Pros: You wouldn't think a course could be in little ole Marshall, WI but its surely there. I am sure there's a neat story behind the name of the course but everyone else was clueless so maybe someone can fill me in! I recently was able to play two practice rounds and a tournament round at Bird's Ruins and I purposefully waited until after playing my tournament round before rating the course. Here are my pros:
1) The course clearly gets a lot of love and a lot of work. The nature of the course (long, lots of rough) requires a lot of work and it seems that the local club has really put their heart and soul into this course. The effort, for such a small town course, is MARVELOUS.
2) The course can be very unforgiving so its great that the course has both long and short tees. The difference between the long and short tees is actually pretty dramatic so that makes the course better in my opinion because it gives lesser players the chance to enjoy the course. Alternate pins also add to the course and make for some interesting variety.
3) The course has nice concrete pads and nice tee-signs that are very descriptive.
4) The rocks on hole 5 are pretty neat. The fact that the distances to the hole are posted on the rocks makes it even cooler and reminds me of Idlewild. Hole 5 is a nice par 4 and it was actually very helpful to have the distances for my second shot into the green. It was really a neat feature.
5) You truly could not ask for more scenic holes. The course is built into some kind of nature preserve and the views are truly stunning. The view by hole 19 near the lake at sunset is a million dollar view. Even though the tall rough is no fun to be in, it does make for some picturesque areas. A lot of the rough includes some very colorful plants, which at least makes it fun to look at. More on the rough below....
6) The course has an incredible variety of pretty much everything. The course features one of the tightest holes you will ever play in 8 (downhill, 158') and then a super long bomber hole with number 14 (715'). The course features tight wooded holes, open bomber holes and a little bit of everything in between.
7) The course is designed in a way that makes you play smart golf. It is designed to make you keep it on the fairway at literally all costs. Hole 4 is a great example: you want to try to go for that hole and carry your disc over the creek? Good luck. If you miss the landing zone you will be in rough that is INTOXICATING. You can choose to play a 280 foot, layup shot and leave yourself a 240 foot approach shot to the green or you can try to go for it. This course features many holes that require this exact decision: should I go for it or should I lay up. Hole 14 is the same way with the second shot to the long, alternate pin. The green is guarded by an impressive ring of bushes that you do not want to be in. Any time a course makes you truly think about laying up or going for it you know its done a good job.
8) The course has some really neat par 4's, in my opinion. Some of the par 3's may not be as much to my liking but the par 4's here are awesome. Hole 5 is a phenomenal, 2 shot hole with a fair landing zone and a nice green. The aforementioned hole 14 probably is the signature hole on the course with an unforgettable green and hole 16 is another neat hole with a fair landing zone and a tight green. I really thought the par 4's on this course stood out.
Favorite Hole Not Mentioned: Hole 18 from the long tee looks REALLY daunting but after throwing it a few times its really a FUN hole to throw. There is so much room to the left of the basket and the rough is so much better here that it really is fun to just launch your disc out over the rough and watch it fly downhill towards the basket. Its a fun, 500+ par 3 that probably plays more like 440.
Cons: This won't be surprising but I absolutely have to mention the rough in my review. I usually do not penalize a course for its rough but unfortunately Bird's Ruins had some of the most brutal rough i have ever seen. Here are my cons:
1) The aforementioned rough....is.....ROUGH. It is a monster. It will digest your disc like its nothing. This rough is some of the most penal I have ever witnessed. I cannot remember seeing rough that high, but the second shot on hole 4 includes rough that was well above 12 feet in some areas. Unfortunately this makes the course near impossible to play by yourself. In fact, I would never advise playing this course by yourself. The rough on this course makes it IMPERATIVE that you have spotters if you are playing the long tees (and probably even the short tees). I think that most of the fairways are fair, but discs will find the rough. And when discs find the rough at Bird's Ruins its a BAD thing. I think that over time the rough may get tamed down and I hope that it does.
2) The course featured too many blind shots for my tastes. This normally wouldn't be as big of a deal but with the rough the way that it is it took a lot away from the course. Hole 1 was kind of a silly hole from the long tees and it was driven by the fact that you simply had to throw a monster anhyzer out over the rough to a green that was tucked into the woods and not visible unless you were standing 40 feet from the basket. I just don't quite understand how you could throw this hole without a spotter and that's probably not happening in a casual round. Hole 4 is a blind hole, holes 5 and 6 are blind and holes 16 and 18 are blind. There are a few other but those are the ones that stand out to me. Just a few too many blind shots for me.
