12 Helpful / 0 Not
Lots of fun
Pros: The course plays through a beautiful hilly forest. There is some limited underbrush to punish some errant shots, but never enough to hide discs or frustrate newer players. Nearly every hole has some elevation change, keeping things interesting and adding some nice challenges. The course is pretty short overall, but the third loop of 9 has a couple holes with a little more distance.
The rocks throughout out the course make for great obstacles, and add some tricky greens that can really punish you on missed putts. There is a nice mix of hole shapes so it doesn't get too repetitive. All three loops bring you back to the beginning where there is a shelter and a drinking fountain. The 9 tone poles and 18 baskets are all in good shape. The course flows well and is quite easy to navigate.
Cons: The tees are terrible, most have ruts, roots and rocks sticking up waiting to trip you, and few have any room for walking/running up into your throw. The signage is very basic, so you have to scout ahead on the few blind holes. The course plays very short, and doesn't offer many real challenges for better players. Some might find the tones a turn off, I didn't mind them.
Other Thoughts: I would definitely make a stop here if you're in the area. Once you're on the island there are a set of stops for a free ride program on the island so you might even be able to catch a lift to and from the ferry or marina (we did).
Beginners will find the course very approachable, with shorter holes and limited underbrush. More experienced players will have a good time playing super class or putter only rounds, but shouldn't expect to be tested on more than their short game here. It was great to see a bunch of people out playing, from kids to families to a group of middle aged women!
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
100% worth the trip!
Pros: The Pender Island course consists of a series of 3 nine hole loops which wrap around a large rock-laden hill. The front 9 (with tone targets) plays up and down the center hill and offers the most rugged, rocky terrain in the park along with the shortest bunch of holes. The second 9 (baskets) plays along and down the north slope of the hill and offers moderately rugged terrain and has probably the most tightly treed fairways. The final 9 (baskets) was in our opinion the most complete group of the three and offers huge elevation changes, tightly treed fairways, a couple of longer holes, and much more accommodating dirt teeing areas.
Hole highlight: I'd like to highlight the 27th hole at Pender for an example of what you'll find here. From the tee, you have a high-angle uphill throw from a short rock-lined tee at the very base of the rock hill. Several windows are available off the tee through 3 decent gaps in the moderately treed fairway. Choose one, check your feet for your 1 or 2 step run-up, and rip one up the hill. If you've managed to miss the trees, your disc will be playing plinko over the rocks high above you - hopefully it snags a crag and sticks 50-60' above the tee with a view or putt to the pin which is set in the center of a large old madrona tree and sports a dangerous sheer drop just off basket left. Keep an eye out here for the final resting place of your disc if you can because there are many crevices and hidey holes not apparent until you are on the hill searching. As you pick your way up the rock wall, be careful of dislodging debris onto those below you and make sure your footing is sound so you and your fellow group mates can enjoy another round!
Course aura - Families, seniors, and casual golfers abound here and really give this course a strong feeling of neighborhood "connectedness". Everyone is extremely friendly and always ready to point out a lost disc or direct you to the next hole. A small clubhouse, putting area, and picnic tables serve as a focal gathering point at the start and finish of all 3 loops.
Ruggedness - This course is just downright off the rugged chart, maybe not Diamond X, but definitely more than just about any PNW course I've played. You'll see discs take some of the strangest skips, jams, bounces, and rolls out here. Just be prepared to laugh off the bad luck and check your footing.
Navigation - You'll find really cool homemade painted rock tees on each hole with distances (in meters) and basket direction painted on each one. Navigation is pretty easy from start to finish.
Maintenance - With as many people who play here, one of the striking things about this course is the complete absence of garbage, bottle caps, cigarette butts; you can really tell everyone takes care of this park. There are garbage cans at several of the tees and all bottles SHOULD be left in the club house because course funds are raised through bottle returns.
Cons: Variety - Both a 'pro' and a 'con', the course consists of 90% or so short putter shots through tightly wooded trees. These holes hit the top of the fun factor and each one has a nicely placed tree, rock, window, or dropoff which will make you think about the best route. However, at the same time, the course doesn't offer much in terms of variation. With the exception of a few holes, you'll be throwing upshots (or putts!) through tight wooded fairways and on only two of the longer holes do you have the opportunity to really put some power behind a shot.
Rocks - The extremely rocky terrain is one of the things that makes this park so cool. All the bumps, skips, and unpredictable rolls are fun in my opinion. But…be prepared to have plenty of gauges in your disc after a round or two and come prepared with some resilient or expendable plastic!!!
Tees - The tees here often only offer a one-step or stand-and-deliver style throw because of jagged rocks, dropoffs, and other pointy things near the tee. Again, this is one of the items that I found endearing about the course and you shouldn't really need a run up on the vast majority of shorties. At the same time, it is sometimes frustrating trying to throw off an uneven pile of rocks - be prepared for more shanks than normal and adjust expectations accordingly :)
Other Thoughts: Overall: One of the most fun courses I think that I've ever played and certainly worth the experience from Seattle to come play.
Costs and logistics: I just wanted to post for other out-of-towners how we got here and what it ended up costing to make this day of golf happen.
We drove from Seattle to Tsawwassen (South Vancouver) to take the ~3 hour ferry over to Pender Island (Otter Bay). We decided to leave the car behind because of the exorbitant cost of transporting it and parked it at one of the pay lots near the ferry terminal (it cost us $11 CAN for the day and included a shuttle trip to/from the terminal). The ferry itself was nice and not too expensive (~$20 CAN per person).
After arriving at Otter Bay, take a right onto the main road and walk for a ¼ mile to the first right. Walk to the bottom of the hill to a small shop which rents bikes and scooters. We opted for the scooter which ended up costing $95 CAN for 4 hours (plenty of time for a round or two). If you rent a bike, be prepared for some very hilly travel and leave plenty of time to get to the course. Finally, make sure to get a good map because the street names change often and there isn't any signage to get you to the disc golf course.
Be careful because there are a very limited number of ferries going to and leaving from the island each day - definitely make a plan in advance. We left on the Sunday 9:40am ferry and returned on the 7:40pm ferry and finally arrived home in Seattle around 2am. We knew this ahead of time but it might be a rude awakening for the unprepared!
Total cost without gas or food: ~$126 Canadian
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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