10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Golden Hills Disc Golf Course is a short hop off the major roads near Blacksburg and is very easy to get to. Despite being so close to the 460 and I-81 expressways, when you get to the course, the serene, natural setting takes over.
The "double whammy" of the course is the way in which both trees and elevation was factored so elegantly into the design. The Virginia mountains are put to good use at this course. The combination of these elements make the course very technically challenging without being needlessly punishing. Despite being densely wooded, there are clearly visible lanes from most tees.
The course features four tees on each hole...four tees. This makes the course accommodating for all player levels. The tee signs are hand made and show the positions of each tee, the distance and elevation change from the white tees, par, and the expected lane. Additionally, tee signs have a spot for players to sign the post any time they ace the hole. This is a great way to keep baskets and tee signs from being vandalized while allowing people to take credit for their winning throws.
The baskets at Golden Hills are old and showing signs of wear, but they're still well kept.
Given the elevation changes, paths and stairs are a necessity and they are both abundant and well-kept at Golden Hills. Additionally, benches are present at each hole and frequently at each tee. This is a big plus when hiking up and down the hills of the course. Bridges are present throughout the course and are also in great shape.
The third hole is short horizontally, but has a severe vertical drop with a very tight fairway. Some may consider this hole as a novelty or as gimmicky, but given the finesse required to place the disc near the basket without landing in dense foliage or rolling out of sight, this hole is a highlight of the course. Likewise, the following hole requires a controlled drive across a ravine and up a hill toward the basket. On this hole the designers did a beautiful job terracing logs up the hill. Not only does this help when climbing to the basket, but it also act as a roller dam to prevent a 10' roll from become a potentially crippling multiple bogey approach from 40' below.
Cons: Although there are four sets of tees, they're all natural and can get muddy and water-logged. Further, the paths between some of the holes are somewhat steep and can be dangerous when wet.
Even with having multiple tees, there were very few holes that were long enough to require a solid drive over a controlled approach. This is usually the appeal of a technically challenging course such as Golden Hills, but having more than one or two holes with a possible long distance drive would do a lot to shake things up at this course.
Despite the appeal of the hand-made tee signs, Navigation between holes can be difficult. There are numerous hiking trails that converge throughout the course but no signage at these intersections to direct the players to the next tee.
Although there were several signs emploring golfers to take their trash off the course with them, trash (mostly empty bottles and cans) was visible on numerous holes and is disappointing.
There are streams that criss cross the park, however, the possibility of a water hazard only appears as a subtle backdrop on a few of the holes. Factoring the water into the design would help push the risk vs. reward aspect of the game.
Other Thoughts: This course has many holes that have strong birdie potential and are potential ace runs.
Despite being so heavily wooded, the fairways are mostly clear of thick underbrush so traversing the course and finding a stray throw. That said, the extreme/severe elevation changes will give you a workout. Anyone that is not in decent cardiovascular health or those with bad knees may have some trouble hiking through Golden Hills.
The Hokie community built a solid course and their efforts clearly show through in the course construction and maintenance. All things considered, Golden Hills is a great play and I'd recommend it to anyone that happens to live or travel through the area.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Trees and Hills Galore
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Best use of elevation and TREES in unison that I've seen for some time! I like the fact that they didn't have to use length to make this course difficult and challenging. The short tees looked fun (I played the long tees which seemed many degrees more difficult- not due to extra length, but due to trickier shots). A few of these holes are truly memorable (#3 that is short but goes almost straight downhill; #18- a nasty tunnel dogleg that requires much accuracy). Bring your gentle arm to score well here
Cons: Though I love a heavily wooded course, many of the routes here (particularly on long tees), start to all look alike- we're talking about fairways that disappear and you are looking at tiny little gaps between trees that begin to feel like you're gazing through a microscope-a little taxing on the mind after awhile. Some of these throws just seemed weird.
Signs are aged and very hard to read. This goes for many of the gold and blue tee markers - they are barely visible in many places (and I couldn't find blue tees on #2 at all).
Hole #5 - very awkward hole (perfect example of previous statement) - where is the "drive" here? A wall of trees with very little fairway.
Lots of beer cans everywhere - I've never been able to figure out why someone can pack it in, but not find the room to pack it out. Shames.........
Other Thoughts: This is a fun course that will force finesse and shaped shots. Long armed people will want to switch gears here.
The course was quite populated on a weekday evening (15 cars in the lot), but everyone was kind and offered to let me play through.
Some crazy plants on Hole #1- I was looking for a lost disc and came out with itchy raised bumps (poison ivy or sumac?). Beware.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Lots of tees
Pros: The course is mostly set in a secluded piece of Virginia forest with only a couple holes at each end that feel like you're anywhere near civilization. This course has a great amount of elevation, with every possible type of hill shot you can think of.
There are four tees marked on each hole, making for a ton of different shots to play (I played the middle two sets of tees, white and blue). Including all the tees, there is a good variety of lengths and hole shapes, with all kinds of shots required. There is a sign at each white tee showing all the tees on each hole.
