A must play!
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Multiple tee pads for each hole caters to Pros and Beginnner/Intermediate alike. Great use of elevation and creeks throughout. Beautiful groves of mature trees and great mix of both short and long holes veering both right and left. Plays very fair. This course benefits the "smart" player who chooses position over sheer distance, but that said, a crusher can kill it here if they are on their game. I just can't say enough great things about this course.
Cons: The signage between 8 and 9 as well as 17 and 18 needs improvement, but this feels an easy fix. You can't play after rain as the course tends to retain water more than other courses. Mosquitoes... Although you can't really blame the course for this, bring bug spray.
Other Thoughts: It truly is one of the best courses anywhere I've seen.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
DON'T PLAY THIS COURSE!!!
3 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Warning: If you play this course, you will never be able to play another course again because this will put the rest of them to shame!
This course is perfect!
3 Huge teepads on every hole. I mean you can put patio furniture on them and entertain several guests they are that big.
Excellent signage showing where the next hole and teepad are.
Mix of very long holes with some short "must get" duece holes.
This will require you to use every disc in your bag.
Great use of elevation.
Cons: I feel bad about having cons because this is such a good course but...
There were a couple times where I had to look around for a little bit to find the next teepad (8-9 and 12-13) not too bad though.
The only other small complaint was that I sometimes didn't know what tee pad I was on (blue, white or red). Unless you can see all three, there is no marking on the sign to show what pad you're on.
Other Thoughts: This course is great. Even with my small picky complaints there was no way I would rate this less than 5 stars. I will be driving out of my way to play this course again!
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Scenic Balanced Championship Course
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Holes 1,2,5,7,8,9,10,13,15, and 18 could easily be signature holes at any other course. Water, elevation, multiple tee pads. Easy to appreciate no matter what your skill level is. So many holes and views that are breath taking. Although some holes reward a big arm, there is more reward for landing with a good lie and playing smart. This course is a true test of skill. Very replayable since there is different tee pads. You can play with friends of different skill levels and let them throw from closer pads and still be very competitive. Great course for doubles as well. Usually very clean. Most people at the park are playing disc golf but there are occasional walkers. Signage is very good, easy to navigate.
Cons: Small parking lot. Not a good course to play after a rain. Only a few trash cans at the beginning of the course. It's a workout and rounds can take close to 4 hours sometimes. There is deep vegetation along the creeks and some deep water to lose discs. Hole 14 and 16 are not very impressive. Sometimes mosquitos and ticks can be bad here. No running water.
Other Thoughts: Bring extra water and bug spray. Bring a camera. I travel a lot and have played in over 5 different states. This is the best course I have ever played.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Absolutely beautiful new course
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course was a joy to play. I would given almost anything to have a course of this caliber as my home course.
* Huge park, seemingly exclusively for disc golf
* Two creeks that are utilized throughout the entire 18
* Many, many different kinds of shots required to play this course well
* Excellent signage on the tees
* Great directional signage pointing you to the next set of tees
* City of Columbia is maintaining the tees, fairways, and greens for this course extremely well (they were tending the tee pads when I was there)
Cons: * Need more signage from 8 > 9. It's a long walk that passes through many intersecting pathways.
* Tiny parking lot, maybe 15 cars max. It was a ghost town when I was there (noon on a weekday), but for this caliber of course I would expect it to be packed on the evenings and weekends. The parking lot is grossly inadequate
* Zero trash cans anywhere except for the parking lot. This is an extremely long course, people will have trash throughout and shouldn't be expected to haul it all the way back to their car. This is ten times as important for pet waste. Dog owners will either not bother picking up after their dog, or they will just leave dog waste bags throughout the course. Nobody is going to carry that around for 18 holes. Considering how much the city is spending to maintain the grounds, they should be able to account for some regular trash pickup (I saw city vehicles driving on the course, so access isn't a problem)
* More shade in the parking and surrounding area might be nice. There's one covered picnic spot so far, and plenty of shade around #1 and #18, but the rest is baking in the sun all day. I didn't even consider using the porta-potty that is just sitting there collecting heat and funk all day long, every day.
Other Thoughts: Really loved this course. I stumbled upon it while passing through the area and am so glad I had the opportunity to play a very new Houck course that clearly has a ton of support and love from the city. I've played a lot of Houck courses in Texas, but this is the newest I've played, and it shows. The variety in shots is greater than I've ever seen in his courses, the signage is astounding, the use of natural obstacles is wonderful.
Columbia locals, PLAY THIS COURSE EVERY WEEK!
