a walk in the woods
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Peace and quiet - this course is usually almost empty, which is a pleasant change of pace from the often-overcrowded Seneca Creek course.
Free play - even though the course is on private property, you are free to use the parking lot and course. Just be respectful and clean up after yourself
Diversity - Even though all but two holes are in the woods, there is enough variety of layout, length, elevation, and distance to give each hole a unique feel. Overall, elevation is used to better effect here than at Seneca.
Challenge - There are only two or three holes on the course that will forgive bad tee shots. Planning your flight path and focusing on accuracy are essential here.
Cons: Bugs - plenty of gnats, as well as mosquitoes in the vicinty of holes 1-4 and 10.
Heavy leaf litter in the fall and winter can make it hard to find discs, even on the fairway.
The course is too challenging to recommend for beginners, and there is no practice basket.
Other Thoughts: "Tough but fair" is the best way to describe this course. There are very few opportunities to grip-n-rip, but neither are there ridiculously narrow fairways or silly features designed to cause frustration. Hole for hole, this course offers among the best disc golf experiences in Maryland, though overall I still prefer Seneca Creek for its mix of open and wooded holes.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
A hidden gem
Pros: Situated almost entirely in the woods surrounding the Swim and Racquet club in an upscale DC suburban neighborhood, this course is what a par 3 woods course should be. Course offers a big variety of looks, hard hyzers and and anhyzers, uphill, downhill and side hill fairways, and some blazing fast greens (especially on the early holes so make sure your approach game is ready at the gitgo). Precision first is the rule, but if you don't make it far enough up the fairway on some of these you'll still have a tough look for your par.
Eighteen Discatchers in perfect shape, only one pin setting each hole that I could find. One boxed and mulched tee per hole. The signage issues noted in earlier reviews have been addressed by large clear Next Tee signs pointing in the appropriate direction. There are PVC pipes at the from of each tee with the distance and a crude drawing of the fairway. Most walks from green to tee are pretty short but far enough away to be clear of approaches to the green.
The middle holes down by the creek (Amen Corner?) are a whole lot of fun and what makes this course excellent over just very good.
Several of the pin settings are on significant downhill grades, with a steep drop off not far behind (which may include a bath in the creek), but I view this as a positive as it adds a requirement for precise distance control on your approaches.
An absolutely beautiful setting for a walk in the park.
Cons: Even though it was early spring, the gnats were out in full force, so bring bug spray and a hat. Lots of walking up, down and along some fairly significant grades, so wear appropriate footwear (particularly if it's recently rained).
No bridges across the creek (which you need to traverse several times), not too difficult during low flow but i imagine this could be a challenge after some rain.
I prefer hardtop tees so mulched tees are not my favorites, but these were pretty well maintained (few divots) and while a few seemed a little cramped, were long enough for the most part.
This is nitpicking, but some of the holes on the front have a deja vu element as they play back and forth along side one another (much like a ball golf layout). There's what looks like an un-needed mando at first glance on 17 but it's there to protect the 16th green. When you get closer you see that you wouldn't want to approach from the wrong side of the mando anyway. I didn't really care for #18 as it had a wall of cypress about 15-20' before the pin. You have to either skip or slide one through low between the trunks or roll it through I guess.
Other Thoughts: I love woods courses and this is just the perfect piece of land for one. The designers did an outstanding job with it, I don't think I'd change a thing. I'm not sure how well the course would handle a crowd but I don't think that will be an issue, we were the only group there on a beautiful afternoon.
I'll echo what others have mentioned, keep in mind that this is basically private property and that we are guests. The course was very clean, I only saw one bottle (removed) during the whole hike. Please bring a trash bag along with you and help keep this place pristine and available to the DG community.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: (Rating of 4 is based on how it's playing right now, a solid 3.5, with a .5 bump for the steady progress in development.)
I've been playing this course for some time and it just keeps getting better. I agree with other reviewers that one of it's best features is the land itself, but it's also how the designers have used it to create some really great golf. Each hole is unique and the full 18 requires a broad range of shot making from drive to putt: right/left/straight, uphill/downhill/cross slope, low/high ceiling, water hazards, etc. Its laid out well so there's no criss crossing fairways or long walks between holes (there is one slight walk back from 16 to 17) and play begins and ends right at the parking lot.
