What's With All The Gimmicks?
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (2.597 Rating) A typical recreational city park course.
- LOCATION - 36 holes on one site is always a bonus. As of this review (260 courses played) This is the ninth time I've been at a multi-course site. Of these nine locations, I'd rank Sparkman 7th. Despite this lower seed, just the fact that there are 36 holes here makes Sparkman a better destination choice than most 3.0 courses I've rated.
- TEES - One set of well constructed concrete tees. I think they are 5 feet by 12 feet. However there are a few turf pad in the woods. I'm sure they will be concrete soon.
- CHALLENGING - About average, so the one set of tees should be able to keep intermediate thru novice level players working for it. 900 rated players I think will average a couple down and 850s will average a couple over.
- SIGNAGE - A well done course map and its already edited for the recent tweak in Feb 2018. Aesthetically nice looking signage for north Alabama. Par information is omitted, which seems to be commonplace for north Alabama, but nowhere else I travel. Also missing next tee direction. The signage designer clearly knows how to make a nice looking sign but has no idea what a disc golfer actually needs.
- NAVIGATION - Pretty good. As stated, nice course map which is accurate and effective. Someone was kind enough and put black tape around a basket spoke at several baskets.
- CHARACTER - In addition to signage and tees, I also appreciated the amount of seating. About sixty percent of the layout has benches and I'm sure the rest are coming soon. Restrooms are also in the park, there are shelters with picnic tables and there are lots of trash cans as well.
- UNIQUENESS - About average, and a much greater hole type diversity than the Original layout. A few nice pocket shots and water is in play. Hole (6) was one of my favorites being a longer tunnel out to an open field. Hole (17) is very interesting play with both a pond and creek in play and its blind.
- QUICK PLAY - Figure 45 to 60 minutes for a solo and 90 to 120 minutes for a four sum.
- MAINTENANCE - I've been to Sparkman Park 3 times now so I can confidently say that it's been well cared for by the town's park's department and club.
Cons: The plot of land is nice enough to house a good course but its soured a bit by poorly executed holes.
- MISSED OPPORTUNITIES - I don't get it. The land here deserves a much better layout. The course is just littered with unnecessary gimmicks that ruin the satisfaction of a round. Hole (1) starts with a triple mando located in a way that will require a disc to take on mythic properties to make it anywhere near the basket. There are three island holes here and each one has OB inside the circle. Why the designer(s) decided to mostly gloss over the one nice wooded patch is mind boggling. OB long on (13) is ridicules, unnecessary and flawed difficulty. The water is used a bit but a great designer would have designed a hole along the arcing edges to match the flight of the disc.
- MULTI USE HAZARDS - Walkways in play 5 times and playfield fences in play 4 times. Hole (14) is interesting where the 20 foot wide mando 240 feet down fairway encourages a play toward the walking path. SMH.
- WATER HAZARDS - Not too bad, but losing a disc here is possible for sure. (16) will be the most likely claimant but (17) and (18) will be bad too if the creek water is up. I personally lost one on (7) with a mistake roller that went 375 feet. Whoops.
- ELEVATION - Pretty flat as every tee to basket combo has an elevation change under 15 feet. Originally listed as moderately hilly but I changed it to flat. The course is cart friendly for 95% of the layout with just a couple rock bed crossings to make things interesting.
- WIND - Five holes without a tree in play. It's been windy on 2 of my 3 visits out here.
Other Thoughts: I played my first round out here with my friend and DGCR reviewer wericsson. I think we both agreed at round conclusion that there are a few screws loose with this course. But even more worth noting, was me getting to watch wericsson throw out, from within the concrete drainage pipe on (13). He was literally parked underneath the basket, unfortunately 6 feet underground.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - About average. On paper, when I saw the term lakeside, I imaged a course around a tranquil looking pond with graceful edge vegetation. Nope, it's a wet retention pond. It's still better to have this than no pond obviously. There are a few nice looking holes out here. (17) and (18) coming in, have some charm being located along a gorging creek bed. On the flipside however, there a bunch of open to lightly wooded plays, large power lines overhead and a bunch of ball fields in view and fridge play.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Mach V baskets in pretty good condition, concrete tees on most holes and artificial turf on others, and detailed color tee signs, with a course map up front (take a photo). Total length measures just barely short of a mile, an appreciable figure for a par 54 course. Distances vary from 175' to 454', with the latter figure being uphill somewhat also.
Some nice technical holes: sharp doglegs force either dramatic shot shaping or smart placement on 5 and 7, 6 is a short, sharp dogleg that manages to feel like a must-get and yet also be surprisingly hard to hit just right, and 8 is 359 foot hole with a ~12 foot wide tunnel for the first 300-320 feet. Hole 2 was a nice uphill shot to an island green (ridgeline type deal)... but some of the later islands were less interesting. There is moderate elevation present on several holes.
This course's other big selling point is the lake. It is in play on 5 holes, with a creek/ditch on another 2. Some holes play as water carries, while others run along the lake on one side.
Cons: Mud/wet clay, and lots of it. There's been some hay spread in an attempt to grow grass, and it is starting to sprout, but it isn't enough to matter quite yet.
The rope-defined islands feel just kinda... ehh. Not remarkably challenging holes, and the islands don't really alter the strategy on them enough to be more than punitive measures. (For comparison, the island on 2 really reduces the appeal of risking an overdone hyzer toward the woods in order to avoid the water)
A couple holes are just dead open, without water or OB or elevation or vegetation... I mean, where's the fun in that? Hole 15, on which I started the round, is probably the worst example, though it could potentially be lengthened or made to hug the support for the high-voltage lines more closely without affecting any other holes.
Hole 14 was also a real doinker in my opinion: double mando inside the circle, not at all lined up with the basket, and a tee which points about 15 degrees to the right of mando, basket, or any reasonable route there.
Other Thoughts: Overall, a fun course, with the potential for improvement as time goes by, but with some weak links that keep it from being on the same level as the original at this time: in essence, it mixes really solid holes with ehh holes. Nonetheless, another good course in the same park as the (recently renovated) original makes for an attractive spot to come play 36.
I'm somewhat surprised the soccer fields alongside hole 5 aren't OB. Can't really think of a reason why not that overrides the safety/courtesy concerns.
Since I wrote this review, the artists formerly known as 7 and 10 have swapped tees, and several holes have swapped numbers to accommodate this change. The old 8 and 9 are now 6 and 7, respectively. The new 8 is a par 4 playing from what was 10T to basket 7, the old 6 is the new 9, and the new 10 plays from the old 7T to basket 10. Flow is better, and the new 8 is a way better, more reasonable hole than the old 7, but the new 10 is kinda weak, although I'm told some OB down the property line is coming.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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