Great Challenge Course
Pros: Great variety of holes. You start out in the open to warm up, but then you're test with tough wood shots. Playing this course also feels like you're hiking and away from civilization at times.
Cons: The signs all point to one tee and two cages but it was the opposite. Confusing if you're trying to keep track of par. Also, I played alone and got lost twice. There is quite a distance between holes. It would be nice if each basket had some sort of indication of where to walk for the next hole.
Other Thoughts: Great course. I recommend the first time playing you take a friend as you will lose your disc quite often and helps to have someone watching it. Plan for about 60-90 minutes to play this course.
Always worth a play
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - There is certainly a fantastic variety of holes here. Some very open (1, 2, 3, 7), some tight and/or wooded (4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18), and some nice mixtures including large mature trees (5, 6, 8, 13, 16). Also, a hole that tees from the woods ending open (6), and a few that tee from the clearings, but lead you to a basket sheltered by timber (5, 13, 17).
- Many times, I like courses whose order mixes up hole types, to always keep you on your toes. However, I do enjoy the run of 9 - 15 on this course being tighter and more technical (save for #13). It changes your mindset for the whole middle third of the course.
- #12 is a wonderful wooded dogleg with plenty of challenge. From the long tees, the first and largest challenge is the window you have to hit 100 feet off the tee. Two younger, but tall trees that obviously take quite a beating.
- #15 is my signature hole. If you were to look up "tunnel shot" in the glossary of the "Disc Golfer's Guide to Everything," there would just be pictures of this hole. It's like the road through the woods that Little Red Riding Hood probably took to Grandma's house: narrow (20-30 feet?), completely covered overhead by tree branches, and on a big swooping curve where you can't see farther around the bend than 200 ft or so. And it's LONG - 555 ft from the Pro tees, 365 from the Rec. A manageable hole, but one where you must make the decision whether to plod along at 150 ft/throw, or take your risks and put some power behind it. Strong, accurate throws are heavily rewarded here. Safe, shorter, but straight throws might get you par, if you're perfect. Love it. Unfortunately, it looks as though, like most other holes, only one pin placement is in. The old B placement added another 65 feet, but the area of that pin is slightly overgrown now.
- #17 is on a hillside that slopes left to right, leading you from the open, deep down 150 feet into the woods towards the pin. Having to stage a 250 ft drive somewhere in the clearing for a look at the pin makes for a great hole design. The hole also gives you two choices, either going wide around a large tree to approach the layup spot, or going straight through a smaller (but very manageable) gap between the tree and the dense thicket to your right.
- Restrooms located in a few places along the course, plus water in even more places. Ample parking, and a practice basket right there.
- Scorecards/Maps at Tee #1. Grab one, you'll need the map.
- Very large, wedged concrete tee pads at both sets of tees. Very nice. The Rec tees on this course, so far as I can tell, just reduce distance and make the holes a little easier, and more approachable (i.e. they don't create wholly different line, just reduce difficulty). However, there are a few obstacles or windows to be managed on a few Pro tees that don't affect the Rec tees. Mostly on the wooded holes (e.g. 4, 6, 9, 12, 15).
- Park benches here and there, trash cans available. Could probably use some more, as I saw small garbage piles around some tee signs where there were no receptacles. At least the litterers are courteous enough to make their messes neat.
Cons: - There are two pins listed for every hole, but they are not used. In fact, I don't think I ever saw the 2nd post hole on any of the holes, indicating that this course is set as-is. The heavily compacted soil around quite a few of the pins solidified my hypothesis. This is probably fine, as many of the placements just look like they increased distance.
- As I mentioned in the 'pros' above, 1-3 are mostly open, and they sure don't do the course justice after looking back at a round. Of course starting with these three is better than having them in the middle or the end of the round, and they do give you a warmup chance, of sorts. Just a little out of place.
- It's been mentioned, but navigation on this course is not easy. There are signs here and there, but if you didn't grab a map, you'll be searching. There are some long jaunts between holes too, namely 3-4 and 15-16. When you look at the map, the course flow at least makes sense, and they did well in ordering the course, but that still doesn't make it easy. I've played the course a few times now, and even I walked the wrong way out of #18 trying to get back to the parking lot.
- Not a lot of elevation on this course, for what it's worth. 5, 6, 7, and the hill you have to drive over on #13 host about all there is on the course.
