Embrace the Thorns!
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I thoroughly enjoyed playing this course; it may be the best in NOVA or the DC area as a whole for a number of reasons.
I played 36 holes from 9a-2p on a Saturday in March, it was cloudy and cool. II played Rec Tees-Silver baskets on the first round, Pro Tees-Red Baskets on second. Crowds (including one group of 7!) didn't emerge until afternoon. I would classify this course as a moderately strenuous hike, by east coast standards, and players should definitely wear decent shoes or boots and long pants.
*In my opinion, one big difference setting Giles Run apart from nearly every other course in northern or central Virginia (and many in nearby MD) is that this course does not have many ticky-tack or unfair tee shots. The course is expansive and is more like a hike than a walk in a muni park. This course is fair and sensibly scored, as well.
Cons: Not for the faint of the hear with the thorny thickets throughout the meadow.
Wayfinding between a few holes can be tricky at first, but folks are very friendly and glad to point the way. Or, retrieve a disc twenty feet from a tree like a dude did for me when I played (!)
#15 and #16 are very, very long (like +600 feet) from the pro tees to the silver baskets.
I lost two drivers off the tee to the thorns. I expected this to be an issue before I played here.
I could see ticks/mosquitoes being an issue with warm weather here.
Encroaching development is an issue here, including a mixed-use commercial and retail center-is currently taking the place of historic buildings across the street from the parking lot. How did the Fairfax County Park Authority allow this massive residential community to be sited so close to this incredible green space??
There are several points on the course where one can witness the encroaching residential development that does take away some peace and quiet but a beautiful course overall.
Other Thoughts: (The) George Washington surveyed and likely hunted these woods as a young man, so enjoy! And yes, that beige tower you see in the distance is part of a prison (Lorton Federal Supermax). In fact, the course is built around what remains of part of the Lorton Workhouse prison for women that operated through the 1970s.
I really enjoyed playing here. It is the one course in the DMV I would suggest to out-of-town DG friends.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
a coarse well worth playing ALLTOUGH
2 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: A great track of land. rolling hills a lot of open spaces Coarse is designed to accomidate the long thrower as well as an average player. there are two sets of tees as well astwo baskets per hole.
Cons: On a windy day I would not play here.If your disc goes into the ruff you may not be able to get it the thorn bushes are herrendise through out the coarse. to play a round you will walk about 3 miles+. It is possible to get lost. If you could get a map or talk to a local. to find trouble spots there is between I think it is 6 and7 or 7and8 it is along walk and you have to cross acreek
Other Thoughts: I though a lot of the coarse.It was fun to play.Control is a must.Fairways were more than fair.If your disc goes into the brush. You will find that you unable to go into brush to get it thorn bushes are really that bad.
2 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Nice course, but thorny as hell! Fairways are wide open but keep it straight or you will end up in the throny bushes that remind me of the movie SAW. Good mix of holes, up hill, down hill, lefties, righties, lunch eaters, aceables.Playing with a pair of grabbers is advised.
Cons: Um, the thorny bushes that will eat your discs. It's a long course to walk, no the distance of the holes but more so some of the walks between holes. Be mindful of throwing your favorite discs out here. Your sign that this course will wreck your day and game is the lost & found box, it's an old postal mail box. And it's jammed full. The only thing that I didn't care for was the Out of Bounds lines, they're painted with white paint, at least when I played, and seemed to change depending on who paints them. I would like to see a more permanent OB line with stakes and rope, so there's no guessing and wasting time.
Other Thoughts: I liked the course when I played in an Ice Bowl tournament there. I will definitely try it again when it warms up.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I really like courses that use two pins and two tees well. Giles Run does just that. Each of the four layouts provides a new way to play the hole rather than just adding distance. Unfortunately, I only had time to play one layout, so I chose to really test myself on the longest layout. The long layout features a number of well laid out multi-shot holes that can challenge even the best while the shorter layouts provide some relief for less skilled (or less masochistic) players.
Although the course is mostly open, it uses the available features (rolling hills, tress, and yes, thorns and thick brush) to set up some interesting shots. The course really never feels especially repetitive.
Cons: There is one consistent feature that seems to steal the headlines at Giles Run: impenetrable, thorny rough. It's not just the thorns that cause problems, it's also the sheer density. This is some of the thickest rough I have ever encountered. It's not enough to know where your disc landed, if you want any hope of retreiving it, you have to figure out how to get to it. We even sent spotters ahead on especially risky shots. I had one land no more than 10 feet from where the spotter was standing. He was able to point out exactly where it landed, and where it will likely rest for a very long time. There was absolutely no way to get to it.
Playing from the rough is an important aspect of disc golf, but Giles Run takes that element of the game largely out of play.
The fairways are certainly fair, without the rough encroaching too much. But none of us are immune to bad shots, and the risk of losing a disc is present on nearly every shot at Giles Run. This can change the mentality of the round, where the thought process is more about keeping discs in your bag, rather than trying to hit a nice line. This takes a lot of the fun out of a round. With the distance, fun elevation change, and relative openness, this would be a really fun course to play super-aggressively, particularly in casual rounds where score isn't as important. But if you're playing with discs you're at all attached to, conservative is the way to play.
