A few months ago my wife wanted me to plan a camping trip in somewhere in between Santa Cruz and Portland, Oregon, where her brother and his kids live. I remembered hearing that Roseburg in Oregon had two good disc golf courses, I asked around and found out that the longer course with Mach III baskets – Whistler’s Bend – had excellent camping right there in the same park. And then later, when I asked some Oregonians about the course during the Master’s Cup, I found out that a great river for rafting and swimming – the Umpqua – bent around the whole park like a horseshoe.
I told my wife that I found the perfect place, mentioning the proximity to both our homes’, the hot showers, the playground, and the river. And oh, by the way, a funny coincidence . . . the park has a disc golf course! She was thrilled for me, as demonstrated by her closed-lip smile.
Last weekend the time for the trip finally came, and we managed to get there in about 10 hours with two little kids in the car. Not bad. The weather was very unseasonable warm, with highs of 100 and lows of 60 or so. It made my plan to do my disc golfing early in the morning even more appealing. Here is my review of the course, in short-attention span bulletpoints:
- As advertised, the baskets are nice Mach III’s and the teepads concrete. But there are only teesigns and holemaps on some of the holes. None of the holes on the longer, more spread out back nine have signs. But most of the holes do have little wooden arrows pointing to the next hole, which helped quite a bit.
- Also as advertised, the front nine was more wooded and shorter, and the back nine was almost completely wide open. There were trees in the grassy, hilly back nine, but I don’t think any of the came into play in my two rounds except the steeply uphill #13.
- The facilities are great, even for non-campers, and I found the first hole without a problem. It’s right by the group campsite, where we stayed (I swore to my wife that I had no idea), and the ‘first-come, first-serve’ sites are by hole 14, Whistler’s ‘Top of the World’ shot.
- Speaking of hole 14, which I think is 600-plus feet (or maybe 700 from the extended tee I was told to look for and found), I found it to be fun and challenging in one sense only: It’s always cool to chuck a disc 700 feet down a big hill. But there were absolutely no trees or any kind of OB forcing me to take a certain route. I suppose a less-skilled player would find it challenging to throw straight long enough to clear the foliage that covered the first three quarters of the fairway, but anyone with decent power should be able to get to the large open green with little problem. Birdie or par every time unless you three-putt.
- On the back nine, almost ever hole (except #14, ironically) was exactly the same to me in one sense: It was long enough that I couldn’t reach it, but short and open enough that upshots for par were fairly routine. I realize that players with longer arms than me (those that can throw 450 in the air) would get a few birdie looks that I didn’t get. And typical recreational players probably have longer upshots due to their shorter drives, making the second and third shots more interesting. But my range is fairly average for ‘serious’ players, and I thought most of the holes on the back would’ve been more fun if they were either 50-150 feet shorter or longer (I’d prefer a mix of the two).
- I’m normally a critic of water hazards where you can lose a disc, since – to use a ball golf analogy – discs for us are more like clubs than balls in the sense that they are not simply replaced by another one identical to the one lost. But I have to say that I liked holes 7 and 9 at Whistler’s Bend. Both baskets were in locations close to a sheer 70-foot drop-off, with the gorgeous Umpqua River below. Hole 7 is a 400-footer that requires placing the disc in the right part of the fairway, then an accurate upshot for par. Hole nine is a wide-open gradual downhill hole with a medium-width fairway; narrow enough that you must take a straight-at-it approach if you want a chance at birdie. Problem is, when you go straight at the basket on a downhill hole with a drop-off 20 feet behind, your distance control is of the utmost importance. My most gratifying drive at Whistler’s Bend was on this hole, where I put my Aftershock within 10 feet (short). Another reason I didn’t mind the water hazards: The one time I went over the cliff – on #7 where my drive landed initially safe then trickled over the edge – I was able to scale down the cliffside and retrieve it from the narrow beach. If the river was running higher, though, it probably would’ve slipped into the Umpqua before I even peered over the edge.
- Check out all the pictures I took there by clicking here