2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Great new baskets
-Long holes that really let you uncork some drives
-Three practice baskets (one new, two old) near parking lot
Cons: -Hole design is too straight for my liking. I grew up playing in the woods so hitting tight gaps is something I've come to expect in disc golf. A lot of the holes feel like a tight gap is the only challenge on the hole.
-Hole 17 is just plain stupid. Not only does it play into a road that crests over a hill near the tee, but the "good lines" beg for you to throw into the most dangerous path.
-I wasn't sure if the tee for 18 was the one right next to the basket for 17 or if it was up the hill about 250 feet. I played from the back tee but I couldn't find a tee sign to indicate which tee was the "proper" one.
-Straight design gets boring by the end of the course. Usually when I'm done with 18 I can't wait to start another round. By the time I was on hole 13 I was like "I wonder what the next hole will be like...oh it's straight...can I go home?"
-Back 9 isn't as fun as the Front 9
Other Thoughts: I used to play this course a lot before they changed the layout. This is definitely a more challenging, "tournament level" design, but to me it's not as fun as other courses in the area. By "tournament level" I mean even pros aren't just going to park it off every tee because of the length. I have a lot more fun trying to squeeze different shot shapes through the woods than just throwing straight over and over.
I went in the middle of the day (around 2:00pm) on a Wednesday and it wasn't crowded at all. I waited so long to play this redesign because the congestion used to be awful and I heard the redesign only made it worse, but I didn't see any congestion when I played.
Update on 9/18/17: I've had some bad experiences with people that play this course in the past. There's a certain crowd attracted to this course that is trying to be "rebellious" that I didn't encounter on my first play through of the redesign. I thought they decided to find another park to bother...I was wrong. I just finished another round and I have to say this course is still a magnet for the wrong type of crowd.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: What used to be be 2 is now 1. While there were things to like about the old set up I'm going to try to not judge the new course based against the old to the best of my ability.
About a half half mix of moderately wooded and mowed fairway/tall grass rough through a park full of rolling hills. The front 9 is moderately wooded forcing you to pick and hit lines where the back 9 features wind as one of the more prevalent obstacles.
Tee pads are concrete and grippy. Baskets are new (and oh so much better than the old baskets).
Hole 2 is a fun shot that starts out straight but then hooks downhill and to the right into a basket nestled back in a grouping of trees.
A couple of solid par 4's that reward good drives and consistent upshots. The stretch from hole 6-8 is really solid. If I had to pick one hole on the course it would certainly be 7 that requires a well placed downhill drive that hooks hard to the left at the end in order to be well oriented to hit a gap through mature trees. A solid par 4 that requires a precise drive and upshot to be rewarded with the birdie.
Hole 12 with the double mando is a super fun downhill shot that forces you to commit to your line.
The flow of the course is really easy to follow and is designed in such a way that drops you off at the parking lot after 10 which can aid in the ability to play a quick 10 if you don't have time to play the full 18.
Nice practice basket area featuring a few of the old baskets as well as one of the new baskets (maybe to remind us how lucky we are to have new baskets?). Always nice to have a good area to warm up putting before starting off.
Cons: Everyone has already said it but hole 17 is a little reckless in terms of course design. Using that road as OB considering the sight lines isn't a great idea and it's only slightly better on 18.
Holes 1, 9, 11, 14 are pretty boring holes. Straight open shots with small elevation changes. Kind of common place, really seems like they lack creativity.
No tee signs. I imagine these are on the way eventually.
Other Thoughts: It's hard not to compare this to the old 2x18 lay out. There are certainly some holes from the old course lay out that feel like they were better designed holes than some of the dud holes on the new design. There are also some new holes on the course superior to what used to be in place. With tee signs and a fix for the hole 17 issue I think this could be a 3.5 but I wasn't overly thrilled with the layout. It's solid but it leave you feeling like they could have squeezed a little more out of the available landscape. Maybe they were a little too set on making it completely new. I think leaving in a distinctive hole from the old design on both the north and south course would have been a smart way to get on the good side of people who liked the old design. I know I was sort of angered when I saw that hole 9 from the North course had been butchered into the new hole 3 and 4. Hole 3 and 4 are okay, but hole 9 was a hole that had so much more character and challenge than either of the new holes that use the same land.
It seems to me that in both the old layout and new layout the courses at this park feel like they aren't quite living up to the potential that the land has available.
