Best in South Central WI
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course is heavily wooded, highly technical, and has a great deal of elevation change to go along with some huge long holes to challenge both the big arms and the average (it's quite a treat to par those holes alongside the pros).
Natural obstacles such as an ancient, uprooted pair of trees on hole #4 just before crossing a creek add to the challenge (not to mention that the long green is surrounded to the 10 meter distance by sumac).
Hole #13 offers an elevated pyramid as the sort of unnatural obstacle that is much preferable to arbitrary and artificial OB. Hole #14 is another magnificently protected green, sumac surrounding the long pin out to 10 meters.
The holes are each exceptional, and the layout and signage is excellent, making it very easy to follow. And hey, Holly Finley calls it her home course, so if you see the Mini Cooper that she is provided by her sponsor at the dealership, you might get to say hey to the Duchess of Disc Golf (or even play a round with her).
It will soon be a 27 hole track for the World's, and the new holes look great.
Cons: It is about a 30 minute drive from Madison, but it's free and slightly superior to both Elver and Hiestand. It's the only course open in the winter in the area, and it can be muddy and slick and treacherous, so wear hiking boots with good traction.
Other Thoughts: It's secluded and quiet, near nature trails, water, and large farms. You can scarcely tell there is a small city nearby, and there are opportunities for bird and nature lovers to get their geek on about that as well as the great course.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Course has what many of my local courses don't have, elevation, water and bomber holes. Course fairways were mowed and looked to be kept up well. Some very fun short wooded holes. Course is very diverse in shot requirements. Some really enjoyable holes that are ace runable from the regular Teepads. Teepads are nice new concrete. Hole 14 had some great benches. Hole 13 has a nice pyramid basket that are becoming more popular. I enjoy these as there are plenty of flat greens on this course. From the sounds of it from our DGCR "course guide" that many holes have been widenend and they are mowing more than they used to. That is good news. Also mention of expansion.
Cons: Long walks and crossing trails that if not for a guide we might not have made. I PMed a DGCR "course guide" and he PMed me back and we were able to meet up with him and play. So glad he was along. Also even with 5 guys in our group hawking shots off the fairway we still spent much time looking for wayward drives. This would of course be better in early spring.
Other Thoughts: The course is definately going to be great. I can't rate it a 4 as the overall enjoyment was rubbed raw by constant searching when landing off the fairway. It was almost amazing how our discs would bury themselves in the prairie grass. the course guide asked us what teepads and we said am tees and he said, "good decision." Looking at some of the teepads was just amazing the tightness or the added distance required. Of course the alternate pin position on hole 14 that we didn't play thankfully was one of the craziest things I have personally seen for a pin placement on the course. Cut a 50 foot circle in the middle of some 10 foot high tree like bush like forest requiring a 60 or 70 ft carry to the circle from the closest mowed part of the fairway. You can see a picture of it when you look at the pictures of Hole 14 on the site. The guide that played with us said yeah that is the alternate pin and we said OK?. Overall for the most part a great disc golf course.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Best free 18-hole course in the county
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Each hole on this course is pretty unique and there is a good variety of challenge throughout the course. The teepads are nice and on most of them someone has even put a post-it arrow on the current pin placement. There are small signs everywhere that show you where the next teebox is if it isn't obvious. Overall the course is well maintained and awesome!
Cons: There are four holes in the middle that have you going up and down a pretty steep hillside, so be prepared for a hiking type environment. Also, there were a good amount of flies and mosquitos when I went, so make sure to have some bug spray.
Other Thoughts: I wish this course was closer to Madison! Marshall is a cool little town, but besides the amusement park (which I've only driven by) this park is probably one of the bigger attractions. I didn't play the 19th hole since it was muggy out and I was tired, but I was prepared to if I was feeling up for it. I had a couple of beater discs in my bag at the ready. I also didn't play it because I wasn't quite sure how to get over to the basket and it seemed like a decent hassle for one extra hole.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
I wish I lived in Dane County
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - Located in a scenic county park
- Easy to find with ample parking near holes 1 and 18
- Wide Variety... short wooded holes, wide open distance, water hazards, elevation, and more
- Fun and challenging for a wide variety of skill levels
- Dual concrete teepads and pins
- High quality of upkeep and care... trash and recycling bins throughout the course
- Accurate and detailed teesigns
- Benches, logs, stumps, or plastic chairs located at each teepad
Cons: - I could definitely see how the rough could ruin a solo round, especially during the summer. It wasn't long enough this time of year (mid-spring) to be a problem while playing in a group of 4. We never spent more than 2 minutes looking for a disc over the course of 2 rounds.
