Best in NorCal? Hmm
24 Helpful / 5 Not
The following was originally written on 12/22/2009. A 09/26/2014 update is below.
Easy to find
Secluded course - No real walk-through traffic
26 holes (26 you say? - more on this later)
Beautiful scenery in a few areas
Some interesting hole layouts
Far and away the best retail disc shop I've seen thus far. They have just about every Innova disc in each plastic as well as some other brands. Every disc I was looking for was in this shop. There's also at least one person selling quite a few used discs out in the disc course parking lot.
Has its own parking lot although it is normally $2 to park. It's free through the holidays though.
Warm-up basket near the parking lot
There's a sign by tee pad #1 dictating a mandatory $1 donation. Normally I don't mind giving a donation (and did); it was just odd to see a "mandatory" sign.
Very difficult to navigate. You must take a map or a guide, and even with that, some of the holes are so close together and so woodsy that it's very easy to be throwing at the wrong hole, which we did three times, and very easy to walk to the wrong tee, which we did twice.
A few holes have cross traffic with fast moving discs
Quite crowded even on a weekday
Erratic tee pads. Most are quite small requiring you to start from behind the pad and the surface itself is a bit rough. Fortunately, most holes aren't too lengthy so it's more about accuracy than distance. Maybe this is done on purpose to make it harder? I don't know.
Inconsistent signage - more on this later
Most holes are various blind tunnel shots through the trees. This, combined with some nearby cliffs (i.e. rollaways) can rack up some frustration points quite quickly, not just with trying to get your disc 'in the clear' but in trying to find it. It can also get a bit dangerous getting to your disc in a few areas.
There are rest rooms in a couple places near the road by the 'ball' golf course, as well as in the clubhouse. I didn't see any at the disc course.
Do stop in the clubhouse to check out the disc store.
Although I still consider myself a beginner-intermediate player, and I did manage a half dozen pars and almost aced #21, this is NOT a beginner course. Bring a spotter, maybe two, particularly in the areas where there are cliffs/ravines nearby (and that's quite a few spots), and think hard about skipping a couple holes (#12 and #15 come to mind).
Bring water/snacks, parking/course fees (parking is paid at a kiosk in the center of the parking lot) and a map! I can not emphasize this enough.
Watch the ball golfers as you drive through the course. The road is practically on the course and I have to believe a few cars have been whacked.
As I slip into my internet flame retardant suit, let me first say that I was REALLY looking forward to playing here. I had put it off for a while because I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with my disc control first, and it's 90 miles away from my home base. But last week, we decided it was time to check it out, and with a break in the weather and finding all the discs I was looking for in the shop, it was turning into a good omen/gorgeous day. But...I'm forced to admit that I was quite disappointed in this course. For being 25 years old and one of the most highly rated courses in Northern California, I was expecting it to be the best of the Bay Area. I was surprised to find that wasn't the case. Starting with the course conditions: from the tee pads being small, inconsistent, and somewhat hazardous, to the signage being difficult to read, missing in some locations, not showing the next tee pad, etc..., to the holes/baskets themselves being difficult to find and in some cases the numbers on top of the baskets were pointing the wrong way, thus adding to the confusion, and we were quite frustrated by the mid-point of the round. Had we not met a nice group on 17 (BIIIIG thanks to Rick and Mikey!) we would have only grown more frustrated. Fortunately, they had played there many times in the past and helped us navigate the rest of the course. One of the first golden nuggets of wisdom handed out was that #17 has been removed. Of course, there's no sign stating that...so I pointlessly launched my disc down into the ravine (and it was a decent throw too). But, as I said, thanks mostly to Rick and Mikey, the final 9 holes finished up much better: the tee pads seem newer, and they're also a more balanced mix of shots, finishing, of course, with the legendary 'Top of the World' shot, which is quite a beautiful shot and view. I have a video, which I might figure out how to post, but I'm sure there are more out there.
