16 Helpful / 2 Not
Best of the Best
Pros: Deer Lakes is a fantastic course. I was very excited to play there and it was even better being there. No pictures give these holes the justice they deserve. Everything is perfectly maintained and clean. Variety of each hole was great, you never get bored! I can rave about this place all day, here are a few of the other pros:
-3 sets of perfect concrete tee pads
-tee signs with all the info you need
-mix of open and wooded holes
-shot variety: long bombs, short shots, flat shots, uphills, downhills, water hole, turns each way
-huge grass area was at perfect length
-wooded ares free of debris
-walkways over wet areas
-large course but still easy to navigate
-fantastic views from tees
The other thing I should mention is they really added the details to the course. The raised tees and the wood work looked like alot of extra work but the small details are what made me decide to make this a true 5 rating.
Cons: I had no cons but I will mention:
The sign by the water hole says No Swimming/Wading Strictly Enforced Up to $300 Fine. So make sure you don't throw your disc in!
Other Thoughts: My favorite hole was #15 from the long tee, it's a long shot down a hill and over a pond to the basket. You can't throw to high because of the canopy...true excitement ran through me. I came across a few water spigots which were along the way and the water was delicious. I had a great time and i really wish I could have stayed longer. This is a destination course!
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 3 Not
Great but tough
Pros: -Fantastic design. There is every possible variety of hole on this course. Long, short, open, wooded, right turning, left turning, S shots, over water, flat, uphill and downhill.
-Beautiful Park. Deer lakes is a gorgeous park that offers alot. Good bathrooms, water, fishing, trails, a spray park (large fountains for kids to run through), playground. All of these are very well maintained .
-Well kept course. This course is remarkably free of debris for having so many holes in the woods. There is no trash on this course. The Pittsburgh crew does a wonderful job of up keep.
-Multiple tees and pins for each hole offering good play for rec players and pros.
Cons: Could have better direction between holes 7, 8 and 9.
Other Thoughts: Very pretty course that is very difficult but fun to play. This course is very long so bring good shoes and something to drink.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
A Real Gem
Pros: A real challenge, but not one that will have you frustrated at the end. The combination of a beautiful setting, ideal layout, and very interesting holes give Deer Lakes a distinct personality and makes it one of --if not the-- best courses in the region.
The course, as well as the rest of the park, is maintained regularly. Grass is never too tall, even on "the prairie" of #7-9.
Both the front and back 9's begin and end at the parking lot, so if you live in the area and just want to play 9 holes, it's easily doable. You can also stop at your car halfway through and grab some food/drink, swap out some discs, etc.
Hole #5 is a lot of fun. Relatively steep downhill and very wooded. If you shoot the gap, you're golden. If you hit a tree, you're 2 shots from the basket.
#15 is the signature hole. In a perfect "risk and reward" proposition, the shot across the pond would probably be easily manageable if it were all grass...but do you want to take the chance?
I have to mention that there are 2 functioning water spigots: one near hole #17, and one where the path from #15-16 crosses the fairway for #12. The water at this course is some of the best water you'll find. Really, it's absolutely delicious. And cold.
There are picnic benches at nearly every hole. It's very convenient if you want a rest or if you're out with a group. Additionally, the pavilions are great if you want to break for lunch.
Cons: #14 is a bear. Even with a couple excellent shots, you can still be left with very limited options. It really almost looks like it wasn't designed as a real hole, but as a means of getting to #15. A par is excellent on that hole.
The bathrooms aren't exactly well-kept. Often the toilets are just holes in the ground, and the buildings themselves don't seem maintained at all. I think there are other, better bathrooms elsewhere in the park, but the ones on the course don't do much good. Unless you shank your shot on #7 and end up on TOP of the bathroom. Then you get the pleasure of shooting at the basket from the roof.
Several holes do get pretty muddy when it's been raining. It's not unbearable; just bring a towel and don't wear nice shoes. If there hasn't been a lot of rain, though (like this summer), there's no mud at all.
