The Chessboard of Disc Golf
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Iron Hill's Gold layout, par 72, is the world's standard disc golf course for championship level competition. The course requires a mix of controlled aggression & calculated finesse off of every tee and towards every approach. More than anywhere else, Iron Hill conditions its throwers to mentally navigate its bumpy and wooded terrain one shot at a time. I know that's cliche, but not one hole at this monster of a layout allows its players to ever assume par! So if your looking for the ultimate disc golf challenge and adventure, Iron Hill County Park in Newark, Delaware is awaiting you and your pretty plastic...
Cons: Due to the number of trees that encompass the course, there are a few winter months where your disc may want to hibernate under the leaf fall that occurs. A spotter ahead can easily alleviate this issue.
Other Thoughts: For those disc golfers not up for the more mentally and physically challenging Gold layout, Iron Hill offers a shorter Red layout that is loaded with par 3s. And two intermediate (in length alone) layouts, White & Silver, that play closer to low the 60s.
Gold: longest (gold) tee boxes to gold banded Disccatchers.
Silver: longest (gold) tee boxes to all silver baskets.
White: shorter (white) tee boxes to gold banded Disccatchers.
Red: shorter (white) tee boxes to all silver baskets.
Note that the Disccatchers on #12 & #14 play shorter than the silver baskets on each hole, respectively.
Bonus: Iron Hill is free to play.
Please pick up after yourselves, thank you.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
My Favorite Beatdown
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This is definitely a course I would identify as playing fairly, especially for a woods course. From the teepads, landing zones, and baskets, it is apparent what the intended and preferred line is.
Iron Hill is unusually secluded for how large it is. Aside from some early holes winding near some other park facilities, two in the middle near a gated parking lot, and occasional access trails, it's easy to play a full round immersed wholly in the golf. In the same way, there is minimal interaction between holes-- it would be very unusual to end up on another hole's space, despite no long transitions between holes.
Iron Hill has the least OB of any high-SSA course I have ever played. That said, there are numerous ways to add strokes, mostly by being off the fairway. This method of designing feels real and authentic--I must congratulate the designers and those responsible for maintenance on the course's quality and condition (and the fortuitous nature of the land available). Many other gold-level courses test one's ability to avoid OB or throw far; Iron Hill tests your ability to throw controlled shots with an appropriate finish on them, often at the expense of distance, and your ability to string together multiple good shots in a row. Scoring well, or even playing bogey golf on the long-long layout, requires a diverse game and dispensing with your ego every now and again. Really and truly, I see this as the future of championship golf.
Signage is excellent. Distances and diagrams were clear and accurate. Paths to subsequent teepads are marked, if not self-evident. Teepads, even the gravel short pads, are long and adequate. Both sets of baskets are in good condition. Parking is ample on all but the busiest days. I do not know of any permanent restroom facilities.
A lesser designer would have gone ham on elevated baskets on rocks. Instead, there's only a couple, tastefully made instead of gimmicky. The few that are elevated are either on a wide plateau or form an interesting course feature--they're not elevated for their own sake. This places the focus and execution more on the fairway shot.
There's a gradient in rough--if you're a little off the fairway, recovery is possible; if you're a long way off, you're hosed. Playing controlled shots is rewarded, making this course largely uncheatable.
Cons: For all of my enthusiasm for Iron Hill, I can empathize with reviews calling every hole the same. Even after several plays, the middle of the course runs together in my head. Each hole is distinct, but there's a definite theme in requiring the toughest shot in disc golf-- the straight one. Iron Hill will (invariably) beat you down but, if you've got a hint of hubris or masochism, you'll crave more.
Update, 12/2014: I retract my previous statement about capricious greens and/or fairways. Designer/volunteers are working on removing select trees.
Other Thoughts: Reading through previous reviews and the forum makes it apparent how polarizing this course and style of play is. If I lived a little closer I would play here every day: it is a course that teaches and requires REAL golf shots, knowledge of one's discs, appropriate assessment of risk and personal abilities, and provides all the tough love you can take.