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
This course is getting better each time I play it
5 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Variety of terrain
-Use of elevation
-Lots of "natural OB"
-Multiple tees on every hole
This course is truly awesome. Living in Columbia I've gotten to watch Harmony Bends be hewn out of the dense forest and transformed into a course that is almost surreal and getting better every time I play it. The Parks Department has been keeping it as well maintained as they can with half of the course being too sloppy for mowing equipment after any rain storm. They've put in a much needed set of stairs on hole 10 making it much safer to walk down from the tees to the fairway. Hopefully they put another set on 15 between the fairway and the top of the hill where the basket is.
Cons: Nit picking here really, the course is nearly perfect.
-Parking lot is too small
-Could use a second sign between hole 8 and nine(currently an arrow made of medium sized stones points to which trail to take to 9)
-Needs stairs up to the basket from the fairway on hole 15
Other Thoughts: Definitely worth a trip to play, but be sure to check the weather. Course can become unplayable after a sustained rain spell. There are some great photos on our club's Facebook page of two club members canoeing past hole 1's basket earlier this spring after a very rainy week.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Harmony Bends is an incredible disc golf experience.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: *Epic opening and closing holes. They really are great bookends to this course. Harmony puts a great taste in your mouth initially with hole 1...and leaves you on a high with hole 18 that leaves you wanting to come back for more. Both of them are very reminiscent of Idlewild with a creek that comes into play multiple times on the same hole. Really makes for some great risk/reward shots with a variety of ways to attack them.
*The gathering area at hole one with a very well done map and circle of benches is a great place to start your round of disc golf. Many holes had benches to rest on (which you will need on this course, trust me).
*Easy to navigate with not a whole lot of unnecessary walking between holes. Very spacious concrete teepads (2-3 per hole)
*ABSOLUTELY took full advantage of the hilly terrain of the Ozarks. So many shots where you are throwing towering shots off of cliffs and likewise so many throwing back up to the top to baskets treacherously placed near the peak (death putt anyone?) Also a great mix of working in and out of the woods for some tight technical shots and some long par 5s. Harmony is an absolutely beautiful course to play...showcases the best of Missouri.
Cons: I really didn't go away from Harmony Bends with any negatives in my mind it was so good...but if I had to come up with a couple...
*Water can definitely be an issue if it rains. There are some areas that look like they can really hold some water when rain comes. Columbia had just had 2 inches of rain the night before and there was a couple places that were a bit soupy.
*While there wasn't a lot of littering on the course I am surprised that the only place there was a trashcan was hole 1. Would be nice to see a couple more (especially on such a challenging course physically where water and gatorades are a must)
*The grass was on the long side. It is a park on the outskirts of town that isn't used for anything but disc golf (to my knowledge) so it is understandable that it doesn't get as much attention as other parks...but keeping the fairways a little more manicured would be helpful.
*Not really a con (because I know the intent is to put more in and it's a new course) but there are a couple of the holes that still don't have stairs in a couple of areas where stairs really should be. I know that this will be addressed and this will no longer be a concern.
Other Thoughts: Again...I can't stress how good of a course Harmony Bends is. I have played some of the finest courses in the country. Flip, Idlewild, Selah, Rolling Ridge, etc...and this course holds it's own with all of them. John Houck has done a great job of taking a piece of land and maximizes it's potential for an incredible disc golf experience. Can't wait to see it continue to improve as they add more to this already great course. Can't wait to make the drive again to play this course.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Harmony Bends is an outsized version of an already-awesome disc golf course. Everything is exaggerated: elevation changes, tree cover density, tree cover variation, design, it's all a bit thicker, a bit longer, a bit tighter, a bit more off-center, a bit quirkier, a bit more dramatic than is seen even on great courses. The result sits atop the most consistent, engaging, challenging, and enjoyable courses I have ever played. So if you're comfortable with technical (but not brutal!) courses and a bit of a hike, feel free to consider Harmony Bends a must-play, full stop.
The elevation changes are what really make the course for me. Short technical par 3s like hole 3 become daunting tasks when played along a cliffside and approached with a steep drop-off waiting to punish long putts. Landing zones reached through tight lanes become much harder to hit when you have to navigate elevation shifts fifty plus feet in length. The natural elevation changes here are harnessed to maximize their impact on already-technical play, leading to many risk-versus-reward decisions and unique solutions no matter how experienced and capable your game is.
