It's a Big One!
This 18 hole DISCatcher course is sprawled out in a sizable community park. The course has a mix of open and wooded holes with some elevation in play. I played this course as part of a disc golf road trip where I played 12 courses in 12 days. This was the only course I played in the state of Virginia.
I used bullet points for those that don't want to read the entire review.
This course winds through some open areas of the park, but also plays through some lightly wooded areas. The gently rolling terrain also provides some shots with elevation. Although there were some blind holes, it was a pretty straightforward design. There were no random trees in the fairways to frustrate advanced players. Big arm players should enjoy this course as there are plenty of opportunities to go for big distance.
Each hole had two fully developed concrete tees. The longer Blue tees had professional tee signs with full color graphics. The Blue and White tees had blue or white paint patches on the back corners to denote which tee. Only one or two Blue tees had benches. Only a few tees had trash cans, but there are plenty of trash cans located throughout the long walk.
All 18 in a row
Once you tee off on Hole 1, you do not make your way back to the parking lot until the end of the round. It is a long hike and it took nearly 2 1/2 hours to play this course on my own. Partially because of some backtracking, but mostly because it is a very long walk even if you stay on course.
Overall, the course was in good shape. Most of the tee signs were in good shape and free of graffiti. Only a few of the DISCatcher target bands had stickers or Sharpie signatures from players that got aces. The wooded fairways were a bit shaggy in the rough areas and could use a little trimming. Overall, a very clean course.
Kids and Strollers
You can absolutely bring kids, carts and strollers. There are a couple of rough patches with some roots and a small creek on Hole 15 to navigate. The course is a fairly easy walk, but it is a long walk. This will wear out the kids if they walk or play along. Probably only older kids will have enough attention span or energy to play all 18. There You don't get back to the main parking area until after you play Hole 18.
I played on a rainy weekday afternoon and had the entire park to myself. However, I can see how some holes would easily become unplayable on a busy weekend or if there are other events in the park. I played in the rain after it had been raining in the area all day. I was surprised how well the course played in such conditions. Most tees drained properly and there was very little standing water. I was unable to fully play Hole 15 as there was water on the tees and fairway from the creek.
It would be pretty tough to lose a disc on this course. There are a couple of rough areas off the fairway that could make it tough to find a disc. It could be possible to lose track of a drive on some of the blind holes, but that would be some terrible luck.
There are restrooms near the parking lot and near the shelter at Hole 10.
There was a lot of (unnecessary) walking. Even though I had a map and there are accurate tee signs, it was hard to navigate at times and I was forced to backtrack and wander about looking for the next tee.
Sad to say, but this was one of the least memorable courses I have played. This was just an ordinary disc golf course in an ordinary city park.
I don't mind one or two, but it is bothersome when you are playing a course for the first time and have no idea where the target it located. The problem was compounded by the size of this course. I simply didn't have the motivation to add more walking to see where the pins were located.
Apple Blossom Festival
Pros: Two concrete tees with good signage and a Discatcher basket for each hole. Very nice variety of open and wooded holes in city park setting. Great use of the available elevation providing some fast greens and diversity of fun and tough holes playing up and downhill as well as flat. Good mix of pars and distances from ace run islands to some decent multi-shot holes mixed in. There is some navigational signage to help in spots and benches.
Cons: Beware of other park users in the fairways and festivals may temporary close the course like the Apple Blossom festival where I got chased off the course by security my first attempt playing here and there was no signs anywhere saying the course was closed. Trash and bottles on the course. Poison ivy and underbrush control is not the best here. Only one big 18 hole loop back to parking main lot. Course is not in own separate disc golf only area of park.
Other Thoughts: As the review title suggests, the Jim Barnett Park is host to the Apple Blossom Festival in the spring which is a pretty time to visit, but not to play. Being from the DC area I'm more familiar with the Cherry Blossom Festival downtown, and so the Apple Blossom Festival was something I'd never heard of before and those dates don't match up either and can change each year. It is best that the course is closed during this festival because the course plays through shared park space and there would be some issues. I came back park another day and this is a very good course overall, not quite destination worthy, but if you are in the area should be enjoyable for most players.
Nice course in a park
Pros: -A very beautiful park
-A good mix of wooded and open holes
-All the holes have a novice and advanced teepad
-No cost to play
Cons: -The largest criticism I have with the course is that it is in a park and a couple of the holes are designed around picnic shelters as well as a playground or two. Hole 8 has been rendered unplayable at times due to people cooking out on the teepad as well as tying up their animals on the fairway.
Other Thoughts: It can be hard to gauge when the park will be busy and when it won't be. Weekends are the worst but there are sporting events throughout the week that can make it busy. Weekdays seem to be the best if possible.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Well cared for
Pros: Excellent tee and direction signs, large, grippy tee pads, ubiquitous benches, water, and garbage cans, quality baskets, convenient parking, and central location in Winchester make this course an enjoyable outing. The newly expanded, 18-hole layout improves the course tremendously. Each hole has clearly marked pro and am tees which provide significantly different levels of difficulty. The flow, aided by good signage, is pretty good, though it's a single-loop course with some long walks. And the park is very well mowed and kept. Woods with thick underbrush are available if you really have no control, but the places you're disc will probably land are pretty well thinned out.
