29 Helpful / 0 Not
Stupid hard, Uber-challenging. This course will make you angry.
Pros: UPDATE 6/14/2011 - Haven't had time to rewrite my entire review yet (originally a 3.5 rating), but based on the last few times I've seen this course, I think it deserves a 4.5, with the potential long term to hit 5.0 if it continues to improve. This is the biggest challenge -- and greatest design -- of any course I know of. Every hole is fair, and every hole is a challenge. It's a course that will make most courses look like putt-putt in comparison. (END UPDATE)
This course has AMAZING potential. Give it a few years and it is likely to be one of the signature, go-to courses on the East Coast... for pro-level players or masochists, that is.
I'm not saying that less-experienced/skilled played shouldn't play here -- it will hone your game -- but I'm saying ALL PLAYERS should mentally prepare for this course. It will wreck you if you're not prepared for an epic struggle against the trees.
The teeboxes here are brand new and beautiful -- grippy, textured concrete with lots of room and space is cleared around the teeboxes so you have clearance for your throwing motions and follow through (at least, this is true now -- we'll see where they put up teesigns... hopefully not in the way of the throwing motion).
The course map -- available on this site -- is incredibly helpful. Print one before you go. It's missing some basic information (like hole lengths), but it does include topographic lines showing elevation changes in the terrain -- a feature I've never seen on a disc golf course map before -- and it is helpful in knowing where you are going to be going, especially on long par-5 holes where you can't see the basket. It's great to see how the elevation will change, and to know that you've got 60' of downhill or 40' of uphill or whatever the case may be. Unfortunately, the map is not entirely to scale, and hasn't been updated with the newer pin placements (you can't tell, for instance, that hole 17 is ~1000' and the longest hole on the course -- it looks much shorter than that on the map).
The front nine are a great set of holes -- a good mix of shots with some open areas for big drives and lots of elevation change, along with a couple of chances early on for really long deuces if you carve some of the alleys just right. The front nine will try your patience in places, but it is well balanced and a truly enjoyable experience. The back nine... well, check the "cons" section.
The park has been radically renovated in the past year. The disc golf course opened up in June 2008, and has been making huge strides thanks to the work of local golfers. The course will host a PDGA B-Tier in June 2009 (King of the Hill), by which time I expect the course to be in great shape. It won't be fully broken in by then, but by then I would expect volunteer work from the locals to have completed signs, all pin placements, and continued to clear fairways. It should be an awesome course by June at it's one-year anniversary. I'll re-review then.
Other pros of this being a new park are that the whole park has been redone. There is a dog park, areas for families, restrooms, lots of paved parking, etc... the city has spent a lot of money giving this place a makeover, and disc golf is a big part of the transformation.
Cons: This course is new and still relatively untamed. And long. Long. LONG. Through dense trees. At times, this course will make you wonder why you play this sport. Especially on the back nine.
As mentioned earlier, the front nine is excellent -- incredibly challenging, but balanced and fair. The back nine is just a beating. It's a guy from American's Most Wanted dragging you out into the woods and beating you senseless with a large branch and tossing you into the thorns where no one will ever find you. It's the hardest 9-holes I've ever played. And hard isn't a bad thing -- I'm a disc golf masochist. But the back nine here is both stupid hard AND repetitive.
A few of the back nine holes feel like holes you already played on the front nine. The rest of the back nine feel like other holes on the back nine. You're mental game will get weary, and that's dangerous, because you'll end up off the fairway and fighting your way back, racking up an extra stroke of two every time.
The woods on the back are just thick. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of underbrush that will eat discs -- there just isn't a lot of space between the trees to throw once you are off the fairway. And the safe landing areas are often hard to see from the teebox.
IMHO, you're best advised to throw your straightest Roc. Over and Over and Over. And herein lies the problem -- lack of shot variety on the back. Most holes require straight shots up super-tight fairways, up and down elevation. Lots of long holes with low ceilings where drivers are just a bad idea. This would be great for a couple of holes, but gets really old. I'm hoping in a few years, some more room will open up and lanes will be more clearly defined and you can actually use your drivers to open up more shot options.
The lack of teesigns is a huge drawback -- especially since the map (while it does help navigate) doesn't give you a sense of the length of the holes. First time players will often either need to go look for the basket or retee after they discover they've thrown down the wrong line. Playing through a few times will help, but teesigns should provide this information.
Another drawback (in some ways) is that this course takes a long time to play. There were enough times we had to look for discs off the fairway that even with just two of us moving pretty quickly, it took several hours to play the course. Carts would be useless here. And you will get a full workout going up and down the hill and through rough terrain. Wear trail shoes or boots or suffer. And I'd plan to budget 2.5 hours for 18 holes your first time through -- more if playing with more people.
Other Thoughts: Back in August 2008, my brother and I did a roadtrip of top-courses in the PA/NY/NJ/DE area. We played the hardest layouts everywhere we went and hit Codorus, Quaker's Challenge, Jordan Creek. Little Lehigh Valley, Nockamixon, Tinicum, Campgaw, Warwick, Tyler State Park and Iron Hill. And of those courses, Iron Hill was definitely the hardest course we played, as well as the most frustrating. I shot a 72 and felt like I played well; probably ~980-level golf (though it is hard to say for sure, since no tournaments have been held here yet).
My understanding talking with the locals is that the course record so far is a 61… and they're making the course longer by adding more deep pin placements.. I'd guess SSA out there is ~ a 69, and there are more places there to blow-up and take a snowman or worse than any other course I've played anywhere in the country. Iron Hills will crush your mental game if you're not careful…
Of course, we played in August, with the thorns/bushes/leaves/etc... a their fullest. I'm guessing that playing in the winter would make the course 3-4 strokes easier. But it really is unreal what this course does to your mental game.
