One of the best Ski Resort courses I have ever played.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Kirkwood DGC is a seasonal course on a ski resort. Not only is it one of the best courses in the Lake Tahoe area, it is one of the best ski resort courses I have ever played. I went in June when there was no staff at the resort. I was the only person on the course the day I played. I never saw another person and there were no other cars in the parking area.
I have used bullet points for those that don't want to read the entire review.
I love ski resort courses
I have played enough to know a top notch course when I see it. I really appreciate the fact you do not have to buy a lift ticket to play. It is enjoyable way the course traverses on the way up the mountain. Some ski resorts just go straight up or straight down. Kirkwood has a mix of up and down along with traversing holes. Holes wind across, around and up the mountain until you get up to the 16th tee. Here is where the course starts back down the mountain on this 1200 foot hole. The scenery and wildflowers are also very amazing. Players have to be ready for an adventure as there are no tee signs or navigation aids except a small undetailed map and scorecard.
Amazing Alpine Beauty
Amazing vistas, snow covered peaks, alpine meadows covered in summer wild flowers. It is as beautiful as it sounds.I was amazed at the number blooming plants and flowers. I went in late June and really enjoyed the wide variety of flowers in mountain meadows and along the ski trails. Please leave the flowers behind so that people can enjoy them for many summers to come. Removing wildflowers, removes diversity. They did a good job of showcasing the terrain.
Rugged Western Disc Golf
I love rugged western disc golf and I love ski resort disc golf. I seek out these types of courses: partly for the solitude and partly for the adventure. This course is not nearly as rugged or rocky as most ski resorts which is one of the reasons I love it so much. However, holes 12 - 14 play on top of a narrow ridge. Hole 12 is perched on the edge of the "Trench of Terror"! If you accidentally throw down there, you will have quite a rocky, steep hike to recover. On the other side of the same ridge, as a backdrop to target 13, is the "Ditch of Doom". You have been warned.
No Lift Ticket Needed
This is always a bonus when playing at a ski resort. There is no lift ticket needed to play and you don't have to walk up the mountain to start. The course begins at base of the bunny hill and inner tube lifts at Timber Creek. That doesn't mean you don't have to walk up the mountain while you are playing, just that you don't have to walk or lift up to begin play.
Variety and Challenge
Kirkwood is a course for more advanced players. As mentioned, Kirkwood offers a variety of shots, it is not all up or all down like some resorts. There are some tighter holes in and among the trees that line the ski runs. Other fairways traverse or follow the ski runs challenging players to keep it in the fairway. As on most mountainous courses, players need to be mindful that errant throws can go a long way the wrong way! A couple of targets have been placed on fallen logs, stumps and rock piles for a some extra challenge. It really takes advantage of and showcases the mountain environment and terrain.
Only open in the summer. The course is generally installed in late May or early June depending on winter snowfall. Snow can linger in the shadows and higher elevations in June. The course is removed in the fall.
Kirkwood is just on the border of the Alpine Climate zone which means nearby peaks may be snow covered year round. It also means folks from the lower elevations may have trouble breathing or may experience some altitude sickness. Be sure to take full deep breaths and take rests as needed. The high altitude also means discs will fly more stable than at sea level.
Allow time to play
You will be walking up and down and across the mountain. To play all 18 holes will take about three hours. It could be longer if you have trouble navigating or if you have to search for lost discs. Players should also be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. Rounds may start with beautiful blue skies, but summer showers can pop up without warning.
Not for Beginners
Kirkwood is absolutely not recommended for beginners or folks that are not physically capable. If players are not in condition to hike up a mountain, they should not attempt to play. Part of the problem with playing at altitude, is discs can travel a long way the wrong way. A beginner could easily lose discs or do a lot of extra up and down hiking if they don't have a lot of control.
Bring the Map!
Or go with someone that knows the course. It is hard enough to play for the first time with the map, I can't imagine you could play it for the first time without one. There are no "next tee" signs so the map or a guide is absolutely necessary. The extra challenge of trying to find unmarked tees from an undetailed map added to the experience for me, but it was a bit frustrating at times.
Water and Snacks
Since this is an outdoor adventure, please be prepared. Bring all the water you will need for a three hour round and a hike up the mountain. Bring snacks as well, so you can rest and get some nourishment on the ascent. Players are expected to carry out all of their own garbage. There are no trash cans on the mountain. Be sure you get all your supplies before you leave as there are no convenience stores or gas stations nearby.
All 18 in a row - or not
If you are playing all 18 holes, you will not get back to the Timber Creek lodge until the end of the round. However, there is a shorter option. If after playing Hole 10, you have had enough mountain disc golf for one day, you can bail out now and take a short walk down to the Tee for 18! Holes 11 through 15 wind back up the mountain to near the top of the Timber lift. Now is the time to rest and prepare to hike up, or hike back down to the car.
Pack it in - Pack it Out
The course was in great shape. I didn't find any trash or cigarette butts. Please help keep this mountain beautiful and be prepared to carry out all of your own trash. Hopefully you will not have to pick up after any other players.
Kids and Strollers
No and No! Not fit for strollers or disc golf carts. Do not bring any small children unless you plan on carrying them and all of their gear up and down the mountain. I wouldn't bring any whiny teenagers or grown-ups either. Only go with people that are in good shape and actually want to hike up a mountain.
There are restrooms at Timber Creek only when the resort is open. However, there are plenty of opportunities for privacy on the course.
Cons: Navigation, Maps and Signs
This would honestly be a Five Disc course if there were more detailed maps and tee areas were better marked.