While most of the holes are in the woods and were frustratingly wooded when all 18 were first put in, they've been cleared out gradually for more open fairways. Now there's more playable area and some fantastic shot lines. The holes which do involve field shots--1,5,8,17,18--are also being opened up, giving more relief from the trees. Some of the baskets/tees/fairways which used to play too close together have been worked out. Another great feature, which helps give the course variety, is a stretch of holes on the back nine--12,13,14,15--which play along and over a really nice creek. These holes have a ways to go in overall maintenance, but each plays the creek a little differently and include some of my favorites on the course.
Recently all remaining baskets and tees were installed. The choice of wood chip for the tees is debateable, but it does fit the character of the course. If they harden over time and are raked and leveled regularly they should be fine. I actually don't mind this variable as part of the challenge and uniqueness of the course.
Another thing I've come to appreciate (especially with the heat this summer) is that because Darnestown is mostly in the woods and plays along water for a long stretch, it's the perfect hot weather course.
Cons: Little short: Overall course distance is on the short side. Looks like there may be a few holes which can be lengthened, but otherwise it will always rely on obstacles and terrain to provide difficulty.
Gnats: Much like Seneca can have a lot of gnats. I've played at all different times and in the late spring and summer months you can expect them, so plan accordingly. In the fall, winter and early spring it's typically not an issue.
Natural wood chip tees: These were definitely unstable when recently installed. Hopefully they'll tighten up. Some tees are shorter then regulation length, but it looks like there is room for these to be lengthened.
Lacks signage: I've played the course enough that I don't need signage, but this would definitely be lacking for the first time player.
Private club: During the middle of the day in the summer months the tennis and swim club can be crowded. And while I've played at these times without any issue, it still feels a little uncomfortable. Not sure what the situation is for the parking lot gate exactly and parking along the road seems less than ideal for the neighborhood, but again no problems so far.
Other Thoughts: Not only is Darnestown a nice compliment to other great courses in the area such as Seneca, Patapsco and Rockburn, but if progress continues as it has in its first few years, it could be grouped with these for some of the best disc golf in the DC Metro area.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
There Will Be Punishment
Pros: Good technical course has a nice combination of length and obstacles to avoid. Good variety of hole layouts that will force you to use all your throws. Guys who maintain it do a very nice job and are friendly to visitors. Shady with nice baskets (now on all 18 holes). The holes along the creek are particularly fun. This is a course that punishes mistakes and forces you to really think about where you want that first shot to land.
Cons: Natural tee pads outlines by 3x3s can be very uneven but now have wood chips that help greatly. No run up potential. Insects can be bad; ground growth can be bad. The biggest con for me is that many of the baskets are located on slopes (or near slopes) that punish good shots. Number #3 is a good example where you can think you parked your throw only to find that it has rolled down a big hill into a creek so that your next shot is longer than the previous one. Navigation is a bit tough on your first trip (more so finding the baskets than the tee areas).
Other Thoughts: My opinion on this course changes every time I play it. Sometimes I think I will never come back even though it is the course closest to my house. Other times I think "what a great challenging course this is". The "unfairness" of the basket placement has been somewhat improved since the baskets were installed. Number 3 has has a 4 foot diameter circle around it that is flatter so parking your drive or approach shot, it will actually stay there. It is still sometimes better to intentionally miss the fairway and stick your disc in a bush rather than risking roll away. It worked to my advantage yesterday on 18 where I put my shot into the cedars where it dropped out for a 15-foot putt. Many of the teepads are right next to the previous basket which makes navigation easy but has the obvious problem. On your first trip, make sure you scout out the first basket (it is near the largest tree that you can see from the pad) and you will see that a RHBH flight path goes right over #2's tee pad. Not a problem in general as this is lightly played but you should be aware. I have aced #2 here even though it isn't my favorite hole. Hole #10 is the hardest (and best hole) in my opinion. My latest round was typical: a 2, twelve 3s, two 4s, and three 5s.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Fun and Challenging
Pros: Good use of elevation and natural obstacles.
Heavily wooded, requiring creative shot making ability.
Very challenging. It's just as difficult as Seneca Creek and other nearby courses but doesn't have the same reputation.