Other Thoughts: #11 is very interesting. There are a couple lines there, but it's easy to miss them. It's not a real problem if you scope out your shot.
In my opinion, this is a must-play if you're in the general area. The only thing keeping me from recommending it for a lengthy road trip is the fact that there aren't that many other great courses in the area unless you want to go out to Moraine as well. Hopefully the course will host a pro tournament soon.
I haven't seen the hole positions changed very often, although they are moved once in a while. I didn't want to list it as a Con because the course is plenty fun and challenging no matter where the baskets are.
Even on really nice days, Deer Lakes is never really crowded. You might run into another player or group, but you'll never wait to tee off or feel pressured to move faster. It often seems like you're the only ones on the course.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 2 Not
Pick Your Pleasure - or Poison
Three concrete tee pads on 15 of the 18 holes (3 holes have all natural pads).. Signs at each and every each tee location. Multi-pin position. Practice baskets. Bathrooms.
Wet at various parts of the course, the valley that composes #3 being the worst. No indication of current basket position.
Variety is definitely on display here as this course offers you nearly every combination of elevation (up/down to various degrees, flat, over ravine/up-n-over hill), openness/tightness (quite, moderate, minimal, primarily large hardwoods providing the challenge), turning (left/right/S/none), and length ( several under 200' with others over 750'). The three tees per hole, which very much alter the difficulty of the hole, affords you the opportunity to play this course at whatever level you care to attempt. The out-of-bounds provides you with some decisions to make. For example, on #15, assuming you're throwing from the appropriate tee for your skill level, you should easily clear the water - but with the basket just beyond the edge of the water, your chance for a birdie lessens if you clear it by too much - how close do you want to cut it?
So many strong and diverse holes, it is hard to pick a single favourite, but some memorable ones were: #2, fairly short, tee and basket at same elevation, but significant valley between the two, trees along the sides; #6, a long, sweeping dogleg to the right, slightly rising most the entire time, throwing lanes amongst scattered trees; #9, bombing away initially, line of trees on right, eventually dropping into the woods with an S-turn to reach the basket tucked around a curve; #13, slightly uphill initially, steeper ascent after a sharpish left-turn, tree-filled fairway eager to knock your disc down into the stream/abyss of the right side. Least favourite hole was probably #14, very long, in woods nearly the entire length, hard to divine if there were actually any throwing paths - almost seemed like huck-n-hope.
Navigation tips: After playing down to #7 and back up to #8, tee-9 is across the gravel parking lot, and plays roughly parallel to #7, but further to the right, with the woods flanking its right side. Will pass tee-16 while moving from basket-11 to tee-12.
Very, very good course. Of the nearly ~150 courses I've played, Deer Lakes easily makes it into my top-10, maybe top-5. With different but equally strong Moraine not too far away, and in combination with very solid courses Knob Hill and IUP college, both also in the general area, a visit to the north/northeast side of Pittsburgh is well worth the effort.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This course is in the perfect setting. A beautiful, but slightly out of the way park, that contains tons amenities like a large playground, fishing ponds, hiking trails, bathrooms, pavilions and one fantastic disc golf course. Deer Lakes Park is large enough that it would be extremely difficult for a person to feel like it was crowded or even busy.
Course design is spectacular. The designers have incorporated every conceivable shot in this course. There are wide open bombs, tunnel shots, dogleg rights and lefts, uphill, downhill, over gully's, over water, open pins, heavily guarded pins, very short (but tough) holes, very long holes, holes that require multiple accurately placed shots, holes that reward accuracy and holes that reward power. When I say this course has it all, it is not an exaggeration. Bring every shot you have, backhands, forehands, overhands and rollers.
I really love the mix of holes. You play in and out of mature hard wood forests that have very little under growth, and in the open. Some holes start open and finish in the woods and vice versa.