Bottom Line: Maybe I just caught this course on a bad day, but if this course were just 18 holes, I really wouldn't understand what all the tremendous hype would be about. Yes, it demands some serious disc control to get through the trees and makes you pull out every shot in the bag, including the ones you may not own or have mastered yet, but you can get this same type of challenge at Golden Gate or Stafford Lake or even Skyline, and get much better course conditions to boot. So for me it comes down to how much those additional 8 holes are worth, which is not insignificant. 26 holes is nothing to sneeze at (and no I didn't see the rumored 28th hole). But having said that, even considering those significant 'pros', I just can't rate this course higher than the ones I just mentioned. It would be a disservice to the tremendous work the folks have done at those courses (if there were a 3.9 rating it would own it but for now it'll be my benchmark 3.5). DeLaveaga is a very nice course and has the potential to be fantastic, but it needs some care and feeding. Definitely check it out but you may want to ratchet the expectations down a notch.
Well, it's been a loooooong time since I've played this course but I have walked it a few times (watching tournaments) since the above review and I definitely felt like I needed to give it another shot to see what's been improved. I'm happy to state that almost everything has been improved. There's a restroom out on the course now. The parking lot has been redone. The 'disc guy' now has his own stall. A lot of the tee pads have been redone (although not quite all of them). The signs have been vastly improved, although a couple need attention and the basket indicators are still a bit spotty for various reasons (missing/loose connections so you're not quite sure what position it's supposed to be on). The baskets are all improved and they are the fantastic 14,000 chain variety, which is great for catching discs, although I still managed to spit one out (ARRGH!). The course has been slightly reconfigured in spots, and for the better. You can see the lines clearer now and it's a bit easier to navigate, although you still need the map (next tee signs would be awesome). All holes (all 29!) are in place and playable, although Mother Nature took out basket #9 (falling tree, ouch) but you can still play it. All in all, it was a much better experience for our little group this time around. The only downside is that despite a pretty good throw, my precious Beast is resting at the top of a pine tree in The Kitchen. Hopefully a good sport will ring me up one day... But despite that, we had an enjoyable day and I was finally able to experience this course as the designers intended (I'm guessing). I can state that I do fully appreciate the skill-level involved in conquering this course. It is not for the timid. You really have to think your way around this course. I used every shot I had today and played pretty well, but still got bit either by a tree or (far more regularly) the hard flat ground around the baskets, and because the baskets were in the long positions, that meant they were usually near OB or a cliff/drop-off of some kind. Consequently, small misses are punished severely. Having said that, I actually bagged three birdies. Yowza! But...ahem...still left with a healthy + number. Chalk another win up for the course.
Wrapping things up, I've increased my rating a half disc to support the great amount of improvements that have been made. I still think there are other courses that are better cared for, but this course is now very much in the conversation and from a pure skill perspective, it's top notch. I'm now looking forward to the next trip.
24 of 29 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: tests every shot in the book. Left, right, up, down, straight. Lots of danger for missed drives, upshots, and putts. Sweet location with sick views, big trees, etc. Club has done a great job protecting some trees that have gotten a lot of abuse over the years.
Almost every pin has danger written all over it. Many have potential roll aways down into deep canyons. I usually use a Pro D challenger for putting but find myself going to the r-pro aviar here due to the massive skip factor. If your drive isn't ideal, then a layup with a non skipping/rollaway disc is essential.
There's always people playing, discs and snacks for sale, and of course you have the top of the world with its insane views out over monterey bay and the mountains of Big Sur beyond.
Cons: people parking at the golf course since they won't pay the measly $2 parking fee, then jumping on the course where they feel like it.
Other Thoughts: Tom Schot delivered a masterpiece here, and everyone knows it. Truly a special spot for disc golf and a place to protect.
15 of 20 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 9 Not
Disc Golfers Heaven
Pros: 29 amazing holes! (if hole 17 is up)
Concrete tee pads, teesigns and shiny new baskets
Distinct fairways and unique terrain make you shape your shot accordingly.
Tons of elevation changes combined with fast greens make for some very tough approaches and skipaways/rollaways
Beautiful Location exclusively for disc golf
All Different types of shots and discs needed, tests your whole game!
Holes are Challenging, but fair.
Pro Shop with discs and accessories and mini mart (DJ's) sells discs, as well as snacks and drinks
Cons: 2 crossing fairways but it usually isnt a problem, groups take turns
Many places to lose your discs with ravines and canyons (#3 don't go right, #15 dont go left, #21 don't go too far, #24 don't go right!)
Scattered Poison Oak throughout, not too bad but keep an eye out and bring technu.
Can be crowded in afternoons with big groups, and potentially waiting at the tee, but if you are respectful of the other players usually you can play thru
Other Thoughts: This is my course of choice and 2nd course I ever played, definitely I was spoiled. Like the title says, Disc Golf Heaven, and since its only 45 minutes away, I play it often.
