Hey Dogleggers, long time no talk! I promise I haven’t forgotten about you guys—I actually daydream about blogging quite often. For those who don’t know, I’m currently in my junior year of college, so let’s just say that I have to write a lot of stuff that’s not about disc golf during the school year and my brain can only produce so many words in a week.
Anyway, I’ve been DYING to tell you guys a little bit about the crazy winter we’ve been having here in Missouri. It’s been a winter wonderland. Not “wonderland” like the deep snow and beautiful trees on a Christmas card—we’re not quite northern enough for that. I mean WONDERland, like “I wonder if it’s going to be 60 and sunny, or if it’s going to be so cold the news anchors are telling me not to let my dog outside for more than 10 minutes.” So, let’s take a look at Missouri’s last few weekends.
Four weeks ago today I played in the 28th Annual Ice Bowl in Columbia, Mo. Columbia is not only my hometown, but the home of the original Ice Bowl in 1987. As we all know, the official Ice Bowl slogan is “No Wimps, No Whiners,” and for the 28th Annual there was nothing to complain about. The weather was beautiful, in the 40s and no rain or snow. I was very happy to be able to play in a division of 5 women, two of us celebrating one year since our first tournament! On top of that, I shot my personal record on the Oakland Top course with a 2 stroke improvement. It was a wonderful day!
After such a great experience at the Columbia Ice Bowl, I was really pumped to play the following weekend in Jefferson City, Mo. However, the night before the tournament there was an ice storm and it wasn’t safe to make the 30 minute drive. Instead, I spent the day playing a 4-hole NOMAD course at my house and gathering with my neighbors to scrape ice off of my street. Not so wonderful.
I didn’t get any golf in the following weekend. There was more snow and I turned 21, so I think you can infer that I was a little busy doing other things…
Last weekend I finally made my way down to Jefferson City to play league at their new course. They still don’t have permanent baskets or tee pads installed, so we played the front nine twice with temp baskets. Just by looking at the front nine and hearing rumors about the back nine, this course is going to be a BEAST. There are a few water hazards, lots of elevation change, and a mix of tight tunnels and long fairway shots that have to be strategically placed. (It’ll definitely be worthy of a course guide when it’s finished.)
Although it only snowed a little while I was there, there was plenty of “leftover” snow on the ground, cause it hadn’t been above freezing in at least a week. The park’s namesake Binder Lake was frozen enough to walk on (although I never recommend walking on ice!), which is pretty rare.
During this round my winter weakness was particularly evident. I’m usually pretty good at not letting cold affect my mental game, keeping my throwing hand warm, and not letting my feet get wet. But the worst thing about winter disc golf is wearing so many layers that it limits my range of motion. For the most part it doesn’t impact my driving, but trying to follow through on a putt when I feel like the Michelin Man is just not going to happen.
Just six days later, I played my first short-sleeved round of the year at Carrollton Park in St. Louis. It was a beautiful, sunny day reaching a high of nearly 60 degrees. Can you say complete weather 180!? Then, fast forward to today, when the high is expected to be only 38 degrees; my disc golf feat for the day will only consist of writing this post and wishing I were at the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge, where it is currently 65 and sunny!
About three weeks ago I made my first visit to Branson Cedars Resort, home of Treehouz Disc Golf Course and The Journey Post. The occasion was Journey Post’s First Stop Presented by Prodigy Discs. I chose not to play in the tournament for a few reasons, including the difficulty/length of the course, which I think was a good decision at the time. I’ll be ready for it before I know it though! Anyway, since I didn’t get to play very many of the holes myself, my analysis is based mostly on observation of the Advanced division players, specifically my boyfriend Adam Morrison, and our friend Brad Bullerdieck from Columbia. I also had the pleasure of following the Advanced Grandmasters card for a few holes, and of watching the Pros from afar!
So, a little background on the course. Treehouz is located in Ridgedale, Missouri, between Branson and the border to Arkansas. Its 19-hole course’s par is 60, and is a total of 7,407 feet in length. The course uses DISCatcher baskets and has multiple tees and placements on some holes. Treehouz is pay-to-play: $5 per person for a full day.
Journey Post owner Jaysin Smith designed Treehouz in 2012. Smith said his vision while designing was to create a, “championship level course with a lot of elevation change and a mixture of wooded holes, open holes, and hazard holes; as well as long and short holes.” When asked what other courses inspired him, he referred to Sioux Passage in St. Louis and Hole 1 on Water Works in Kansas City, in terms of their length and elevation changes. (These courses are particularly iconic for Missourians.) He also wanted to incorporate the difficulty of water hazards as seen at Fountain Hills in Arizona. After seeing this course, I’d say this course definitely lives up to his expectations. As if this isn’t enough, the resort is considering adding more holes, pin placements, and tee pads to make the course larger and more accessible for players of all skill levels.
