8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: It doesn't get much better than this.
Wildcat Bluff was one of the most incredible disc golf experiences I've had to date and is a course that every disc golfer should have on their bucket list. My round here was such a wonderful experience that I found it worthy of my fourth ever 5.0 rating. These are the aspects of the course that reinforce this rating.
*The hole design at this course is incredible. The course carves its way through the Iowa woods going up and down the hillside. The lines are fair and the throwing lanes are wide enough to score well, but if you're not hitting your lines, your score will show it. Most of the holes have some degree of elevation, which adds a degree of "risk-reward" tradeoff.
The course features memorable hole after memorable hole. My personal favorite was a 524 foot downhill bomb over a valley lined with trees.
*It was evident that this course has a devout group of people that work hard to make it a great place to play. The upkeep was great. In addition to quality tee pads and baskets, Wildcat Bluff has benches, garbage cans, and "next tee" signs all over the course. Many of the holes here have multiple pin positions, which can cause confusion at some courses. The confusion is averted here because the tee signs effectively portray pin position with a colored button on each tee sign.
*The best part of Wildcat Bluff was that it serves as a mini-discgolfer getaway. It is isolated from the rest of the world and really lets golfers enjoy the beauty of their surroundings. The scenery here is second to none and as you walk up and down the wooded hills here it truly feels like you and your disc golfing buddies are the only people in the world.
As an Illinois resident, I'm surprised that I had not heard of Wildcat Bluff until last year. The course does not seem to garner as much attention as its neighbors in the Quad Cities, but for disc golfers making a trip to play West Lake Park and Camden, this one is well worth spending a day driving to and playing.
Other Thoughts: Make sure you grab one of the maps provided at hole one to help with navigation on this course.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Come hug a tree at Wildcat, you might just get hugged back.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Outstanding use of massive elevation changes, one of the few places where a description of "very hilly & heavily wooded" might be understating it a bit. A crazy amount of work has been done not only in clearing fairways but putting in tons and tons of stairs where they need to be. See the pictures of hole 8 for a good example.
-Like any well-designed wooded course, consistent accuracy is prized above sheer power, but you have to be on point and have some good distance to score well here.
-Course flow is excellent, very easy to figure out where to go next even with leaves covering every bit of ground. Scorecards with a map and pin distances are located at the little pavilion by the tee for hole 1.
-I consider the carved wooden signs in use at Wildcat to be perfect. Colored washers indicate the current pin position, with distance and map position color-coordinated. No more info than is needed, but no less either.
-Orange baskets are easy to spot in the trees; full disclosure these are homemade but appear pretty much built to spec and catch as well as any basket made by DGA, Innova or other manufacturer.
-Benches and garbage cans (with lids!) at nearly every hole.
-Even the short holes are not routine, as they are either uphill anhyzers or downhill at a protected basket with significant risk for roll-aways.
-The course is generally not busy at all. In the 20 or so times I've played here, I don't remember ever having to wait or let a group play through.
Cons: -You have to look hard for cons at Wildcat, but this would be a tremendously frustrating course for newer players.
-The rough can be brutal if you get a bad kick off the trees, and it should be punishing, but some places it can take 2 shots just to pitch out back to the fairway.
-This time of year you can easily lose discs under the leaves, but you can hardly blame the trees for being trees.
-Paver teepads are pretty good right now, but there are a couple spots where the pavers are starting to separate a little creating some borderline dangerous footing. This issue should be resolved in the next year or so when concrete pads are installed, at which point I would consider this a 5 star course.
Other Thoughts: Be prepared for a good hiking day, and plan accordingly. After playing 2 rounds my gps said I covered right at 5 miles of distance and just under 6000 feet of elevation change! Very hilly indeed.
In chatting with a couple gents from "the crew" that built and maintain the course, it sounds like they've secured funding for concrete pads throughout. The current paver teepads are pretty good but can get a bit slick with dew/leaves/snow/etc., whereas the handful of new concrete pads that went in this year are awesomely textured and provide perfect traction when wet.
1- The only open shot in the course, a few fairway trees but essentially wide open and straight ahead.
2- The first of many uphill shots, with pins at straight, left and right positions. Not quite a narrow alley but a good introduction to what you can expect out here.
3- Reasonably wide alley, slight anny or straight ahead pins.
4- In A position it's a straight 250' with a decent lane. B is a tough hyzer through a tightening alley, and C really makes you think hard if you want to muscle it around an even longer hyzer or play the landing zone game. A bad tree kick to the left will turn an excellent drive into a struggle just to get back to the fairway.
