I had already played one round of challenging disc golf in the Texas heat (at the Creekside Course), but I was there to play the #1 and #2 courses in the world – BOTH of them. I hopped in my all-terrain golf cart and went to the first tee.
I laughed because there’s a giant animal trap near the first tee. I think it’s probably for wolves or hyenas or coyotes or some sort of larger animal. Maybe even a mountain lion or something. I just hoped I didn’t see whatever it was out on the course. Intimidating. But still, I’m always more worried about fire ants in Texas than cougars.
At almost 700 feet, this hole is an awesome opening to a pretty monumental course. The rule for this hole is don’t hit any trees, or you won’t even have a chance at the posted par 5. Remember, these courses should not be played using traditional everything-is-a-par-3 method. Use the posted pars to save yourself from blowing a gasket on the course (or at least that’s what I told myself about every three shots). From the tee, hit one of the gaps in the trees and throw out into the open landing area. Then take a couple of big shots to a basket that sits right next to the huge lake (from the course namesake). Challenging hole – really enjoyable.
I should also point out that this is the first time I noticed there were distance markers implanted in the ground (like at ball golf courses). This way you can tell if you’re 100, 150, or 200 feet out, depending on the color. This is a brilliant idea. It’s pretty cheap and good for course management.
Hole 2 is a big out-over-the-water shot, whether you’re a lefty or a righty. There is a tricky set of trees RIGHT where you want to land your drive. If you can throw it 400+, then try to land past the trees, but otherwise, you can decide if you want to throw less than 300 feet to a safer landing spot. The basket is 528 feet ahead on top of the berm that serves as an access road to the rest of the course. This hole makes you think from the tee, and then again when you’re going for the basket that’s on a fast green.
Hole 3 is a short 244-foot shot, followed by hole 4 at 837 feet. It’s got lots of placement shots along the bank, and then a final tricky approach to the green over the edge of the lake. Amazing golf, this hole. Well designed. I only took one photo of this one, from the green, looking back over the little water-filled inlet I threw over to get here. I’m guessing I was sweating to death in the heat and too lazy to make any additional body movements like taking my camera phone out. Hahaha
Hole 5 is a challenging 581 feet curving to the right from the tee. It isn’t narrow, but it definitely isn’t wide open. Need to keep this one on the fairway. I know it’s obvious, but if you keep it in the fairway, you can get the 4 strokes you need to make par. Fun hole.
Then, hole 6 is a narrow, short 250 feet through a generous tunnel of trees to a picturesque tree-covered green. If I played here a lot, my score would range from 2 to 8 – I just know it.
Hole 7 is 890 feet constantly out over the water on your left. Now the right-handed folks get to understand what most courses are like for left-handed players. You either need a reliable turn-over disc or need to know where your forehand shot is going to land. Seriously, every shot you throw is in danger of hitting the drink. I love this hole, all the way to an amazing island green with a bridge going out to it. I played this hole like garbage and loved every second of it.
Hole 9 is a 500-footer with a very narrow fairway that you really need to hit. It doesn’t matter how far down that fairway you get, but you need to be on that fairway. If you aren’t, then you get off into some serious rough. And that rough has billions of spider living in it. This isn’t a great photo of the cyclone shaped web, but these things are all over the place. Be ready!
Hole 10 is 555 feet with a generous fairway (that you need to stay on) and a nice realistic up-shot to the green. Hole 11 is a 213-foot shorty for right-handers with some elevation to play with. Holes 12 and 13 are 300-ish and narrow, but drive-able. Fun little holes that you need to capitalize on. I didn’t, of course.
Hole 14 is one of those poke-and-hope holes. 426 feet isn't a terrible distance until you take away a realistic fairway. The tee sign is what I like to politely call “bullshit”. If you draw enough lines on it, you can pretend there’s a fairway. There isn’t. You throw into the trees and then try to figure out where your second shot will be thrown through the trees until you take your third shot (now uphill) which will be thrown through the trees to a green that’s just past the tree line (with a few trees surrounding it, just to be a pain in the ass). I didn’t play this hole as poorly as I expected to, thankfully. Here’s a view from the tee so you can see the weird uphill angle you throw your first shot through. Tricky hole.
And I took a little video so you can see the trees. Keep in mind that I veered left from the tee, so even though you think I’m driving down a clear road, that road isn’t in line with the flight path/basket. Good luck on this one.
Hole 15 is a glorious 831-foot hole down a small hill that you need to throw clean. Then take an upshot to a landing area that you need to be left on. Then you can navigate some elevation over a small hillock to the basket. I really liked this par 5 a lot. It’s solid golf. You’ll want to keep throwing this one until you figure it out. If I wasn’t playing on the surface of the sun for 6 hours already, I’d have played it multiple times.
Hole 16 is a slight incline, up 555 feet. You have a couple of fairways to hit, but the basket is directly behind that grove of trees you can see at the end of the fairway. Very fair, but tough hole.
Hole 17 is a drive-able 318 feet around some trees. I’m guessing once you figure out how far to throw his hole (for regulars), it’s probably mostly a deuce.
I was feeling good about how I had played this course (both courses actually). Only one lost disc for the day. So I got cocky on hole 18. It’s 600 feet with the lake on the left and an extremely narrow landing strip along the bank for the first 400 feet. I threw my best turn-over driver flat and just as it leaned back in to the right, the wind took it out to the middle of the lake. I grabbed another turn-over driver and put more angle on it, and the wind died so it landed on its edge and rolled into the lake. Then, I got mad and grabbed whatever disc I grabbed first and threw that way out into the lake. So now, I’m throwing 7 from the tee – fuming. Hahaha. Classic Chad. I was prepared to empty my bag out into the lake if I needed to. So I threw an angry forehand out over the water and it ended up crashing into all those trees on the right – but a long way up there. I managed to get out fairly well – well enough to throw my 9th shot up by the basket for a whopping TEN on the final hole, and down four discs for the day. Oh well!!!
Even though my blood pressure and body temperature were sky high, I loved this course. It’s brutal, but still fair. I’d go back here and play anytime I get to Dallas. I’d recommend it to all my friends who play, and if I ever see the first guy that recommended this course to me, I’ll thank him profusely. It’s top-notch golf and I’m really glad I took the whole day to play here. I’d definitely consider staying overnight here sometime and playing both courses over two days. Again, get the golf cart – you’ll need it.
I’ll be honest, it’s a toss-up which course is “better”. I think they’re equally challenging and play a little bit different. I’m guessing my preference would change every time I played these courses. They’re both wonderful. And it doesn’t matter which order you play them in, either. There’s decent tree-cover on both of them, so it isn’t like one will be more shady in the afternoon or anything. Flip a coin and play what the disc golf gods tell you to play first!
Thank you, John Houck, for designing such an amazing course and to the owners of Selah ranch for sharing it with the public. Having played it, I wouldn’t question the cost at all. It was all worth it.