It gets better and better!
21 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: It's finally time for me to write a review on Idlewild (I've been requiring at least five rounds on a course before writing, because I'm still a rookie at disc golf). Everything seems to have been said about this, one of the finest courses in the world. But did you know that despite being rated as near-perfection, they keep IMPROVING it?
Perhaps the best variety of holes (distances, elevations, water, tight shots, bomb shots…), challenging layout, fantastic tees, baskets, benches, trash receptacles, manicured fairways and 'Augusta'-like landscaping, from retaining walls to bridges…has been enhanced just this year with new full-color tee signs and course map, astroturf (!) on the creekside island greens, and the formal incorporation of holes A-F bringing Idlewild up to an incredibly challenging 24.
Unlike some other courses, the new holes complement the course well, and flow nicely, adding more water hazards and variety (yep, I've put one in the pond on hole D: the mando forces you to go 'over'). Holes A-E follow the long basket on #2 (just go up the hill to reach A), and lead nicely back after E to the long tee for #3. Then after #4, F doubles back very well to #5. The design clearly is intended to enhance the long tee experience, making Idlewild range from a brutal 7200' 18 hole course to a monster 10,500' 24 hole course. Even playing doubles, the Idlewild long course has taken me three hours to complete, but what fun!
We are so blessed in the Greater Cincinnati area with this course. I have to keep reminding myself: most folks don't have it this good. The chance for a beginner to get out here and happily get beaten up by this course is one I won't take for granted. As a first year player, but one who is hooked enough to have already logged 166 rounds of disc golf, I do have a love/hate relationship with Idlewild: it's beautiful, but I don't score well here; it's clearly the top course in the area, but if given the choice (at my skill level), I'd probably divert to Lincoln Ridge. BUT that's not a knock on Idlewild at all, because it's not really a course intended for me. Idlewild is obviously a course designed to challenge the best to bring their A-game every time. It's enough of a challenge to break 100 here on the 24 holes, but there are multiple tees and pin positions, as well as OB options from relaxed to ultra-strict, to custom tailor the Idlewild challenge to the best pro's in the world. Some holes (particularly #13 & #14) double in length (and nearly triple in difficulty) playing the 'longs'.
For me, the signature hole isn't the 1001 foot #15, which punishes your drive if you miss the fairway (the rough can be a disc-eater), and finishes at the base of a hill on an island green across the creek. It's not my nemesis hole, the 588' uphill, tightly wooded #6. It's not even the right-bending meadow-like 609' #10, where I first 'communed with nature' on a disc golf course (late last fall, on a sunny cool day, when I quietly stood in the fairway as deer grazed by about 40' away). For me, the beauty here is the downhill #11 mando through the Y-shaped tree, landing in a moderately wooded glade, still 100 feet from a tiny (the size of a small garage) island green across the creek, with strict OB all around. My best moment in disc golf was hitting this once for par! I would think getting this pretty hole for a birdie would be more of a thrill than hitting a simple, short ace (but then, I've done neither, yet!)
Truly, Idlewild is a wonderful experience, and one of the best courses the sport has to offer. You know, now that I think about it, even the cleverness of the course design is impressive. After your journey through every type of challenge imaginable, you finish on the 651' #18 by working your way up through a long shaded tunnel of trees to emerge at the bright open field finish. If I was a psychologist (actually, I am…) I'd almost interpret the design as intentionally representing rebirth at the finish (…nah, I'm not a Freudian, so it's just a great way to complete the experience, wipe your brow, and say to yourself, "I'll be back!")
Cons: You'd have to be fairly nit-picky to find fault here. I can't believe it's free to play this course.
Realistically, Idlewild may be a bit daunting for new players, but just walking it is worth the visit, so is this a negative?
Even the fairways that occasionally retain water (I can only remember it being a problem on 10 & 18) were noted this spring by Fred on GCFDA's forums (see) as places he was planning to add French drains… so if a con is worth mentioning, it's usually something the course designers and maintainers are already working on addressing. So… wow!
[edit: just played there last night, and I'm fairly sure the freshly dug up dirt on #10 means this work is happening]
Other Thoughts: If you're not in decent shape, the length of this course can get to you. Bring plenty of fluids if it's warm (or, in our region, humid), and take your time. Enjoy. The locals will understand slow play: you're experiencing Idlewild!