The terrain here is supremely varied. The front half of the course plays into thick woods as it moves up a hillside. The back half plays off this wooded hill with a dramatic downhill shot and things open up a bit; there's even a bomber hole. Tree lanes converge and widen many times, mixing up the level of technicality as the course works its way back to the parking lot. You encounter a creek a few times throughout: sometimes it's a minor consideration and sometimes it's hair-raising. While the overall level of woodedness is on the heavy side it is mixed up so much within and between holes that the course escapes feeling oppressive. Distances and par lengths are similarly well-orchestrated to keep things fresh.
The intensity of the technical play is somewhat alleviated by the three sets of tees. Though this is far from a beginner course, there are many shots here that don't punish new players. This coupled with the beautiful environment makes the course a worthwhile visit for inexperienced players even if it isn't accessible to them in its entirety.
The concrete tees are awesome. Grooming is immaculate, so much so that the chances of losing a disc to rough are very minimized. Parking is ample. Much of the course plays through the shade, providing relief even on hot summer days. Navigation is easy.
Cons: Although I am a big fan of designer John Houck's complicated par 4s and 5s I have come to accept that that feeling is not universal. If you prefer a par 54-style course emphasizing different manners of par 3s in which you're always throwing for the basket off the tee then this course may not be your thing (although it's done well enough and beautiful enough that perhaps it will convince you).
The generally technical play can certainly be a deterrent: there are lots of tight lines here, and daunting shots that require a higher-than-normal level of shot variety to attempt even from the short tees. This course can frustrate and punish, no question; I find it to be more challenging than the other Houck courses I've played at Selah and Trey ranches. My intermediate-level game didn't find it a beatdown, however.
The hillside terrain means you are in for a hike. It can be hard to match the high level of play necessary to fully engage the course as you progress through your round even if you're in good shape. This shouldn't deter anyone, but be ready to take your time and have some short breaks. Especially because there is no opportunity to refill your water or use the bathroom in the midst of your round.
Other Thoughts: As a relatively new addition to the elite disc golf courses out there I was curious how Harmony Bends would compare to the other great courses I've played like Moraine State Park, Sugaree, Selah Ranch, and Harmon Hills. Personally I thought it compares and then some: the front nine is the best stretch of nine I've ever played, scratching my very particular itch for technical and unique holes that can be played through in a variety of ways, and the full 18 count as the most consistently-awesome set of holes I have ever played. There are no throwaway holes here, nothing to just ferry you along: every hole makes an individualized contribution to the course's overall awesomeness. Exaggerated design and bold terrain make for one heck of a memorable disc golf course. Who knew?
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
The Best Missouri has to Offer
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: What an incredible joy it was to experience Harmony Bends for the first time. This course is a dream come true when it comes to course design.
The course is located on a very spacious and secluded (but only just off the interstate) park that appears to be wholly dedicated to disc golf which is a huge plus for me. There is no fear of drilling a random pedestrian :) John Houck made incredible use of the space that was available to him. With one well-marked exception, you never feel like you are encroaching on another hole with your throws.
The layout is so varied and unique that each hole constitutes a new challenge and adventure. There truly was never a moment where I felt bored or the course felt repetitive. Houck really made tremendous use of a couple creeks. I read a few reviews before I played and couldn't understand how you could lose discs in a "few creeks" but I definitely understand now. The creeks are massive and quite intimidating. They can truly wreck your score on a hole quickly....particularly on 1 and 18.
From an amenities standpoint, the tee pads were perfect and aplenty. Large concrete tees with multiple boxes (usually 3 but sometimes 2) at each hole. The different tees present you with unique challenges depending on where you choose to tee off from. Incredible thought seemed to go into each location.
There were occasionally decent walks between holes but the signage was such, that you never felt lost or confused which is a big deal to me when I play a course for the first time.
The tee signs were flawless in that they were accurate with the distances and foliage, but also very clear and easy to get a feel of the hole without ever having to walk ahead.
The baskets were in great shape and grabbed the discs really well.
The course is a real workout due to its wildly varied terrain from hole to hole. HB really makes great use of the land they have showcasing every type of shot imaginable but also taking you up huge will and down steep drops but still allowing some great but technical bomber opportunities. I needed to be able to use every throw I have and then some to navigate the endless shot possibilities and challenges each hole posses.
An earlier review mentioned the fact that the course can be fun for almost every skill level and I found that to be very true. I am a recreational player and while there were times that my butt was kicked by it, I never stopped having a blast. I will say that being out of shape and it being 95 degrees didn't do me any favors, but that isn't the courses fault.