5- The lane shrinks a little bit, still a pretty straight or slight left bend and you start to think "maybe I'll start teeing with my putter..."
6- Narrow and fairly long, pins around 300, 350 and 400 in various directions. Stay in the middle.
A- The first of 3 bonus holes, another tight and straight alley with brutal jail rough.
B- A little shorter but even tighter than hole A, an ace run that can be an easy birdie or a "how the *&@!% did I 5 that?"
C- Same formula as B but longer. With solid control you can make up strokes on the bonus holes, but a bad shank will leave you seeing red and test your mental game as much as anything.
7- A bit more breathing room than the last 4 holes, but still pretty tight. This plays downhill and can be easily overthrown if you're not careful.
8- The signature hole of Wildcat Bluff, a rad across-the-valley shot that plays fairly downhill and is easily reachable if you make your line. Photos don't really do this hole justice, as the ravine floor is much lower than it appears. A tree hit will usually drop you to the bottom, leaving a very hard upshot to save par.
9- Very downhill and and plays much shorter than you think, a neutral putter on slight anny will park this one.
10- Hard hyzer line with a low ceiling. There is a gulley to the left that positively eats discs off a skip, a spotter is not a bad idea on this blind shot.
11- One of my favorite holes out here. A nice 300' S-shaped alley that plays slightly downhill, and hitting the shot on this hole is at least as gratifying, maybe more so, than parking it across the ravine on #8. The C position is almost 500 and not reachable from the tee, but A and B can be parked if you nail your drive.
12- Another tough uphill, A is straight ahead and just over 200' but plays like 300'. B pin is 300' off to the left and requires you to navigate a large fallen tree on your way to the basket. Fairway is pretty wide open.
13- A lovely ace run in the A position that plays slightly downhill and perfectly straight. B position is a bit longer with just a hint of anhyzer.
14- Landing zone hole for sure, as the fairway plays over a couple ridges. Park your drive on the first ridge to have decent upshots for A and B pins. C pin is 550+ and a legit par 4.
15- Short, tight, straight and uphill.
16- Anhyzer line to both pin positions, both around 250' and reachable as it plays downhill.
17- Possibly my favorite hole, a long anhyzer bomb that plays in a downhill gulley the whole way. A fallen tree cuts horizontally across the entire fairway about 100' from the teepad and maybe 30' above ground, perfectly in the way if you're not careful. A and B pins can be reached with a good/great drive, and I'm sure some folks can reach C but 550' through the trees is pretty deep, even playing downhill.
18- Teepad is in the open but the pin is back in a tight row of pine trees. A straight or very gently bending drive will put you in pretty good shape to close the course with a birdie.
I have played Wildcat a few more times since posting this review, and have bumped my rating up to 5 because it straight up deserves it. Nearly all of the teepads are now nicely textured concrete, and a new pavilion was built this year which will make a great tournament HQ. A ton of work has been done clearing out new throwing lanes and old log piles, and a couple new pin placements have been added. This course is better than ever, and has to be one of the best in the country. **
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Go play this course right meow. Right meow.
Pros: - Constant upkeep of the course is very evident. All the fairways were very clean and well kept.
- Nice, bright orange homemade baskets. Catch and act just like they should.
- Tee signs are simple and effective. All hand carved, and colored to pin placement.
- Great colored washer set-up to let you know at each tee which pin placement is in. Helpful, since many are blind.
- Great, new, grippy concrete tee pads.
- Good course flow. Really can't mess up, especially with a provided score card.
- 5 holes have alternate tee pads.
- Score sheets with map and distances available at the course sign, 1A tee.
- Trash cans along the way.
- Benches or large tree-stump-seats at nearly every tee I can remember.
- Great stairs for climbing and descending all over the course. Although not always needed (or obviously used) on dry days, if the course is at all damp I bet they're a necessity.
- Elevation of this course is insane, and used very well. They definitely did not shy away from it while designing the course, but embraced it.
- Not overly-wooded, if that makes sense. Yes, it's in the middle of the woods, but it's not thick and frustrating like lots of wooded courses can be. Just the right amount of trees have been cut down for shot lines. There is always a line or two, sometimes 3.
- Underbrush is light enough to go find your disc when you bounce out of the fairway, and not too worrisome. What IS worrisome is finding a great line through the trees back to the fairway in any direction other than you came... (i.e. there are plenty of small trees to still make you pay)
- Caretakers have marked most of the exposed tree roots, knots, and small stumps in the fairways with little orange flags, to keep trip hazards visible. Especially on the front 9, which is a little tighter. Extremely effective and much appreciated. I'm sure once leaves start to fall it becomes very easy to stub your toe or take a tumble.