- Not a huge fan of #9, for nothing more than it's a pain in the rear. It's a similar layout/line/distance to #15, only mirrored. However, rather than being in the woods, it's cut through a thicket, which is much too dense. You won't take chances here, and even then you could be searching for a disc, and getting cut up trying to retrieve it, let alone throw from your lie. Reminds me of the parts of Big Creek State Park in nearby Polk City that I dislike. Also, the area around the Pro tee is perpetually wet or flooded, and stagnant. It's a prime mosquito breeding ground.
Other Thoughts: - I'll mention the signage here, as it is sufficient. They are nice signs, with good info and layouts. However, since there are no longer A & B pin placements, having them listed on the sign can be confusing. There are also a few blind holes where pin indication would have been useful.
- Wonderful course, a must-play in the area. There are some skill requirements for a few holes that may discourage newer players on this course in some of the wooded holes. Also, the sheer length of a few of the holes, both wooded and open, may be discouraging. From the long tees, this course is certainly no slouch.
- Some of the above may be due to the highly demanding course par. You can tell it was designed with high caliber players in mind, and individual hole pars have been assigned as such.
(EDIT): Not until posting this review did I truly realize how long it was! I hope it's all useful information!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
WORTH THE DRIVE
Pros: Easy parking, well mowed, free course maps, clean toilets (not porta-johns, but real facilities). Easy walking. Decent signage. Great variety of shots from the first 3 (they were warm ups really with nothing too interesting) to wooded "tunnel" shots, both short and very long drives. Pro and recreational pads are always nice. The last hole and the parking lot for the first are very close so it keeps the walk back to the car short.
Cons: Better scout the nets before you throw on some holes. The baskets are not labeled (I see this elsewhere too). Why not label the baskets with large numbers? It would lessen the time it takes to play if we could see them. There should be more "next hole, this way" signs since there is such a long walk between some of the baskets and the following tee pad.
Other Thoughts: Someone could coach the cross country athletes not to throw their clothes all over the warm up net and area. We played anyway just standing over their equipment and clothing that was tossed over the ground like the rapture had just occurred and they got the idea. Generally they were pretty respectful folks after that.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The course plays through a sprawling park with a mixture of open and wooded areas. There are a handful of open holes that include some chances to air out longer drives and put a premium on shot placement. The rest of the course is wooded, with a nice mix of more open and very tight fairways.
There is enough rough in the woods that you'll pay for missing your line, though not so thick that we had any trouble finding wayward shots. You'll need a pretty strong set of line shaping skills to be successful here, there's a mix of hole shapes and lengths that keeps you on your toes.
There are two tees per hole, and they're well designed to add a different look at many of the holes. There are different angles and pinch points from many of the long tees and they add length as well. The signage is decent if inconsistent. The park is groomed nicely, all the open areas were mowed and the wooded fairways were well kept.
Cons: Some of the open holes felt a little like filler shots, no real obstacles and no interesting elevation changes. Navigation is a bit messy here, especially with some missing signs. There are some long walks and areas where several trails cross in the woods with no indicator of the correct path to the next hole. Make sure to print a map or pull it up on your phone. We found lots of poison ivy even late in the season, in the late spring or summer I'm guessing it gets pretty thick out there.
Other Thoughts: I really enjoyed the long tees here, they add challenge and length without feeling like they're just added on behind the shorts. Experienced players will find a nice balance of different tests here. Beginners will find the shorts approachable, the rough can be a bit daunting but it's not as thick as it initially looks. A few of the longer holes are still long from the short tees, but not frustratingly so. I highly recommend a stop here if you're in the area.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Design - The course design, other than the flow, makes great use of the elevation and includes hyzer shots, anny shots, long holes, short holes, wooded, open, tunnel shots... you name it it has it.
Signs, tees - the signs are the same type used at Grandview, very informative and aesthetically pleasing. There are two tees per hole and they are in great shape.
Amenities - the park has nice restrooms that are spaced around the park, as well as plentiful parking. A large shelter works great for a tournament central.
Cons: Flow - the biggest drawback to this course is its flow. It is almost as if the course operates in chunks and you have to do quite a bit of walking and back-tracking between holes. It would be very difficult to find your way around the course without a map or a guide.
Location - The course is located outside of town and is kind of far away from food,drink etc. Just a minor inconvenience.
