If you are visiting Pasco County, FL (Tampa Bay area) you don't have too many options as far as disc golf courses go. Sure, you could travel down the Sun Coast Parkway about 45 minutes to Clearwater (later posts to come)...but what if you don't have half a day to kill? The Word of Life Disc Golf Course in Hudson, FL (just north of Tampa) provides a quick fix for your disc golf itch. It may not be the most challenging or well manicured course, but beginners and seasoned enthusiasts alike will find this one worth a try.
When my parents moved to Pasco County (Tampa Bay) I was eager to scope out some disc golf hot spots. Google drew me to Clearwater, which features some gorgeous courses within minutes of each other. However, a tip from some locals pointed me to the Word of Life Disc Golf Course in Hudson, Fl. It was certainly a unique disc golf experience.
I was excited for this particular round because my parents would be playing disc golf for the first time. My girlfriend and I were looking forward to showing them the ropes and hopefully impressing them with some nifty shots. I was thinking it would be great if they got into a sport I love. But realistically I would have settled for a guarantee that my Dad's arm wouldn't fall off after 15+ years of shoulder inactivity.
After winding around some rural side roads and pulling into the gated "Word of Life" complex, you need to check in at the front desk of the hotel (The course is located on the campus of a religious summer camp and convention center). The staff is very friendly and will happily hand you a map and some paper bracelets indicating that you have paid the $2 greens fee (per person).
When active, the camp is teeming with kids riding bikes and walking down the roads. However, once you step foot on the course it becomes very private (one exception mentioned below).
The first thing you'll notice when teeing off on #1 is the openness of the course. Losing a disc would be a difficult feat given the open fairways and lack of thick brush. I used this opportunity to unload my newly purchased Discraft Surge SS. It flew great and I was immediately impressed with the amount of glide it got (I actually drove past a few baskets before I adjusted...oh yeah...disc review to come).
The Word of Life Disc Golf Course boasts 3 - 4 tee boxes for each hole. However, they are made from carpet that is generally ripped up and overgrown. It definitely gives you the feeling you are on a forgotten course.
Just about every hole is wide open and between 200-300 feet from the amateur tee (300 - 400 from blue). This is conducive to lots of 2's and 3's. Even my parents were able to mark down a few pars when they hit a lucky drive. This combination made the course feel a little tired to me. Although I am certainly no pro, an opportunity to make a nice anhyzer or forehand shot would have added to the experience.
The front 9 of the Word of Life Disc Golf Course was not very well maintained. The grass was overgrown and it made me question my decision to wear shorts (it was about 100 degrees in the Sun!). This, in addition to the wide open and often un-marked holes made the course seem like it had been forgotten by the staff.
The back 9 slightly redeemed the course in my eyes. The grass was well mowed and the tee boxes were in better shape than those on the front 9. One very nice touch was the 18th hole, which leads right back to your car; Something that should not be overlooked.
Overall, the Word of Life Disc Golf Course in Hudson, FL is a nice course to play if you live in the Tampa, FL area. It provides short, wide open holes that are perfect for beginners to learn on without fear of losing a disc. Advanced players will be frustrated with the lack of diversity or need to make different types of shots. A good player could play the whole course with a mid-range disc. I could have used my Discraft Buzzz (my personal fav.) from just about every tee with a ton of success...but what fun would that be?
My parents had a blast...my Dad's arm held up (with the help of some aspirin)...and I had a nice relaxing round with my family. What's not to like?
- Wide open fairways make it almost impossible to lose a disc
- Chill rural atmosphere
- Short distances won't intimidate beginners
- Holes boast several carpeted tee boxes
- Little diversity from hole to hole
- Seasoned players will find few challenges
- Overgrown and holes and unmarked tee boxes
- $2 greens fee
- #8 - Goes right in front of a cabin...we skipped it because there were so many campers around. Safety hazard?
- A stable mid-range (Discraft Buzzz)
- A fairway driver for longer holes (Innova Leopard)