Best Course in London area
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Other Thoughts: V.A. Barrie is a park dedicated solely to Disc Golf, and does a fantastic job of using every square inch of available land. The layout is fairly simple, as you travel up on side of the valley and down the other, but it is anything but a simple course. A great mix of forehand and backhand shots are needed to succeed here, and all kinds of hazards need to be avoided to win your round.
Big cement tee pads are on every hole and most have signs that haven't been removed. These signs not only mark number and distance, but also give you two photos - a view from the tee and a view from the "midway" point of the hole - a very nice touch. All holes have two pin positions and both are labeled on the sign so it is easy to tell which ones are in.
Speaking of pins, these were a thing of beauty! Nice big baskets coloured Red on top, with a white Maple Leaf etched into the band (Awesomely Canadian). They were in top condition and they grabbed my putter quite nicely. Easily the best baskets I've thrown in to, hands down, on any course I've played so far.
The first six holes follow the river so it is a constant menace on your right, as there are snake-infested reedlands leading up to a pretty massive dropoff to the bank. Seven's tee stares directly at a big tree trunk and leads you to the reason you're there - the massive hill located at the back end of the park. At eight, you are tossing straight up into a small window where rollaways will happen. One cannot even locate the pin until almost at the crest, and it is still a difficult approach through some serious shrubbery. You will probably double-bogey this hole, but it will be worth it, for as you stand atop nine's teepad taking in the massive drop shot, the past will be forgotten as you remember why you play the game: It is one of the biggest drops I've seen outside of Kensington's Toboggan course, and one drive will not be enough to satisfy. It is also not the safest view, with thick forest lining either side of the moderately-sized fairway. Keep it low and straight until you're out into the clearing or you will be searching for a while, especially if it ends up on the right. (We also discovered an alternate tee pad at the bottom of the hill for those that want to skip the "adventure" up top. And since there are 19 holes in total, you can play a full 18 by skipping 8&9. If I was a local and played there all the time, I would definitely do this. Very thoughtful and an awesome touch!) The next two shots are fairly wooded and offer a nice change of scenery, however short-lived it may be. You then start heading back towards the parking lot with a series of lengthy drives over moderately-open terrain. If you are tied after 18, like I said there is a playoff hole that will determine your fate, as you drive out from a treed alcove and into the valley. It's then a short walk past a monument dedicated to Barrie himself. Overall a great experience and when paired with Waterworks, a five-star kind of outing. Nothing compares in the area and you will not be disappointed!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Well maintained
Challenging pin placements on the first 5 holes which can bring water into play
8 is crazy uphill, and 9 is an amazing hole back down but I personally spent close to 30 minutes in search of a disc, I however like many others will use the 8th tee block and use the 9th basket, then continue onto. #10 skipping #9 all together, and then play #19 (the bonus hole) as #9..i quite frankly haven't seen anyone make the hike up #8...i only did just too see what the fuss about #9 was all about
Nice and open so you can really bomb some drives
Baskets are in great shape
Very easy to get around for 1st timers
Strictly a park for discing, no random people walking through
Cons: Once you're out there, there is no turning back. As you don't see the parking lot until 18.
Could use better markings at the holes..some have distances and pictures some have nothing
Other Thoughts: Really great course challenging but yet fun for all skill levels...complete opposite of what you will find at the waterworks course
Highly recommended and worth a day trip into St. Thomas
Better hole information at each tee block would be a great finishing touch to make this course a 5 out of 5
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Quality Discing in St. Thomas!
Pros: Wonderful setting for discing: clean, quiet, well maintained park, with nice eye appeal and nary a speck of trash. Plays through a lush valley featuring a massive hill.
Solid course, appropriate for players of all skill levels players. Fairly long and open for the most part, allowing for multiple routes to the basket. Doesn't heavily favor lefties or righties, FH or BH, and while big arms will certainly like this place, their advantage is not overwhelming.
Makes good use of natural elements to challenge and appreciate: well positioned trees/overhanging branches to force shot shaping. A river runs behind or along to the first several holes adding a scenic element. Certainly a factor on the 1st hole, it only should only come into play if you stray pretty far from the fairway. However, a sharp drop off between fairway and river can penalize you even if the disc stays dry. Large expanses of tall, scrubby grass, weeds, Queen Ann's Lace and such adorn or line fairways, encouraging you to take certain routes or hit clear landing areas.
Decent baskets and mostly concrete pads.
Intuitive layout flows well from basket to next tee. Good tee markers clear up the few questionable spots.
Signature hole 9 is a beauty that I can only describe as a "tunnel-bomb." Tees off atop aforementioned massive hill, with thick brush on both sides of the fairway all the way down to the valley floor. The lane seems fairly wide, but you really need to huck it a long way down the hill to hit a clean landing spot to set up for pars or birdies. Discs that are grip-locked, fade prematurely, or get squirrely will yield a god-forsaken 2nd shot, if you're even able to find them. Conversely, the right combo of driver and shot execution are rewarded accordingly.
