Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fort Snelling Disc Golf Course – Minneapolis, MN

I recently found out they installed a disc golf course on the Fort Snelling Ball Golf Course right there on the Army base. I’ve driven by the golf course, but not recently, so D.Rough and I went to check it out one Sunday afternoon and ask some questions at the club house. What I found out was worth reporting back to the guys I play disc golf with on Saturday mornings. We decided to play it since our original plan fell through anyway.

The first issue is finding the course. It is set back behind the ball diamonds and soccer fields just off of 62 (near Historic Fort Snelling, obviously). Once you get behind the soccer fields, you turn south towards the airport, and drive by all these creepy abandoned military buildings, then you turn right into what looks like the middle of the ball golf course and wind your way back to the “club house”.
And by club house, I mean it looks like it was built to be a little kids' club house. It isn’t all high-brow like a country club. It’s functional and it’s wood (TWSS). I wasn’t even sure which door to use to get inside the two times I went there. NOTE: It’s the one on the east side of the building, near the golf carts.

The 18-hole disc golf course is actually on the 18-hole ball golf course. Only a few of the holes share the same fairways, which usually sounds like a good idea, right? Well, when you hear that, that could also mean disc golfers are cutting across bal golf fairways and popping out of trees near the greens and it could end up being a distraction for both sets of players. But the ranger working the club house said they hadn’t had any problems to date – knock on wood.

It is $5.36 to play a round (taxes and such) or $2.50 +tax is you’re a senior or 17 and under. You can rent a golf cart (yes seriously) if you’d like for around $16. The holes range from 57 yards to 311 yards. This means it’s long. Really long. REALLY LONG. Disc golfer measure things in feet, so multiply by three. This means 177-933 feet. I’ve heard disc golfers complain when there are more than one or two holes longer than 450 feet, so you KNOW people are going to whine about this course having multiple holes longer than 900 feet. But, I’ll get to that.

There are red (recreational), blue (amateur), and gold (pro) tees for each hole and they’re marked very well with stakes near the sunken tee markers. The tees are grass, so don’t go expecting concrete tees at this course. The baskets are VERY clearly marked with giant numbers and on each basket, there are indicators which direction to walk for the next tee – each color of tee is indicated separately. VERY smart! The course is open sunrise to sunset (I’m going to figure out how long into the season they’re open – I would love to see it open all through the winter, as it WOULD get played.

Ball golfers always have the right of way (their course, their rules). Also, you get penalized for throwing onto any ball golf green, onto any concrete path (standard disc golf rule), and into any water hazard (standard disc golf rule). The one rule some of us had issue with was you can’t throw across/over a ball golf green. Fortunately, the course is laid out in such a way that you ALMOST never have to do that, but on a few holes (including the finishing holes, it is VERY much a challenge to avoid the green. Your group will have to use its discretion when penalizing a player in your group. Just letting you know in advance.

There are five mandatories on this course. This means there are obstacles you are required to throw to the left or right of. This is usually done to maintain a safe distance from ball golfers or some other hazard. If you go the wrong direction around the indicated tree, you take a penalty stroke, or have to wind back around the proper direction. Fortunately, the mandatory trees are very well indicated, both on the scorecard and at the base of the tree itself.

While there isn’t a lot of elevation change (it’s on a pretty flat course), they make use of it when they can. As it stands, the challenge factor comes from the length of the holes themselves. There are some really well placed tree obstacles in your way, as well as a few low ceiling shots. But, in general, there are clear fairways to navigate, and mostly wide open fairways.

None of us were rich enough to get carts, but it’s an option if we really wanted to. We braved the cold and the wind (and the noise of the airport – it is RIGHT next to the runway) and played a really fun round. There were some incredible shots made (not by me, as usual), both driving and putting. The ground is flat enough to throw incredible rollers, but with the wind, you have to decide if it’s worth the risk. Only one hole has water, so you’re not likely to lose any plastic.Note: That's the fence next to the runway on our left!

The tees showed some people have been playing this course, so that’s a good sign. However, it wasn’t a TON of traffic that leaves giant mud pits or burn spots from all the twisting feet on the tees (maybe there is on the blue or red tees, but not the gold tees).

Most of the group liked the course. I am probably more of a fan than the others because I have a longer drive than them, so it plays to my strength (keep in mind, I can’t putt for crap, which is the big leveler in this game). But, by having some pretty open fairways, it keeps the frustration down from hitting a ton of trees. This again is countered by the wind if it’s a windy day.

All in all, I think this is a really good course. Aside from the distance on the holes, I wouldn’t put it in the “championship” caliber arena, but it’s extremely challenging. It isn’t likely they’ll run a bunch of tournaments out here either, especially with the ball golf happening, but I don’t think the ball golf course gets crowded enough that there are going to be fist fights on the course with disc golfers.

I’ve blabbed enough about this course. If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth checking out. How often do you get to play a couple of 900+ foot holes in the same round? Not often enough, *I* say.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up. One clarification: you can THROW over the greens without penalty. The two-stroke penalty is for WALKING across the greens - other than to retrieve an OB disc (the greens are out of bounds).

Steve West