Up And Coming Course
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (3.214 Rating) An intermediate level course with lots of shop shaping opportunities.
- RAW BEAUTY - Definitely one of the better looking courses in Alabama. Being located right off the banks of the Tennessee River, some of the views from this layout are stunning. In addition, the natural fauna will blow away just about and city park course. I saw a big buck hopping along (16) as I approached the basket. Of the 227 courses I've played as of this review, Joe Wheeler State Park is in my top 25 in terms of beauty.
- CHALLENGING - There are lots of bending tight lines to hit on this layout. I appreciated the amount of thought I had to put into my throws. A few shots seemingly feel unreachable, namely (4), but who knows, maybe I'm not good enough. Although tighter, the length is very approachable to intermediate level players and probably some veterans rec players as well. I think 900 rated players will finish around even or so, but their scores will vary drastically. I'm an intermediate level player and I could easily see myself throwing a round 5 over and 5 down. This course will probably get more difficult during summer peak overgrowth.
- ELEVATION - Joe Wheeler has some of the best elevation in Alabama north of Birmingham, I've played them all. Lots of holes change in the 20 to 30 foot range and a couple are in the 40 foot range. I do wish however that there was a better downhill play. From checking topoquest.com, it seems like a 50 to 60 footer would have been possible within the course's footprint.
- VARIETY - A bit above average. Lots of crafty technical plays bending in all sorts of directions. There are three par 4s and two of these have a bit of a dog leg left in them. Not too many opportunities to let one rip for the bigger arms but those that max out at 350, they will have several driver plays. The biggest omission I found was not introducing the water on any of the holes. Standing on (16) tee looking north there is a mini water inlet with some rock features. It could have been the signature shot. Maybe the park's design directive was to avoid water. Other missing items include a Par 5, dogleg right and an open shot.
- SHOT SHAPING - Hitting some of these lines is exhilarating. I was shocked to run it clean to the basket on (6) where the line is a subtle double move with a width under six feet in spots. Veteran players who crave technical courses will love these lines.
- NAVIGATION - Pretty good for a heavily wooded course. Course map, tee signs, some directional cues and intuitive pathways between holes. There were scorecards with course maps print on them available at the course map as well. I do hope that when the tee signs are redone that they include next tee directions.
Cons: No major flaws of substance with Joe Wheeler but there are several reasons why this course falls just short of a 3.5 in my rating style.
- TEES - As of this review the pads are flat, but they are carpet and only four feet wide and ten feet long. Upgrading these to concrete alone would probably incline me to up the courses rating to a 3.5.
- NO MULTI TEES - Since the course has only installed carpet tees to this point, I'm baffled as to why a second set of tees weren't installed. Cost in minimal and room is available. An extra set of tees will make this course appealing to more skill levels.
- CHARACTER - The course has a nice start but lacks the pleasantries that are present at the established courses. In addition to sub-par tees the baskets look cheap, IMO they most closely resemble mach 2s. These baskets don't have the same heavy chains like the baskets that populate top courses. There is however a nice course map and ok flimsy plastic hole signage. The hole signage's is sometimes lacking artistic accuracy, but in fairness it's rare to see perfection on heavily wooded courses. I shot down the wrong lane on (6) due to the inaccurate signage, so I re-thru . As for items that I hope will appear in the future, they include adding alternate basket locations, duel tees, a practice area and some more seating at the tees.
- BEGINNER FRIENDLY - Players that don't have 50 to 100 rounds in the bag should avoid playing this course unless they are a gluten for punishment. Errant shots with a bad ricochet could mean a lost disc or a perilous retrieval effort.
- OVERGROWTH - I played in winter when it wasn't so bad but I can image this place gets quite overgrown during the summer. There's extensive thicket out here. I wouldn't be surprised if there's lots of poison ivy as well, although I didn't see any.
- PAY TO PLAY - Park fee is $4, worth it IMO for this course.
- TERRAIN - I would not call this course cart friendly. way to many nooks and tree stubs to make rolling around a cart an enjoyable experience. Not the best course for those will knee joint pain or walking difficulties
Other Thoughts: Joe Wheeler is among my favorites in North Alabama. Very similar to Alabama state courses Monte Sano, The Eagle and Flying Dragon, but with more elevation. For those in the Nashville area, it's very similar to Cane Ridge, although that course is a slightly better example of the same style. It wouldn't take much for me to up the rating to a 3.5 as it's a very strong 3 in its young state. I hope to come back in a year or so and see concrete tees or a second set of tees. Alternate basket would be great too.
