Abandon Hope Of A Destination Course, All Ye Who Enter Here
20 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - Crystal City, occupying an abandoned sand mine, bills itself as an "entertainment Mecca" with subterranean takes on various activities such as volley ball, laser tag, boat tours, video games, an "archeological" dig area for children, and of course, disc golf. LED lights are sold at the entrance with tape provided for free. Beer and alcohol (as well as the usual array of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks) are also for sale and can be taken along for the round.
- Being a former sand mine, the walls and floors of the "cave" are far less rocky than you'd think. The walls were formed out of a crumbly sort of sandstone, and not some super hard granite or similar type of rock. The floors of the mine are amply covered with fine white sand like you'd find at a beach, which is a nice sort of touch (although you'll be finding sand in your gear for the next couple of weeks at least). I'm still trying to get it out of my discing shoes. I did NOT find that the cave excessively wore discs, like some seem to believe. I guess if you hit every wall in there, sure, but hit most of your lines halfway decently and your discs will be fine. It even seemed as though the sandy composition of the walls were softer than hitting some trees. A couple of wall hits made almost "hollow" sort of thumps as if the walls were nothing more than fake scenery at Disney World.
- Use of elevation and water. Both were present to some degree. I felt the water was not used to its full potential, but it also seemed as much of it was only there due to flooding (one of the 18 hole courses was almost completely submerged according to the guy working the bar). So perhaps this course is usually dry? Elevation was used to create a few decent raised basket areas, and enough slopes, rises, and falls in the passageways kept things from simply being tunnel golf. I wish there had been more of an effort to create more raised tee pads (I don't really recall more than maybe one throughout the entire 18-holes).
- The novelty factor here is through the roof. Not technically stunning disc golf design, or anything of that sort, but a super fun time if experienced with a good group of friends while kicking back some brewskis. You might not ever go back after the first time through, but it does seem like a course everybody should play at least once, simply for the experience. The added ricketiness of the lighting and its close proximity to the rising waters make this adventure golf just for the sheer fact that you never really feel comfortable that the lights are going to stay on the entire time you're down there.
Cons: - Amenities, other than the awesomeness of legitimately being able to purchase and drink beer while discing, are sorely lacking. Yes they offer LED lights and tape. Yes they have other activities. Yes there are port-a-johns both in- and out-side and a fire pit on-site by the parking lot. Baskets are lit up reasonably well with rope lighting of various colors, which is a nice touch. Much of the cave is left dark to good effect. Enough light to see but still keep large portions of the holes in the dark. The tees are lit mostly by white 50-gallon drums which are illuminated from the inside and crudely marked with the hole number in sharpy. Some tee areas had pads, while others were just sandy patches next to the drum. Signage was pretty much non-existent. There were several instances where it was not immediately apparent where to throw, and a detailed sign would help greatly. To be honest the course felt rather slapped together, and then left to just kinda deteriorate versus making continuous improvements.
- Crystal City is located in a super sketchy looking neighborhood, fo' realz. Definitely one of the most apprehension-inducing approaches to a course I've personally experienced. Cross a rickety old one-lane wooden bridge, pull into a dicey-looking parking lot, and head down a hole into the earth....yeah. I kept waiting for "Crystal City DGC" to be a ploy posted online by a gang of thugs attempting to snare unwary disc golfers in a bad part of town, steal their lunch monies, push them down, and skin up their knees.
Other Thoughts: - In the end, the novelty factor just isn't high enough to elevate this course to its maximum potential and the aspects of the course that come up short (amenities, design, overall layout) all seem like they easily could have been avoided or rectified. Great concept, okayish execution, mediocre in the end.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Do They Call Birdies, Batties Down Here?
14 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -It's a disc golf course in a cave. This is the most unique course I've played and you won't find another course quite like this one.
-Pretty good use of the the cave features. Baskets are put in alcoves in the cave and placed on top of rock features within the cave.
-The tunnel ways of the cave make pretty good fairways. Some are more wide open and then there are a few tighter fairways, which is nice. The course includes some straight shots, a few doglegs left and a few doglegs right.
-Baskets are portable Gateway baskets, but catch pretty well. All of the baskets were lit up with lights, which made them easy to see in the dark cave. If the basket is behind a cave wall of something, there are lit white containers pointing toward the basket.
-While the holes don't require to much shot shaping, if you throw a shot offline and get a cave wall stuck between you and the basket, you will definitely have to use a few escape shots to save par.
-The cave is nice in cool, so it is a nice way to play a round with out having to deal with the heat and humidity of the mid-west.
-It's a glow round of disc golf that can be played during the day. I enjoy a round of glow golf every once in a while, so I found this quite fun.
-A couple of the holes feature water hazards.
-The counter where you pay for your round features a pretty good selection of food and drink options and also has minis and flashlights for sale. Everyone at the counter was very friendly and helpful.
-The course used the little elevation in the cave to enhance a few of the holes.
Cons: -The course can get a little repetitive at times. Due to it being a cave, all of the shots are basically tunnel shots, without a lot of room to air it out.
