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: doesnt 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.
21 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.
21 of 23 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.
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Beautiful, challenging & fun.
Beautiful, well-maintained and secluded park/course
Excellent tee pads
Excellent tee signs
Lots of variation in terrain
Lots of throw variation required
Cons: A few slightly confusing basket-to-next-hole navigation situations
Other Thoughts: Wow, what a great course. The first thing you notice at tee #1 is the unique tee pads. Due to the hilly nature of many of the holes, the new tee pads are a partial hexagon containment box of 4x4 lumber, concrete and gravel to make a level tee. Nice and roomy. For some reason I just loved the tee pads here.
The entire course sprawls throughout the park, weaving in and out of wooded technical areas while still offering plenty of long-bomb opportunities.
The course/park is beautiful and secluded, and the grounds are well-maintained. I felt like I was on a private course most of the time.
Only slightly does the course veer towards multi-use areas of the park, and even then there's plenty of elbow room for all.
This course features some pretty hefty distance per hole, but there are three tees for various skill levels. Each is handily marked with an informative map-based tee sign. The hole numbers on the tee signs are even color-coded to the tee distance (red, white and blue). Nice touch.
It would be hard to choose a signature hole here, as there quite a few that compete for that title.
Tight fairways, technical wooded holes, throwing down from heights, throwing uphill with left & right doglegs, even some holes with multiple hills down the fairway. You'll get a chance to use every throw, and every disc in your bag on this one.
The course thoughtfully weaves in and out of the wooded and open grassy areas, and you'll be throwing both uphill and downhill for both.
It does get a bit confusing around holes 7-9 as far as how the course progresses, I took a photo of the kiosk course map on my phone so we could refer to it. Moving from the basket for 9 and the tee for 10 was also a bit disorienting for a first-timer.
The parking area where the course begins and ends does not have a water fountain or a concession stand, but I am sure there's at least water to be found in the park. There were no bathrooms near the parking lot either, but I am sure those were around somewhere as well.
The course pretty much stayed clear from other use areas of the park, so I can't say what else the park offers.
Deer Lakes has taken the crown as the best course I have played to date of the 19+ courses I have played -- mostly in the mid/eastern Ohio & western Pennsylvania region.
If you are in the area, this is a must-play course, and if not this course is definitely worth a drive. There are also two other excellent courses nearby -- Knob Hill and Moraine State Park. If travelling to play Deer Lakes, it would be worth making a day of it and hitting one or both of the others if you have the stamina. You'll get a workout from Deer Lakes for sure, but a workout that's enjoyable the whole way through.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 2 Not
Another Crown Jewel for Western PA Disc Golf
Pros: Excellent challenge, mix of holes, elevation changes throughout the course. Three "True Par 5's" and enough shorter holes to keep even my young kids entertained! Great mix of open and wooded holes as well. Signature hole #15 over the lake...will you lay up, or run the basket? Can you get that lake out of your head when you're on the tee pad?!!?
Cons: Very few! As is mentioned in other reviews, this is more of a "hike" than a "walk in the park!!" (That's not necessarily a negative - just a word to the wise!) Needs some additional "breaking in." However, local club is very active, the county is supportive of the course, and improvements will continue to be made. Also, the park and the course itself may be a bit difficult to find if you're not familiar with the area.
Other Thoughts: This is a Championship level course that should NOT be missed, nor underestimated!! It's well worth going out of your way to play, especially if you're just visiting the area.
Make Pittsburgh/Western PA a Disc Golf destination!! The sport is growing rapidly in the region. With the superb talent of local course designers (J.Gary Dropcho, etc.) all future courses built in the area will be equally challenging! The locals are great people, and they know how to make a tournament FUN!!
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: This course is challenging to say the least, I thought a lot holes were par 4's. 3 tee signs and tees for every hole. Lots of elevation changes, I was tired after driving 4.5 hours to get there and walked to tee #1. Bring your hiking shoes, this is no ordinary walk in the park. Holes 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 13,14,15,16 are very steep, either uphill or down hill.
Very clean facility and park! Being on the DL at the time, I simply walked the course. The picnics tables near most holes are needed just to take a break from walking up hill most of the time.
#15 is the signature hole throwig over the pond!
Update on 9/12/10: most tees now have cement even in the deepest wooded holes, this is a tremendous improvement!
Cons: Do not play this course without a map or you will be lost trying to find the next hole. More next tee signs are needed. #9 was hard to find and I had a map. It is located past and right of #7.
#10 is on opposite side of the parking lot.
On 6/13/10, the course was extremely muddy
including mud on the grass and dirt fairways.
It was a rather tediuos walk in many places, be prepared for this hazard. On 9/12/10 the only mud was on #16, what a difference in 2.5 months!
Other Thoughts: This is a world class course and not beginner friendly. Bring every shot in your bag, it will be needed. Allow plenty of time to play this one. Not only is the course long, but the walk between some holes is extensive. Over time, it will only get better. This is now very true, the work between 2008 and 2010 truely shows on this course!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Great and challenging course. Brilliant mix of wooded and open holes. This course allows you to use every disc in your bag. Perfect hole designs with plenty of distance.
Cons: A few overgrown areas, but nothing really to complain about. Missing hole markers for #10.
Other Thoughts: This is my favorite course in the Pittsburgh area, I would recommend this course to anyone. Very easy to find.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: This course is very challenging for a beginner like myself but fun enough to keep you playing. The first time at this course I was alone with no maps and found navigation pretty easy(from hole 8-9 was challenging). This course is well designed and gives you wide open shots to wooded shots. This course requires you to use different types of shots and to learn new ones.
Cons: The course doesn't hold water well.
Other Thoughts: This is my home course and it has made me develop my game to compete. I am still a beginner but of the courses I have played this is still my favorite.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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