Hole 17 wouldn't be nearly as magical if it was in the middle of the course. Unfortunately, its tightness, elevation changes, and landscaped green make hole 18 a comparative letdown, despite being a very good hole itself. As it stands, though, holes 1-4 are some of the easiest on the course, and the difficulty crescendos to holes 16-18, which are some of the most challenging I can remember playing.
Update: I'm calling Iron Hill a 5 now; previously I'd whined about a couple greens and fairways being a little screwy. I think I was partially right, but ain't nobody figuring out this course without a few tries. This is real golf. This is manipulating your discs. This is learning how to solve an impossible puzzle.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
This is the best i've played
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Concrete tees are big and in excellent shape, signage is excellent and descriptive.
-Its hard to describe how well done the layout of the course is. Multi shot holes (which is most of them) often require a different shot for the second shot than was required off the tee. Planning your round and thinking through your strategy is just as important as throwing your shots here.
-Every holes is birdiable with good execution or bogeyable with poor execution. It's an honest golf course that will provide you with a real assessment of your game.
-Lots of risk/reward decisions. If you have a tee shot that isn't quite what you want you will often be faced with a heroic option to give you a birdie look or an option that still requires a good shot but will lead to a par.
-Great use of elevation and awesome protected greens
Cons: For me, this course is everything i'm looking for when i come to play golf.
Other Thoughts: I play competitively and like courses that are fair and demanding and to me this is the definition of a championship golf course. My favorite holes on the course include:
1) Choice to layup to the corner with a straight shot or try to get around the corner with a strong forehand or turnover. multiple lanes to the pin for your second.
4) Open tee shot (left to right, great roller shape) that you still need to place accurately to have an angle to the tight chute into the woods that feeds the pin.
9) tunnel shot off the tee to a landing area 270 feet or so off the tee. Then the hole doglegs right to a very well protected green.
16-18) I love that the course has this gauntlet of holes to finish. A par 6 (17) and two of the toughest par 4s on the course. You have to maintain your focus and finish strong or a good round can fall apart here.
I try to place here once a week, every week. I appreciate all the work that has gone into this course and made it what it is.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Not for the foolish or fainthearted
Pros: Bring your A game. Go into this course thinking you are going to get beat down (unless your a 1000 rated player) because you will and you will not be able to enjoy this course if you are frustrated after every hole. This course truly is a monster and you have to play it as so the rough is rough and fairways tight and long. This is the kind of golf that everyone should be able to experience. This is the kind of course where you will be panting before you walk up to your lie. You better be ready!
Shot variety- this course required every single shot in your bag and more! If i remember i used every (20 or so) disc in my bag multiple times. You had the opportunity to throw tomohawks, thumbers, rollers, turnovers, and skip shots. These are usually shots that you will not have the chance to throw on an average course. However this course requires them at one point or another.
This course will challenge your mental and physical games. This is the kind of course where you will frequently encounter 50+ foot elevation changes as well as 600+ foot holes. On some holes you feel like the hill will never end. You jump in joy as you see a downhill or hole under 400 feet. The distance variety here is great! You have 800 foot holes throgh the woods as well as 250-400 foot shots straight up a hill. Even the short ones are demanding.
Hole variety- in my opinion this courses open holes really compliment the wooded holes nicely. The open holes had enough trees and all had a number of routes you could take.
Rock outcroppings-the rocks added an interesting element as well as some natural beauty to a course. I thought the rocks were used very well in the design with just enough baskets guarded by rocks as well as some sweet basket positions for the silver baskets place on top of some of these outcroppings. rocks in the fairway could either be you friend or enemy. They could keep you close to the baskets as well provide some frustrating rollaways.
Tee signs and amenities- the tee signs were top of the line and show ways to the next tee as well as much needed distance and elevation changes. They showed the hole very well and baskets and tees were marked well too. Most holes had benches. They were placed strategically right after the holes with massive elevation changes. There was a message board st the start of the course up to date with current ddg tournaments and events as well as including a course map for first timers. Two practice baskets at the start. These were place a good amount apart to require some rricky lines and approaches between each. They give you a good look at what the course is going to be like.
