If you like the woods then you're gonna love this course!
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: **Updated Review 2014**
Private course with 18 Boxed Mulch Tees with 18 Discatcher baskets. Secluded and scenic 16 acre disc golf only area around the Swim and Raquet club that is un-useable for anything else. Almost entirely heavy wooded and very hilly elevation terrain along a creek gives you all kind of variety. Lots of tight fairways that seem to favor backhand or forehand on some holes. Very little underbrush, well groomed, and navigation is fairly easy with big next tee signs and the tees are pretty close to baskets.
Cons: Mulch tees are probably my least favorite and they are short to boot. Holes play fairly close to together, so beware if others are playing(seems rare). The terrain is a little rough and rolled ankles a few times, also slipped down some steep areas. Can be muddy around the creek and had to pass over the creek some places. Tee signs are just pvc pipe with distance, but it's not hard to figure out the hole.
Other Thoughts: Wow...this is an interesting course and glad I made the trip. Accuracy is definitely rewarded over distance here as there are no holes to let a driver loose. It will test your skillz on elevated and heavily wooded fairways, and has lots of shots I've never seen before making it both fun and challenging. The creek and landscape give this course its beauty, but the elevation can be extreme and trees can be brutal. Aside from a few people playing on the tennis courts, the tennis balls and some deer, I had the course to myself making it very peaceful.
There is potential for this course with better tees. I use a fairly compact x-step, but felt cramped on a number of tees. Hole 13 was probably my fav, and the whole middle section was great. I definitely recommend this course(except to rank beginners), and hope to play again soon!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The woodland setting and the integration of the natural environment into the course is the best element here. All the baskets are in place now. I found the wood chip tees to fit well with
the nature of the course. There are not a drawback as driving distance is not much of an issue on any of the holes here. Instead there is a premium on creativity and accuracy in shot making. The many trees, hilly terrain, and the creek make for challenging but fair obstacles. The relatively short length and general openness of the woods keep it friendly for advanced beginners.
Cons: LOTS of gnats. Even copious amounts of bug spray didn't keep them at bay. I disagree with the reviewer who thought the basket positions were "unfair". A testing layout doesn't mean
it is an unfair layout. Yes your disc can roll away down a hill with a not-good-enough approach shot but given the short distance of the holes this course's defenses are the trees and the terrain. The course can be tricky to navigate as many holes are adjacent and baskets and tees can be in close proximity and there are lots of blind shots. I have never had a problem with traffic from other folfers on this course though.
Other Thoughts: There are no grip-it-and-rip-it holes on this course. There are woodland courses that have relatively open if narrow fairways and impenetrable rough, think Whispering Falls, and those that have open woods with many trees dotting the fairways and rough that is not so difficult to penetrate, like Boulder Woods. This course is among the latter. A spotter would be helpful here to guard against disc loss but is not near mandatory such as at Whispering Falls or Seneca Creek. The holes near the creek with the dense low vegetation are the greatest risk. This is a nice course to play in the heat of summer as your first drive takes you into the woods and you stay completely in tree cover till your last tee shot brings you out. How some people have managed to lose tennis balls so far out into the woods is beyond me. Rotting tennis balls
seem to sprout as if they were woodland fungi.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Beautiful, serene; work in progress
Pros: This course is a tricky one to rate, because there are so many things to love about it, but also so many things that could be improved.
The best elements of this course is its beauty. The stretch of land has great hills, a nice creek, glorious old trees stretching up into the sky, and lots of wildlife. And from the road, its hard to even guess the course is there -- with the exception of 18s basket, the rest of the course is completely hidden in the woods, though its in the middle of some of the nicest homes/manors in the D.C.-area.
Every hole has trees -- most holes have lots of trees. However, these are old, tall trees with minimal undergrowth (and fallen trees/branches are very well cleared by whoever maintains the course), so finding discs is easy.
Holes range from ~200' to ~450', but many play longer than their distances because of elevation. The 200' hole, for instance, probably plays closer to 350' because of sharp elevation. There is a good mix of throws required, though this is definitely a course that favors backhand shots. Even the shape/gaps in the left-to-right hooking fairways tend to be lines that play better for a backhand anhyzer than for a forehand hyzer. This is not a bad thing -- just an observation. I am a forehand-dominant player, and yet threw backhands off the box on at least 2/3 of the holes.
The elevation is one of the things that really works well for this course. Most holes involve some amount of elevation change or involve throwing over elevation change. I love varying terrain, and this has some of the best land I've ever played on.