3) For the most part the navigation was okay except for after hole 4. I almost had to give up the first time through the course because I could not find hole 5. I think a simple sign after hole 4 would help a lot.
4) The course had one too many holes, in my opinion, that didn't have a line to the basket. In my opinion hole 3 didn't really have a line to get your disc all the way to the green, and this would be considered a par 3. I was also completely baffled by hole 9, which we dubbed the horseshoe hole. I simply don't see how anyone could get a disc anywhere near that basket and its only 224 feet. During the recent A Tier multiple top pros complained about this hole and how silly it was. Oh well - not every hole is perfect!
Other Thoughts: Bird's Ruins is a really neat park in a small town that is worth the play....if you have a group of at least 3 people. I would also advise playing in the spring or fall. The rough will eat you alive and the wooded holes had BAD bugs so come prepared with bug spray!
I will reiterate that the love put into this course is clearly evident and it seems that a lot of the fairways have recently been widened a little bit to make them a bit more open and to make it less likely to go into the rough. I think more of this is probably needed but this course did work out just fine in a tournament!
Nice course, but tough for a new golfer.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course is very well kept, and provides a nice mix of prairie and forest holes. Water only comes into play on #4 (creek) and #7 (but only if you massively overthrow). The creek was pretty stagnant and plant-filled, so it would be a tough place to recover a disc from in the summer.
The elevated basket on #13 is a fun touch.
#14 has the basket location(s) concealed behind some trees with rough tight behind, so a tough hole.
#15 was my favorite of the short holes - nice little anhyzer across an open area, under the trees to the basket.
#18 was my favorite hole because it offered a few approaches - with the rough down the middle, you had options to go both left or right off the tee, and even without a bomber arm, you could realistically go either way.
Cons: As many others have said, the rough here is dense and unforgiving - I played solo, and as a new guy, I'm amazed that I didn't lose any discs, although I made the mistake of throwing a neon-yellow disc on #18 that took 15 minutes to find. Stick to your reds, oranges, and pinks.
On the prairie holes, the fairways need to be wider, at least in the areas that folks playing from the amateur tees would be expected to play from. Maybe the rough plays a lot nicer in the early spring before everything grows in, but it's tough in early August. The prairie rough at Vallarta-Ast over in Madison is a more reasonable level, in my opinion.
Other Thoughts: It's a free course near Madison, which is a virtue in and of itself. Without being pay-to-play, it definitely holds its own in terms of upkeep - credit to the folks behind the course.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course is well-appointed: concrete tee pads, with pro and amateur at most holes; nice signage; well-groomed; frequent benches, trash, and recycling. There's a decent blend of shot lengths and shapes. Its location means it doesn't get very crowded.
Cons: My biggest complaint is holes 7-11, all short holes that work up and down a steep hill. I found these holes repetitive and more annoying than challenging. Others seem to like them, so your results may vary.
Navigating the course can be a little tricky. Most of the routes are marked but I did get a little lost on one of the longer connections. There is a nice map at the parking lot; I snapped a picture with my phone for reference.
The rough is indeed insane. Even shots that go only slightly astray can be a chore to track down.
Other Thoughts: I really like the atmosphere of the course, being that it's in a nature preserve. I did find the rough aggravating, like so many others. I don't think it needs to be mowed down, but they could stand to widen some of the landing areas. Beginners, and those with inconsistent drives, will likely find this course overly difficult.
Overall, it's worth checking out if you're in Madison, or passing through. I don't think it's better than Madison's best offerings, but it's another option, and it's free!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Prairie and wooded done well.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Secluded nature park that has the disc golf as a separate activity. Free to play (which isn't common in this area) course with a really nice variety of wooded, prairie, elevation and a little water.
Short and long concrete tee pads on most holes.
Tee signs have all the information you need, and are easy to read.
Plenty of variety. Holes 1-5 play across the road from the parking lot and offer some nice lines, with plenty of risk/reward for aggressive players.
Prairie holes offer a good amount of air-it-out bombs, with big penalty for going off the fairway.
Wooded holes incorporate a lot of the elevation here, and very well. Plenty of up and downhill and hard turning holes. I thought they did an excellent job on these.
Baskets were all solid, and caught quite well. Navigation was pretty simple, as well (once you realize that the first few holes are across the road).
