A top-level course suffering from a few minor flaws
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: If a course gets a 4 or higher from me, it should be taken as an immediate "GO PLAY"
Sontag has almost everything you'd want in a disc golf course. You'll have a few open field shots, a few field to woods, a few woods to field and the majority are wooded, technical and long.
Don't expect to roll up in here and destroy this course, honestly I went into my first round here with survival in mind. I had been thoroughly warned that this course is a beast. It didn't disappoint. It will test your precision on nearly every hole. Apart from holes 1 and 18 (see cons below), I have very few complaints with the hole layouts.
In typical Hoeppner fashion, the course is two 9-hole loops, the only way any 18 hole course should be. This allows for tournaments and events like doubles to run a little smoother.
Placements shots are the name of the game here. You'll need to be accurate off the tee pad or you'll suffer from it. Even on the open/semi-open holes, your drive placement greatly determines if you have a reasonable shot at getting up-and-down. A bomb drive may look impressive, but if you're off the fairway just slightly, your score will suffer.
Challenge. You won't walk away from Sontag with a good score if you weren't on your game. You'll need to throw mostly technical driver shots, up, down, left and right. To add to the variety, you'll even need to throw technical putters and mids off the tee on several holes. Even the par 4's and 5's sometimes lend themselves to mids/putters off the tee as placement is more important than distance.
There are plenty of benches on the course (what appeared to be 90% of holes, including some at the blue tees). You'll need them.
Despite being natural/gravel, the tee pads were VERY big in most cases. Even those guys that Happy Gilmore from off the tee pad should be able to start on the pad on most holes. The only exception to that was hole 6 I believe, which didn't need a huge run-up but was half-occupied by a root structure.
Cons: To get things started, hole 1 is a little lackluster. A wide open field, flat, into the a small wooded alcove. Basically you have to throw it straight and hope it pokes through the first tree line.
Since we're talking about individual holes, hole 18 also left a lot to be desired. To be worked out the way I was through 17 holes, I expected something epic for the finality. I was pretty disappointed with a wide open mid range shot.
There were a few navigational stumbling blocks. If I hadn't been playing with someone who had played the course before, I'd probably wandered around a little between a few holes. A course this nice shouldn't suffer from little detriments such as this. Hopefully some locals will take this issue on.
Natural tee pads/Gravel tee pads are a big pet peeve of mine. I don't think I could give a course any higher than a 4.5 with either of these tee's. They don't allow for good form on the tee and also up the chance of injury quite a bit.
There is technically water in play, but it really isn't in play for anyone over Intermediate level. It's a dog leg left as is, the only way you end up in the water is if you throw the wrong disc. Only inexperienced players will worry about the water hole. It would've been cool to see more of the lake used in the shot.
I was hoping for a little more variety on the open shots. There wasn't any in-between from wide open to densely wooded either. It was all or nothing, but mostly all (the trees!). Only 3 holes could be considered "open" and hole 18 is a honestly an embarrassing finish for such a fantastic course.
Other Thoughts: You'd have to be a masochist to subject yourself to the blue tees, I'd imagine. It's probably fun once or twice, but even the top pro might come out of the woods hating themselves. I'd be interested to see what the course records are from each tee.
I wouldn't recommend this course to the rec players of the DG world. Intermediate players should know what they're getting into and might want to play red tees first. If you're Advanced or higher, this course will test your game and is a blast if you play well (I was lucky enough to shoot -2 from white) but I'm sure it could be demoralizing if you're not on.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
VA is for throwers
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Terrific course that with a little tweaking and refinement could be among the echelon of best courses. Good balance of open and wooded, some in & out of woods type holes and an abundance of multi-shot holes (legit par 4s, etc).
It's set in a beautiful, rustic VA locale near the mountains so the terrain is terrific for disc golf. Good elevation, mature forests and well-mowed fields combine to create a disc golf cocktail sure to intoxicate most players. Three sets of tees with short reds, butt-kicking whites, and god knows how tough blues (only played the whites for the record).
Not too much trouble figuring out directions as little signs point the way to holes okay enough and the fairways are well-defined and intuitive for the most part. This is a course that validates you for hauling around a small warehouse of discs in your bag although you'll likely be regretting leaving home those magical straight discs we never seem to have with us. The whole course is a fine symphony that seems to get better as it goes on.
Cons: The symphony ends on a sour note unfortunately. The last hole is a blah open field shot straight uphill.
The orchestra makes beautiful music but on certain holes it sounds like the instruments weren't quite in tune. The natural, often gravel, tees were decent enough but having anything short of concrete for a course of this caliber is like having bucket seats in a luxury car. You're often subconsciously wondering "Would I have hit that tight gap if my foot didn't shift slightly in the gravel?"
