More of a Captain than an Admiral
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The pine forest was a lovely walk through the woods. There are a few water features that come into play, but most of the course is through the woods.
Like any Houck course, expect a variety of lengths and hole designs. I think this is the best feature of his courses because I don't know if I've ever really thought any of his holes were unfair, or just pointless. It's really nice to know going into a course that you're not going to feel like you're wasting your time, or going to get too frustrated.
Mainly because all the well designed holes, this course is pretty fun. There is one kind of open-field hole, but also a few water hazard risk/reward holes. A few tunnel shots, a mix of 4's and 5's thrown in, everything to keep it fresh the whole round.
Tee signage is amazing. Every tee has detailed signs, every pad is full concrete, benches and trash cans abound. If the amenities do it for ya, this course will be your bread and butter.
As mentioned before, the natural beauty of the course is nice. It's not the most picturesque park around, but I definitely ain't bad to look at either.
Cons: The cons on this course, for me, really stem from being slightly underwhelmed. As wellsbranch mentioned, the lines may be fair, but are pretty tight- especially for a Houck design. It's mainly noticeable on the longer holes, where you have to try and thread some trees way down the fairway, and if you don't- well I hear old campfire stories about people who got lost wandering the woods for their disc and haunt the course now.
Navigation can be a little tricky in a few places, even with the "next tee" signs, so take a pic of the course map and use it.
Other Thoughts: I don't really see anything else wrong with this course, but I also don't see any reasons this course would be "Phenomenal" (4.5) or "Best of the Best" (5.0). Other than the blind peninsula of hole 7, no holes really stand out as a "oo, I want to do that again" drive.
I played this course on my way up to Atlanta, and was lucky enough to avoid the surrounding rain to play a completely dry round, and to run into a local for some navigational tips (thanks JC!). We talked about how this course compares to Parc des Familles (a newer Houck design in the New Orleans area), and I really think the very well-designed holes of PdF nudges out occasionally plinko-ish holes of The Admiral. But it's definitely a fun course, and worth stopping by if you're in the Mobile area.
PS The only place to get water is the splash park across the park area, so come prepared.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
A Flat Marvel
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (4.160 Rating) An expertly designed moderate to heavily wooded gem playable for a wide range of skill levels.
- TEE EXPERIENCE - Wow, 45 very large concrete tees. I thought a couple were ten feet wide. Every hole has at least two pads and nine holes have 3 pads. Most of the tees are very well shaded too.
- CHARACTER - In addition to the tees, The admiral is just loaded with amenities and comfort items. Upon arriving, a gorgeous large course map and community board. There's a practice basket and large shelter with picnic tables. There's a massive deck with picnic tables overlooking a pond. Between holes (12) and (13) there's another shelter along with restrooms and vending machines. There are benches on every hole, although not every tee. The hole signage looks spectacular showing all the info one would need. Overall the signage would probably make my top ten (239 courses played as of this review). The baskets are brand new DISCatchers. The only substantial missing item compared to the other top courses I've played is alternate basket placements.
- SKILL LEVEL FRIENDLY - Red, White and Blue tees that appear to be correctly aligned to the PDGA guidelines of Recreation, Intermediate and Advanced skill levels. The Admiral's ability to play fair to such a wide swath of skill levels is truly remarkable, I wish more courses would do the same as The Admiral.
- CHALLENGING - 75 percent of this layout is heavily wooded. IMO, all of the tight wooded lines were fair. Shot shaping and course management from the Blue and White tees is very apparent throughout the entire layout. There are two monster wooded par 5s that will have advanced players scoring everything from 3s to 8s. I'm going to guess that the Blue tees will require the skills of a 950 rated player to average below par and the Red tees will need about a 850 rated player to average below par scoring.
- UNIQUENESS - The variety on this flat course is superb. As stated above, 75 percent of this layout is heavily wooded, but there are a few open to lightly wooded plays filling the middle portion of the layout to break up the monotony of the wooded portions. Water is heavily apparent twice with two water clears and it also makes a minor impact on two other holes. There are two dogleg par 5s that bend in opposite directions and seven par 4s. Basket guarding is awesome, forcing shots to attack from the left and the right and also sometimes requiring a finishing straight tree gap. I was a little disappointed to not see a more well defined abrupt deeper pocketing left or right play like on many other Houck designs I've played.