- In the current pin positions, there were three short, downhill, doglegs that became a little monotonous.
Other Thoughts: I was really impressed with this course. The quality of the design is top notch. There were several holes that made me think about risk vs. reward and most presented two or more line options. Some people complained that hole #9 (in the horseshoe position) is way too difficult to birdie... I like that design because it rewards good course management. A controlled shot will set you up for a manageable par while those that go for the unlikely birdie will find themselves in jail and scrambling for a bogey. The care and upkeep were closer to what you would find at a high quality pay-to-pay course. The natural beauty of the land was remarkable. I heard the calls of cranes (I was told they were whooping cranes) on a nearby lake/pond throughout the day. I am definitely looking forward to playing hear again.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Very good mix and balance of shots, left to right/right to left, short/long, forehand/backhand. -Scenic views paste the backdrop on this course. -The layout of the course was well designed on the land of this park. -Two sets of concrete tee pads and two basket placements for every hole gives this course a lot of options.
Cons: -If you are not playing this course before june the rough is tall, thick, and nasty. -Wind can be brutal, play in the fairway and out of the tall thick rough. -Spotters are necessary on most holes especially from long pads to long pins.
Other Thoughts: Was pleasantly surprised when i decided to go out to birds and give it a try despite hearing a lot of negative comments about the blandness of this course, style of golf, and very thick rough. Take a nice spring day off and check this course out because it's worth the play(especially inside an hours drive). -Very solid fun course.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Fun and challenging course
0 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Very well done course along a river. Has variety of elevations and flat holes.
Cons: In the summer it can be hard finding your disc with all the tall grass.
Other Thoughts: I would definitely play this course, it is challenging but also very beautiful.
0 of 5 people found this review helpful.
My favorite near Madison
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course is set in the small, quiet town of Marshall a small drive outside of Madison. There are two sets of tee pads on nearly every hole. The tees are large level and grip nicely. The difference from longs to shorts drastically changes distances and shot shaping on quite a few holes as well. The baskets are chainstars that are in very nice shape and catch great. There is a solid mix of right, left and more straight on shots here. The challenges range from wind on the more open holes, water on a number, elevation and plenty of trees. This is really just a well rounded course in this regard and makes for a very fun round. The park is in a very secluded area and is never too busy especially compared to the in town courses. The tee signs are very nice and informative. The have a basic hole layout map with distances, pars and the different pin positions. They even had stickers showing which pin was currently in play which is nice. There are also many signs showing directions to the next tee making navigation a breeze. Speaking of that almost every hole has multiple pin placements. This adds even more fun factor to the course. The variation of different distances is pretty awesome. There are shorter wooded and many varying prairie distances. Bird's ruins is also free to play (although there is a donation tube by hole 1) and there is a nice restroom and drinking fountain by the parking lot. The course is also permanent apparently, although I've never been there in winter. This is a big plus to me and this would seem to be a nice course to play a snow round at. Hole 19 is a very cool probably 250 foot shot over a pretty wide river to a pin on the other shore. This is really just a bonus hole but a really cool bonus hole at that. there are also tons of trash cans and benches all throughout the course to make your round a little easier in spots and help it stay clean.
Cons: The rough on a few of the holes can be pretty nasty. Not the worst I've seen but watch closely where you throw. Not really a con but just to take note. Holes 1-4 are on the opposite (south) side of the road. Holes 5-18 then wrap through the rest of the park. Hole 19's water carry hole is located right by the parking lot. As has been mentioned before the bugs can get bad but it is WI and that's true pretty much everywhere around here. Beware of people walking dogs and just walking on the trails throughout the course.
Other Thoughts: I've played all the courses in Madison and this is my personal favorite (though it's not actually in Madison). It's free to play unlike the four major courses in Madtown which is always nice but the golf is just plain fun too. You can couple this with many other nearby courses to make for an awesome day of disc golf.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
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!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Nice course, but tough for a new golfer.
3 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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
3 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!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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