A humbling 8th hole has you paying for 9 in advance: 200 ft straight up that massive hill to a guarded basket tucked in about 15-20 feet or so to the left of the fairway. Plenty of trees to make sure you hold a line or pay the consequences. A nasty roll away here could be one you never forget.
Bonus 19th: Great hole (not just "OK for a throw-in"). Practice basket lines up directly in front of a somewhat elevated (concrete) pad, nicely framed by a couple of trees. A branch crossing from right to left invites you to launch one through this oversized doorframe, but you need to keep it fairly low to avoid the cross-bar branch and foliage above it. "Safer" hyzer and annie routes around this obstacle take a longer route to the pin.
Cons: There simply aren't many things "wrong" here (certainly nothing glaring, and a couple can be fixed).
Beautiful when I played, but I wouldn't dream of playing here after a good rain without waders - probably takes days to dry out.
Looks like they moved a few tees around - has you teeing from a dirt patch in a few spots (but not all that bad).
Holes converge in a few places. Shots from other players could be factor (but only if they're rude, as it's pretty easy to see people playing in the open).
I'd suggest a spotter for 9.
Could use a few tight holes: 8 and 10 are really the only holes where you're somewhat likely to hit multiple trees on a single hole.
Other Thoughts: Simply a great course offering fun disc play. Pretty much nails basics and falls short in very few aspects. Although not explicitly stated, V.A. Barrie appears to be dedicated to disc golf for the most part: no other activities or facilities are present. About the only things here are baskets, tees, and a picnic table or two.
Despite (or perhaps because of) being in a bit of a bowl mostly surrounded by trees, wind was a factor on many holes. Moreover, it wasn't coming predominantly from one direction, but seemed to change as we progressed through the course. Somehow, I frequently found myself going to a more stable disc because of a headwind, but never needed to go less stable for a tail wind
In stark contrast to V.A. Barrie, nearby Waterworks offers quite the tight and technical mid/putter fest. As others have stated, these two courses complement each other very well for a great day's discing - worth a day trip to play them both. That being said, while Waterworks is a decent course unto itself, I just think V.A. is a much better course, and honestly don't understand how someone could rate them with a ½ a disc of each other. Then again, this site's all about player's opinions; they're entitled to theirs, I'm entitled to mine.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
VA Barrie Park
Pros: amazing baskets
easy to navigate through 18 holes
amazing 9th hole (absolutetly amazing)
park is very well maintained
Cons: very wet early in the season
first 6 holes have water hazard
Other Thoughts: Ive played about 7 courses in southwester Ontario and this one is easily the best. I haven't played Toronto Island and I've heard great things. If you love discin and your in St. Thomas this course is a can't miss, along with waterworks.
BTW, va barrie park course will be doing renovation this year and the only holes staying the same are uphill and downhill (8 + 9) so look forward to seeing a new course for next year
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Great long course, unleash the range, some technical shots, long shots.
Cons: Not much wrong with this course, the hill is rough but you can by pass it with that extra tee to the practice cage and there is a river, that can be a burn.
Other Thoughts: Worth a trip here!!, step up your game
0 of 6 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: V.A. Berrie is a fun, challenging and well maintainted course. The course is mostly but has some trees and OB to think about on every hole. There is a creek that comes into play on the first 6 holes, but it's not a significant obstacle on all of them. This course has two pin placements for every hole. One thing I really like about this course is it has a good balance of hyzer and anhyzer shots. There are only a few short holes, the rest I would say are medium to long in terms of distance.
The tee signs here are excellent and show both pin placements and the distances to each. Navigating the course is relatively easy so no map should be needed. A few pads are close together in a few areas so just make sure you throw from the correct one.
Non fairway areas are left to grow, but finding your disc isn't usually too bad. These areas are generally OB (the tee signs have the OB marked very well), but the fairways are sufficently wide so hopefully this won't be too much of an issue. Unlike some prairie-style courses where tall grass is the only challenge, I like the OB on this course because it adds to the existing challenges on the course.
This is a great course players of all skill level. Newer players who throw RHBH shouldn't have too much of a problem with the creek after hole 1 since it's on the right. The rest of the course is pretty friendly to newer players. More advanced players will likely enjoy the challenge this course presents.
Of course the most memorable thing about this course is the tall, steep hill where holes 8 and 9 are. You throw up this massive hill with a tight wooded fairway on hole 8. Hole 9 is one of the most unique and memorable I've played. You get to launch your disc off the top of the massive hill towards the pin 500+ feet away and down the hill.
Cons: Holes 8 - 10 play dangerously close to each other. The huge downhill shot on hole 9 really spreads out where the discs land. It's possible to hit people driving on hole 8 and this area is not visible from 9's pad so be sure to yell if you think you might be anywhere near them. It's also possible to drive on 9 hit people on 10's pad, but at least you can see if you're coming close to people there. There are a couple other areas of the course where you could hit other people, but this area is the worst.
The hill on holes 8 and 9 is very steep, please watch your step.
With the exception of holes 8 - 10, the course is relatively flat, but these three holes really make up for it.
