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.
5 Helpful / 2 Not
Pratt has changed
Pros: Clean fairways, bathrooms on both sides, variety of shots needed, parking for front or back holes, well marked tee pads.
Cons: On some of the back 9 holes you must walk carefully. Some tee pads (natural) can be tricky.
Other Thoughts: I read the other reviews and decided to do something about it. I don't think it deserved 0 stars from 1 reviewer (Giles? you must be kidding... bring extra blood and discs with you) Anyway as of 10/1/08 it has gone through a complete transformation, and is going to get even better. The fairways are fair. The pads are now marked with tall white 4 x 4 posts. There is a map on hole 1. There is a 1000 ft walk from hole 18 to hole 1, but if you know the short cut through the YMCA you can park close to both these holes. It is suggested that you park there during the winter months because they chase you out at 5pm. No problem parking at the YMCA. Since the cleanup everyone I have talked to says it is a wonderful course. BTW was established in 1984 not 1978.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Scenic must play course
Pros: Beautiful course with many scenic holes. There are elevation changes, so you have to throw some shots uphill, some downhill and some flat. There are a variety of long holes and medium holes. There are a few open holes but mostly wooded technical holes which dogleg both left and right as well as some straight fairways. There is good parking, bathrooms w/ automatic flush toilets & hot and cold water sinks. Lamenated course maps are available in the mailbox right next to hole #1's teepad.
Cons: Some of the walking paths can be slippery, especially on the back nine, be careful walking across the creeks on the back nine. No tee signs.
Other Thoughts: I would highly recommend playing this course. It is very scenic and tests your skills. It is fun and challenging for both beginners and experienced players.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Play the back nine twice
Pros: The back nine holes are a lot of fun, especially in the fall. There are good changes in elevation and distance, and the holes around and across the creek bed make for a scenic half round.
Cons: Signage. Like other reviewers the first time I played here we wandered around looking for tees and baskets. Go with someone who knows the course if it's your first time out. I'm not a big fan of the front nine holes but the back nine can be a lot of fun.
Other Thoughts: Park at the back of the park near the skate park and baseball fields to avoid the long walk back across the soccer fields from 18. You can access the back parking lot from Butler Rd. Drive to the back of the lot near the shelters and you should see a path to the left of the shelters that will take you to the 9th-ish tee and make a quick 9 hole game (or two rounds of the same 9 holes) very convenient.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 14 Not
This is the worst course in Va
Pros: It's close to many much better parks
Cons: The whole course
Other Thoughts: This course is absolutely the worst sourse i have ever been to. The layout is horrible, Holes are poorly marked. I don't think this course has ever been maintained except for the mulch dumped in huge piles at the tee pads. Half of the holes throw over or across a parking lot, picnic area, soccer field, running trail, even power lines. There are a few nice holes that are fun to play but unless you plan on playing the 3 good ones six times each then this course is a complete waste of time. i had more fun seeing how far i could throw across the seven hundred soccer fields between #18 and the parking lot than i did playing the course. Go north and play Giles Run instead!
2 of 16 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
This Course Frustated Me!
Pros: I think the park itself has a world of potential. It's a beautiful location for a course and has some elevation change. Some of the back nine holes were scenic, challenging and enjoyable to play. The course starts with a few open holes then moves into the wooded area.
Cons: The course was so poorly marked. We wandered around aimlessly, finally missing about four holes. We never found a tee area for one of the early holes. It was totally frustrating to drive around and locate this course and then discover how poorly marked it was.
Other Thoughts: Until the local Disc population steps up and properly signs the course, I would mark it off your to play list. There are too many other courses to play and discover.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: The cayon/river area is beautiful. I say skip right to the back 9 and you'll like this course much more. Those last 7 holes are just beautiful.
Cons: Virtually no signs led us to play #'s 2 & 3 to wrong baskets. After #1 the wooded holes are just poorly laid out.
5 of 9 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
A few beautiful holes on the back 9
Pros: -The approach to hole 12 and the green are gorgeous down by the creek.
-Hole 16 is one of the most beautiful I've played in VA (played ~3/4 of the courses in the state.)
-Holes 17 & 18 have very pretty and unique fairways along a creek bed in the bottom of a ravine.
Cons: If you park in the lot nearest to hole 1 you have a beast of a long walk back from basket 18.
Other Thoughts: Holes 12, 13, 16-18 alone make the course worth playing. They also considerably boosted my overall rating.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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