Aside from the hiking trail, a practice basket and a soccer field you can use to warm up your arm, I hadn't realized it until writing this review that there was more to this park! Shelters, stocked fishing, baseball and soccer fields, a dog park (!), and miles of mountain bike trails are highlighted in the county website (I added a link, edit: but it was taken down? oh well). Their map is the one already linked here at DGCR, but the full-color map situated at hole #1 is very nice if you want to snap a photo for your handheld device, as well.
If you haven't been here in a while, come back to Northern Kentucky to play the full course. It just keeps getting better.
(edited 10/18/13 for readability and to mention: it's still true - they keep enhancing this course - bright yellow powder coat paint went on all the baskets this year. They now stand out GREAT on cloudy days! And some of the letter hole tees have been extended/ enhanced. It always seems like there's an upgrade happening. And on a personal note, working up to intermediate skills, I still prefer the short tees here for my ego, but still think the long 24 here is the toughest challenge of the 123 courses I've played.)
21 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Full Throttle Wild
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Where to begin. I had put this course on my wish list long ago. Being as I am going to be a father in about a month, I finally made the over 3 hour drive to finally play it as my time to play it was running on thin ice for a few years haha. This course, just like everyone below me has said, is the epitome of disc golf. Everything was thought out to a T, and executed with almost flawless precision. You will pull out every disc out of your bag. You will shoot every type of shot imaginable. You will deal with every disc golf obstacle you can imagine. This course is all encompassing, and boy does it deliver! The scenery is fantastic. The teepads and signs are top notch. The water shots are challenging and stunning. The astroturf on several greens were amazing. From ace runs to a BEAST 1,001ft hole on 15, you will feel like you've done it all on these 24 gorgeous holes, and you will be correct on that assumption. Every hole almost is signature in its' own right. If there ever was a destination course, this is it. I could ramble on and on, but everyone below me has said it. Just play this course.
Cons: Cons? Whatever. It's not close to me.
Other Thoughts: This course, completely kicked my ass, and I enjoyed every minute of that butt whooping. This is why you play the game!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Test your game
6 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: You will need every shot in your bag for this course. I would recommend playing long tees, long baskets, and strict O.B. you truly get an idea of where you are compared to other players. Getting yourself out of trouble is extra important. There are a wide mix of hole types. A few open, longer holes. A few short precision holes. A few throwing over disc swallowing ponds. A few that run along and over a snake-like creek that serves as O.B. the extra six holes are a nice addition (A-F). Though these holes are of average length (300-350) range, there are some tricky shots. #A plays up and down through lightly wooded fairway with the basket over a swampy non-O.B. creek. #B is a straight shot 300 footer with a tree guarded green. #C has a 2 tree tunnel tee shot and then the basket is 30 feet behind a very large tree. Plus, go over the basket and you can roll into a pond. #D has a mandatory that forces you to hit a high window and go over a pond. You need about 200 feet to carry the pond, but miss your line and clip a limb and say bye-bye to your disc. #E tee shot goes over a pond and same pond lines fairway to your left. Also be aware of cat-tails from tee. If you don't tee high enough you won't make it over them. #F is a tunnel shot from tee and then a prairie lined fairway. Go left or right and it can be tough finding your disc.
Cons: Not really any cons to me. Course is just very tough. I think some of the fairways are a bit crazy with the amount of small trees you can easily hit. But, I guess that's the charm of the course.
Other Thoughts: I played in mid-May when leaves were thick. I played all longs and strict O.B. (3 penalty strokes) and shot a 109. I think the goal here should be under the century mark. You shoot under 100 and play tournament rules, you have done well.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
23 Helpful / 0 Not
Idlewild . . . more like RED LINE WILD
Pros: 1) Distance variation on these holes is tremendous . . . 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 and even 1000' holes. There is so much variety here that you will most certainly throw every single kind of shot available as well as using your entire bag.
2) The variety of the holes out here is tremendous. There are tight wooded holes, water holes with OB greens, 1000' holes through the prairie, rolling hills in a park-like setting, etc etc etc. There are so many kinds of holes you will never get bored and you can never relax.