- #C basket (B position) is guarded by a very tall tree that has half-uprooted and fallen across the approach area. Very cool, and provides some interesting "over or under" decisions.
- #7A (A position) requires a super tight, straight release off the pad, until it opens up downhill towards the basket.
- #8 is simply epic. Freaking cool shot over a valley. Really nice paver tee pad on 8A tee.
- #17 is in a very scenic, long shallow gulley. Overhanging limbs and one fallen tree that has arched across the fairway make it look like a gateway leading somewhere special. Might have been my favorite hole of the day, even over #8.
- #18 is a cool, straight pine-row tunnel shot. Tight line, and finishes the course with something just a little different from the rest of the course, but just as demanding.
Cons: - Piles of logs from tree clearing sometimes just off the fairway, or just into the timber. Really doesn't affect game play much. (Edit: ongoing of course, but much of this has been removed)
- Once fall hits and leaves start to cover the ground, I'm sure there will be more penalty to bouncing out of the fairway. (Welcome to any wooded course, ever). Spring time might also find the underbrush denser.
Other Thoughts: - I played on a mixed setup of pin placements, and it was a nice variety. Just because the baskets are in a sometimes shorter "A" position, still doesn't mean it's easy..
- Stumbled into being the first one to play from the first, new concrete tees on the course. Got there early in the morning, and the crew was pulling the forms off as I got to #1. Sounds like they will be slowly replacing the paver pads on most of the course. Good luck to them, as getting concrete into the far reaches of the course will surely be an undertaking. (Edit: new concrete pads)
- Really can't say enough about the obvious amount of TLC these guys put into this course. I'm sure it's been a pain at times, but the fruits of their labor are immensely evident. (Edit: Check out the facebook page to see evidence of all of their time and effort. Including the wonderful, brand new pavilion on site.)
- Absolutely gorgeous, serene, and out-of-the-way course. I really wish I was able to spend more time here, and play it 2 or 3 times that day. It is a difficult course, and I certainly did not play my best. But I never really felt overly frustrated. How is that possible?!?! The views and comfortable feel of the course makes it possible. I'm sure I will be dreaming of some of these holes until I'm able to make a trip back again. Plus, I have a 1st-time-around score to beat...
Review Update: Rating increased from 4.5 to 5.0, and the comments regarding the following from my original review have been updated/deleted: Concrete tee pads, practice basket, new pavilion, and continued clearing of rogue branches, fallen timber, and logs. This course continues to be one of the preeminent courses in Iowa.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 8 Not
Pros: I started playing disc golf in NC so I didn't know that I was playing top notch courses until I moved back to Iowa. I wasn't expecting this course to be as good as it was.
- Very Clean
- Good Signage was never lost
- Great use of elevation
- I really liked the bright orange baskets
Cons: - I was not able to finish the course due to time constraints.
- It is so far away from me.
Other Thoughts: Definitely going to make my way out here to play again!
1 of 9 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
worth the trip
Pros: -solid pads (brick it would be super hard to get cement up into the course)
-really well taken care of you can tell that this course gets lots of TLC
-trash cans and benches at every tee pad
-has many pin placements and many holes have pro tees that are really well thought out and make for some really cool shots. so many different ways to play the course.
-built right next to a campsite
-the first hole is really the only easy hole on the course and makes for a good warmup hole
-holes 2-9 a-c all play up and down some good sized hills and make good use of the elevation.
these holes are mostly tight wooded holes that punish you if you do not hit your line.
-hole 8 is awesome shooting across a small valley with several trees on the far side to make it a challenge
-hole 9 is a cool hook to the right that shoots down a hill, back to the start of the course
- 10-18 are a little more open but still lots of woods and have some good tight distance shots
- several good chances for an ace with out making those holes too easy
-17 is awesome. a bomber that is slightly downhill with a hook to the right and has a fallen tree that arcs across the fairway that you have to go over or under.