Especially with hole 17. I was having a great round, and thought I was easily going to come in under 70, but then fell apart and took a 9 on hole 17. That hole is ridiculous. Probably ~1000' curving uphill through tight fairways with dense trees on all sides. I'd almost say it is a PRO PAR 6. And I've never said that about a hole before. A five would feel like a birdie. And I think a four would be a field ace on that hole. It's crazy (but in a good way).
When I left the course. All I wanted to do was come back and get revenge on it. And I think this course will inspire that emotion in a lot of people -- the desire to find the willpower to conquer one of the hardest courses ever put in the ground. Enjoy your trip.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 5 Not
This is going to be a great tournament course
Pros: Tons of length. Almost impossibly narrow fairways. Perfect teeboxes and baskets. Easy to navigate. Two open holes that let you air it out and are a ton of fun. Winter play is less punishing as you can actually throw from off the fairway.
Cons: I would hate to play this course in summer. Some holes are 500 feet long with a 7-foot-wide fairway. There is little variety on the back nine... every hole seems to require a straight and long shot with no fade. Beginners tees and alternate baskets not ready yet.
Other Thoughts: This will undoubtedly become a 4-star course once it's broken in and the extra tees & baskets are ready. As for now, it's punishingly long and brutal... so if you think Nockamixon isn't challenging enough, give it a try. It was easy for me to find each tee and basket, so that's not a problem.
12 of 17 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 2 Not
A course to help improve your game
Pros: The course is very challenging, as it has BOTH extreme elevation changes and heavy woods. There are a veriety of shots needed. Accurate drives are a must, as an errent shot will cost you 2+ throws in the long run. Concrete tee pads on all holes and multiple pin locations for future veriety. The only FREE course in Delaware.
Cons: There are no signs, yet, so the 1st time through may be a little frustrating. This in NOT a beginner course (or should that be in the Pros section?)
Other Thoughts: This course has improved my game like no other course I have played. After several weeks of play, I went back to my home course (Lum's Pond) and shot 56 (a new personal low). Also, the "average" golfer should consider it a par 72 (all 4's). The course is still being developed, as new pin placements are added (think of Patapsco's ABC lay-out). When completed, i believe this course could move up to a 4.5
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 21 Not
Pros: 18 holes, concrete tee pads in pristine shape, easy to see baskets. A few people were working on the holes at time of playing. 2 practice baskets available. Doggy park, playground, and water fountains.
Cons: Thorn city, mosquito capital of the world. Please be prepared! Several of the holes were quite long. This seems to be a course that will favor long drivers who are rather nifty and technical... not a beginner's course. I also got lost on way out... walked 1 1/2 hours to get back to the car.
Other Thoughts: It seems like the effort was there but the course was a little long for me. Signs were still not up yet and tee signs were nowhere to be found at several key points, had to search out some holes and tees, work in progress. I am rather lousy at the game, so take this review as if I had just started, because that's how I felt. 17 has to be the longest hole I've ever played... I guess maybe 900-1100 feet? Wow. The course shows great promise, but it's just a little too long for my liking. Maybe if I could drive 400 feet with accuracy....
7 of 28 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 2 Not
If you like trees...
Pros: All of the holes have very nice tee pads. They are large, concrete, rough.
Nearly all of the holes require a lot of skill in each shot. Rarely do you just throw a disc without aiming and thinking.
The holes have doglegs or little 'hitches' in the fairways, so there aren't many straight fairway holes.
There are large boulders throughout the course, which adds a lot to the scenery. They are near tee boxes, in fairways, around greens. Adds a nice touch.
A few of the greens are really pretty cool, with slants ('fast greens,' if you will), rocks, trees, etc.
It is a very long course, though I noticed there are alternate pin positions for a shorter length.
In my opinion, #3 is the best hole on the course, requiring a long and accurate drive through a tree canopy into an open field. The pin is tucked back by a little creek and will require a good 2nd shot to reach. By far my fave.
Cons: There are a lot of blind throws around corners into a bunch of trees. That makes it difficult to find your disc often because you have no idea where it went or how far you actually threw it, what it hit, etc.
Towards the end the doglegs were getting a little repetitive. The course felt the same to me. Maybe all the trees just looked the same to me. Just look at the pictures from the tees...
Extremely hard to recover from an errant shot. Many of the fairways are access roads, meant for one vehicle, which means they are only about 10 feet wide. Since the fairways are so tight, people will often be looking in the heavy undergrowth for discs.
At the moment no signs at all at tee pads and bright orange stakes in the ground to show the direction to some of the next tees.
Other Thoughts: In a way, I am not sure this is a very fair review. First and foremost, I am pretty sure they are not finished with this course. Some of the fairways were just so crowded with trees that no one could navigate them all. There aren't any signs, which made this course very difficult to play. I would have played some holes differently if I would have known where the pins actually were. The map is helpful, but some of the holes are different than what they have drawn.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the epic length of hole #17. I really feel like this is a pro par 5. Yes, I said it - pro par 5. (Some people see this as awesome; others see it as complete overkill.) It was insanely long, through woods, to an elevated green.
In the end, I had a good time on this course, but it felt a bit "too much." Too much length, too much vegetation, but I don't generally like the woodsy courses, so take this review with a grain of salt. It may thin out over the next year, and I fully expect signs to be placed soon.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful.
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