10 Helpful / 0 Not
The Hawks and the Cows are Home here
Pros: Super-secluded course located in the wilds of Virginia farmland. Up and down through cow pastures, cowpies, along creekbeds and through forests- this place will throw everything at you. The course really demands strategy with the placement on many of the shots (especially par 4 & 5 holes). The terrain is used quite well, especially around the creekbed and fencelines that keep both the long and short holes honest. The best part of this place is the seclusion, followed by the great variety of holes.
My favorites would be #8 - a medium sized hole that runs the length of a creekbed, #12 - another hole that goes along the edge of the creek as well- (lots of danger here), #15- a hole that starts in a field, then bottlenecks downhill into woods along a creek (a real strategy hole).
personally think that you will love this course more if you have a big arm. Many of the holes will give you an advantage to score birdies if you have distance. The rest of us will look at holes like #7 (about 1000'), #10 (very long) as a bit of a chore when throwing across big open fields without many obstacles.
Cons: Some holes take awhile to find (even with the maps provided), due to the fact that all the tees are natural and have no posts (just rocks) on the tees. This is just a perspective of a first-time player.
Three holes (#7, #10, #18) are very long and open - long-armers will probably love these holes. I thought they would benefit more from having more obstacles in/along the fairway instead of depending on length of the hole. This is a very minor criticism, but just need to be honest.
Other Thoughts: I wish I'd had time to get 2 rounds in - it's way off the beaten path and scenic, so it would make it more worth your time to stay awhile!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
35 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: I won't get into detail about each hole (That's been done already *wink wink*) but what I really love about John's course is the utilization of the land and how multiple elements come into play on any given hole. Hole 15 is the best example of this. At first glance it appears to be a downhill 300+ bomber. Then it becomes quite apparent that a wayward shot will punish you. The open field quickly turns into dense tree coverage...and there's only one good line to the basket...and the entrance to this line is only about 20 feet wide...and it's a good football field full of trees to the basket...and there's a water hazard behind the pin. *sigh*
A lazy river runs through the course and forces you to utilize restraint or massive bravado. Either way, if you screw up, you've got some strokes coming.
Each shot is important at Hawk Hallow. There is little opportunity to shank a drive and make up for it with an upshot. I felt like I was playing chess with discs.
Cons: I would say nothing here but I understand that some people care about the following:
There are no private restrooms, perfect tee signs, perfect tees,benches, stable bridges, or mommies to heal your bruised ego.
I would also rather go backwoods camping then veg out in a KOA.
Other Thoughts: Before I went to the course I read there was a 975 flat-ground hole and make the assumption that it was designed by a thoughtless big-arm looking to impress the wayward "professional" golfer. I couldn't have been more wrong. Hole 7 and every hole on the course requires that you throw every shot exactly were it needs to go...or you have a stack full of "get out of jail free" cards.
Hawk Hollow is an excellent example of course design. "Risk versus Reward" is a necessary requirement of a great course and it's very apparent that a lot of thought went into every hole.
35 of 38 people found this review helpful.
51 Helpful / 12 Not
Hawk Hollow: My disc golf thesis on near disc golf perfection
Pros: Preface: Hawk Hollow is my favorite course out of the 350 or so courses I have played thus far; the design is fantastic, the scenery beautiful, and the aura is friendly and relaxing. If you are looking for an unbiased review based on the number of trash cans or benches and tee signs on the course - read someone else's review because I don't have what you are looking for. If you want hole by hole accounts of 18 holes that I think comprise some of the best disc golf out there, enjoy.
Hawk Hollow is going to test you no matter where your game is. The course has been clearly developed for the gold and near-elite level players but many holes offer challenges to silver and below as well. You aren't going to conquer this course because you can throw 500 feet or through your ability for technical drives and par saves - although both will certainly help. To beat this course you need a well rounded physical and mental game. The physical demands of the course require mastery of a variety of shots including big distance, short & mid range technical, high angle uphills, and big, often windy downhills. On the mental side, the course frequently offers up 'true' risk/reward (not just reward/no reward) scenarios and you'll need to find places to attack and other places to patiently hang back depending on your play, conditions, and abilities. HH usually does not forgive poor or even half-decent drives and is frustrating in this respect. Holes that appear simple and easy during casual play take on a life of their own during tournaments. Everyone frequently remarks how easy it should be to break par on this course but in reality, it rarely happens.
Cows - This property is a working cow farm so you will encounter the cows while you are out playing often right when you need to lay down a roller J For the most part, they'll just spectate from a distance but other times they'll be surrounding baskets, blocking tees, etc.
Baskets/Tees- The baskets are a mix of just about everything you can imagine from rusty homemades to Mach III's and Discatchers. Some catch well, some not so well. The tees out here are all natural and are marked by painted rocks - some have a little bit of old carpeting but most are just straight on the dirt. I prefer natural tees because I can bring out cleats for great grip on drives and approaches; but if you don't have cleats, you may become frustrated with slippage.
Private - The course is private and you will need to contact the course owner before playing. Fortunately, he's an all around great guy. All that said, clean up after yourself and be careful with the barbed wire because no one is getting paid to fix your mistakes out here.
Hole X Hole
Hole 1 - The course starts out with perhaps one of the most innocent holes on the course, a long open 429' downhill drive with a small OB creek behind the basket. Besides going long, which is not hard to do, there isn't much trouble to be found here. A putter can often reach this basket on a calm day, while mids and drivers can easily make it there.
Hole 2 - Hole 2 plays back up the same hill as a booming 320' turnover shot. The distance for this hole is challenging for silver and gold level players as it will require nearly full power and a disc that will hold a turnover all the way to the basket. Any flex out here is almost a guaranteed par. Again, there is little danger here - go for it!
