Championship Course of a Different Color
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Blue Lake is a Championship Level course that will test your ability to throw long, accurate shots. It requires good course management. The key to good scores at Blue Lake is to avoid going OB on the stake lined fairways. This course is located in an extra large Regional Park in Fairview.
I have had the opportunity to play Blue Lake on several visits to Portland over the past year. I have played the Blue Lake Short Course during the 2013 Women's Championships and for the 2014 Pro Worlds. I have also played the long tees and most alternate pin placements.
I used bullet points for those that don't want to read the entire review.
It's a big one!
This Par 68 course is a 10,400 foot monster. That is nearly two miles of disc golf and doesn't include the walks between tees. All the other reviews cover this so I will agree and focus on other topics.
Disc Golf Exclusive
covers acres and acres of Blue Lake Park and yet only takes up a small corner of this giant regional park. The area is dedicated to disc golf and you don't have to worry about does picnickers or dog walkers. This exclusive use adds to the experience. It is nice to have such a large area of the park all for disc golf.
Par 62, Short Course
I uploaded the short course map with distances from the 2014 Pro Worlds.
The 7,823 Foot, Park 62 Short course is a combination of alternate pin placements and temporary short tees. The giant dogleg 5 has a short tee that removes that from play. This short tee location should be permanent for players that don't want to risk losing discs in the rough on the first part of the hole. Hole 7 combines a short tee to a short pin. The short tees on Holes 14 and 17b are very appropriate. The short tee on 16 is in front of the giant rosehip bush/tree taking this disc-eating monstrosity out of play. The short tee on 17 starts beyond the initial choke point, making the hole much more enjoyable.
The short tees are still challenging for experienced players and would provide newer players with less punishing alternatives. This drops the course to only 7,200 feet. The first short tee is on Dogleg Hole 5 taking it from 590 to 295 and removing 300 feet of unforgiving red stake fairway. There is still a big choke point next to the well pump hill and a lot of OB stillin play, so this is not an easy shot. The short 17 tee takes a lot of the giant blackberry clusters out of play. It is still quite a challenge to get to the pin through all the trees on one of the only wooded fairways here.
Alternate Pin Placements
The alternate pins are thoughtful and make this monster course a little shorter and more enjoyable for the average player. The alternate placements (and tees) are shown in the map I uploaded from the 2014 Pro Worlds. The short placement on Hole 7 removes having to cross over the OB ditch attempt the anthill basket placement. At Pro Worlds 2014, there are alternate pins on Holes 3, 7, 11, 13, 15 and 18.
No new players
Please avoid this park if you are new to disc golf. Until you can be certain you have some control over the flight of your discs and honestly understand how to throw accurate shots to specific landing areas, don't play here. The chances of ending up in OB rough and losing discs will suck out the enjoyment factor. Avoid playing here is you only have one disc. If you lose it, you won't be able to finish the round. Pier Park is perfect for first time disc golfers and 20 minutes away down Marine Drive. Pier is also FREE to play. Again, if you are a brand new player this will not be enjoyable if you do not have complete control of your disc.
Yummy! The blackberries were abundant and perfectly ripe for Pro Worlds 2014. Apparently there were great yields from recent rainfall;. It was an awesome treat to stuff my face round after round at Worlds and there were still millions of berries I didn't get to eat. Folks who live around here probably don't think this is as awesome as I do. The blackberries can be very vicious and quickly draw blood from the unsuspecting disc golfer.
Change of Pace
One of the things that is so great about Blue Lake is that it really offers a change of pace from the traditional wooded Northwest disc golf course. Many of the marshland meadow holes are very reminiscent of the flat and wide open "prairie" holes found on many courses in the rest of the US. The first part of the course is much like a typical urban park but a large portion of the holes play in or near the meadows. High winds can come into play. Players of these kinds of courses should have some experience with the high winds and fairways lined with tall grass. To be clear, these fairways are quite ample and not super narrow. They just happen to be lined with a mix of tall grass and thorny berries. They rough is also lined by miles and miles of OB stakes.