3) There is a kiosk at the first hole with a nice map of the entire course. There is also a place for tourney and league information.
4) The tee-signs are nice with Hole #, distance, par, multiple basket locations, and a map. These are Houck signs and are the standard in my opinion for the future of the sport. They are attractive and they have all of the information you could possibly want to see.
5) Garbage cans and benches in many places around the course.
6) There were a mix of Mach baskets and Innova DIscatchers. I am not sure why some holes had two baskets because that can be confusing, but I played all of the long baskets just because I wanted to truly punish myself on this course.
7) Very nice large concrete tees are always my favorites.
8) The creek on the property is absolutely a key feature to this course and it makes 5 or 6 holes absolutely awesome and memorable. The creek acts as OB and it also helps to create island (or peninsula) greens. These are really risk/reward depending on where you are throwing your approach shot. I played the whole round aggressively and never ended up OB which probably would have made my score much worse if I was off on my upshots.
9) The infrastructure here is amazing. The bridges were well done and in good shape. The Astroturf greens were awesome (something I have only seen done once before (Plymouth Creek in MN). The concrete retaining walls were both attractive and functional.
10) For the most part the other activities and places in the park where you would encounter other people are kept to a minimum. There were only a couple spots where you might be crossing a walkway but there was plenty of room to know when it is clear or not clear to throw. Since this is one of the most popular courses on DGCR, I would think there are always people there and discs being tossed, so I would think the locals who use the park for other things (they must be crazy) would know where to be aware of disc golfers.
11) Awesome variety of hole type and foliage density ranging from tight wooded fairways to moderately wooded park-like holes, to some open rippers too. It's nice to not have to throw the same shot or feel like any hole could have been placed anywhere on the property. It is nice when each hole feels natural like it was meant to be there rather than just being there because that is where the routing of the course puts it.
12) You have got to be able to shape your shots both directions. You will want to throw anhyzers and hyzers and an occasional flick shot too. You might need to throw a roller or two to get out of trouble or to try and eat up some of the distance on the longer open holes. Scooby shots can be helpful to get a skip when throwing a recovery shot. Throw in a couple tomahawks or thumbers and you will have thrown everything. A true test of your overall disc golfing ability.
13) Portopotty located in the large parking lot by the first tee. Someone said there was a practice basket but I didn't bother to look I was too excited to get out there and play.
14) I heard they were putting in more Astroturf . . . right after I played there and I think it was on Hole #3. What a lot of work to prep an area for that and to make sure it holds up to the abuse. I can really appreciate the amount of work that gets put in to this course by volunteers. THANK YOU ALL, LOVE THE ENTIRE DISC GOLF COMMUNITY!
15) I shot a 98 on this course and played all the long tees and long baskets. Why is this a positive . . . because I kept it under triple digits!
16) This course is truly a collection of signature holes . . . normally a course has 1 or 2 signature courses that make the course memorable. Here I would argue that there are no less than 10 signature holes out here and the beauty . . . the reasons are not always the same. It isn't like they did just one thing right, they did many things right.
Cons: 1) The tees were inconsistent in size and texture which I did not like. It's nice to get used to a type of tee and expect the same thing throughout an entire course.
2) French drains or drain tile could go a long way here to help take the water out of some of these low areas that seem to hold water.
3) The course is really muddy and messy in the woods. There is turf growing on many of the fairways that go through the moderately wooded sections.
4) A couple of the gaps and fairways didn't quite seem fair. I knew this course had a lot of shots like this coming in, but a couple of those tightly wooded holes with all those small little trees lining the fairways edge seemed a little aggressive.
5) I do not recommend beginners come here unless they want to go home crying . . . that is all.
6) I had to walk up a couple fairways to try and get a feel for where my true landing zone was . . . if I couldn't tell I'd just rip my driver and try and bite off as much as I could chew. That's probably why I had two 6's and a 7, but I had fun attempting the perfect shot.
7) The rough area on the prairie holes including the 1000' hole were fine when I played because it was fall, but apparently in season you might get lost in them, or at least lose your discs.