The tees are fantastic. It is very easy to see that alot of effort went into the tees on this course. There are a few that have been built up and tiered to ensure a level throwing area. I believe that there are still two holes without the tees finished but when playing the round I barely noticed. Also the three seperate tees on each hole give fair representation to the diffferent skill levels of people playing the course. Each set of tees is tough but fair. Even if the Blue tees are not much longer the different angles and elevation they provide increase the difficulty quite a bit. There are also very nice and very detailed Tee signs at each tee. Also alot of the tees have picnic tables close buy to sit at and set your bag on.
The course is immaculate. The holes that play thorugh grassy area are mowed regularly and the course itself is free of debris and trash. There is also very little chance outside of the pond on 15 for you to lose a disc.
Multiple Pin positions that subtly change each hole. Even if they are only 30 ft apart it sneakily changes your approach from forehand to backhand.
Hole #9. This hole is a beautiul hole and by itself is a PRO for the course. This is a 600 - 850ft hole that is an S in shape. You start from a tee in the open throwing through a mostly open field with some immature tree groves to avoid. This carries about 550 ft before you enter a narrow entrance in the woods and carry another 150 ft or so to one of three very tough pin placements. There is one short on the left of the clearing, one just off the edge of the clearing with a heart stopping drop behind it and a third deep in the clearing guarded by some pines. The B pin is an amazing pin. You have just worked your tail off to get to the pin and all of a sudden you have a terrifying putt left.
Cons: There really needs to be better signage directing players through holes 7, 8 and 9. I think just about anyone will be able to figure out the layout but 9's tees are hidden over the edge of a small hill and not easy to find.
There is a not particularly attractive gravel lot around holes 7, 8 and 9 which is not the fault of the course but maybe some kind of screen of bushes could be built up to hide it a little.
Hole 8, now I realize that not everyone agrees with me but for some reason I don't like hole # 8 very much. I think it just might be that all the other holes are so attractive that this ones seems plain. It is just a shot up a hill. Thats it. There is nothing else really to it. Just my personal thought.
Soggy on holes 16 and 12. There is a water leak from a pipe that runs along 16's fairway and until it is fixed by the county it will always be a little soggy. Not the fault of the course but something to keep in mind.
Lack of garbage cans through out the course. All the other amenities are great but just lacking garbage cans
Other Thoughts: Why does this course have to be an hour away from me????
I love this course and I think even with holes 13 and 14 not being completed (there are still some trees coming out) it is the only 5 disc course I have played. I like its sister course at Moraine but the setting of Deer Lakes is better and the design is as perfect as I can think of.
Some Notable Holes
#3 monster long and narrow par 5 (stay on the fairway at all costs)
#9 read above - this hole makes me smile.
#11 downhill from the open into woods with some tight lines to hit.
#14 a roller coster ride through the woods. Pick your shots well and you get rewarded, shoot poorly and you get punished hardcore. For your own mental well being on this hole don't ever assume you are "Almost There" because believe me you are not, you still have two more shots to go.
#15 downhill over water. This hole is easy to play safe on by bombing one deep but that certainly leaves no chance at a birdie since the pin is 20 ft from the pond. Playing this hole in the winter is much easier because you can just skip across the ice!
I would encourage everyone to come and play this gem of a course. Go ahead and play it twice because there are not really any other courses nearby.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Fantastic layout but I had to wait for the concrete tees before I could rate. The course designers took a very good park and installed a world class course. The signage, equipment, and tee pads are all top of the line. The variety of shots needed length of holes (par 4 and par 5s) and variable vegetation make this a must play if you are in western PA. Most of the time you will have the place to yourselves.
Cons: If you are looking for a quick par 3 type course this isn't for you. It takes a long time to play and is exhausting. The drive for me from west of Pittsburgh can be brutal. No other courses nearby so if you go your playing here and thats it.