Navigation can be tricky for first timers. Hole 7 is tucked away behind the pond by itself, and then the long walk to 8 has no markings to assure you you're heading in the right direction.
The signage also leaves a lot to be desired. A few holes had map and distance info, but most have only the hole number marked. Especially on the longer layouts, where the basket is often not visible from the tee, more info at the tee would be really helpful.
Other Thoughts: I really want to be able to rate this course better, but I have to settle for a "good" rating. The layout is really done well, but when the signature element is the rough, it's hard to give the course more credit.
Be prepared, bring a map, wear long clothing that you don't mind getting a few tears in, and use discs that you're not especially attached to.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
She's a disc eater!
Pros: This is a beautiful course! One of the reasons I started playing was to get out in nature, but not just hiking. This course is perfect! You will walk a bit, but the scenery and layout is beautiful!
I really liked holes 4 and 13/14. Hole 4 is elevated tee across a narrow ravine to a basket off to the right. You have to have a straight shot to get there. Reminds me of ball golf tees. 13/14 is really open, but the baskets are guarded by the woods - 13 the woods are on the right hiding the baskets and ditto for 14. But there is also an old abandoned barn and silo which are beautiful and very scenic!
This is a technical course, especially for beginners. It requires a lot of different shots and approaches, which helps me as I'm learning.
Cons: So the other reviews say it, and I'll repeat it: thorns and ticks. The front 7 holes are easy to access lost discs. Once you cross to 8-16, if a disc rolls into the woods, it isn't pick it up, it's chop it out. I wish I would have taken a picture. It isn't little thorns plants that you can brush aside. It's thick, woody, tangled masses of thorns. One guy who was playing saw his disc and said, "Nope." I looked and it would have literally taken a chainsaw not to rip your skin off.
Also, when you get to the 4th hole baskets, you will see about 5 sets of baskets. 4/5/6/17/18 all share a field. Make sure you use a map (TAKE A MAP!) to figure out which baskets you are shooting at.
In addition, I only saw 2-3 signs. The boxes are nice concrete and all of them have posts with white boards, most have numbers, only a few had laminated course maps. I would pitch in to help buy nice map signs even, as it would really make things easier with some blind baskets.
Other Thoughts: This is a beautiful course in a nice park. The prison is literally next to it - you shoot towards the prison on #2.
Don't be a hero on this course - don't make this the course you swear you're hitting 400 foot drives on, because you will be like me and make a trip to the store to replace the 4 discs you lost afterwards.
The pro tees to silver baskets are serious stuff. Especially 16 - anyone who says they even pared that hole is a pro or a liar. It's 910 feet with two blind throws in narrow (see: 15 foot) gaps.
I would recommend tall socks, bug spray, lots and lots of water, extra discs, and something to poke through rough with - I took a 4 foot piece of 3/4" PVC pipe and that helped a lot. I met 3 other groups and all of them were searching for/had lost discs. The rough is rough - no forgiving.
As others said, there is a near 1/4 mile walk (1300 feet) from #7 to #8 and then from #16 to #17. But it goes down in a ravine with a little creek and is quite nice actually. There are some jaunts from various tees to tees (#14 to #15 to #16 come to mind) with some doubling back. But take a map and you should be good.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 4 Not
Wait till winter or pack in a machete
Pros: It is a beautiful course with a great mix of up and downs, long tight fairways and short open holes. Very challenging for the beginner.
Lost and Found dropbox
Lots of walking
Most holes missing yardage and hole diagrams.
No water fountain
Lots of walking
Other Thoughts: The worst of the thorns are on holes 8-16. You can play an short 9 holes hitting 1-7 and then go to 17 & 18.
Lost 3 disc playing #9&10. Found four ticks when I got home, picked three of my clothes while playing. I was wearing long pants, long shirt and hat.
I'd go back on a nice winter day probably take a machete as well.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Fun beauriful course, but the rough is bad
Pros: Two large concrete tees and two permanent basket positions on every hole with widely varying distance between the four setups. Course is in a scenic park and has nicely mowed fairways that are mowed fairly regularly (the grass is occasionally shaggy, but never too long). The course is set among some nice rolling hills, with a large variety of distances and shot shapes. There are some holes that you always try to ace/birdie, while there also a handful of legitimate two-shot holes to reach the basket (hole 16 from the long tee is probably a good three-shot hole to reach the basket). Most of the holes are fairly open, with just enough obstacles to provide some challenge or force you to work the disc one way or the other. Course makes pretty good use of the elevation in this park. Hole 4 is a fun shot over a valley with a tight gap in the trees to reach the other side of the valley. Hole 12 is the only other really tight hole on the course and is a fun tunnel hole through a bunch of trees.
Cons: The thorns. The thorns. And, oh yeah, the thorns. They are on almost every hole. On some holes, they are pretty thin, but on others they are really thick. I used to always wear jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, and carry an old 3-iron I don't use anymore to help extract discs from the thorn bushes. The thorns are especially ferocious on 15 ad 16 for the long tees/baskets.
