Bravo!! An Outstanding Design.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I had the pleasure of playing this course three different mornings. I played the white tees twice and the red tees once.
My first Pro is how well the various tee positions are handled. The course offers Red, White and Blue tees, with an additional option of a Gold basket position that is apparently used only for tournaments. This choice of tees give players of widely varying ability a chance to play the course in a way that is appropriate for them. Each of the tees offers exactly the same excellent teepad and signage so there is no difference in that part of the experience. This is different than many excellent courses that present the "main" teepad, with others included as afterthoughts without finished pads or signage.
This is a hilly wooded course with a complete variety of hole lengths and fairway shapes. There are everything from short, technical uphill holes to long, technical downhill holes. Straight shots, sweeping shots, and doglegs are all present and accounted for. What doesn't change is the trees. They are unrelenting and ever ready to knock your errant shot out of the fairway.
There is a winding creek that plays prominently on Holes 1 and 18, and a larger creek that shapes the drive on Hole 13.
The Red tees on every hole shortened the things up and generally eliminate a set or sets of obstacles presented at the White and Blue teepads. In some cases (Hole 10) the difference in distance was modest and the line unchanged. But for other holes the difference is huge. At Hole 1 the Red Tee eliminates 250', many trees and a creek crossing. At Hole 8 the Red Tee uses a completely different and more open fairway. And at Hole 18 the Red Tee eliminates the raised elevation of the other tees and essentially starts you from the landing area for their first shot.
While five of the holes combine the White and Blue into a single teepad, most holes offer separate White and Blue pads, for a total of 49 outstanding tee positions. The tapered concrete teepads are huge, at around 15' long and 6' across the front and even wider across the back. Each teepad has an excellent John Houck tee sign, with the expected par and distance information, and an extremely detailed diagram showing all relevant trees, creek crossing, OB areas, etc. They also show the various fairways and routes to the baskets, along with direction to the next tee(s).
Innova DisCatcher baskets catch great and show up well in the shadows.
Navigation could not be any clearer. There are next tee signs for every hole, showing the direction to each of the next tee pads. There are clear paths to each of the three subsequent tees. There are sturdy bridges or constructed boulder crossings at each creek, and wooden stairways going down a couple of steep hillsides.
Cons: Very difficult to come up with any as this is a fantastic course.
The parking lot was surprising small, with about 15 spots. There are folks using the area for walking and other activities, so busy DG days could result in parking issues. I did not see any other parking nearby.
There were a few boggy spots on the days that I played, but the weather had been wet.
The teepads in the area of Holes 12-15 are set flush with the ground, and can collect mud in wet weather. On one morning I decided to avoid a single teepad that was still wet, muddy and very slick. By the next day it had dried out.
Other Thoughts: This is a tough course, even from the Red tees. There is elevation and so many trees on every hole. So while not a particularly relaxing course, it will challenge every disc golfer who chooses to play it.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Can we award a sixth star?
9 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: I travelled a long way to play this course and it was worth every mile. My group (three 900-930 rated golfers) played two full rounds from the White tees. It is a step above any other course I've played - not only is the infrastructure (especially tees) high quality, but the length and variety of shots required, plus the park environment, is spectacular. The four par 5s that require real tactical shot selection made this the closest experience to ball golf I have ever had - holes 9 and 10 in particular are fantastic fun and rewarding to get right. The fairways always feel ... fair - as in, there is always space to make good shots if you stick to them - unlike a few courses I've played where there isn't a clear line to the basket. It's a long course but it doesn't feel like a slog because every shot is a different challenge.
Cons: It made me realise I have rated other courses too highly!
Other Thoughts: Make the effort to play here - you won't regret it!
9 of 13 people found this review helpful.
One of the Best Courses in the Game
22 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Harmony Bends is a gorgeous disc GOLF course with great variety that provides a difficult, yet fair challenge to ALL skill levels due to three well-conceived and implemented sets of tees.
The course terrain is optimal for disc golf with plenty of mature trees and elevation changes. The design makes excellent use of these resources to provide a very enjoyable walk through the woods and spot-on fair challenge.
The course is very well balanced in terms of scoring requirements. Course management wells heavily as does shot-shaping and controlled power. There are also quite a few holes where risk/reward "on the green" is greater than the typical course.
For a challenging wooded course the routes are not too tight, but are just right and fair. The older, wider trees are excellent, fair hazards are there are very few tiny "plinko" trees that take away from some wooded courses.
Some notable holes:
Hole 1 provides a moderately challenging par 5. It has a gorgeous look and really invites players in to a very special disc golf experience and challenge.
Hole 2 offers a fair challenge off the tee to set up a very picturesque second shot into this moderately long par 4. The basket is perched up a hill and nicely framed by a rock wall and steep drop-off. Depending on the quality of the drive, the second shot can vary from a scary "must-get" to a very scary risk/reward opportunity.
Hole 8 is a shortish par 3 up a steep hill with basket beautifully framed on a plateau near the steep drop-off. Putts from outside of the circle can really test player's nerves here. The basket location is very fair, however, in that it's flat in the five meter circle with little chance of unfair roll-aways.
