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.
Thrill on the Hill
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Iron Hill is set in a great park for disc golf. On my list of favorites, though some would not agree. The fairways are primarily wooded, fair but not easy. Long concrete and short rubber or gravel tees, and two sets of baskets make it that much better. Not entirely flat, with gradual to noticeable elevation change on several holes. I liked the jagged boulders littering the first hole, and many places thereafter. Hole 3 and hole 4 are the most open and grassy, but tees and baskets play near the edge of the woods. Number 7 was one of the shortest holes, and it humbled me with the basket perched on a five foot tall pile of rocks protected by a cluster of young trees. Number 14 actually yielded my only birdie that round. Nailed the drive on 15, but I 3 putted my way to bogey. I played the (silver layout) long tees and short (Discatcher) baskets, and took a good whipping. Finished with a +8 (70) and felt like it was ok, for an over 8000 foot course. Only playing one round, I feel like I could play closer to par if I had been putting better. I had some really solid, long drives. There were chances for some par saves or birdies that I gave up through bonking trees approaching the target, or flat out missing makable putts. The consistent makeup and quality of this course is what I enjoyed. Layout was easy to follow, and markings are pretty good. Not any hole that I found boring, all fitting together very nicely. I will give the bump from 4 to 4.5 rating based on the extra baskets, good tees and signs, however a better than excellent, yet sub phenomenal, 4.25 is my true feel.
Cons: I didn't see the second basket on one or two holes, might have overlooked them. Not a signature hole, that shines above the others, despite high overall quality. Slightly repetitive, but not in a very bad way. Dogs are required to be leashed, if I remember correctly. Not that its a bad idea, but my dog protests.
Other Thoughts: I loved this course first time out, one great course for Delaware, to go with the others across the way in PA. The park was pretty clean with trash cans near the parking lot. A good size BBQ was going on, but the disc golf course was not busy on this beautiful evening, save for a few dog walkers. A young dude named Chris played the first 10 or 11 holes with me, providing some guidance and company. Iron Hill has some natural beauty that can be harsh in a disc golf sense. If you make shots, it can also be very satisfying. Solid all the way, for sure. Iron Hill is hardcore, and left me wanting more.
3 of 3 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.
Hard but Fair
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Great Signage
-Easy to Follow the layout of course
-Set in a beautiful park
-Nice long concrete tee pads
-A lot of variety in that you have multiple pins and tee boxes
-Get to use every disc in your bag
-Variety of types of holes: elevation changes and in and out of the woods adds to a lot of different scenic holes
-Easy lines to follow when throwing through the woods (not necessarily easy to hit, but easy to understand where you should throw)
-Plenty of space so that you wouldn't ever feel overcrowded by multiple players on a course
-You can tell that a lot of time and energy has been put into the maintaining of this course. Kudos to those that work on this course and make it enjoyable for others to play
-Rock lined paths, and stone created stairwells add to the character of this course
Cons: -There will be times where you will need to send a spotter to watch where your disc lands/you are supposed to go.
-Muddy, but to be expected after a lot of rain and in low places
Other Thoughts: My friends and I decided to come play this course as well as two others for a disc golf weekend in Delaware last saturday. We chose to start with Iron Hill to get the "hardest" course out of the way first. We were intimidated at first by the length of the card and seeing how many of the holes are over 500 feet long through the woods. However, once we began to play, we found that the course was very fair as long as you didn't have a drastic mistake. There are many times where you might be able to hit a tiny line and help move the disc down the fairway for the next shot, but sometimes playing it easier on this course will allow you to better set up your next shot. It is very true that being able to line up for your second shot can very much determine how well you score on each hole.
My friends and I are used to playing the two courses at Pinchot State Park in PA...we found Iron Hill very much to be like Boulder woods with an extra 200 feet per hole. We all expected to play a course harder than Quaker, but we all felt that Quaker is much more challenging because the room for error is so much less at Quake. If you went off the fairway at Iron hill, you still had a chance to possibly get a good throw out to move it down the fairway, where if you play quake, if you go off the fairway...typically your best bet is to just pitch it back in the fairway.
We played Iron Hill first, White clay second, and Brandywine third. Iron Hill is a fun course to play no matter what your skill level is. If you want to really push yourself, play the golds, but if you are newer to disc golf, play the white tees to the short pins and you will have a great time.
