The Jungle DGC {Sanford, Michigan}

-The Jungle is located at Sanford Lake Park in Sanford, Michigan. The daily rate per car is $6, so have your money ready at the gate. When you get inside you’ll want to follow the road left until you see the message board and first tee on your right. Hole #1 was recently moved to provide a better parking situation and give the course a better flow. However, the practice basket is still where it used to be (by old hole #1 or new hole #3). Keep that in mind if you want to get some putts in before teeing off. The practice basket really isn’t TOO far from the start of the course, but I imagine they will eventually move it closer to help avoid confusion.

Hole #3 View

-The overall maintenance here is very good. Not just on the course, but in the park as a whole. I almost always see the employees with their hands full on some project. Along with good maintenance is good course amenities. On all 18 holes there’s concrete tees, descriptive tee signs, and nice baskets with number plates. Benches and trash cans are appropriately scattered throughout the course as well. A couple spots help direct you with “next tee” signs, but for the most part it’s very easy to follow anyway.

-The atmosphere at The Jungle is cool. Being from downstate, I am used to mobs of people at every course. It’s nice to get a break from that and be able to play a full round without having to be held up by anyone but yourself or your own group. I’m serious when I say that I’ve played here about 10 times and never once had to wait for anyone at a hole. It’s also located by a very nice lake and beach. Almost every time I play here, I’ll toss a Buzzz around on the beach before or after the round.

Hole #5 Basket

-As far as the layout and design goes, it’s challenging! If your one of those people who play all par 3’s, you could be in for a long round. The birdies will come far and few. Besides the couple possible ace runs, you will need perfect drive placements and honest putts on mostly every hole to come out with a good score. Surprisingly at a place called “The Jungle”, the great challenge isn’t really even from “pinball” type holes. Even though there are a few pinball runs, a lot of holes have an open cut fairway with scattered guardian trees near the basket. IMO, most of the challenge is incorporated from sharp angles and the un-forgivingness of misplaced drives that go in the rough. This course does not favor one throwing style over the other either, It was made to challenge EVERYONE.

-The fun factor here isn’t anything amazing. Honestly I could see this course making more people mad than happy, lol. But on the flip side, if you do end up throwing well, you would certainly feel like you accomplished something really good. Another thing that might hurt the fun factor is a lack of a signature hole. There are a couple that play down by the lake and make for nice scenery, but nothing that will really stick in your mind as “Your favorite hole of all time”. Don’t let me make it sounds like it’s no fun though, just tough. I do like the way the elevation was utilized here. There might not be any huge hills, but they incorporated what they had the best they could. A few elevated tees and fairways add to the fun factor.

-Not too many negatives about this course that I can really dwell on. To me, the challenge is never a negative, but I could see a lot of people getting frustrated here if they didn't have their game fully down. Besides that, there is a little bit of standing water during the wet season. But it’s nothing you can loose your disc in, or even get soaked trying to play your lie in. And the park has done a great job in making some man made canals for the water to run off in on many of the holes.

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-{}-  I rate this course a 3.75 out of 5  -{}-

-{}-  My rating system is based off a personal preference scale. I mainly determine my ratings from things such as, course amenities, overall design, fun factor, atmosphere, and maintenance. The challenge of the course is considered too, but doesn't always help/hurt the overall rating.  -{}-

 

Disc Golf Mecca: Walnut Creek Park in Charlottesville, VA

Since this is my first contribution to Disc Golf Traveler, I wanted to take a second to introduce myself. My name is Brian Giggey and I’m the tour manager for nationally touring band, Zach Deputy. Zach and I met in 2007 when I was in my first year of graduate school at UMass where I was getting my degree in Landscape Architecture. When he came to play Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA in April 2008, I made sure to introduce him to a deep passion of mine: disc golf. I had only started playing disc golf about two years prior, but it’s all I could think about. My golfer brain would think about flight patterns, course management and pin positions, while my land arch brain would drool over riparian corridors, ridge lines and the amicability of the sport with other uses such as hiking, biking and dog walking.

Fast forward two years and I find myself putting the final touches on my disc golf course design: Orchard Hill Disc Golf at UMass Amherst, which will hopefully play host to several Zach Deputy disc golf tournaments in the future. As I pack my bags and say goodbye to Amherst, I’m ready for my new full time adventure of traveling town to town and state to state across the country. Zach, Innova’s newest sponsored celebrity, is a touring machine --- six nights a week for months on end. As we approach markets with shorter drive times between shows, our angst for disc golf grows. We start paging through DGCourseReview for the local goodness. Ratings and reviews left by other players are like gold as we seldom like to derail from our path unless we know it’s worth it. Low and behold, almost a year to the day after I joined the road full time, I find my favorite course thus far.

