Embrace the Thorns!
4 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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Giles Run defines " risk reward" this is an adrenaline filled experience where you will pay! For your bad decisions.
-This course has a combination of long power holes and short technical ones, the one constant is that you have to stay fair if you want to avoid cuts and bruises.
-The open fields and beautiful views give you a sense of ball golf in a high end club.
Cons: - If this is your first time playing, the flow of the holes is not easy to follow so have somebody that has played before show you the way.
- If you are new to the game stay in the front of the course since you may run out of discs by hole number 13
- The signs have been disappearing lately
Again this course is the most exiting course I have ever played. Every time I go to Giles I know that I will get cut, I will probably lose a disc, find some kind of snake and it never gets old; every time is an adventure
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Great property with no exspenses spared. Lots of elevation change and challanging/hazard holes.
Cons: It's a hike. Plan on spending some time to do a full 18. Can be brutal in the summer. Thorns, thorns and more thorns.
Other Thoughts: have lost four disks here
2 of 6 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Best Course I've Played
Pros: There are two spacious concrete tee pads and two permanent very nice baskets on each hole. Because of this the course can be played four different ways to make it a challenging outing for any skill level. This level of variability in a single course is amazing.
This course can be a great test of distance if you throw from the pro tees to the pro baskets. AND no matter which tees you throw from or which baskets you throw to it is a great test of accuracy.
Maybe the best way to describe it is that you need to be very conscious of your fade control. Most courses are relatively forgiving if your throw happens to fade off the fairway a couple of feet, not here (see cons section).
There are now laminated tee signs on almost every tee (only one was missing) which are very helpful for the visiting player even if you do bring a map. They are very helpful because they are a reminder to carefully plan your shots to land them in the fairway. While this is always a disc golfer's goal it is a necessity for this course.
Additionally, this course has everything that you could want in a setting for disc golf. It is scenic, secluded and yet very accessible. It even has a bit of mystery with the abandoned prison nearby.
Cons: The earlier reviewers that mentioned the thorns, ruff OB, bugs and ticks were not exaggerating. The thorns are tough and if you don't see exactly where your disc goes into the rough it is gone (I learned that the hard way on hole 13). I forgot the bug spray and was harassed by "noseeums" during my entire round (played around 5pm) and when I was finished I pulled four ticks off my legs. The next time I played here I remembered the bug spray and the round was much more enjoyable. I think I only had one or two ticks on me.
However, these minor issues pale in comparison to the challenge, fun and beauty inherent in this course.
Other Thoughts: I had a map that I printed from this site and it was a great help. Navigation wasn't that difficult but I was glad to have it just to be sure that I wasn't walking all that distance in the wrong direction.
There was really only one place that was a little tricky to navigate. Between Hole 7 and Hole 8. There is a trail immediately behind the Hole 7 pro basket. If you follow that further into the woods you will see a creek down a gully on your left hand side. About 100 meters down this trail there is another trail branching off to the left down the hill to the creek. Take this trail and then cross the creek on the large rocks. On the other side just stay to left trail and you will come to a clearing and tee pad number 8. The rest is pretty easy and very easy if you have a map with you.
Had a personal victory yesterday while playing from the pro tees. I managed to complete Hole 16 in 5 shots. I followed this up with helping a local find his brand new R-Pro Boss on Hole 18. Lady Luck was kind.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Elite NoVa Course
Pros: Tee pads, signs, pro and rec baskets, length, upkeep, scenery, varied and challenging hole designs
Cons: Thorns, thorns, and more thorns. Could use a few more directional signs within the long transitions.
Other Thoughts: Finally, Northern Virginia has a high-end disc golf course in the same league as the esteemed Maryland courses. With great scenery, pro and rec long concrete tee pads, perfect signs, both pro and rec baskets, and especially its superior length and design, Giles Run is an elite disc golf course by any standard.
Most everything about the experience of playing Giles Run is interesting. First, the parking lot is overshadowed by a large prison. Then walk to #1 and there is a pro concrete tee pad, longer than any other I've seen in Virginia, with an exact and detailed topographic sign. Further along is a rec tee pad and another sign. Then the red rec basket, and further along a silver pro basket. The first hole plays down and to the right. #2 is uphill, and to the left. #3 is across a deep divide and straight. And this sort of varied and interesting challenge just continues right on through to #18. If you choose to play rec tee to rec baskets you'll be playing one of the most interesting little pitch 'n' putts ever, with most holes in the 200' to 300' range. Play pro tee to pro basket and you'll be playing multiple 500' to up to 900' holes with a legitimate par in the high 60s or maybe more. Along the way you'll need to throw up some steep hills, exert precise control on some sloping fairways, throw right, left, among the trees, in the open, and even a couple downhill and dangerous chucks. And every hole is well considered and well kept. As a big bonus, there's a nice run on the far side of the course of holes with really nice views, especially #15.