- TIME PLAY - I finished my winter round in just over an hour and I spent some significant time searching for discs. I think Joe Wheeler will fall right around average in time length to play. Figure a group of four will be in at around 120 to 150 minutes.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Good wooded technical course in a very nice state park on the shores of beautiful Wheeler Lake/Tennessee River. Holes 1,10,11,18 more park style and are really fun, and the rest are heavily wooded and will test your accuracy and discipline on every shot, yet there are plenty of rewarding chances for birdies. There is a some variety of elevation mixed in utilized effectively. Good job in hole design to have variety from hole to hole in regards to fairway shape (some straight, left, and right).
Newer course, still looks it, but actually looked more broken in than I anticipated. All fairways are completely fair (no poke & pray). In mid-June there was hardly any thick growth off the fairways, making finding discs easy even leaving the challenge in the recovery shot- the way I think disc golf should be.
Excellent course map at kiosk, good tee signs. Navigation easy with the course map, and in fact there were paper scorecards and course maps available at the kiosk (a rarity these days). There is even a marker in the basket indicating the direction of the next tee- very helpful especially when crossing the road to know where to go. I always like when a course has 2 loops of 9, which this one does.
Monkey Trap baskets. This was my first exposure to this brand/style. They are very similar to Machs and caught putts very nicely. Coated in red [or is it crimson, because everything in Alabama has to be red, right?], which is not the color I would have chosen to be the most visible on a wooded course, but really I had no trouble finding the basket on each hole.
The restrooms at the parking area were a nice bonus.
Cons: Lacked the wow factor and no real signature holes or holes that are unique from other technical woods courses.
Carpet tees- which were acceptable, but concrete is always preferred to me for levelness, aesthetics, and permanence.
Hole length- I got about 3/4 through and thought how almost all the holes so far had seemed to be about the same length. That is when the onslaught of the few longer holes all hit you back to back to back with 15-17, plus much of it is uphill. Tough finish. Nit picky, but I wish that there was more of a mix throughout instead of having similar holes in bunches.
Park fee- $4 per person per day to use the park. Not a bad price considering how nice the park is, and it will likely result in the course not being crowded. My issue was nobody was there to take money as I entered, or even as I left (a weekday morning in the June). Seemed strange considering that area of the park also has a swimming beach- which not a person was at either!? There is an honor box to put your money in, so bringing exact cash is recommended.
No water in play, despite bordering the lake.
Other Thoughts: This was a fun and enjoyable round. It is very shady throughout, especially nice in Alabama on a hot summer day. I rate it a strong 3.0 [good] presently, but with some maturing over time to improve the aesthetics, and maybe the addition of better tees, I could see it as a 3.5. Nothing here really stood out as being spectacular or a national destination, but this course could be enjoyed by most every level of disc golfer and I would recommend it to others if in the area. I hope to play here again sometime in the future.
Parking for disc golf is the same as for the tennis courts.
Northern Alabama is developing in a decent area for disc golf with McFarland and Veterans in Florence to Flying Dragon in Decatur and Sparkman in Hartselle, and now Wheeler State Park in the middle. And all this does not even include all the established Huntsville courses.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Over the hill and through the woods
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: New Monkey Trap baskets, a brand I haven't seen elsewhere, but which has treated me well enough for me to wonder why. The chain assembly is Mach V-style, and the basket is slightly bowl-shaped, but not enough to give the infamous Florence scoop. Tee signs give a good overview of the hole, and black plastic on the bottom of each basket points to the next tee. Tees are carpet, but set over plenty of gravel to keep them off the ground.
Plenty of technical challenge: doglegs left and right; of the latter, some favor turnover backhands, while others set up best for forehand hyzers. There are also several "what" fairway shapes - holes 2 and 6 save their widest gaps for backhand and forehand forced flex shots, respectively.
