Stunningly Difficult, Maddening Safety Issues
13 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - Let me begin by saying that West Lake Park is the most difficult course I have ever played. Waay tougher than Lemon Lake Gold, Leviathan, Idlewild, Charlotte's Web, et al. West Lake Park will push you down, skin your knees up, call you Sally, take your lunch money, and make you feel BAD about it in a general sort of way.
- The course plays through a pretty park. Plenty of open grassy park-style golf interspersed with extremely tight, wooded, technical golf. Then, on top of that add a ridiculously high number of very challenging water holes, many with fairly long carries and less-than-stellar safety routes.
- Elevation. Nothing spectacular here in terms of loss or gain, but plenty of slight to moderate elevation used very well.
- A wide selection of hole types with good balance between right and left turning holes. There are uphill wooded bombs (#20 long is the most punishingly tight hole I've ever played), 850'+ holes that force long water carries to score well (#5 long), shorter water carries (#'s 2, 5 short), an elevated causeway with water on both sides (#'s 5 and 13), et al. A massive downhill bomb is about the only thing missing here.
- Amenities: no complaints here. Good signs, tees, and baskets.
Cons: - West Lake Park is a busy, multi-use park. Picnic benches, grills, walking paths, sunbathers, fishermen, and more are competing with the disc golf course for space. I've never seen so many benches in the middle of fairways on such a highly rated course. Our round was a nightmare of waiting, throwing meekly around people, avoiding the better water carries due to having to bail out to safety zones in order to not risk hitting fishermen, etc. Not fun, not safe.
- Punishing. I've played several Gold level courses that allow lesser players (like myself) to keep up with better players by way of hitting defined landing zones, keeping on the fairway, and making putts. That sort of golf does not exist here. The premium is on big arms, almost exclusively, which gets really old after a while. The short tees DO alleviate this issue to some degree, but overall this is the least forgiving gold course I've played. Some might see this as a pro, I get it.
- The flow is awkward in a couple of places. #'s 5 and 13 share the narrow raised isthmus that divides the two lakes. A decent drive from #5 longs SHOULD be able to hit the water carry and avoid the causeway, but if fishermen are at the landing zone players are forced to take the causeway, creating a conflict with #13 which plays back along the isthmus.
Other Thoughts: - I wanted to like West Lake Park. I really did. There are some amazing holes out here and the difficulty level is pretty stunning (generally in a good way); however, fighting the non-disc golf masses on, like, every other hole got old really fast, especially when it took away some of the best shots and the best holes. Until some safety concerns are alleviated (at least remove the picnic benches from the freakin' fairways, geez!) I cannot rate West Lake higher than a 4 disc rating.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
West Lake Park
Pros: -24 holes, most of which have 2 tees.
-located in a very well kept park
-lots of change in elevation and holes with different distances
-The campground it is located at is very nice so it is a very good place to make a weekend out of.
Cons: -water is in play on many of the holes so if you don't want to lose a disc bring one that floats
-the course is very difficult, many of the reviews said how hard it was and I really didn't believe them until I got here.
But these are really the only bad things I could think of about the course and in many ways they aren't even bad.
Other Thoughts: The campground is first come first serve so if you are planning on staying get there early to make sure you get a spot!
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
NOT &@%#ING AROUND
Pros: If I were to rate this course on holes alone, it would receive a 5.0 hands down. These were the most breathtaking shots I have ever seen! Some combination of length, elevation, wind, and water (or all 4) comes into play on EVERY hole.
1 is a massive downhill shot with plenty of natural obstacles - the biggest being the hill behind the pin, running down into the lake. 2 is a manageable but challenging shot over a cove with the pin on the far side of the water. 3 and 4 play through some picnic areas and back towards the water. 5 is a rediculous bomb over the other side of the lake with the pin placement along the shore. I loved 9 through 11, zig-zagging across two undulating hills. 12 sends you back toward the lake, and 13 is an unbelievable lie across a thin strip of elevated fairway with trecherous cliffs down to the water on either side. 14 - 18 take you back to your car, leaving the last six as a players choice should you have the stamina left.
Beautiful signage on every hole. Concrete pro and am tees with extremely varying placements were outstanding. I hate when the pro tee is just simply another 100 feet directly behind the am. This is definitely not the case here. Trash cans throughout the course keep it clean and the park itself is very well maintained. It is a busy park, but the course was deserted (I'm guessing because of the difficulty factor).
Cons: While the holes are phenomenal, the layout of the course is bad. The first two holes make sense, as do the next two, but then there is a really long walk through the woods with no directions to the next tee. 5-13 play along the back end of the park, with 14's tee sending you back where 4 ended. It was confusing playing through and was very frustrating to navigate at times.
Hole 5's am tee was really hard to locate. Hole 8 is horribly designed, playing up an old truck trail with a very narrow fairway and blind pin. Some holes play very close to picnic tables and pavilions, which were densely populated on this Sunday afternoon.