Nothing is perfect, however, and the big negative of Giles Run is the thorns. A considerable amount of work has been put into moving these thickets back, thus increasing the margin for error on most holes, but even so, losing a disc in these thorns is a distinct possibility. And trust me, going in after a disc more than a foot or so from the edge is not a reasonable option. The opportunity this nasty feature provides players, however, is the chance to learn to approach the game with a mindset of preservation, where you must carefully consider each and every shot, and learn to play exactly, or sacrifice your discs accordingly.
Giles Run is probably not the best place to learn the game, and would be tough on anyone as a home course - one that you played multiple times per month. The cost in lost plastic and blood would get old fast, I think. But for the best and most varied disc golf challenge in Northern Virginia, if not the whole state, Giles Run is definitely worth playing. The tee pads, length, signage, and varied hole layouts are truly top end, and a lot of the views are pretty nice too.
Note on walking cons noted in other reviews: I've never played a course that required as much walking as Giles Run, not even close, especially since I played the long version of the course. I probably burned more calories just walking from the basket at #16 to the tee of #17 than I do playing entire rounds at most courses. I don't consider this a negative, and didn't include it my cons section. But others may want to consider that a round here is going to take two to three times as long, and require exerting many times the physical effort, as the average disc golf round. These aren't long walks on flat land either, but rather up and down hills.
Favorite Hole - #16 - Exceptionally long hole with a great view from the tee plays along a narrow, downward sloping fairway for the first few hundred feet, and then becomes a still dangerous but more open downhill chuck for the closing few hundred feet.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course is not only one of the most beautifuly maintained courses, but it also plays very well. There are 2 sets of tee pads and 2 baskets for every hole, offering a different round each time. The course takes advantage of the amazing terrain. All holes are different and interesting. There is a pond to watch out for but it makes for a beautiful setting.
Cons: The only major con was the large thorn bushes that line almost every fairway. These will swalllow your discs and you might never get them out! I have also heard that the ticks are bad in the summer so watch out! The walk between 7 and 8 and back from 16 to 17 is very long and winds down a path and across a creek and back up a hill.
Other Thoughts: This course is one of my favs. There's a small playground and some picnic tables near the parking lot. Watch out for some of the people walking or jogging along the paths (they stayed out of my way though). The course is at the old Lorton prison which explains the intertangled thorns to keep people from escaping. It's nice, have fun! You might want to walk a few of these holes before you tee off just to make sure you know where you're throwing. Also you might want to have a spotter when making some shots so they can see where your disc lands if it goes off the fairway.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 1 Not
nicest all around course i've played in VA
Pros: This course has pretty much everything. Dual tees and dual baskets, with a score card that has the info for all four configs. fantastic cement tees i believe to be 6x12. Very detailed tee signs at both tees. Every basket has a wind flag with at least four around the park have wind guides on them to tell you if it's blowing at 6, 12, or 18 mph. The park is extremely well manicured and maintained. Every hole had what i can only imagine was the tournament putting circle painted on the ground, doesn't do much but
is a nice extra to give you a distance reference. Also a little kiddie park for the rest of the family if you got them and they don't want to throw.
Cons: I guess i didn't notice that there wasn't a bathroom but this is true. The only con i can complain about is the walks. If you park near 1 you have to walk a little to get back to you car if you park near 18 you have to walk to get to 1, then you have a bit of a walk between 6-7, 11-12, 14-15, and 15-16 rec. On top of those is the long walks from 7-8 and 16-17. The thorns and brush is lining just about every hole, so if you get off the adequate and well manicured fairways you could be in trouble.
Other Thoughts: I first played this course as it was a nine hole, and at that point it was prob 3-3.5. It has since been greatly added onto, I forget if they had dual tees the last time i played but added with the dual baskets give you lots of options for what ever mood you in. I wasn't feeling adventurous today so i played the rec to red, really just wanted to see the course again, and the new back 9. The thing that really makes this course is all the details, the awesome pads, the flags on all the baskets, the putting circles, the awesome and detailed signs, wind gauges, and the extremely well manicured fairways. Its hard to back seat course design but there were some nice hills and i would have liked to see a couple more like 16 rec. I'm sure, as it looked they made the right choices to make the best course, and in doing so have created one if not the BEST OVERALL course in VA
13 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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