We played in Delaware three years ago and got to play Carousel....and we wish that course was still around
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Iron Hill is a course of subtle pleasures. I appreciated it much more after having played it a few times. While the course is long and challenging, it never feels unfair -- there are clear fairways and landing zones. It rewards (or punishes) you based on your being wise enough to know when to be guts and when to play it safe. There's no gimmicks -- weird mandos, OBs, three foot wide gaps, etc. It's just you and the trees. Even if you play perfectly, there's lots of different shots and shapes and terrains -- uphill, downhill, low ceiling, etc.. And while going into the woods sucks, getting out of a bad lie is not just possible, it's essential to keep your bad holes from turning into disasters.
The longs tees are huge slabs of concrete, most have benches and good signs. Navigation is fairly clear. There are two baskets for each hole, a silver and a gold. The gold baskets are all business -- challenging, seriously holes. The silvers are where the course let's it's hair down a bit: baskets in trees, behind big boulders, and what not.
In a world of par three discin, it's nice to have a course with so many multishot holes. And ones that aren't just about how far you can chuck in a huge field.
Iron Hill is a great course for tournaments, and there are lots of well run events each year.
Cons: While Iron Hill is a nice, secluded trek through the woods, it doesn't have the awe inspiring scenery of some courses. The only holes out in the sun and grass are 3 and 4. The variation in holes is subtle -- up or down, doglegs, playing around different tree patterns, etc.. If you like big, loud holes you might find it a bit repetitive. (But seriously, pay more attention to the golf and less the kitsch.)
The shorter tees also feel like an afterthought. They're pretty good holes, and they've improved over the last couple years. But let's be honest, the gold (back) tees are the main event, and it shows.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 11 Not
Pros: The course was easy to find and navigate. Even with 3 tees and 2 baskets per hole, everything was relatively easy to locate. The location of the next tee was easy with the numbers painted on strategically located rocks. Tee signs were informative and of high quality, as were the concrete tee pads (which were gigantic). The fairways were easy to see and were fair, the rough was tame enough to limit the potential for disc loss. The par listed on each hole seemed accurate and fair. All the little things I like to see on a course that people have control over were here: signage, navigation, tees, tee signs, benches. All top notch.
Cons: I traveled about 90 minutes from PA to play the course. Based on the reviews, I left feeling disappointed. A buddy and I played the gold tees to the Discatacher baskets. Looking back, there was nothing truly memorable about the course. Every hole felt like a 550-600 ft straight shot that was a par 4. Granted, the variety here can allow for a better mix if you change the tee and basket you play on the different holes. However, as a first time visitor, there was no way to really know. Granted, I could see that the length of the holes off the gold tees were similar, I couldn't know they would all feel so repetitive. If I was more local, I can see how a league or tags round could be a lot of fun by mixing the tees and baskets played each week.
Other Thoughts: There were definitely some silver baskets I saw as I walked through that were pretty neat looking and would have made for a more interesting play, had I known. As someone else said, there is just no wow factor here. The woods are beautiful and make for a good round of golf, but there was nothing I took away worth talking about to golfers near home. The stairs on 17 to the basket were awesome and made for one of the few interesting basket locations I recall.
Part of the course design is the land you have available to you, that to me was the limitation here. Everything was thick woods with relative little elevation change. Again, if I was more local, I am sure I would find one tee/basket combo on each hole that I found enjoyable, but as a destination, that was not an option. This isn't somewhere I will drive 90 minutes to go back to when I live near similar courses that are just simply better, like Jordan Creek and Nockamixon.
8 of 19 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 17 Not
Pros: Awesome signs. Three pads at different distances to start from on most holes and two baskets to throw to. No fees!!
Cons: REALLY HARD!!
Other Thoughts: I started here going from gold tee and after maybe ten times I hated this course. Didnt go back for over a year. But once I started throwing from the white tee, its a lot less frustrating. still harder course but now one of my favorites.
1 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Long, Tight Course Will Challenge!
15 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: I was guided by Dave, a local Rec player. The two of us are not members of the demographic that this course is designed for, being older totally recreational players. We played from the shorts to the longs. From this setup, I would say, the course plays as a difficult, very technical, recreational course. But the short tees are sometimes 200 feet shorter than the longs and feature much easier lines. Playing long to longs would be a beast.
The pars on the signs are fairly forgiving, featuring some makeable par 4's so even the average player can rack up an occasional birdie.
There are some classic basket placements up in the rocks. The course is set in a grand old forest with some lovely rock outcroppings. The long baskets are different models from the shorts making is easy to identify your intended target.
There are no open "grip it and rip it" holes here. Fairways, although always narrow, seem fair with lines to the baskets. Hitting those somewhat narrow lines proves the problem. Combine these narrow fairways with some uphill throws made for a couple of extremely challenging holes. The rough for as tight as it is, is pretty forgiving. It's certainly not as thick or unforgiving as our rough can be in Oregon or Washington (The state).