Cons: not many cons really
-bring lots of water with you there are not many places nearby to get water
-some trees that look like they could drop over the fairways(i was talking to the crew there and were talking about cleaning them out)
-the rough is really thick really easy to lose a disc of you shoot off the fairway
Other Thoughts: -well worth a trip out there one of the best courses i have played
i talked to 2 of the guys who built the course and its clear why this is such a nice course and they just kept talking about ways to make the course better. apparently they change the pin locations constantly and really keep the course nice and clean i don't think i saw a single beer can
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 13 Not
Pros: Great challenging course with many tee options, elevated tees, giant distance shots
Cons: gets too busy in the summer
Other Thoughts: While visiting my Grandmother on Thanksgiving, I realized that she lives 5 miles from this course. I will be visiting her more ofter knowing this. I started the course late and played the last 7 holes with lights on the discs
1 of 14 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Epic Wooded Elevation
Pros: - Epic elevation, tightly-wooded fairways requiring accuracy and precision, several dual-tee setups that significantly change the look of the hole, longer holes requiring the use of designated landing zones, multiple pin positions that significantly alter most holes, and an breathtakingly beautiful natural setting make Wildcat Bluff nothing less than a "must play" destination course.
- Elevation. Epic. Too many holes with outstanding use of massive elevation to list them all. Standouts are the massive downhill valley shot on #8 and the shorter but tighter #8B, #2's challenging uphill wooded fairway, and #17's epic gradual downhill hallway of ancient trees.
- Wooded technicality. Bring your "A" game when it comes to hitting the fairway, or risk a long brutal day of hacking through the significantly thick woods. Nothing is unfairly thick or difficult to get through, but the punishment is severe enough to make recovery shots a dicey proposition, at best.
- Balance and variety. Basically, this course successfully explores the heavily wooded, very hilly aspect of course design, with brilliant results.
- Top notch upkeep and amenities. Obviously, a *ton* of work has gone into this course, and it shows throughout. Stairs, bridges, pathways, and signage where needed. Intuitive and easy to follow design makes the round flow seamlessly, while offering up an interesting and challenging array of terrain and shot archetypes that will challenge all levels of golfers.
Cons: - Supposedly there is hunting allowed on property during hunting season. I do not know how much this actually affects play, or if one should really wear blaze orange in order to disc safely; however, I do know any time there is the remotest possibility of me being shot, I tend to think of that as a bit of a con. :I :I :I
- A few of the shorter holes seem a bit commonplace, but remain solid golf holes. They probably stick out a bit compared with the utter awesomesauce comprising the vast majority of Wildcat Bluff.
Other Thoughts: - Gorgeous terrain. Peaceful, secluded, and a great hike. Definitely not your average walk in the park, and among the most beautiful courses I've played.
- Wildcat Bluff offers several unique holes of titanic proportion that will certainly stick with you long long after you've played the course.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
great technical woods golf
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (Update to this review: New course numbering -- what used to be known as holes A, B, C were changed to 7, 8, 9 and everything after that is now 3 numbers higher than the old numbering. Also concrete tees, grass fairways, and general course improvements (new stairways and baskets, added pin positions, better disc-finding conditions off the fairway) are improving my rating. This is my first-ever 5 rating.)
This course is in a county park in an isolated location perfect for solitude. It's a great place for combining primitive camping and disc golf, although the campground has electric available too.
The terrain is steep forested ridges with deep ravines, and the holes are almost all technical woods golf and make great use of the terrain. All of the holes have multiple pin positions and are regularly changed. The signage is beautiful handmade color-coded wooden signs with colored washers to indicate current pin positions. The course was built by a group of volunteers as a memorial to a friend, and the volunteers continue to put a lot of TLC into this special place. The teepads are landscaped and the patio stone surfaces are regularly leveled.
There are some epic holes here. Driving from the Hole 11 (old 8) long tee (Hutchins Hill) is one of the most stunning experiences to be had in woods disc golf. Once you manage to climb up there, it is worth taking a rest to ponder the shot that is about to come. It is almost 500 feet through a narrow gap and out over a massive ravine, although the basket is back up the hill on the other side, it is still net downhill, so it is actually reachable by someone who can drive 300-350.
Hole 17 (old 14) is long gently left-to-right turning hole which undulates over a couple of ravines. Here it is placement golf, requiring distance control, and landing the disc on top of the ridges gives an opportunity to pick up shots vs the field. (update: new 4th pin position on this hole, par 5)
There have been some massive windstorms in the last couple years that knocked down a lot of trees on the back 9, and the volunteers have put in unbelievable amounts of work to get the course back in playable condition. The character of the back 9 has changed, letting more light filter in to the forest floor, and now grass filling in some fairways on the back 9. One big fallen tree remains as a high arch across the fairway on hole 20 (old 17), which adds to the fun and challenge of this long left-to-right dogleg.
There's a good balance of up- and down-hill as well as ridgetop holes that play mostly flat.
