The real deal.
0 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Every shot you have, you will use multiple times. The course has everything: elevation changes, tight holes, open holes, looooong holes. The course is also just beautiful: SW PA's scenery gets shown off for sure, especially when the leaves are changing colors in autumn.
Cons: The rough on this course is... rough. If you throw off the fairway, finding your disc is quite difficult. There are a few holes that, from the white or red tees, are sort of "gimmie" holes. In my opinion, this is desirable for the red tees, but not so much the whites. You won't play a casual/quick round here, so that could potentially be a con as well.
Other Thoughts: Favorite course of the Pittsburgh-area courses.
0 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Not Transcendent, but Still Awesome
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: One of the aspects of this course that jumped out to me right as we teed off and stayed consistent throughout is how well the three tees on each hole are designed. The red tees manage to maintain the intrinsic quality of the hole while indeed being easier than the higher rated tees. I'm a low 800s player, and I always default to the easier tees on my first time playing a course. Sometimes it can be a bummer to see a hole that is interesting/challenging from the blue tees become a snoozer from the reds. Switching over to the blues in such instances, however, often means inviting an excess of frustration. I appreciated how the tee layouts at Deer Lakes handled steps up or down in difficulty; I never felt like I was being babied or missing out on what makes a hole unique simply because I was playing the reds. At the same time, the higher rated tees consistently add challenges to a hole beyond simply making it longer - new obstacles and angles mean that the blues are testing your accuracy beyond just your maximum distance. My partner and I threw from the whites and blues as well as the reds on several holes just to try out the shot they presented.
There's a great amount of variety here. Levels of woodedness are considerately balanced between open shots, tight lines, and transitions from one to the other. Hole length and elevation are similarly varied. I never felt like the course was repeating itself.
Like a lot of its brethren (Moraine, Knob Hill, etc), Deer Lakes benefits from being in a gorgeous natural setting and a well-maintained state park. Bathrooms, water, and parking are accessible and plentiful; I was especially appreciative for the opportunity to refill my water bottle near hole 7's pin. The course is laid out so as to minimize overlap with other park activities, so there's little opportunity for conflict with non-disc golfers.
The tees were perfect: concrete, well-sized, and in excellent condition. I could hardly ask for more.
Holes that stood out to me:
- 3 is the ultimate tunnel shot: super long, dead straight, and a pretty unforgiving width. I threw a beautiful hyzer flip on here and still ended up in the (very shallow) creek just to the left of the fairway. I love the thoughtful pin placement: on a hill, nestled in some trees. It keeps you dialed in right to the hole's end.
- 7 is a gorgeous, empty-your-bag hole. You emerge out from the woods onto a hill overlooking a clearing, with the basket set on the far side, just into the tree line. We threw a few shots from the blue tees for the joy of throwing over the saplings that populate the clearing's right side. The higher elevation brought the wind into play, though, and our discs got pummeled; fair warning. Thankfully there's little chance of losing a disc on an errant throw here.
- 15 stood out for the simple fact of being a water hole; you don't seem to get too many of those around here. The tees are situated to allow it to play as scary or friendly as you like: the blues will have you throwing 150'+ through a descending wooded tunnel with a relatively low ceiling just to reach the water, whereas the reds bring you right to the water's edge.
Cons: There are a few holes that stand out as being a little underwhelming. This is likely partly due to the course's high points being through the roof. 2, 4, 8, and to a certain degree 10 were a little too straight forward for my taste, with little risk/reward trade off. 8 in particular comes off as a throwaway hole. It doubly stands out because it's wedged in between two of Deer Lakes' best.
In general, the course struck me as playing easier than similar courses in the area which take place in a wooded setting and feature a lot of variety. This is relative to the tee you were throwing from, of course.
This course isn't the easiest to find. You're driving through true blue rural Pennsylvania, meaning a lack of street signs, spotty cell reception, and going miles without a point of reference to help assure you you're on the right track. It isn't terrible by any means, but with courses like Moraine, Knob Hill, and Seth Burton/Orange Crush being more or less directly off the highway, Deer Lakes stands out as being a little harder to get to. It's also a shame that it's a bit more isolated from other disc golf destinations than other courses in the area. One of the perks of hitting Knob Hill or Two Mile Run is that they're so close to other worthwhile courses. Still, that isn't Deer Lakes' fault, and the course is surely worth taking a day out to play it alone.