-Navigation can be a little tricky, especially since it seems the course has been re-designed a few times. Some of the lighted white barrels are marked with the wrong holes numbers. Just make sure you use the map they gave you and you shouldn't spend too much time wandering around the cave.
-Most of the holes on this course felt pretty short. I only used a mid-range and a putter on this course.
-Doesn't require too much shot shaping.
-The cave can be really dark. It didn't bother me, but if you are some one who isn't good with enclosed spaces or doesn't like dark areas, then I would wouldn't recommend playing this course. I definitely recommend a flashlight and attaching LED lights to your disc.
-Some people wandering around the cave were unaware of the course. Since it is dark it is not always easy to see other people in the cave, so make sure there is no one in the way before you throw your disc.
Other Thoughts: This isn't a world class championship caliber course, but it is a ton of fun and is really unique. As long as you don't take yourself too seriously and just enjoy this as a casual round, you will have a ton of fun. This is definitely a course everyone should visit sometime to enjoy the unique experience.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful.
CryZtal goes underground
18 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: There's quite a bit more to Crystal City than DG, but since that's all I did...
• Fun and cool, but hard to describe in typical DG terms, because it's so different from a typical course.
• Fairways are basically sand, and defined by walls of rock. The course is comprised entirely of a maze of intersecting tunnels in what was previously a mine. Obviously lots of tunnel shots, but there's more interesting shot variety than I expected. While it lacks trees and brush, there are quite a few dogleg left and right holes with several playing around corners. They've created some risk reward with a few tricky pin placements. There are some holes that actually offer a couple of ways to reach the pin; an easier route that has no chance of a deuce, or a more extreme route where there's a slim chance of 2, good chance of 4.
• Some fairways play past an intersecting tunnel, and the tunnels are pretty wide. If your shot fades early or turns into the intersecting tunnel, it's like missing the fairway. However, recovery shots can be very tough because you have to work around a wall of rock... with a ceiling. You can't throw a spike-hyzer or OH shot to get over/around some trees or bushes and back on the fairway while advancing toward the pin. The good news is the ceiling's pretty high, so you can throw some fairly lofty annies and hyzers around the corner to give yourself a chance of saving par, rather than taking a shot to just chuck it back to the fairway... but walls and ceiling certainly do make for different obstacles.
• Crappy weather? Who cares?! You're playing underground!
• Can be fun playing shots off the walls and ceiling.
• Wind - a non-issue like no other place you'll ever play.
• Tee pads - they kinda suck to be honest, and the sand is so fine and fluid, it can be hard to get good footing for tee shots, and several were wallowy or bumpy.
• Navigation/routing: Course actually flowed pretty well, but keep in mind that you're playing in a dark maze of tunnels that all look kinda the same - it's pretty disorienting and sans visual cues, an ordinarily good sense of direction can fail. This makes tee markers and routing particularly important. Lighted barrels w/ hole # are present at most tees, but not all, so sometimes you're left wondering if you've arrived at the tee... or not. The map seemed like a cruel joke.
• Depth perception is compromised in the dark, so it's harder to "range" holes to choose your disc, and my map didn't have distances. Chances are any course you're playing a glow round on is one you've played a few times before, so you have a decent idea what disc you wanna throw and how... not the case if you're visiting here.
• Hard to find your disc if it lands upside-down and you can't see the light taped to the top disc (but that's no different from a normal glow round).
• Could use some longer holes - seems like they have the room for a couple.
• I don't mind the $5 entry fee, but how about getting the basics right? I'm fine with a rolled out matt for tees, but make them level, not bumpy. I actually like the bare bones simplicity of lighted barrels with the hole #, but have them at every single hole, and maybe even a few next tee signs. A decent score card with map and distances would be nice, or put the distance on the "tee barrel." Seemingly little things like this would really make a difference in the customer experience. This is such a unique and cool experience that DG tourists will go out of their way to hit this place. Too bad they don't care enough to step up and get the little things right, even if they feel gotta charge another buck to do it, because it wouldn't take much to make this a 1st class experience.
Other Thoughts: Crystal City can't help but be pretty cool and is quite literally is unlike any other course you've played. You may think it's not so different from playing a glow round on a course full of tunnel holes, but it is. Because it plays through and around a maze of tunnels, and the obstacles present challenges that are a bit different than what we're used to, you need to adapt.
Just to clarify: it's in a former silica mine (raw material for glass), NOT A CAVE... so if you're hoping to play around stalactites, stalagmites or other geologic features, sorry.
Scores all its points by being a totally different kind of DG experience. Set these holes up in a typical city park and it's probably somewhere around 2.0 (typical), but there's enough novelty, fun factor and cool vibe to warrant a higher rating. However, they really missed an opportunity to take it to the next level (3.5) by flubbing the basics, so 3.0 it shall be.
• Call and get directions. Don't trust your GPS to get you here, mine didn't (tried coordinates as well as the addy... neither worked for me). The guy said most people's GPS's lead them astray getting here.
• I suggest using plastic you don't care about - the walls are tough on discs, particularly drivers. My FLX Challenger was fine, but GL River didn't hold up well. My Ibex was great choice for this place -perfect for a lot of the distances, neutral enough for shaping the required shots and durable enough for the walls.