Other Thoughts: The park is beautiful as it is located next to a giant lake and has cliffs, ravines, and some water that you have to deal with. Walnut Ridge is a very complete course and will test golfers of all skill levels.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: great park, with large tee pads. baskets were mach 4s. long pads as well as shorts. for the des moines courses go this one had a good mix of open and wooded holes. thumbers could be used of the tee to place a reachable 2nd shot. had a local guide from the desmoines club show me the course which was very helpful
Cons: it was muddy, not many trashcans, and it was closed...not really aproblem if you know where to park and walk in.....with out a guide or a map this course could be confusing in some spots
Other Thoughts: i really enjoyed the course, the scenery, and the fact that i had the whole park to myself the day i played...also saw a bald eagle flying around , which was pretty cool
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -very nice long tee pads and nice baskets
-has alot of longer holes but also some shorter ones
-good mix of open and wooded holes
-the woods here did not seem to have as much underbrush as places like Pickard Park so it was a little easier to find discs.
-there was not alot of repeat holes so the course did not get repedative to play
-it was a small park away from everything, a really nice place to play
Cons: -It is not well marked at all, when we played we often had to look for the next hole (especially between 3 and 4)
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Great, just not my type
Pros: -Nice huge tees with dual tees on most holes
-Signage is excellant with distances for both pin locations. Signs at both short and long tees as well.
-Bathrooms/drinking fountains at beginning of course
-Huge parking lot
-Lots of shelters and picnic tables for eating and relaxing.
-Good mix of wooded and open holes.
-Great variation of distances, could use a few more shorter ace runs though.
-A very challenging championship type course. You need all your tricks to be successful here. It also can beat you up mentally if you're not careful.
-Good locals that can help you out when you're lost.
-The park is right on a lake and has some interesting trails/walks between holes.
-Trash cans here and there, course was well maintained and clean.
Cons: -Can be wet after rain as I experienced.
-Can lose a disc in the woods as I experienced
-Hard to find next hole sometimes, also long walking distances between some. My buddy and I had trouble finding holes and a party later had trouble as well. At least tee could have been aimed at multiple baskets. The tee on 5 was missing its sign and is confusing.
-A course of this quality could use some scorecards at the start.
Other Thoughts: This course didn't recieve a 4.5 or 5 due to my own personal preferences. I like shorter courses with more ace runs and not a lot of holes over 400 feet. This course was excellent but just isn't my favorite type of course.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
The Spice of Life
Pros: There is lots of variety here. This course has woods, open, multiple pathways, long, short, and creeks. They have nice long tee pads and some tee signs. There seems to be some real pride in keeping this course in good shape. Restrooms and trashcans are available. They do have a practice basket near the first hole. Basket placement on some of the holes is quite challenging. This course has some really fun holes to play. The course actually plays quite differently from the short tee pads compared to the long tee pads which is always the goal of this (however some places never really accomplish it).
Cons: There are some long walks between some holes and you may even have to walk to different parts of the park (crossing streets and so forth). You will need a map for the first couple of times as navigation is tough. This is not a place to play after a heavy rain. Some of the tee signs are missing. You only come in contact with a playground (just barley) once and you do tee off next some private motor home spot once during the round.
Other Thoughts: The fun factor for this course is pretty good. There are enough great holes to make the entire round a real treat! #18 is a great finishing hole since the chance of you getting a 2 or a 5 can swing a round so easily. I would most certainly play this course again in a heartbeat.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Great diversity and play value
Pros: The "Nut" is a well-designed challenge that is appropriate for all levels of disc golfers, except perhaps for the weak-armed beginner for whom the course could be a frustrating marathon. There is a short tee option on each hole, but the layout is still plenty challenging from the front cement pads as well. As I note below (in the "Cons" section), if I were to rate the course on its design alone - especially since I would rate 15 of the 18 holes as being well above average to excellent - it would be a "4.5" caliber course.
After a similar "look" and feel to the first three holes - a chance to warm up your arm and feel for the plastic -- holes 4 through 18 all offer something a bit different. The great diversity of holes require your full arsenal of discs and throwing techniques. To be more specific, the holes lend variety on the following spectrums:
-- Open parkland vs. Tight woods: #1, #2, #7, #13 and #16 are fairly open holes on grassy public park space with plenty of large, leafy hardwoods, with still some hazards and obstacles to either or both sides of the target driving areas as well as closer to the basket. #4, #9, #10, #11, #12, #14, #15, and #18 are all tight enough to trigger forearm tension at the tee - that is, they require a great deal of control right from the first throw.
-- Turns, Fades and Doglegs - "Left" vs. "Right" veering flight paths. Every hole requires some pre-thought at the tee about how you want to angle the disc at the point of release. The ease of your second throw (approach) or putt will depend primarily on how successfully you execute that intended flight path. None of the holes are entirely straight away in nature, and 10 have moderate to severe dogleg/fade requirements. Rewinding my mental video clip, I recall an equal number of holes - five each -- that are primarily right-to-left in orientation (10, 11, 14, end of 15, and 16) and left-to-right in orientation (2, 5, 9, 12, 17). And most of the remaining holes allow you a choice - left, right, straight, or S-curve -- in how you want to navigate tee-to-basket.