Four distinct layouts- each layout was clearly marked and from how it appeared each tee to basket layout provided its own challenges and separate lines. The distance variety made by these layouts is very accommodating to all skill levels
Cons: Between 2-3 and 3-4 it is a little tough to find the next hole. A couple strategically placed arrows could fix this very easily.Some silver tees did not have tee pads as i saw. They were natural instead. I could see them getting slippery after a day of rain.
Other Thoughts: This course is great! It truly lived up to the hyped and i had a fantastic time at this course. I ope to be back as soon as possibel
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Takin' it up a few notches
Pros: There is a review noting comments on every hole, so I won't bother with detail to this level.
I had a blast at this course. I grinned so hard and for hours, it hurt. The course is very well and lovingly cared for. The design and layout was carefully thought out and implemented. The signs and hole to hole directions are very easy to follow. Once you find hole 1, the rest is a piece of cake. There are also two, count them, two practice baskets.
To characterize this review, I am a player who picked up the sport three years ago on a lark. I was a long time ball golfer (so I understood the game), that has developed and continues to develop skills with a frisbee. I typically hover around a 960 round on courses that are routinely used for A tier events.
The first statement that needs to be made about this course is bring your 'A' game and water, irrespective of layout chosen.
There are four challenging and fun layouts on one course, with the multiple tee pads and pins. Each one provides different elements. The long pad to long tee positions are technical with a distance element as well. I had the opportunity to play this course two days in one week, 72 holes total and three of the four layouts. The first day, long to longs got my goat a bit. Day 2 needed a replay of long to longs for a bit of redemption.
I used every shot developed for my game thus far. So...forehand and backhand, hyzer and anhyzer, a few skamahawks, thumber flops and skips, flicks and tomahawks. It is rare that I pull out every disc in my bag on a course, however over the two days and four rounds, everyone got a go at something. Part of it was trying different strategies on the same layout/hole and some of it was due to circumstance.
A few of the holes you can fairly safely risk a full on driver push. The key is to throw with-in your accuracy limits of drivers. Be sure to consider placement over distance (depending on the layout played and the extent of woods encountered), as it will save you strokes. To that point, getting off the fairway on some of the holes can create very difficult recovery situations.
I very much look forward to playing this course again. If you are in the area, do not miss this one!
Other Thoughts: I played two different afternoons, with wonderful low 70's weather. A concern about this course reputation and being by U of D, is it would be very very busy. In two days and 36 holes each day, I was held up once by a foursome. I would guess on both days combined the top number of players during my play was about 40 other golfers. This number was due to a doubles event. At one point on the first day, I had the feeling of standing on this monster course and there was not a soul around for miles.
I did meet three separate groups and one individual that live locally. All were very friendly, respectful, and open. I got some great tips, advice, invites to play along, and information on other events in the near future. On top of that, I happened to meet Jimi Mcllvain as well on the course. I consider him and Disc Golf Monthly responsible for bringing this course to my attention.
Meeting other friendly disc golfers is not always the case, unfortunately. The fine locals at this course certainly helped cement a stellar experience. Thank you to each of you!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
25 Helpful / 1 Not
In My Top 10
- Championship Level Golf. I played Iron Hill from the Gold Tees and it was AMAZING. One of the best championship level disc golf courses I have ever played… on par with Nevin and Idlewild in terms of the extremely demanding shot requirements and extreme punishment for poor execution or decision making. There were plenty of Par 4's and 5's with very precise landing zones; I LOVE this kind of golf!
- Short Tee / Long Tee / Short Pin / Long Pin. Iron Hill had permanent long and short tees and pins on every hole, or nearly every hole, giving 3-4 ways to play each hole. I played the long-to-longs, while my girlfriend played the short-to-shorts and we were both able to have a great time while playing at relatively the same speed.
- Navigational Aids. The course had great tee-signs at the long pads that really help explain the hole, distances, OB's, etc… I never questioned the information on them and the hole diagrams accurately represented the shape of the shot. The tee-pads had painted rocks with numbers to easily identify them as the Gold or White pads. There were plenty of next tee-sign arrows around each green pointing the way to the next appropriate tee-pad, be it the short or long or both.