• Lots of fine, soft sand means no skips.
• Tape light on well - if sand gets under the tape you could have problems.
• Bring a flashlight and clip it to your belt loop with a carabiner - it'll be handy whenever you need it and you don't have to worry about dropping it.
• Seems like they change things around (for better or worse) from time to time.
• Be prepared to walk several fairways scouting ahead to spot the basket - particularly inefficient on the loose and shifting sand, and you're gonna get sand in your shoes, there's simply no avoiding it.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
25 Helpful / 0 Not
There's a Disc Golf Town, It's a Place I've Found, There's a World Going On Underground
Pros: 1. Variety. While lacking in topographical diversity and abundant foliage typical to disc golf, the course presents a decent mix of obstacles and "airways" ranging from straight to left- and right-finishing shots, as well as a few subtle elevation changes and some water shots (including a fun carry on one of the later holes). The prevalent sandstone pillars are used to create many multi-route holes. All baskets are within reachable distance from the tees, but not all baskets are necessarily reachable with the lines available, with a few exaggerated doglegs that really take a placement shot then an upshot. Playing with walls and ceilings offered a truly unique and unparalleled disc golf experience and gave new meaning to the DG term "tunnel shot," and it was a blast to watch some of the ricocheting shots. Any little change in elevation was used especially well with pin locations, and while there was no extreme uphill or downhill shot, the designers seem to have utilized what they could. Most other reviewers have mentioned "The Rabbit Hole," which is a standout hole and fortunately not an overused gimmick down here (though gimmicks might succeed in distracting from some of the repetition and blandness of the golf in general), and it is arguably the signature hole.
2. Equipment. Gateway Titans are in great shape; I wish we had these on courses all over Wisconsin like they do in this area! The rope lights didn't appear to affect the catching ability of any of the baskets. Tee signs, where they existed, showed some minimal information. Most tees were sand marked with either boards or rocks, or had a patch of carpet/Astroturf to throw from; while not an ideal teeing surface, it's not the worst if you can adapt, and indeed when I played Toboggan it involved teeing off from sandy patches of Michigan soil, so the tees here weren't much worse than a course that received a 5.0 rating from me.
3. Uniqueness. Disc golf in a freakin' cave! As a geology major, the combination of caves and disc golf was too much for me to resist, though I can understand the attraction of this place to all the disc golfers who don't necessarily care about geology/industrial relics. My wife and I and some friends have an annual tradition of taking a Memorial Day voyage to various disc golf destinations; for several years it was Highbridge, then we incorporated Flip City, finally last year making Ludington and Mason County our destination, and for this year we decided to hit Crystal City and whatever St. Louis-area courses we could hit, then do Lemon Lake. We drove down from Wisconsin and headed straight to Crystal City at around 9:00 instead of checking into our nearby hotel (there is abundant lodging in Festus). The drive up to the complex was awesome, and I was the only person who was aware of "the bridge," so when I pulled up to it my wife asked, "Are you sure you're supposed to drive over this?! Wait, maybe we should back up and check the GPS!" while I chuckled and stopped halfway through and said, "Don't worry honey, this is the right way." Driving through the tunnel to the parking lot added even more excitement, and it was busy on this night with some live music, a bonfire outside, laser tag, and a few groups playing volleyball. I snapped photos inside the entrance like a stereotypical tourist, just amazed for the first half hour or so while we wandered around, had a few warm-up drinks and chatted with the bar staff (there was another group from Colorado that had driven out just to play the DG, and the employees were impressed that two different groups had road tripped to play there; not many of the workers seemed to know much about DG itself), then made our way to the first tee. I've played plenty of night/glow rounds, but this again was a new and exciting twist to the familiar, with illuminated Titans lurking eerily down poorly lit tunnels and around dark corners (we had some discussion of the film "The Descent" to keep the adrenaline pumping). LEDs purchased at the entrance and taped to transparent plastic were sufficient (I don't think we had any incidents of the lights popping off after hitting a wall), though I also carried and frequently used my LED Mag-Lite. Underground water holes are another very original concept, and walking to your lie after the forced carry on #16 via a path flanking the pond felt like something out of a video game (like "Borderlands" or some first-person horror shooter); I guess only those who've played it (slightly buzzed on $3 cans of Shock Top) and can relate to this sentiment will know what I'm getting at with that, but that hole might actually have been my favorite. The fact that there are TWO full courses down here is a definite bonus; alas, I only had the opportunity to play one.
4. Amenities. Okay, nothing country club here except the bar, which is pricey but not outrageously so with a semi-decent selection of drinks. Ample parking, though I could see it getting crowded with multiple large groups going out for the various activities. For a wee or worse, you'll have to settle for port-a-potties (one of which, according to my wife and another female companion, was "atrocious"). Multiple other activities, mentioned above and in most other reviews, make this a place where anyone can enjoy themselves. It appears that the facility is open to change and improvement (especially looking at the older reviews), and business seems to be decent, so I imagine the owners will enjoy long-term success with this multifaceted "recretainment" complex and will improve the courses to meet the demands of serious disc golfers.