Other Thoughts: This was the highlight of my winter trip to Florida which included a stop in Charlotte to play a bunch of the 2012 Worlds courses and a whole lot of great courses in between Milwaukee and Key West in both directions on different routes. I played 50+ courses on this trip and this takes the cake. I played a lot of awesome courses on the trip but this one is just head and shoulders above the rest. It has everything, variety, water, unique holes, creative baskets and green locations, challenge, distance, tight woods, elevation and anything else you could want in a disc golf course. It falls in just behind my favorite course ever (Brackett's Bluff) but it only narrowly misses perfection . . . due mainly to the conditions of some areas on the course. These things could be fixed if there was money available but it isn't like disc golf courses are always perfect and pristine. I would also imagine this course gets significantly harder in season when all the tree and shrubs have foliage on them. I played in the winter so the leaves were bare and I was able to see details you wouldn't normally be able to see in season and I am sure that helped me decide on my shots. I know there is a lot of argument over the rating of this course but remember I rate courses based on how likely I would be to return. I am not necessarily saying that this course is perfect by giving it a 5 (actually I had to differentiate it from the others at the top of my list) so I am saying it was 4.95. If I lived next to it, I would play it daily and would rarely need to go to a different course because this has everything all into one. I played about 6 holes with a couple locals and they said they only play 2 or 3 places . . . Idlewild, Mt. Airy, and Lincoln Ridge . . .what more could you ask for than to have those 3 courses within about 20 miles of each other.
23 of 23 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course 100% lived up to all of the hype it has received. It was my first round at a difficult course in quite some time, so I was a bit rusty... as I expected, Idlewild whooped my butt. While most of the time I find being bad at something quite un-enjoyable, somehow this course allowed me to have an incredible time regardless of how I played. Heres why:
*The scenery here was absolutely breathtaking. I could have brought my grandparents here and they would have "oooohed" and "ahhhhed" at the beautiful trails and trees without touching a single disc (I can only imagine how it must look in the Fall!). The first hole of the course bombards the golfer with a HUGE decline that just begs for a driver to be ripped down the giant fairway lined on either side by trees. In addition, the course had a lot of awesome man-made greens surrounded by streams on all sides, a feature that I haven't really seen much of. Many of the holes wind through the woods, making the course a very scenic hike.
*As I mentioned, this course proved to be quite a challenge. That being said, every hole here was fair and exciting! They weren't the kinds of holes where you said "aw crap there is a very good chance I'm going to take a 6 here..." no... they all presented challenges that tempted the golfer to take out their drivers and go for the birdie! It was nice to not constantly be worried about losing discs on these challenging holes (except for those that brought lakes into play)
*Elevation here was definitely noteworthy... being from Illinois, every hole at Idlewild showed more elevation changes than any of the ones i normally play at home.
*Signage was perfect.
*The park overall was great. People were hiking, fishing, walking their dogs, etc. Lots of other things to do besides disc golf
Other Thoughts: These don't really affect the course's rating in my eyes, but they're noteworthy...
*We ended up not being ready to leave the park until about 7pm, and by that time the gates had already been locked up. We called the number on the signs, but still had to wait about 20 minutes before someone came and let us out... keep this in mind when planning your trip!
*Watch out for the water beyond the street of hole 17... crept up on a few of my buddies that thought it didn't go as far back as it really did.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 8 Not
Pros: This course will test every shot in your bag. Well marked with short and long tee pads. Multiple pin placements for almost all holes.
Cons: The new letter holes could use the bigger tee pads like the rest of the course has on each hole.
Other Thoughts: All in all this is an amazing course. It is one of the best/toughest courses to play.
3 of 11 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Where to start!
Course is in great condition well kept. Nice big concrete tees in good condition. Baskets are good. There was one basket that was a little janky looking in the short position on #13. Tee signs are very good and descriptive. Course flows well there are no real navigation problems.
Great use of the land. Lots of great elevation changes. Uses lot of water, a small lake and a creek that runs through a lot of the park is used on many holes. Along the creek they build up walls with concrete stones, clearly marking the OB areas. With that they course uses OB often to cause accuracy to be a must. A lot of island greens.