IT'S FREE!!! This truly feels like one of those special private courses that someone pours their heart and soul into....but its a city park. Pretty awesome.
Cons: I am going to be nit picky, and these obviously didn't affect my score but I have a few things to note:
The only trashcan/restroom options are at the parking lot so plan accordingly.
It didn't seem like hole 9 finished near the parking lot so be ready to play 18 if you are out there (I reserve the right to be wrong about this because I really didn't explore after 9 to be sure)
A few times the walking conditions were dicey. Columbia had been dumped on the night before which made it quite slippery and one hole (I think 17) has a STEEP incline which was tough to traverse with the slippery mud and my out of shape carcass.
The grass clearly hadn't been mowed in a while, but it is a massive course and I would guess that maintenance of the grass will always be hit and miss. That being said, I was in the weeds/woods plenty, but didn't get a single tick.
Other Thoughts: It really makes me proud that Missouri has a course it can really hang it's hat on. Something that is truly special for people to travel to. This really is a destination course that is not to be missed if you are anywhere close to here. As the course continues to be developed with additional bridges and other amenities it will only get that much better. As it stands, it is a phenomenal course that should be experienced by any and all DGers.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Trimmed and Groomed
3 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: B E A Utiful scenery. Ace holes as well as some tough par 5's. You will need discs that roll, discs that skip, discs that float, and discs you can thread a needle with. You will walk away asking if you have time to give it another go so you can continue the fun.
Cons: This being a designer's dream come true, that other courses aren't as fun to play. Still in the developing phases, as the City is on schedule to add more steps, another course, and probably restrooms.
Other Thoughts: It's a long hike, so bring the essentials, especially if there is moisture in the forecast. Played before grooming, it can be thick, so just throw where you wont lose a disc. After groomed, like before or after a tournament, majestic. Always bring tick repellent as this course is in the wilderness, and no one wants a parasite on them. If you aren't throwing aerobie, you may want to bring a disc grabber as there are several holes with water hazards. My personal favorite is to come out before sun up, no waiting, see the animals wake up, so beautiful. God's glory to be shared!
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
The very definition of Destination Disc Golf
23 Helpful / 0 Not
• Variety: This course is complete. Never have I played a course that offers the range of distances Harmony Bends does... from the red tees alone. Some holes are pretty well wooded, some are fairly open, and all of them give you something to think about. All sorts of fairway shapes. Several holes have complex shapes requiring one or more shots to hit landing spots to set up a good look at the pin. Thirteen holes have a longer, "gold" pin placement, but they weren't in when I played. Pretty sure they're available for tourneys at the TD's discretion.
• Challenge: I can't stress this point enough; SUPERBLY DESIGNED TO APPROPRIATELY CHALLENGE ALL SKILL LEVELS from REC to PRO. That said, I don't think this course is well -suited to the truly novice player.
No fairways present one specific line and dare you to execute it. Rather, they present a few different lines, and test your ability to select a specific line, commit to that line, and then pull off that shot. While many holes are long, they're not simply about how far you can throw. You need to hit landing spots to set up the next shot if you want to be in position for a good approach or a clean putt. Every single hole presents lines that are challenging, yet completely fair. Doles out punishment for missing shots without doing so harshly. There's nothing you shouldn't be able to execute... the only question is, "Will you?"
Fairways with water in play require good decision making and proper execution... but that's the point, isn't it?
• Elevation: Tons of it. Expertly used in every conceiveable way; uphill, downhill, rollaways, gulleys. Many holes play much longer/shorter than posted.
• Use of Natural Elements: HB brings the property's natural elements into play better than any other course I've played. Water in play on several holes (multiple times on some holes). Deeper in some spots than others, the water doesn't always present a risk of disc loss, but certainly can. Elevation comes into play on the majority of holes. Wonderfully wooded, but not overwhelmingly so... never feels pinball-like. Wind shouldn't be a factor on most holes, but there are definitely a few where it can make or break you if rears its head.
• Aesthethics: Absolutely gorgeous. The most naturally beautiful course of the 200+ I've played to date. The kind of setting you wish for on a DG road trip.
• Equipment: Top notch all the way around. Grippy, concrete tees are large enough to park a car on. Tee signs at every pad show all tee locations and distances, along with multiple routes to the pin and direction to the next tee to get you headed to the next hole. Next Tee signs where necessary. There's even a sign warning you that you're about to cross #14's fairway as you walk from #12 to #13. Yellow DisCatchers catch well and scream "I'm over here!"