5. Cleanliness. Obviously if you're picky about sand, you might not consider this the "cleanest" place to disc - and you'd be right, so be prepared to get SANDY. But as far as litter, I didn't see too much with my flashlight, and the trash cans appeared to be used by most groups. The water wasn't gross, either, just muddy.
Cons: 1. Navigation. Despite other reviewers' complaints, getting to the complex itself using GPS wasn't an issue; we used the lat/lon coordinates as opposed to a street address, which may or may not have been a factor. The course rating gets docked pretty severely in this department, even with the generous wiggle room I give them by default for being underground and having the nearly insurmountable obstacle of providing a well-lit 18-hole course as the issue wasn't just darkness. The map on the scorecard is crap (same one provided in the links on this page, although ours appeared to have gone through several more incarnations of poor photocopying and thus were even blotchier), and getting around can be a nightmare. Most tee signs were so rudimentary that it was almost preferable to just scout everything yourself. Lit-up barrels are intended to guide the way and show the next tee, but confusion cannot be avoided when you are surrounded by pillars and have a spray-painted arrow on a barrel pointing off into an ambiguous direction of various potential routes, and occasionally you'll spot the wrong basket before the right one. We got REALLY mixed up somewhere around #5 and #6 (or maybe #4, I don't remember), but the most annoying part was the number of holes that required scouting ahead to spot the basket - walking in the sand is a workout, so going back and forth down the fairways looking for the pin gets tiresome.
2. Design. I recognize the inherent limitations to creative design with this terrain; there just isn't much other than sandy tunnels and pillars with some water thrown in for spice. The golf challenge falls way short here, as the prime obstacle encountered by your disc will be the walls. Lacking are tight gaps and narrow obstacles, two key ingredients to a "good" course. Way too many shots that finished to the right (in fact, as we walked through the parking lot we encountered a family heading back to their vehicle and asked them about the course; the dad said, "All I can say is, stay right!"). Many of the blind baskets required a placement shot, then a boring upshot and a par putt. Not nearly as much "wow" factor as I had hoped, unfortunately.
3. Limited availability. One of the things I love about disc golf is being able to just go and play, usually whenever I want, including at night with only a few lights; Crystal City is open about 30 hours per week, mostly on the weekends from late afternoon/evening into late night. While I understand that as a business they would require paid staff to have the facility open, I think that to make this a true "disc golf destination" it will eventually need broader access including more weekday hours.
Other Thoughts: Ever since the announcement that there was a disc golf course underground on the DGCR forums, I have had Crystal City on my wish list. Was it worth the road trip?...Absolutely, even if my rating does not necessarily reflect that! But whether or not it is worth YOUR road trip is for you to decide, and that is partly why I write reviews; I would like to be as well-informed as possible before traveling a great distance to play a new course, and I was a reader of DGCR reviews before I was a Trusted Reviewer! Now, since I only got to play the North Course, would I plan another road trip to play the South Course? Absolutely not, unless the facility itself and the surrounding courses (ESPECIALLY completion of the anticipated Deer Creek multi-course complex) can draw me back. I wish I'd played some of the other highly rated courses like Jefferson Barracks, but time constraints and weather prevented much more course exploration on this journey. I love the fact that I can tell people that I played disc golf in a cave, and I will encourage my fellow disc golfers to make the journey to Crystal City.
There isn't a lot that can be done to the course to improve the golf other than improved tees and navigation, although I do have some suggestions to add to the experience: 1) Obtain some old telephone/cable poles (check with whatever utility companies are responsible or get some trunks from a lumberyard) and use these as vertical obstacles to mimic tree trunks both in effect on disc flight as well as effect on the plastic itself (hitting the walls repeatedly is, as noted in numerous reviews, pretty rough on base-plastic discs); I personally can envision hundreds of these implanted in a veritable underground forest, which of course is probably unattainable at the moment, but those kinds of obstacles mixed with some form of artificial bushes, and even a few more gimmicks like a creative mando or two, would go a long way in assuaging the repetition that this course suffers from. 2) For having such limited hours and being pay-to-play, I would expect some kind of CLEAR signage, glow-in-the-dark arrows on the cave walls or battery-operated LEDs, floor-to-ceiling netting to eliminate confusing intersections and create more discernible fairways, just something to a greater degree than what is currently provided. 3) Put in a course above ground! I remember reading that this was possibly in the works, and the terrain above looks like it would be fantastic, and a GREAT course up there would counteract the not-so-great golf down below and make this a place where serious traveling discers would spend an entire day or more.
One final note: Avoid "St. Louis Style Pizza" at all costs. Not only is their cardboard-like crust covered in tomato paste, they use some disgusting processed blend called "Provel cheese," and its only redeemable quality is its meltiness, but other than that it is pretty tasteless and was completely underwhelming even to a pizza glutton like myself. Sorry, STL, your pizza sucks.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Put This One On Your "Bucket List"
It's really hard to give this course a "subjective" rating since there's nothing else to compare it to?
You HAVE to put this course on your bucket list. It is the most "unique" disc golf experience you'll probably ever have...
This is an old Silica Sand mine that they used to make glass (Crystal City). The mine was closed in 1986.