Another con for me was many holes bottlenecking too harshly. Lots of big, wide open fairways rushed into a thimble of a green, I felt like Yosemite Sam being tricked into diving into a shot glass of water by Bugs Bunny. The big, open, downhill hole (10 I think) is a good example of this. A great hole, but asking players to hit the ~30' landing zone necessary to navigate the last 150-200' of spandex tight fairway from ~500' away uphill is a bit much. More than this flatlander can do without luck or steady replay. A lot of the wooded tunnel holes would hourglass into this hallway narrow gap that really seemed to ramp up the luck factor. I think some very calculated fairway widening would zoom this course into the 4-4.5 category.
Some of the tees can be hard to spot as they are mostly just posts of wood lying on the ground. Tee signs are old and could use some repainting or updating. Kind of disappointed that water didn't come into play really, especially that pond you hyzer over the corner of.
Other Thoughts: My technical nitpicking aside, this is a fantastic course and very well worth a trip. The whites here and the shorts at Ferrum make for a terrific combo of courses as the whites are really blues anywhere else. I'd like to come here sometime during the fall or winter when the trees are bare to see if it plays any more forgiving. One of those courses that can refill your cup if your zeal for disc golf might be waning.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
A Remote Gem
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 18 hole course set in a remote park with nice facilities. There are bathrooms and a huge gazebo right near hole #1. There are three sets of tees for each hole and nice baskets. The entire park is well maintained. The course is also nicely taken care of. Grass is cut short, paths are clear, and steps, bridges and pads are well done.
The strength of this course is its great variety. While it is known for its long wooded holes, it also has some short wooded holes and some wide open bombs. Truly something for everyone.
Along with the variety in the style of hole there is also a nice use of available elevation. While there is no top of the world shot, there are some really fun downhill shots and some long uphill stretches. There are also plenty of lefts and rights. Nothing is repetitive, and the course does not favor any particular shot.
Hole length variety is also nice. Yeah, there are a good number of long wooded holes with tight lines. But, there is also a handful of shorter wooded holes that force you to hit a line. There are even a few fair ace opportunities for the average player.
A truly challenging course from the long pads. You will need length and accuracy to score well. You can't be a one trick pony and conquer Sontag from the long pads. Lots of fun.
Cons: Natural pads in the grass and gravel in the woods. Maybe not a true con, but they could be improved. The gravel pads are well done and huge though.
Signs are rudimentary and could be improved. When you have long, winding holes, good, accurate signs are nice to have.
Other Thoughts: While this course isn't perfect, it is a truly top notch course. With a few refinements it could even be considered great. The one debatable aspect of this course is the design of some of the wooded fairways. Is it really necessary to have lots of late trouble or heavily guarded basket positions on long wooded holes with tight fairways? Or to have a random tree or two in the middle of a long tight fairway? I guess it's a matter of personal opinion, but whatever the case a few of Sontag's holes seem to have an element of luck added to an otherwise nice hole.
IMO hole #10 is a great hole. It is 700-800' depending on what pad you play from. It is a sweeping downhill shot over the well tended grass. Then you must hit a gap to enter the final 250-300' of wooded fairway that tightens as you approach the basket. Lots of fun.
I also really enjoyed #16. It is a slightly downhill tunnel with a thin strip of trees down the middle. You can throw the left line or the right and have a fair chance at success. White pad is 360' and blue is 390'. It is just a great looking hole.
If this course was closer to a large population center I think it would be much more talked about. It needs a few more touches, but it certainly is in the ballpark of courses like Iron Hill, Nevin, Nockamixon or the Angry Beaver. If you are in VA it is a must play.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Watch out for trees...
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: This course has three tee pads for each hole. It definitely made me pull out every type of shot I had in the bag. This course has a very good flow to it. It also has good facilities in the bathrooms and pavilion. Some nice open holes that allow for some big pulls.
Cons: VERY tight fairways. Some of the trees should be removed. Fairways are congested with undergrowth and debis.
Other Thoughts: This course was VERY challenging and fun. With a little clean up it could be very good. This course term your control. Took about three hours to play, so plan for long rounds. Lots of bugs in the woods so be prepared. Overall I enjoyed this course and will definitely come back when I'm in the area.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: KUDOS to those individuals who recently upgraded this course. It is apparent from the redesign that the locals really care for this course and the challenge it brings to the sport.
Length and difficulty of long tees!! These new (apparently redesigned) tees are pleasantly challenging. Shoot par here and you'll really feel like a pro!! Some courses add tee variation on a whim - not here - you'll need skill and distance to score well from pro tees at Sontag.
Signage is above average and improving.
HUGE!! tee pads are largest tees I've seen of over 40 courses.
The tees in the woods holes are enormous, but field tees are low-impact timbers at ground level. Most tees are easy to find, though.
Beauty of landscape is way above average even on the day I visited when some overgrowth was in process of being mowed.
Rec. park is convenient to the highway with numerous amenities. Asset to the surrounding community; many locals were hiking, walking, pet-walking in the park and were friendly to the disc-golf aspect.
Benches and bathrooms at several locations.
All skill levels should enjoy this course.
Cons: Grab a map or someone who knows the new layout since it has been updated; or just be patient locating holes and tees - 90% are very well marked. (not really a con unless you are an impatient imbecile who is bad at reading/following directions, lol.)