PS - dgguy1 - This is clearly not a one star course...hopefully you can untwist your knickers and give this course a fair review. If you don't want to wait at all at the tee box there are plenty of courses in the Grand Rapids area. I'm sure you can have a nice open tee box at Johnson, Rotary North, Riverside, Garfield, Jaycee, or Old Farm to name a few. Just be happy that there are so many quality free courses in the area and if you're willing to drive a little ways there are a ton more within 30 minutes.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Like Two Different Courses!
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Having never had the opportunity to play the original Earl Brewer layout, I can't make that comparison and complain about how I liked the previous four "9s" more. The course now really feels like two separate 9 hole courses with the front nine playing shorter and through the wooded part. Then the back nine opens up, and is longer as it plays across the rolling, wind swept rolling hills.
The park is green and lovely. There is a sign at the start directing you to hole 1. The concrete tee pads are extra long. There are no tees signs yet, but there were small wooden stakes with the hole # and distance written on them. Most were pulled out and lying close to the pad somewhere. There are some fun, creative holes on the front nine. I thought # 3 that plays 388' over a small hill and then you have to hit your line through a gap in the trees was enjoyable. This is a pretty hole and offers up a nice challenge. The short little # 4 which plays up a slanted fairway to a basket 179' is a cool little toss. 7 & 8 are both over 600' so there is plenty of length on the this nine.
There were a couple of interesting, challenging throws on the back nine. # 12, which plays 318' on a slight downhill, has the double mando about 280' down near the basket in the trees. If you miss the mando, there is a drop zone about 30' in front of the basket. I think you should be more severely punished for missing the mando. I'd like to see this drop zone moved back about 20' more which would force players to make a longer putt in order to save par.
15 and 16 were my favorite holes on the back 9. # 15 plays 340' down a small hill. You need to hit a semi-narrow gap between two large trees and then the basket is set back, just into the tree line. Then the # 16 pad is back in the woods. There are two trees just about 10' in front of you. Missing them shouldn't be a problem for you mentally stronger players but they certainly got in the head of this old, rec player. There is this interesting concrete bench structure here. I finally realized this concrete was once an old tee pad. Great use out of old broken up concrete!
Cons: The back nine became somewhat monotonous. There are some boring holes there. # 9 is 410' to a open basket and # 11 uphill to an open basket both lacked any creativity.
The wind was blowing hard out in the open making the long, open holes more frustrating but also added to the difficulty.
Bogeynomore wrote about # 17 being a safety concern. I didn't really think about that when playing it. I think I was in some kind of "zombie like state" just trying to get through the course but as I think about 17, I feel he has a very valid concern.
No signs but I'm sure they're coming.
Other Thoughts: Earl Brewer certainly will test a player's resolve. You need a big arm to really battle here. Intermediates players and above will embrace the challenge of fighting the wind along with some very, long holes. There aren't that many courses where the top players can find a course that truly challenges them. This is one. I guess that's why they named this the Earl Brewer Championship Course.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 12 Not
Pros: New Baskets
Cons: Half as much course available to play.
Other Thoughts: Used to be two full length 18 hole courses. Now it's just one 18. This is one of the busiest parks in the area, so it is now 2x as busy as it ever was before. People on every single teepad, even late in the day when it should be slow.
1 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Earls all grown up, now
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: For the most part (see cons), the new Brewer Champ 18 is a well-designed, well-executed, championship caliber course that is well suited to tournament play, but not necessarily intimidating to less experienced players, with some legit Par 4's. On the whole, there's a nice mix of fairway types, shapes, elevation and distances.
Variety: Very good. Starts with 6 or so moderately wooded holes where a good portion of the old North Course used to be, then transitions to open, bomber type holes draped across the open, rolling fields where the old South course used to play.
+ The wooded holes do good job of forcing you to hit either a specific line, or at least a landing spot with a few options you could take to get there off the tee. Some feature well-guarded baskets, but all of them were quite fair, very executable, and never felt plinko-like. The wooded holes offer a decent mix of L/R/straight fairways, changes in elevation as well as a few flat fairways, and a nice range of distances.
+ The open holes present a wide range of distances, many of which play noticeably longer/shorter because of the elevation. For the most part, missing the fairway on these holes could cost a stroke if you end up a long way from the fairway (which, given the combo of distances and wind, is entirely possible) ...but big arms might be able to get back on track with a longer than usual (but well placed) 2nd shot.
+ By their nature, open holes can't really force a specific line. That said, well placed trees can eliminate some routes or force you to hit a window, while still allowing many ways to do so. One long (550'+), straight hole has brutally punishing rough all the way down the right side of the fairway: missing left is OK... missing right could be painful, and easily cost you a disc. There's a 300'+ downhill shot with two trees (clearly marked "MANDO") on either side of the fairway...basically forming a goal post framing the green. Split the uprights, and you should at least catch a glimpse of a birdie. Miss wide, and best case scenario is likely a bogie.
