Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kenwood Trails Disc Golf Course – Lakeville, MN

Another Saturday rolled around and the disc golf crew was headed to a new course for us. Kenwood Trails in Lakeville. It’s on a Junior High School property, so we were expecting the course to be pretty easy and straight forward. Some of the descriptions online said otherwise, but we were skeptical.

From the parking lot, you can see maybe 6 or 7 baskets and not a lot of trees. Don’t be fooled by this. There’s a map online that you can print out that gives you a better idea what this course is about. There’s also a large course map sign near the first tee that really explains this. There are silver baskets for the short basket placements and blue baskets for the long placements. Sometimes these baskets are near each other and sometimes they are not. Pair this dual basket concept with the dual tee concept and you’ve got the potential to play this course four different ways. We opted for Blue/Pro tees to Blue/Long baskets.

The dirt tees are indicated with wooden 4x4’s in the ground just below hand height (unless you’re short or trying to keep it low). Be ready for that. Probably more visually distracting than putting you in any physical danger (most of the time). Just be careful. The tees were in decent shape – out in the open, they were dry and not too badly burned out; in the woods, they were filled with wood chips and level, making for excellent footing, thankfully.
The course starts with a couple of must-have birdies. All reachable and nothing in the way (although, I did bounce my drive off the short basket on the second hole). Then you head into the woods for the real fun.

The shots in the woods are what makes this course. Not a lot of wide open shots in here. A lot of finesse is needed and – kudos to the designer – clearly defined fairways on every hole. Even if you have to thread a needle, you still have a fairway. The best part about this course is the thinking you have to do on the tee. You can’t just gun one down the fairway and make your putt. There are multiple shots where I actually laid up so I could make a dogleg (also a few I overshot my landing area and had to throw backwards to get out of the dense forest).

Some really fun elevation makes this course one of the best courses outside of the Twin Cities Metro. But so does some of the distance challenge on the wooded holes. The designer (again kudos to you) did not subscribe to the “narrow = short” theory of course design. I’m a big fan of keeping the distance and still making you hit a line to get to a landing zone. This course has it in spades and did a fantastic job with clearing fairways and leaving the rough REALLY rough.

The signage has close estimates of the distance on each hole, but you need to walk up and take a look at the basket because they must have moved things around since the signs were made. A few tee signs were a few hundred feet off. It also helps when you identify which basket you’re throwing at (blue or silver).

The course starts in the open, heads into the woods and then finishes in the open with some longer holes. You need to capitalize on birdies every chance you get because there are holes you simply won’t get par on. I ended up in single digits over and still was very happy. I could have played better, but the rough didn’t treat me well (I HATE throwing back out the way I came in). But at the end of the 90+ degree round, I still had a smile. This course was challenging, tricky, thought-inducing, fair, and mostly just FUN. I’m looking forward to playing here again.

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