Day or night, whether the weather ;-) outside is 110º or -30º, snowing, raining, it's always a fairly humid 55º inside.
There are 2 courses:
NORTH easier and one water hazard,
SOUTH: Longer with water on about 6 holes.
You will get a pretty good leg workout walking in the loose sand for 18, 36 or more holes.
The Gateway Titan Portable Baskets are lit with Rope-Lights running through them.
The Tee marker Barrels are white plastic Barrels with lights inside of them.
>>>Hole #17, North Course, "The Rabbit Hole" Very Cool. Only 104 feet, but, you throw blind around a corner and through a 4 foot hole through the cave wall, go through the hole and to the basket.
>>>>This is a work in progress. With that said...
>>>>My biggest complaint and the reason I am dinging the rating is the navigation.
There were no maps for the North course which made it tough to even find the first hole, and, had to search for quite a few holes after that.
>>>>Mark the baskets and tee barrels with numbers to aid navigation...
There are lights but you'll still need glow plastic or lighted discs for some of the darker sections.
>>>>Bring a GOOD flashlight for navigation and finding your discs. a couple times we had discs bury in the sand floor enough to hide the light and would not have found them without a flashlight.
The cave walls, ceiling and pillars are sandstone and will EAT your discs. I just used some older Champion plastic discs and they held up pretty well. A DX disc would most likely be toast after a round if you don't keep it off of the walls.
There is also a 30 min. Barge ride (Pontoon Boat) on the 150 acre underground lake through the flooded parts of the mine which is also where the "South" course is located.
Inside the cave there is also:
They have Bands
They show movies
SCUBA Diving in the lake
Kudos to the owners for having the vision to turn this property into an entertainment mecca with all of the different activities they currently have, plus, plans for lots more...
A really cool way to get some use out of this old "abandoned" mine
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Sometimes a gimmick is cool and sometimes a gimmick is just a gimmick.
27 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Disc golfing in a cave sounded weird and different enough that without hesitation I knew I wanted to try it, which basically makes this the definition of a "destination course." After that? I guess it depends. I did have a really good time; we got a bunch of friends together and spent a night playing a goof course in the dark laughing at discs ricocheting off cave walls and people falling down mounds of sand. The fun factor was really high (the bar on site admittedly was helping with that.) There were a couple of cool golf shots. One was an ace run with a basket on top of a mound of sand with a cave wall right behind it. When you ran it and missed, discs bounced around crazily. The rabbit hole shot on #17 was cool as well. On one hole (#13? #14? They all ran together) my disc got stuck up on a ledge. From the tee I was bumming, but once we walked up I found out there was a ladder there. I was able to retrieve my disc and take my second shot off a ledge 15' up in the air, and that was cool.
Cons: Other than the basic idea that we were playing in a cave, I pretty much hated everything about the golf. The place was marked with light bulbs in barrels, but they kept going out and leaving us searching around in the dark with flashlights. The dirty plastic barrels with numbers sloppily spray painted on them wasn't doing much for the aesthetics of the course. The cave isn't really a "cave" but asymmetrical tunnels left from a sand mining operation. There are no cool cave features here. It's just tunnel after tunnel, all of which basically looked the same. It was easy to get turned around; the flow was hard to follow in some places. In some other places you can see more than one basket and it was hard to figure out where to throw. There were some safety concerns as well; with discs bouncing around you can end up in odd spots. On hole three there was a guy in the fairway throwing his shot and we almost teed right at him. He saw us by the lighted barrel and assumed that we saw him, but he was in the dark throwing a disc with no light on it and we couldn't see him at all. You have to communicate well with the other groups on the course, something that the bar and general party atmosphere of the place doesn't help with. The tees are just sand and could have been marked better, maybe some rocks painted with fluorescent paint with some flags with reflective tape or something? We just threw by the barrel a lot of the time since we couldn't actually find a tee. There were a couple of long shots, but basically the shots were pitch 'n putt short. The shots got pretty boring pretty quick. With the right group of friends you can have a good time, but take the basic design and stick it in a park with trees in place of cave walls and there just isn't much to the golf.
Other Thoughts: There was sand everywhere and the sand got up under the tape and made the lights taped to the discs fall off over and over. You have to tape the bejeezus out of the lights to keep them on there.
I got really tired of not being able to figure out what bag was mine and where the disc I wanted to throw was in my bag. The "standing around in the dark" thing got pretty old.
We used some weird GPS directions that made us wander around a residential area up above the cave and took us down a crazy/steep gravel "road" to the parking lot. If you get directions that use VFW Drive and River Hills Road, DO NOT go that way. As dicey as the old bridge is when you tun off of Crystal Avenue, you should use it.
The courses are in flux; things get moved around fairly often. The day I was there the South course was pulled and people who had been there before said some of the North course shots had been moved. Since nothing is mounted permanently, these courses will probably change often.
As I was down in the cave, I had an epiphany: I love disc golf in part for the fresh air, chirping birds, beautiful foliage, and sights and smells you find in natural areas. The cave had none of these things, which goes a long way in explaining why I didn't seem to enjoy it as much as others have.