Other Thoughts: The other St. Thomas course, Waterworks, is shorter and wooded and these two courses compliment each other well.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice course. Not Easy.
Pros: Nice tees
Some long holes
This course is situated in the low-land of a large valley. The middle of the lowland is large open field, with a river running along the west, and a massive hill to the south, a forest to the east, and old large trees along the entire perimeter of the low-land. You essentially play along this field's perimeter.
For the first 7 holes, you are throwing along the river to your right with some scattered trees at its edge as you head towards the hill. These holes are rather similar each, but the trees shape each hole to provide some variety. The embankment is rather forgiving in most spots, but the river remains a constant factor, especially on the first hole. On #1 there is NO embankment, just a sheer drop to the river some 7 feet past the basket. Don't overshoot the basket even a little, or your disc is gone.
Hole 8 is a steep uphill shot (which I really enjoyed), and 9 is awesome, the real attraction of the course. It's a great downhill shot, unique to the courses in this area. It's a fairly wide tunnel shot from the very top of the hill into the middle of the open section of the valley. There is some risk of putting your disc in the forest on either side of this fairway, but even a decent drive should put you well into the open section making the likelihood of losing a disc low. [I don't have a big arm, and I was way past the forest. I had a decent look for birdie, but missed the putt. :P]
For the rest of the course you are working your way back to the parking lot where you first started, but on the opposite side of the open field, so for these holes you have a forest to your right. There are two open holes that play out into the middle of the field and then back. The rest just stay to the right along the east side of the valley, along the forest. You are playing at the forest's edge, so there is some use of the trees, but most of these shots are fairly open. Take a look at the map, and this should all make sense.
With the practice basket, and cement tee set up for it, there really are 19 holes.
You're really going to have to have some distance on your drives if you want any chance of birdies. I think this is a tough course. I shot +9 my first time here.
On the whole, I enjoyed the course, but it's just not one of my favourites. No complaints, just less than spectacular. Though, I do want to come again and better my score.
Cons: Limited variety.
Can be really wet in the spring.
The layout of this course is less than ideal. On the first nine the river is to your right as you play along it, and then second nine the forest is to your right as you play along it, so many of the holes have essentially the same feel.
Also, with the hill, open field, and forest, there is very little wind protection, and the wind can swirl and be really inconsistent. If there is even a little wind, you'll find it here, and it can make a round tough. If it's windy, I suggest Waterworks.
It's one big 18 hole loop, not two sets of 9's. No facilities at the park, and once you've started your round, you won't be near your car until you're finished a whole round. Bring water.
There is quite a bit of overlap between 8, 9, and 10 where the holes kind of play on top of each other. If it's busy on the course, which it can be, this is a tough traffic area.
It is possible to get confused while navigating the course. From some tees you can see multiple baskets, but the signage can save you from playing the course wrong, you just have to watch for it. Watch for the walk between #5 and #6. You have to walk past #16 tee.
Even on my first time at the course, I watched a few groups miss-play the course in spots, but they didn't seem to mind.
There are some nice holes, but aside from 8 and 9, there wasn't much memorable about the course.
Other Thoughts: The 9th hole is spectacular.
There are two courses in St. Thomas that are close together VA Barrie Park, and Waterworks. Personally, I like the Waterworks course much better. They are very different courses, nearly polar opposites. VA Barrie Park is long and open, Waterworks is tight and technical. I suppose it is really a matter of choice, but be sure to check out my review of Waterworks also, but be careful; it can be tough to navigate. If you don't have much time, VA Barrie Park is probably the better option.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
What a disc golf course should be!
Pros: The most memorable thing about this course (besides the wild uphill/downhill combo of holes 8 and 9) is the way it is taken care of. The fairways and the O.B. rough were trimmed to appropriate levels, and there were flags clearly outlining the boundaries between the two. The baskets were all in near-mint condition, and were being fitted with new number medallions as I was playing. The course was well signed and so well maintained that it was a breeze to navigate the first time through and an absolute pleasure to play
Cons: Some of the tee signs were missing when I played, but I'm sure they will be replaced. There is also a bit of a pinch point on the course around holes 3 and 16 where people can throw into each other. The only thing keeping this from being an elite course is the limited quantity of real estate.
Other Thoughts: Due to water on the right on much of the front nine and woods on the right of much of the back, I think the course tends to favor lefties. But regardless of how you throw, this course is worth a visit.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Gem of a Course
Pros: Beautiful, well kept disc golf centric park with a nice variety of holes. Some water holes along the river (not too dangerous if you are careful), nice fairways with clearly delineated rough that isn't so deep that you spend hours searching for lost plastic. A few elevation changes (two holes incorporate a killer slope). Some longer holes, some shorter, some doglegs left and others right, a few tight technical holes. Overall, an enjoyable disc golf experience. A map is available, but the park flows well enough that you probably don't even need it.
Cons: Be careful on the downhill slope (#9), there is a possibility of lost plastic in the thick woods on either side. Might be advisable to use a spotter on this hole.
Other Thoughts: One of the favorites from a recent disc golf trip through southern Ontario.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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