Kenwood Heritage Park: Some Saturday Disc Golf
I've known this course existed for quite some time now, but it seems like every time we came camping here we were either too busy or I forgot my discs. Now, I keep my disc bag in my truck pretty much all the time, so I was ready to go for this trip.
It also helps that my friend David who we camp with has a growing interest in Disc Golf, so he was more than happy to come along with me as was his young son.
There are actually two pieces to this course. The area you see in the photo above runs right along the shore of Lake Cadillac and is considered a "family course". It has 9 short holes that I am guessing are made for families with small children who are just looking for a little exercise.
Across the street is a full 18 hole course (with six bonus holes), and that is where we spent a couple hours on this Saturday in September.
I think it is pretty cool that they advertise UDisc at the course. If you play disc golf and you haven't installed the UDisc app you totally need to. The app is free, but you can subscribe to it for a fee that gives you some more advance features. I will share some screenshots from the app a little later in this post.
If you aren't sure what disc golf is, or you have never heard of it, it is basically the game of golf but you use Frisbee discs. Some people call it Frisbee golf, but last I knew Frisbee is a registered trademark of the Wham-o corporation, so the more accepted name is "Disc Golf".
In the past I think disc golf was more associated with hippies and stoners. That may still be true, but it has also grown into a major worldwide sport. There are courses on pretty much every continent. There is also an official association that puts on tournaments and a world championship similar to the PGA tour. You probably won't be shocked to find it is called the PDGA. Yeah, they basically just threw the word "disc" into the title.
They have an Instagram page you should check out sometime. The skill some of the players have is so amazing!
If you can't read that sign, it says "This is your disc golf course, please help keep it clean". While most dedicated disc golfer and decent human beings take pride in their local courses and do their best to keep them clean, you will occasionally find people who are just at the course to drink and play a round. They tend to leave empty cans and other litter all over. That's why they put up signs like this.
This is the view from the tee pad of hole 1. This course had nice concrete tee-off pads that help you get a good running start for your throw. Some courses have just mulch or grass tee pads and it can be a bit more difficult. If you look through the trees about 250 fee or so, you can see the basket that you need to get your disc in.
This is the view from the second tee pad. I started off taking a picture from each of the tee-off pads, but eventually I forgot to keep doing that and I just started taking random photos. I apologize.
This one was a bit challenging. If your first throw didn't get past that brush, you were going to be digging through it to find your disc to take your second shot.
This is the view from the third tee pad. I think it was shortly after this that I stopped remembering to take these tee-off pictures. As you can imagine, walking the entire 18 holes was a pretty decent workout. That is why I am including this post in @tattoodjay's #wednesdaywalk challenge. If I remember correctly I easily had 15,000 steps in by the end of this day.
This course was interesting in the fact that there were pretty much zero dog legs or hard turns. I think every single basket on this course was straight ahead from the tee pad. You might be thinking "oh, that sounds easy". You would be partially right. The only problem is, there are a ton of trees that get in the way between you and the basket.
I had more than one occasion where my throw ran smack into a tree not more than 20 feet in front of me.
Views like this became very common through the course of our round. Another thing I noticed about this course is the fact that most of the holes were quite short. Less than 300 feet. While most advanced disc golfers tend to play every hole as a par three, there were few if any holes that could have been considered more than a par 4.
One of the only issues I had with this course (besides the mosquitoes) was the fact that it was often hard to see the baskets. Take the photo above for example. If you look really closely, you can see the basket in the center between the two offset trees. It blends in with the background pretty badly though.
Putting a bit of bright orange paint on part of the basket could go a long way towards making this course easier to navigate. I don't think it would decrease the difficulty either. It would likely just save you time since you wouldn't have to walk up to find where the heck the basket was before making your throw.
As I mentioned, fairways like this were a pretty regular sight. Trying to thread your disc between all of the tress was often a lesson in luck and futility.
