6 Helpful / 0 Not
A grueling deathmarch of the best kind!
Pros: When I'm looking for a challenge from a "local" course, this is where I go. Usually I ended up swearing at least once per hole, I usually ended up bleeding from more than one spot. A brand new course shows its youth, in years to come it can only improve - they have a great thing going here.
-Variety of holes. Each hole is a new challenge. Wooded technical holes, long doglegs (a good variety of left and right) 2 is a difficult dogleg left 4 and 5 are long dogleg left shot; narrow "thread the needle" wooded fairways, 11 and 13 are incredible tight fairways; wide open long bombs, 7 is a beautiful 711 foot downhill bomb, with the wind i could rip it about 450, 9 is a long 670 foot uphill run; Water beatifully comes into play on a few holes, 12 and 13 cross a swamp (doesn't really come into play, unless it's a bad toss), my heart always skips a beat when I walk up to the tee of 15, I have to convince myself that I can do it it's an amazing throw across the lake, 16 plays across a swamp, and then 17 I'm sure is a wonderful hole during normal water levels, but when I was there it was nearly impossible to play, completely surrounded by water except on the right side it was blocked by an impenetrable thicket.
-Map/Scorecards. Beautiful map at the beginning with a mailbox full of score cards (the best looking scorecards I've ever seen, all they need to do is put some sponsors on it to make some $ for the course!)
-Map and Scorecard at the start, nothing like being provided with a wonderful scorecard with a map on the back to help with navigation along the way
-Relatively Quiet Compared to the other courses in the area, Hidden lake is usually much less crowded and visited by more serious players as it is so difficult, not many shankers find their way here.
-Navigation Signs, Though some signs were only cardboard stapled to a tree, the signs were quite helpful in directions to the next tee, even between 11 and 12 (put on your walking shoes) as soon as I felt like I had been walking too far, I would notice a sign that said I was still on the right track (after what seems like a mile, I finally made it to the 12th tee box).
-Challenging. This is a draw for many that want to get away from the St. Cloud courses, and this also keeps out the riff-raff of the local college students.
Cons: -Tee Boxes, the gravel tee boxes were more like sand boxes when I played, mostly the were playable, but on a few holes I found an alternate place to tee off from, I need to protect my knees. Hopefully something is done about this soon, this is my biggest gripe about this course.
-Brand new, Built in 2009 this course shows its youth, with many stumps yet to be cleared, some rough cut fairways, and temporary (hopefully) navigation signs will all improve with age.
-Not for Beginners, this would not be a fun place to learn the game.
-Multiuse park, I only put this in the con section because I had to wait for others enjoying the area a couple times (personally I think it's great that disc golfers and other reacreationists can survive in unison in such a beautiful park).
-Water, not really a con in my mind, I think it's a beautiful use of the water, but, it is only a matter of time before I lose a disc on this course if I continue to play.
Other Thoughts: Of all the courses in the area, I would recommend this one to anyone that loves the game of disc golf (not beginners). It is a beautiful, fun, challenge with a great variety of holes and by the time I reach the end I always feel accomplished, like I survived the gauntlet. This one is worth going out of the way for.
Number 15, This hole is in the back of my mind the entire round, I'm looking forward to it, I'm dreading it. As I approach the tee my heart begins to thump, it's a challenge not to let my mind get the best of me as I let it rip. It's a beautiful shot, I can only imagine that there's hundreds of discs at the bottom of that lake.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Fairly new to disc golf
Pros: This course is probably the best course in the St. Cloud area. I have only a couple of years into disc golf and have only played courses in the St. Cloud area but this one is by far the most dificult course I have played. At the same time it is also the most entertaining due to the changes in elevation and scenery. I look like the noob that I am when I play here but it forces me to improve my game.
Cons: You will be looking for discs if you are not spot on with your throws. Bugs are bad later in the summer. Water crossings if you are a noob.
Other Thoughts: This course was only opened in 2009, it will get better with use. I feel this course has the potential to be a championship course in the future. It has the makings of a great course so please bare with the growing pains. If you have suggestions please contact the city, the web site can be found online. I do work for the city but not on the park side of things. I have been trying to get this for a few years and I am glad to see it come to life.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Very good course
Pros: The course is well laid out with good elevation changes and good use of the ponds. It is a difficult course that you need to be precise on your shots. Very nice piece of land. The course is set up well.
Cons: Several of the holes have no real fairway. There should be a way to get to the basket, even if it's tight, that's fine. This is the only reason I didn't give it a higher rating. Could easily be fixed.