The signs for the Gold tees have all the information needed. Sometimes, it was helpful to walk ahead to read them before teeing off from the short tees.
My favorite hole was # 15. It's a downhill hyser shot with the usual narrow window. Hit the window and good things can happen. If your tee shot is just a bit off, a bogie might be in your future.
Iron Hill really did remind me of a couple of those highly acclaimed Charlotte area courses that advanced and above players love like Rennie, Nevin and The Hornets Nest.
Cons: Some recreational/older type players will just get beaten down by Iron Hill's length and tightness. And I realize, what some find a con, more skilled players will view as one of the course's major strengths.
I found Iron Hill to be lacking the "Wow Factor". That one hole that sometimes defines a courses, like Delaveaga's Top of the World shot. A hole that you're talking about as you're driving to and from the course. Also, there's no water and no breathtaking views here.
Other Thoughts: I'm glad I was able to come and experience Iron Hill. It's not a course I personally would choose to tackle on a regular basis. That doesn't mean it's not a wonderful, challenging, well designed course in a great location. I see it as long, technical course providing an excellent challenge both physically and golf wise in a wooded setting. For Marines and disc golfers up to the challenge, enjoy!
15 of 18 people found this review helpful.
A Fun Challenge For Big Arms
24 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: I went through some previous reviews and pulled out a few adjectives that really sum up what I was expecting to find on my first trip to Iron Hill: Hard, Long, Beat Down, Difficult, Intimidating, Scary. As a glutton for punishment, I was eager to experience this for myself.
What I found was not what I expected. I don't consider Iron Hill to be a hard, intimidating beat down. Sure, it's long, but it's fair. In my experience, truely "hard" courses are ones that use water, OB, and elevation in ways that force players to think long and hard about how to make the safe shot. Often times, these kinds of courses require a lot of luck to score well.
To the contrary, Iron Hill presents players with wide, clear fairways. The lines to the basket are well defined. Success at Iron Hill comes not from finding the safe shot, but rather from execution and placement over long distances. The fairways themselves are not overly hard to hit.
While this makes Iron Hill sounds easy, don't be fooled. The difficulty, and most of the score separation, comes from the subsequent fairway shots. With a par of 72, the course is designed with 18 fairway shots. That's 18 additional opportunities to make mistakes on shots without the benefit of a teebox from which to throw. With fairways that twist and turn throughout the woods, placement off the tee is critical. Hitting the fairway off the tee is not enough, to succeed, you need to be able to hit a spot on the fairway that sets up the second shot. This is a unique challenge that is rare in disc golf.
Cons: My comments above refer primarily to the gold layout. And they really only apply to players who can hit 350' with accuracy on multiple different golf lines. The fact is, that's who this course was built for, and that's who gets the most enjoyment out of it. Most players find this course difficult simply due to the fact that they can't hit the intended landing zones to set up the second shot. Lower power players simply will not have the same kinds of looks at the second shot that stronger players will. Some of this can be overcome with pinpoint fairway accuracy, but that leaves little room for error.
The shorter layouts provide some relief for players with less power, but these layouts feel second-rate compared to the gold. The short tees are not nearly as well kept and are a mix of natural and flypads. The silver baskets, although new and in great shape, are very difficult to see in the thick woods. I frequently had to walk most of the fairway just to get an idea of where to throw. Some sort of visibility aid (flags, colored tape, etc) would be really helpful.
Other Thoughts: This is a very difficult course to assign a single rating to. For top level players that can hit the lines and distance required consistently, this is a must play. Iron Hill will provide a unique style of play that is hard to find anywhere else.
For lower power players that don't have the skills to truely appreciate what Iron Hill is, the course is nothing special. There are no real signature elements that set it apart from other courses. It's certainly fun to play it as a measuring stick to see where your game stands, but it's nothing special outside of that. And the shorter layouts that will cater to these skill levels better lack the polish that the Gold layout provides.
24 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: jimimc
I gave a positive to your review, which I felt was pretty dead on. The White tee pads and Silver baskets have under gone many changes to make 4 distinct courses. This is why they're not all done. It been done in a very deliberate, calculated manner to get the best out of them. This has led to multiple changes and delays on getting them complete. I thought your review alone would have ranked 4 stars, but I'll take positive and negative feedback over ridicules bashing and blind praise. The Gold course is designed for 1000+ rated players and I don't mind be reminded of that at all.
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.
Join Disc Golf Course Review
for free to add your review. Have an account already? Sign In
to add a review.