After our show at Clementine Café in Harrisonburg, VA we headed south to Charlottesville, VA for two relaxing days off in the old stomping grounds of Dave Matthews Band in the early 1990’s. As we traversed the hills and valleys of the local roads, I couldn’t help but wonder where Haunted Hallows was; the custom built recording studio for DMB and their associated projects. The farm lands and mountain vistas already have me thinking of a potential house here in the future, but the amount of disc golf courses in the vicinity is surprisingly low.

A little over 10 miles outside downtown Charlottesville lay Walnut Creek Park. As you drive down the entrance road, excitement grows as baskets and pin positions begin to reveal pieces of the course. I’m already making mental notes of where pins are tucked and where not to miss. The road culminates in an impervious parking lot with a large facility that houses vending machines, picnic tables and family gatherings, overlooking a large lake that’s pressed up against the backdrop of rolling hills and mountainsides. This lake will come into play several times throughout your round, so get ready for it. If it’s not hypnotizing you with its beauty, its making you sweat a couple bullets as it entices you to bite off a little more than you can chew. Flanking the parking lot are two small playgrounds and a few huts that are ready to host your family barbeque. All of these separate entities are perfectly connected by a trail system that runs throughout the park, aiding bikers, hikers, fisherman and disc golfers in their daily activities.

Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, the disc golf course that circumvents the park is a shot maker's course through and through. With a 4.21 rating on DGCourseReview, I knew we were in for a treat. We all piled out of the Sprinter with excitement running through our veins, me especially, as tight wooded courses are my specialty. Zach is more of a rolling hills and fields player, while I could care less for those big D opportunities --- Walnut Creek Park: advantage me. Created in 2002, the course’s three designers put together a beautiful mix of uphill, downhill, open and wooded shots. This course is extremely challenging from either tee box, as each hole has multiple tee boxes and a variety of pin positions. Pin positions, as well as league information and course layout can be found at the message board near the parking lot, so head over to it before you venture off to the first tee.

As is standard with many disc golf courses across the nation, the primary feature that was lacking at Walnut Creek Park was signage between holes. Easily discernable to locals, wayfinding between some holes for us was quite frustrating. The only other negative in my opinion was that fact that all the tee pads were a compacted type of gravel, which depending on their structural integrity and amount of rainfall, were in either fair or poor condition. A course of this caliber should have permanent tee pads. Speaking from a landscape architecture point of view, less impervious surface (such as concrete or pavement) is a good thing, but in this case, concrete pads are a must.

After only three holes, you could see that this course was going to provide us with a wonderful mixture of both hyzer and anhyzer shots. Walnut Creek Park will bring out every shot you have in your bag! With tight fairways, water hazards and numerous elevation changes just on the front side, I was happy to be right around level par headed to the back. Notable holes on the front nine were the downhill, overwater 2nd hole, where if you split the uprights of the towering trees, you will be left with a short, level birdie putt. The 6th hole was the first of many holes with genius pin positioning. A relatively open field hole, the drive is uphill through a shoot of trees leaving players with a second shot that only affords them a glimpse of the top of the basket. Situated on a 45 degree slope, players need to figure where they want to putt from. I decided short right would leave me the best putt, as who knows where my Roc would roll to if I flirted with that slope. I made par and left happy.

The 10th hole is your window to make up any shots you may have given back on the first part of your round. A straight shot, 235 foot hole, anything more than a par should make you think about heading to the car early. The 11th and 14th are two holes that being too aggressive will only lead to birdie sometimes and bogey most of the time. With the baskets situated on severe slopes, unless you have a kick in, you might just want to take your par and move along. Saving the best for last, the 17th hole is one of the most breathtaking holes you’ll see. What initially looks like a big downhill drive and an awkward second shot slowly reveals itself to be so much more. With an elevation change from tee to basket of a couple hundred feet, this is your chance to let out all your frustrations. Be warned though, the lake on the right hand side is very much in play, while the thick woods on the left will catch the majority of drives. As you make your way down to the plateau that catches most drives, a new obstacle presents itself --- more water! From the plateau to the basket isn’t much more than 125 feet, but the severe elevation change and water in the background should make you think for a bit before you throw. Remember that your disc is going to break A LOT when it slows down, so give yourself a large buffer from the water as it runs along the back and left hand side of the hole, leaving an almost island green to some degree.

Our round at Walnut Creek Park only took a couple hours, but this is a place where anyone could (and should) spend the day. If you’re in the area, block out a part of your day and really take the opportunity to explore this beautiful tract of land. Besides some wayfinding issues from hole to hole, there aren’t many negative things that can be said about this course. Charlottesville, VA has a prize in the form of Walnut Creek Park, so I urge you to put this course on your “to-play” list. You surely won’t regret it.

Disc Golf Terms

Hyzer- Used to describe a type of shot when the disc is released with the wing down.  This creates a very hard curve to the left for a right handed back hand thrower (RHBH), or a hard curve to the right for a left handed backhand thrower (LHBH).  This shot allows players to really rip into the disc and put full power on the throw without worrying about flipping the disc over.