Many great holes that you will remember. Like the 1001ft #15 with an island green. #11 shots through a V split in a tree with a long swooping fairway to the left to finish with an island green. Then finishing a 651ft #18 with a super tight hallway most of the fairway. Great use of the land!
Extreme requirement for multiple shots. I am right handed used many backhand and forehands and even a few overhands. A few holes that require a rhbh turnover to execute the hole well like hole #4 uphill to the right.
A practice basket right at the beginning to warm up as well as a soccer field that can be used to warm up a bit is always nice.
The course has multiple baskets and multiple tees on a few hole which is nice for tournaments and having different divisions.
Cons: The course has been far more worn down than what the pictures now show. Just a lot of traffic stomping down and killing a lot of grass.
With the use of creeks in low laying areas this can cause it to hold some water. The course has been a bit muddy every time I have played.
Other Thoughts: This course is not where you want to take your friend for their first disc golf outing.
Get out and play this course.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 0 Not
Simply the Best
Pros: What an incredible expereince! Idlewild is an extraordinary course.
Tee's- Pad were all in great shape and VERY spacious which made life so much easier. The tee locations were very well thought out. There is no redundancy on the course and each tee shot requires a bit of thought. In many places, you are offered multiple ways to attack the pin (I use the term attack very loosely).
Signs- Signage was good. We only played the original 18, so I can't comment on the other 6. Maps and distances we very accurate and necessary.
Topography-Really what sets this course apart from all the others I have played. The course is runs from park-like to tightly wooded with one epic open hole. The balance is tremendous and the massive creeks that run through the course add the wow factor necessary for elite courses. The terrain is a nice balance of rolling hills/ big hills/ little bit of flat. No hole feels redundant.
Beauty- Gorgeous--I will not call it the most scenic course I have ever played, but it is in the top 5 for sure. This is DG the way God intended it. The park was extremely well maintained and the massive mature trees, use of long grass and, and creeks were perfect.
Difficulty- Insane. If you play this utilizing the OB the way it is intended, get ready for the challenge of your life. There are so many filthy tee shots where there is a 50-50 chance of OB. It is a real gut check. I loved all the island greens. They are definitely the signature of the course and something I will always remember. With the lack of redundancy comes the need for every disc in your bag. Truly, no tee shot is the same and no approach is the same. They make you throw every shot you have. While I say that it is insanely diffcult, I still think that a beginner could have lots of fun here...just know that you aren't going to score low.
Baskets- All in very good shape and relatively easy to locate (see cons).
Fun Factor- Through the roof. You will never play a course like this again.
Cons: These are minor, but worth noting:
1. It would be nice if there was a way to identify which pin location the baskets were at on the tee sign. We had to walk ahead quite a few times (and one time for like 5 mins). While most of the baskets were in A position, a few weren't.
2. 2 baskets were up for one hole hole (15?) which was really odd.
Other Thoughts: I am still trying to digest our trip to Cincy, but I can say with confidence that this is the best course I played there, and worthy of it's #3 ranking on this site. It is a masterpiece that I hope I am able to play again. Thanks to Cincy and the DG club there for all they do and for making that course what it is.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 14 Not
Better pack a Lunch!!
Pros: Very Challenging course but plays well through all holes and is very easy to navigate as long as you follow the signs
Cons: Very easy to lose a disc. Bring comfortable Shoes, Lots of water on a hot day. As these may seem as a con they are really pros to me!
Other Thoughts: If you are looking the ultimate disc golf challenge, You found it!
2 of 16 people found this review helpful.
22 Helpful / 0 Not
Disc Golf Gold in the Bluegrass State
Pros: Northern Kentucky's gift to disc golfers, Idlewild's rolling hills, wonderfully wooded fairways, winding creeks, and ponds combine to provide the kind of beautiful setting and supreme challenge serious players live for. But don't let the nice scenery fool you: this place is anything but friendly, and will challenge EVERY aspect of your game.