- NAVIGATION - Not perfect, but better than the average heavily wooded course. Lots of navigation cues between holes. Again, great course map and tee signage.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - I played during the dead of winter which is not ideal for anyone looking to play beautiful courses. However, I've played long enough now to know that the natural elements are here to make for some wow moments for those that have only played a few dozen courses. The Admiral has lots of pine tree lined fairways and their planting pattern is natural rather than the grid lines that populates some courses. Water is in view a few times with hole (11) splitting two separate water features. Hole (8) was probably the only hole that looks visually below average, but it is a trade off as it's the only hole that one can grip it and rip it without worry.
Cons: The Admiral is a Rock Star course with only ticky tack issues.
- ELEVATION - I've only played a few Mobile area courses and it seems that the entire region is mostly flat. the Admiral has a couple mild elevation changes in the 15 foot range but this amount is not even going to register in the minds of many players outside the region.
- FORGIVENESS - As stated above in the Pros, I thought all the lines were fair, but just because they're fair doesn't mean they are easy. Several lines were less than 10 feet wide. Ricochets in the wrong direction or grip locks could be very punishing. There is a very challenging water line on (11) which I'm sure claims plastic quite often.
- HOLE 7 - Wow what a neat hole with water front and back with a landing area about 30 feet deep. It would have been nice for the hole signage to indicate this considering its blind from the Red tee view. I looked at the beautiful sign before throwing and assumed the berm in front of the basket was a shallow swale. After hitting the top of the berm and watching it trickle back out of view, I assumed easy deuce. I walked away with a circle 3 and a wet arm. All stated, one of my favorite designed holes out here now that I know about the hazard. Perhaps the fronting water was cut in after the sign was designed.
- LAYOUT FLOW - There are a few odd transitions between holes. Even with all the navigational cues, I still walked to the wrong next tee twice. There are a couple substantial double back walks between holes. (2) to (3) and (15) to (16) are the most confusing of the transitions. In hindsight, I wish I had a printed map with me.
- TRASH - There appears to be a couple spots with old dumping ground rubbish. I saw a couple old tires and some big chunks of miscellaneous plastics. There are also some large cast concrete boulders present on a few holes.
- TIME PLAY - Playing the Blue Layout is going to take longer than your average course. At 8,000 feet and with the high likelihood of additional recovery shots. I figure a solo will need at least 90 minutes to tackle this one. Groups of four on the Blue layout will likely take three hours. The Red layout however will run much quicker for those on a time crunch. I figure less than 60 minutes is achievable for a solo. Please note, that the time it takes to play a course makes no impact on my ratings, it's for information purposes only.
Other Thoughts: No doubt the Admiral is a designation course. Although I've only played three courses in the Mobile area, I've read enough area reviews of other courses to conclude that the Admiral has become the consensus top area course. In addition, I'd safety say that its among the top 5 courses and perhaps the top 3 in the state of Alabama as well. The Admiral has everything that a well traveled player expects from a top course with only elevation being an omission. As of this review, I only have one flat course ranked higher than the Admiral. I have T2 in Orlando at a 4.180 rating which is just a .020 point separation. This is the 10th Houck course I've played and personally it's my second favorite of his designs only after Austin Ridge Bible Church in Austin TX. Players that live within a 3 hours drive of Mobile need to plan a daytrip here and disc golf tourists need to wish list it.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Destination Disc GOLF Course
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The Admiral is a fun, challenging par 65 GOLF course that is accessible to players of ALL abilities due to three well-conceived and implemented sets of tees.
Scoring well here requires course management, shot-shaping and controlled power. Many of the holes offer multiple options and the course can be attacked differently every time it's played.
The pine forest offers a very enjoyable walk through the woods with a good amount of shade and the cushion of walking on pine straw. The course is easy to navigate with two loops of 9 holes and instructive signage. The cement tee pads are good-sized and well-textured.
The schule is minimal and the risk of losing discs is on the lower side.
