17 Helpful / 3 Not
In an Elite Class
Pros: • Three Concrete Tees (red/short; white/medium; blue/long) at every hole plus tee signs at each (never seen such well done signage at ALL 3 tees on a course before)
• Design is sensational, it flows naturally, is easy to navigate for the most part and has several unforgettable holes
• Elevations changes - much of it significant and overall physically challenging so come prepared (proper footwear, hydrating liquids, provisions)
• Water hazards with bridges/walkways for crossing
• Strategic pin placements coupled with other hazards (water/elevation) offer some welcome risk/reward shots
• Balanced blend of open/wooded holes which in turn demand shot variety, discipline and mental toughness
• Some very nice detail work in tee areas (wood bordering some tees while others are elevated)
• Alternate pin positions available
• 2 nine hole loops back to parking lot
• Minimal disc loss possibility as the overgrowth is tame - was surprised how 'young' the course is. Looks like it's been here for over a decade with how broken in it is.
• Really loved the mature hardwoods, gives the course a bigger, more epic feel to go with the surplus of outstanding holes - many of which would be signature holes elsewhere
• Friendly Locals! Course was well used on my visit however larger groups let me play through, I rarely waited to tee off and another local player offered and subsequently guided me through the last several holes offering advice, opinions and general info on this and other local courses.
• Plenty of drinking water, benches, bathrooms, picnic tables and some trash cans throughout the course
• Large, well maintained park w/other activities available
Cons: • Navigations issues around holes 7, 8 & 9 noted in other reviews is worth mentioning again - however printing/bringing a course map will resolve any conflicts
• #8 is the weakest hole on an otherwise exceptional course. It feels more like a transition - but honestly is a more than fair design trade-off for the opportunity to play holes 7 and 9.
Other Thoughts: What more can be said about this place that hasn't already been mentioned in other reviews?
Of the three Pittsburgh area course I played (Moraine, Knob Hill and Deer Lakes), I would rate this 'the best' overall course - it pretty much has everything I look for with only a few minor flaws. It seems repeat plays would only allow a deeper appreciation of its subtleties and dynamics.
I was fortunate enough to play on an almost perfect day - Labor Day Weekend, sunny with variable clouds, temperatures in the mid-70's, light wind, course was dry and in ideal condition. So perhaps my perspective is skewed experiencing it in such wonderful circumstances.
That being said, Deer Lakes is without a doubt one of the best -if not THE best - course I've ever experienced. I'm kicking myself for not playing it twice (or more). Unquestionably in a class few other courses occupy. Absolutely worth an out of the way trip to play it.
While not a perfect course (is there one?), it's at least a 4.75 so I'm rounding up to a full 5 discs. Kudos to everyone who put in so much time and effort to create such an marvelous course.
17 of 20 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 1 Not
Disc Golf's Oakmont?
Pros: This is the most memorable course I've played (mind you my scope is limited to Western PA). This dynamic course calls for all types of shots, and never seems unfair or dull. There are epic par 5's flowing in and out of the woods, left and right doglegs, tunnel shots, wide open holes, uphill/downhill/valley shots, the over-the-lake shot at 15, etc. , There are frequent water taps with cold and fresh water, lots of garbage cans, benches, bathrooms, playgrounds, fishing lakes, a pavillion at the end of the front 9 for a timely picnic or relaxing break. The park is beautiful, mellow, well-maintained, and friendly. Now that each hole has three sets of concrete tees, I'm sure many more good memories are on the horizon.
Cons: This course has been known to get muddy on a few fairways (hole 3 as you near the upshot to the basket, hole 16 early on the right). However, they did some work on 3 to minimize the muddiness. They may have done work at 16, but I haven't had to deal with the mud recently as it was off to the right very early on a dogleg left, and it wasn't too bad in the first place.
Other Thoughts: The new tees really complete this course. I especially enjoy the white tee at 3. It's elevated and off to the left for a downhill tunnel shot on a par 5-perfect for ripping my teebird and letting it flex a bit. I can't think of anything missing or left on the to-do list. There is a sign saying all dogs must be leashed, but I talked to a cop who said I was allowed to keep my dog off-leash if I kept a leash handy for encountering groups or people working. I really love this place and this game!
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: Deer Lakes is a tough course that really offers some fun shots. Holes 9 and 15 really stand out. Hole 9 is a gorgeous par 4 that starts with a huge hyzer and then comes back at the end and requires a turnover or flick shot (for a righty) for the second shot to a well guarded green. The signs at the course were extremely helpful and the course in general was very well maintained. The course is also an excellent work - your knees will take a beating walking this course in the Pittsburgh summer. Having three sets of tees is a big benefit to me - I think it's very valuable to offer beginners the chance to play a course without getting murdered. Some of the holes really made you think off of the tee - hole 6 is a good example of this, as you had the option of going way out wide from the pro tee or taking the straighter route. The course did very well to make you think off of the tee. This course had a serene feeling to it, especially on the back nine. It really made you feel like you were playing disc golf in the middle of nowhere.
Cons: I found it hard to give this course above a 4.5 - a 5 rating is for a course that is perfect. There were some things about this course that were problematic, in my opinion. To start out with, holes 3 and 14 were tough holes to play. I played the back tees and typically like to play the pro tees and fared pretty well on the course (+2), but both of these holes were a serious work in progress. Even taking aside the fact that not all holes have concrete tees (I understand this is being taken care of, so this is not a con to me), holes 3 and 14 were more than 800 feet but really needed some more work. It seemed that the first 400 feet of hole 3 needed some serious trim work. In addition, hole 14 really just seemed to be a mess through 800 feet of woods. It was difficult to even identify the fairway and the hole seemed to really be under construction. Also, it wasn't a lot of fun starting uphill on hole #1 and then never making that up (ie, there was a downhill walk back to the car - why not extend 18's basket into the woods to at least feature a downhill ending?). The navigation was pretty good, but for some reason I had a serious problem finding hole #9. A sign up in the gravel lot pointing towards the tee (#9 sits down further and is tough to see from the gravel road) would be very beneficial. A small con was the locations of the alternate pins - they all seemed to be very near each other, and in my opinion would have been more benefited by being further apart. This also led to some very easy pro par 3's right around 330 feet. There seemed to be room on some holes to have a pin further back and to have tees that extended the shorter pro par 3's further back.
Other Thoughts: All in all Deer Lakes is a FANTASTIC course that still needs some work. The tees look like they will be very good when finished soon, but once again some of the holes really seemed to be a work in progress.
EDIT: With the finishing of the concrete tees and the noted work done on hole 14 (or future work), I am changing this rating to a 4.5 after hearing from multiple people involved with the maintenance of the course. However, I still stand by my thoughts on hole 18 and hole 3.
11 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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.
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