Signs and Ski Poles
It would be great if they could install ski poles at each tee so they would be easier to spot. I understand that they can't install permanent tee signs above ground as that interferes with skiing. The current plaques work, but they are not installed on every tee. An easy fix is to nail basic tee signs to large logs. Logs and stumps are plentiful here and easy to re-purpose. They can be stored nearby in the winter and reinstalled in the spring.
Bring the Map.
The map and scorecard provided here by the resort is not necessarily to scale or super accurate. However bad the map is, don't play a round without it. The distances on the scorecard can help to guide you to the target location, except a couple of those distances were off for the current layout. There is no way Hole 7 was only 260 feet! I played the course alone with only the map and I did just fine.
Tee 9 confusion
Is a quite a walk from Target 8 to Tee 9. It is not a bad walk since it is all downhill. However, as of June, 2015, the Tee for 9 is currently marked with a course tee marker that says Hole 10. This is confusing to say the least as you can see the 9 target at the bottom of the hill. Holes 9 and 10 are actually where the map indicates.
Bugs and mosquitoes are a fact of life here in the summer. Be prepared, and they won't be as much of a problem. The bugs and biting things seem to get worse as you go up the mountain. Bugs are not the fault of the course nor the course designer, but they can detract from the experience.
Other Thoughts: Directions
After you turn off Highway 88, you have to drive in a ways to get to the parking area. Park in the lot just across the street from the sign that says Timber Creek. Walk up the stairs stay right and head towards the back of the buildings. In 2015, the first tee pad was directly under a green "sample lift" on the tubing hill. It is located above the far right side of the largest Kirkwood building. I have uploaded a photo for reference. The first tee is between the bunny lifts and the Magic Carpets (tube lifts).
Worth the drive!
The drive here from nearby Lake Tahoe is very beautiful. On Hwy 88 you get to drive past a couple of alpine lakes on the way to the Kirkwood turnoff. The Alpine scenery is a nice change of pace for this city slicker. It is about a 45 minute drive from South Lake Tahoe. This is absolutely one of the must play courses if you are visiting the Lake Tahoe area in the summer.
I love ski resort courses.
And again, this is one of my favorites. Part of the draw of playing at a ski resort is the solitude. I love the wide open spaces, fresh air and clear blue skies. This is not a crowded city park with lots of other people around and groups of players on every hole. On weekends you may not even see (or hear) other groups of players on the course. On weekdays, chances are you will have the entire resort to yourself. However, if you don't like hiking up and down mountains, you probably won't find this as enjoyable as I do.
Lake Tahoe Courses are Awesome
Especially if you love rugged western disc golf like I do! If you want to play on green grass and manicured parks, don't come here to disc golf. If you want to hike up and down in the mountain wilderness in the fresh air with blue skies, and amazing vistas, Tahoe is the place for you. There are lots of campgrounds and hotels in Lake Tahoe area. There are accommodations for every budget. There is so much to do in Tahoe it limited my ability to play even more courses.
This is a five disc design that provides a decent variety and challenge. Like most of the courses in the Lake Tahoe area, this is a five disc destination. However, the navigation problems prevent this from being a five disc course. I rate it 4.5 and among the best of the best in the Tahoe Area.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 8 Not
Distance, distance, distance
Pros: Long downhill shots are a joy to behold and the views around this course are exceptional. The trees are majestic and as you walk the course you sometimes cannot believe the beauty of the surrounding trees, mountains, sky and forest. This is easily the finest venue I have ever played and a must-experience course.
Cons: The location means that it has a season, but the wait each year for the course to reopen is worth it.
Other Thoughts: Climb up to the top, walk down to the bottom and have fun in both directions. If you live in Northern California and have never experienced Kirkwood, you need to get out more.
2 of 10 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This place is really a special place to play discgolf. It is situated at 7800' of elevation along the sierra crest and the views are amazing. The wildflowers come out in full force and the mountains in this area are beautiful. The course is a good mix of shots (long, short, left, right), and utilizes the hill side of chairs 7 and 9 well. There are tough uphills for a chunk of the course, but you are rewarded with some really amazing downhill shots. 16 is great being 1200', but downhill. As a par 5 it can be done, but that is still a tough 5. All in all if you want to take an amazing hike and play 18 holes of golf that will test your skill, this is a great place to play. Finally getting tees on the back helped out a lot with some of the bigger throws. (I know this was a couple years ago) I have played this course a lot and I have to say that the course sees little traffic so unless it is a holiday weekend it is pretty nuch yours.
Also closeby is Caples lake for a swim afterwards and if you needed to camp there are places that are faily close to Kirkwood.
Cons: Seasonal with it being a ski area and one that gets a ton of snow. The mosquito season isn't terribly long, but it is bad when they are at peak. Its out there, maybe thats a pro or con in some book. It can be tough to figure out where it starts because in the summer at kirkwood there are not many people around and it isn't signed on the way in to the 1st tee. You are just "at Kirkwood" when you turn off hw88.
Other Thoughts: If you get a chance to play this gem in the sierra do it. You wil be happy you did. Just make sure you bring plenty of water and are prepaired for a hike. The 18 hole course can take a few hours to play so plan on that.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Let me start out by saying that my opinion is biased. I live and work at Kirkwood, and walk to the course several times a week. The course is tight and demanding on some holes, and forgiving on others. A good mixture of trees and meadows. There are quite a few long holes that will test every disc in your bag.
Cons: You need to know the course, or go with someone who does. The signage is non-existent and the scorecard doesn't help much. We need to fix that, but we're too busy throwing!
Other Thoughts: Be prepared for a hike, bring bug juice, wear sturdy shoes, and take time to enjoy the scenery. If you haven't played the course before, I would recommend finding someone who knows the course (or hanging out at the first tee after work).
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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