Don't Expect a Birdie-Fest
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -This is one of the best-maintained disc golf courses in Maryland. It is well-mown, facilities are clean, teepads and baskets are in good condition: this is the case for pay-to-play.
-Patapsco blends open and wooded golf into a long and challenging set of layouts. The long-long ("Green Monster) and short-short layouts are, in my opinion, the best configurations, but each (including perhaps the "yellow" tees) offers something distinct. Several holes pose thought puzzles that may take several plays to figure out a viable attack. Having to think about stability, landing zone distance, and finishing angle add another level of interest to a course--Patapsco is scenic enough that the course alone is fun; having to self-caddy is a nice bonus.
-The most consistent theme I notice on the course is basket placement, especially on the long setup. Several are on steep slopes that, like elevated baskets, serve as their own hazard for poor execution. In some cases, it works--one such example is on hole 6, where a really good tee shot can get to the green, and the safest place to lay up is a log about 20 feet uphill of the basket--still a tester putt. In some other cases, the hole length an grade seem to result in everyone laying up, and the hole becomes tweener-y.
Cons: As much as I enjoy playing Patapsco, there are a few things that don't thrill me.
-Signage and navigation. My understanding is that PVSP doesn't want the permanence of signs set into the ground (see also: teepads). I rarely mark courses down for lacking amenities, but in the case of this "finished" course that has some navigation difficulties and whose reputation may attract out-of-town visitors, the scarcity of directional signage, hole diagrams, or distances makes several baskets or entire holes difficult to find.
-It's a shame that a course of otherwise high quality throws over the internal park road on four separate holes, with 5 & 10 paralleling the road. On busy weekends, I've seen all three major parking lots near the course full with cars flowing in and out, along with cars and horses using the roads. I'm not sure what the original space limitations entailed, and the course is developed and accepted in this condition, but I'd think it preferable to transition across roads without throwing over them.
-A couple holes could use more valid lines. Hole 7's tee shot to any of the three locations, 8's shot to the long basket, and 16's tee shot are three I really notice. On 7, the two longest positions effectively become tweeners (3/4 for B, 4/5 for C) because the primary gap is too small for the distance off the tee; many players throw without a definite correlation between "well-thrown shot" and "effective shot". Hole 8 has numerous evenly-spaced trees without a truly preferable line. 16 has one tree that everyone throws at and hopes to miss in the middle of an otherwise fair gap.
-Some of the routing for the green (long) baskets in particular makes them seem like an afterthought. One has to backtrack on 11 holes to the subsequent teepad.
-Hole 1 is a comedy of strange design decisions. It throws across a road, has a bailout hyzer option (on the long tee) only available to RHBH power throwers, has a baseball backstop right in the middle of the hole (an obstacle, but a very contrived one), and a has basket close to two meters above the surrounding ground (current PDGA specs call for 82 cm +/-6 cm). The concrete tube just looks ugly and out-of-place.
Other Thoughts: -The park has some other amenities to appeal to a wide variety of visitors. The trail network, in particular, is well-known throughout Maryland for bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians.
-Every now and again, it'll occur to me that this is a lefty course, then I'll throw a stable backhand on the next three holes. This is the disease of recency and sampling bias, but I think there are some hole sequences that may favor a particular throwing style.
17 has two choices off the tee, with plenty of trees and a punishing valley to navigate. It's the kind of hole I look at and my heart starts pumping. You can't cheat it and you can't bail out.
13-15 are a down-up-down sequence that play generously for the lefty. The shot-shaping required is well-timed after two wide-open holes. I will say, the backtracking is rough on these and Green Monster 13 & 15 are megatweeners for a gold-level player, but they're otherwise quality holes.
3 is a placement shot off the tee, then a touchy approach to a runaway green. It takes a few plays to figure out throwing angles and distances.