• Memorable/Signature holes: Where do I start?
#1: One of the best opening holes anywhere; beautiful, challenging, inviting. Lets you know right off the bat that you're in for a real treat.
#10: If you don't smile from ear to ear when you look out from this tee, my condolences. Perhaps the best hole I've ever played. You really need to stand at all 3 tees to appreciate just what Mr. Houck has done here. The red tee would be a signature hole by itself. Go back to the white, and it's even better. Go to the blue and it brings and entirely new line into play, while still allowing the same line available from the red & white tees. If you only throw one disc from these tees, please sell your bag to someone who appreciates this sport. But the hole requires more than a great tee shot - you need to be well-positioned at the far end of the fairway for a good approach shot if you want a clean putt.
#18: Another stunner with inviting lines from all 3 tees. Brings the winding creek into play on multiple shots. A magnificent finishing hole, where a 2 stroke lead isn't necessarily safe.
Many of the front 9 would stand out on other courses, but the three above struck me as truly spectacular.
• Appears to be disc golf exclusive (that said, I couldn't blame hikers for taking a stroll through this place... it's that pretty).
• Fun Factor: My Fun-O-Meter was pegged most of the front 9, then overloaded at #10.
• Reasonably well shaded on a hot day. Still it's a long trek, so bring water and snacks as you would for any long course.
• Maintenance-everything was wonderful for my round, but I imagine HB needs frequent mowing, and can hide even good shots if it hasn't been done in a while.
Cons: Only my last con speaks to the DG itself, the rest are info for travelling players.
• Not the easiest to traverse: Beautiful as HB is, it's not for everyone. This course requires you to be more sure-footed than most. Most of the creek crossings consist of boulders and large rocks. A few fairways are very steep (and particularly slippery when wet)... at least one going uphill, and another going down.
• It's a hike. HB's a big, sprawling course that takes time to get around and can't be rushed (but why would you want to)? Factor in the terrain and it's probably not the best choice for your 2nd or 3rd round of the day. Besides, you'll want it to be your 1st!
• Cart friendly: Decidely not. It's simply not feasible with this terrain - can't imagine even trying it. See 1st con.
• Flooding/Drainage: HB lies in a flood plain. This two edged sword gives the course much of its character, but also means it's going to be swampy for a day or two after it rains. If playing through a swamp isn't for you, don't come shortly after a heavy rain. That said, it does seem to drain better than other courses I've seen in flood plains (see other thoughts).
• Obviously, mosquitos are likely to be an issue in a flood plain ...plan accordingly.
• Tee markers don't indicate the color tee you're at. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's not... had to check to see where we were a few times.
• Long holes mean walking a few fairways to figure out what you want to do off some tees.
• A few of the back 9 seem rather ordinary. Not bad holes, per se, but they simply don't meet the bar set by #'s 1- 11, hence they stand out as particularly lame in contrast because of how strong the rest of the course "brings it."
Other Thoughts: Playing this course was a complete a joy. Can't tell you how many times my son & I looked out from the tee and uttered some exclamation or simply smiled like a kid opening a present. So many things gone right here that it's easy to forgive/forget a few imperfections. The outstanding holes are both, phenomenal and numerous enough to more than compensate for the few that aren't.
We probably played this course in about the worst conditions it's likely to be in. The previous day, there was a tourney where the 2nd round was cancelled due to a storm. My son and I literally played in knee high rubber galoshes... no one complained.
Located just minutes from I-70 and very close to plenty of motels and restaurants, Harmony Bends is a must play if you're going to be anywhere near Columbia with a half day to spare.
Free??? Are you kidding me??! I feel like I stole something.
Not every hole features 3 tees (some only have two). To Mr. Houck's credit, if it didn't yield a different look or line, he didn't force fit one in simply to have "3 complete sets of tees."
Let the debate begin as to whether Harmony Bends should rank in the top 10, top 5, top 25... whatever. Some will say it's the best course out there, some will say it isn't. What I can't see is how you can have that conversation without mentioning it. Not every hole is a home run (#'s 12 & 14 seem pretty ordinary), but several are Grand Slams, and Mr. Houck hit for the cycle on this one.
By the time I'd reached #9, I'd have given this course a 4.0, because I'd rather play the Front 9 at Harmony Bends than pretty much any other course I've rated 4.0.
All I know is this course had me smiling like hardly any other, and that's why I play... hence my 5.0. Maybe I'm smitten... but don't you wanna play a course that makes you feel that way?
23 of 23 people found this review helpful.
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