2 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Technical, long, beautiful
Cons: Poison oak central, but much has been cleared. Bring your technu for after.
Other Thoughts: This is a amazing course, the local caretakers have cleared it for the worlds so if you played it 4 months ago but didn't like how brushy it was, come again, you'll be amazed. Get your game on
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
An epic piece of work
Pros: Pinto Lake Championship Disc Golf Course is another of those stories of an amazing property that had been left idle and neglected for decades, until a crew of dedicated hard-working locals came in an carved a gorgeous course out of the mess...one that is certainly worthy of hosting a World Championship. I first played Pinto Lake in October 2010, which is long after this major project had begun (several years earlier). In just the time I've known Pinto Lake, it has been transformed into one of the most special places for disc golf I've ever experienced. I just can't believe how stunningly gorgeous it is now. In just the past few months the crew has cleared dozens of acres of the most dense and brutal poison oak. They've also established trails, which local residents also come out to enjoy. The stuff was so thick that nobody ever knew there were all these beautiful oak trees hidden in all that mess, which have been excavated, pruned, sculpted, and are now surrounded by green grass and the occasional flower patch. Simply marvelous.
The original 9 holes (1-4,14-18) play through variably dense forested land with big oaks and eucalyptus on finger like peninsulas sticking out into Pinto Lake. Long tight fairways (1,2,3,14,18), lots of elevation, epic par 4 tunnels (hole 2!), and even irresistible ace runs (holes 15,17) are awesome by themselves. The virtual elimination of poison oak from the fairways, the establishment of grassy landing areas, and clearly marked OB along the sides are typical of every hole in this part of the course.
The back 9, including the meadow, have undergone a similar transformation. Don't believe earlier reviews that said these holes are just open bombers...with the variable winds, elevation, and deceptively narrow fairways, it is always a challenge to throw long and not go OB. There is a very good risk/reward trade-off on all these holes, and even the most skilled players go OB quite often if their disc stalls and doesn't turnover, or flips over too long and gets carried off on an air current. Anyone who says its easy out there probably went OB dozens of times without knowing it is OB. The fairways in the meadow are also well-manicured, kept green by watering, and have clear edges with posts and rope installed along the edges of the fairways. They also play fast and skippy when your disc lands, which increases the challenge. Rollers are difficult to use, as the disc always starts curling up and usually runs off OB. I've shot under par on these holes several times, but it required very accurate long upshots and hitting big putts to do so.
There is no question that hole 12 is soon going to be considered one of the most beautiful disc golf holes in the world. Its the one that I dream most about acing. It starts off in the meadow and plays down a gradual slope (357') that begins as a wide fairway, but becomes more and more narrow as you get further down onto a peninsula that is surrounded by Pinto Lake on all sides. Pruned oak trees and manicured grass along the sides get closer together and converge at several larger oaks. To pass further you have to get your disc under the arches, and behind them is a cluster of small/young oaks, with the basket on the other side. As you walk out onto the green, you can enjoy views of the lake and surrounding countryside in all directions through the oaks. Now that the poison oak and other undergrowth are cleared out, the view is spectacular. You might even decide to spend the rest of your day down there...bring a picnic, relax a little while, get into the Pinto Lake vibe.
I love challenge, and hole 14 is probably the most challenging on the course. The goal is to try and play safely up the trail in 2 throws and try to find a window to run at the basket for birdie (par 4). If you stay on the right side of the path, you'll eventually find open sky to the right and an opportunity for a spike hyzer over the top...a really fun shot, but of course, watch out for getting caught by the oak trees if you miss the open window around the basket. If you end up on the left side of the path, you'll be looking at tight routes through the oak trees to the basket.
There are relatively well-kept bathrooms near the parking lot. Also near the parking lot you can find water, picnic areas, BBQ pits, soccer fields, baseball fields, etc.. Its a very nice park, with many of the amenities you'd expect to find in the most popular of all Santa Cruz County Parks.
-Great tee pads
-New Mach 3 baskets
Cons: Stay on the fairway. The rough is really rough in places. The fairways are in superb condition, but OB is different: there is lots of poison oak, stinging nettles, water, and other nasties if you go OB. This isn't a beginner course. Stay on the fairway, and you'll be very happy. If you can't keep it on the fairway, you'll probably not enjoy this course very much. Also, watch out for pedestrians on holes 2, 4, 13, and 14. The manicured course is attracting more people who want to come out and see the beautiful new parkland created for disc golf. The regular part of the park (not the disc golf course) gets really busy on weekends, and parking can sometimes be tough to find. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Other Thoughts: I highly recommend that you play safe the first round, or do a walk-through before playing, and get a feel for the dangers down the fairway before trying anything risky. Check out the map, if you can get online.
