Wooded Intermediate Course Both Challenges And Frustrates!
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Sontag Disc Golf Course is approx. 22 miles south of Roanoke. The course sits in the Franklin County Agricultural Park. The course's semi-isolated location probably doesn't help it's reputation as I think it gets overlooked.
The course starts next to a very large picnic pavilion, excellent for staging tournies. There is a kiosk at the beginning with map and some old tournament info. The course shows so much promise from this vista.
There are no concrete tee pads, only grass in the open areas and gravel in the woods. Although not the best, most were in fairly good condition and were oversized and didn't pose much of a problem. The signs are small and handwritten. Again, something more professional would be a welcome addition. The baskets are the Discatchers with the yellow band and numbers.
The course features three tee pads on each hole. The reds are the shorter, the whites, which are intermediate level tough and the Blues, which are probably flat out scary difficult. I played from the Whites and was mostly, overmatched.
# 1 was a nice starting hole, 320' down to a basket which is protected by about 20 small saplings. # 2 was a 560' shot into the woods. The course has a great variety of tight, wooded technical holes, some wide open downhill bomber types, excellent us of elevation, both up and down, and holes where an exacting shot in needed to get through a small window, like on # 17.
You want to be challenged? Try # 13 and it's maybe 600' and gets progressively tighter as you near the basket. Or # 17. It's 500 from the Whites and plays uphill through scattered tree before you reach a small hill with a window maybe 25' wide. You really want to hit this window in order to reach the open field and the last 150' to the basket.
The course loops back to the start after 9. A good time to refill and restock. Also excellent for tourney play.
# 10 is great fun, even for us distance challenged players. Playing either 500 or 700, you're throwing down a long, mostly open sloping section of park lawn aiming for the window in the trees. The basket then sits about 250' farther back in the woods.
Cons: Navigation could be so improved. Playing alone, it's too easy to miss one small directional arrow and spend time wondering about, trying to find the next tee pad. The tee signs are small, some are missing or illegible, and are not easy to spot through the thickets and then are marked with a wood plank for the front board.
The wooded sections of the course do feel like you're playing through virgin forest. There is a lot of debris and fallen logs to play over and around.
As others have commented on, # 18, is a disappointed end to this course. A 270' straight, uphill throws to a wide open basket lacks pizazz.
Other Thoughts: This course is a nice challenge for player intermediate and above. Recreational players will be frustrated and overmatched, at times, and beginners should serve as caddies here.
I think if this course was closer to civilization, it would, 1) Have a reputation befitting it's terrain and challenge and 2) Have a larger population base to help address the concerns of tee pads and signage.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -The landscape is beautiful
-A few holes that go from open to wooded, wooded to open.
-Good mix of right, left, straight shots
-Very few 'gimme' holes.
Cons: -The fairways were a mess. Most of the courses I have played have been wooded and were substantially more clean than this course. There were broken logs, branches, fallen trees etc. Even the underbrush off the fairways at the other wooded courses I have played was cleaner than the fairways at Sontag.
-Very difficult to navigate. The hand written signs certainly helped to a degree.
-This is personal, but I particularly don't like holes under 200 feet that are a 75' straight, 125' dogleg. I think they are doable but at Sontag, the fairways are so tight it is nearly impossible to get the height, and width needed to have an OS disc fade towards the basket.
-Segway from the last con, i thought almost all the fairways were ridiculously tight in the woods. I love tight fairways but there were several holes where i was throwing a disc while playing.
-Many have said 18 was a let down..I would tend to agree. Wide open, 270'. Maybe put the basket further away for more of a challenge.
Other Thoughts: I really like the layout and the location and feel this course could be a great course. I am definitely at an off period in my disc golf game so this course was particularly challenging for me. That being said, If the course could be cleaned up and proper signage put in, that would instantly make it a 3.5 to 4.0 for me. Then if just a few trees were removed in key places to make birdies actually a possibility based on skill and not luck then I say 4.5.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Son of a Tag
Pros: Triple tees on all 18 holes with single basket position providing a good variety of shot shaping left, right, and straight, and varying the distance and challenge for different level players. Good use of the elevation and wooded terrain. Surprisingly little underbrush in the woods.Two loops of nine holes back to parking lot and pavilion.
Cons: Lacks in signage. Hard to find some of the tees in the open as they are only marked by wood planks flush to the ground. Some people may list the natural and gravel tees in the cons, although I think they are just fine.
Other Thoughts: Overall Sontag is a very good and challenging course. While I enjoyed most of the course it seemed to be a little too extremely open on the few open holes, and extremely wooded on the rest. Holes 2, 10 and 17 were my favorite as they play from the open or woods and then finish opposite. I have to agree with what most of the other reviews say about the wooded holes bottlenecking too much and making them become more random than skill based challenge. If a few more trees were strategically removed from some of the fairways, this could be a top notch course. At any rate, if you are in the area I'd recommend it.
A top-level course suffering from a few minor flaws
3 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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
VA is for throwers
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
A Remote Gem
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Watch out for trees...
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 luck more so than skill 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 unhappy 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.
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