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.
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.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The land has quite a bit of variety which includes open prairie, woods, slight sloping terrrain, and water. You need a well balanced game here. ** Hole #1 is located across the street from the parking lot.**
Once we found hole #1 navigation was a breeze. The signage is very good. Both sets of tees have tee signs and there are tons of navigational aids on the course.
The equipment is great. Concrete tee pads and brand new chainstars.
There is wide varity of shots needed on this course with both long and short tees.From the long tees there are quite of few holes where you can just let it rip!
Hole #19 is a great finish throwing across the water!
The elevated basket was a nice addition. One of the most unique elevated baskets I've seen.
Cons: I have no problem with challenge but the rough at this course is just nasty. We got lucky and played it in the spring. I have a feeling during mid summer this course is a disc eating beast. It seems to get some traffic so it may wear in over time. Play with a friend and spot for each other.
This course is still very ripe and needs some work. It needs some cleaning up. Watch your step out there. There a lots of stumps and tripping hazards.
There are a couple of wet and muddy areas you'll need to aviod after rain.
Other Thoughts: I get to Madison every other year or so to play Elver, Hiestand, and Token. This is a good addition to the area and was worth the stop.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 1) Nice signs with Hole #, distance, map, and pin and tee locations. The map is somewhat helpful in overall hole shape. They are not perfectly shaped to the hole but it is close enough.
2) Chainstars are in great shape and installed properly. These are my favorite baskets by far.
3) Nice large concrete tees. Many of the holes have dual tees also which definitely alters the challenge on each hole. It makes the course a little more playable for people who are not top pros or long throwers.
4) #9 is a very unique hole. It plays along a severe slope but it starts out going down hill slightly, turning right, and then ends up going back up the hill. It makes for a really tough shot unless you have a perfect flick. I could easily see shots go way down the hill.
5) Hole #13 has a feature that is becoming more and more popular. It has a basket elevated up on a timber wall. This is possibly the highest elevated basket I have seen rising 11 timber levels above the ground (the base of the pole). The basket must be 12' up in the air, and this is definitely going to be a really windy part of the course because it is wide open prairie.
6) Water in play on a couple holes with the creek in play on #1, and #4 and the downhill shot on #7 (I think).
7) Incredible variety on this course between the first couple holes set in the prairie wooded section of the property. Then a few holes in the wide open rolling prairie, then a few in the dense woods, one in an opening but still wooded, a few more out in the prairie, and back into the old Oak woods for 1 hole and finishes in the prairie. It is nice that you don't play all the prairie holes in order and then all the wooded holes in order. The bouncing in and out of the woods and prairie is helpful to make you never get bored.
8) The Sumac in play on a couple of the holes creates a shot I have rarely seen on disc golf courses and I really like it. It is tall and twiggy and forces you to throw a high spike or an up and over floater. The only concern I have with the Sumac being used this way is that it is very delicate and if people throw into these areas they are likely to break off branches. The positive is that Sumac can really proliferate so hopefully those areas do not get damaged too the point that it alters the shot making. The Sumac really seems to be integral to the design of the hole.
9) Distance variation is enormous, ranging from as shot as 158 up to 715 and it has some of everything in between. The alternate tees and the alternate baskets also contribute to the variation in the course.
10) Balance of shot shaping is huge here. They require you to go both ways in the woods or at least offer both lines on multiple occassions, but the prairie you just need to play the wind however you can, so you can choose either throw, but try your hardest to get back to the fairway!
Cons: 1) The rough is rough. It is tall, it is thick, and it is a disc eater. I spent about an hour looking for 3 discs that were hiding from me, unfortunately the first one was my first ace disc so there was no way I was leaving without it . . . and I found it about 20' to the right of where I thought it was but after at least 40 minutes of searching. I am not sure if the prairie ever gets burned or if anything else can be done out there to make it more manageable. At the very least I could see mowing down some strips perpendicular to the fairway to help in spotting, or just always come to play with a friend or two and send out spotters to watch the drives land. I would imagine another 10-20' of a fairway will prevent a lot more issue.
2) The fairways that have been mowed through the prairie have some trippers still but those will disappear quickly with more traffic.
3) Raspberries on some of the wooded holes and I am sure there are some other troublesome weeds out there in the prairies and woods like Poison Ivy and Wild Parsnip. I am not 100% sure of this because they are tough to find right now, but they can be prevalent on unmaintained areas.
4) Not at all beginner friendly because of the length of the holes (even from the shorts) and the length of the tall grass creating a nightmare for lost discs.
5) I don't like blind holes and they have a few here where you cannot see the basket from the tee. This is only an issue once usually then you know how the hole is laid out, but still not a good idea in general. Sometimes the prairie fairways can deceive you in where you should be throwing.
6) A little too much luck needed on a couple of the wooded fairways, but that will level out over time.
Other Thoughts: Superb course, superb design, superb variety and balance . . . needs a little more maintenance or some more traffic to trample down some of those unmaintained prairie areas. Everything is just fine and I would come out here all the time if I lived closer.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Much improved, but more can be done
Pros: The course is challenging and has great design elements. There are many holes where you have to take some time to plan your shot off the tee or even plan how you are going to attack the hole. This isn't your typical drive at the basket and putt course.
The course is well rounded with grip it and rip it open holes along with the technical wooded holes. There is even some danger on a couple holes from a creek that comes into play on hole 1 and hole 4.
There are a few par fours on this course that are more distance based than obstacle based. Hole 4 was a par 4 when it originally went in, but has been changed to a par 3. I suppose people can reach the basket from the tee with a long shot, but the creek and tall brush should be a risk/reward type of thing. There is a safe lay-up spot for hole 4 so you don't have to go for the long over the small creek shot.
Hole 13 has an elevated basket that makes an uphill open hole a putting challenge. Hole 14 has a pin position in the middle of a bunch of small trees that makes it a difficult green to penetrate.
The wooded holes have been cleaned up with a lot of trimming, which has generated better lines for you to hit. Don't get me wrong, the lines are still challenging, but the trimming has taken out the nearly impossible lucky you got through there shots.
The tree on hole 9 was trimmed extremely well so it doesn't totally hinder your tee shot, but it does provide enough of an obstacle to plan your shot around it.
The open holes have had their fairways expanded. I appreciate this greatly. Hole 5 has more fairway to the right. Hole 16 has a wide landing zone for your fairway shot before tightening up and then widening back up for the basket. That is perfect risk/reward for people who want to try for the longer drive.
The extra hole 19 looks like an awesome shot. I have not played it yet, but it looks incredible. It is a 285 foot shot across the river to the other peninsula. You need to walk all the way around to get to the basket.
The baskets are brand new and catch well. There are also multiple pin locations and two tees for most holes.
The navigation has improved with signage on the long walks between 6 & 7 and 15 & 16.
Cons: The course is still new. The roughs are extremely rough. Not a place for beginners as you will be looking for discs for a long time.
Hole 11 does not have concrete tees nor a long tee. There might be issues as to why these are not present, but it does still bring down the course.
There are still many small tree stumps that you trip over (or hit with the stroller) that are in the middle of the fairway.
The course still needs to be broken in a little more to become a top-notch course. The local clubs and community are quickly making this course better each month. If they keep it up, this course will be on par with the Madison courses.
Other Thoughts: There have been many improvement made to this course with trimming the wooded holes, widening the fairways on open holes, adding concrete tees, adding signs, and putting in alternate pin placements.
If they can keep going on improving this course, it could become one of the finer courses in Wisconsin.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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