-This is one of the best courses in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic. It forces players to make quality shots and accept punishments for bad ones. With a few small changes, I would have no problem bumping to a 4.5. That's what my heart says already, but throwing over roads, lack of signage, and just a couple of plinko trees make this a solid four.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Objective Review from Out-of-towner
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I found myself in the greater Baltimore area and after playing down at Rockburn Branch, was looking for a bit more challenging course to play. Having never played here before, I was a bit wary to play because I read others' reviews regarding how it was to navigate the course. I attempted to obtain a map from the ranger office (11AM on a Monday) and was unable to do so because the Ranger was out. I did see a map through the window, sitting on a table. Alas, I digress. I followed the gps coords right to the parking lot and there is a map displayed on a bulletin board that I snapped a pic of with my phone. The course played naturally along two loops (front nine and back nine). Each hole has two tees and two baskets. Other reviewers noted these were hard to distinguish, but I didn't find this to be the case. Most of the longer tees were designated with a blue post and for most holes the two tees were only about 20 yards apart so it was pretty obvious for me which was the short one and which the long. The baskets were also fairly easy to spot. The silver/gray baskets are the shorter and the green baskets were the long. On a few holes I could not spot the green basket until I was at the gray basket, but this was not an issue since I opted to play short to short. The other pro I can offer is that while I don't claim to be a great player by any means, I don't usually find short to short to be challenging for me on courses that have this option. Not so for this course. For me, most of the short to short holes were still quite challenging averaging probably 350 or so. That said, the long to long probably averages 450 or so, if not longer. So my point is playing the long to long would be quite challenging for even pro throwers, since most of the time I play long to long.
I also think it is a pro that there weren't a lot of places where you could lose a disc. I have played those courses where even a moderately poor throw can land a disc in a 4' section of grass that can take a dedicated discer 30+ minutes to find. On this course, the ground was pretty clear of dense brush and finding a disc was pretty easy. The only exception I would provide is hole 11 since the field has a few areas where tall grass resides. But if you watch your disc carefully you should be able to find it in a few minutes with the help of your mates.
Cons: Not really a true con, but for a first timer the only trouble areas I found navigation wise was on the front nine. Moving from 4 to 5 is a bit tricky if you just look for the nearest set of tees after the basket. Directly across the road are the tees to hole 9 and we inadvertently threw to 8's basket. But when we got there and saw the 8 on the basket, we knew we messed up. No worries, turned around and saw 5's tees just 50 yards up the road from 9's tee. After you play 5, the only other hiccup is that 6's tee is across the road playing back. This may be bit confusing since the tees for 7 are close to the basket on hole 5. But as long as you look before you throw, you will see that the tees for 7 are labeled. This may seem a bit confusing, but the point I am trying to make is that as long as you refer to the map at the parking lot (take a picture and refer to it after every few holes or so) you will be just fine.
Other Thoughts: I read in one review that this course is a lot like New Quarter Park with greater elevation. I hazard to compare courses because they are all so unique in their own regard. But I think the comparison is pretty good. It is also a bit like Mt Airy DGC in Ohio as well in that it has a few open holes and some wooded ones as well with a few mixed uphill and downhill holes.
A final thought is that I think it is good that they added a third T at most of the holes for the kiddies. I didn't know what they were at first, because they are just two cinder blocks in the ground, but after looking for a disc at hole 11, a dad and his daughter caught up to me and we finished playing together. His daughter played from this third set of Ts and I thought it was a really good touch to make the course truly playable for all walks and ages.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
60 Throws in the Valley
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Patapsco Valley State Park has a disc golf course that can be tailored to fit your arm, or just give you a new look. If 4.25 rating was an option, I would place it there. Right between excellent and phenomenal. There are dual tee boxes that are flat and level, and dual baskets on all of the 18 holes. I played long tees to short baskets, and wound up shooting a 60. Only deuce was hole 12. I don't remember water coming into play at all. The short tees might have let me get closer to par, but the longs were worth it on some of the elevation holes. My favorite holes were mostly in the middle of the course, like 7-10 and 17 and 18 in particular. I actually began on the back nine, and 10 is a better beginning hole, but I liked the front 9 a little better overall. Both halves begin and end near the parking lot. There are several places throughout the course with slight to considerable elevation changes, and and about half of the holes are moderately wooded also. The average holes on this course are a stiff enough challenge, but the great holes are what would make me come back for more. I loved 9 and 10, and 18 was a pretty good finisher also. Great downhill shots with enough trees to keep it interesting. Very interesting. Park is mostly clean and free of litter.