It's a beautiful park. This would be a fun place for hiking, even if there were no DG course. My kids enjoy hiking along, even after they get tired of looking for discs they've thrown into the woods.
Cons: It is hard to come up with any cons. It could use better balance between wooded and open (except for hole 1 it is all technical woods golf), but that is the land that was available so it is hard to be too critical about that. And the windstorms have opened up some of the back 9. There are no water hazards other than a sometimes dry creek which rarely comes into play.
Other Thoughts: In hunting season there are other park users in the area, so wear blaze orange.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Could continue to improve!
Pros: 1) Nice signs with Hole # Distance and a general map of the hole.
2) Benches in spots to sit down from time to time. On a course with massive elevation change it is definitely appreciated. I imagine it would also be nice if the course was full of people and the play was slow.
3) The tees are made out of pavers which is better than dirt or grass . . . but look at the negatives too. Still better than dirt.
4) Plenty of garbage cans around the course to drop your garbage or help clean up the course from those who litter.
5) Orange painted baskets are somewhat helpful to see in the woods although I would imagine they are tough to spot in fall with all of the mature trees turning colors. They seemed to catch just fine and seemed very close to Chainstars.
6) Very mature hardwood forest. Some of the best property for disc golf if you ask me. I wish we had more of it in WI.
7) Elevation is incredible here. It makes some of the shot very challenging and also very dramatic to throw. Couple the drop-offs with the mature hardwood forest and you have a sure success.
8) Distance variation is awesome with holes in the 200's, 300's, 400's and even 500's. It is a long course but the variation makes you know how to throw all sorts of shots . . . including throwing from a standstill!
9) The stairways seem to be pretty well built. I would not say they are perfect in terms of safety but they are fairly safe to use. This is something I am really focusing on because properly built stairs will last a long time, while poorly built stairs will deteriorate and become dangerous and unusable over time. The teebox complexes and stairs here seem to be done appropriately and would thus be more sustainable than most other construction we see on disc golf courses.
10) They have used an abundance of railroad ties on this course. There are attractive and also very solid material that will not deteriorate rapidly like some other wood will. +1 for sustainability.
11) Challenging course to say the least. I love being challenged as long as holes are fair. I would much rather play a challenging and fair course than a boring wide open course or an unfair course with impossible to hit lines and terrible unkept rough.
Cons: 1) Hunting is permitted from September 15th through May 15th so I would avoid this course during that timeframe or wear blaze orange and maybe carry a radio with you . . . as I am sure no wildlife carries along an Ipod with speakers! This isn't necessarily a negative but it would be if I got shot.
2) Some of the rough on this course is a little too rough. There are areas of decent rough that isn't as punishing, but there are also patches that are really terrible.
3) In more than a few spots I noticed dangerous snags (broken limbs in trees waiting to come down in a wind storm). That is something that is always a risk on mature courses like this, but it sure would be nice to never have a course shutdown because someone was injured or killed from one of the falling limbs. I suppose there is a certain liability on any course that goes with whatever park district or municipality is responsible for the course, but I still wish the trees could be taken care of by professionals.
4) While the paver tees are better than dirt of grass . . . they do leave a bit to be desired. Many times I found one or two bricks on a tee that were not level. They were definitely able to trip you on your run-up if you misstep slightly. Pavers take a lot of work to install properly for sustainability . . . trust me I did my entire patio and sidewalk and did my father in laws driveway, and sidewalks. It is a lot of work and the process has to be perfect or shifting or settling will occur.
5) This course is far from beginner friendly, which is something I like to see on all courses. Sure there are some alternate tees but not easy enough tees to make it playable by anyone new to the game. In my opinion, the best course in the world will give a beginner a taste of what the sport is all about while keeping them from being frustrated.
Other Thoughts: I have never played a course that recommended I wear blaze orange from September 15th through May 15th . . . that is because it is on a wildlife preserve of some sort so hunting is also allowed. I imagine I would be pretty scared to play during those months for fear my graceful walk through the woods makes me look like a deer.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 12 Not
Pros: one of the top maintained courses i have ever seen. these guys love this place and are out there every day. lots of technical shots. bring your A-game. if you are not well rounded then you will struggle all day
Cons: lots and lots of trees. you will hit them and scream obcenities. hunting int he fall. wear blaze orange. and the gates are closed in the winter months(still playable) just have to walk a bit to start.
Other Thoughts: love this place. signs mark the current position of that day. baskets move frequently. many signature holes.
0 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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