Other Thoughts: Overall, I really thought the course design here was fun. If it weren't for the thorns, this course would probably be a 4.5, but going in to the thorn bushes even 2 or 3 times a round sucks the fun right out of it. After playing this course regularly for a couple seasons, I got tired of it, and started playing the other area courses to avoid the thorns. Print off the map for your first trip or two around this course. There are a couple of tricky navigation spots, particularly between 7 and 8 and then again between 16 and 17, as there is a decent length walk through a small valley and across a river to get between these holes. As a hiker, I never minded the walk, and even enjoyed it, but it is something that you should know about before playing your first round here.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Run Giles Run
Pros: 18 beautiful mostly open but challenging holes with nice dual concrete tees and baskets and tee signs. Excellent use of the terrain, rolling elevation and unique features of the property to create a variety of looks. Well defined fairways and rough creating great risk vs reward choices. Course was manicured like a ball golf course.
Cons: The rough is quite rough with lots of thorns, some poison ivy, and a prison fence. High probability of losing a disc or more, not a good course for beginners to cut their teeth on, or literally cut their body up from the thorns. Hole 3 plays a bit close to the parking lot. Navigation is little tricky in places. No bathrooms or water.
Other Thoughts: I played long to long in some 30+mph winds which made this course play very tough as it's mostly open with lots of rolling elevation, fast greens, and punishing rough. Despite the old prison which is now a bible camp, the property is quite scenic and has a bit of a menacing character to the course. It's quite deceiving looking at many of the holes from the tee because of the straight forwardness of the mostly open and defined fairways, but you really don't want your disc to land in any of the roughs that tend to sneak up on you in places. One of my fav's was hole 2 where I lost my firebird over the prison fence on a 50' putt that boomeranged back over my head from the wind howling up off the lake up a huge fast green to the basket. Luckily there is a guard at the bible prison who was nice enough to retrieve my disc and give it back to me. He said that happens quite often. Hole 4 was a tight valley shot I liked, deuce-able and quite bogey-able. Hole 6 is one of those beautiful deceiving holes throwing from an elevated tee 426' to the basket on top a peninsula with rolling elevation away to the rough and pond. I was fairly confident with my drive as it left my hand, however my adrenaline was pumping as I couldn't stop watching the disc to make sure it didn't veer off into the abyss and it ended up parked. After finding hole 8 it's a monster uphill par 4. The rest of holes take you through a mix of elevation and fairway directional changes and some scattering of trees with the always present rough on the sides that take a mental toll on your game with a variety of hole lengths from a long tough ace run to monster downhill par 5 loaded with risk vs reward.
I generally prefer some more wooded courses, but I'd recommend Giles Run to any competitive player that can keep a disc in the fairway and wants a challenge in the Nova area. The long to long layout however should have a warning like Beth Page's Black course "The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers." Beginners should play any of the other courses in the area unless they are masochistic.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
I love this course
Pros: Two pins and two tees on each hole give you several different ways to play and cater to different skill levels. The baskets are sturdy Mach 3 types and the tee boxes are concrete. There are a wide variety of hole types here, from short ace runs to 1000 foot grip and rip holes. There is a good amount of elevation change on this course for the area. The course is almost always empty and I've never had to wait more than a minute or two here. The area is quite beautiful as well.
Cons: Thorns and lots of them. If your disc is more than ten feet off the fairway, prepare to venture into them. I have a specific pair of jeans and a ratty shirt I always wear to this course, as the thorns will snag even denim. The course layout is confusing for first-timers. The signage is only so-so, with some holes missing a good deal of info. Ticks are everywhere in the summer.
Other Thoughts: Most holes are fairly wide open, but there are a few that have either tight fairways or some trees to make it interesting. I'd recommend printing out the map if this is your first time playing the course, but you can also find your way by paying careful attention to the arrows on the baskets and some on the ground. There is a long (but enjoyable) walk after hole 7 and again after 16. There are trails in the park that mountain bikers use; you won't really have to look out for them while playing but be aware of them when you're walking from hole to hole. I see people with their dogs here all the time, so it must be a good place to bring them. Please pack out what you bring in, as I've been noticing an increasing amount of bottles next to tees recently.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Adventure at Giles Run
Pros: Giles Run has professional tees/baskets as well as Recreational tees/baskets. It has something for players of all skill levels. There are good signs at each hole indicating distance and basket location. The course is near highway I95 making it convenient if you are traveling nearby, less than half and hour from Washington D.C. Plenty of friendly disc golfers on the course helped me find my way around and even letting us play through! Lovely use of elevation and terrain. I love this course!
Cons: Needs a course map for first time players. Thick thorny growth around several holes making it difficulty to recover discs without getting stuck/slashed. I saw other disc golfers bloodied by these thorns, myself and my friend were bloodied by thorns, in Winter.
Other Thoughts: Park has a small playground for kids. The park also has running and mountain biking trails. A beautiful park! I will definitely play again if I am in the area.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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