Hole 3 - Hole 3 is where the course first offers up its first challenge. 462' feet with a slight downhill. There are large OB zones lining the left side of the fairway which slopes off down hill and another zone which runs perpendicular to the fairway at the bottom of a sloping ravine and which separates you from the basket starting at about XXX feet out from the tee and continuing to within 40' of the basket. This is a hole where you SHOULD be able to somewhat consistently make it across to the "island" green, but few do or even try to on the drive. In fact, this drive on this hole is often called a 'forced-layup'.
As I see them, there are four options off of the tee (one go for and three safety), all of which have their own dangers and rewards.
Option #1 The Beauty - "Stunning when done right, but no imitators accepted"
The Beauty is the obvious "go-for" shot which is a rolling turnover low-ceiling shot which attempts to clear the OB ravine. If you have the line and height right and enough distance, you will likely make it across - but if anything is off you are pretty much guaranteed bonus strokes and a second potentially precarious shot over OB.
Now to the safety shots.
Option #2 The Cutie - "Short and sweet but better look good"
Safety shot #1 utilizes the same fairway as the eagle attempt shot but is thrown with a mid range or putter that lands just short of the downward sloping ravine. Again, any left finish on this shot will land OB and anything that floats for too long will also skip down into the ravine. This is perhaps the most difficult safety shot to execute but also the one that offers the easiest 3 when done properly. If successful, you will leave yourself with an 80-100 foot open putter shot over OB.
Option #3 The Cow - "Clumsy and dumb but gets the job done"
Safety shot #2 is a bit easier off the tee but usually results in a slightly more difficult upshot and potentially a bit of luck. This shot utilizes the 'second fairway' to the right of the first tree of the tee. It is a controlled hyzer or hyzer skip shot that bends around the line of trees that separate the two fairways and lands near the safety shot #1 landing zone. You are unlikely to end up OB on your drive unless you roll down the hill, but if you encounter a bad skip or straighten the disc too much, you are frequently left with a more difficult turnover or sidearm from 100-170 feet over the OB and under a constrained ceiling. Tick a tree or hyzer out on the backhand approach and you are looking at OB again.
Option #4 The Bull - "Raw, stupid power"
Safety shot #3 is the "duh" shot of this hole and exchanges much of the skill for raw power and probability, but don't write-off this approach as it can be quite effective under the right conditions. This shot utilizes the same fairway as the Cow but instead of fading to the left, this shot is thrown at full power flat at the treeline well to the right of the basket. With any luck the shot will break through the treeline or at least part of it leaving an approach which is likely somewhat technical through trees but mostly OB free. When the odds strike you well, you can be looking at a wide open putt from 30-70'; when they don't, you'll likely be finding extra strokes without even touching OB.
The awesome thing about this hole is that all of these approaches work and I've used all of them at some point while playing this course. I'll try to throw the Beauty on calm days where I'm feeling confident and relaxed (usually not tournament day). I rarely throw the Cutie but this is probably the most popular choice off the tee for other golfers. The Cow is my go to for tournament situations because I can to relax on the tee shot and I have a forehand that performs the upshot well even under pressure - I rarely bogey with this choice (and also never '2' with this choice) but it saves mental energy during tournaments. I bring the Bull out on days that are really windy or days were I just don't feel confident in my other shots because it minimizes the skill needed and instead relies on probability. To make the Bull work though you have to have strength in converting short technical out shots from the bad lies that this route will often leave you with. I've deuced the hole several times using the Bull so I'll also bring it out in situations where I would like to have a go-for birdie opportunity but can't afford OB such as match play.
Hole 4 - Hole 4 is one of those that really separates the elite pros from the rest. Its not a super technical shot but being able to execute it with a controlled midrange seems to greatly enhance the odds of getting a birdie 3. The hole is a moderate downhill of 421' feet which has a slow right to left turn - perfect for a middle stability roc or similar disc. Directly behind the quick green and basket is a straight drop into the river - so long floaty putts beware. Not having good control of midrange discs I feel like I have a huge disadvantage here compared to others - I get some birdies but much lower % than others. This is a hole that challenges every skill level for birdie.
Hole 5 - The concept behind this par 4 hole is fairly simple. You throw a steep uphill shot through a small window to land on top of the hill and then usually have 200-260 feet for your approach shot. After you are on top of the hill, you need to throw a left to right working shot which catches on the downward sloping hill where the basket is. There is OB to the left and beyond the basket but this rarely comes into play because of disc grabbing tress. What may not be so straightforward at first is the importance of every inch you can get off the tee. Shots that land on the incline of the hill (not all the way up) are nearly impossible to convert for 3 - the distance just too long and the runup too uphill to get an approach to the basket and even when you do throw the upshot far enough from here, a driver is unlikely to stick on the hill anywhere near the basket. If you can view any part of the basket on your second shot you are at a huge advantage and of course, the slower disc you can throw on the approach, the better your chances for 3.
Hole 6 - This is another pretty straightforward hole which employs a classic dual fairway and a steep (10 or so foot) drop off behind the basket which is perched on the edge of a large protruding rock wall. The most obvious route is a simple putter shot down the center which the player will either try to land at the basket or just bounce over the rock on which the basket is perched for a short but extremely uphill putt. There are a few trees to navigate and this route is relatively easy - the hard part is not throwing too short, setting up a really risky putt, or too long in which case it is easy to fly 50-70 feet past the basket. The other choice is to throw the left fairway with a sidearm or lefty backhand. This fairway is not as clean and technically slightly more demanding but offers a clear advantage in that you usually don't have to worry about flying too far or too short of the pin. Offsetting this advantage is that when you execute properly, you will almost always have a 15-25 foot putt which is uphill, sideways, or just plain dangerous. This is another hole which offers some pretty cool strategic tradeoffs and allows players to think about their personal strengths.