Just for comparing holes and getting a sense of direction, check out this map of the course from Disc Golf Course Review: http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course_files/5830/993ec582.pdf
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s get to the pictures!
1. Your disc’s placement in the fairway is critical to playing this hole well. If your disc lands too far to the left, or too short or long, you have to make a difficult upshot down to the basket on slanted ground. If it is too far right, you end up in the woods. Even worse, I saw a few players land their discs in the fairway, but they ended up rolling into the valley on the right!
2. Knowing how your discs behave in the wind and with large elevation changes helps significantly on this hole. It’s challenging from both tees. The view definitely makes it one of the favorite and most iconic holes on the course.
3. Beware of this hole’s water hazard, sloped terrain, and tree placement. Although this is one of the shorter holes on this course at 337’, it can be deceivingly difficult.
4. This hole is all about placement. With the water hazard so close to the end of the hole, you must decide from the tee where you think you’ll have the most success with an upshot. Landing near the water’s edge gives you a straight shot at the basket, but possibly an intimidating putt toward the water. Landing to the right (the path is not OB) is more technical with the trees and the slope, and may lead to a more difficult hyzer upshot because of the possibility of skipping toward the water. However, this positioning will probably allow you to land you closer to the basket and prevent you from putting toward water.
5. You wouldn’t know it from the tee sign alone, but it’s obvious what the challenge is from seeing the terrain of this hole. Be sure to know how your disc flies and how it lands—or you’ll be rolling down the hill!
6. This hole’s hard turn to the left is sharper than it appears from the tee—the sign gives insight into the degree to which your flight path should curve. If you’re too narrow, you’ll hit the trees to the left. If you’re too wide, it may hit the trees and not come back in bounds. Trees surround the basket, and the green slopes toward the water.
7. This hole combines a water hazard, sloped landing zones, and guardian trees to make it technical. The lower left picture is of the placement designated by the yellow circle on the right and is represented by the basket on the tee sign illustration. The lower right picture is of the left placement, which is not shown on the sign.
7B. Hole 7B was temporarily used for Journey Post’s First Stop Tournament. Orange flags on the edge of a putting green designated the tee. The fairway curves to the right and slopes upward. Past the curve, trees line the fairway.
8. Hole 8 is characterized by its steep uphill fairway and dense trees. I saw several birdies on this hole during the tournament. I took a 4 using only a midrange when I snuck this hole in between rounds.
9. The slope of this fairway in addition to the trees makes the line of your shot very important. When preparing to throw, consider how throwing uphill will affect the stability of your disc, and how your disc will roll when it lands.
10. The biggest challenge on this hole is the combination of the OB on both sides of the fairway and the trees that surround the basket. Accuracy in your line is key!
11. Hole 11 is also characterized by having OB on both sides of the fairway. The basket is located on a putting green with a pretty steep hill behind it (the bottom picture is taken from behind). Be sure your upshot doesn’t roll!
12. The gap to hit on this hole is very narrow and makes for a difficult shot (especially for righties). From the tee, the basket is barely visible, as illustrated in the center photo. Because you have to step off to the left of the pad, as seen in the far right photo, it can be difficult to judge the angle of the throw. If you’re unlucky enough to hit a tree or an “invisibranch,” you could be in trouble if your disc decides to roll. Off to the right of the fairway is a fairly steep hill covered in trees—not a place you want to end up!
13. I think the photo for this hole really says it all. The fairway is pretty narrow with pretty dense trees on both sides and behind the basket. The ground slopes a bit to the right, but not enough to make a significant difference on how this hole plays out.
14. Some call it a fishhook, Adam says it’s a “P” for Prodigy, and I say it’s a question mark for “Where is the basket?” when you’re standing on the tee. From the tee, the fairway looks like a hallway that goes all the way to the tee for hole 15. The trees get less dense 200 feet or so down and to the right of the fairway where the basket placement is. The ground is sloped, so make sure your discs aren’t going to roll!
15. I think the tee sign and the photos of this hole really speak for themselves. I’ll let you figure this one out.
16. Because of the OB on the left, righties need to be especially aware of the distance, wind, and the line you’re throwing your disc on. Knowing that your disc is prone to rolling on this smooth terrain may impact your disc selection!
17. This tight shot is especially technical because the fairway is uphill. This means your disc is going to be more stable.
18. In most cases, the OB should not make much of a difference on this hole if your disc goes where you intend. If you have the arm for it, you’ll want to make sure you get across the valley in the fairway. The closer you are, the more level you’ll be with the basket.
19. My advice for this hole is similar to hole 18. I would recommend trying these two holes as well as hole 2 out before playing them competitively just to get a feel for how the elevation changes effect how far you are able to throw. Additionally, you’ll want to get a feel for how your disc acts when it lands on the putting greens.