Elevation: Very good. Nothing extreme, but Brewer's varying topography ranges from relatively flat to quite substantial. Course designers used it to great effect in a variety of ways, employing elevated tees, sloped greens, uphills, and a couple of looong, gently sloping downhills that really let you stretch out some of your longest tee shots.
Challenge: Very good. Most of the challenge lies in the distance... there's some serious length to many of the holes... the kind of length where even Open players can get a full flight path out of distance drivers. Those who are distance challenged could feel overmatched. Your ability to handle wind (off the tee, when placing upshots, and while putting) will likely be tested as well. An elevated basket and pins near slopes will also challenge your decision making when considering to go for chains or lay-up.
Equipment: Excellent. New concrete tees are reasonably sized, level, and grippy. New Discatchers are easy to spot and catch well... no more getting "Brewered" by janky old baskets!
Tee signs are coming, but were not installed as of this review, so I can't comment.
I did see several Next Tee signs where appropriate.
Routing/Nav: Good. Overall flow was quite good. My guide was very familiar with the layout, but there didn't seem to be any real tricky spots. Experienced course baggers shouldn't need a map, and as busy as Brewer is, there are sure to be locals to point you in the right direction.
Fun Factor: Definitely, but very dependent on how much:
a) you like/dislike "air it out," bomber type holes.
b) are frustrated by wind.
Memorable Holes: I don't recall specific hole #'s because I was really enjoying the company I was with, but many of the holes themselves were memorable: A long tunnel shot through a gauntlet of trees, a couple of uphill ace runs and some real grip & rip holes. I particularly liked the last wooded hole before the open section (#6, maybe?): a long sweeping fairway where shorter arms need to hit a landing zone. Also liked the short hole up a steep hill, with the basket near the back of the hill with a nasty rollaway looming if you miss.
Aesthetics: Every bit a nice, pleasant park setting, with some nice touches that add eye appeal as well as functionality. Big props for repurposing old concrete tees to create flagstone-like structures to combat erosion around a few tees, and provide seating/place to set your bag.
Cart Friendly: Very. You have to get up and down hills, but there are no impediments or obstacles to work over or around.
Cons: First and foremost: WHAT THE HELL WERE THE DESIGNERS THINKING ON #17!??!??! This is a very long, completely open hole, where the park road (OB) defines the left edge of the fairway the entire length of the hole. It also plays slightly uphill off the tee, such that players can't see (or even hear) cars (or bike riders) coming in over the crest of the hill. Keep in mind that this course was designed for players who throw farther than the sight line on this hole... and they'll be throwing their fastest discs at 100% power on this this par 4 hole. Now factor in the wind this course gets... and that you have to throw multiple shots before you can putt.
I guarantee: the person driving the car ain't watching out for your driver.
Suppose a RHFH or LHBH player intentionally throws a hyzer line that plays over the OB to fade into the fairways (i.e. very likely the preferred line for many RHFH/LHBH players). Supposed a RHBH player fades into the street, or the wind catches a slightly hyzered flight plate to send it straight into the road.
Regardless how this hole plays, it is ranks as one of the most irresponsibly designed holes I've EVER seen... anywhere. It's not just possible for a player to send one (at speed) into the road - it's a likelihood. It's not a matter of "if" ...it's simply a matter of when and how often.
The risk would be greatly reduced by angling the tee away from the road (moving it a bit further from away as well), and moving the basket a bit into the woods.
While the course is well-balanced, the long, open air it out shots start to feel a bit repetitive toward the end, (perhaps because they all follow one another). Would feel less repetitive starting in the open before going into the woods for bit, then finishing up in the open. The good news it that it's pretty convenient to start on one of the open holes and play it that way (which is how I'd play it if I were local).
Full of solid holes, but other than sheer distance, none of them had any "Wow" factor.
Other Thoughts: This incarnation of Brewer is more complete and robust than either of two the courses it replaces, which were good (if unspectacular) courses, both of which I thought were solid 3.0's that made a better than good destination because of how well the two complemented each other with each offered what the other lacked.
For those familiar with them, this course reminded me a bit of Birdland in KS (sans the scenic lake views), and even Camden 1 in IL at times... both of which are very good courses. I'd have to say Brewer Champ 18 earns it's championship moniker and give it a solid 3.5.
Any thought I have of awarding a 4.0 is immediately silenced by the boneheadedness of # 17. Making the road OB won't stop discs from hitting cars.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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