Other Thoughts: If you like to play courses with par 4s and par 5s this is for you. The course maks good use of elevation (both uphill and downhill) and you won't get sick of playing it. The course has open and wooded holes. The overall variety is what will bring you back. All they need is a big tournament to get the word out and this course will become as popular as other top notch courses.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 4 Not
Disc Golf at its Best!
Pros: Deer Lakes is a creative and challenging course that combines the best of western Pennsylvania woods, hills, and open fields with an up-to-date Par 66 course. The designers had a great eye for how to use terrain, making for many shots to replay over and over in your head long after you leave the course. I particularly enjoy the Pennsylvania woods feel to the course, and playing the course with fall foliage gives many holes a fantastical feel.
All holes are unique and offer a challenge, with 3 Par 5s, 6 Par 4s, and 9 Par 3s. The course keeps getting better with all concrete tees completed and new pin positions (13C) and tree removal/trimming. The signs are detailed and fairly accurate. Some of my favorite holes:
#2. Par 3. Throw over a deep U-shaped ravine with the tee being on the top of the hill to one side and the basket being at the top of the hill on the other side.
#3 Par 5. Pipeline hole with an initial downhill teeshot and the basket on a hill at the end.
#6 Par 4. Sharp dogleg right with a tee shot in the woods. There's a big lane through the woods initially with OB on the right, and a lane after the dogleg with the basket protected by a wall of tree trunks. As a RHBH thrower, I really enjoy aiming an anhyzer shot at a big tree at the dogleg, and watching the drive run down the fairway after the drive.
#9 Par 5. Drive that allows you to air and out and try to go over some trees. If successful, you throw 200' across a field and try to get your disc down into the woods for a chance at eagle.
#15 Par 3. Drive downhill on the pipeline through a large but potentially problematic tree tunnel and over part of a big fishing pond to the basket sitting just on the other side.
#17 Par 3. Drive down and back up a small grassy ridge with the basket positioned on the backside of the ridge in some tall trees. Again, it's fun to watch your disc fly out of the open and run it into the woods.
Considering that you're playing a woods hole, there's relatively light underbrush and there are relatively few opportunities to lose discs.
Much thought appears to have been put into the pin positions (A,B,C) and tee positions (red/white/blue). Many holes play completely differently based on where you're throwing from and to.
Cons: A couple pesky trees and vines remain that can give a bad kick to a seemingly good shot. Holes 9 and 10 can play as Par 4.5s based on their pin positions.
The trade-off for all the majestic shots and beautiful flight-paths that Deer Lakes provides relative to Moraine is that your tee-pad decision-making isn't quite as interesting as there aren't quite as many clear-cut risk/reward decisions as Moraine.
1) Permanent directional signs in a couple places.
2) Drainage on Hole 3.
3) Drainage on Hole 16. (maybe fixed?)
4) Add a deeper pin to Hole 9 to make it a true Par 5.
Other Thoughts: For those into PDGA color-coded levels and SSA, blue tees actually play in between blue and gold with an SSA of 975-980. You could actually probably say that Front 9 blues are 950-rated and Back 9 glues are 1000-rated. Whites play about 925-935.
It can be a strenuous hike. Bring water (faucets are available seasonably near #7 and #17). Park is very nice with walking trails around ponds, fishing, an observatory, and a small children's water park.
Compared to Moraine, I like Deer Lakes a little better for the aesthetics of the park (and because it's closer to me). I'm a real big fan of the mature hardwoods at Deer Lakes instead of the mix of pines, hardwoods, and small trees at Moraine. Hopefully, some higher profile tournaments will bring more exposure to this course in the near future.
If you park in the upper parking lot (by the tee to 17), you can start your day playing 17 & 18 as warm-up holes, continue to hole 1, and then end close to your car.
I have a little different opinion on #14 from most reviewers. I think it's actually a pretty fair hole with reasonable lanes...it just takes a couple lanes to find them and the patience to throw fairway instead of distance drivers. From the blue tees, I find I can fairly consistently (relative to the average wooded hole) get to the basket with three mid-range shots. First shot (RHBH): aim toward the left gap with a slow-turning slightly understable fairway driver. Second shot: play straight down the left-side fairway toward the middle of the grassy hillside. Third shot: you've got a good look at the basket. It ends up being really not that long of a hole if you can avoid trouble.