The bonus hole (19) is a great water carry. It's not long (240ish), but with wind blowing, it offers plenty of pucker factor, and is a great way to end a round here.
We played the shorts, but stopped on the longs on each hole. Especially in the woods, they almost always offered a completely different look at the basket. The open holes mostly added distance, but that's to be expected on holes of this type.
Cons: I wouldn't want to play here in the middle of summer. The rough is ROUGH, especially on the open prairie holes. The fairways are plenty wide, but if the wind is kicking, you could end up spending a lot of time searching for, or losing, discs. We played before everything was tall, and we were very happy about that, to be sure.
Other Thoughts: This really is a solid course, with a great mix of technical and bomber type holes. I'll come back in fall when some of the overgrowth has fallen back.
Definitely worth a spin (or two) if you're in the area at the Madison courses.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
New course - mature feel
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: FREE. With the rest of Dane County now charging to play, it's nice to have another full course to throw at without another season pass.
Each hole has 2 basket locations so they can mix it up a bit, and the majority of holes have two concrete tee boxes.
Signage at the holes are informative and accurate.
ALOT of variety. Starting in the woods on the first three holes, 4 opens into more of a prairie. Across the road more prairie before heading into more woods and then more prairie. There's uphill, downhill, rivers... Pretty much every environment.
Neat elevated basket on one hole feels kind of like playing a mini-golf challenge hole.
Park has a water pump for drinking water, shelter for gatherings or events, natural amphitheater, and permanent outhouse.
Cons: As many have noted, the rough is ROUGH. The course was designed in what was essentially a conservancy park, and a lot of the natural area remains, which does make it challenging to find errant throws.
Bring DEET. There are Mosquitos in the wooded areas - but hey, it's nature.
Needs a few more directional signs to find next tee boxes.
Other Thoughts: I'd call this a great 18-hole course with a novelty 19th hole if you're a confident driver.
I know the club behind the park and there is A LOT of commitment and volunteers to make this 3 year old course even better. I think most people would see a huge difference already if they only played it the first year it opened.
I'd agree with some, that this course is better to play with a group... Getting more eyes to track throws and search the rough.
When I've played with 4+ other people the round takes about 2.5 hours. Could be quicker if we all threw straight :)
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Good but Bad
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Course is well maintained. Off the normal disc golf "path" so it's never busy. Holes have a good variety of difficulty and change in terrain. A nice change in scenery, but not on the regular course rotation.
Cons: The easiest hole is made VERY hard by the seriously over grown weeds on the edge of the fairway. If you can't throw arrow straight for 300 yards, take most fairways in smaller chunks to avoid losing discs.
I wouldn't exactly call this a 19 hole course. I'd call it an 18 hole, with a "Fun" hole next to the parking lot. Don't try 19 unless you have a broken disc, or one you hate. Cause you'll lose it.
Other Thoughts: I'm not sure how I feel about this course. I haven't played it this year yet, but I' not sure I'm going to. I like the variation in challenge throughout the course. Some holes are still a bit too easy, and others are too hard. If you don't throw perfectly on most of the holes you're SCREWED. I searched for probably an hour on hole 5 for a disc in the weeds. There's no trees to hit, no obstacles at all, just a "not perfectly straight" throw and Boom, disc is lost.
I lost a disc, and found someone else's disc the very same day.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 1 Not
A deceptively-beautiful course
Pros: Great location, not very busy, good signage, well-maintained tee-box areas, adequate trash cans & benches, a private bathroom, and an otherwise very nice park to explore outside of the course itself. The park was quite clean as well. Additionally, the course offers good natural challenges, some slight elevation changes, higher-than-average number of water hazards, and a thick and unforgiving rough - which is a con, but the challenge it employs is a pro (stay on the fairway, for the love of (your) god).
Cons: As others have stated, the rough is WAY too overgrown. The course I live closest to and play most often is Estabrook in Milwaukee, and it used to bother the environmentalist in me how much the course's caretakers would thin out the rough along the edges of the fairway and along the paths between holes.
Birds Ruins made me pull a 180 and now I REALLY appreciate it. When I got to the first hole, I let a sloppy backhand anhyzer go and spent the next 75 minutes trudging through some of the thickest, wettest, most overgrown, bug-infested, tree-stump & branch-covered ground I've ever been forced to explore just to wind up never finding my disc. I re-threw, this time sidearm & much more controlled. It landed in the rough too. Not as deep as my first toss, but I still spent 40 minutes looking for that one before eventually finding it. I can't imagine how many people number 19 has frustrated with its 200+ feet of water hazard.
