Review/photos by Jacob Arvidson
Where is it? 22216 N Main St, Morton, IL 61550 directions
Who plays here?
Thursday, Aug. 5 - Pool B (FPO)
Friday, Aug. 6 - Pool A (MPO)
Saturday, Aug. 7 - Pool A (MPO)
Sunday, Aug. 8 - Pool B (FPO)
Cart Friendly? Yes. The freshly-cut fairways can be slippery in spots, but paths are wide, well-mulched, and either flat or gently sloped.
Practice schedule notes: No restrictions on Monday, August 2. A Flex C Tier will be held at Northwood on Tuesday, August 3. The course is restricted for MPO/FPO players only on Wednesday, August 4.
Course breakdown: Par: 68. Length: 10,529 feet (MPO), 8,818 feet (FPO). Baskets: DGA Mach X.
This course is an absolute beast. There are more par 4s (8) than par 3s (7) on this layout. Add in three par 5s and this course can be as mentally draining as it is physically taxing. To call the rough “thick” would be an understatement. It provides natural impediment that may force players to lose strokes pitching back to the fairway. There is limited artificial OB as well that requires precision on several holes. Most of the course plays through dense woods. Players looking to unleash on a drive must have pinpoint accuracy or they will finish deep in the rough.
Course History: The original Northwood course was established in the early 2000s and designed by Greg Nettles. It has been revamped three times since then. Once after the 2011 inaugural Ledgestone Insurance Open, once for the 2019 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships and now for the 2021 Ledgestone event. The Black course features a few of the previous holes from the Gold layout but will employ a majority of brand-new designs.
Signature holes (and holes to watch out for):
Hole 2 - It’s the introduction to the long, snaking tunnel shots that will make up the next five holes. This particular shot starts players off with a tight, uphill tee shot over a small creek. The water isn’t a factor, but the elevation certainly takes away visibility of the preferred landing zone about 350 feet off the tee. If players execute their tee shots, they’re presented with a technical upshot through a wall of guardian trees sitting 100 feet short of the basket. Make it past the guardians and you’ll then have to contend with a basket that sits down in a bowl with the backside sloping into a creek just outside Circle 2.
Hole 12 - This is, without a doubt, the signature hole at Northwood Black. From the MPO tee, this 1,080-foot par 5’s initial drive looks like much of the course: a long, tight tunnel shot. The riskier a player throws on distance off the tee, the more they may be rewarded with an open look for their second shot. If not, they’ll have to settle for pitching up short of a bridge - only halfway to the basket. The preferred landing zone off the MPO tee is similar to the location of the FPO tee. From there, players get an uphill shot into a tight tunnel, an approach (or two) through that same tunnel and then finally a putt. The rough off the fairway is extremely unforgiving. Beware of the last 300 feet along the left side - immediately past the tree line lies a steep gorge funneling directly down to a creek 80 feet below.
Hole 16 – After a string of two par 4s and two par 5s, stepping up to a 330-foot par 3 might seem like a relief. Falling for that false sense of security could destroy you on this hole. It’s a downhill shot over a gorge and onto a green that isn’t much wider than Circle 1, guarded by 20 wood pilings. Come up anywhere short of Circle 2 and you’ll be lost in dense ground cover.
Fun Fact: Hole 12 at Northwood was chosen for the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s Dream 18 in 2020 as part of Northwood Gold and has been included again in the new Northwood Black layout.
If you’re hungry, check out: Seasons Gastropub, 149 S. Main, Morton, IL 61550
A look up the beautiful fairway of hole 12. Far in the distance you can see the outline of the basket at the end of the tunnel.
A look back up the fairway on Hole 13. Prior to the wood pilings on the edge of the green, the rough on this hole can be quite unforgiving.
A view from the tee pad of Hole 1. This long par 3 from an elevated tee is the last time players will be able to see the basket on their initial drive until they reach Hole 7.