This is how you would release the disc for a hyzer flight.

This is how you would release the disc for a hyzer flight.

Anhyzer- Used to describe a type of shot when the disc is released with the wing up.  This creates a curve to the right for a right handed back hand thrower, or a curve to the left for a left handed backhand thrower.  This shot allows players to counter the natural tendencies of the disc.  This shot is most effective with an under stable disc.

This is how you would throw a disc with an anhyzer flight.

This is how you would throw a disc with an anhyzer flight.

S-curve- This describes the flight path of a disc when thrown with slight anhyzer.  The disc will start out flying to the right for a RHBH thrower and then finish fading left.  This shot allows players to increase their distance and to curve around objects.

Stable- This describes how the disc will fly.  A stable disc will have a tendency to fly straight and to finish with little to no fade.

Over stable- This describes how the disc will fly.  An over stable disc will have a tendency to fly straight and finish hard to the left for a RHBH thrower or hard to the right for a LHBH thrower.

Under stable- This describes how the disc will fly.  An under stable disc will have a tendency to fly straight and finish to the right for a RHBH thrower or to the left for a LHBH thrower.

Turnover- Used to describe the amount of anhyzer and or power a player puts on their throw.  When a player turns their drive over, normally the disc will cut hard into the ground and either skip, roll, or die.

Innova Flight Chart- It seems as though no company ever uses the same flight chart/system to rate their discs.  Innova has four different boxes/numbers to describe the flight of their discs.

  • Speed- this is the disc’s ability to cut through the air and how fast it can fly.  The numbers range from a 1 all the way to a 13!  The lower numbers, 1-5, are going to be your mid ranges and putters.  The next level will be the fairway drivers, 6&7.  Finally you get your distance drivers, 8-13.
  • Glide- this is the disc’s ability to maintain loft.  The numbers range from 1-7.  The lower numbers will drop out of the air faster, leaving you less chance the disc will sail past the basket.  The discs with higher glide ratings are best for new players or players looking to get more distance out of their throws.
  • Turn- This is the discs ability to turn to the right for a RHBH thrower during the fastest part of its flight.  The rating scale is from -5 to +1.  The lower the number, the more the disc will turn.  Discs with a low number make it easier for players to get a distance increasing S curve out of their throw.  The discs with number -3 through -5 are the easiest to throw roller shots with.
  • Fade- This is the discs ability to cut to the left for a RHBH thrower or cut to the right for a LHBH thrower as the disc slows down during flight.  It is based on a 0-5 rating scale with a 0 finishing straight, and a 5 will finish hard to the right for a RHBH thrower.  New players should look for discs that have a fade around 0.

Discraft Flight Chart- Just about every Discraft disc has the stability stamped on it.  Their scale ranges from a -1 to a 2.6.  The numbers from -1 to 0 are on the under stable to stable range, numbers 0 to 1.5 are the stable discs, and numbers 1.5 to 2.6 are in the stable to over stable category.  Their flight chart takes each disc and lists the stability of that disc in each plastic, if it is made in the 150 class, if it’s a good wind disc, if it’s a good roller disc, and if its beginner friendly.  On the side of the chart, they break down the types of plastics and their advantages.

Disc Weights- Disc weights will max out at about 180 g.  As far as disc weights go, the lighter discs are easier for new players.  New players will benefit from the lighter discs because the lighter the disc, it is generally going to be on the under stable side of that discs flight characteristics.  I’m not saying that you can get a brand new disc that is rated to be as over stable as a Predator in 150 g and be flipping it over from the first throw.  I just mean that when thrown, the disc will stay on a stable and straight flight path for longer.  The lighter weights also are easier to throw because it is less mass that you have to accelerate to throw, allowing you to get greater speed and rotation on the disc.  This could allow you to get that sought after S curve on the flight of your drive.  There are discs in a super light weight class called the 150 g class.  These discs will be best for children, women, or anyone with a weaker arm.  These are some of the lightest discs out there and will truly give you the distance and accuracy you want when just starting out.  Pro players and players with a lot of power tend to throw max weight discs or discs that are near max weight due to the fact that they can really power that extra mass for extra distance.

New Writer to join the Disc Golf Traveler Web Team.

Kyle Moriarty has recently joined the disc golf Traveler web team and will be writing about all sorts of things.  He will write up disc reviews, course reviews, tips for new players, gear reviews, and all other things disc golf.  Kyle went to Springfield College in Springfield, Mass for Physical Education.  He has helped teach a disc golf class to his fellow students for the past three years, so he knows how to break down the skills and explain them in a way anyone can understand them.  He already has one disc review up on the Vibram Ridge and there will be much more to come from him.  He is excited to be part of Disc Golf Traveler and hopes to help

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future and avid disc golfers.

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