Hole 7 - This is one of the classic and probably most talked about hole on the course and at an even 975 feet, its also the longest. It is a true par 5 although huge arms can get down for a putt at 3. From the tee, it's a straight gut shot that has to clear a slightly elevated riverbank at about 225 feet. Trees evenly line both sides of the fairway and restrict the ceiling slightly as well. 30 feet after the river bank the hole opens up into a treeless field which is flat in elevation change but bumpy - so rollers don't work particularly well. The emotional result of this setup is an intimidating tunnel of trees with a clear visual of the target/success. I find that when I'm thinking about the relief I'll feel when I make the field, the drive is likely to fail. I succeed when my mind can just "sit" with the anxiety of the drive and focus on the shot rather than the hoped for result (perhaps this is just me). After you break into the field, the hole is really formality only - if you can throw a clean 400-450 on the second drive, you are pretty much home free for an easy putter or short sidearm to the basket and a birdie 4. Long hyzer approaches to this pin are made more difficult because of perfectly situated low-hanging branches to the right side of the basket; hyzer approaches must be low and strong. There is an OB creek behind this basket as well but usually does not come into play unless someone throws very long or a lefty skips quite hard and long.
Hole 8 - This is a tricky little shot which has a river running down the entire left side of the fairway. At about 291 feet, it is not particularly long but any error here tends to end in penalty strokes as righties tend to almost exclusively kick off left into the river. The hole does offer three choices off the tee, each of which have tradeoffs in terms of resulting lies and OB strokes. The only route which really offers consistent chances at birdie is the main window which runs parallel to the river. It's a high turnover roc, aviar, or driver that must maintain a left to right finish - any left finishing shot is likely river bound because of the skippiness of the fairway and the downhill slope towards the river. The second, somewhat more safe option is a hyzer line which runs to the right of the second tree on the right from the tee - this shot looks pretty ugly and tight but can offer easy pars with the occasional 30 footer for birdie. Kicks here usually stay in bounds and leave only marginally technical upshots for par thus mitigating some of this hole's danger. The really safe route is one tree to the right of the route just described. Its even tighter than the first route and plays almost out into the field on the right side of the fairway. Choosing this line pretty much abandons all hope for birdie in exchange for a pretty much guaranteed par if you have ability to make a somewhat technical upshot through trees.
Hole 9 - Hole 9 is a short uphill punch up a tight tree-lined hill. At 210' feet, its not very long but you will likely be throwing a driver or midrange as the hill prevents shots from going too far past the basket and clubbing down offers little benefit. There isn't too much to think about on this shot, if you hit one of the obvious gaps, you will have a putt, if not, hitting early trees often results in a difficult uphill approach with poor footing. The other really interesting thing about this hole is what happens after you drive - you hike straight up the hill. For those who aren't in triathlon shape the walk up the hill to the basket will likely leave you a bit out of breath and/or may tax the quads a bit leaving you with a much different body sensation while you are putting. I've noticed that there is a huge advantage in being CTP on this hole in terms of putting as you get to compose your self and relax before it is time to putt out - get up there quick and then take your full time to prepare yourself. Those who have to get up the hill and quickly putt out first often leave putts short probably due to diminished leg drive or general fatigue. Its not a big hill, but it is big enough to make a difference.
Hole 10 - Hole 10 is one of the classic holes that makes HH so great. This par 4 measures 804 feet in length with a tree-lined creek running perpendicular to the fairway, completely dividing tee from basket. The creek is located approximately 500 feet from the tee, which is an open downhill bomb to a narrowing triangle of land which is created by two converging creeks (the one running perpendicular to the fairway and another running parallel down the right side of the fairway).
On the tee you have to choose to layup short of the creek or try to cross it based on the distance you throw, the wind conditions, and your tolerance for risk. Getting across the creek on the drive is not easy to be sure. I would estimate that to cross it, you would have to make the equivalent of a 450' flat level throw AND make the opening between the trees which line the banks of the creek. The opening is large enough at around 100' wide but hitting it cleanly is complicated by the downhill nature of the shot and the frequent winds on this open hill. Any shot that flips over in the wind and doesn't come back is either OB across the creek to the right or is in such a position as to demand a huge turnover over the treetops which fades right for the entire length of the shot. Shots that hyzer out to hard either run into the trees lining the creek, the creek itself, or land so far left of the opening that a back hand throw to the basket is impossible. Players who have hyzered too far and are trying to throw over or around the trees from the left of the opening face a nearly impossible challenge unless they have a very long flex sidearm or a Schwebby-like thumber which MAY be able to get up over the high stand of trees. I don't think I've ever seen a birdie 3 from a player anywhere on the left side of the opening who did not have a clear sightline to the basket. If you went for and made the opposite side of the creek (I've only ever seen 3 players make this shot in competitive scenarios), you have a relatively open turnover shot of less than 300 feet which should be easy to convert for a birdie. Because of all the danger involved on the drive and the low probability of clearing the creek, most players opt to purposely lay up short of the creek bed in a large flat field at the bottom of the hill. From here, the birdie is difficult but doable with a controlled turnover driver or a long flexing sidearm.
Hole 11 - Along with 17, this is my least favorite hole on the course even though I usually score well here. There is just not that much to this shot other than managing wind and distance. The hole is a hard left-to-right shot around a stand of trees. The basket is set about 20 feet in front of a creek and the green is rather fast so the OB creek comes into play frequently. There are two main options: turnover putter, midrange or an overstable sidearm. For newer players this is a great hole to learn about how wind can and should dictate shot selection off the tee. When there is headwind on this hole, the backhand turnover is preferred because it will pan slowly around the corner and will fall quickly at the end before the stream behind the basket. When the wind is from behind (or if the wind is coming in from the left side across the open field), the sidearm will yield an easy 2 if you have the distance; the backhand in this situations is less effective as the disc will fall quickly and will not fade right as far as is needed.
Hole 12 - Hole 12 is one of the most evil disc golf holes I've ever encountered. Normal scores here can range from 3-8 or more. This hole is notorious for ruining otherwise great rounds; I know I'm always breathing a sigh of relief at the next tee with a 3 or sometimes, even a 4.