Cons: There is a cost to enter the park, more for out of staters like me. The disc golf course is in the PVSP - McKeldin area, and of course I made the error of not specifying this in my GPS. This results in extra 25 minutes driving from the other PVSP - Hollofield area it guided me to. I had a course map, and still got lost looking for the next hole more than once. Paying attention could have helped, and so could a few helpful signs. There are holes that play across roads, not ideal but not a major problem. All holes were ok at minimum, but holes like 1 and 11 are a bit dull in comparison the rest. To open and flat for me to get excited about. Grass was mowed, and the rough was covered with heavy clippings on hole 11, causing lost disc delay for me, on a wide open hole. There are saplings that will eventually impact this hole also Constant noise from a nearby gun range, they were busting a LOT of caps on the Sunday afternoon I was playing at PVSP. No trash cans, park goers must pack trash out with them.
Other Thoughts: I am not accustomed to seeing dual baskets on courses where I live, but I liked the added dimension. This course was well worth the price of admission. The State Park is expansive and other recreation and camping is available in the vicinity. Sort of similar to New Quarter in Williamsburg, VA but with more elevation.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Pattatat Sco Field
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Layout - Patapsco plays through a state park which gives you multiple landscape elements. The course offers two permanent pads and pins so each hole has four ways to play it. For the purpose of this review we played all long pads and a mixture of long and short pins; however i did see all of the long pins.
The course starts off in more of a park style area with more open/sparse tree type holes playing near other park features. It crosses a park road and goes in to the woods where some more technical holes and sharper elevation changes start to come in to play. The front nine rounds back to the parking lot and the back 9 plays out through a more rolling hills open pasture area with larger trees coming in to play.
The long course (long pads to long pins) dubbed the green monster shells out an extremely challenging gold level beating. Most holes from the long pad uses longer distances to help create challenge however the long pins are usually backed up/tucked in a tight corner or area that is very hard to access off the tee or on approach.
I like how the course is balanced in terms of hole type. I don't think it's a course that makes you use a lot of imagination or a large repetoire of shots. It's more the this is the line hit it or don't type in the more technical areas. When you get to the more open holes you have more of a variety of options due to the space but from the long pads you mostly just need to be able to be accurate over large distances.
Solid rolling hill type elevation changes throughout the course that help create challenge. There's some holes that make you throw really straight going up or down which isn't easy. Some of the green areas are positioned on sharper and quicker elevation changes which can offer up some challenging putts.
There's a few really awesome holes here that make it easy to see why it's a favorite in the area. The finishing hole is especially awesome and a great way to end the round. Big downhill bomb that starts in the open and goes down in to the trees where the green is situated.
Equipment - - The pads are crush and run and large, really nice size wise. The baskets are in good shape and caught well. The long and short pins are different colors so you can distinguish which is which. There's a course map at the beginning you'll want to examine if not take a picture of if you didn't bring a map.
Atmosphere - A little over half the holes are in a more secluded area away from other park activities and roads. Overall the park is nice and well maintained. Not overly scenic but more of a nice quaint little area.
Cons: Layout - There's no huge problems with the course overall. I think the first few holes that are in the more shared area of the park are a bit on the boring side and not as interesting. A few of the more open holes on the back 9 are to open for my taste as well.
I do think the challenge on some of green monster seem to be created through overly tight approaches or basket locations that aren't really all that accessible off the tee. It is meant for gold level players but in some cases even if you have the distance to get there you'd need an almost perfect shot to be inside the circle.