This course is hard to rate since it is very unique. In the end I figure the design out of the cave would be around a "2" so I'll give it a .5 for fun factor and call it a day. That is just an arbitrary number, though. Everybody who gets the chance to play this course should try it once.
UPDATE: This course is moved around a lot. When I played here in the Spring of 2014 the cool over the water shot and the rabbit hole shot at #16 & #17 were gone. All of the shots were putter/mid distances except two. It was pretty disappointing from a golf perspective.
27 of 27 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Absolute blast in the Cave!
Pros: I love this course!
Windless and tree-free pure disc flight.
Plenty of unique fun holes you can only get in a cave.
All baskets are now Titan portables on both courses with light up barrels to mark hole number.
Friendly helpful cave employees.
Lighted baskets everywhere= Safari Golf!
Live band had the cave rockin.
Alcohol! (both pro and con)
Possibly the coolest experience you'll ever have playing disc golf.
Only $5 for all that.
Cons: It does have cons.
Could easily be reworked for longer funner holes.
Walking in loose sand will wear you out!
Signage to find the place! DO NOT USE GPS!
too many blind shots.
Other Thoughts: This was a great experience for me and my son. It is something you simply must do. Navigating the course is hard but I've had plenty of similar experiences on normal courses.
Leave your bag in the car. Forget the stick on lights as they will come right off after a few holes. You'll hit the walls a lot and forget about sticking them back on with all that sand. Bring a few glow discs, an LED blacklight flashlight, and a small flashlight for nav. We switched to glow halfway through and had way more fun.
Some of the holes were repetitive but since it wasn't crowded at all, we just went safari into better shots. This place would be nothing short of awesome if it were disc golf only and had a professional design.
The alcohol is a pro and con because some idiots think its fun to scream and curse at the top of their lungs after every throw. If only I'd had a little more backup...Punks!
As far as the rating, that's a tough one. Like others have said, the actual course is a 2.5-3. But the fact that it's indoors in a cool cave doubles that rating in my opinion. All of the cons mentioned in this and other reviews are far outweighed by the amount of fun you'll have here. It's a 3 hour drive for me and can't wait to go back.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 1 Not
Awesome experience! Average disc golf.
Pros: 1) The bridge at the front entrance to the tunnel that takes you to the course. The bridge is narrow (it looks like it is one way) and apparently certified by an engineer as they say on their page and the DGCR page. How unique is it to drive on a one way wood/metal bridge that apparently needs to have a sign posted it has been certified by an engineer. I am glad my wife was asleep at this moment . . . because I woke her up when we were in the middle of the tunnel o announce we were there. She woke up, opened her eyes and was shocked at our surroundings. She knew we were going to be playing in a cave but apparently that was not enough to keep her from feeling like the drive through the tunnel was strange . . . I blame it on being awoken in a tunnel.
2) Quite possibly the most unique concept for disc golf I have seen yet. Go underground, turn out the lights (except for the baskets and garbage cans with lights inside of them to mark the tees) and go throw your discs around.
3) Baskets are lit up with string lighting . . . it sure helps in the cave where it is pretty dark.
4) Tees are indicated by a 55 gallon barrel with a light jammed inside to light it up. Some tees have boards across the front to indicate the location, some have carpet to throw from.
5) There are plenty of garbage cans to throw your garbage into. I don't think I saw any user generated garbage on the entire course.
6) The sand in this cave is one of the signatures of this course. It might be hard to walk through but it is a surface not played on anywhere else really. It is all loose and dry sand and it takes some effort to walk through it all day. It also takes a little bit to adjust to how quickly your disc will sit down when it hits the sand. Low skips are certainly an interesting shot also.
7) There is a bar in the cave . . . how weird does that sound? You can ride a barge in the cave somewhere, while I didn't check it out it sure looked like fun (by the signs of all the people walking out of the cave with quite a buzz going and beer in hand). I even gave a couple of them a tutorial on disc golf. I told them I was going to ace just for them. I do not remember which hole it was, but I set it all up, told the one lady I would make an ace for her and then I hit the basket on a somewhat blind shot. I could see the light from the basket but not the basket itself. She asked me where I was throwing and I pointed and said "There". She still didn't get the idea of where I was throwing until she heard the metal and saw my disc sitting 2 feet from the basket.
8) Signature and unique holes abound. There are things you can do in a cave you cannot do in a park. Shelves of rock forming perfect locations for baskets . . . baskets tucked against a solid formation as opposed to a thicket or a bunch of mature trees.
9) Water comes in to play . . . it isn't the kind of water you might have encountered on any other course . . . it is contrived by digging out sand and creating berms to walk and play on while also creating pockets of nothing that eventually fills up with water. Either way it is an interesting feature on the course.
10) Is this the best disc golf you will ever play? NO, but it is still an experience I do not think anyone should miss. DO I recommend that at 9PM you decide to drive to St. Louis just to play these courses . . . well no, for most people, but if you are like me and you absolutely cannot get enough of the game and continuously wanting to see more and unique holes . . . then yes. That is why this goes in the pros as well as the cons. It is simply put one of the most unique things I have encountered in playing this awesome game, despite it not being the most incredible disc golf you will ever play.