The fairway itself off the tee is lined by OB barb wire fence about 10' to the left and an OB creek which runs the entire length of the fairway on the right side - again about 10'. The OB and trees on either side of the fairway create a tunnel for about the first 180-200 feet. After about 220 feet, the tunnel runs into thick pencil trees and the fairway turns slightly right - its at about this point most players want to land their drive. Assuming you've made it there, its another 80-90 feet up a small rocky hill to the basket.
The real danger of this hole is just how many ways you can find OB here. Hitting any of the trees on either side with any velocity usually results in a kick into the creek or beyond the fence. Likewise, anything that skips is likely to find edge and end in trouble - a sidearm off the tee here looks really enticing the first couple times you play the course but the probability of skips or rolls into the creek makes this shot extremely difficult to score well with over the long term. From up on top near the basket, it is not uncommon to see rollaways that end up down in the creek either so be sure to land your approach shots and putts flat.
Off the tee, you pretty much have three options. The most common option is a slow left to right turning midrange or putter which, if executed, leaves an easy three opportunity. You try to land this shot at the base of the hill that leads up to the basket. The second option is to throw a driver on a high, tight flex line and try for the extremely rare birdie. It almost goes without saying that if you throw high for the birdie, any tree hit is going to net you some 'p's' on your scorecard. The third option which is becoming more and more available is a short hyzer directly over the creek bed off the right corner of the teepad. This hole never used to be there, but over the two years that I played the course, seemed to be opening up more and more. The shot here isn't hard, but it has to get a little lucky to make it back to the fairway. Any tree/branch is going to send you to the creek and because you started your shot OB, your best option will likely be to retee throwing three.
Hole 13 - Hole 13 is one of the most straightforward holes on the course. It's a really short 228 foot tunnel shot with the basket dead ahead at the end of the tunnel. Not much strategy or route options here, just grab a putter or a mid and thread the needle being sure to not throw long because a large creek runs about 20' behind the basket. Better get the two here because it is really the last good opportunity of the round.
Hole 14 - Hole 14 shoots out of a short tunnel of trees into an open field and then to a basket tucked about 50' back into a moderately wooded tree line. The fairway slopes downhill from right to left and there is a moderate elevation gain from tee to basket which is a bit deceiving. Another thing to consider on this hole is an OB barbed wire fence which extends perpendicular to the fairway about 15-20' beyond the pin. I find the distance a bit awkward because although the hole itself is only 435 feet, its uphill and requires more distance than I could throw. My best shots at full power landed right at or a few feet short of the tree line which left putts which were really too long to have much of a chance for birdie. Instead, I often play one of the two layup drives which work well for this hole. These two options are just characterized by whether they end up on the right side (higher) of the fairway or the left (lower) side of the fairway. From the left side of the fairway, most players throw a straight or turnover putter shot anywhere from 90'-180' through the obvious window through the tree line. It's probably the most popular way to play this hole but there is a real possibility of landing OB either by hyzering out on the approach, hitting a tree and kicking left, or throwing too far. In my opinion, the second layup option from the right side of the fairway is superior if you have a sidearm which you are confident in. The drive itself isn't any harder or different with the exception that you finish straight instead of hyzering down the hill. From there, it's a short sidearm skip shot through the trees to the pin. The main benefits of this shot is that it is much harder to go OB on the approach. First, you are approaching perpendicular to OB rather than parallel so kicks are unlikely to go OB and for the same reason, hyzering out doesn't result in OB either. Throwing too far becomes the only real potential for OB. The main tradeoff for this shot is that you usually have to throw through a smaller window than the approach from the left side, but to me it still seems well worth it.
This is a hole which will probably benefit from new, high speed disc technology. As drivers can be thrown further, LHBH throwers especially will be able to throw a long flex shot to the pin. As it is now, there isn't much to scare you from just gripping and ripping something right at the pin unless you are prone to shank, in which case you'll probably miss the window off the tee and be in a world of hurt. If you can bomb it with some degree of accuracy, that option would probably outweigh either of the layup shots on most days.
Hole 15 - One of the best holes on the course; a true par four hole with the drive/approach through a rolling, open field. The left side of the hole is bordered by an OB fence and the right side of the fairway is bordered by a treeline which narrows the fairway the closer you get to the natural 'dogleg' turn. At about 350', there is a 25' wide opening in the trees which leads down a large dropoff to the basket which is straight ahead another 250' and bordered on the right by an OB creek.
This is another one of those holes that seems easy on paper but in reality is only very rarely birdied. The first part of the fairway is through a wide open field with an OB fence which runs down the entire length of the fairway starting about 10' to the left of the tee. By far the most obvious way to play this hole for the RHBH player is to throw a 300-350' layup drive which lands somewhere near the mouth of the opening of the dogleg turn. The only trick here is that, in general, the closer you can be to the OB fence and the closer you can be to the mouth of the dogleg, the better your odds for birdie 3. On the other hand, shots that miss to the left go OB and shots that are close to the opening but off line have virtually no legitimate chance of making the straight approach shot because of the odd angle. It's a true risk reward scenario - trying to make it closer to the ideal landing zone are more difficult but more likely to be rewarded while drives which are safer or shorter are somewhat more difficult to convert for birdie. This hole really goads people into trying to land right at the mouth even though it may be beyond the player's skill level to execute a high percentage of the time. For the vast majority of players (including myself) the wiser shot is to try to land in more comfortable 40-90' range from the opening and leave yourself some options for the approach shot, which is quite difficult.
Assuming you have landed somewhere near the intended landing zone, you now have an arrow straight approach shot straight down the hill to a fast skippy green and with thick trees on either side of the fairway. To add to the complications, the hill slopes sharply upwards on the left side which means many shots that hyzer out too much at the finish will end up rolling down the hill into the creek which lines the entire right hand side of the green and fairway. Bad tree kicks and shots which fade right will also likely end up OB (remember, throwing downhill requires an extra bit of disc stability than throwing level).