Hole 7 is a unique, fun short par 3. There are two fairly tight options off the tee and the hole is slightly downhill at 245 ft. The basket is on a peninsula, essentially being surrounded by a moat. Players much throw a soft downhill shot to lay-up as close to the moat without going in to shorten their putts that can be a bit intimidating with the water danger.
Cons: I'd argue for a few more small trees being taken out at critical locations. A few routes look appealing from the tee, but down the fairway are one or two very small "plinko" trees that introduce a bit too much luck in the lines.
No way for the designer to get around the minimal elevation change on the property.
Hole 8 is 550 ft. across a wide-open field and then requires 400+ ft. of backtrack to get to hole 9.
Other Thoughts: Congratulations to John on hitting the 100 course milestone in style!
As a player who appreciates courses that reward course management skills and incorporate multi-shot holes, I am grateful to John for the courses he's planted and the influence he's had on other designers.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
The course Mobile needed
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: +3 sets of 12 foot long concrete tee pads (although white & blue tees are the same on several holes)
+orange topped Innova Pro 28 baskets
+excellent Houck Design tee signs and navigation signs
+excellent and challenging course design by the #1 course designer in the world, John Houck (except for hole 4, more on that below)
+shady with lots of trees to keep players relatively cooler in the hot southern climate
+couple of water features including the instant classic hole 11
Cons: -relatively flat; a few holes do have a bit of elevation change though
-Hole 4. If Houck came across this hole on a course he didn't design, he might write one of his course design articles explaining how bad this hole is. This hole does serve as a good example that even the best course designers can really butcher a hole. What makes this hole so bad? Basically it's 818 feet long from the tips with only about 120 feet of that with a fairway wider than 10 feet. There's difficult and challenging holes and then there are holes like this one where pure luck is the primary element. But wait, there's more! This hole features not one, but two locations that are "pinch points" that are so dense with trees, that 70-90% of every player will find themselves hitting these walls of trees on their struggle down this disaster of a hole. The first pinch point is from the white or blue tees. To successfully navigate this first wall of trees, the player is forced to try and land on two very tiny landing zones. Houck of course is renowned for creating holes with landing zones that require accuracy and thought rather than pure power; however his landing zones on Hole 4 at the Admiral are so minuscule neither a world champion nor a precisely programmed robot can hit these approximately 10 feet by 10 feet landing zones from 300 feet away and uphill to boot. There's another pinch point like this about 150 feet from the pin. The only escape routes through the daunting wall of trees at this choke point are 8-foot wide "fairways" that a player just has to be lucky enough to poke through.
Other Thoughts: While hole 4 is a shipwreck of a hole, there are plenty of Houck classics at the Admiral, including hole 18, which is long and punishing at almost 900 feet from the tips, but its fairways are just wide enough to be fair. Hole 11 features a pond that tests players from all three tees and is a perfect example of Houck's concept of risk vs. reward. Go for the green and make a birdie if you're accurate or take a bogey or higher if you're not. Or play it safer for a par at best. Hole 15 is an example of Houck's "figure 8" style hole with an anny or hyzer route off the tee to a landing area that then gives another choice from there whether to go anny or hyzer on the upshot. Hole 7 has a tiny island green that can be birdied by landing on the green or with a long putt by laying up close to the water's edge and putting across the water.
