This guest blog post is by Hunter Stanford.
To only say that the Wells Branch Disc Golf Course got its engine re-tweaked for high performance leaves out the aesthetic changes. But to say that the course got itself an expensive facelift ignores what’s under the hood.
With 18 baskets as opposed to the previous nine, full concrete tee pads and benches, and detailed color signage to boot, the only term for this is a full system upgrade. The bugs have been tweaked and the kinks have been smoothed out. If the beta version didn’t have you convinced, then the alpha version has something to prove. Wells Branch 2.0, welcome home.
Wait, What Happened?
I wrote a review earlier this year, previous to said changes. I had this and that to say, but did a little complaining about navigation. Now I’m sure the disc golfers of the Colonial times got along just fine without it, but signage is key these days. You get to a tee pad, now where do you throw? A sign is a map: where to throw, where to go, how to succeed. You wouldn’t drive to Washington State without looking at a map, would you?
So I formally withdraw my navigation complaint. Wells Branch Disc Golf Course now has full-color, nicely detailed maps laying out any and all obstacles covering the next throw. It’s classy and I like it.
Next! 18 Baskets. A full course. A few hours of play. Heck yes! This is optimal and here’s why. We in Austin are spoiled. We have tons of great courses all over the city. Some have nine baskets, but most have 18. A higher number obviously means more variety in play, but mostly nine baskets just go by too fast. I get bored playing a 9-basket course twice through, so 18-basket courses are ideal.
Brian Litke, Director of Club Operations, who redesigned the course, told me that safety was a big concern when repositioning and adding baskets to the course. Surely some of you recall that the old layout had Wells Branch Pkwy rolling through. Litke intended for people to use the tunnel that runs under the road.
“Many players were taking the path of least resistance, which led them to cross a busy Wells Branch Pkwy,” Litke says. “I realized that for player safety, I had to put all 18 holes south of Wells Branch Pkwy.”
Hey, What Else?
Distance was another minor complaint I’m now forced to embarrassingly retract. Wells Branch now offers a few baskets over 300 ft. and one over 500 ft., which is great for those of us looking to hone the longer throws. After all, every course deserves at least one par 4.
The friend I was playing with mumbled a bit about things being overgrown around the course. It had just rained, so this is natural. However, that was something I liked about Wells Branch Disc Golf Course. Things get a little rustic; you’ll be ok. You might have to dig through some brush to find a disc, hop a creek as a shortcut, or hop into a creek to get a disc. As a confessed wannabe outdoorsman, disc golf at courses like Wells Branch allows me small hikes, subtle terrain shifts and minimal sweating, combined into one activity.
Speaking of growth, Litke also told me that environmental impacts are also a consideration in maintaining the course. If you’re a seasoned disc golfer in the ATX area, you might remember the great course over at Pease Park that was closed in 2010 to rehabilitate the park. Most of the baskets at Well Branch now have two baskets, which Litke says will be rotated regularly to let the grass regrow.
You’re Probably Thinking This Can’t Get Any Better
Wrong, my friend! This candy gets sweeter with every lick. The Wells Branch disc golf community has something to offer you socially-active disc golfers. There’s a random-partner Sunday Doubles mini at 10 AM and Tuesday night singles mini at 7 PM. There’s even a great club you can join if you want to get more involved with the schematics of Wells Branch disc golf.
If you’ve never thrown before, this is a great place to start. Litke and I both agree that Wells Branch Disc Golf Course is quite approachable for beginning players. A shorter course by Austin standards, Litke reminded me this is why Wells Branch is so popular. Stretched-out courses have their place, but aren’t as appealing to a broad audience.
“Let me close by saying the course redesign was a collaborative project and a lot of people had to come together to make it happen,” Litke says. “It wasn’t easy, but we have a great story to tell about a community working together.”
Check it all out on the Wells Branch Disc Golf Club’s website.
Hunter Stanford is an Austin-based web designer with a passion for all that is awesome. That may sounds vague to you but to him it’s quite specific. Refer to HunterStanford.com for awesomeness discrepancies.
Photos courtesy of Matthew Seiler and Travis Wayne Baker.