This course really does have 29 awesome holes. 1-27 +8A and 26A, but #17 usually is not in play, due to erosion, but if you play in a tournament it will be up. This Course has that great disc golf atmosphere where you know everyone is excited to be there. $2 parking feeis such a small price to pay for such a glorious location, and despite what some say there is NO mandatory donation. Try to play in the morning as it will be less crowded. Absolutely MUST play!
9 of 18 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Mostly lives up to the hype
Pros: 27 holes, and most are good if not great
course flows well
active disc golfer community at the course
Cons: a few holes cross over each other
some holes are confusing
Other Thoughts: I'm keeping this one short and sweet, the other reviews sum it up. It's a great course, and was very cool to see an active disc golfer community at the course.
All the locals were very friendly when I was there. Was great to see DGers of all ages out there playing, and just about all of them knew what they were doing.
There was a bit of confusion on some holes, and hole 17 was removed (although it seemed a killer hole) so that will throw you off a bit. One time through and you'll have it down.
Hole 27 "Top of the World" is indeed a great hole to throw. We even hiked back up to throw again just for fun.
Have to say this is in the top 3 for sure. I'm a big fan of wooded, slightly technical courses and this one was a dream for that factor. You'll need every disc/throw in your bag/arm for De LaVeaga.
I didn't find the course littered as a previous reviewer mentioned. Nor was it overcrowded, but I was there on a weekday afternoon.
I have to go with those who say the course lives up to the hype -- glad I made the trip down to Santa Cruz with my brother while visiting him in San Fran. We both had a blast and agreed it was a great course.
Update 2010-09: Played this course again and wasn't as enthralled with it as I was the first time. Forgot how much of the front nine hugs the main road. Dropping my score to 4.0 from 4.5. After playing Coyote Point at Lake Casitas, there was no way I could give DeLaveaga as a high rating as I did previously.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 4 Not
Best I have played in Cali
Pros: The course lived up to it's hype! As usual I enjoyed the the nature; I arrived after a heavy rain and the ground was almost dry again! I had a guide for my first round and was able to play a confusion free round. What a nice mixture of heavily wooded fairways and dramatic elevation shots that will leave even big arms worrying that they fell into the poison oak infested canyons!
Cons: I can see where a beginner may have a hard time navigating this course...but the locals are great and they will help you. The last hole, even though it is a must, is sort of a hazard to folks walking up the first couple fairways. But that's no reason to skip it just keep your head up!
Other Thoughts: I loved this course and I will be back!
2 of 6 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - multiple pin positions (ranging from pretty easy to very hard)
- very grippy tee pads, considering the dusty environment
- a good mix between open/wooded holes
- a good mix between flat holes/holes with lots elevation
- Top of the World (27) is a picturesque hole
- Flymart van in the parking lot in case you need to pick up a disc before the round, or grab a snack/drink
Cons: - EXTREME overcrowding, and many holes with backups almost all the time
- a few of the holes overlap, or share fairways (5&6, 13&16, 20&22)... this isn't fun, and adds to slow play and creating backups
- many of the distances on the tee signs are inaccurate, or the sign is just graffiti-ed over (there are however, a few new, laminated signs)
- very dry/dusty, and because of the hills you'll really want something to drink with you
- $2 parking fee
Other Thoughts: There currently is no hole 17 at DeLa, that hole has become 26A, and plays right before Top of the World.
DeLa is easily one of the top courses in the nation. It is a challenge for anyone who steps on tee 1 and worth every second it takes to play it. Some of the views are great, the holes are creative, and it is one of the most respected courses in the nation. That alone should make it worth playing.
The environment can seem a little barren at times, and DeLa is almost always overcrowded, because it's pretty much the only really worthwhile course in the area. So be prepared to play a long, hot round because of all the waiting you'll be doing. It's almost better to come in a group of 4, rather than play in a smaller group, because sometimes passing just isn't an option because there are so many people there, all the time. So bring your friends, but you'll have a blast either way.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: 28 holes with good variety of shots. Great scenery; some wide open shots; others highly technical and everything in between. Final hole is epic, but still a close second in Northern California to Stafford hole #6 in my book. Discs at pro shop and parking lot.
