0 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Mike has one of the nicest courses in Hawaii. Awesome course in the rain forest on the slope of Mauna Loa. A great host too. This is a private course and you really feel like you have the course to yourself. Flowers and lava ponds abound. This is a must play for me every time I visit the Big Island.
Cons: Not really any cons other than you have to have permission to play because I'd play this course over and over.
Other Thoughts: Love hanging out on the lanai with good people, Usually Roger and Kirk join Mike.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Golf beneath the rain forest
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Mike's private course is absolutely phenomenal. I called him for permission to play during my vacation to Big Island. The course is off the beaten path, but it's worth the drive. Each hole has several lines, backhand and forehand. And none of them are gimmes. Call Mike to see this disc golf course in paradise for yourself
- technical and challenging lines
- beautifully designed and maintained
- baskets are cleary marked
Cons: - in a cleared out, but reclaimed rain forest nonetheless--wet!
- challenging terrain so watch your step
Other Thoughts: Bring rainboots if you have them, you're feet are gonna get wet. Have overstable and understable discs, you'll want both
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Vast Volcanic Variety
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Gargoyle's Garden is pretty magical. The terrain has been trimmed just enough to allow a full 18 hole course while retaining all of the natural splendor. A par of 56 that takes all shapes and sizes of throws to navigate the fairways. Challenging but playable, fun, and breath taking scenery throughout.
Mike Leitch is the proprietor of the operation, and has a good selection of discs if you need some new plastic or just want a souvenir. He was responsive when I was planning the trip and answered my questions in a very helpful manner. He also patiently helped with directions when I got lost driving to the course.
The course itself is marvelous. Trees abound, and an assortment of ferns, grasses and other exotic flora will also be obstacles on your way from tee to basket. A few holes have more clean airspace to throw big drives, but there is always something to think about as you choose your lines. There is a bit of elevation change, nothing drastic, but the land is far from flat. Sinkholes, bumps, ridges and depressions will keep you on your toes.
The layout requires a variety of shots, precision throws, and strategy. OB is in play on at least 3 holes, and one mando. Several fairways are extremely wooded and have narrow lines. It is the kind of technical and fun combination that I love. It has birdie holes, par 4's and twists and turns for every disc in the bag.
The first hole is a nice flex shot over low leafy plants, around trees, and across berms. A nice drive to lead off the round. Hole 2 is nearly blind, to a mid range target partially hidden by a small hill, and with plenty of greens to wade into if you overthrow. Hole 3 is more open, but has OB to the right if you land on the wrong side of the fence. The basket is on top of an old SUV skeleton to make that putt a little trickier.
Holes 4 and 5 are just beautiful fairways that require straight, controlled drives. Hole 6 is not long, but its a right to left line that can deflect off any number of trees.
Hole 7 is through plenty of forrest, and the basket is in the bottom of a 15 foot sinkhole. 8 looks like a straight shot, but the direct line has a lot of brush under it if you get knocked down early. The left to right line my offer better odds. 9 takes you through several clusters of trees to round out the front.
Hole 10 is the first par 4, and has one of the nice turf tees under a canopy. There is more than one line, and any way you go will be kind of tight. 11 is shorter, right to left, but not an easy pin location. 12 is a bit of a flex shot that has some distance and plenty of trees once again.
13 is the second par 4 hole. A fence runs the right side and if you cross over you're OB. There is a cluster of trees that are in the perfect place to knock down a drive and add a penalty stroke. The basket is to the left, and slightly uphill, protected by several trees. Birdies are not out of the realm of possibility, but the wind ate me up and spit me out into the bad place. 14, 15 and 16 are all bumpy fairways that have tough lines through trees.
17 is mostly open to the right, allowing a big right to left hyzer into the woods where the basket is tucked away. The closer you get to the pin, the more the lines improve for the approach. 18 is an "island green" that is OB outside of the boundary. The island is a fenced dog pen that has several trees standing along the fence line. Inside the pen there are several plants and a couple of earthen mounds in front and back of the basket that can make the putt more intimidating.
The baskets are nice, with red rims above the chains, and numbered red flags to add visibility through the trees. The tees are not uniform, but I didn't have any trip ups with any of them. The layout flowed well, and didn't require a lot of extra walking. All of the holes are pretty high quality. If I had to select favorites holes 4, 7, 10, 13, and 17 would get serious consideration.
Cons: The rainforest has a habit of being really wet. The first couple of holes had a bit of standing water in places but were still very playable. If you throw one outside of the fairway it can be very challenging to retrieve, weather it is due to thick vegetation or treacherous footing. Strong trade winds were blowing and complicating things too.
The tees are not consistent, some are rubber, some dirt and a couple of them have nice platforms with turf. The natural tees are decent, but not always level or roomy. An eventual upgrade of all tees to turf platforms would be really nice.
