Tight and Technical
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Portage Lakes is located in a beautiful state park that takes advantage of the tight woods and lake throughout its round. The parking lot is huge, well-marked for disc golf, and starts right near hole 1. There is a practice basket, porta-potty, disc drop box, and club information as well.
Technical is the name of the game here and the course was surprisingly tough. All but a few holes are very tightly wooded, forcing you to hit specific lines while teasing you with separate tighter lines on many occasions. While the setting doesn't change much, the player is challenged with numerous different looks and I used a multitude of drivers and mid-range discs. This is a course that does not let up as every shot must be carefully thought out and executed to achieve par and birdies. Hole 9 is a great example of this, a 650 shot from the long tees that is very tight from tee to basket and fights its way through many trees.
The designers did a great job working with what they had, using the elevation and water carries very well. No two holes used these attributes in the same way and the elevation often changed throughout a hole. The elevated holes here are more than just straight up or downhill throws. There are a good number of ravine shots as well as up then downhill throws. Water is used very well here, forcing you to play risk/reward in a wonderful way. Pins on 5, 10, and 12 are located right near the water on downhill throws, and 14-16 force you to choose throwing over the water or playing it safe(er) in a tight fairway.
There was a nice variety of par 3 birdie runs and longer, multi-stage par 4's and a par 5.
The concrete tees and Mach 5 baskets were in great shape and the orange rims were easy to spots among the thick woods. There are multiple tee and pin positions here and they both do a great job of changing the look of the hole. The blue tees definitely step it up a level compared to the reds. The tee signs were very informative.
The course is clearly seasoned and a lot of care has brought it to this point. For being in the thick woods, the rough is greatly reduced and navigation is easy in terms of finding the next hole and physically getting around. I appreciated the pink tape on the bottom spoke of the basket that pointed to the next tee. I've actually never seen this done before and this is a great idea.
Cons: One of the biggest cons for me here was the constant use of very specific lines. It would have been nice to have more clear options at times, rather than the usual choice of either hit the specific line or see how far you can make it before you hit a tree by throwing through not so clear of a lane. I am not one to complain about tight woods - that is my favorite kind of golf - but I think certain holes here would benefit if a few more trees were taken down. This way, there would be more risk/reward decisions by allowing the player to choose the lane.
The tee signs were sometimes missing, which created minor problems on the longer, windier holes.
The park road comes in effect a few times - particularly on 13's approach.
Again, the setting doesn't change much, so you probably won't enjoy this course if you don't like tight and technical. Only 7 and 8 open up.
Warning: It appears that the cops are strict about the 20 mph speed limit. I saw two cops in the park marking speeds.
Other Thoughts: Portage Lakes is a very fun course and is one of the best destinations in NE Ohio. I teetered along the lines of 3.5-4 and would put it right in the middle. For my preference, it would have been nice to have more line options to choose from off the tee and a greater variety of hole types.
However, what Portage Lakes does, it does well. A lot of love has been put into the course and I encourage anyone making a trip through the area to make it a priority to stop here.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Portage Lakes riffs on the general theme of technical wooded golf throughout its 18 holes, showcasing a variety of approaches thereof: long par 4s and 5s emphasizing precision placement, tight par 3s that can equally end up as birdies or bogies, daunting windows to hit, and varying elevation that helps encourage variety in disc selection. Hole length and accompanying pars are mixed up nicely. There are also a few well-situated more open holes that break things up while providing their own kind of challenges (such as a few low ceilings), and the occasional OB (island basket on 13, the "moat" on 15, the water on 5 and 16). In all the course is technical but generally groomed and worn in enough to keep from being unfairly so.
Portage Lakes distinguishes itself from other regional courses by focusing on highly defined shots. Creativity is less about choosing your path and more about figuring out how to travel the path you're faced with. The shot variety is huge, preventing things from getting repetitive. The aforementioned elevation provides some enjoyably sticky uphill and downhill shots in tight quarters. I faded out on 14's deceptive downhill shot from the long tee several times in frustrating but entertaining fashion. The elevation is notably varied, and lends a lot of character to the holes, elevating some shots from good to great and others from standard to interesting (such as 5's slight downhill tunnel shot with water behind the basket). It's utilized very well.
The course is exceptionally worn in and groomed, and navigation is easy. The concrete tees are great, and especially sizable from the longs. Parking is plentiful. There are some great courses conveniently nearby.
Cons: As distinctive as the aforementioned defined lines are, I longed for a few more holes with multiple paths that would encourage risk versus reward decision making. Such holes would have enhanced the variety present and improved the course. While there's a great amount of shot variety from one hole to the next, I imagine familiarity would quickly lead to approaching most holes a particular way. The effect is a sense of the course being more straightforward than its variety would otherwise suggest. The often present tight lines railroad things a bit.
A few holes risk being tight to the point of courting luck (9 long) or throwaway-esque straightforward (8's hyzer). Such holes aren't too common, though.
If you're looking to air it out, look elsewhere (Arboretum-Spiker being the obvious choice).
The road comes into play more than is ideal. The likely lightly trafficked park road makes this not unreasonable, but there are still a few spots where you have to be mindful (such as the over the road approach on 13).
Other Thoughts: Portage Lakes is a great wooded course that uses its property very well. As much as the course weaves its way throughout its large, well-used park, there are a lot of points where the woods isolates you intimately. A highly recommended stop in the area that was the highpoint of my five-course day trip in the Akron/Canton region as long as you don't mind tight, technical golf.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 4 Not
IT'S A BLAST TO PLAY AT...
Pros: Very challeging course! Not for the faint of heart or the beginner. You will have some bad shots - get over it!. Layout is nice.
The back nine is SWEET. It's new and should wear - in nicely after it gets played upon.