Other Thoughts: I didn't go into a detailed review because the other review is very detailed and covers almost everything. I think this could be one of the best courses around if they cleaned out some of the smaller trees that are in the fairways. They need to have a way to get to the basket. If a few of the holes were fixed, it would be a championship quality course.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Amazing in all ways... Play ASAP!
5 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Everything: Difficulty, Multiple tees, every disc golf obstacle known to man, beauty, raspberries growing on the course, full 18 holes in huge park, parking, very nice bathrooms, playground, sand volleyball court and shelter, easy to find, many shot varieties, relatively easy to navigate. Tees and signs are adequate.
Cons: -Minnesota's state bird: the mosquito.
-Thick thick underbrush just off most narrow fairways.
-Too hard unless you're a very advanced player (im not but still enjoyed the challenge very much.)
-Some navigation signs made of cardboard but I think they will be replaced by longer lasting materials soon.
Other Thoughts: I am not about to go into as much detail as the other guy because his review was amazing. I am going to second everything he said except one. He mentioned no signs being put on the course and that is completely fixed. Signs for every tee and navigation signs between tees.
I believe that this course will continue to improve over time as more people play it.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Killer New Course in St Cloud area
Pros: This is a "killer" course in two of the ways in which that word is used in slang terms: several holes are killer awe-inspiring (there are several signature-type holes) and almost all the holes are killer formidable. (Once you play, you'll insert your own appropriate slang.)
I just played the 18-hole layout this afternoon in around two hours. (Much of the time was in scouting the blind pin locations, but I'm pretty sure it will still take around an hour and a half the many times I will no doubt replay this course in the future.) At the end of 18, I was left drenched in sweat, exhausted and covered with scratches (from digging around looking for my discs in tall weeds and brush). The course gobbled, chewed me to pieces, and spat me out, but I loved every minute of the hole-after-hole experience of challenges.
My 4.5 rating is strictly based on the design of the course as it would play for highly advanced, championship level players. It is NOT a course for beginners - unless they are into masochism -- or even most intermediate level players (see "Cons" section). It is a tough, tough course. It requires pinball alley accuracy on almost every hole and, on several holes, big arms. As I do not have either (I'm a moderately-skilled Grandmaster bracket player), I suppose I'm one of the first handful of casualties on this wonderful DGC addition to the St. Cloud area.
As it is a brand-new layout, with some cosmetic touches that are likely to come in the near future (e.g. yardage signs and, I hope, detailed maps), I have excluded rating criteria such as signage, directions and amenities from this review. Given the labor of love expended already on building this course, I assume these "extras" will be above standard.
To sum up, these are the plusses that jump out for me about Hidden Lake DGC based on its current state of infancy:
-- Extremely challenging. Perhaps a 5.0 rating in terms of difficulty and precision required. It's the toughest layout I've faced out of the over 60 courses I've attempted.
-- Nice variety of holes. 13 of the holes are tight, technical holes with at least a section of the hole demanding varying degrees of needle-threading through trees on fairways that vary in width from around 3 paces (8~9 feet) to 6 paces (16~18 feet). On many of these narrow fairways, if you miss, you need to bite the bullet and toss the disc a few feet back onto the fairway. The first six holes start out this way and, just when you think you can't take any more shots deflected into the dense set of trees and brush, you come into the clear on #7 and breathe a huge, giddy sigh of relief. Including this very welcome, spacious and beautiful, yet long, #7, I counted just 3 holes played mostly in the clear. (#16 is among in this category, yet this hole still requires a very careful placement on the drive.) 2 holes are over the water, including the stunning #15. (see note below).
-- Several signature holes that induced some jaw-droppage. I found myself saying to myself "You've got to be kidding" and "Oh my god" seven, eight times during the round, but these were the four holes I thought really stood out.
#7: Great hilltop view from the tee of an open prairie with the basket at the far end. After 6 highly technical holes, it is a wonderful relief to be in the wide open space.
#14: Classic tunnel hole where the drive needs to thread through an 8 foot wide opening that extends around 100 feet. It is virtually impossible to nail it through this entire 30~35 yard stretch from the back tee. An option for big arms (not me) is to throw over the trees an immense hyzer or tomahawk to a moderate-sized clearing at the lakeside basket. (You can't see this opening from the tee, so consider checking it out before your make your decision about strategy from the tee.)
#15, from the back tee: Even if you are wimp-armed like me, and need to drive from the short tees it is worth standing at this back tee in awe to look at the basket across the lake. I estimate it is 300+ feet to clear the water, and the basket is further on, through a patch of trees in a clearing that begins around 400 feet away from the tee with the hole another 100 feet or so beyond. (Not being Jesus, I couldn't pace out the distance over the water, so this is my best estimate via eying it.) I foresee #15 from the tips inspiring some gorilla-armed disc golfers to rate it the "best hole in Minnesota" if not one of the top three or four. It will certainly be one of the most photographed.