Other Thoughts: This was the first course in my 50th state, and what a way to finish off the mission. Mike knows disc golf, and he has painstakingly crafted a beauty of a course. It is unlike any other that I have played across the nation. The local landscape has been gently pruned in a way that conserves the native trees and beautiful plant life, leaving 18 fun and challenging holes.
Mike has created a totally unique course on his scenic island property. He is a friendly host that had guided nearly 500 players around the 18 hole layout at the time of my visit. I was number 493 in the register that began listing visitors about 3 years ago. By the way, every 100th visitor gets a free Gargoyle's Garden disc.
I felt fortunate to be there two days before a C tier one day tournament, because the course was in top form. The rain forest will consume the fairways quickly if regular maintenance lapses for any extended length of time. The work is continuing, mainly by adding improved
tee boxes. I won't ding the rating because the tees that are in place did just fine for me, but all turf tees with signs would be a nice touch.
I shot a 61 (5 over par), but I know I could do better if I played a couple of more rounds. The wind got me on a couple of throws, when I didn't commit to making some shots head on into it. I made birdies on 3 and 6, but I had OB penalties on 5 and 13. I also took bogies on 7, 8 and 16. This layout is tough but fair, and I hope to play there again someday.
Do not rely on Google Maps to take you to his place if you choose to visit. Follow the directions on the course page, they are accurate. GPS had me driving into a big field of tall grass.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 9 Not
awesome hideaway coarse
Pros: Great coarse running on the side of a volcano in hawaii. No other coarse like it anywhere I have played, has great beauty all around, with a good technical layout for players of all ranges and ages.
Cons: Bring good shoes it is a brain forest in hawaii.
2 of 11 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Fun adventurous course with a great host
Pros: - Not a typical "distance" course but offers many different approaches within the rainforest. Technical game has to be on point.
- Two different tees for varying skill levels. The pro tees aren't necessarily much longer but goes back to the technical focus of the course.
- Great and flexible host. I called Mike an hour before we wanted to come up and he graciously had us come up. He then played with us to show us around.
- Each tee presents different challenges. One of the last ones we played was an island about 40x80' that you need to land in to stay in bounds. Never seen this type before but was fun.
Cons: - Course still in development. Some tee boxes aren't completed and regular maintenance is strenuous, leaving high grass and difficult terrain in some areas.
- Without Mike showing us around, it would've been difficult to go from tee to tee. There are no signs nor maps that I am aware of.
Other Thoughts: - It's in the rainforest. Be prepared for this. It gets wet. I'm talking rubber boots and a change of clothes.
- This is a private course that Mike is the only owner of. Keep this in mind when playing as it's a lot of work to clear all this with one person!
- Discs and T-shirts are for sale. Bring cash as it's a great way to get a Gargoyle Gardens logo disc and support Mike.
-Lots of tall grass. Bring discs that you can find easily.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Gargoyle's Garden is situated in the middle of a dense rainforest Mike Leitch has taken ten years to clear to his liking. When stepping off of the fairway it's easy to see the amount of work it must have taken, with the forest providing no room to step, let alone walk. Needless to say, the flora is amazing with giant ferns in the fairway and gorgeous indigenous flowers throughout. There are even a few naturally occurring coffee plants waking you to the wonders of the island.
But this isn't just a scenic course. Mike also knows golf. The holes are a good mix of shots, making every hole memorable, challenging and different. Mostly tight lines with fair gaps for good players, but a few more open holes near the front of the course to warm up. Hole 18 is open but requires shooting to an island green. The course is not righty or lefty friendly, but will challenge every shot in your bag. Overhands and turbos may provide some relief from all the amazing flora. There are even two par fours, but gripping and ripping may find you in the deep jungle.
I challenge you to find a better host. Mike was as gracious as a man can be and will tell you all about the history and what he has in stall for the future of this unreal property. He cares about furthering the sport and even teaches at the local school.
Cons: Be prepared for rain, as this side of the island gets a lot of it. However, there is nothing that can detract from the beauty and, if prepared, one's golf game won't suffer from it.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Play through a upland forest of Ohia.
Pros: A privately owned tight wooded course on the Big Island of Hawaii. The owner and operator is a very gracious and fun host. A very memorable course not only for volcanic mountainside location but also vegetation. Aloha Mike! Thanks for showing this mainlander and his wife a very good time on such short notice!
Cons: Still in the development phase, some holes are a bit "rough around the edges". Some tees are unmarked. You will probably need to play with a local or the owner in order to navigate. Terrain can be very bumpy or even jagged in spots, so it's important to watch your step as you traverse the course. That being said, I played through in open toed hiking sandals without any problems.
Other Thoughts: If you find yourself on the rainy side of the big island, it's a must do. I will definitely play there again next chance I get.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 3 Not
A rare find on Big Island
Pros: Full 18 hole course with a diverse range of holes
Packed gravel tee pads
Mike and the dg community have spent hundreds of hours developing this course and perfecting it and the effort really shows.
Really friendly group of people play here
Cons: Its a private course so you need to contact Mike before you show up.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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