10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The old course at this park, Crooked Creek, was quite easily one of the the worst disc golf courses I'd ever played. A year ago, while I was in the area again, I saw that a brand new course called Holly Run had been put in, and decided to check it out on a whim. I went in without reading any reviews, and had very, very, very low expectations.
To my surprise, what I was greeted with was one of the most stunning, ambitious, and memorable disc golf courses I'd ever played. I've made the hour's drive and returned many times since.
+ This is an extremely long, wooded course, with extreme elevation to contend with. It is one of the most demanding and challenging wooded courses I've experienced. Multiple par 4s and 5s slam their way up and down hills and streams, and will test your accuracy, risk/reward decision-making, scrambling skills, and most of all your mental fortitude.
+ Elevation is used extremely well to create memorable holes. There are ridgetop tees providing great views and fun downhill drives, up-and-over blind throws, across-the-valley shots, and uphill baskets that provide satisfying finishes. Many of these elements are combined together on the longer par 4s and 5s, taking you all across the contours of the landscape and testing all of your shots.
+ The course is carved out of a beautiful old hardwood forest, with massive trees and beautiful ferns lining the fairways. On the front 9, a small pretty creek winds its way through a few holes, while on the back 9, the much larger Northeast Creek looms dangerously on a number of holes.
+ Hole 8 is one of the signature holes on the course, as a long hike uphill emerges onto a sturdy wooden platform near the top of the ridge. Step onto the tee, and you'll find yourself gazing across a valley of ferns and trees, and the basket down below across the creek. This is surely one of the most beautiful holes in North Carolina, but there are several other contenders here at Holly Run too.
+ After the length, elevation, and thick woods of the first 15 holes of this course, you drag yourself uphill one more time, and suddenly find yourself in the sun, standing on the teepad of hole 16, with a wide open field in front of you, and an opportunity to finally open up the taps and crush your longest drives on this par 5. I cannot express how much of an incredible relief it is to emerge onto this hole after so many long and difficult wooded holes. But with that said, the fairway soon funnels into a wooded corridor, and a challenging approach to a guarded basket. Another memorable signature hole. Holes 17 and 18 are also mercifully quite open, providing a great finish to this outstanding course.
+ Just about every single hole on this course is challenging, fun, beautiful, and incredibly memorable. Holes 9 and 10 are probably the only ones I'm not in total awe of.
+ Many holes have two main baskets, a short and a long. The long baskets are the 'true' layout for the course, where the transitions flow the nicest. But the shorts are a very nice option to have for those wanting an easier time, as the longs are exceedingly challenging.
+ A few holes also now have multiple basket locations for both the short and long positions, switched up seasonally. A small screw on the tee signs indicate what position each pin is in. Generally the locations are not vastly different, but nice to have some variety.
+ Navigation used to be a serious issue at this course, but has now been very well-addressed by large blue arrows between holes. I would now put this in the solid plus column, which is great.
+ Benches have been added on a number of holes, which is extremely welcome given the length and difficulty of the course.
+ Large teepads, good tee signs, good quality baskets, two nine-hole loops that return to the parking lot, an informational kiosk, restrooms, and a large parking lot are all nice amenities on top of this ambitious and incredible course.
Cons: Despite its outstanding features, there are also some serious issues with the course.
- In the summer, the plant growth on this course becomes so thick and abundant, that it becomes almost unplayable. Even center-cut fairways are completely covered with vegetation, and I have almost lost discs on perfect shots down the middle. The rough is even worse. Combined with the heat and humidity of the summer, and the sheer length and elevation of this course, and the whole thing becomes a desperately difficult experience in the summers. Personally, I almost consider this to be a seasonal course, only to be played in the winter, and essentially closed in the summer if you want to stay sane. In the winters, I'd give this course a 4.5 rating, in the summers something more like a 2. I should note, though, that when the course hosts tournaments over the summer, it is cleaned up considerably, and should be worth playing around that time. Otherwise, stick to the winters.
- Even on the nicest winter days, this is an exhausting and draining course to play, mentally and physically. Personally I love that challenge, but it's certainly not for everyone. Plan for at least 3+ hours here, more if you have a larger group, and bring plenty of food and water.
- Even in the best conditions, this is a wilder and rougher course than some may care for, though personally I almost prefer the wildness for its solitude and beauty.
- While the short baskets are very nice to have, and make the course much friendlier for most people, the course also does not flow well in this layout. As other reviews have noted, the already long and confusing hole transitions are made hundreds of feet longer if you play the shorts.
- Some fairways are perhaps a little too tight to suit the length of these holes. They are generally clean and fair, but probably a touch too demanding and punitive for how long the holes are. This is particularly true on the front 9.