Great courses all need signature holes. At Walnut Ridge, I was particularly impressed with these holes that required a combination of length and precision: #4, #5, #9, #10, #15 and #17 (B-pin position). More details of these holes are shared in Other Comments.
Hole #18 is a great finishing hole -- especially for tournament play because there can easily be a two-stroke swing in the score between you and your competitor; a birdie is very possible (an ace not impossible), but equally possible is an errant disc that gets tree-deflected deep into the woods, leading to a bogey or even worse.
Other positives: Cement pads. The signs - when they are present (see also "Cons") - are attractive and a good basic guide to each hole's layout.
Cons: If based only on the individual design of holes 4 through 18, I would rate Walnut Ridge a solid 4.5. What notches it down for me to a 4.1 or 4.2 rating (rounded down to a 4-star) are these nit-picky areas for improvement.
-- Missing signs! Inconsequential for repeat players who know the course, but definitely annoying to the first-time player going at it alone without a local player / guide. On the day I played, signs were missing from a few of the back tees. As noted in the "Pros," the signs that do exist are attractive and give a pretty good sense of the hole layouts.
-- Some course flow issues, especially these two long and confusing intervals (two long walks of 200 to 300 yards): from hole #3 to tee #4; hole #15 to tee #16. Getting lost is not a problem for repeat players or those tagging along with locals Either way, the length of the intervals is a bit of a negative unless, that is, you need those three or four minutes of walking to get over a poor score on the previous hole.
-- The first three holes, design-wise, are somewhat redundant (open space to left, heavy wooded area to the right) and, as a result, forgettable if you stay out of trouble. On the other hand, if you do pull it right (for RHBH throwers) into the trees or, worse yet, all the way over the ledge and down by the shores of Saylorville Lake on #3, then you will not forget these opening homes. I suppose one could argue that these three holes serve the important function of allowing your arm to warm up in time for the real test that begins in the woods on #4.
Other Thoughts: As noted above, the following would be my vote for "signature holes." I also loved holes 11, 12, 13 and 14 and 18, so I could well imagine other players suggesting one or two of these as "signature" quality as well. Any time a DG course can claim this many memorable holes, it is deserving of its high ranking in the 4.0 to 4.5 range. Here are a few comments about the holes I rate most highly:
#4 - after a rather "open" un-shaded start on holes 1 to 3, you head into the woods on this hole; there is a distinct fairway with trees scattered along the way, particularly from around two-thirds of the way there (try to avoid the ricochets as far down the tree-lined fairway as possible)
#5 - the drive can be rather open if you choose, but if you are looking to get the first throw as close as possible, the location of the pin over the hill and down beyond a cluster of trees forces you to throw the disc in close proximity to the "Christmas tree" evergreen (typically to the right of it, unless you are a leftie with a big hyzer); a very precise "S" curve drive is required to get you within range of the well-protected basket
#9 - what a hole this is! It was unfortunate that the back tee was flooded on the day I played; long tee was flooded; but the hole was still interesting from the regular tees as you throw down a fairway well-defined by brush and trees on either side; this requires a well-controlled drive, hopefully to the left center of the fairway so that you have an open throw to the pin at the end of the long, dogleg-right fairway
#10 - the large branch overhanging the fairway (visually appealing) gives you little option but to throw a low, fast screamer off the tee; if you can get past the opening under the branch without ricochets, your 2nd to the hole is made much easier; playing for the first time, I had no idea what trouble awaited to the area on either side of the approach to the hole from around 40 yards out; the overgrown brush and leafy trees hide the fact that there is a steep drop off down into a creek bed that circles around, in a horseshoe fashion, around each side and behind the hole - beware of the discs that roll down deep into these gullies!
#15 - this is a marathon corridor hole; if you manage to not hit any trees on your first two throws, congratulations (you've experienced a minor miracle); any ricochet to the left or right on your first, second or even third throw automatically adds one stroke to your score
#17 - one of the best holes on the course I think; a unique dogleg that requires distance control off the tee; the amateur should aim for a straight throw of between 65 to 80 yards from the long tees; this will set you up to take the right-hand turn through a thick of trees to the hole. If you try to annie it (RHBH) into the opening. Good luck! Any miscalculation - short or long - means you may be adding an automatic stroke to your score.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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