8 of 12 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Tee positions are extremely well placed and provide a variety of perspectives for varying skill levels. Pros face tighter lanes and more difficult elevation changes, while beginners have shorter drives that nevertheless permit practice of a number of shots, from hyzer to sidearms to rollers.
Fairways are well-kept, as are the all-new cement tee pads!
Hole 15 provides a beautiful, challenging shot over a lake.
For the white/blue tees, you'd better have more than a couple shots in your arsenal. You'll need to be able to throw backhands and forehands if you want to post a solid score!
Cons: Gets messy after rain storms, especially on hole #2, 3, 13, and 14.
Other Thoughts: Finding Hole #9 can be a bit confusing. Just walk straight across the random gravel parking lot after #8, and you'll find it. This is a long, rough course, so bring water.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 2 Not
Championship challenge: doesn’t slight novices
Pros: One of the best courses we've played. We played the whites, and appreciated the perspective from the blues. For those with novice skills like ours - short drives, with less control than we'd like - this course provides a very strong challenge without any overkill, except possibly 14 and the steepest uphill drives.
A few tee pads are still under construction. Once complete, they will be as great as all the other reviewers point out.
The designers give equal respect to the reds, whites and blues. They all get concrete tees and pro-level signage. And the placements make for 3 sensible, unique starting points. Reds are always generous to young players and first-timers - even across the water on 15, although my youngest daughter walked her disc across.
The distance from white to blue isn't always huge - 1, 5, 10, 12 and 16 come to mind immediately - but there's a clear and appropriate expectation for significantly stronger skills. The experts have to be able to split much tighter gaps between trees, power through a much steeper elevation, or negotiate a unique hyzer or anhyzer to the basket.
A few of the short holes are birdie opportunities for just about anybody, without being gimmes. The par 4 designations are fair. The par 5s separate the real players from us scrubs. 3 and 14 are especially tough.
After all the uphills and very tough shotmaking - 17 and 18 can leave you feeling good about your game and score. Both are downhill for the drive, then into trees that require some thinking for the approach, without being too thick. The expanse of park green and bordering woods here is another plus.
Favorite basket placements - 6 at the end of a long dogleg right, 9 when tucked back on the ledge below the left bank. 11 on its reinforced ledge, 15 open and inviting across the water, 18 when right and close against the woods.
Cons: Nothing of significance. The 8th is my least favorite hole. An open uphill where the only challenge is the elevation gain. It leaves me feeling that much weaker. The 12th fairway was swampy when we played, and the hole isn't interesting enough to make up for that.
Other Thoughts: Eight holes require full or near-full shots through tightly wooded areas: #1, 3, 5, 6, 11, 13, 14, and 16. Congratulations to the designers - only two of those holes give me any sense of "fling and pray" tree pinballers - 5 and 14. 5 is the shortest steepest downhill, and I don't mind a little added luck element. 14 is a bear - the gaps exist, but only if your confidence and control are both at their best.
The uphill drive on the 10th is brutal, even from the whites, but it's not unfair.
The walk didn't seem bad at all. There are very well-cut paths, and often leveled-out steps for the steepest sections. Others have mentioned this, but as of summer 09 there's still a need for arrows and signs from basket to tee. #9 is still well-hidden across the gravel pile and parking area from 7 and 8.
One fivesome on the course with us, but we felt on our own in the park, and the woods, most of the time.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 2 Not
The Best Course I have Ever Played!