- Many of the creeks and gullies on the course have very steep and tall banks, which are often also muddy and slick, or sometimes sandy and crumbling. Retrieving your disc from these places can require a lot of agility and care.
- A few of the holes alongside the creek on the back 9 were a total mess in the winter of 2018-19, as record floods covered the teepads and fairways in mud, sand, and debris. Other parts of the course also became extremely muddy, the worst being the uphill walk from hole 15 to 16. That's all been cleaned up fairly well, and has been less of an issue since then, but could potentially return after severe weather events.
Other Thoughts: This has to be one of the most divisive, polarizing courses you'll ever find. While I am one of those devoted acolytes that sings the praises of this course from the hilltop baskets, I will certainly concede that there are some serious issues present, and I completely understand why some players have vowed never to return.
My advice is to not come into this experience blind. Come in the winter, on a calm day, when the course is at its friendliest. Bring your discs, and enough snacks and water for the long expedition ahead. Set aside most of the day, and take your time with the course, given how tough the course is you won't be able to rush through it. Hours later, at the end of the round, you may or may not end up loving the course, but that approach is the only way to give it the fair shake it deserves, and you'll have a memorable experience no matter what.
This course will only improve with more and more traffic, to smooth out the fairways and to spread the word. If you are anywhere close, I'd encourage you to please come give the course a try. Just make sure that you are well-prepared.
2020 Jan 12 update - Pros - added navigation, benches, and pin locations. Cons - removed navigation, removed hole 13 complaint, added creek banks. Minor edits. Rating stays at 4.0.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This course is in a beautiful park and traverses some amazing land. It is a real challenge and has the set up to be an amazing course.
Several very nice holes on the back 9 as you play around the river.
Cons: Looooooonnnnnnnnggggggg Transitions. Dear lord I feel like I walked the length of a Par 4 between each hole and that was from longs. This could be due to an unseen obstacle but it definitely takes away from the course.
It seems that the shorts were not really planned for logistically. If I were to play them I would finish at a short basket that was several hundred feet from the long basket, walk to that basket, and then I'd have to walk the crazy transition to the next hole as well.
Unfinished: There were still drag piles under baskets and in fairways and the course is pretty old at this point. Also navigation was very difficult. Some holes have signs leading you towards the next hole but many have either fallen down or never existed.
Design wise the course has many holes where fairways and greens are full of random small trees. It brings out a feeling of "I need to get lucky to score" in many places instead of "If I hit my line I'll be rewarded". The Par 4's and 5's can tend to be relatively tweenerish. I found myself several times when I threw a not so amazing shot still only having a standstill flick to the basket to scramble for a birdie.
Other Thoughts: This course has the feel of a course that could be absolutely amazing with some finishing touches and a few tweeks.
However I found myself disappointed throughout the round with the shape the course was in and in the lack of execution when it came to design.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 2 Not
This course is not a 1.
Pros: -I usually keep other people's opinions out of reviews, well usually. This time I can't. This course is NOT a 1. If a massive crown fire occurred in the woods, or if a swarming herd of beavers tookover the park and chewed down the entire forest and left the trees in place, this course would still be better than a 1. Don't let the previous reviewer keep you from coming here. He probably thinks no fun is the most fun and would prefer a cookie cutter open course in the middle of an airport, or the old course that use to be here. Holly Run is not in perfect condition, but it is exclusive and legit disc golf. Course is primarily wooded, but holes 16 thru 18 take you out into the open.
-The park is HUGE. It has a swimming pool, a playground, vending machines, and probably other recreational activities I don't know about.
-Thirty baskets here. That means that there are twelve long pins. The par on the longs is 69 and offers a foot blistering and terrifying beast of a course; yet is still shreddable. The short layout is still challenging and is a par 57. I shot -9, which is one of my greatest rounds I've had. I shot a 72 on the longs and wasn't very happy with that. The biggest challenge is accuracy for the most part. But every fairway is fair. If you want to throw a driver on a 450' wooded par 4, then you might be out of luck. But come to think of it, many championship level courses require accuracy on long holes that are not driver friendly.
-The view of the creek is really nice. Water doesn't come into play much on this course, but there are ditches and water does come into play on a couple of holes.
-The greens are mostly intimidating. They are either guarded by trees. Not so guarded to where you'll get sabotaged, but can mess with you head and force you to straddle putt (play the cemetery music now.)
-There are tee-signs and diagrams. You'll be compelled to walk up the fairway, but the diagrams and hole info give you enough on what to expect. There are many "next tee" arrows.
-There's not a hole here that I can say I disliked. It starts off more traditional with the first two holes. Three starts to amp up the originality. Hole 4 is one of the best holes I've played. And it's not even my favorite hole here. The short pin is a 420' par 4 around a creek bed. The long pin is terrifying, but leaves plenty of room for a birdie. It's a 635' par 5 that's sketchy the whole way. The long pin is a hole I always want to birdie or possibly eagle. But I didn't. I got a bogey, but my friend successfully birdied it with a nice sidearm throw off the pad. I was able to birdie this hole in the short pin.