The difficulty of these holes border on masochism, and it is really difficult to keep your cool. The possibility of lost plastic is more of a certainty on holes like 5 and 13. And unless you are spot on with every 4 out of 5 shots, keeping score becomes pointless. The only respite from the daunting pace is the 9 - 11 holes, all birdie-able.
Other Thoughts: This is the hardest course I have ever played. Let me repeat that: THIS IS THE HARDEST COURSE I HAVE EVER PLAYED. Harder than Kensington's Toboggan course, which is on the tour. I was unprepared even though I expected a challenge and read all the previous reviews.
It borders on insanity. Difficult shot after shot really wore me down. This combined with the poor course layout and lost plastic really made this course hard to love. It didn't help that it was 97 degrees out and as muggy as New Orleans in August. BRING FLUIDS AND PACE YOURSELF.
I can understand why no one else was playing through. With all of the great courses in the QC area, this one really weeds out the average player and caters to the avid. I definitely recommend experiencing this course for yourself, but I don't think I'll be back any time soon.
I had a really tough time rating this course. Every time I thought about it I had different reactions. I'm settling on 4 because the holes are the best I've played and despite the difficulty I cannot overlook the audacity and brilliance of the design. If the course layout was easier to navigate, it would eliminate a lot of the frustration and let you enjoy your round a bit more. Make no mistake - West Lake Park is NOT &@%#ING AROUND!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
West Lake is a Grind
Pros: Variety: West Lake has a little bit of everything. There are some predominantly open hills and other holes with tighter fairways. There is also a solid variety in hole length. This is a huge plus in my book.
Memorable holes: As many reviewers have already noted, there are a number of holes at West Lake that are fantastic holes. My personal favorite was Hole #5. With windy conditions, this is a pretty daunting tee shot. I also liked #2 and #23.
Fairway maintenance: I designate "fairway" here (see cons below) because the fairways were well manicured. The landscaping around the course (sparse trees) was very nice as well.
Overall design: I mentioned the variety earlier, but the design of the holes was really good on 80-90% of the holes. There were a few multi-shot holes, at least for a 300-320' thrower like myself. Definitely not a drive-putt course.
Score differential: I like courses that provide ample opportunities for scoring variance. There are some courses that you play and you know if you play it again 100 times you will likely be within 4 or 5 strokes 99% of the time. West Lake is the exact opposite. I could see myself shooting under par...and I could see myself shooting way over par if I was struggling off the tee.
Cons: Navigation and Signage: Usually if signs are present, it is a plus in my book. However, the signs need to be accurate and give the player a general idea of the hole. At least twice we threw our drives only to find that the pin was in a different area than we thought. On hole #7, the layout and sign indicate an anhyzer across the valley. After throwing what I thought was a great shot that would leave me a putt, we all realized that the hole was actually a hyzer, and the member of our foursome who threw the worst shot (intended anhyzer but flexed out hard) ended up with the better scoring chance. We could have re-teed, but it turned out to be no big deal as we all carded 3s. This happened again on hole #9, but we caught it immediately after our drives. The sign indicates a straight shot, but the hole is actuallya fairly strong hyzer. Hole #20 was impossible to find, so we ended up walking down its fairway from the parking lot. Who knew that you should backtrack down a blind fairway (#19) in order to get to the next hole. Definite design flaw here.
Off-fairway maintenance: I agree that errant shots should be punished. However, I also believe they should be able to be located unless they were attrocious. I believe it was Hole #12 where there is a narrowly mowed fairway with a treeline down the right side, thick rough down the left, and a wall of trees about 280 feet away with a 10' wide gap to hit that opens up to the pin close to the water. The pin location was great, but the tall grass bordering on the lefft of the fairway needed to be mowed. Most players are going to hit that gap less than 20% of the time. The hole could be played by rec players as a hyzer into where the high grass is now, followed by another hyzer to get through the gap. This grass was high to the point that finding discs was difficult, and the wall of trees was dense and thick and probably collects 90% of the shots where the player goes for it. I actually hit the gap, but I probably wouldn't hit it regularly. We spent at least 15 minutes looking for a couple of discs on this hole alone. The next hole (levee hole) really only allows you to use half of the levee. If someone would weed-eat the left side of the levee, an errant shot over there would still be punished with a severe uphill 2nd shot and possible water trouble on the left. However, the player is essentially forced to manuever along the right side of the levee only. This could be fresutrating for some players.
Proximity to other park activities: as with any multi-use park course, there are going to be some issues with other users. On this course there are picnic tables, parking lots, playgrounds, and ballfields that could possibly come into play. On a crowded day, play with discretion.
Other Thoughts: West Lake Park has a lot of things going for it. The design is worthy of a "phenomenal" designation. However, there are a few cons that detract from its score, in my opinion. I settled on a 4.0 for excellent. It gets docked .25 each in my book for navigation issues, ease of play. By ease of play, I don't mean lack of challenge. I mean that you have to search for discs in many places that are slightly errant and you have to monitor the whereabouts of other park users. These factors alone caused us to take about 45 minutes longer to finish the round than we should have. There are also a couple of long walks, to and from the "levee loop".