11) The cave temperature was moderately cool. I have heard all caves stay at about 55 degrees all year, but I assume that some variance ocurrs depending on the opening into the cave. Either way I assume this is playable year round. Some people want indoor disc golf well this is sortof the solution. I saw someone said the temps were always 68 degrees . . . completely not true as I could see my breath at time and knew it was under 60 degrees.
12) Distance variety was pretty good. There were a lot of short holes with single throws to try and get near the basket and then there were a couple longer ones to force you to execute lines blindly through the dark.
13) Lights for sale at the front counter . . . smart thinking from a marketing standpoint.
14) Disc golf until midnight . . . and a bar . . . how awesome. Might as well throw in some live music . . . oh yeah they do that too. I wonder what it is like to play disc golf while the live music is playing. I imagine it would raise the spook factor a bit.
15) While I would consider this a con sometimes . . here I consider it a positive. This course exposes so many new people to the game of disc golf. . . even though it is not totally representative of our game . . . so many more people will try this than simply a friend inviting them along. This is an experience, one that you cannot deny might be fun even if you dislike the idea of the game of disc golf and even if you look down on the sport. I guarantee my round caused 2-3 people to give it a shot. Had they not met me at that moment in time they might not have ever given it a chance but when they heard we drove from Milwaukee for the "Experience" yes The Disc Golf Experience of a lifetime . . . they had to figure well we have this place in our backyard we should probably give it a shot.
Cons: 1) Talk about one of the most inconsistent places for marking, directionals, and such. They try to help guide you through the course, but the inconsistency leads to confusion in multiple places.
2) Navigation is tough on the North course in a few locations, but the good news is there are a lot of people playing so it would be best if you catch up to someone and just follow their lead.
3) Lots of blind holes which is especially hard in a cave. If a hole is blind behind a tree or section of shrubs . . . you can often find the basket anyways. Here you cannot see the baskets behind walls of rock so you need to walk up to see where you are throwing first.
4) Some of the holes are not executable throws. They have shots that just are not reproducible with a disc and it shows.
5) The rocks (cave walls) definitely will eat up your DX discs. It is unavoidable that you are hitting walls so bring discs you don't mind damaging. Honestly, I would recommend a completely different set of discs that can take the abuse.
6) One of the benefits to this course actually ends up a con . . . the sand you walk through give your legs a workout for sure . . . however, two rounds through this sand would be too much for a lot of people. Your calves will be burning for sure. It is a benefit that your muscles get a workout, but it is a little annoying how much it takes to play both courses through this sand.
7) While there are a lot of unique and signature holes . . . the holes also become very repetetive because there is only so much you can do with sand, rock formations (or what is left after rock destruction) and darkness.
8) Is this the best disc golf you will ever play? NO, but it is still an experience I do not think anyone should miss. DO I recommend that at 9PM you decide to drive to St. Louis just to play these courses . . . well no, for most people, but if you are like me and you absolutely cannot get enough of the game and continuously wanting to see more and unique holes . . . then yes. That is why this goes in the pros as well as the cons. It is simply put one of the most unique things I have encountered in playing this awesome game, despite it not being the most incredible disc golf you will ever play.
9) Some signs were missing and others were tough to figure out since there are generally 2-3 or more columns of rock to avoid . . . deciding which one is integral to playing the course right.
10) I am pretty sure that playing this course over and over would get old. Perhaps if you are not an avid disc golfer though, this course would become an experience to do over and over and over. I just do not see many avid disc golfers wanting to do this repeatedly. I gave it one shot, I'd probably give it another shot, and perhaps revisit it once in a while if I was passing through, but I doubt I would hit it up weekly if I lived in the area. However if a bunch of my buddies said . . . hey let's go back to the cave for a weekly league or something . . . I would probably go.
Other Thoughts: How awesome is this? Well for me it is so awesome, that I decided because a friend was in St. Louis for the night and part of the next day I would drive down to play the courses with him. Had we not just bought a new car this trip may not have happened, but I am so glad I have a new car and so glad I made this trip happen. Apparently even after I made the comment on facebook that we were for sure coming . . . my friend still didn't believe it until he woke up and saw we were already on the way and almost to St. Louis. It is about a 6 hour drive and I was operating on 4 hours of sleep after spending a big chunk of money on a new car. We bought the car because we love to road-trip in the winter when we have more spare time (landscape off-season). Well I guess we figured that we better test the new car out since it was also purchased with the thought that our dog would be more comfortable in a CRV than the old Honda Accord we have. If things went well we thought we might be able to take our dog on our month-long road-trip. While things went just fine I am not sure I am willing to bring my dog on a 30 days road-trip, but it sure would be nice if it does work out. I feel so bad leaving him at my in-laws for a month considering both my in-laws as well as my dog's feelings. Normally when we return . . . he holds it against us for a few weeks at least. Although he loves my in-laws as much as I do . . . I think he just doesn't like the change and adjustment.
Anyways . . . I think I abused the Other Thoughts section enough . . . but if I was willing to do all of the above as well as spend this much time writing the Other Thoughts section, you have to realize this was a pretty significant adventure which was created by such a unique experience.