The park roads come in close proximity to a few holes and in some cases some blind situations where you can't really tell if a car is coming when you're throwing near or across the road.
The flow of the course can be confusing in some places due to backtracking and long walks. This is compounded by the lack of teesigns on the course so you basically have no real idea where you're throwing in a few places. The shorter pins are usually easier to see but the long pins are green and blend in so you basically need to know where the are before teeing off. That got annoying so we started to play the shorter pins in some cases.
Another thing I noticed is that on some holes the long and short pins weren't that far apart and didn't create much of a difference in hole difficulty. I enjoy courses that offer multiple permanent pin placements but in some cases you have to ask what's the point if they're going to be not that much different.
Equipment - As stated above there are no teesigns for each hole and to me this is a huge drawback to the course for out of towners who don't know the layout. We would of liked to play all of the long pins but in some cases you just couldn't figure out where they were unless you walked more than halfway down the fairway.
Atmosphere - It's not the most scenic or remote course and that takes away from the experience a bit. It just doesn't have the wow factor truly great courses have.
Other Thoughts: Patapsco is a really solid course and definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. If you want a challenge the green monster will definitely deliver but the option of playing shorter pads or pins makes this course playable by a lot of different skill levels.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Patapsco Gives You Options!
Pros: With two pads and two baskets per hole, Patapaso Valley DGC always give the player the option of playing the easier layout or the more challenging Green Monster or something in between. On a long hard day of disc, playing along I chose the short to short route but wasn't always sure which basket or tee pad I was using. They're not all that clearly marked.
The park is a lovely piece of greenery with rolling elevation. Fairways are mowed with the fringe roughs usually just taller grass with the true rough a thicker mass of bushes.
The courses forces you to throw accurately less you find yourself finding time looking for your disc. I did appreciate the variety of hole length and also the nice combo of lefty and righty balanced holes.
The tee pads were extra large but filled with sand. They tend to get rutted and are problematic when wet.
Cons: Playing alone, the navigation issue with the lack of signage was kind of annoying. I had to wander ahead at times to figure out which basket I was throwing at.
I'm not a fan of the sand filled tee pads.
$3 to enter the park for out of state isn't too bad. But it's not a PRO either.
Other Thoughts: With the combination of two tee pads and two baskets for each hole giving players four distinct challenges here at this beautiful park, it makes Patapaso Valley a top notch course to visit time and time again. I would have loved to have had the time to played all four options. Maybe I'll get a chance some time in my future.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 4 Not
Frying Eggs While Sleepwalking
Pros: Personal Rank: 105
A very enjoyable course - not one of those that blows me out of the water, just one that leaves a very pleasant taste in my mouth. It accomplishes this with well defined fairways, a variety of shots needed on each hole, good elevation and differing lengths of holes. Never did I approach a hole with an "oh, this hole again" feeling, rather an "alright, a new challenge," from long bombs to shorter technical holes makes for an overall well rounded course.
I definitely recommend this course, it was nice to have a guide, it's definitely one of those courses where some local knowledge helps. If possible you might want to find a local to show you around. Though I'm sure with a map I could have experienced this course solo just fine. If you're planning a trip through the area, make the stop, but I wouldn't necessarily make this a destination area with better options nearby.
Other Thoughts: After playing 1000 courses, I'm excited to share my opinion on some of my favorites. My top 100+ list can be found on my blog, my favorites list is at 110 of 1020 as of writing this review. Of all courses played, the top 1.5% receive a rating of 5, down to 6% is a 4.5, and 15% is a 4.0 creating a bell curve distribution. I apologize that my reviews are not as detailed as they have been previously. I have included the details as to why this course stands out to the best that my memory serves.
My personal criteria is very subjective, a gut feeling:
~Physical beauty stands out, both scenery and the beauty of each hole.
~Amenities don't mean much to me, it doesn't much matter if there's benches, concrete tee pads, or garbage cans.