As a side note: there are some pro players who will play this hole like the "bull" (see hole #3) and basically just pound a hard drive somewhere near the opening and hope for a good kick. It may or may not be effective, I've never really tried as it just seems too far and random to be worthwhile. For lefty's you may want to try a big bombing hyzer that enters the treeline to the left of the dogleg opening and filters down. Again, I don't know many lefties who throw quite that far and so don't know how this shot plays out over multiple rounds.
Hole 16 - This par 4 always seems a bit out of place to me because in my opinion it lacks a lot of the strategy present on the other par 4 holes here; but what this hole lacks in strategy it makes up for in its technical demands. The hole itself basically runs straight down the center of a long spine of hill for the first 300' and then drops off gradually to a flat pocket where the basket is located. On either side of the fairway, there is a moderate dropoff and along both sides of the whole fairway there are loads of thin trees. A creek runs behind the basket and is especially in play for righties whose drives or approaches hyzer off down the hill. The one component that will make you successful on this hole is the ability to finish somewhere towards the center of the fairway. Even the best of drives will still likely have to contend with thick trees on the approach shot., but being high on the hill and within sight of the basket will offer a huge advantage.
Hole 17 - This is a hole definitely designed for the elite pros. At 400 feet, its not that long but for the large majority of players, a three should be considered a birdie. From the tee, you have to throw through a tight, low ceiling window out into an open field. A thick treeline runs down the length of the left side of the fairway with the right side being completely open. At the end of the treeline on the left, the basket is set on the rise of a hill about 15' or so above the tee. If you have the ability and distance, it is possible to throw straight down the treeline and hyzer off towards the pin. Increases in disc technology will/has probably brought this hole "in range" for many more players. For the rest of us mortals, a good shot will clear through the window and BE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE FAIRWAY. Much easier said than done, not because it is a tough shot, but because your gut will tell you to just throw straight and long. If you hyzer out and land anywhere on the left side of the fairway, you are pretty much guaranteed a four because of the angle your approach shot needs to take. The best option is to sacrifice a bit of distance and leave yourself a nice open hyzer to the pin.
Hole 18 - A great finishing hole which is losing some of its luster due to high speed discs. At 693' it is a long par 4 but plays shorter due to the downhill tee shot. This hole is almost completely wide open and treeless with an OB creek which runs the entire length of the right side of the fairway, narrowing as it approaches the pin. An OB fence runs the left side of the fairway but is usually not in play unless you really shank one. The challenge on this hole is a large hill which splits the fairway and a basket location which is hidden behind the hill until you are within about 100'. The drive is a big downhill bomb on which most players try to land somewhere on the right side of the fairway, close to the creek. From there it is a big hyzer around the side of the hill to the pin. Throw this hole with a Teebird, Eagle, or other fairway driver and you get an appreciation for its design. A Boss or Destroyer, and its just getting too easy to score a birdie 3 - in my opinion, unfortunately, a tee change or basket change is already due to keep this hole relevant.
Cons: Skill level - My opinion is that this course plays great for the high-silver through elite level players, those players at slightly lower skill ranges (<900) might not see large scoring variation or rewards (birdies) for good drives on some of the holes where longer drives are needed to set up birdie opportunities. For example, if you can't throw around 320', it will likely be difficult to score birdie on a hole like #5 where an uphill drive of this length and an upshot of around this length is needed. Scoring variation for a player like this will probably be very low with the vast majority of scores being 4.
Navigation - Because the tees are all marked with painted rocks, it can be difficult to find the next tee. The course flows logically in most places but finding tees like 1, 3, 8, 10, 16 might prove challenging for first-timers
Safety - When the rivers are high, the bridges here often get washed out. I know there are lots of volunteers who are building new bridges, but be ready to balance on logs, rocks, etc. to cross in some places.
Another safety note: Despite what the course owner will tell you, the cows CAN be aggressive (during calving season is when I have noticed it). I have had them full out charge a group of us to the point where we had to run and dive under a barb wire fence.
Poop - Yup, there's cow poop out there and your disc just landed in a fresh one. It'll happen, bring a towel…
It could be worse - There are sometimes dead and decaying cows out there, which are much less pleasant to extract discs from.
Other Thoughts: Almost 2 years ago, this course permanently became a full 27 holes. I've kept this review to the original 18 because I know them best and didn't want to have to add more to the novel that has already been written here. To summarize, most of these holes complement the course very nicely and offer some great challenges. On the other hand, there are also a couple of filler holes in this new 9 which don't add much in my opinion.
Watch out for the 'melty' cows, they're nothin but trouble!
51 of 63 people found this review helpful.
24 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Wow is the way your day will start when you pull to this beautiful working farm and step up to the first tee that overlooks much of the property. Get used to saying wow, you'll say it again. No finer way to start a round than with this 420+ foot bomb off of a large hill over an unobstructed fairway, but then you notice that the pin is just close enough to the creek to give you pause. You get to enjoy the hill again the next hole when you go up it and then to the right to a nicely protected pin. This just sets the tone for the rest of the round. You will get no breaks, but every hole has a reasonable solution, IF you execute. #6 looks like a nice short respite, then you notice that the pin is at the end of a rock outcropping that drops down about 15' immediately after the pin, if you run you better hit metal. #7 brings another wow, 940 feet worth that starts in the trees and then through a large open meadow where you find the pin protected by that darn creek again. This is a recurring theme throughout the round. #10 brings another wow with another epic bomb off a large hill, this time your goal is to get it up near (but not in) the creek to set up another 400' or so to the pin guarded by (guess what?) Mr. Creek again. #15 is is another epic hole that plays atop the hill that borders the creek, you go about 450' or so before you hang a right and go down a 250' tree lined opening to a pin guarded by you-know-what. The rest of the holes are a mix of flat, uphill, downhill, sidehill, long and somewhat short shots through a forest of large deciduous trees with surprising little underbrush. This is a 5 disc layout without a doubt.