Note: I opted for #15's front tee. Even from this "A-is-for-Amateur" shorter location, the hole is scenic as well as challenging as it requires a well-placed annie throw over the marshy south end of the lake into the narrow opening that leads to the raised basket area.
#17: Another beauty over a marshy section of the lake to a tightly placed basket on the other side. Get your cameras out again. (I did.) This is reachable for those who can throw over 200 feet, but the trick is in avoiding the late fade to the left as this will bring doom. Over-compensate or avoid failure - i.e. aim to far right - and you'll likely go into the woods and bogey automatically. This is like the classic opposite-sex beauty you aspire to win over: so gorgeous, but there's the risk-reward aspect of whether you should go for it straight on or not. (Life is short; go for tit.)
-- Beautiful natural setting. Did I already say this course (when you're not in the thick brush) is a pretty sight to behold?
-- Multiple tee pads (two) to vary the angle and the degree of difficulty on each hole. Even from the front tees, though, this is a tough test for advanced players. Using the ball golf analogy, most of the Hidden Lake DGC front tees are akin to the "Blues" (back tees) at three-tee (Blue/White/Red) ball courses and the backs are akin to the "Blacks" (championship tees) you only see at upper-end (i.e. expensive) tournament caliber ball courses.
Cons: -- NOT for beginners (for them, it would be a 1.0 ~ 2.0 rating course) and it could be highly frustrating for many intermediate players as well, even from many of the front tee pads. If you still want to take the Hidden Lake challenge, on the tight holes I strongly suggest you throw your most stable (straight-throwing) disc, even if it is a mid-range disc like a Roc or an approach-putt disc. On the tight holes (all 13 of them), it is far better to get past the first 100 to 150 feet of obstacles (trees) and stay on or close to the narrow fairways than risk the early deflections deep into the woods.
-- Time looking for discs. It would be a miracle if you survived the 18 holes without spending less than several minutes looking for your discs. In my case, I spent 10 to 15 minutes of my two hours doing just this - and I thought I was being VERY careful. My favorite two discs are colored green (bad idea on this course). I ended up sticking with my bright-colored discs and made sure to follow the flight of my disc all the way to it's landing. Suggestion: Avoid playing alone - less eyes to see where your disc gets shot down or deflected. When playing in a group, take turns going up ahead at least 100 to 150 feet and help locate (within a few feet radius) the drive's exact resting spot.
-- Perhaps a bit too many "blind" baskets (especially in the first stretch of six holes), but then that is a big part of what makes the course such a formidable test of disc golf.
-- Tee pads are well laid out and pointed properly (consider these points as additional "pros"), but the surface is a bit less than adequate (red dirt with small pebbles scattered about) if you want a non-slip surface for run-ups and footing. They were a bit "mushy" today due to a recent rain so I found myself off balance a few times. On the positive sign, if they were cement pads, I would not have seen the deer tracks clearly imprinted on the dirt of tee #12.
-- Wood ticks. Be sure to check yourself after the round. I sprayed myself with strong spray (it's supposed to ward off ticks) at the start of the round, but I still found three lodged on my socks and one lodged on my leg. It's summer now, so I wore shorts. Even if it's hot, you might consider wearing long pants on the course. I plan to the next time.
Other Thoughts: Augusta, GA, has the Masters' Augusta National for ball golf and the PDGA headquarters for disc golf, and now St. Augusta, MN, has Hidden Lake DGC. I would not be surprised if it becomes another Augusta-named Mecca for top golf players, in this case, those of the circular air-floating variety.
Since this could be a very frustrating experience for the novice or even average disc golfer, I recommend that there be a warning sign at the start of the course that is similar in wording to what's posted at the ball golf's Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York - site of the US open a week ago. Here's what that sign says: "The Black Course is a difficult and challenging course that should be played only by low-handicap golfers." It's worth thinking about for Hidden Lake.
In addition, I recommend every player take along some strong bug spray, a towel (in case you need to wade into get your disc on 15 or 17), and plenty of water or other fluids. Once you head out to the course, you're on your own for a very long stretch.
Updated 7/14/09: When I played the course, there was no course footage or pars posted, but now I see that there are. I have deleted my own estimated footage information from the original review. Since I prefer a challenge, I was tough on myself and had estimated a pro par of 62. I see that the course information, taken off the tee signage, notes that it is a pro par 70. Tournament players will break par rather easily, I'm sure, but given the amazing amount of obstacles on most holes, I am somewhat relieved to see that the posted par is within reach of an over-the-hill thrower like me. Can't wait to give it another go when I'm back in the area again.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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