I saw one reviewer who was frustrated with the fact that many of the baskets are on hills or have "fast greens" that can cause rollaways. I actually consider this is huge PLUS for this course. Yes, there are a lot of fast greens, but none of them seemed unfair. I've played much faster greens on some of the top courses in the country, like Renaissance Park, and fast greens -- when fair -- make you a better player. It requires you not just to throw your disc, but to think about approach speed, landing angle, and even what kind of plastic to use to minimize skips/bounces/kicks/roll-aways. Fast, fair greens make you a better player. I consider the fast greens one of the best parts about this course -- it helps separate a good approach from a great approach.
I've only played through this course once, but I threw several teeshots on most holes, trying out different lines and approaches, and I consider all the holes to be fair. There are well carved fairways and some interesting lines that you don't see on most courses. Some are particularly memorable and unusual. Hole 12 is a slight downhill, almost straight, ~300', with the stream to the left. The R-to-L hill slope and the shape of the gap off the teebox makes it almost impossible to throw a backhand shot to the pin; most RHBHs will fade left into/across the creek. The best shot is a slight forehand anhyzer or helix -- a touch shot with a neutral fairway driver. This is a shot few players have, but everyone should learn. And on this particular hole, it's the best option off the box. I AM THRILLED at some of the unusual hole designs that make this a very unusual training course.
The other pro I need to mention is that this course (for now) has virtually no traffic. My wife and I were out there on a Sunday, midday, and while the pool was full and their were people on the tennis courts, there were no other players on the disc golf course. It is an undiscovered gem. Right now, this has an immense FUN factor. Great shots, great holes, and no one else out there. I know of no better course in the D.C. area to practice and improve your game.
Cons: Several of the cons right now are due to the newness of the course. I think 6 of the baskets are still missing. Instead, plastic buckets are hung on PVC pipe at roughly basket level. This isn't ideal, but it does simulate putting pretty well. It's a much better solution than I've seen at most in-progress courses. I think this will be taken care of soon.
Signage is minimal -- marker drawings on short pieces of PVC stuck in the ground. This wasn't a big deal -- it kept with the minimalist aesthetic of the course, and playing through the first time, without a map, we had no trouble finding any of the tees or baskets. The PVC marker drawings did what they needed to do. Better signage would be nice, but is not needed. If the course is obvious, even in the growth of early summer to someone who has never played the course, then it is as good as it has to be. My only worry is that the short sticks of PVC may not last, getting vandalized or knocked over. But for now, they work just fine.
It would have been nice to have at least one "field" hole. I don't think this course really has the land for it, but I always want one hole per course to really just rip it. The closest this comes is on the back, ~13/14, there are a couple of holes that have wider fairways and higher ceilings on some really cool shots by the creek. These are awesome holes, but I still miss non having one "rip-it" hole.
The bugs are bad here. Yes, it is early summer and we've been having rain, but it was so bad that my wife had to quit playing a few holes in, covered in bites (yes, we had bug spray). I wasn't particularly bothered, but if you're someone who attracts bugs, be careful. Lots of mosquitoes and ants, in particular.
A lack of par-4 holes. I am someone who loves a mix of holes, and this course didn't have any true par-4 holes. There appeared to be enough land in places for some of the holes to be stretched out to make this possible. I'm not sure if this will eventually be in the plans, but if there were some longer, PRO pin positions (maybe they can use the PVC/bucket combo for this after they get the other six baskets?!?!?) it would add a whole extra dimension to the course. Half a dozen pro placements (buckets) for some longer holes would take this course up another notch.
Other Thoughts: One thing that should be noted: teepads are dirt, and aren't always level. This isn't a big deal to me -- I don't mind rough teepads as long as they aren't mudpits. But I know this will matter to some people -- I included it here, because it is neither a pro, nor a con in my book. These tees were fine to play on and did not detract from the course. If anything, I like them better here because it helped the course feel very natural. Concrete teeboxes would actually detract from the course, making it feel too intrusive on the land. I also think this course has potential to be refined and improved over time, so I encourage the designers to keep the teeboxes very simple and easy to change, if needed, in the future.
Overall, I found this one of the most enjoyable courses -- one of the most FUN courses -- that I've played in a long time. The enjoyment value is definitely higher than my more objective rating of this course. I would expect that with some work, this could move up to being a 4-star course. But in the meantime, I would highly, highly recommend it.
If you're coming in from out of town, I think the best outdoorsy day you could plan in the D.C. area would be: hike the Billy Goat Trails on the MD side of Great Falls Park (only a few miles from this course), then come to Darnestown to get in a fun warm-up 18, then grab lunch (head straight up Germantown Road a few miles and you'll have a shopping center with dozens of quick-food options, e.g. Elevation Burger, Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys, Moby Dick's Kabobs, ), and then head to Seneca, just a few miles away, for 27 holes of the best disc golf in the country.
Darnestown fills a missing niche in the D.C.-area disc golf scene. It's a course I'll be returning to as often as possible. Hope to see you there.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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