The OB areas in the meadow are being left alone to grow up into continuous tree stands. Planting of redwoods, oaks, and other trees is going to help accelerate this process. When you come back in 10 years, this will no longer be called a "meadow" because you won't be able to see across it. Instead, every fairway will be a narrow tunnel playing between juvenile forest on all sides. You won't even be able to see the other holes. If you could come back in 50 years, you'd see large redwood stands lining long narrow shady fairways of emerald green grass. This place is going to be even more epic!
If you're looking for an extra special experience, go to the lower Pinto Lake Park entrance (a mile back on Green Valley Rd), and rent a paddle boat. From there, you can paddle directly across the lake to hole 12.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Excellent signage
-Two practice baskets
-Variety in shot selection
-People were friendly
-Plenty of shade
Cons: -Poison Oak (Lots of it)
-A living, breathing disc eater (stray shots beware)
-No map for the new meadow nine but just use the directions posted by one of the reviewers. It worked for me.
Other Thoughts: I said I would return to this hole and I did. More than half a year has gone by and it still humbles me. I think I shot the same score in fact. The difficulty of this course has tripled by introducing the new 9 holes up in the meadow area. These holes are bomber holes (which I enjoy). You get the ying and yang all in one course. Technical and Distance. The hardest holes, I think, is three and 'old' 5. Three because it slopes down to the left which for a RHBH player is not a good thing and that's not even mentioning the barrage of trees you have to maneuver to reach the basket. Five because the water on the right of the narrow uphill road. Needless to say, this course is definitely difficult and should easily be a championship course when all the extra holes have tees and baskets (presently they have dirt tees and totem poles).
The course design is extremely tight which calls for control on every shot. I fortunately escaped with all my discs (again) but definitely be aware of throwing your favorite disc on some holes because it might be your last. Since you're throwing down small access roads anything thrown not on target can disappear down the side and into the lake. Be aware of the OB on every hole. There noted on the signs before every hole.
The poison oak is everywhere! If it wasn't for my wife pointing out all the poison oak (and my apparent immunity to it) I would have been covered in it. On my second visit I had to walk right into it to retrieve a disc (#13 is a basterd by the way if you go right). Apparently I'm still immune. I would recommend pants when you play here and perhaps a picture of the stuff if you don't know what it looks like. Besides that, the course is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
One last thing... when you approach the park from the south (HWY 1), pass the first entrance into the park and go about a half mile more until you reach the other side of the lake and the second entrance. I spent about 20 minutes trying to find the course when I made the wrong turn on the first entrance.
Also, on #13 I couldn't find the tee area even though its a small well defined pathway. About half way down the path a happened to see some white spray paint which I took for the tee area. It will be on your left.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: There are some excellent shots at pinto, and each packs a challenge. Not a course for beginners, which may keep the throngs away. Some beautiful pin settings (especially hole 6), great tees, lovely trees, and a chill atmosphere.
Since this is going to be a 2011 worlds course, I thought I might saunter down the Pinto to check out the new holes and work done on the course. The course plays like a par 60, with the new holes being mostly open and fairly flat but some are long. There are birdie opportunities out in the meadow though, and a 5 on the 1200' hole 11 should be attainable for most advanced players. Great new benches out in the meadow! Did I mention the giant tee pads? AWESOME!
Cons: The 1500' walk that takes you back up the entirety of hole 12's fairway to hole 13. There had to be a way to play the meadow differently...perhaps clockwise to prevent this. In the end, it's a minor design flaw...especially compared to Tom's other course with its crossing fairways and shots into a parking lot!
Bring Tecnu, as poison oak is prevelant!
Other Thoughts: The big arms are going to love this place...especially the meadow. However, Pinto will challenge any disc golfer to throw accurately and far. The pins aren't nearly as precarious as Dela, which makes for more comfortable putting. But the OB more than makes up for it. My earlier review mentioned how the OB seemed frivolous. It made more sense to me this time around, though everyone I played with yesterday went OB at some point. The course has several round altering holes, which should make it fun to watch in next year's worlds! Great job by the volunteers to install some sweet benches throughout. The tee pads came out great and all that's needed is more permanent course signage.
Also, killer old farm equipment, barn, and farmhouse add a historical legacy to this course.
Pin positions are likely to be extended even further on several holes for Worlds.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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