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.
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.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Some kind of Monster
Pros: Two tees, two pin positions. Excellent tee pads. The long pins make for a challenging round. Great scenery, the back nine is especially serene. I play often during the week and there are no crowds at all.
Great targets with tall flags are easily located. The fairways are well maintained. Excellent tee signage (a few missing).
Nice elevation changes. A good mix of uphill, downhill, and gentle sloping fairways.
Cons: As mentioned the thorns here are of Titanic proportion. If you're not careful you can easily lose a disc. More on that below.
The flow is a little funky - a lot of backtracking. I guess the course designers had to do what worked best given the lay of the land and I actually enjoy the hikes but this might not be so inviting to all.
A lot of courses allow for 9 holes that will lead you back (or close to) the parking lot allowing for a refuel. Once you tee off from 6 at Giles there's no coming home until it's over. Be prepared to hike. Once your out there - your out there so prepare in advance.
Navigation is tricky. The few times I've played here I've seen noobs getting all mixed up. Print the map, it works!
A few tee signs aren't marked so the map also helps in finding some of the longer pin positions (if you've never played here).
The place is not without it's litterbugs.
Other Thoughts: Though the thorns and blackberry thickets truely are oceanic in size they won't come into play that often for the skilled, technical golfer. I have nearly lost a few but managed to find them without much fuss, except for one which took a good 25 minutes to find and it wasn't even in the really rough stuff but just buried itself in low overgrowth. Indeed a black hole for discs as mentioned in another review.
The thorns seem to thin out in the winter but are in fact still quite treacherous.
There are disc retrieval trails cut into many of the larger patches which helps a lot, but still. BRING A REACH EXTENDER. It'll save you all kinds of grief when you do (and you will) get caught up in those thorn thickets.
This course demands that you control your shots. Some (most) holes can be truely unforgiving to the less accurate.
5/long tee - if you can't anny it around the bend don't even try.
6 - A huge, big-air bomber from the long tee but too much hyzer & crosswind and bye-bye into massive thorns and/or pond. Spectacular but ugly!
Bring plenty of water and whatever else gets you through because as noted it's a long hike from 6 to 7 and on until you get back.
I love this course. I have a feeling the thorns were much worse a couple years back when the course was new. I've been playing Burke, Pohick, etc for a long time and I'm stoked that a top-shelf course has finally arrived in my back yard. I love Patapsco and Seneca in MD and I'd put Giles (almost) right up there with them. The challenge mixed with the vibe here make me want to come back again and again, and being 10 miles away really helps.
Giles can be brutal and if you love that sort of challenge you'll dig it the most.
"Giles drew first blood, sir. Not me."
Update, Jan 2011. I wrote this review in my honeymoon phase with Giles. While I haven't changed my review I did lower my rating to 3 from 4. After having played here numerous times now it seems more fitting. If the overall flow were better and more of the thorns were gone this place could be a 4.5. A minor tweak but still one of the better courses in the greater DC area.
This is more of a winter course for me now as that's when conditions are most tolerable. In the summer it's simply a nightmare.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Serving Time at Lorton Prison
Pros: 2 large concrete tees and 2 permanent baskets on each hole. Some really interesting holes such as #4 a tight but fair shot over a small valley, #6 and #16 are spectacular big arm holes with dramatic views of a large pond on 6 and of a huge expansive valley on 16. The actual Fairways were mowed and maintained. Some of the best terrain for disc golf with the constant rolling hills utilized on many of the holes. Provides quite a test of big arm accuracy as most shots are open with a premium on placement shots. A great test of big arm accuracy. It's very eery seeing the prison as you drive up..really sets a mood for disc golf. No problems with others on the course. Huge lot to park in.
Cons: Let's not beat around the bushes here. This course is the worst course I have ever played as far as thorns and shule. I cannot possibly describe the acreage of thorn thickets and thick shule this course was carved out of. I understand why the prison was placed here....I was picturing some convict trying to escape through these huge fields of thorns and brambles and figured if I could not wade 10 feet into the bush then perhaps the prison did not even have to lock the gates. Yes the thorns are that impenetrateable. These thorns are ever present on EVERY hole and surrounding the fairways from tee box to basket. They are 5-10 foot high and so sharp, thick and strong. Makes me shutter to even think of it. Basically this is a huge thorn thicket with fairways carved within it. I got lost a few times...navigation is an issue despite the excellent signage. On one of my lost sojourns I was walking in some deep hardwoods with a creek and steep banks and hills everywhere....I pondered why not some holes down here to escape the thorns and add some variety to an otherwise repetive thorny open course. I also saw amazing woods next to hole 4 not used. I got bloodied up here and was really discouraged at the comical extremeness of these brambles. The problem is that often you are standing on a big tee with plenty of open air before you and the hole is over 400-500 feet away and visible from tee so you really want to torque up a huge drive but the thorns that line the ground below and surround every fairway gobble up discs and laugh at those who try to retrieve their drivers. Your forced to do as I did, stop playing the long tees, and then stop playing the long baskets and eventually I just walked the last few holes....Frustrating!
Other Thoughts: I really had a tough time rating this course..part of me wanted to crucify it and give it a 1 disc but in all honesty and after driving back to PA I had to admit the course was very well designed and has some really good holes. I tried to imagine the course without the thorns and it was top notch. Hole 16 captures this course perfectly. Its an amazing downhill drive to a sloping field below. Standing at the basket you can look around and feel your surrounded by a huge pretty valley...then you realize thar miles around you there is nothing but deep thick thorns..it's almost like they are encroaching upon you as you stand there...I almost wanted to run! Hint: park opens at 7 AM and first hole is beyond the parking lot....you can see hole 3 from the lot. If this courses fairways get brushhogged maybe 10 feet wider every year I would love to come back in a few years....It has some exciting potential if those blackberries can ever be tamed.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Brutal, but brilliant
Pros: Course is well designed and provides a variety of holes. 2 tees and 2 baskets on every hole with perfectly level concrete pads. Good signage makes it possible to navigate if you forgot your map.
Practice basket near hole 1.
Course requires every type of shot and requires you to consider risk vs reward opportunities.
Cons: THORNS. giant nasty walls of thorns will devour your discs. the thorns also currently create alot of OBs. Chance of disc loss is near 100%. Bring a disc retriever.
Course is long. Even if you are playing alone, plan on being there for over 2 hours without a bathroom. The walks between 7 and 8 & 16 and 17 are very long and feel pointless.
If you are crazy enough to play the pro tees hole 16 is a 900+ ft. monster that will gladly eat your discs.
The amount of OBs begins to get frustrating and sucks the fun out of a challenging course.
Bicyclists zooming down path ways can be a danger to walkers on the path.
Other Thoughts: On your first visit be prepared to bleed, lose discs, become exhausted, and possibly pick of ticks. This is not a good course to introduce people to disc golf, and if you are bringing beginners play the "north 9": holes 1-7, 17 and 18.
This is a new course, it has lots of potential and will improve drastically as the thorns are beaten back. Play rec to rec or for a challenge play rec to pro, playing pro to pro is only a good idea if you are planning to win enough money to restock your bag.
The Pizza place in the plaza right before the course makes really good subs and everyone was raving about the meatballs.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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