Firebaugh, CA

Spent a couple of days camping with my lady at Mercey Hot Springs. This beautiful and quiet oasis can be found in Firebaugh, CA.

Don’t bother going there though because it sucks and you will hate it….so just stay away. Seriously…..don’t even think about going.

Recently someone decided to establish a 9-hole disc golf course. I was eager to check it out and write a review…so here it is.

The course itself is strung along the rolling peaks and valleys of the Panoche hills. The elevation shifts from 300’ to 1300 ft. I would say the average length of each hole is somewhere between 300’ to 450 ft. I called each hole a par three despite lengths that might warrant par four status. More on this in a moment.

When I initially checked out the course I wasn’t expecting much. Mercey’s web site noted that the course is sill in development and currently utilizes 5-gallon buckets and a couple of posts as targets. The tee/hole placements however are well thought out and documented on a map. I used the topo map to scout the course and was able to find all the tee’s and most of the targets although two buckets were missing. All of the tee pads are natural and undefined.

During my stay I gathered up some supplies and worked on the course a little and made some notable improvements:

-Found planter buckets for the missing holes
-Placed posts in each of the buckets and anchored each bucket down with rocks
-Trudged a trail through the grasses between each tee and target (hopefully the tees are a little easier to find).

My simple improvements made the course playable so I shot a round.

Wind plays a factor on each hole and because the wind can shift from game to game the course difficulty rating is hard to gauge. If the wind is flowing from the southeast, most holes will be a par-3 without question. In fact in during these optimal conditions you will drive like a champion and should throw harder and further than you ever have before (great ego boost for anyone working on their drives).

If the wind is blowing in from the northwest…forget about it! In these conditions most of the holes should probably be played par-4 because you will be fighting the whole time.

You will really have to think out your wind strategy.

What doesn’t come into play on this course are obstacles. Holes 1 and 4 are the only ones with real obstructions (bushes) and not one tree is to be found on these hills. For me this was a refreshing break as my home course (DeLa) is heavily wooded.

Taking trees out of the equation is interesting. You are liberated to throw without worry. This will definitely shift your game.

On holes 2,3,5,6 you shoot from peaks, across canyons, to targets on opposite peaks. In fact on hole 5 you will have to shoot over two canyons! Misjudging the winds or distances between peaks might mean an approach shot that requires you to throw from the floors of these grassy canyons with an upward pitch.

Discs can easily be lost in these thick grasses in the spring but I’m sure conditions will change during the hotter months (summer temps max 110 degrees).

Hole 4 is interesting because the target isn’t visible from the tee pad. It is obstructed by a series of bushes. I crushed a killer birdie, (aren’t I mean?) and scored my highlight of the round (and it’s the highlights that leave me wanting more).

On holes 6 and 7 you stay atop one ridge. The views are spectacular! Do yourself a favor and stay up on the ridge. An errant shot will have you shooting from the sides of this hilltop and shooting from the sides will certainly be trouble.

Hole 8 seems to be the signature hole on this course. It’s reminisant of Hole 27 at DeLaveaga but without the patches of trees to contend with. I think the drop is somewhere between 500’-600 feet and the target is probably 350’-400ft away from the tee (close to that jumble of white boxes). A barbed wire fence is the only obstruction between. Be careful moving through the fence.

Hole 9 is anti-climactic. I finished my round +6 which sounds about right considering my learning curve.

Potential exists for course expansion (as always). A landing strip, two beat up old houses and a scary grove of trees where a family of ravens and a barn owl live make up the land between hole 9 and the campsite. I see 3-6 holes that would make sense.

If you play this course let me know what you think. I hope to help the staff fashion some homemade baskets to replace the posts….if they want that sort of help. Of course it would be even better if they invest in some Mach 4’s or 5’s but that’s $1500 before cement.

Oh….and did I mention to just stay away from this place. Pretend I didn’t even mention it. And what ever you do, don’t take a relaxing soak in the 105 degree mineral water baths.

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