and I'm pretty sure we missed a couple of the correct tee locations. Either that or the distances listed here in the 'hole info' tab are quite off on a couple holes. For hole 1 we certainly didn't tee off from the right spot since I was able to throw pin distance on my drive, but using the course map we couldn't find anything that looked like a tee area. The image for hole 6 implies to tee off from across the road, but we didn't see a tee area over there and did see one on the near side of the road. Hole 7 looked to have two areas that could be tees and looking at the listed distance of 265ft we almost certainly teed off from the wrong one. The tee location indicated by the map which we teed off from also does not match up with the image of the tee for hole 8 on the site. Obviously, with Matt's guidance this wouldn't have been an issue but if, like me, you will be checking out the course without him definitely be prepared to *probably* play the course incorrectly.
5) Not necessarily a con for me, but for some the limited availability could be an issue. Though, with how thick the rough already was in early May when I played you probably wouldn't want to play the course mid-summer when it isn't available anyway.
Other Thoughts: This course plays as the back 9 for the full 18 on site. Despite the shorter list of pros and having an extra con on account of the baskets (which honestly didn't affect my rating at all since they caught well enough) compared to the Bald Eagle course, I did enjoy the Golden Eagle course more. I very much enjoyed the par 4s, especially holes 4 (despite playing it terribly) and 5 (I'm a sucker for any hole with a tunnel and white pines). Hole 9 is like nothing else I've ever played and definitely a the most memorable hole on the property. The YMCA camp director greeted us in the parking lot and was very friendly and happy to see us out there. Looking at the course in isolation from the other 9 on site and ignoring the cons I would rate this like the other 9, among the best 9-holers I've ever played. Though, again like the other course, with the cons it's a half disc lower. With the extra variety and a couple good par 4s I'm very close to bumping it up to a 3.0, but only being 9 holes is holding it back. Hence why as a full 18 I would rate the course a 3.0 despite rating both 9s a 2.5 individually. Fixing the navigation issues to make the navigation more intuitive without a guide would be an instant up a half disc on the rating for the Golden Eagle course. With both 9s having better navigation it may be worth giving the full 18 a theoretical bump form a 3.0 to a 3.5, but I would have to revisit the course to decide for sure. The course is very fun and definitely worth your time, but not something to plan a trip around.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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