It's very clear that there is a ton of work that goes into this course to keep it clean and solve erosion problems. We played shortly after some rain, and even the steep paths weren't too muddy or slippery, the course seemed to drain well.
Cons: As a few others have said, the middle of the course gets quite repetitive. Though the elevation changes things up a little, the holes are just too similar throughout this part of the course from each set of tees I played.
The tees were the one place where the maintenance of this course really fell short. They were mostly very small and uneven, often with roots that made any kind of run up very dangerous on ankles and knees. It's clearly difficult to get real equipment back into the woods, but some leveling and clearing would go a long way. The white tees seemed to be in the best shape, with the reds and blues in slightly worse shape, and the golds seemed mostly overgrown and rarely used.
The signage was lacking here, both in navigating between holes and at the holes themselves. Without signs at each tee, you do a lot more walking up and down hills to see tee signs and play any other set of tees.
Other Thoughts: This course is a great workout, with lots of walking, great hills, and some tight and tough woods shots. It'll test your accuracy and your line shaping, especially from any of the longer tees. Beginners might find this course a bit daunting, while more advanced players will find a lot of fun challenges, but not quite enough variety.
This course is certainly worth a stop if you're in the area, I had a lot of fun playing here. With a little work, this course has potential to be even more fun and more of a destination course.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: I am new playing, but I have quickly come to realize what a gem of a course I have here as my "home course!" I have played it probably 20+ times over the last month and a half and have enjoyed every round. This is a challenging, yet fun course with lots of trees and elevation change. I have had bad rounds and good rounds, but still enjoy every single time I've played.
I've played this course with many friends as well as others I've met on the course and it seems to cater to all different types of throwers, be it backhand, sidearm, or tomahawk.
Another nice feature of GH is that the hole one starts to the right of the parking lot, and 18 returns right back to the parking lot. Also the practice/warm up basket is a nice feature.
Cons: The only real cons that I can think of are sometimes the course can get trashy, but you can return the next day and it's gone. Majority of the time it's kept clean.
The tee boxes can sometimes be muddy or loose dirt.
As far as playing cons, like I said, I'm pretty new to the sport, so I don't have a lot to compare the course as far as hole design.
Other Thoughts: Easy access from surrounding areas. Play-It-Again Sports (which sells discs) is right across 460 in front of the movie theater.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Unique course -- all elevation and lots of fun shots
Pros: Course is like nowhere else I've played anywhere in the country. This is -- for it's distance -- one of the most challenging courses in the country. From the reds/whites/blues, most holes are pretty short -- 200-300' -- but there is so much elevation change that almost nothing is easy. I love elevation on courses, and this has 10x the total elevation change of most courses... and there is a lot of elevation that you hike through between holes that adds to the overall workout. This is one of the best examples anywhere of a hiking trail that's been dotted with teepads and baskets.
Locals have done an immense amount of work putting in stairs, logs, retaining walls, etc... to make this course playable and to keep the holes from eroding away.
Signage is decent on the white tees -- not great, but it does help with navigation. If you are going, print a map/scorecard for your first few times through -- it will help, since there are many baskets you can't see from the tees, even though they are short. Having four sets of tees marked is a plus.
The course has a lot of very unusual shots, and many that are incredibly memorable. Hole 3 is definitely a show-stopper -- the hole is 180' with a 60+' vertical drop to the basket -- it's a challenge to get any disc to drop without going to far, no matter how softly you throw it; a very cool hole. Hole 17 is a short, tight uphill ace run with all sorts of danger if you kick down the hill and off the path -- it can easily be a deuce or a double bogey, depending on your line. Many other great holes as well, and the threat of rolling down a hill on errant shots or putts places a premium on accuracy on EVERY shot. You have to really be on your game to not take any rollaway strokes.
Overall, a very fun course, and the short distance makes it playable for all skill levels. Advanced/pro players will likely spend most of the round with a putter, maybe a midrange as well... Also a wicked-fun course to play with SuperClass discs.
Cons: Signage is weak. There are a couple of places (notably after holes 3 and 15) where the trail divides several ways and there are no arrows telling you which way to go -- it would take very little work to fix this navigation issue.
Gold tees are a plus to have throughout the course, but many are overgrown and very difficult to find. Tees in general are a mixed bag, and quality varies from hole to hole, with some being very muddy, and none but the whites having anything other than dirt that I saw.
Great tees and better signage would go a long way towards improving this course. Combine that with some more course upkeep for the gold tees, and it would be worth adding another .5 or whole star to the rating.
In my opinion, the biggest drawback to this course is the repetition that happens on a lot of the holes. The course starts strong, and the first four or five holes are pretty different from each other, and the last few holes are different as well, but the middle of the course really starts to feel like you are throwing the same shots you've already seen. I know some repetition is inevitable, but here it seems more pronounced than many places. The relatively similar distance on most of the holes exacerbates this feeling of repetition. I used the same TeMoko (like a Zephyr) off of almost every tee in the middle stretch of the course, and it really did feel like the middle of the course was just designed to force the same shot over and over. It's possible the gold tees help this, but I haven't yet had the chance to track down and play all the gold tees.