The course winds through a manicured and heavily used multi-function park (with lots and lots of facilities). The most unique part of this course is that although I had to throw past 12 parties, volleyball, horseshoes, model car races, playgrounds, and more, the holes are laid out so that no one was in direct danger from my throws. That's pretty impressive.
Cons: There are long (though mostly well marked) walks between holes, and a few sketchy throws around the many, many people and facilities. The course hosts lots of poison ivy, one (otherwise-nice) shot across a paved road, and a fair amount of debris on the tee pads. Distance is a challenge on a few holes, but apart from that, the shots in general aren't demanding. A few fairways are sort-of tight, but they require no technical expertise apart from moderate accuracy. There is no real danger (to your disc - pedestrians are occasionally in danger). Risk-reward decisions are lacking, recoveries are easy, and you can play the whole course with a basic, straight, RHBH throw. Also, the new number 6 is a bit gimmicky and its basket is too high. I guess that was a necessary evil of expanding the course; they had to cram one more, short hole in and make it as interesting as possible.
I recently played this course in the rain; both of #17's tees were under more than a foot of water.
Other Thoughts: Several fairways - particularly #18 - provide no possible path to the pin on your drive. Some people find this objectionable,so I thought I'd mention it.
Hole #15, for some reason, is not as well marked as the rest of the course. You get to it by walking around the brick wall, not up the rocky path, and after #15, go up the steep hill to the left of the pavement.
Lastly, hole #1 is in the back-middle of the park, across the parking lot from the main pool building.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Itís Always The Little Ones That Get You
Excellent long, wide, and grippy concrete tees at both the long and short positions. Fantastic colour signs at the long tees showing the location of the short tee, baskets, and both distances. Next-tee signs on top of baskets. Just off I81, near many amenities. For something different and if you have the time, checkout the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema just off exit 310 for a unique experience.
Hole-6 breaks both the flow and concept of the course. A good deal of trash in the woods.
Except for number-6, the course plays along the wooded slope in the midst of a large, multi-purpose park. The trees on the slope vary from quite large, i.e., you'll be throwing beneath their branches, to quite small - and it is these little ones that always manage to keep any particular line to the basket from being perfectly clear. With a few exceptions, holes are relatively short, so the emphasis is control, vice power. The straightest line will typically be the narrowest line, but there are too many trees to simply swing wide - subtle S-shaped shots will definitely be required as you experiment with which line is best suited to your abilities. Several baskets are located near/on slopes to add to the challenge.
From basket-5, a right turn will lead you to ... tee-7. To find tee-6, turn about 45-degrees to the left, cross the road, and head for I81. After you find the tee, look right - basket-6 is several hundred feet away, with I81 on your left and the driveway leading to the pavilion and shelter on your right. After completing the hole, hopefully having avoided the pavilion and any parked cars, re-trace your steps back across the parking lot to find tee-7
Good course, and another nine holes of equal quality would certainly make it even better. Looking at the current online map, it appears as if some of the holes will be re-numbered and current-6 will be better incorporated into the flow.
Update 12/31/11: Now has 18=holes, with the excellent teepads and signage continued on the newer nine (6, 9-17). The newer holes are more open but longer than the original nine, providing a nice spectrum of hole types.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Picture Perfect Park Course
Pros: Teepads, signs, park landscape, upkeep
Other Thoughts: The disc golf course at Jim Barnett Park has most of the factors necessary for an exemplary disc golf experience. The course features excellent tee pads, both pro and am (but labled advanced and novice), and perfect signage. The landscape is a well maintained park, and the course winds around the other facilities but does not dangerously overlap with the playgrounds and picnic areas. As a result, the course plays a bit in the open, a bit in the woods, and even has a couple holes that transition from one to the other. Lots of clearing has been done on the holes that do play into the woods, and so no hole is even close to unfair, or even really tight by the standards of Mid-Atlantic woods holes. Finally, while there are no uphill grinds or downhill chucks, elevation does factor into a few holes, and challenging basket placements on the edge of declines make for a tight putting game.
Unfortunately, for now at least the course is only nine holes, and except for #9 maybe, is not particularly long. The "advanced" tees do serve to add length, in some cases a good deal of length. It's also one of those courses where you think "wow that was a pretty decent hole," on most every hole, but none could really be called "signature." If Jim Barnett is a finished product, then it's still a terrific addition to the strong and varied array of courses that travelers can now hit along Virginia's I-81 corridor, and since it already has two perfect sets of tees I'm sure makes a solid locals course. If it's a work in progress though, and adds nine more equally good holes, or even better creates a back nine with more length, then Jim Barnett will be one of the finer courses in the Old Dominion.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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