While I have read a lot of reviews that said this was an uber-challenging course, I simply did not find this to be the case. (except for #20...which was just a ridiculous hole) It was a good challenge, but I wouldn't put it in the top 20 hardest courses I've played...and I have only played about 110 or so. This is a course that I definitely feel like I could get close to par with only a few rounds. I think it gives the perception of difficulty because it is 24 holes, mostly in the open, and on a hot day the elements can really wear you down. This makes it a grind, but not necessarily difficult.
In conclusion, West Lake is an "excellent" course. I can't in good faith give it a score higher than that. It was definitely worth the stop on our trip. After playing some of the supposed best courses in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin on this trip, I must admit that I feel that some of the better courses in this region have inflated scores. West Lake is definitely an "excellent" course, but it has too many issues to be considered "phenomenal", and is not even close to "the best of the best". However, if you are in the area, it is definitely worth playing. I wouldn't plan a specific trip to play this course alone, but I hear the Quad Cities has a fair amount of courses so there could be plenty to keep you busy on a weekend trip. If you go that route, definitely include West Lake Park.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: West Lake is a very scenic 24-hole championship caliber course. It is spread throughout a large piece of land bordering the lake for much of it. Not only are the views of the lake nice, but the lake comes into play on a substantial number of holes. The lush, grassy fairways were freshly mowed. There were 2 sets of concrete tees giving not only more length but different angles, usually more challenging. Many holes required careful planning of where to place your tee shots in order to avoid trouble while still giving you a shot at par. There are several memorable holes here, many involving water (2, 5, 13, 19 stood out to me).
The holes for the most part offer a great deal of variety- a) over water, to water, and no water, b) varied distances ranging from birdie chances to feeling good about a 4, c) holes that had options and others that mandated a specific line, and d) changing elevation of up or down on almost every hole.
Everyone we encountered were very nice. (For example, on hole 2 which plays over the cove of water we had to literally throw over a fishing boat, talk about pressure! But they wanted to watch us, and then they helped us to locate our discs once we got over to the other side of the lake!!)
There was a generous paved parking lot with restrooms and a picnic pavilion. There are also things like camping and a swimming beach very close by.
Cons: Navigation and flow in spots (I recommend using a map)- the long walks through the woods to and from the levee (4-5, 13-14) needed some signs to point down the correct path; backtracking in the fairway from 19-20 and 21-22 (in fact we never found 20, we played it last by walking it backwards); and 20 (if you can find it) is also the first chance you have to get back to your car and restrooms, but by then the round is almost over, so be sure to carry lots of water as it is a long hike with little shade.
Also for first timers, on a couple holes we threw in wrong direction/at wrong basket- the tee signs just weren't clear enough (7 and 9) and were somewhat misleading.
Other park activities- things in play on a lot of the holes include the road, picnic tables, grills, cars in parking lots, the campground, and a whole lot of bank fisherman on the lake holes (which is often). There was also a Take-Me-Fishing seminar the day we played and they had taken over holes 10 and 11.
Overall the hole design is good, but there began to be a repetitive feel off the tee- long and straight is about all you need. The course tended to heavily favor RHBH. I only remember two shots (approach on 3 and 24) that really required a left to right line.
*You will lose discs on this course- there are just too many water holes for most people to come out with what you came in with! Be prepared mentally and bring extra discs. Also the rough is very dense in the summer and you can easily lose discs that way too.
Other Thoughts: West Lake is a really solid course that will test even the pros. But there is just too many cons for me to rate it near a 5.0. As others have said, this course is very difficult and is not intended to be played by beginners, even from the shorter tees. This is a course where you will take a beating and probably lose some discs, therefore it has the potential to be more stressful than fun. If this is what you are seeking then you should definitely come here and play, however, I would personally not want to play here everyday if I lived here, and beginners, recreational players, and families will want to find a different course to play.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Really, really hard...maybe too hard.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: 24 brutally challenging holes. All the length you'll ever want and then some. A ton of water coming in to play. This course will work every facet of your game. From super tight fairway shots and brutal rough to more open 'let-it-rip' par 4's where OB comes into play.
Cons: This thing is just too much to bite off in 1 round of golf. The water shots are so perilous that its tough to get in a round without losing a disc. Not to mention the brutal rough on some blind shots where you can lose one. Then you've got the incredible distance of the holes combined with the fact that there are 24 of them. Its a tiring day throwing your disc 80+ times in 1 round here. And the shots demand your absolute focus or you may be looking.
Other Thoughts: Some of the shots on this course are really alot of fun, I just wish it was an 18 holer. This course will really work every part of your game. Its a fantastic championship 24 hole layout, just probably not something you'll play casually on a daily basis. Expect to spend a few hours out here and a few discs if you want to take on the beast!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 7 Not
one of the best
Pros: very hard with multiple tees. this course will test every aspect of your game. two large lakes come into play on most holes. two shots play over a water dam. lots of elevation change. some wooded.
Cons: not for beginners
Other Thoughts: this is one of the best courses I've played. play smart and don't let the water get to you and you'll have a great round. i didn't go into the water once or loose any discs.
2 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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