-Holes 7 and 8 are both super fun downhill shots. Hole 7 has two pin positions. The short pin is to the left. Hole is like 225' but plays shorter due to elevation, but will still make you question your gut feeling on what to through. The long pin is scary. Its further down a tight and twisting fairway onto a smaller but steep hill that's rough on rollers. A putt for three can turn into a five. 8's pad is on a deck. The shot is over what you could consider a large ditch or small ravine. Hole is very picturesque, and may make you want to move to Gibsonville if you don't live there already. Awesome ace run hole, but still a hard hole.
-The front nine is almost exclusively "singular." It's very unusual but had me saying "WOW" on most holes. My responses to the holes on the back nine were pretty much the same, but it had more of a familiar taste. For instance, I felt like I was at Goose Landing or Camp Canaan on hole 13. Or at Shaver Complex on 14. And on 15 long, I felt like I was at Bradford or City Lake. Is that a problem? Not at all!
-16 long is an extremely fun par 5 with the gravel road in play the whole way. The tee is in the woods but barely, so you really get to rip it. Beware of the right side of the road, as the woods are pretty dense. Not only can you rip that drive you've been patiently waiting for, but you'll feel the urge to throw a second smash. Once you are past the short pin, more trees appear so the openness closes a bit. But it's still a fun par 5. #17 is beaut of a hole too. The short pin is nearly 400' away so it requires good distance if you want a birdie. The long pin is further down the field and up a hill. It's a challenging but awesome par 4. Not sure if this was my favorite hole or not.
Cons: -This place is new. So be patient and try to stay positive because it has some new course flaws. There are some drag piles in the rough on a few holes. There is poison ivy on some fairways, so that needs to be gone in the future. Especially the walk from 12 to 13. It just needs to go.
-It's a beatdown. You're going to get exhausted and you'll regret it if you don't eat between rounds if you play both layouts. The nearest restaurants are pretty secluded. So I'd take advantage of the drink machines on the other side of the parking lot. Not to mention the creek beds and ditches are steep. I twisted my foot and now I'm walking like Kurt Stryker and a few people thought I was weird (I probably am.)
-18 short seems a bit out of place with the rest of the layout. It's a good hole. But the long pin is by a huge pond. I think the long pin should be the original and there should be a long pin pushed back. There are many possible opportunities for an epic monster finisher.
Other Thoughts: -This course is off the chain. If you don't like this course, then I would not advocate you play courses that are private or that are considered "more exotic" than most others. When I saw that this was a redesign, I looked at the pictures of the old layout and surprised on how mediocre it looked and how much wasted potential there probably was. It's like the designers were so fed up with Russell sucking the fun out of disc golf down in the triad and planned a revolution with a stellar park course that looks like a private course and went even further by creating a beast of a long course out of it. Drew, James, and BrotherDave practically turned poison into a fine wine. Please redesign Cane Creek and Frank Liske. You have it in you!
-I can't even pick a favorite hole. There are at least ten signature holes from each layout. #13 is a beast of a hole. It's almost like a double dogleg from the long pin. I think that will be the most favorited hole in the future. Or at least the most memorable.
-Play this course. It's a true gem. Courses like this are what's making the game grow. I'll seriously update to a 5 if the poison ivy growth is gone or at least controlled.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 8 Not
Several holes had fairways
Pros: Baskets, Tee Signs, decent teeing areas and some next tee arrows.
A washroom close to #9 basket and tees 1 & 10.
Cons: The concept of a fairway seems to have eluded the designers on most of the holes. The long baskets are usually particularly well guarded and all are blind from the tee.
Not enough directional arrows from baskets to next tee.
Other Thoughts: If you like walking through poison ivy on narrow paths in the woods in a mosquito breeding ground and looking for ways to get your discs through more than 50 to 150 feet of reasonable fairway then this is the course for you.
Otherwise, either skip it entirely or only play the short baskets with brightly colored discs that are relatively easy to locate. This was course #743 for me and easily one of the 10 worst I have played or seen.