Park Entrance Fee
This is a regional park and charges a $5.00 daily fee. This is a full facility park so I don't really see that as a big con. The entry fee helps insure the course stays maintained. and provides restrooms and trash removal. It was in excellent shape for the 2014 Pro Worlds. If there are spots available, you can park on the street by the tee of Hole 8 for free.
All 18 in a row.
Once you leave the parking lot, you don't return until after Hole 18. This is a big course plus you cover some extra ground walking to the next tee. There is no water available on the course, so be prepared and bring along what you need. You could play a shorter loop by heading to Hole 13 Tee after Hole 8. However, 14 through 17 are the longest and most exposed holes on the course, so don't really think of this as a "short" cut.
Send out a spotter
Keep your eyes on your throws and send out a spotter if you are at least a threesome. The player who had the highest score on the last hole (and teeing last) should head out and spot on certain holes. The extra long grass all looks the same from the tee, a spotter can at least narrow down the search area. This will help prevent lost discs for you and speed up play for all the other players on the course.
It is easy enough to follow along by paying attention to the tee signs. I would recommend using a map your first time or playing with someone who has played before.
Bring Bright Discs
Avoid losing discs and bring brightly colored discs. Throwing into the staked OB is a fact of life for those playing Blue Lake. Choose bright colors, so that when you go into the rough, the discs are easier to find. Hot Pink and Neon Orange are two great colors that are easy to spot even in the deep rough. Avoid the color of the grass which ranges from green to tan.
Plan enough time
It takes at least three hours to play a round here. By the time you walk the entire 10,400 feet 18 hole monster you will cover at least two miles. That doesn't really count time looking for lost discs. It takes even more time if you have to wait in line to get in the park.
Kids and Strollers.
This place is super level and super grassy. It is probably too long for young kids to walk, but they could certainly ride along. There are no restrooms once you leave the parking area and you don't return until after you play all 18 holes. It takes at least three hours to complete for adults. There is no water on the course so Prepare accordingly. While disc golf here may not be that kid friendly, there are lots of other great activities for kids and families in the park, including playgrounds and Blue Lake.
The only restroom facilities are in the parking area near the first tee. These had running water and were in good shape. There were ample opportunities to find privacy during the round. On my last visit, there was also a portable restroom on the street by Tee 8. Not sure if that is a permanent location.
Cons: Flat, Long and eventually repetitive.
In addition to lots of super long hole, the course does not offer any elevation changes. It is located among wetlands right next to Columbia River. There are some unique and challenging holes, but after a while, you are just throwing as far as you possibly can and trying not to land in the OB areas. Sometime you get to do this in high winds! Hole 14 - 17 are flat, giant stake lined fairways of 910, 815, 800, 950 all in a row. Even if you don't play the stakes as OB, it can be brutal to just find your disc.
No Permanent Short Tees
This course needs concrete tees for all the short tees. If additional concrete tees are not an option, an improvement would be to install some wooden boards to mark the front of the tees. The short tees are still challenging for experienced players and would provide newer players with less punishing alternatives. This drops the course to only 7,200 feet.
Long entry lines on weekends
Cars really do back up to enter the park on weekends. I thought folks were exaggerating about this inconvenience, but unfortunately it is true. Avoid lines by getting here early. The lines are not for the disc golf, but for all the other activities going on at this super large park.
Blackberries and Rosehips
While blackberries are awesome to eat fresh off the vine, blackberries are the devil when they line disc golf fairways. These plants can tear you to shreds instantly and some are impenetrable. I have never, ever seen blackberry bushes/colonies the size of a two car garage! If your disc lands in one of these, think twice before you attempt to retrieve.
Missing in Action
Lost discs are a distinct possibility for those that stray too far off the fairways or have the rotten luck to land in a mature blackberry patch. The water level in the ditches and drainage areas can provide even more opportunities to lose discs. Watch where you are throwing and have someone in your group go up and spot to save time and speed up play. For this reason, this course is not recommended for new players or those with only one or two discs.
The only restroom facilities are in the parking area near the first tee. I suppose it is better than no restroom at all. There were ample opportunities to find privacy.