This is the championship course that Mobile has lacked. Mobile has several above-average courses, but really hasn't had a "must-play" course until this one was built.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: johnrhouck
Mike, I'm so glad you enjoyed the course, and thanks for all the kind words. Let me offer you a different option on Hole #4 -- you can look at it next time you're there. There is an aggressive way to play the hole, which sounds like the way you went, and there's a more patient way. I posted a picture of tee sign with the two "patient route" landing areas highlighted. https://www.dgcoursereview.co...mp;mode=media
# If you throw about a 325' drive and a 275' second shot, you'll have about 220' to the pin. The drive is actually pretty wide, but you have not go for too much. The landing area is actually quite generous. I'll look up the actually size and get that to you later. Second shot is also tight but fair, as is the third shot. As you say, the "eagle" route is very hard and requires two great shots to get to the pin in two. I would maintain that the landing area on that route is a bit bigger than you describe, but it is tough, and if you miss it, you'll be scrambling for sure. It's not quite all-or-nothing, as I built in some PITTSBOROS, but I agree it is very difficult, which is what it's meant to be. I'll get you more info in another venue. But thanks again for your input and the kind words! --John
Must play in the mobile area
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - 3 sets of tees (blue and white are same for some holes)
- Orange band disccatchers (I just think it's cool to have something different)
- tee signs are very informative
- big awesome tee box (I found myself starting off the back of the tee box and then realizing I didn't have to because there was more than enough room)
- tough but fair lanes
- multiple routes on most holes
- good mix of long challenging holes and shorter more friendly holes
- bathroom nearby
Cons: - there were a few long walks to the next hole (8-9, 9-10, etc.)
- there were a few holes that I didn't feel like a good shot was rewarded (too many trees too close to the basket)
For example on hole 14 I think, I threw what looked to be a perfect shot. It was maybe a couple feet from a perfect spot but I bogeyed because it was tucked into a group of trees where i thought it was unnecessary, but this only happened on a couple holes. as wooded as this course is, I'm not gonna complain too much (but I will complain a little) about only a few holes having this problem.
- the rough is super rough in some areas (this will break in over time)
Other Thoughts: This course is super wooded. You have to avoid trees on basically every hole. Having said that, this is by far the best wooded course I have ever played. There were definitely times that I was frustrated and wished there were less trees, but that was almost always because I had a bad shot.
I played the white tees, (I think this would apply to the other tees too)and this course is about placement shots. On almost all of the 4's and 5's, distance is not nearly as important as putting your shot in the right spot. This also makes it more difficult if your playing it for the first time. The tee signs are helpful in letting you know where you should throw each shot, and there are definitely times where if you miss the landing zone, your looking at extra strokes.
If you avoid the trees, you could shoot very well on this course, but that is a big if. There were a few holes where I thought there could have been a few more trees taken out, or the basket could have been in a different place, but for the most part everything made sense and made for excellent challenging disc golf.
In conclusion, if you are in the mobile or Semmes area or traveling through or can take a detour to travel through, you need to play this course. I will definitely be back.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Very Admirable Admiral
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The Admiral is a standard top notch Houck design. It has not got the elevation changes that I like so well at some of his other courses Ive been to, but definitely makes the most of the land. Of course, the tees baskets and signs are new and the finest quality. There are multiple tees on every hole, and each one gives an interesting alternative rather than just adding or subtracting distance.
The layout is long, with 7 par 4's, and 2 par 5's. Many of the longer holes will offer multiple lines to approach the baskets, and some of the shorter ones do to. Two ponds are in play, one next to holes 7 and 9, and the other on hole 11. While it is over 8000', half of the course are par 3's, and many of them are reachable from the tee for birdies. The front and back 9 each begin and end near the parking lot if you would only want to play 9 for some reason.
Most of the holes have a healthy number of trees, but the fairways do provide viable routes and strategic landing zones to aim for on the longer holes. Terrain is flat for the most part.
Cons: Outside of my poor play, I don't have much to list under cons. I wish I could have spent the time to play a second round here. Control and accuracy are a must if you expect to stay around par, and I just didn't have it after a weekend full of travel and partying at a music festival. I lost a disc at hole 11, my tee shot was terrible, and reached far enough into the water that I didn't even try poking around to retrieve it.
Other Thoughts: This course has a sort of funky layout, but its easy enough to follow, with great maps and signage. It is beautifully equipped and installed.
I would be happy to play this course dozens of times annually. It doesn't have a stand above all others signature hole, but it is full of great quality holes, with nice variations throughout and versatility that will challenge amateurs and pros alike.
I was not playing very good, and scored a 7 over (72) on the single round I played. Made birdie deuces on holes 3 and 7. Also bagged 7 bogeys and finished the epic 18th hole with a double bogey.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Permission to come abroad the ADMIRAL
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course has 3 sets of pads and the pads themselves are very ample. The signage is excellent as well. There is a great mix of short, moderate, and longer holes. I love the fact that there are multiple pads which all present different lines to challenge the players. There are few holes in which water comes into play to add to the challenge here.