Cons: Most of the cons are somewhat tempered by what I'll call extenuating circumstances. The track isn't very well marked, but since you'll have to call for access, chances are good that you'll have a guide that knows their way around. biscoe and vegan ray were kind enough to be our guides the day zenbot and I visited, and you won't find a more gracious host. Many of the pins can't be seen from the tees, but then again, this is an honest par 64 course with a number of legitimate par 4s, if you could see all of the pins from the tees chances are there'd be a number of boring holes. Another thing I came to understand is that if you just pause and survey the surrounding terrain and ask your self 'where would I hide a pin here', chance are good that you'll hit upon the right lane. How much cow flop is there? To paraphrase Elwood Blues when Jake asks him how often the El comes by, so much that you'll stop noticing. I made a promise to myself at the beginning of the round that I wouldn't step in any, well I quickly lied to myself. Fortunately, they dry very quickly so unless you find a really fresh one it's no big deal. Then there are the tees. These are a mix of natural, rubber and turf tees that aren't always graded very well, this is probably the only thing that I would say needs to be improved to be perfect to me. Well, maybe put some roses in the cows feed too, the holes near the corrals are kind of ripe.
Other Thoughts: Several times throughout the round John mentioned how easy the course was to layout. Not to diminish his skill as a designer but when you look around it's harder to imagine a piece of property better suited for disc golf. I really believe him when he says he just walked the land and let the course design itself. I'd characterize this course as a more doable Paw Paw. I love The Woodshed and The Whipping Post, but any good round there will include an element of luck (and a LOT of skill). There are openings here that you can actually see ;-) Speaking of which, I asked John before the round how hard the trek was, he replied that it was more strenuous than Paw Paw. I remember my intial reaction was disbelief. Let me tell you that I'm now a believer. Wow.
24 of 28 people found this review helpful.
29 Helpful / 5 Not
Truly epic course will make you almost forget the cowpies.
Pros: There is no way to quickly sum up this course, so settle yourself in, grab some popcorn, and pull up for a long review that will read like disc-porn: halfway through you ought to be ready to quit your job and roadtrip to Spotsylvania, since you'll be fantasizing about Hawk Hollow's lush rolling hills, carefully crafted holes, and about playing one of the most epic sets of shots in the country. I'll start with the broad outline, and will include a hole-by-hole write up to help guide you through the letter holes in the "other thoughts" section.
The greatest pro of being out here is the bucolic splendor of the place. John Biscoe is the course contact and course designer, and when you're at Hawk Hollow, you're on his nephew's land, and those rolling hills and aged trees are home to cows as well as hawks. John lives up the street, and a lot of the family is within a mile or two of where you are standing. It's that deep sense of rootedness, of family, of people connected to the land. There's love you can feel standing there, and that same care and attention has been put into designing this course, and John and his nephew are gracious hosts, making such an amazing place available to disc golfers. But keep in mind the top rule at Hawk Hollow: cows are more important than you are, so don't throw if you might hit a cow.
You drive down miles of little two land roads to get to this place, and parking on the grass by an old silo, the view looking out over the hills and streams is a balm to anyone like me who spends to much time stuck behind a desk or stuck in a noisy city (DC). The rushing wind over those hills blows out all the dust of urban life and makes you glad to be alive.
Hole 1 starts atop a huge hill. I'd guess the vertical elevation drop is close to 80' -- maybe more. And the 429 hole is reachable with a putter if you huck it right, but you'll come up short with a max-distance driver if you're even the slightest bit nose-up on your throw. The basket it crouching back by a bend in the stream adding some excitement to the shot. It's an amzing place to start the day, because you'll want to unload half your bag trying to park this pin, and there is room to let every disc rip. Watching that mad hangtime off that hill is just a joy to behold. Not a single tree in the way -- you're just playing the elevation and the wind -- and it's harder than it looks to park that hole when you need to. But it's so much fun trying. So after you're arm is loosened up, you hike down the hill, gather your discs, can your deuce putt, and then the challenge begins...
From there, the regular 18 holes is a mix of every shot you can imagine. Substantial elevation is offered on 15/18 holes, and it's a great mix of wide-open, tight-woods, and mixed-woods shots, with plenty of true par-4s, forced placement shots, and OBs to light up the round.
One of the greatest things about HH is that it will never play the same two rounds in a row. In theory, it would be possible to shoot in the 40s out there on the original 18, but it's never been done -- I think the course record from tournament play is a 52 from Craig Gangloff in 2007... Brian Schweberger is there every year for the Hawk Hollow Open, has won it twice, and has never carded better than a 55 on the course. And the way the Hawk Hollow Open is played, it's three rounds on the same 18 holes, so no one has an excuse that they don't know the course or the conditions. It's just that hard, but it's always fair. There are wide lines on almost every hole, but it's a course with penalties for every mistake, and a lot of holes that are true par-4s, requiring well-placed layup shots to have a hope for the birdie-3. Having played all across the country, It's hard to think of any course that is more "fair." The course is a perfect measure of your game on any given day. There is minimal underbrush, and almost no "luck" involved on this course. It's a pure test of skill, and requires every shot in the bag. This is disc golf at it's finest.
And if the regular 18 aren't enough, the 9-letter holes add in some new shots and challenges, a few more birdie opportunities, and a chance to shave some strokes off your round... along with a pair of my favorite holes in all of disc golf (F&G, see below). No end to the challenge.
Cons: Well, the cons -- there are a lot of them, but all the cons added up still don't take this course out of earning a 4.5-rating. Maybe they should, if I could be purely objective, but the intangible "feel-good" quality of a place can make up for a wealth of objective shortcomings, and Hawk Hollow makes up for any drawbacks by the sheer experience of being there.