Park Entrance Fee
Some consider this a negative; I thought the daily fee was worth it. It is a well maintained park and the disc golf area is exclusive. If you really don't want to pay the daily entrance fee you can park on the street by Hole 8 tee for free. Unlike the State Parks this daily pass cannot be used in other parks because this is a Fairview Regional Park.
Apparently there may be poison oak on the course. If you are afflicted, take precautions.
There are a lot of videos from the 2014 Pro World Disc Golf Championships on YouTube. This will give you a chance to see it before you play it, or at least see how the top pros play this course. Watch the Semi-Final and Final Rounds for the Blue Lake action and be sure to catch the amazing sudden death playoff. Compare your scores to the top pros from 2014 Pro Worlds: http://www.pdga.com/tour/event/16386
Columbia River Gorge Disc Golf Road Trip
Portland is the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge. When I land in Portland I always stop at Blue Lake first because it is so close to the airport and I can play a round while waiting to check into the hotel. I did an awesome disc golf road trip playing the courses up the gorge from Portland to The Dalles. I played 10 courses, from Pier Park to Tree Tops. The trip also included other epic Oregon courses.
Marine Park Drive
If you are a visitor to the area and you don't have time to do the Columbia Gorge, Marine drive is a great way to approach and leave the park. Marine Drive is along the southern banks of the Columbia River. It provides awesome views of the Columbia river and is the gateway to the gorge. It also passed right next to the runways at the PDX airport. It is fun to see the jets up close. This park is only 15 minutes from the PDX airport. Pier Park is another 10 minutes down the same road.
North Portland Hotels
I enjoyed staying at the Best Western Cascade Inn and Suites in Troutdale. It is only five minutes away from the course on 1-84. I have also stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Jantzen Beach. HI Express is on Hayden Island in the middle of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington on I-5. Both hotels offered free breakfast, indoor pool and spa and were right of the main freeways. The Cascade Inn is also super close to Dabney State Park. It is a great hotel if you also plan to play other courses along the Columbia River Gorge. The hotels next to the airport also looked nice and fairly new. If you don't mind jet noises, these seemed reasonably priced and are only minutes away from Blue Lake. Staying close by removes having to drive in the sucky Portland freeway traffic.
This is absolutely a 5 Star Championship level course worthy of hosting the 2014 Pro Worlds Finals. This course would absolutely receive a 5 Disc rating if it had permanently marked short tees. It provides a great challenge for the top pros and an amazing challenge for all skilled players. I rate Blue Lake a 4.5 must- play course for serious disc golfers that want a unique challenge.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 5 Not
The Future of Disc Golf
Pros: Design, Course Flow, Baskets, Teepads, Course Atmosphere.
Cons: Thick Rough, No Rope, Tee Signs
Other Thoughts: This course is setting the standards for the future of disc golf. OB on every hole (there is no rope, but you can tell what the OB is with the cut fairways) with a perfect mix of par 3's, par 4's and par 5's. If your a player who appreciates the "golf" aspect of disc golf, you'll love every second of your round. It feels like the way disc golf is supposed to be played. As a pro who can throw accurately up to 400-500ft, this is one of the best courses in Oregon. It forces you to throw every type of shot and it is pretty much wide open with 75-100ft wide fairways, so it's not really challenging to hit the fairway. But if you do decide to "go for it" you can easily find the rough, which is extremely thick with grass and blackberries and likes to eat your plastic. I would recommend playing it safe off the tee and then going for it on your second shot.
The first 10 holes are relatively simple if you take what the course gives you while the final 8 holes are long and challenging, so get ready to grind out some pars. The tee signs could use a little more work. They don't show the OB at all and they could outline the entire hole better, instead of just showing a line through some trees. There are only a few spots where it would be nice to know which way the next hole is, but it's pretty easy to find your way around. This isn't the best course to learn how to play disc golf on, but once you get serious about disc this is a great course to learn how to throw every shot in the bag.
Blue Lake is definitely worth checking out, but you better focus on every shot or you will probably lose a disc in the deep rough. Once this course get fully established, it will rival Milo McIver as the best course in Oregon but as of now it's a close second.
Can't wait for Worlds in 2014!!!!!!
7 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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