Other Thoughts: I feel a little guilty saying that I didn't find this course as transcendentally amazing as its rating and reputation would suggest. Don't get me wrong: Deer Lakes offers a fantastic round of disc golf. I would only argue that it isn't in a class above comparable Western PA courses such as Knob Hill and Moraine. I actually prefer those two courses to Deer Lakes. I'm having a hard time articulating why that is, but I think it has something to do with the throwaway holes I mentioned before: there just seems to be a large range of hole quality on this course, meaning it's not as consistently top notch as Moraine seems to me to be. Holes like 3 and 7 are etched into my mind's eye, and I recall them with downright giddiness, but other holes blend together and into a general grayness that speaks to a lack of top level consistency. I don't mean to be a contrarian: this is a great course. It's just that, in an area of great courses, it doesn't rise above the rest.
I probably prefer the back nine for its greater mix of woodedness and openness; the holes here seem a bit more complete and challenging from drive to putt.
I would have given this course a 4.25 if given the chance. It's about as good a "4" as there could be.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 17 Not
Pros: Great course with a solid variety of holes. Plenty of long holes through the woods that challenge your distance and accuracy at the same time.
Cons: The course can be very unforgiving, especially for beginners. The lake can also be annoying.
Other Thoughts: While its cool to have water in play on a course, its tough when the water is a marshy wasteland where discs go to die. It isn't really an option to get your disc back if it goes in the water. Technically you aren't even allowed to go in. Even if you do go in, you have to wade through mud and smell like garbage for the rest of the day.
1 of 18 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 12 Not
Pros: Course was well maintained and very clean. The holes have a good variation in type and length. Also a good mix of lefty and righty holes. Decent signage and course direction from hole to hole. Teepad signs are not misleading and are a good resource.
Cons: No real cons. The course plays just fine but maybe some special touches could be added like a raised or suspened basket. Kinda like hole 14 that has steps and othe wood peices giving it a little more character.
Other Thoughts: I live in south central PA. About a 3.5 hour drive and it was very much worth the trip.
1 of 13 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 11 Not
Not for a Beginner
Pros: This course has a little of everything. There are some wide open shots, shots through trees, over water and just about anything you can think of.
Cons: This is not an easy walk. There are a lot of hills and if you miss your target you could be in for a hike to get your disc.
Other Thoughts: We enjoyed playing this course but it seems like it plays very long especially for someone just starting out. We will be back to play but not until we can get some more distance on our drives.
1 of 12 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Worth the drive
Pros: A lot of elevation change; friendly locals; easy-to-find in park; fairly easy to follow first time; ton of variety; well-kept; challenging but do-able
Cons: Not concrete all-around; I don't remember seeing many trashcans; I lost an hour trying to find the park itself; hole 14 in particular is just silly for a first-timer at Deer Lakes, not well marked through the "fairway"
Other Thoughts: I had a great time at this course; it was very tiring, but that could have something to do with two rounds at Moraine the day before and one at Knob Hill that morning, all from the longest tees; there is such a difference in some of the holes that you almost ask yourself if one of the earlier holes was on the same course or a different one (most courses are primarily the same throughout, but this one has open holes, downhill shots, uphill shots, wooded shots, a water hole, and a ton of blind holes); there was so much water pulling in to the park that I had hoped to see more ponds utilized (although 15 from the golds is certainly intimidating); the rough was not all too bad; just stretch everything before you play!
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 2 Not
Challenging and fun
Pros: Tee signs at every tee (red, white and blue). Well maintained and an excellent variety of holes.
Cons: The location of tee #9 could be marked a bit better as it's somewhat hidden from view. Although I did notice the subtle cue on the gravel pile after a bit of searching.
Other Thoughts: Deer Lakes has some long holes as well as a few memorable ones. #15 stands out as one of the more exciting holes I've played with the basket sitting on the edge of a lilly pad filled pond and the tee far up on a hillside across the way. Definitely a shot that you don't want to mess up! #2 and #3 were reminiscent of Jordan Woods with their open alleys surround by trees. Definitely fun stuff.
You'll get a chance to test your distance and and accuracy with the great mix of wooded and open holes this course has to offer. The bonus of having a sign at each alternate tee also makes finding tees a breeze. If you're in the area or close by then Deer Lakes is most definitely worth a stop.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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