Spiders and insects. To be expected, though, it is a wooded course.
Difficulty of three or four wooded holes may discourage the distance-challenged beginners. Some of these wooded holes have potential of becoming round-killers. Not sure what par is on all holes but definitely do not expect to reach each basket from the tee. (also not a con to some players who want their ability to be tested.)
Other Thoughts: Expect to play for two to three hours as this is a full-grown course.
Quite a drive (hour and a half) from where I live but cannot wait to replay the course. It is well worth the drive.
Reminds me of Charlotte, NC area courses or even has some similarities to the Jefferson, NC course.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Very Challenging Course
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - Great variety of distances & types of holes, including long downhill drives, tight wooded shots, water hazards, etc.
- Makes excellent use of elevation on several holes (10 is awesome)
- Very picturesque, most of the course is untouched woods. Playing the course feels like a hike through the woods.
- Part of a large recreation park that contains restrooms, picnic shelter, & several other sports facilities. However, this portion of the park is dedicated to disc golf so there's no conflict with pedestrians or other activities.
- Compacted gravel tee pads on the wooded holes
Cons: - There are a couple fairways that could stand to have a few trees removed. In some cases a little luck is involved to clear some of these trees.
- None of the new/redesigned holes have good signage, there is currently just a hand-drawn sketch at each tee indicating the par & distance.
Other Thoughts: I wanted to play the redesigned course for a few months before posting my review. The old layout was definitely my favorite local course, so naturally I was frustrated when I found out about the required changes that were being made. A few of my favorite holes unfortunately had to be axed (3 and 12 are especially missed) but the course designers did a good job keeping as much of the existing course as possible. I really like some of the newer holes, like 2, 5 and 7, that create some interesting lines the course previously didn't offer.
Overall this course is extremely challenging, it forces you to use a variety of different shots & discs. Good mix of wide open vs. tightly wooded holes. The key on the majority of the holes is to keep on the fairway, accuracy is definitely more important than distance. I feel like this course, more so than any other, has helped me to become a better player over time.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 2 Not
Redesigned Sontag Disc Golf Course
Pros: - A true golf course, where you will throw every shot you have in your bag
- Tees are better than ever for the holes in the woods. Railroad ties frame the spacious tees that are filled with gravel (57s) and sheeting (gravel dust) mixture. Excellent footing in any weather condition.
- Championship level course. Tee shots require accuracy to set-up either your birdie putt or fairway approach. Miss off of the tee and your score will rise.
- 2 9 hole loops around a central location. Swing by your car, stop after 9 holes, or play the back nine first. This design aspect is sadly lost on a lot of good disc golf courses
Cons: - Fairways tend to tighten up the closer you get to the basket on most of the holes
- Half of the course is brand new as of June 2012 so there is lots of sticks, stumps, and other derbis either on or just right off of the fairways
- Championship level course: while this is a PRO, it can be a CON as well if your game is not on when you play the course
Other Thoughts: The Sontag Disc Golf Course was forced to be re-designed or removed by the Virginia Dept. Of Environmenal Quality in late 2011-early 2012 due to it's close proximity to the area's expanding landfill. They designated that the course could not be within 150' of the 2 streams that ran thru the old design. While re-designing the course and the tremendous amount of work is not what any of the local disc golfers around here wanted, it was either that or no course at all. And all of the work that was done on the re-design was done by a group of golfers numbering LESS THAN 10 in hot conditions.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Rocky Mount Redesign
4 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: (1) Large Lumber and Gravel tees
(2) Signs include map, par, and sometimes distance
(3) Amenities include: Bathrooms, Pavilion, Playground, Camping, tennis courts
(4) Makes good use of elevation changes
(5) The open holes really let you open up and allow you to throw pretty far
Cons: (1) Painted spoke on the baskets don't point towards next hole
(2) Map on tee signs are hand drawn and often off
(3) Undergrowth covers the fairways
(4) Stumps in fairways prevent sliders and rollers
(5) Redesigners didn't block/hide old paths to the old holes so often you start walking to the old tees instead of the new ones
Other Thoughts: Overall this course could be very good (3.5). However with the amount of trees and undergrowth in the fairways it makes this course somewhat irritating to play. This course redesign was unfortunately required and is not any better than before. Fairways need to be cleaned out better. Trees on many of the holes prevent you from having a true fairway shot. Course has potential but needs to be worked on. I have yet to play a brand new course that was amazing so it definitely will improve. Once this course has been played some and broken in a bit more it'll be great.
Revisited: I was rudely told that my review didn't accurately represent this course (21730) above. So i revisited this course and found that my first review indeed accurately described the course. Upon revisiting I noticed that the recent storms have knocked down more trees in the area and have fallen on a couple paths, not a big deal though. Old tee signs and even tees are still present around hole 4. Look out for ticks, I have found one on me every time I have played this course. Overall this is a decent course currently. Just as any other course it will change and get better once it gets some more foot traffic and other improvements are made. For example, Professional made tee signs would be a great addition.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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