The kiosk at the start of the course is a great informative overview of the course.
The elevation here is awesome and many of the holes are technical in nature.
There are both uphill and downhill shots here and dog leg left and right holes too.
The flow of the course is logical and there are directional arrows throughout to help guide you. There are trashcans and benches here too.
Cons: Long walk from 6's basket to 7's tee and 8's basket to 9's tee slows the flow of the round down a bit.
There were a few stumps here or there that needed to be flush with the ground so be careful.
These are minor cons however.
Other Thoughts: You need to have a solid control game to score decent on this course. It will challenge your shot shaping abilities as well as test your mental focus. I chose to play from the white tees upon my visit and would love to go back and experience this course from the other 2 sets of tees as well.
Hole 11 was one of my favorite holes with the basket being positioned up on a bank on the south side of the little pond. It had a good amount of length plus the water threat to keep you on your toes.
There is a splash park across the road from the course if the family would like to tag along and recreate while you are playing.
Being as this is John Houck's 100th course he really hit this one out of the park. I recently went on a week long disc golf excursion and this was one of the courses that I was looking forward to playing the most. It didn't disappoint and I want to go back so bad and play the other 2 sets of tees. I really wished it was possible to give this course a 4.75 as its that good.
This IS a destination course and a must play if you love quality disc golf.
This is a quality disc golf course that the locals are spoiled to have at their disposal. Even if you have to drive a few hours to get to this course do yourself a favor and make it out to The Admiral. You will thank yourself.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Lives up to its name
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - Free to play/Baskets in great condition/concrete tees for pro am and rec
- great signage, for the most part, including next tee signs
- the course is more or less a figure 8 in that after 9 and 18 you're back pretty close to parking and such. (the actual layout is very much not an 8 though)
- well maintained
- benches, trash cans and port-o-john - check, check, and check
- great variety of hole lengths, pars, types of shots needed and layout - there are some really creative, fun holes here the likes of which are not seen elsewhere in Mobile. Lines are present, some are obvious, and some are tight, requiring more precision
- natural elevation of the area is used nicely. the gradual slope of some areas hides baskets from view and forces you to think three-dimensionally.
Cons: - Seems a little cramped. See below.
- I played with dry conditions, but I can see how the holes near the pond are going to get muddy after long rains. Specifically 12 and 13.
- This will probably go away as time passes as the course is still new but, if you end up off the fairway at anytime - be sure to pick up your feet. there are still plenty of short stumps left behind from clearing that are the perfect height for tripping over.
Other Thoughts: The Admiral has quickly garnered a reputation as Mobile's new badass course. I can't say I disagree. It's a well thought out and challenging (yet fun) course that forces you to pull out all the stops. There are challenges here you won't find on other courses in Mobile.
There are some cool holes out here, and not just necessarily the long ones. Hole 7 in particular has a great aesthetic to it. Short, but fun. The question is which (corri)door will you choose? (see map). Also Hole 12 comes to mind. Though perhaps a little gimmicky, the main obstacle is a large strip of earth maybe 3'-4' tall running directly across your throwing path, forcing you to think of elevation in a different way, behind which there are sufficient trees to provide the basket with protection from potential ace runs.
As stated above it seems a little cramped. If it weren't for the signage present and course map I can see how someone could get turned around on some holes. Especially when you get done with say, hole 17, and the nearest basket you see is marked 5.
The course is still in its infancy and opinions may change over time but for now, the Admiral is already one of the top courses in the county. The residents of Semmes are probably happy they don't have to drive all the way to Mobile for great DG now, and rightfully so. It's a great challenge of a course; definitely not one that I'd bring a first timer to.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 17 Not
Pros: Unique course to the area. 8,000+ft. Multiple par 4's and 5's. Nice variety of holes. Red, white, and blue tees. Benches and trash cans on every hole. Great signage. Bathrooms on site.
Cons: New course, so there's still some thick areas just off the fairways. A few long transitions, but there's signs in place to keep you on track.
2 of 19 people found this review helpful.
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