Cons: Crowded and locals are a mixed bunch of friendly and not so. Parking is tough if not arriving early.
Other Thoughts: Definitely one of the best in Northen California, but didn't live up to the hype for me. Broken glass littered many holes. I'll put in it my top five in Nor Cal.
2 of 7 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 1 Not
Look Out Below!
28 (!) holes. Variety of hole-types and shots needed. Concrete teepads. Signs showing the various basket positions for each hole. Practice basket. Excellent map. Clubhouse ½ mile away. Area dedicated to disc golf. Baskets #6, tee numbers 20, 23, and 25 are all near the parking lot, if you need to re-load with water - or discs.
Hole #27 needs to be experienced - words don't do it justice. Take a break, sit on the bench for a bit, and enjoy the expansive views you have of the entire course below you, and the forest and hills you can see for miles about you. Imagine the glorious flight of your disc will experience as it glides effortlessly down the long hill. Anticipate with joy as you release your disc into the clear sky, wondering if you'll actually hear the chains being struck so far away. Experience the horror of seeing your normally stable disc get caught in the wind, and begin turning towards basket #5 ... no, tee #1 ... wait, fairway #6, wondering if they'll hear you yell "fore" from so far away. Relief as your disc settles between basket #6 and tee #1, and then hustling down to make sure nobody finds and makes off with your apparently-abandoned disc!
Crossing fairways: #5 plays perpendicular across the midpoint of #6's fairway; #13's and #16's form an X-shape. #20/#22 can interfere with one another. Some basket locations and/or "typical" flight-paths can put some tees at risk - Tee #1, in particular, risks being hit on throws from #6 and #27. An errant throw (may my Squall rest-in-peace - or be found by a deserving soul) on #12 or #15 can end-up in a difficult-to-traverse ravine that contains quite a bit of broken glass.
The current-position marker at each sign was inconsistent - sometimes it was correct, sometimes not, at other times it wasn't set at all! A victim of its popularity - crowds. On a random summer early afternoon, there was already a decent amount of people on the course. Some groups are savvy, and know when to let a single player play past, and others, well not so - twice I had to skip a pair of holes when groups wouldn't let me play through. By the time I left, people were already double-parking in the lot. $2 to park.
- contours: some quite flat, some with very gentle changes in elevation, yet others with extreme up or down
- distances: good drives will sometimes lead to birdie opportunities, sometimes leave you with moderate approach shots, yet sometimes you'll still need to make a fairly-difficult second shot.
- shape of shots: left-turning, right-turning, S-shape, up-n-over, a roller if you care (I'm sure there were other opportunities, but I'm limited in my abilities)
- tightness: a few grip-n-rip drives, but you typically have to deal with trees at some point. Where the trees came into play varied - beginning/mid/end of opening drive, and/or near to the basket - and a few times, the entire length of the hole.
Challenging and fair - there was no hole, practically no shot, where I thought either a) this is too easy, or b) this is impossible. All baskets were accessible, but most every one had a tree, or more, nearby. Very fair fairways- nothing ridiculous. Hole #17 appears to be no more. There is an extra hole between 8/9, and another one between 26/27 (teepad to right as you reach top of ridge, basket farther to the left).
If you find yourself in the Bay area, it is certainly worth making a diversion to play this varied and challenging course- its worth the effort, and with the beach/rides at Santa Cruz not too far away, there are other things to do in the area.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 8 Not
Worth the Pilgrimage
Pros: Breathtaking setting supported by awesome disc golf community.
I simply was in awe and enjoyed every second on the course.
Risk / Reward shots and extreme elevation changes challenge your mental and physical game.
Well worth my journey from the east coast!
Cons: That might be your disc you see 100ft down the ravine.
A couple of errant throws or unkind kicks might have you mountain climbing (which is a Pro) but throwing your disc out of there is undesirable.
Other Thoughts: If you are not local, make the pilgrimage!!!
4 of 12 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 13 Not
Not much to add
Pros: 27 holes. This course is a great challenge for both pros and ams. There is a great variety of layouts - big open hucks, technical shots throuh wood with OBs, up hill, down hill, blind dog legs. Excellent use of land/ topography. Friendly locals. This is a big fun course that will improve your game for sure.
Cons: Some holes play too close to each other. The course gets crowded.
Other Thoughts: I hear that the number of holes was being reduced from 27 to 18. I hope not.
0 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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