4 of 12 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
Challenging and rewarding course for at least intermediate level players
Pros: As a decent casual player who plays the courses near Burlington on the weekends I think this is a great addition to the area and will only get better as it get's broken in. After the first time playing it in rain and mud it's my favorite in the area other than Cedarock
It's really really long. If you are playing the short tees you still have to walk the same distance if you were playing the long tees (because there's only one pad at each hole). Par 69 aint no joke, be prepared to be way more tired than you usually are at the end. Add an extra hour to your playing time at least
Technical but still a lot of fun (it's not hard for hardness sake), you'll use a lot of your discs
The fairways give you room to drive but not comfortable room. The trees are challenging but I think are fair in most places
Cons: Take it easy on the drives. The rough near the fairway isn't terrible but if you shank a driver you'll hate yourself
It can be hard to navigate on several holes. There are many paths between holes that will mislead. Sometimes you have to do things like take the path on the left to get to the pad on the right
Other Thoughts: The course is interleaved with a trail for mountain biking and walking. So watch out for riders and blind spots with incoming pedestrians you can't see
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 4 Not
The Beast of Northeast
Pros: This is a vastly superior redesign compared to the complete turd that Russell Schwarz left here. If you were unfortunate enough to play it back then, please come back and give this a second shot.
This course has an interesting layout compared to a lot of area courses. One tee per 18 holes but all the holes greater than par 3 have a short basket on them as well so you can play a par 54 layout to save your arm some throws. Most of these short pins are visible from the tee and distinguishable by red numbering on the Innova Discatchers whereas the long pins have black numbers.
The course is very Charlotte-esque in the type of terrain, the width of fairways and the skills it requires of you to shoot well. Chief among these prerequisites is an average to above-average sidearm. The front 9 in particular is extremely FH friendly and not particularly lefty backhand included either. Part of that is b/c the tees are fine gravel atop rubber mats which prompts standstills and the other part is that the initial fairway is quite tight on many of these holes. The other thing you'll need is an above-average scramble game. Hoard all your Get Out of Jail free cards from Monopoly b/c you'll need them here. The rough is aptly named and it isn't uncommon to have to throw an overhand or FH roller to get back to the fairway. The other skill which is very rarely tested on DG courses is putting on challenging greens. Lots of pin placements on slopes and knolls as well as skinny trees left up around the basket to force you to putt around. I know a lot of people don't like the latter but to me I think it's fair and executed well. If you can't straddle out and putt you deserve to have a bad time.
The front 9 plays up and down a forested creek area that is fairly exclusive to DG. It's technical golf through pristine woods with a creek in play on most holes and lots of undulating terrain. Really nice use of elevation change, especially the downhill drives from holes 7 and 8. The back 9 is also mostly technical but features more variety in terrain. Holes 10-12 are fairly flat b/c they're near massive Buffalo creek. 13 is going to be a terrific multi-dogleg par 5 as it beats in a little bit and the landing zones become more obvious. Holes 16 through 18 are much more open and allow for big drives and 18's long pin has a pond in play.
This course definitely tests your whole bag. A lot of flicks, a lot of scrambling, distance drivers, and all your control discs (putters, mids, FW drivers) will probably get used. Because of the technical nature of many holes I advise teeing off with a mid or putter if you can't sidearm b/c staying on the fairway is the name of the game. If you do that you can get up and down for the reasonably assigned pars if not come away with a birdie chance occasionally. But staying bogey free is a definite challenge. This is a course that is going to mostly appeal to good Intermediate, Advanced, and Open players. It's enjoyable for the distance, accuracy, and skill deficient also but you may need a little masochistic streak in you.
Cons: The tees are serviceable but they're not concrete or better so take that into consideration fellow tee snobs.
It's a long, hilly course so lazy disc golfers beware.
It's a beautiful park that attracts trail walkers, cyclists, and horse riders so be mindful of any trails that are nearby. The course does a great job of not conflicting the trails but they do come into play occasionally (these trails are EVERYWHERE, it's a necessary evil of putting a course into this park).
It's new so it's still rough around the edges. Some holes have tiny gaps due to low ceilings and heavy foliage so until it gets broken in with steady use it will be as difficult as it will ever be right now. The holes along Buffalo creek are particularly lush and constantly trying to be reclaimed by nature. You may want to wear pants on the back 9.
Some may not like hole 9 but it's kind of nice to have a more deuceable hole after the barrage of technical holes.
Other Thoughts: It's broken in enough that navigation isn't too bad as long as you remember that hole 10 is right beside hole 1. There's enough foot paths to clue you in the right direction to find the next tees for the most part, plus orange arrows pointing the way. Transitioning from hole 12 to 13 is a little tricky, just keep bearing to the right along the creek until you see a path.
But this a tough, challenging, well-designed course on beautiful, NC Piedmont land. If you're backhand dominant, can't stay on the fairway, and can't putt on anything but flat, open greens you're going to have a bad time. But if your local course is too short, open, and easy you're going to love it.
I'm a bit biased on this one b/c I helped Drew and James with some labor but I think my review is objective. Also if you attend leagues and tourneys out here you'll be helping to raise funds for baskets for the Recreational 9 hole layout that I designed so come out and play to make this one of if not the best course in Guilford County.
12 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Join Disc Golf Course Review
for free to add your review. Have an account already? Sign In
to add a review.