Plenty of elevation in play, with downhill and uphill shots: for example, hole 12 is a sharp uphill dogleg marked as a par 4 (but with the eagle somewhat possible on a strong drive that makes the corner), 13 is a tight putter right back downhill, etc.
All this brings me to hole 16, which in my opinion is the best (and statistically the meanest) hole on the course: a 492' backwards 3 shape, with the first 270' or so climbing a steep hillside and bending right before the intended landing zone atop the hill, at which point the rest is a downhill dogleg (also right, but with the two not continuing as one big curve - think backwards 3) to the pin. A mistake on the drive makes birdie unreachable and par unlikely, and careless, sloppy, or overly aggressive play will rack up huge scores on this par 4.
Of course, a bit of variety is needed, and to that end, 1, 10, 11, and 18 are more open (ish) park golf type holes; of these, all but 11 are downhill lines long enough to pose some challenge, but reachable enough to present a fun opportunity to just go for it.
All in all, Joe Wheeler serves up a wide array of technical challenges, and really separates those with control from those without. I consider it the best course in the Shoals, although comparing it to McFarland is like comparing apples and oranges. They complement each other well.
Cons: Roads run through fairways 1 and 18, and 11 can but needn't be played wide over the road (heck, the road kinda adds dimension to that one - opens possibility of a big skip shot). That said, traffic is minimal. A couple holes run alongside or over hiking trails, on which traffic is not infrequent.
It is kinda sad to walk away from the lake realizing it was never really in play, though a steep drop to the shore in the parts of the park in play makes this somewhat understandable.
Compared to regionally top-ranked woods courses like Inverness, Wheeler does lack the same challenge and the same length (comparing to the long tees), but for rec or intermediate players, par is a pretty solid challenge to slide under.
Other Thoughts: Rough is pretty rough. Would not recommend golfing this one in sandals, especially since it's somewhat more physical than most with all the hills.
Gets a bit dewy in the mornings, but not as bad as say McFarland.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Challenging course thru the woods
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Every hole is different.
Plenty of shade in the summer.
Easy to navigate - plastic piping on basket pointing to next hole.
Challenging course that makes you think.
Located in a beautiful state park with other activities for the family.
Great Monkey Trap baskets.
No long walks between holes.
Cons: 17 tightly wooded holes can be a con to some.
No water shots.
Carpet tee pads.
1 & 18 throw across park roads. 11 has a hyzer route across a park road. Park road is not busy though.
Other Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoy playing this course every time I get the chance. Birdies are available if you throw a perfect drive. If not, you need a good up shot to save par. This course will punish the high speed driver thrower. Disc down! Play it smart. Some of the longer holes require placement.
First time I played this course, I got lost after hole two and walked up the park road thinking it would be a great place for some holes. There are some open areas using the road as OB that remind me of a few holes at Mt. Airy Forest. With that being said, I believe this course has potential to be #1 in northern Alabama if there was 6 holes added: a 3 hole loop after hole 2 with the area I mentioned, and a 3 hole loop after hole 11 incorporating a water shot or two. There are currently no long walks between holes. So, if a long walk came about by adding some signature holes, it wouldn't be a big deal.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Course is well layed out , with a little bit of everything (uphill,downhill,tightly wooded, more open holes) You definitely benefit from playing it smart and trying to play along the fairway. Also has some great views along the course.
Cons: At the time I played there wasn't any tee pads signs, I'm sure since it's a newer course it's something they are planning to add .
Other Thoughts: Overall a awesome Course that is very well layed out . If your in the surrounding areas you should definitely try this course out .
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Great area for a course. The designers did a wonderful job of giving you some of everything. There is up, down, left, right and straight. This is a great course for those who enjoy woods and some elevation changes. Course is new, clean and easy to maneuver. Hats off to all who had a part in putting this together.
Cons: None at this time. Will have to see how the course holds up in the wet months. Should be fine though.
Other Thoughts: Congratulations to the State of Alabama Parks department for allowing this course to be built. Camping and disc golf go together. This is a match for all of us who do so. Thanks again.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Nice New Course
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: New baskets, long and short holes, all wooded, requires mostly straight and skilled shots
Cons: Heavily wooded, if you want a nice easy course this isn't it
Other Thoughts: The upkeep seems to be great, with it being in a State Park, probably will stay in great shape
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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