Basically, the main con here is that the rough really needs to be cleaned up. The course is challenging enough without players having to be paranoid about missing the fairway and being forced to search for hours to find (or NOT find) their disc; this, especially given the difficulty of the final hole.
Other Thoughts: Again, regarding the final hole: if you know while playing the whole round that you may very well lose a disc on 19, you're going to play VERY conservative from 1-18 and it might affect your gameplay. Since #19 is the first hole you see when you park your car, it weighs heavy in your mind for the whole round.
Don't get me wrong, I was utterly intrigued and infatuated with the course as soon as I got there, parked, and noticed #19 (it's the hole nearest to the parking lot.) It's hard not to be. It's challenge is immediately apparent, and the risk involved makes you want to play it straight away just to prove to yourself that you possess the skill to conquer it.
If you're unfamiliar with the course, as soon as you park you'll walk up to the tee-box for hole 19, see the sign stating 275 ft to the hole, and then you realize that the hole is on a peninsula across 200+ feet of water hazard - it basically goes: Tee-box => 30 ft of rough => HUGE water hazard => shoreline => small-ish 20 ft radius clearing in the woods, with the basket situated dead-center.
So like I said, at least 200 ft of #19's 275 ft is water.
Also, if anyone finds a Millenium Sirius Orion LS to the far-right of the fairway of hole number 1, contact me on here and I'll buy you a six-pack of good beer - or something equivalent in price i.e <$15.. (the discs original owner wrote the same thing on the back of the disc but when I contacted him, he never followed up - so don't use his info cuz it's outdated. Just contact me here lol).
When I first arrived and was throwing at the practice basket, I couldn't believe I was the only person there (and I remained the only person playing there the whole 4-hrs I was at the course). After losing and nearly losing my 1st and 2nd throws respectively, it became apparent why, on such a mild and gorgeous day, the course was completely empty. Only the most seasoned and adept of players that can avoid the rough without expelling much effort will be comfortable playing here.
Any lapse in judgement, any dampness of the hands that compromises your grip on the disc, any slip of the foot while going through the motions of your drive, all lead to you having a bad time. This course has so much potential - it's a beautiful location, it's quiet, and with so few players, you can play at your own pace.
Plus, given that all Madison-area courses are pay-to-play, this is a great refuge for broke college kids, or those of us trying to play a round a few days before payday when money's tight.
I recommend this course, but with a bright-red, violently-waving caution flag:
-=- You should probably avoid doing what I did my first time playing here, and don't play alone: 2, 3 or more pairs of eyes will have a better chance of finding AWOL throws than you by yourself.
-=- You also may want to leave your prized or favorite discs in your trunk.
-=- And this isn't the course where you'll want to decide before starting that you're going to practice throws you're not 100% comfortable with yet, just for practice's sake.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
A Day at Bird's Ruins
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Quiet. Once you stop all the internal dialogue and tee pad banter...there it is Hush
. Distractions are minimal. A hawk fishing the edge of the marsh--Pairs of Sandhill cranes circling...looking for a dance floor to mate on. Birds in the marsh and oak savannahs. Chipmunks and snakes. Frogs. Butterflies. Wildflowers. Serious tepads wide and brushed wet and grippy.
Thoughtful lines, benches, a water pump....creak creak creak. A nice shelter for grilling or chilling. An excellent location to absorb Wisconsin....praire, marsh, oak woods.
Cons: Not finished.
Other Thoughts: So park your car stretch out and fill your water bottle. If you're filling frisky....throw #19 across the marsh while the rest of your group sorts their gear.
After parking...Cross the road to the south to #1. Difficult first hole....its just really hard to par this one easily . You want to get off the tee and into the game but #1 says no free passes. The basket is located on a little island behind a line of trees guarded by tall trees and a sick little creek. Its a left to right throw. There's a considerable shrubby thing in the middle and....the schule left and right is very unpleasant. If you didn't warm up...even a little...you will be sorry. Punishing first hole and a 3 is stroke against your foursome..
On to # 2....after you cross a couple of foot bridges....there you are....not far 270-280 but a slalom course of pines to negotiate. If you missed par on # 1.....all of a sudden....looking at plus 2 walking up to #3. The pain can happen pretty quickly.
You can get one back on the third tee...its shortish, but the lines are kinda severe. Make your choice of putt at the tee...if you get my drift.
