A little about me and why I rate courses the way I do:
Sometimes I get messages here from course designers, other reviewers, etc. who ask me why I rated course X the way I did so I'm putting this down here while it's fresh in my mind. I've put something similar up before but then so many things changed in my rating/review process (mostly from playing more courses over many states and getting better as a reviewer and player) that I had to either rewrite the entire thing or scrap it and at the time I decided to scrap it but here I am again putting another "why I rate courses the way I do" up on my page so enjoy and thank you for reading. If you want to send me a message about any of my reviews whether it be a questions or comment, good or bad please feel free.
I've played well over 200 courses now in several states and many courses look similar and some even copy each other completely. I look for things I either haven't seen many times or something I haven't seen before all together; a cool homemade basket, different style of tee pad, an old building, etc. Something new like this can improve my rating of a course that normally wouldn't get too much high praise.
Available land used/not used and number of holes:
When you have a piece of property whether it be 5 acres and treeless or 25 acres and trees, rolling hills and water hazards I look for designers who used as much of the land available as possible to create the best course that could be conceived. Also tied into that is how many holes are on the course. I don't believe that a course has to have exactly 18 or 9 holes or even a multiple of three (12, 27,etc.) but instead have the best possible holes no matter how many that is. Several times I've played courses like this that hand cuff themselves to a certain number of holes before they even start designing the course and then what happens is you have three good holes and 15 bad holes. I'd much rather have 13 great holes with no fillers that I can play over and over. Too many times designers cram holes together that are all terrible so that players can play 'a full round'.
Atmosphere/vibe of the course:
Both of these are important to my ratings and I look for courses with great atmosphere. I enjoy courses that are much more quiet and don't have a ton of people on them screaming and yelling or blasting a radio. Courses 'out in the sticks' are generally rated higher for me because of this and a course that might not be rated highly otherwise might get a higher score from me. I like hearing the birds chirp or the river flow, etc. What I don't like is litter, vandalism, open containers and loud people.
I enjoy courses of many variety including pitch and putts and the hardest gold course. However I am a very casual player nowadays and don't care to become a pro at this point. I throw around 330 feet and play about 900 PDGA rated golf and usually have the most fun playing courses that are suited towards intermediate or advanced players. I do love challenging myself at gold courses but sometimes these holes can be boring for a player like me but I do notice how the hole is laid out and how it would challenge players better than me. Courses with par four and five holes are usually rated higher as are courses with more elevation and obstacles whether that be trees, out of bounds, water or otherwise. Wide open 1000 foot holes aren't much fun for anyone and are a huge pet peeve of mine and are usually rated lower because of that. Pitch and putts can be fun with a putter or Superclass disc (Zephyr) but usually aren't rated highly because they are so short.
I don't mind playing baskets that 'don't catch well' as almost any basket has a sweet spot that needs to be discovered. I've played on tone poles, "egg" baskets, "art" baskets (including a pig trough), hula hoops, trees, tires, truck rims, etc. etc. and it doesn't bother me much. Tone poles are almost as fun for me and I don't give low scores for tone poles if the shots are fun and challenging. Baskets rarely add or detract from rating unless it's unique which I covered early.
Unless a tee pad is dangerous it usually doesn't effect my rating of a course. Natural pads/dirt are fine for most courses but my favorite tee pads are actually carpet! It's not as permanent as concrete and doesn't get rutted out as quickly as dirt or gravel. Concrete is alright but too much grip makes it harder for me to turn my foot on a backhand and puts too much pressure on my knee which is also why I have decided to start driving exclusively forehand.
My ratings are sometimes effected by navigation. When you live down the street navigating a course is not needed, you know it like the back of your hand but when you are a course bagger like me it can make all the difference between fun and frustration. That being said it's usually only an issue the first time you play the course and then after there aren't many problems. Small problems are usually mentioned but don't effect the rating but major issues can sometimes score the course lower. Long walks between holes don't bother me much unless something else could have been done to make it easier. Very rarely does this effect my rating.
I like a difficult rough! Bad shots need to be punished sometimes to keep them from getting easy pars and bad rough does this quite well. No one really wants to be looking for their disc all round and especially no one likes losing discs but this is a part of the game. If you don't want to get cut up on stickers or look for your disc under the ferns and bushes for 15 minutes then don't throw into them!
A course that may otherwise be nothing special can sometimes be rated higher if it has nice trees, a view, wildlife, etc. Sometimes even a beautiful moment can push a course over another .5 if say I saw a pretty sunset or an eagle flew by or whatever. On the flip side of that a course can also be rated lower from me if it has vandalism, graffiti, etc. It's not a huge factor in my ratings but it is there for sure. I will usually note this in my review.
That's all I can think of at the moment but I will keep adding things as they come to my mind. Thank you for reading this and my reviews, I hope they have helped you find the right course for you because that's what this site and my reviews are all about!