ALBANY, OR—Bryant Park Disc Golf Course is a difficult course to play well. The layout is long and confusing with no directional signs whatsoever, and the wooded holes are densely packed with trees and brush. Keeping your disc in play on this course is essential, or the pleasant round you imagined may rapidly descend into a battle for disc golf survival.
Such was my state on Friday. My first toss of the day sailed hard to the left, directly into the woods by the river and it took us a good 15 minutes of crawling through thickets to locate my Gazelle.
For me, it was that kind of day on the course. I ended up losing my Gazelle later in the round, and I hate the feelings of being deprived and unsettled that come from it. But, it’s either leave the disc or scratch the hell out of yourself and drive yourself crazy digging through the thick growth on the forest floor for undeterminded stretches of time.
Disc Golf Course Review gives Bryant Park a 3.53 rating. “Half the course is long open holes under large deciduous trees in a city park setting; the other half is narrow holes (some short, some long) carved out of a nasty blackberry/ivy jungle.” Emphasis, on nasty.
One reviewer on the site, “mthill” says:
I like to call Bryant Park the Darkhorse of the Willamette Valley courses. What it lacks in aesthetic features, it makes up for in challenging play. This is one of the hardest courses around (in a good way) and will make you play better at your local course guaranteed.
Another player, “steezejenkins” notes, “It can be retarded hard if your having an off day.” He said that right. I had one gorgeous putt and a beautiful drive that led to a birdie. The remainder of my 91 tosses (on this par 60 course) banged off of thin little trees in the middle of the fairways, (that could be cleared from the park), or sailed wide. Many of the pin placements are blind from the tee, and placed in intentionally difficult places to reach. If you’re a beginner or an intermediate player on an off-day, Bryant Park isn’t the course you want to play.
Disc golfers in Oregon are fortunate in that there are courses for every level of player and every situation. If you want to get schooled by a particularly tough outing, by all means seek out “the destroyer course” near you. On the other hand, if you want to keep your discs in play, focus on your motion and complete a quick nine before happy hour, you’ll need to locate a municipal groomer that, by comparison, is literally a walk in the park.
Personally, I most enjoy a course that’s somewhere in the middle, not too easy and not too hard. Until I learn to throw consistently straight and long, a course like Bryant Park is tough to play. I recognize that you want a course to push you to be better, and a course like this will do that. All I’m saying is know what you’re getting in to and bring plenty of water, replacement discs and a ton of humility and patience.
Gratefully, Albany is also home to Calapooia Brewing, one of Oregon’s finest craft-brewers. A visit to this ideal 19th hole certainly helps smooth things out after a round, no matter how pitiful, or brilliant, your score on the course.