The course/ feel changes as you walk from #3 to the 4th tee. From kinda piney sandhill play to....open.
A miss off the tee on 4 is not what you want. There's a really thick wild grape growth way left. Not pleasant.
If you hyzer long and left its kinda worse...boggy marshy buggy lost disc... and a good shot....but just not enough power puts you in the creek. My advice....play a Roc or putter to the center of the fairway...get the lay of the land. Plus 2 and a lost disc is not a happy way to start.
At this point I might mention scopin tee shoots. There is nobody around and it's an incredibly quiet place . You only get one first time. Don't hurry.....enjoy the challenge.
Okay..across the road to # 5.
Its a long walk to #5....get your game together. 5 is open....throw what you like...but keep it in the short grass. Its a long par three.
#6....this is a transition hole....a stiff eagle on anhyzer or something that doesn't fade left.....focus and get a bird here.
Luck.Skill and really tight putting will get you thru 7 -11....these holes are really funky. Make par....ace runs are punished.
#7. Plays down a wooded ravine with a 60' drop in elevation from the tee to the flat on the bottom. The short placement is almost straight off the tee, but well guarded by trees both along the fairway and at the bottom. If you are too firm with your throw, it could potentially land in the marsh behind the basket. The alternate placement is also on the flats of the bottom, but off to the right. You might have to walk off the tee and down the fairway a bit to get a read on this basket. Trees guard the basket on second shots and long putts.
#8. There's a path connecting #7 to #8, pretty easy to find behind #7's long placement. Watch out for toe stubbing tree stumps in the path.
The pad for # 8 sits under one of Ruins massive old trees. Your tee shot will be a steep uphill throw, but not particularly far. Still, there are enough large trees in the fairway to force a thoughtful line in addition to calculating how high one needs to throw. #8 is probably the easiest hole to birdie out of the 5 woodland/hill holes.
#9 is located further up the hill and then to the left. Initially, it appears very similar to #7, but take the time to walk off the tee and find the basket. It's very close to the same elevation as the tee pad, but the confounding fairway plays down, then right and up. The key for me here is deciding where I want to make my second shot from. The fairway is tightly wooded and slants away from the basket. Tree hits easily roll away or caroom into the woods. Careful play will net you a par, which is mentally difficult to commit to on such a short hole.
Essentially you walk downhill and uphill on a 200ish par three. It's a funky hole.
There's path behind #9 basket, take that up and to the left to #10.
#10 plays downhill again...and this is really weird, because you feel like you've just played a downhill hole...in any case it pays to walk down the fairway and locate the basket. It will be either far left or far right....either shot is demanding and there are lots of trees to influence your choice of lines. You'll probably looking for relief from the woods at this point, but pace yourself, there's a couple more to go.
#11 can be found on a path that is behind the right hand placement of #10. #11 features a crushed stone tee pad framed in wood. It's simply too low to the marsh plain to accommodate concrete ( for the time being) Its a nice spot to watch the marsh for birds and hawks, maybe you'll see a platoon of turkeys in the farmfield across the marsh.
12.....choose to par or birdie....5 is easy here.
I'll finish this review
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Great course that utilizes its location well
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Fantastic use of the surroundings, which includes a river, stream, open prairie, and a hardwood forest. The stream running through the first four holes is utilized well, making you think about your shot selection from the tee. The open fields allow you to stretch the arm out, with some true par four hole distances
There are also some short, technical holes that reward shot shaping and control.
In addition to the the course itself, the amenities on the property are nice. There is a bathroom and a water pump located at the parking lot. I didn't get a chance to use the water pump, so I am assuming it is functional. There are also garbage and recycling cans scattered throughout the course, too. The tee pads are concrete, and are large enough for even the biggest of run-ups.
Cons: As others have mentioned, the rough is just that. I'm sure that as more people play, the rough will become more beat in. But hey, if you are driving straight, there's nothing to worry about!
Other Thoughts: All in all, this is a fantastic course that is well worth the short drive from the Madison area, or further. The combination of shots and distances required make this a challenging course that is a blast to play.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
The Beast in the East ( of Dane County)
Awesome course and layout. All parts of your game required. Big arms, accurate mids and great putting will score well here.
Cons: Rough is rough. Woods are tight. No other surprises here. It's all been said before.
Other Thoughts: Keep on keeping on here! All the improvements are just making this hidden jem that much better.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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