Hole 10 is one of the signature holes. The par 5 offers two windows for the tee shot off a tall hill to two distinct routes. Players can execute really fun tee shots here or have their errant throws punished setting the stage for a memorable hole.
On a course with many options, hole 12 is unique in being a wickedly tight, straight 300ish footer. This shot is quite tough, while being fair and provides a nice change-up on the course as a mental challenge.
Hole 18 provides an epic finish to an epic course. A birdie 4 and even par 5 feel really good while 6's, 7's or worse await players who fail to execute and/or make strategic mistakes.
Cons: Very few.
The left-side fairway route on hole 10 could be carved out just a wider to make it a truly viable option on the hole.
Hole 15 could use a set of stairs built into the side of the hill leading up to the basket. I played a tournament round here and 3/4 of my group face-planted walking up the fairway here when the ground was a bit damp.
Hole 18 needs to have the creek OB marked up at the top. I witnessed a few players with discs at rest on the sides of the ravine that were dangerous/inaccessible and created some points of disagreement on rules interpretations.
I'd love to see two loops of nine holes implemented here.
Other Thoughts: Of the John Houck courses I've played, I'd consider this one to be neck and neck with W R Jackson for my favorite. I'll give Harmony Bends the nod due to the multiple sets of tees.
Is this the absolute #1 disc golf course? Maybe. I'd highly recommend that you make the trip to give it a play and decide for yourself.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Arm me with harmony
37 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: It's a wooded course designed by John Houck but with a bunch of elevation. Okay, I'm in.
The course tests your decision making from the first throw with your drive crossing over two bends of the snaking creek before a third crossing at the end. The wooded creek feature reminded me most of Selah Creekside and Hummel, although this is better than both of those. Midwestern wooded riparian terrain feels different than other places.
The front half of the course is wooded and very hilly. Hole 5 is one of the best with a big uphill blast to clear some tiered features on the hill before a bending fairway over a hump to the basket. Hole 9 is a 684-foot monster, requiring hitting a reasonable gap before a steep uphill climb. There are a couple ways to get to the basket well beyond the crest of the hill. Feel the wind come out of your sails if you hit one of the early trees.
The course opens up a little to flatter ground for holes 10-14. Hole 10 is a downhill bomb, but the fairway narrows and uncontrolled distance will mean an awkward second shot. Hole 13 was a fun, open shot with one of the creeks to your left (with an imposing bank). The fairway bends to the right before you have to negotiate a tree that is basically growing sideways across the fairway. It was pretty and fun both times I played it.
There are three tee pads on most holes. I played the whites and the reds. The whites are slightly shorter than the blues but usually feature a tougher gap or angle. The reds are significantly shorter with more birdie runs, but they are definitely not easy. Don't introduce your grandma to disc golf on these red tees (in fact, don't introduce her to disc golf at all. She's just happy you paid her a visit and is wondering if she can get you something to eat).
The tee signs are Houck classics, showing the different landing areas and approaches. All tee pads are concrete.
Cons: Drainage was an issue on several fairways (2, 10, and a couple others). I was lucky to avoid the big puddles by chance, but they were deep enough that getting my disc back would have been annoying.
Navigation was mostly fine, but on hole 9 I played what I thought was a brilliant third shot and then realized I had parked the basket for 16. The tee sign was obviously correct, but it's a long enough hole with subtle turns in the fairway that I thought I was taking the lefthand gap. Also be careful after hole 12. I accidentally skipped holes 13-14 before doubling back.
Hole 18 was one hole I have mixed feelings on. I'm not sure I found the right way to play the fairway on the right side of the creek, and I'm wondering if the left side of the creek really needed to be OB. Not sure. I don't hold water hazards against a course (I actually really like them), but FYI that the creek can be a real pain to retrieve discs from. I lost two discs here and took about 20 minutes to get one of them back (the other was 5 feet deep).
Other Thoughts: Since my review will likely drop this course from the #1 spot (temporarily?), I feel I should explain why I don't think this is a 5.0. There are two characteristics that my 5.0 courses have. One, the design is so great that you spend time on the tee box thinking what you might want to throw because you have options to weigh with good risk/reward decisions. Harmony Bends has a ton of this. Two, there are so many memorable holes that you can't decide which is the signature. On this front, Harmony Bends does not quite measure up to Maple Hill, Highbridge Blueberry, Highbridge Gold, or Selah Lakeside. It's a little like explaining why Weird Al Yankovic's "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" is a little better than "Albuquerque." They're both doing similar things, but one does it a little better. And I don't like arguing with you about Weird Al.
In terms of rating and overall feel, I would say this compares most closely to Sabattus Eagle. It's a superb course with terrific design that is a hair below the best of the best. I got up well before dawn and drove out of my way to get here, and I'd do it again. I've got a funny little feeling I'll be coming back again next year.
37 of 38 people found this review helpful.
Outstanding with potential to get even better
24 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: + A true destination course.
+ Subtle details make a huge difference in this course. Shorter holes are challenging and require execution. The longer hole require strategy and execution, choosing a landing zone and hitting it.
