6 Helpful / 0 Not
The Front and Back of Pratt
Pros: Pratt Park was an interesting play. At the first tee all i was thinking was, this course is dangerous. After the next several wooded holes i was having a good time, but nothing was blowing my mind. A couple lackluster holes around the track later I had just about made up my mind about the course when we hit the ravine holes. Truly epic. Big shots go up, down over and along a creek that has carved out a steep, beautiful piece of disc golf terrain. 14 i think it was really stood out, a nice winding shot that eventually finishes downhill to the creek. Another unique hole went steeply uphill under the power lines. Did I mention I love water in play. All of this made a so so front 9 seem like a pleasant warm up for the back. The play of the last 8 holes made the stop here not only worth it but a place I would play again.
Cons: First and foremost, the navigation. Holes are spread out and without tee signs and other helpful directing you may leave thinking the course is really only a 9 hole. If I hadn't met some locals in the parking lot who let me tag along I don't think I would have found the back 9 holes that I enjoyed so much. As I mentioned, the first hole just seems dangerous. From above, you drive straight into the the road which serves as the entrance/exit of this heavily used park. I'm sure golfers are looking out for vehicles, but it seems like the hole could be laid out a little better. 2 holes in the later part of the front 9 also play very close to a running track.
Other Thoughts: Some signage here is crucial, holes are just too spread out to go without. The amazing back nine is very difficult to find your way and I was told that some locals will just play the front 9 over and over (seemed crazy to me if you knew about the back.) If I were to come back and find the course marked I would easily change this rating to a 4.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
A Nice Escape from the City
Pros: This course has some great natural features, valleys, forest and river. I was also amazed at how secluded I felt on the course despite its close proximity to major population centers. The course requires you to use a variety of shots and allows you to "air it out" for max distance on a couple of holes. There are also a good number of very technical holes that require precision shots. A good mix of left and right turning fairways, requiring either a mix of forehand and backhand or an ambidextrous player to land your shots on the fairway. The river is a great feature and really adds to how the course plays. The park also provides a great venue of practicing your form because of the number of soccer fields located in the middle of the park.
Cons: Like the other reviewers have mentioned, navigation was a real problem for me on this course. Additionally, this course like a couple of others that I have played for the first time could really use tee signs. I guess cost is the impediment but they really make the course more accessible to the visiting player and to the new player.
Other Thoughts: This course convinced me to always print a map if there is one available on this site. I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out where to go from the 10th to the 11th hole. No excuses, next time I will have a map.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beautiful and distinctive holes that play into, along, and out of a deep streambed ravine.
Cons: Way finding is challenging.
Other Thoughts: Pratt Park is a truly two-faced course, and thus can reasonably be easily loved, and easily hated. If I lived nearby, I could see growing to really appreciate the unique challenge of about half of this course, and easily making the case that the appeal of the course was unfairly overshadowed by the considerably more well regarded area courses. But for those players not familiar with the ways of Pratt Park, and those unprepared for the demands of the course, I can also easily see how the truly significant positives that Pratt has to offer could be underappreciated by those completely frustrated trying to find their way around this course, unready for the hill climbing, creek jumping, and downright dirty scrambling required to negotiate the last run of holes, or just simply underwhelmed by the unremarkable demands of 10 of the first 11 holes.
Without a map or a guide, the first thing to know about Pratt Park is that getting around could be a real challenge. There's a box for maps at the beginning of the course, but there was no map in there for me the day I played (and no box at all the first time I tried this course). Hopefully you'll fare better. Ten of the first eleven holes are pretty unremarkable. Three are in the open, the other eight are in the woods. While a couple could be considered unreasonably wooded, for the most part these holes are varied enough and ok. The third hole is pretty nice, cleared out but still a tight fairway, uphill and to the right. The natural tee pads have wooden markers, and most of the baskets are numbered too. There are a few very small next tee signs on trees where needed and I didn't have any problem navigating this segment of the course.
Finding #11 after #10 can be a challenge (see notes below), but after another fine but unremarkable hole, the really special part of this course begins with #12. As you stand at the baskets for #9 and #10, you'll see down into the very steep, very deep ravine with a beautiful stream running through it. From up there, it doesn't look much like you could even hike down there, much less actually play disc golf. But you will.
Hole #12 is a fairly long hole for this otherwise mostly short course, playing down a relatively accessible hill all way down to the stream. So finally, a really nice hole. Then you hike back up a steep hill (assuming you don't hike the wrong way, easy to do for the rest of the course), and come to a tee that looks across another deep divide to a basket on the other side. Then #14 you play back down into the ravine along the cut of the stream. #15 is a fairly standard woods hole, and then #16, again assuming you find the tee, is a big downhill chuck all the way back down to the streambed, to a basket placed right in a bend in the stream. Actually, you're throwing off something closer to a cliff than a hill. With both #13 and #16, you may stand at the tee and just be initially astounded by what the tee shot is asking of you. Hike down a winding and steep path from the #16 tee down to the streambed to retrieve your tee shot, and then play 17 and 18 along the bottom of the ravine, with 18 being a remarkable finish. The basket is exactly streamside, and two small waterfalls (during wet times at least) come together right next to the basket.
Except for #15, from #12 on Pratt Park has some of the most interesting holes in Virginia. There's lots of nice woods holes in the state, but none quite like these. I suspect the appeal of these holes is sometimes overlooked, however, by those so frustrated by trying to figure out where to go. While the number of wayfinding aids and makeshift bridges has increased greatly since I first tried to throw a round here, it's still a bit of a navigational challenge for the first timer . And steep hills, creek jumping, getting muddy on wet days, and scrambling along very steep banks if your shot goes off course had better be your idea of fun. On the flip side, I can see throwing some really fun birdies on these holes, where the baskets are all reachable from the tee, but only across big divides or crafted along a winding streambed.
Overall, I look forward to a return trip to Pratt, as it took three tries, but I'm now able to savor the good parts without having to worry about where I'm going next, or how I'm going to get back to where I started. Hopefully you'll find a map in the box, and you'll see the small next tee signs (on the back nine in particular). Either way, hopefully, it'll help to know what you're getting into, or what awaits if you just persist in moving forward.
Way finding notes: The first nine are easy to negotiate now that the tee markers have been installed. #10 is further along the running trail, a good ways - you can see the tee markers. At the basket for #10, looking down those very steep stairs to the stream below you see the basket for#18, by the way, though no fairway is apparent at all. Finding #11 is counter-intuitive, though. Turn left, go across the first bridge, and don't let the second, broken bridge with the Do Not Cross tape hanging from it deter you. Scramble down into the rocks beside the broken bridge, back out the other side where the bridge should go, and keep walking straight and you'll get to #11. #11 to 12 is obvious (though note the basket for #16 just upstream from #12), go downstream and follow the steep path uphill to get to #13. Then I didn't have any trouble finding #14 and #15, but #16 you have to backtrack to the edge of the ravine, and then find the tee for #16 right on the very edge, looking WAY down to the basket below. #17 and #18 weren't too hard to find, but you do have to scramble along the streambed for both, it's not as hard as it looks at first. If you find your way to #11, you'll notice it runs right next to the back parking lot of the YMCA, which is accessible from Butler Rd.
Favorite Hole: #18 - While #16 is a fun and beautiful toss from highpoint to lowpoint, #18 is subtle in its beauty, requiring a nice S-curve touch shot along the stream, to a picturesque waterfall finish.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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