For those that take the time to visit this area of the site, let me pontificate my philosophies of review. Please don't worry; I'll try to be brief…
I've been involved in disc sports on various levels for quite some time, which gives me a perspective, while not entirely unique, may be of value to others. My background is in golf course construction and high-end horticulture and my aim in reviewing DGCs is for the designer or 'would-be' designer. Many of my comments will address the needs of this individual in shaping the experience of the player. For example, while I may ramble on about the size and overall design of a park (or park system), appropriate site selection is a critical factor for anyone wishing to undertake this task.
I will admit that my experience can be a hindrance at times, mainly in fostering unrealistic expectations (read: dreams). The fact is that money solves many problems, makes many things possible, but for the most part, DGCs are primarily 'paid' for through volunteer efforts and monies (rarely tax dollars). No one (yet, that I am aware of) in disc golf has $5 million just to build the course - let alone set up a business structure, wallow through the zoning/permitting maze, acquire land, etc (of course, there are a few exceptional individuals with uncommon access to resources, but you get my point). This doesn't mean that finished products cannot be of the highest quality - it means criticism needs to be tempered with 'real world' realities.
Which brings me to my next point regarding negative criticism. Of the roughly 4500 courses around today, how many require greens fees? Of the few requiring greens fees, how many of these fees are more than $5 or $10? My point is that, in the main, disc golf is largely 'FREE'. Disc golf courses are largely designed, built and maintained by volunteers, all of whom, to a man, would probably rather be playing. While I can completely understand the desire to 'air out' some personal enmity or bitter frustration ('I lost a new disc in the un-mown rough. So this course sucks.'), criticisms need to be tempered with 'real world' realities and expectations (There is no budget to keep the rough mown at a uniform 4" and sometimes you just have to suck up losing a disc in a hazard), along with a healthy dose of genuine appreciation and gratitude. Besides, I personally have probably lost more discs than 'you' have even thrown - so get used to it. That's just the way disc golf is sometimes.
I like to think that most review readers are not particularly interested in others' scores, 'what should be done with the course', 'how I would have designed it' and 'my personal design philosophy', rather they are interested in 'objective' views on what the course is like and how it plays. Is the course balanced? Or does it feature 16 of 18 right-to-left shot shapes from the tee? Is the course very hilly or flat? Does the course intrude on other park activities? Are there any GLARING safety or maintenance issues? What is the historical context of the course? A course built for championship level play in 1980 will certainly look and play differently than one built for this purpose today. So were each of these 'world class' courses equally well appointed, an issue arises regarding a 'fair' qualitative judgment, reduced to a single number. I hope the reader understands my point.
I endeavor to make my reviews reflect this ethos.
I feel that the ratings system on this site is dramatically oversimplified, which is why unless the course is truly outstanding in every respect (or the converse), my ratings number will be the same. My hope is that readers will pay attention to the content of my review rather than the 'number', which, in my observations, largely defaults to personal feelings. The main reason for this strategy is that every course is not for everyone, either by a golfer's level of experience or preferred style of play. Additionally, not every course is as well appointed or well developed as the next, regardless of their length or difficulty. Lastly, even though over time the strength of numbers will demonstrate which courses are truly superior, at the present time, I feel that the system can be 'gamed' or 'popularity contests' will ensue regarding particular courses. This is certainly true for courses with few reviews or where reviews are 'un-informed'. One might hope that as this site is developed, a more detailed ratings system will be enacted, one based on multiple criteria. Then a single number rating can be compiled from that information. A system like this will truly reflect the nature and quality of the course [in fact a system 'like this' might be easier, quicker and more complete with drop-down menus for various factors which are more or less 'standardized'. A good example would be the quality of tees (1-5) or targets (1-5)]. Maybe that is too complicated, but that is the way I feel.
Lastly, I will have to assume that if the reader 'thumbs downs' my review, the reader will have either played the course and disagrees with my assessment OR the reader doesn't understand my 'language'. I reply that my assessments are based on observable facts and if they don't help you than nothing will. I will also assume that readers will have literally pored over all the available information on this site regarding a particular course, and thus there is little need to repeat what is already there (at least very much any way), but there may be some overlap between reviews. Nobody's perfect…especially me. Thanks for your attention.