Beautiful piece of property; fun design; love the creek on the back nine; still pretty rugged; course flows well from each basket to the next tee pad.
Never over crowded. There are surprisingly few golfers out.
Course is well maintained.
The course now has 18 DiscCatchers; the last of the buckets were replaced early in the summer.
Cons: Downhill drives are rare.
Not a lot of ace shots.
First time out could be confusing….I don't even look at the signage anymore. First tee pad is between the road and the tennis courts, shoot down in to the woods.
Bugs can be thick in the summer. DEET is highly recommended.
Other Thoughts: This is a one of the best courses in the DC area. Lots of fun, rugged and challenging, it's definitely worth the drive out to Darnestown to see the course. If you haven't been out in the past 6 months, you should certainly come back out to see the changes and improvements made. That said, if you don't like playing in the woods or you prefer a leisurely stroll with your disc golf, you may not find Darnestown as exciting as I do.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
The Demon at Darnestown
Pros: Shot selection. Nice elevation change and topographical variety with mix of field shots, wooded hill and creek-side fairways. Good balance of distance and difficulty.
Cons: Can be buggy. Plays into adjacent fairways in a few spots. Nine holes still only suspended bucket. No course map.
Other Thoughts: Though the course is under construction, it has obvious potential. Recent developments include PVC Tee and Next Tee signs and some thinning of the more heavily wooded fairways. With a little more work on the tee pads and baskets for the full 18, this course will be a great round. It's worth the trip as it is.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Now 18 holes. PLEASE RESPECT THE CLUB AND THE CLUB MEMBERS. THIS IS A PRIVATE COURSE BUT IF GOLFERS RESPECT THE COURSE AND THE CLUB IT WILL REMAIN OPEN TO PLAY. This course is really beginning to play into what it's potential is. We have cleared all of the holes at least once this season making the fairways clearly seen and you can see multiple fairways as you walk the course. This is a challenging course that offers a wide variety of shots and has some picturesque shots along the creek that are beautiful but tough. With 4 more baskets coming next week and the promise of funding for the additional 6 in the spring of 2011 this course will soon be a premiere course in the DC area. Come back often as we work on the course weekly and you will see changes every time you are out, we are working to fix the deficiencies of the course.
Cons: It can be wet but drains very well and dries out within a day or two. Gnats are plenty! There are only 2 of us working the course with very little funding so it takes time for changes to happen but we are making progress on what needs to be fixed. The course is in better condition then ever!
Other Thoughts: We are disc golf lovers and appreciate all feedback so if you come out and play please review it so we can continue improving the course. As always respect the course and leave it better then when you got there. Someone stole #18 and for a course with no public funding it is hard to come up with $400 to replace baskets so please be mindful of the countless hours that we have put into the course as you play it. ENJOY!
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
felt like my home course
Pros: ***Update*** Course now has all 18 Baskets.
Well manicured technical woods course with a scenic stream running through it.
Fantastic elevation changes and shot variety.
Next tee signs and lined fairways make navigation easier.
Challenging with out extreme length.
Cons: No course map/sign available at the course(maybe at the club house haven't checked). Print Map from Files.
Bathrooms are part of swim club.
Other Thoughts: I really liked this course. You can tell someone has put some time into this course. It is located in the woods surrounding the swim and tennis club. The first tee is on the left next to the tennis court as you pull into the parking lot. There are a couple rules signs but no course map. The club may have maps and rental discs but call about that.
The flow I thought was quite nice and easy to follow. The tees are mulch and were lined with 4x4s on three sides and should be marked with a peice of PVC that has the hole # and distance. There are big white lawn ad signs as next tee signs and some more PVC pointing you in the right direction and the 4x4s were fairly easy to spot. The average hole on this course is about 300 ft, and there is a good chance you will be putting at some kinda angle which makes this course fun and challenging. There is little to no risk of losing a disc in the stream but with the hills, leaves and length of a couple holes and you could lose sight and miss place a disc. The fairways are very well kept and defined for a woods course and uses downed wood to line most of the course and paths to help navigate(a feature I like alot). Hole 13 has had a giant tree fall on the fairway but is still playable and make the hole really interesting and fun.
Hole 1 Throws kinda at Tee 2, there are a few trees blocking the tee but could be an issue as you can't see the 2nd tee when teeing off the 1st.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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