The UDisc app does make it a little easier to find those elusive baskets that I was talking about. The fact that it can overlay a satellite map is pretty cool. Combined with GPS it gives you a relatively accurate idea of where you are in relation to the basket. We also had to rely on the app a couple of times to guide us to the next tee pad.
About halfway through the course we happened upon this old building in the middle of the woods. You can barely see it in this shot, but it is an old Quonset hut along the edge of this hole. Apparently more of this park was used in the past than it is at present. With the introduction of the disc golf course, they have just let nature take over.
I thought of @slobberchops as I was taking this photo, unfortunately give the proliferation of guns (and ill temper) in the US, this is likely the closest I will ever get to an Urban Explore.
A closer shot of the hut. I didn't realize it at the time, but later in the course there is actually a hole that takes you along side the building again.
This is just a closer shot of one of the baskets. You can see my orange midrange disc in the foreground there. The basket is just about straight ahead from it but a little to the right. There were quite a number of old picnic tables in various stages of decay throughout the course.
As I mentioned, a closer up view of the Quonset hut from one of the other holes.
On one of the holes we came across this woodpecker pecking away at a broken tree. We stopped for a good five minutes just to watch as my friends son had never seen a live woodpecker before. He was pretty fascinated. We were lucky in the fact that there was pretty much no one else playing the course while we were there.
We let a younger couple play through on the first hole and we never saw them again after that.
Another shot of the woodpecker.
Throughout the course were these rough benches that someone had clearly custom made. The "Talk Birdie to Me" one I found the most amusing. Sorry, I should have rotated those pics for you, but I think you get the idea.
A little past the halfway point of the course it takes you back towards the road and you have a bit of an open hole which is where I took the opening shot. It doesn't last long though and before you know it, you are back into the thick of the woods.
The nice thing about this course being so wooded is the fact that it is a dense canopy so that keeps the undergrowth down. Which is really nice when you have an errant throw. I'd much rather deal with the mosquitoes than nettles when my shot goes off the fairway!
It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is probably one of the most amazing shots I saw all day. My friends son who was only out playing for the second time in his life blindly threw his disc from just about where I am standing in this shot.
It's hard to see, but the basket is pretty much straight ahead. We were all jumping up and down screaming when his son threw the disc and we watched it sail to the left, then arc back to the right before finally fading back to the left and landing right in the basket. It had to be a good 75 feet from where he was standing to the basket.
It was definitely pure luck but that didn't make it any less amazing!
Old beams like this one were a common sight throughout the course. Just laying on the ground letting nature run its course. I don't know what this beam was part of, but those spikes seem pretty substantial!
This was another random canopy in the middle of the woods just to the left of one of the holes. Like I said, this park clearly used to have a lot more usable areas than it does now. If you look closely, you can see an old trash bin just to the left of the one tree. I doubt anyone has emptied it in quite some time!
I was the winner of the day with a score of 14 over. Which really isn't that surprising given the fact that I have been playing disc golf for over a decade now. If anything, I feel like my score should have been lower. Especially given the length of most the holes. I had a couple double boogies that really screwed my score up.
I was really close to having a birdie on hole 16 or 17, but it just wasn't meant to be.
I would totally play this course again if I had the chance. It's amazing just how quiet and peaceful it was in the back half of the course when you are deep in the woods.
You might remember at the beginning I mentioned this course had six additional "challenge" holes. We weren't sure my friends son was going to be able to make the whole 18 holes of the main course at the time, so we skipped those ones.
We actually gave him the choice after hole 9 to call it a day and go back, but to our pleasure he wanted to play the whole 18. When we play this course again, I am pretty sure we will play the additional six holes.
Like I said, it was a fast course with little time lost searching for discs. I think if you really wanted to, you could easily play a full round in 30 to 60 minutes depending on traffic.
If you are ever in the Cadillac, MI area and you have the itch to throw a round, this is definitely one to check out!