+ The longer holes contain a good mix of technical aspects. Some play like safari holes, with 2 or more distinct components.
+ It's very wooded, but the undergrowth has been cleared out well.
+ Great use of changing elevation and natural elements.
+ Good man-made elements (stairs, bridges, creek crossings, rock walls, etc.) to bring the course together.
+ Overall, signs and directions are really good.
+ This course will develop your game. It's very tough, but also fair. There's an emphasis on placement shots, accuracy, strategy, and versatility.
+ Updates: Signage was perfect for the Mid America Open and stairs have been added to holes 7 and 15!
Cons: - There's a large dead tree in the middle of the fairway on 6. I don't really understand why it wasn't removed when the course was built.
- There's a huge, leaning sycamore tree between hole 9's basket and hole 10's tee that looks like a safety concern. It's got the potential to come uprooted during high winds and wet conditions. Leaving it seems like a very unnecessary safety risk.
- The parking lot is too small for the number of players this course is going to attract. During dry conditions there is plenty of parking available in the grass, though.
- I wouldn't mind seeing a few more trash cans added throughout the course. (I only remember seeing 2, along with a few recycling bins.) I didn't see any litter or broken glass, but it's only a matter of time before people will get lazy.
Other Thoughts: * When I played this course initially, many of the leaves had already fallen and everything was fairly open. It's tighter during May-September, but not overwhelming.
* Some of the unmarked roads caused some confusion and misdirection for me the first time through. It would have been nice if they were shown on the course map to provide an additional level of clarity for first-time players.
* Big benefits to be able to throw both forehand and backhand.
* Holes 9 and 10 can completely destroy a round. They're long and require 3-4 really good shots to reach the pin, but also offer plenty of opportunity to get into trouble.
* I think hole 18 is the toughest on the course. There's a high-risk birdie route along the creek and a safe route around the back side at the bottom of the hill. However, the safe route is ill-defined. I think it would play a little better if that fairway were a little more open and obvious.
* I didn't get hit with a "wow" factor like what you might expect from a top level course, but there's not anything that leaves you feeling underwhelmed. Although, there are probably 6 holes here that would be signature holes almost anywhere else.
* I don't think you can get a great feel for the full experience from a single round. Each hole is so captivating on it's own, that it tends to overwrite the one before.
* Update: Since stairs were added to 7 and 15, I've changed my rating from a 4.5 to a 5.0. (The shots didn't get any easier, though.) The City of Columbia and CDGC has done a tremendous job not only maintaining this course, but improving it.
24 of 24 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 24 Not
Very Beautiful and a Great Challenge
Pros: -well maintained
-great mix of lengths and styles
-easy enough for beginners but still challenging
Cons: -so many trees to hit
-very tough if a bad throw
-some holes have very steep hills to climb
Other Thoughts: overall, the course is amazing, it's very challenging but still possible to do well. i've played the longer holes differently each time so i still get challenged differently each time
3 of 27 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 15 Not
Harmony Bends, a well designed course.
Pros: -teepads are large and each hole has 2-3
Cons: -play is affected by rain
-some signage could help with flow
-trash cans are for the most part absent
-small parking lot
Other Thoughts: Harmony bends is the best course i have ever played. It will likely remain the best course u will ever play.
Every hole you can see the process the course designer went through, making each hole challenging and a pleasure to play.
The property is fantastic, elevation, terraces and great use of natural features.
The high rating on dgcr has a had a massive effect on the time and money the local council is putting into the course.
Go play this course.
5 of 20 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 15 Not
A great course for all skill levels
Pros: Three giant teepads per hole with normal and gold positions give the course tons of variation. If you're a rec player, you can play a more casual but still really great, challenging round. Or if you're Paul McBeth, you can play the long pads and still be challenged.
The city has done a great job maintaining the course and it looks great.
Most of the longer and wooded holes have different fairway options so if you're a big side arm or backhand thrower, you'll usually have some sort or route.
Cons: The cons are are hard to list and the overall course makes this feel nit picky, but: it needs a bigger parking lot, it needs more trash cans, and it does have potential to flood.
2 of 17 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 19 Not
Perfect Disc Golf
Pros: Lots of elevation and multiple tee pads. You will use every shot in your arsenal and disc in your bag to complete this course!
Beautiful views and a great hike!
Pro or joes will have a good time here.
Disc golf only, not a lot of other foot traffic.
Cons: Soggy for a few days after rain, it's on a 100 year flood plain.
Some of the signs have been stolen, not the courses fault.
Other Thoughts: A must play course!!
4 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Skill and Fun Required
1 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: The first hole sets it all up of what you will face the remainder of the day. Accurate lines and we'll placed shot making is rewarded, through very scenic wooded terrain.
Some may consider the length a con, even myself as a moderate beginner level, but I find it more fun as I have more opportunity to practice while playing longer shots.
Cons: Wait 2-3 after any rain event, otherwise you find lots of wet spots in landing areas... especially on the back nine. Larger rain eventa will flood the course and may take a week to dry out.
1 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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