~Technical design - How well designed are the fairways/airways and landing areas? Are there unique holes that stand out? Variety of holes - distances, shapes, elevation, tree density, rough thickness. Pars 4 and 5?
~I love extreme/adventure golf. Rugged and secluded courses stand out more than park style courses. In general I prefer more technical over more open.
~Local Scene. If I was involved in a tournament or league or met up with some locals and played the course multiple times I appreciate different aspects of a course.
~The main thing I ask myself is "Does this course make me want to come back?" if the answer is yes, it makes the list.
Thank you, enjoy my reviews and if you don't find this information helpful, please let me know what I can do to improve.
7 of 11 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 6 Not
My favorite course yet.
Pros: Nice variety of holes; you have a chance for long distance throws down a fairway, as well as threading trees (fairways are favored however). There are two skill levels of baskets and tees, so players both new and experienced can be challenged. Park is very well kept.
Cons: Admission fee is somewhat irksome, but not unreasonable. WARNING: the fee changes from 2$ per car on weekdays to 3$ per person on weekends, so be ready.
1 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
Really fun course
Pros: The course had a really nice layout with a wide variety of throws required. There were a lot of well protected baskets without any heavily wooded "pinball" holes. Good use of elevation and overall a beautiful park. The park was also very well maintained. Two tees and two pins on each hole, good variety. Tee boxes were all really big also
Cons: The main con and the reason that this course only gets a 4 from me instead of a 4.5 is the lack of good signs. Most tees had only a small wooden stump with the hole number and some didn't even have that. If I hadn't taken a picture on my iPhone of the course map posted near the parking lot I would have had a very difficult time navigating. Even with the pic I didn't know how long holes were which, while not necessary, is better than estimating. I have no problem with courses in pay to play parks. I feel good about contributing to the courses. However, with some money coming in for the course, the signs should be much better.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The course plays through a large park with well used rolling elevation changes. Many holes use the hills to add challenge and variety. There is a nice mix of a few field type holes with some rough and protected pins in play and lots of technical shots. There are two tees and two pins on every hole, most of which change up the shot length and shape quite a bit. This makes for lots of options on how to play the course with 4 distinct shots on every hole, offering appropriate challenges for different levels of players.
There is a really nice balance of hole shapes here, with a mix of left and right turning wooded holes and some shots that offer multiple lines. There is also a nice mix of hole lengths with the different tees and pins, the shortest layout offers some fun ace run shots, and the longest layout has lots of holes requiring long accurate drives. The park was nicely maintained when I played, with all the fairways mowed and cleared. The course loops back to the parking lot at 9, always a nice bonus when the land allows that design feature.
Cons: The tees were a little frustrating here after a recent rain. They seemed like they'd be fine when dry, but most had minor ruts and depressions that held water and turned the tees into muddy puddles. Signage is lacking here, both at the tees and between holes. Many holes are blind and you have to walk them to know where to throw and guess at the distances. There are some navigation issues as well, especially with tees that aren't always numbered. Some roads come into play throughout the course taking away from the natural feel and potentially causing safety issues.
Other Thoughts: The design of this course is great, especially with two pins and two tees. Every combination seemed to be a solid hole, a lot of thought went into this layout and it's cool to see that level of commitment by the locals and the park. The longest layout offers a great challenge to experienced players that tests all kinds of shots. The shortest layout is accessible to newer players, though it still has enough length and rough to potentially frustrate inaccurate throwers. The replay value is great here, with 4 levels of difficulty to choose from on every hole and beautiful wooded scenery.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 9 Not
Pros: This course has a great mix of open holes, technical wooded holes and elevation change. I was sceptical about the tee pads at first but after using them, I realized that they are perfect.
Cons: Playing the back tees to the Green baskets: all these baskets seem to be heavily guarded. a great drive left me with questionable up shots.
Other Thoughts: Its possible to 3 every hole in long locations. 2s are harder to come by.
1 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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