The other drawback to this course is the trash that's present -- more beer cans than I prefer to see on a course, especially one that is in such a beautiful setting. The beer cans and other trash aren't overwhelming, but they do distract from the feeling that you are out for a tranquil hike in the woods. Less trash would definitely improve the aesthetics of this course, and the aesthetics are already one of the most amazing elements of this course.
Other Thoughts: Port-o-potty provided. Excellent practice green (practice basket is in a place that allows for all kinds of elevation putts (and you'll need that practice when putting on the course).
This is a great place to stop if you're in the area or if you have a reason to travel up the Hwy-81 corridor -- I travel often from the NoVA/DC area down to western NC and SC, and Hwy-81 is my preferred route -- not just for the scenery but for the great courses along the way that help break up the trip.
For what it's worth, my GPS is a couple of years old and had a lot of trouble navigating from the course back onto Hwy-81 -- if you're GPS dependent, make sure you're careful when you visit here, and never let the GPS overrule your common sense of direction.
It's worth playing this course at least once just to see some of the unusual holes -- it is not the kind of epic course you dream about at night, or the kind that will challenge your whole disc golf game, but it is a truly unique course, and one that you will be very glad you took the time to play.
In short: Highly recommended; but you can leave most of your drivers in the car.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Cool course...but not for beginners
Pros: This course is very unique because it goes through a heavily wooded area. This course is very technical because you will have to analyze every shot before you throw to ensure that you don't lose any discs. Every hole seemed to be well built. The trails were well built and designed.
There are multiple tees for more experienced players to the most novice. Actually there are 4 tees in all for every hole. This is a huge plus but the only tee that had concrete was 1, the rest were natural but they were all in pretty good shape other than a few. Favorite Hole has to be 3 because of that shear drop from the tee. Magnificent Hole
Cons: There was so much trash at every tee!! If beer cans were worth 5 bucks a piece this place would be a gold mine but it is near 2 college campuses so I guess it fits. Also this course is extremely easy to lose a disc during the summer season because there are vines a bushes that will eat your disc without mercy. Also there are no bathrooms which can be a hassle for some people. Not too many cons but the ones that are here are big ones for me.
Other Thoughts: good course, I have friends who go to Virginia tech so I bet I will be playing this course pretty often in the fall.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Very technical. Doesn't rely just on the power throw. Its a great hike in the woods. At least one hole will test each throw you have. You really have to take the birdies that you can.
Cons: Can really get annoying if your disc is a tree magnet.
Other Thoughts: Love the course, it was actually the first one i played. Favorite holes. #3, 4 and 17.
0 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Nice variety of elevation and tree coverage. After Virginia Tech's "Big Event" in 2009, all holes have either mulch or stones at the tees, making it much easier to tee off. Also, mulch at the pin on most holes
Cons: Very wooded. Some holes don't allow you very much room to tee off from (or there are trees in the way)
Other Thoughts: I really enjoy this course. After playing this course several times, I'm starting to be able to experiment different ways to play each hole. Enjoy the course more and more each time I play.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 7 Not
Golden Hills Delight
Pros: The rolling hills of southwest virginia coupled with narrow tee shots make for a challenging and exuberating round. Letting your guard down for one shot can prove disasterous. I find that the course favors a hyzer throw with its many dog-leg lefts.
Cons: Fairways could be manicured a little better, especially from the golds. Tee box's could use some gravel, and trash cans should definatly be provided for all the beer cans that kids throw.
Other Thoughts: I bend this course over daily.
Why aren't there any housing developments on a frolf course?
0 of 7 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Gold Tees only
Pros: Very technical. The alleys you see from the white tees are very frequently doubled in length and tighter. You have to find the fairway. If you hit early on the golds you will be punished. Requires placement and good upshots to score well. Will really challenge your game to make shots. 6 holes where it requires two shots to get to the basket. Fairways are fair but tight. Even more elevation in play than on whites and blue tees.
Cons: no tee signs. Natural tees. Probably need a guide or at least print off the map with directions to find them all. Does make for a longer round of golf. More course maintence gets done to the white and blue tees so a couple tee shots are slightly overgrown. Can be very frustating if you are off your game.
Other Thoughts: Course record is 52 by a couple different people. Not a begineer level tee. Amatuer player will shoot in the 60's and 70's. if it was to be parred would probaly be a par 60 or 61 depending on your view on long par 3's. Better tees and trimming on the fairways would rate this course to about 4.5. Due to the land and existing tees this course really can't get to a 5. Being near a college campus and having played this course over the last 10 years the white tees are 25x more open than it used to be due to kids breaking trees and ignoring the rules, but still plays well.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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