Established in late 2011 somehow this course remained out of the public disc golf eye (or at least the MDGA’s eyes) for almost a year. There is simply no other way to put it: this course is a perfect 10/10 and you will not find a better park anywhere! Now I know there are some very good, in fact unbelievably amazing disc golf courses scattered all over the world and I don’t deny that there are many other 10’s out there but the fact remains Hillcrest is everything a player could hope to have in a disc golf course. There is a full 18 holes with alt tee pads, benches and trash can on every hole. Well defined fairways and second cut rough, as well as concrete tee pads and crisp clear signs on every hole. The owners (the Best family) are wonderful course keepers who have kept the course clean and true to the John Houck vision.
When writing this review I am going to focus on the short tees as these get played the vast majority of the time and often times still capture the essence of the hole even if it shaves off 10% or more of the overall distance.
Each hole on this course is an adventure starting with one of the most brilliant and infinitely frustrating hole 1’s you will ever play. This par 4 hole has a tough wood rough on each side of the fairway with an island of thinly cut trees at the crest of the hill where most reasonable drives end up. However even with a reasonable drive the basket is placed another 120 feet or more to left and down hill. Good approach shots often end up long with tough up-putts for birdie or par. But all that assumes you have made two good shots in a row which doesn’t always happen. Start with a 3 here and you are feeling great about your prospects, start with a 5 and you’re pretty much like everybody else.
We could easily go through every hole on this course and write an entry but for now I’ll stick to the favourites (or deal breakers). Holes 2,3,4 and 6 all reward good to great tee shots with honest birdie chances but holes 7 is one of those holes on the course that can really swing your round. The fairway is reasonably open especially on the left hand side but good drives can clip the tree line on the right an end up in pitch outs that leave you scrambling for pars, even if it is posted as a par 4. Not only that but Davey’s pond lurks in the background of this peninsula-placed basket so sometimes even putts of 20 feet find their way into the penalty. 4’s here are satisfying, 3’s here are memorable and 2’s here are achievable, especially with a strong forehand. Having said all that I have seen more then a few 6’s (or worse) here.
Hole 8 is probably the second most birdied hole with a sweet anhyzer or solid flick. Take the birdie and be happy because hole 9 is waiting to destroy your round, and with it your morale. Hole 9 is yet another par 4 only slightly visible from the tee pad that demands a good drive to enable a birdie, or the seldom seen eagle. However the pin placement here is on steep angle and has a few lingering tree placement that make your approaches uncomfortable. More then one player has witnessed their sure-to-be-birdie turn into a bogie and at least one player is still bitter about this happening twice in one day to ruin his chance at a Maritime Championship trophy.
The island hole on 11 is probably the ‘signature’ hole, and although the stream is not marked as o.b. most of the locals, and almost all of the events would play it as a penalty. The one and only criticism that a player could make about this course is that the tee pad on 11 is made of cobblestone that has not professionally installed and levelled, and can make for a very uncomfortable x-step throw. Still the hole is short enough that a standing throw will suffice and the overall beauty the tee pad has now does add to course. This is another must have birdie.
Hole 14 is almost ridiculous from the long tees at 272 meters (891 feet) however from the short tees the par 5 plays much more forgiving. In classic Hillcrest fashion a birdie and a bogie are both very much in play here.
16 and 17 both offer birdie chances though 16 somehow doesn’t produce as many 2’s as players would like. On hole 17 2’s,3’s and 4’s are in play and the posted par of 4 is probably a little too generous, still if you are playing in a competitive round or event any thing worse than a 3 here will cost you.
You finish this course on another hole that can really swing your round, although to be fair the best you can do here is probably a 3 (without a serious field ace). Take the 4 if you can, enjoy a bbq in the clubhouse and immediately start planning your next trip back.
This is probably the best example of shaving strokes by playing with a local as there is probably a hidden (or at the very least not-that-obvious) shot line off the tee pad. This course is home to the annual Maritime Disc Golf Championship and Canada day tournament as well as co-host for the 2016 Eastern Canadian Disc Golf Championships. Although this course, much like Fredericton, was not built or designed by an MDGA Executive member it plays a central role in the maritime disc golf scene. Every disc golfer out there will live a richer life for simply having played Hillcrest!