• Truly outstanding and well balanced shot variety, particularly in terms of distance (just look at the score card distances). Excellent use of natural elements to present straight, left, and right turning fairways, uphill and downhill shots, rollaway putts, etc. Moderately and tightly wooded fairways on 400+ ft holes are anything but relatively easy pars. Supplemental holes play a bit more open than most of the original 18, to help provide what I think is a nice balance of fairway types. Several holes present numerous lines you can execute off the tee pad, but every hole features at least some well-placed stands of trees you'll need to avoid or work around to get to the pin. Others significantly restrict what routes you can take, pretty much forcing you to choose from a few reasonably executable lines. Most require you to find a landing area for true approach shots.
• Splendid use of island greens adds a certain charm and unique feel , and shows the thought that went into each hole. Moreover, they provide OB for additional challenge for tournaments and players looking for the ultimate challenge. Even if you choose to ignore the OB and throw to the shorter pin placements to play "Idlemild," it's still not an easy round.
• Great holes galore! Starts with a winner, ends with a killer. Hole 2, with it's approach shot over the water, might be my favorite. Nothing felt run of the mill or filler - every hole had at least some appeal.
• Distance is a plus only if it's well controlled. There are a few holes where those who can't hit 300' can score well. Big drives that get away from you will hurt.
• Course comes near other park activities at a few points, but is pretty well insulated from them for the most part. After a while, I just got lost in the round and forgot the rest of the world.
• Well equipped with nice tees, baskets, and signs, as well as benches and trash cans at most (if not all) holes.
•Surprisingly easy to find and get to. Pretty close to tons of food choices and other civilization.
Cons: Not really much to hate on, but here are some things that did come to mind:
• OB seemed a bit contrived and forced at times, rather than natural.
• Pretty much all top-notch courses come with significant risk of disc loss, and Idlewild is no exception. Get sloppy on some of these holes and kiss your disc goodbye. Bring friends to help look discs down and spot for each other. Besides, this sort of experience is better shared with others.
• Port-a-Potty by 1st tee is certainly better than nothing, but I prefer a real bathroom with running water.
• Scorecard/maps would really be nice - I'd love a souvenir to take home with me. I know they cost, but put up a donation box for those of us willing to pay a buck or two for this incredible experience.
Other Thoughts: Idlewild should be mandatory on the "To Do' lists of those who seek the most challenging of courses. Everything about this place speaks to its championship pedigree, from the spacious concrete pads and well groomed fairways, to the full color tee signs and landscaped design of the putting greens. Sure, it all looks nice, but be prepared for a beatdown. Throw the notion of "everything's a Par 3" out the window. You'll take a 5 and like it, and be thrilled with a 4. I refuse to list "too difficult" as a con. This course was meant to be championship caliber from the word go. Citing difficulty as a con would be ludicrous. Difficult? Yes. But impossibly so? Not even remotely. Everything here is reasonable for those with the appropriate skill level. I would absolutely love to see top pros playing here, I'm certain it would be inspiring and humbling all at the same time.
A round at here can leave you exhausted, especially if it's a hot or humid day - bring hydration and food. My pilgrimage was made even more epic by the fact that the temp hit 100° the afternoon I played, so I truly feel justified in saying "I survived Idlewild." You just have to appreciate the undulating fairway on 15 and the 4'-5' tall prairie grass and Queen Anne's Lace lining it nearly the entire distance. Almost cruel to throw a 1000' hole at you after you've already played 20 holes and trekked about 2 miles up and down hill. Can you say stamina?
Can't really comment on navigation because I had a guide, but it did flow well from hole to hole, and I don't remember anything seeming that tricky.
To Fred, Bob, Nick, and anyone else involved in making and keeping this place such a worthy destination: THANK YOU!!!
Comparison to Flip: both courses are scenic, have 24 tees, baskets, great land, and are obviously labors of love. That's where the comparison ends. They are COMPLETELY different in their very nature and it really all depends what you're looking for. Idlewild is the tougher, more challenging course - hands down. Flip is accommodating to a wider range of players, with a cool vibe and fun-factor that's all its own, and simply can't be duplicated (at least it hasn't been to this point). As different from each other as steak and lobster, the existence of each makes experiencing the other even better. I prefer to appreciate each for what it does so well, and feel fortunate to have played them both.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Join Disc Golf Course Review
for free to add your review. Have an account already? Sign In
to add a review.