The biggest drawback for first-time players will be the lack of real tees on many holes and the lack of clear signage. Most holes are marked with a couple of painted rocks in the ground. Tees are dirt/grass/carpet/turf/etc... a whole mix. So there are no "best" shoes to wear, and no guarantee of having good footing on every teebox. This is one of the drawbacks to some private courses, and it's a drawback here. Most of the tees are very good dirt or hearty grass, so there's plenty of traction when you need it, but the inconsistency will bother some people, as will the relatively poor signage. On the bright side, the course flows well and since it's private and you'll have to call John to play anyway, he'll make sure you know how to find your way around, and it really is easy to follow.
The biggest con for regular players are the cowpiles everywhere. This place is a cow pasture, despite the hills and trees and streams, and it shows. Cowpies all over the place, and you're discs will land in them, or you'll step in them at some point in the round -- it's just inevitable. So bring some old shoes and an old towel, and just prepare for it. On the bright side, I've never really found the smell to be a problem -- plenty of breeze and cowpies don't really smell that bad -- they dry quickly on the outside and seal it in.
The next con is going to be the mixed baskets. Holes 1-18 are mostly very good baskets, but the letter holes get a little sketchy, with some homemade and portables mixed in that are harder to putt on. The mix of baskets evens out the game -- you've got to putt on everything -- and it's fair, since everyone plays the same baskets, but it does detract some from the aesthetic of the course. On the upside, the baskets are slowly being replaced through donations, and the new baskets are sweeeeet looking black Discatchers with the Hawk Hollow cow-skull on them. Gorgeous baskets. So given enough years of fundraisers by VA clubs, the baskets here will eventually be some of the best around. It just may be a while, but as new baskets appear, it does allow the homemades and portables to be cycled out of the course, which helps play.
The cows themselves will be a drawback sometimes, when they "get in the way" on a hole. You have to remember that this is their home, and you're the crazy, disc-hucking interloper. So don't get annoyed when there are cows in your way. The first hole I ever played at HH was in a tournament and we walk up to the 800-ft hole 10, throw our drives, get down to them, and I can't see the basket because there whole herd is in the way, surrounding the basket. A little noise and they moseyed on their way and let us play, but it was a pretty funny intro to the course. Just be aware that cows come first, and never throw when you might hurt/hit a cow; they are more important than you are at HH.
As with most private courses, there are no bathrooms, water, or other facilities available. Just come prepared...
And be prepared for a LONG round. 27 holes across this much length and elevation is going to tire you out. Four hours for 27 holes is not unreasonable. And if you get in two full rounds in a day, you'll be wiped out. Especially in summer. The fact that the course is private means you can drink on the course, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should... if it's a hot day, just carry as much water as possible and stay hydrated. You're going to need it to finish out the round.
The biggest con of all is that -- because this is a private course -- you can't just drop in and play anytime you want. Sometimes the course is closed for calving season. Sometimes the grass is grown up. Occasionally the bridges to cross the streams have gotten washed out by storms... all of these are limitations of a private course with limited manpower and limited resources, since the course doesn't generate revenue -- it's a labor of love for the disc golf community. So give it some grace. Dodge the cowpies. Pick up after yourself. Respect the course. And you're in for the round of your life.
Other Thoughts: GUIDE TO THE LETTER HOLES:
Holes A, B and C should be played after hole nine and before hole 10.
A - Plays from behind the trees near the cow feeder at the top of the hill (not the big manger but the little upright mineral feeder) - kind of off to the right of the teebox for hole 3. The pin is in the cluster of cedars down the hill, 650' away (plays like 550'). On your teeshot, you're better off landing higher on the hill on the right side than down the hill on the left. The best opening through the cedars to the pin is on the high side and is a pretty simple RHBH-hyzer, but precision is required. The cedars surround the basket pretty well and the branches are hard to putt out of if you miss the open green. (Estimated Scratch Scoring Average for 1000-rated pros: 3.3)
B - Walk uphill from the previous pin and shoot down to the basket near the fence. This hole is 290', but plays like 230' because of the slope.The basket is near the fence. The swampy area 15' behind the basket is OB, as is the fence 15' right of the basket. The swampy area has a yellow string marking it, but last time I was there, the string was broken, so use your best judgment if it's missing. Also, the basket on this one leans a bit, so extra care is required on the putts. This is a tricky deuce because of the landing area so close to OB, but pretty much a gimme circle-3. (ESSA: 2.6)
C - Plays to the "practice basket" on the hill near 10's teebox. Tee off from behind the cedars at the bottom of hill, about 100' left of the pin for B. This hole is 240' (plays closer to 280) and is the easiest hole on the course by far. You can get there with a putter anhyzer (or spike-flick) around the left tree, a Roc up the gut, or a RHBH spike hyzer around the right cedar. All sorts of ways for the birdie on this hole, but you need to take the birdie. (ESSA: 2.2)
After C, walk to 10 and play holes 10 - 14. After 14, walk up the hill and through the gate to your left. The tee for hole D is directly in front of you.