Pros: This is the only course of the 111 I have played to date that I have given a 5 disc rating. This course is perfect. Blending challenge, beauty, and pleasure. This course is perfect and I doubt there is a better course on the Planet. When I first walked to the sets of tees for hole #1 I was in awe at the monumental concrete tee pads that looked like bunkers. To my amazement there were multiple concrete tees of this same quality throughout the entire course. 3 sets of the highest quality tees I have ever encountered. Deep in woods or out in the fields there were huge perfect tees. There is an astounding array of types of holes here. Uphill, Downhill, over valleys, long wooded fairways, trouble early, trouble late, unique undulating holes through the woods, open bombs, pond hole, right doglegs, left doglegs, epic journey holes, short but difficult par 3s. I was pinching myself and kept being amazed at every hole I encountered. Balanced equal number of holes going uphill as down. 9 open holes and 9 wooded. Just a pure joy to play with minimal danger of losing discs if you play smart golf. Hate to bore anyone but all of the holes are burned in memory..heres a rundown:
#1-423 ft an uphill shot to a very technical approach atop the hill, streambed to the left punishes errant uphill fades.
#2-276 ft a short but tricky par 3 as you shoot over a deep valley to a basket up to the right.
#3-825 ft a looooong straight wooded fairway down and then flat and then back up
#4-345 fttree trouble early but then to a pretty grass field with a steep dropoff behind the basket.
#5-264 ft downhill through the trees to a basket at base of hill...technical with elevation drop
#6-471 ft longer dogleg R requires shot placement to score well
#7-405 ft an open downhill blast par 3 fun!
#8-273 ft an open uphill blast par 3 fun!
#9-846 ft epic long drive downhill to a wooded approach with amazingly technical basket locations. Wow! this hole is in my top 10.
#10-573 ft perfect grass here...you will want to run barefoot almost golf course green grass! A steep long drive uphill to an open field with stately trees guarding basket
#11 363 ft-incredible drive downhill across open field and into the woods where it's hardwoods with amazing undulations and incredible lanes to discover...speechless!
#12 333 ft-trouble early but then an open field basket.
#13 417 ft Undulating wooded fairway which penalizes you for landing deep in the valleys...stay high and your looking pretty...get stuck in a valley and your dying.
#14 714 ft most difficult hole on course...seems to never end and it's one where you recognize the lanes as your playing it and looking back.....you will want to play this one again, it ends up with multiple options and just when you think the basket is around the next trees it's uphill a bit further!
#15-339 ft The pond hole is quite a shot as your way up the hill looking down at a basket less than 20 feet from the pond on the other side. Cool floating bridge over water to other side.
#16-507 ft A dogleg left that again follows a wooded fairway and uphill at the endstage
#17-339 ft semi downhill drive over impeccable manicured grass to basket amongst old grove of hardwoods
#18-603 ft Huge flat drive with road running left side of fairway entire way...more than ample space to crank it up to a protected nd fast green to end your day!
Seems like just when you've had enough woods your in the open just as your confidence is back your back in the woods. Perfectly manicured grass here, well defined fairways, perfect tees, and the design is so challenging without being brutal like so many other par 4 courses. This is the one to play! I keep trying to figure out a way to make the 5 hour trip back out there to play this course again.
Cons: I seriously can't think of any. Perhaps a bit soggy on hole #3. 7,8,9 are tricky navigation as is the walk from 12 to 13. But hardly anything to remotely spoil your day.
Getting there from Morraine can be a task! Orange Belt is a wacky route to follow but just keep following those goofy Orange Signs to the park.
Other Thoughts: This is my only 5 and I am not drinking the Pittsburgh Kool Aid. I'm from Eastern PA and have played Tyler, Warwick, Lehigh Valley Courses, Delaware and Paw Paw to name a few. I always thought western PA was overrated. I have seen the light! This course made me re-arrange my ratings. A hint when coming to 7,8,9...7 is between 8 and 9. 7 and 9 both shoot in the general downward direction from that big ugly stone lot area up top....8 is the basket you will see as you exit the woods after 6. Lastly I noticed many of the former reviews on here docked points for not having good tees. Well there all huge concrete now. I think it's time this course gets back into the top 10.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful.
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