Nice looking tee signs: at least the ones that werent stolen or ripped off. WTF? - who does that? A-holes. Pardon my french.
Nice balance of long and short tees. If its difficult to get past.trees play the red tees.
Posts have (4) bag pegs - NIce!
A true woodsy dgc. If you like hiking and being outdoors - that's how the course feels and plays - you will like it!!!
Cons: 1>. Lots of glass. Be careful. Too many drunks at the park? This is what happens when mommy aint there to clean up after them. It's a disgrace to humanity when you have to cleanup someone else's stupidity.
2>. Missing tee signs. Not to any fault ot the faciliators. I was told that they were professionally designed by the ohio disc golf alliance. Too bad some a-holes had to destroy them.
3>. Thick brush. Lost 3 discs. I do give "mega thumbs up" to all those responsible for making the back 9 happen. I have cleaned up overgrown properties before, it's alot of hard work, time consuming and strenuous. I know in time the walked-on areas will get trampled. May need some volunteers in the thick brush area. Credit to all those that have worked on this course!
4> No garbage cans. The buckets will probably get stolen like the tee signs. Nice try though.
Other Thoughts: First time my son and I played this course. Long tees playable except for 2 holes - 9 and 15. I had to hit the red tees. Kept hitting those d@#$n trees. Cut um all down! Just kidding. Holes 2 & 10 were my only birdies. My son birdied 3 and 12. Got Lucky!
I would recommend this course to anyone who plays disc golf. Bring a floater disc. You will probably need it.
10 of 14 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 2 Not
~Serene, natural state park environment
~Short & long tees can be mixed up for all skill levels
~Elevation changes throughout
~Nice baskets with signage on posts
~Dirt tee pads
~Additional clearing and tree removal would be beneficial
~Some basket to tee coordination issues, map recommended
~Plinko effect on a handful of holes
Played a full round from the short tees on a pleasant summer afternoon. Layout is really nice and remains predominantly in dense woods, while a handful of holes do open up. For me it's a mid range and putter round as the woods leave little room for less controllable discs. The front nine is in very good condition, and the back nine is still being developed as it's relatively new. Very peaceful with beautiful surroundings. Dirt tees can make for some uneven footing, but due to the need for control I didn't use a run up too often. While I played from all short tees I did spend some time admiring the long tees, and they would provide for an epic round once I gain better control and confidence. Plenty of steep slopes and elevation changes along with the presence of the lake amongst some areas. Numerous turns and tight lanes off the tee, but the clearing is good enough that your up shots will almost always be available toward the basket. Another fantastic addition to this area, and I look forward to visiting often.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 4 Not
I get it now...
Pros: Lots of woods. I like technical courses, so most of the holes were right up my alley. Lots of room for improvement. Hanging posts for your bag at each hole. Nice hole signs.
Plenty of elevation change, wide open and tight faitways, water holes. Great risk vs reward on this course.
With the added back 9, and many improvements to the course I see nothing hut great things for Portage Lakes.
Cons: There's broken glass and misc trash on just about every hole.
Other Thoughts: Be careful locking the bathroom door behind you, it took me almost 5 minutes (of hell) to get out of it.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful.
As of 6/28/10 (As of 7/13/13)
9 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Two tee locations (natural, front delineated by row of bricks) per hole, long positions by the tall wooden posts, short positions marked by short wooden posts. The map shows that there are plans for 18=holes, but there were only 9 in place when I played - it was pretty useful in helping navigate the course.
Cons: From some tees, especially the longs, playing felt like random pinball. Actual signage on the posts not yet in place. Good deal of broken glass on first few holes. Boggy area down-n-right on #6.
Other Thoughts: The first three holes play across a narrow, densely wooded valley, with very narrow entry-points from the long tees. Number-4 starts in the trees (from the long tees, hardly any initial throwing lane at all), but finishes in the grassy area near the parking lot, basket near very expansive hardwoods. Cross the parking lot to find tee-5, a long but decent-sized tunnel shot, needing a sharp right at the end, but with water not too far in the background. Number-6 is up-n-over-n-across a wooded/brush-filled slope with a very tight window from the longs early and with a bog on the right late. Numbers 7&8 play in the grassy area separating an access road and a parking lot, with two lines of hardwoods to throw between on #7, and a strategically-placed hardwood, with its expansive branches, making you decide if to go around wide right, or straight and underneath. I then finished on #9 ...
... quite possibly the worst hole I ever endured - made me feel as if I was in disc golf purgatory. Nearly 700' of torture, as you are in a very long oval, the overgrown/natural space between an access road and a parking lot. Large trees and thick brush form the outer rim of this prison, isolating you from any sign of civilization, while you are encapsulated within the midst of it. The map indicates the basket is somewhere down at the other end of this oval, but all you see is a diabolical collection of saplings and small trees, with no throwing path imaginable, unless you have the yet-to-be-created "hummingbird" disc which can rapidly change direction as it continues on its chaotic course.
My rating is based upon the condition of the course the day I played it. Nine more new holes, signage across the board, and a bit more trimming, if permissible, on some of the more densely-treed holes, would certainly raise this course's rating.
Despite my distaste for #9 :-), kudos to the locals for working to put this course in - I know they have faced some hostile locals - and wish them the best in improving this course. I grew up in Akron, and plan to visit cousins in the area on a semi-regular basis, and look forward to seeing the course get better.
7/13/13 Update: Now 18 holes. Most of the new holes take you up, down, and across the wooded slope which leads to the lake, with the final two playing across an interior wooded area. Many holes offer different lines of attack, and may have multiple pin positions. Two concrete tees per hole, 12' long from the long, 8' long at the shorts. Signs at both tee locations, baghooks at longs. Scattered benches.
Much improved from three years ago, and one of the top, if not the top, courses in northeastern Ohio.
9 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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