D - Short hole at ~ 280', straight shot across an open field down into rough, sloping terrain -- fairly easy two. Hill dips down enough that you can't see the basket from the teebox, but it is marked by a flag in a tree. Watch out for some loose barb wire on this hole, and some non-OB barb wire that can eat discs if your drive comes in too far right of the basket. (ESSA: 2.3)
E - Tee is in the field, to the right of D's basket. Hole is 425' over a small valley, finishes silghtly uphill of the launch-point, so distance plays closer to 460'. Drive is through a fairly wide window of trees by the box - just enough trees to force a low, flat shot helix shot instead of allowing big-arms to bomb a hyzer; the window and slope also make rollers tricky to execute well. Basket is hidden behind the left tree of two large cedars that form the best entry window for deuce putt at the basket. Sloping OB fence is probably 35' behind the pole, just enough to slope to make you cautious on long putts. (ESSA: 3.1)
F - One of the new true pro holes. Tee is in the open near the far fence, uphill from the previous basket. This is a 600' bomb off the top of a low hill, OB fence all along the right side, thick trees along the left, basket is hyzer left past the treeline with OB 15' behind the basket. The fairway narrows as you get closer to the pin. It is a wicked, beautiful shot that a pro might could deuce with a perfect drive, or easily double-circle 6, or anything in between. This is the most impressive of the letter holes, with the highest risk/reward ratio. (ESSA: 4.1)
G - Another top-shelf hole. This one is 450', flat for the first 320 feet, throwing out of an alley in the woods to a wide open field, then sharp uphill through a very tight, high-vertical walls of trees guarding the basket on both sides. Everything on the left side of the uphill alley is jail, everything on the right is jail sloping down to OB. Taking a birdie-three one this hole requires a set of precision shots with high risk/reward. The safest option (since no 2-meter rule is in effect) is to place your tee shot out in the field to the left and bomb a RHBH spike hyzer over the guardian trees and down into the tight green. (ESSA: 3.7)
H - Tee is in the open along the main fence, left and out of the trees from the previous basket. This is a 600' open hole that goes down a hill and up a hill with the basket in the middle of a corral, OB all the way down the hole on the left side - it's an easy 4 with a conservative drive; reasonable 3 if you spike-hyzer your upshot into the corral; a 5 if your drive or upshot hyzers OB. (ESSA: 3.3)
After hole H, walk through the gate and out of the corral (make sure all gates are secured behind you), and play hole 15. After hole 15, walk along the stream to the tee for the last letter hole.
I - This is 210' shot up a very sharp incline through trees; vertical elevation change of ~50'. Flick a driver or slight anhyzer on a mid or putter up through a tight-treed alley to the basket. If you miss and kick left, you're in the drink. Watch out for the banks of leaves, as they can be almost two feet deep in places during the fall/winter. This can lose discs and offers tricky footing walking up the hill. (ESSA: 2.5)
The letter holes are a great way to spice up the course. When I have time, I'll try to amend this review to add a writeup for all the holes, but since the letter holes are the trickiest part of navigating the course, I thought it would be helpful to at least include them in this review.
The best thing I can tell you is to get out to Hawk Hollow as quickly as you can. There are few comparable places in the country to test your mettle as a disc golfer. And there are few more beautiful places to play. A day at Hawk Hollow will be one of the best disc golf days of your life... and remember that even if you're shooting in the mid-60s, you're still playing pro-level (~970) golf. And if you're not doing so hot, you're still at Hawk Hollow, and that wind whippin' over those hills is still gonna' whisk all your cares away. Enjoy!
29 of 34 people found this review helpful.
19 Helpful / 0 Not
The best I have played....
Pros: This course is amazing!! Beautifull rolling hills and creeks through a pasture in Virginia. This course has it all, long bombs and short precision throws. The course plays nicely and is easy to follow, great map available as well. I have been playing for less than a year, so for me this was the best I have played. A bit challenging for a newby, I spent a little time fishing my disc out of the creek! But hey, it's my rookie season! There are several uphill throws that test your arms and legs. John, the designer of the course has done a great job incorporating his course with nature. Playing along side the cows was very fun and was a nice change to the courses I usually play near roads and subdivisions.
Cons: I can think of only one con and that would be that the cows occasionally knock over baskets and signs. This really isn't a big deal, hell, it's their place we are playing in!
Other Thoughts: John, the designer was cool and actually played half a round with us. He definitly has the best kept secret in Virginia. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes and water. If you do play keep the exact location on the down low per the request of John.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful.
25 Helpful / 2 Not
My whole body hurts...
Pros: Beautiful land. Long, open bombs (2 800+ holes) and short, technical ace runs. The ridge that 1 & 10 tees are on is huge, and allows for many of the elevation changes throughout the front 9. Playing up that hill on 2, 5, & 9 was minimal relief on my arm, but killed my legs (the hill is freaking huge, I don't know how the cows do it?) I really enjoyed 12, 13, 14, weaving through the woods and over the creek. #7 might have been a little too long, but when looking at the land, it's pretty obvious why he put it there...it just makes for better flow to get to the back holes. I really liked that even though some of the holes (7, 10, A, B, F) are kind of wide open, the pin placements are challenging/tucked away in not so obvious places. And the creek that flows throughout the whole course (in play on 1,7,8,9,10,12,14) is almost pristine in that it's about 10 feet wide throughout and provides a bit of an obstacle without being so dominant and scary as to prevent someone from throwing all out...it's there, but it doesn't really impose too much, but it can kill your score for sure.
Cons: the only cons are because of it's remoteness/roughness
- cow pies...not having grown up around cows I'm not 100% used to dodging crap, but it's not that big of a deal
- tee signs, these are put up everynow and again, but the cows tend to knock things over, including baskets sometimes
-restrooms, these weren't expected because it's private property
Other Thoughts: First of all, John Biscoe is a very gracious host. He played the second half of this monster course with us, showing us the way, although with the maps provided it flowed rather easily.
The course is on his nephew's property, who is just as gracious as John, and for this reason the directions to this course are to remain "private"...if you want to play it, just shoot John an e-mail and i'm sure he'll work something out with you...
I've been playing for 15 years, and other the YMCA course just west of Denver I can think of no other course where I worked my body so hard, and got to play along side livestock...i loved this course and can't wait to go back, but i'm gonna need to do some kind of hiking regimine the weeks leading up to it...it's a hike...
coming from St. Louis I'd say this is a cross between Sioux Passage & JB...but longer than Sioux and more technical than JB & Endicott put together
25 of 27 people found this review helpful.
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