- Beautiful Park. The course plays through an old set of woods with some really large trees, huge tulip poplars and oaks lined nearly every fairway. The course also had some great rock outcroppings, and they were used well in the courses design.
- Right Over the Border in DE. If you're a course bagger and a state bagger and you want to bag Delaware while driving past Baltimore or DC or Philly… Iron Hill is the place. It's the first exit on your way into Delaware off the 95 - What a way to be welcomed to Delaware!
I really can't think of any. This course was phenomenal and blew me away. If I had to get technical, I would say:
- Short Tees need Enhancement. Some of the short tees were natural (if I remember correctly) and did not have the added amenities of benches and tee-signs. Players playing the shorts would have had to visit the long tee-pad on every hole to verify hole information from the tee-sign there.
- 2 Feet One Way or the Other. It seemed like 2 feet one direction or another often made all the difference in the world. I would seemingly throw a perfect drive, only to arrive on-site and find that my next shot would have been easier if I would have landed a couple feet away… the difference between having to thrown an easy hyzer vs an s-turn, a soft anhyzer vs a sidearm skip shot, or simply a regular shot vs some kind of forced overhand. However, that's woods golf and I enjoyed the shot-making requirements I was presented with.
- I'm in Love. I really enjoyed Iron Hill. I could easily rank Iron Hill from the Golds in my personal Top 10, which is definitely a testament to the courses quality. The championship level of the course: length + difficulty + shot shaping requirements + opportunities for punishment + Par 4's and 5's + above average amenities = AMAZING disc golf course… and then you add the beautiful natural setting of the park itself and you get a top level course.
- My Disc Score: I'm going to go as big as the holes at Iron Hill and give this course a 5'er. In DGCR, a 5 Disc course is defined as the best of the best… Of the 200+ courses I have played, Iron Hill ranks in my personal Top 10 which must make it one of the "best of the best". On my 10 day, 10 state, 16 course road-trip (which included Maple Hill, Tyler State Park, Sabbattus, and Warwick), Iron Hill was my personal favorite course, which again would make it the "best of the best" when you consider the reputation of those courses. Therefore, for all the reasons I mentioned above, to help bump its disc score and reputation a little bit, and simply because it deserves it - 5 Discs.
- My Score: I proudly finished +1 with a bogey on Holes 17 and 18.
25 of 26 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 21 Not
My Favotite course
Pros: Great tees, tight fairways, great baskets, amazing baskets, par 3's,4's,'and 5's the list goes on. this course is perfect and a challenge.
Other Thoughts: Im so lucky to live within ten min. of this amazing course
1 of 22 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 18 Not
Pros: this course is the new age of disc golf and probably 5 years ahead of its time..you need to stop thinking about 2s as.. birdies when you play here beacuse there are only maybe 2 for the average golfer..
Cons: no much negative here,,except losing a disc getting a 6 or 8 which is all controlled by the thrower
1 of 19 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 11 Not
Pros: Everything. Well thought out course that will challenge you physically and mentally. Signage is excellent as well.
Cons: Blue and White tee pads seem like an after thought.
Other Thoughts: It is a very long course but that can not be counted as a con because the length is well thought out and not repetitive. The rough is very forgiving as well.
2 of 13 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 3 Not
White Tee review
Pros: It seems like a lot of thought has gone into the white tees . They don't feel like an afterthought and you still get the challenge of the hole without the length. The pars on the whites is great as well. As an intermediate/ beginner, you can walk away from the round with your head held high. You can shot a decent score on the course and be proud of it (For example, par 6 on 17 is really fair for an intermediate/ beginner- I can see myself actually birdieing it one day).
A lot of reviews say this course in repetitive, I don't think so. There are open field shots (3&4), great downhill holes which are all finesse (7 &13) and holes that will bring you to your knees (yea, I'm talking about you #8 and #10).
Signage is awesome--feels like ball golf.
Overall, really good stuff here for all levels.
Cons: Tee boxes aren't as good as the gold tees…. Especially with all the wet weather. With all the positives, I'm not complaining.
Other Thoughts: You can throw in the 270'-310' range and have fun on the whites here.
Special note to noobs like me-- because it is woody, you wouldn't lose alot of discs here.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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