Disc Golf gets a 2.5-3.0 disc rating . . . but the experience and the people I met . . . get a 5.0. I can only settle in the middle at 3.5 to be fair to both sets of criteria. I love innovation and I love uniqueness, but I also play the game to play the game. This is like the game but on a whole different set of criteria. Either way. . . I say everyone who plays the game should play this course.
I forgot . . . one more thing . . .since some people might read my review and think that I am blasting this place. I am not. It is the most unique thing I have ever encountered in disc golf and they did just about everything they could to make this fun. Now all we need are silk trees to go around or I (as a horticulturist) have to find a way to grow trees in the sand in a completely dark cave.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
The Fun Underworld of Discgolf
Pros: Uniqueness: The world's only subterranean disc golf facility. The world of mines and the world of disc golf go together like peas and carrots. We found ourselves in awe of the course for the entire round. We spoke to the owner/manager and she said it was the one activity here (and there are a lot) that they hadn't thought of originally. Kudos to whoever thought of this.
Fun Factor: A friend and I played, while our wives walked along. From the first tee we were in a state of absolute joy. It is rare that I get so excited walking to the next tee to see what the next hole has in store. Although they didn't play, our wives had a great time just walking with us and taking photos. You're playing in a MINE...
Variety of Holes: This is something that really exceeded my expectations. I had figured yeah it's a course in a mine and had assumed that a lot of holes would be the same, I was wrong. I had to use a lot more shot types than I had expected. There will be holes that suit your strengths and holes that are made more difficult by your weaknesses.
Challenge: From looking at the hole lengths I had assumed this to be an easy course. While I wouldn't call it difficult by any stretch of the imagination, I would say it is harder than I expected. The round also took a little longer than I had expected (which when you're in a state of pure enjoyment like we were, is a good thing)
Weather Conditions and Hours: You can play at any time and the mine is always the same, no rain, snow or wind issues here. The temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees 24-7-365. You can feel the difference as soon as you walk outside of the cave. It's pretty neat playing a round at 9:00 PM.
Cons: Navigation: We had a tough time getting around, things aren't well lit in some areas and the baskets are numbered, but you can only see the number if you're standing a few feet from the basket. We found ourselves walking up and down several holes to make sure we were, in fact, playing the correct holes. There were a few times we took a few minutes to find the next tee. The map is extremely hard to follow.
Tee-Pads: The tee pads are just plain sand like the rest of course and it is hard to get adequate footing. I'd like to see either concrete or some kind of other tee pad installed as one of the next course upgrades.
Signage: Ties in with navigation, the signs at each hole were just a cardboard picture that sometimes didn't make much sense. It got to the point where we felt that we had to verify everything they said. Some of the signs had been removed. The signs should mark where water is on holes as we went into the water a few times without knowing it was there.
Lighting: It's a mine, so don't expect great lighting, that said, there were a few times that some lights were out. We even were able to plug in a few. We suspect that light becoming unplugged is something that is just part of the normal wear and tear.
Safety: On a few occasions we played near the volleyball courts and an errant throw, although unlikely, could've ventured too close to them. There were also a few times that someone appeared onto our hole, either looking for theirs or heading somewhere else. I'd imagine that we also may have done this to other people.
Sand: This is just a limitation here, it's like going to a beach. Sand gets in everything.
Other Thoughts: This was one of the greatest rounds I've ever played. The fun factor and uniqueness are off the charts, the only comparison to this would Toronto Island (which has a south side of Lake Ontario and a north side of downtown Toronto with the CN Tower and other skyscrapers), but even that pales in comparison.
I feel that this course has tremendous potential as does the facility as a whole. The owner / manager mentioned they had found it in the wall street journal, so I'm sure this was expensive to create. She said there is still a lot of unused space (they've basically just only scratched the surface). I understand that this course is relatively new (7 months old at this time according to one of the employees).
I'd highly recommend purchasing the LED lights and placing them on the top of your disc. They can make it a lot easier to find your disc. Make sure you do a good job with the tape and you'll need more than you expect. Bring a flashlight as well.
I'd recommend a trip to this course to anyone and I look forward to visiting again as soon as I am in the area.
I'm giving this course a 3.5 rating because of the fun and uniqueness factor, but the potential here could make it a 4.5 or 5 easily when improvements are made.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Nice to have a change of pace and to get out of the hot sun. We didnt buy lights for our discs but had flashlights. It was exciting to see how long it would take to hear it hit a wall (if ever). It gets a high rating based on the experience.
Cons: Very poor lighting. Some lights were burnt out and you cant see the wires that can get in the way. Had trouble finding the place because there wasnt much for signage off the main road. Had trouble finding a couple of holes, we once shot at the wrong basket.
Other Thoughts: -Dont use your nice discs. We used junkers and they were battle worn by the end.
-We used flashlights instead of lights on our discs and never had problem finding the disks.
-Its all sand. I wore flip flops and did most drives barefoot, but there are some rocks to beware of.
-If you get cold easy, bring sleeves.
-It was worth the $5 just for the first time experience, will be curious what it'll be like in a few years.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful.
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