7 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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Arguably one of Iowa's finest
Pros: Has a nice out in the country feel to it, while still having the manicured aspect of a city course. Dual tees on most of the holes which can give lesser skilled players some relief of an otherwise long layout. I like how the flow transitions from open to wooden, back to open and then wooded again. Lots of parking available and actual restrooms at the first tee. Advanced/Pro level players will really enjoy the challenge from the nearly 8000' course from long tees.
Cons: Can be frustrating trying to find your way around if you're not familiar with the layout. At my last visit there was no map at the kiosk by hole #1. Some spots where the walk between holes is ridiculously long and you can get steered off course easily. Closed for part of the year. Undergrowth in the woods can be thick if you end up in there (hint: try not to end up in there). Woods can be dangerous, particularly if you get deep into them, as there are some steep drop offs. Poison ivy too. Couldn't get to Hole 9's long tee due to flooding. (The short tee is challenging enough though).
Other Thoughts: Quite possibly my favorite Des Moines area course, if not Iowa course. A trip to DSM simply isn't complete without a trip to "the Nut". Some locals might put Ewing Park above WR as their favorite, but I've found the placid nature of this very challenging course to be much more addicting, as I enjoy trying to keep my disc out of the various trouble spots. The wooded holes on the back nine can be esspecially brutal and punishing on you if you're not precise. I almost call the wooded areas here 'roach motels' for discs, as you can get into them very easily, but it may be hell getting them out. For all its challenge, there's very little elevation here and no water hazards. You can see the reservoir off to the right of Hole 3, but if you can put one in the drink, you're playing the wrong game.
This isn't a course you go to on your lunch break (although you could play around the first 3 holes if you wanted). Bring yourself some water or Gatorade and some snacks for this one as its going to take awhile, and unless you have someone spotting, expect some time looking for errant throws into the woods or tall grass. If its humid or there's been recent rain, bring the bug spray and long pants. Not far off of I-80/35 if you're passing through during the open months (May through September) and definitely worth the stop.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: A wide variety of shots. Everything from short to long, left to right, open to narrow.
All quality holes; no simple 200 foot, wide open, straight shots.
This course will challenge most disc golfers to hit par, but if played safe there isn't too much risk for new players.
Much less traffic on the course than other metro courses.
There are restrooms on the course as well.
It has been well maintained every time that I have been there.
Cons: Poison Ivy: I've never gotten it here, but I always wear jeans just in case.
The location of the next pin isn't always obvious, even to people who have played the course once or twice.
Other Thoughts: The time it takes to play could be a concern to some, but it isn't to overwhelming (about 2.5 hours if you're off the fairway a lot)
Try to find a map as the next tee is a several hundred feet away is some cases.
Make sure you follow the small path towards the lake after hole 3. Its truly a great view.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Best of the best
Pros: This course has it all.
- Cement tee pads
- Multiple tee pads
- Long holes
- Short holes
- Par 3's, 4's & 5's
- Open holes
- Wooded holes
- Water does kind of come into play on one hole.
- Vending Machines
- Practice Basket
- Plenty of parking
Cons: Close for 3-4 months of the year. You can walk into this course if you want while it is closed. Signage could be a little bit better.
Other Thoughts: Walnut and Pickard are the two best courses in the Des Moines Metro area.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Challenging, Lots a different shots required, Woods and more open holes, Decently taken care of.
Cons: Can be confusing at first. Closed for a good chunk of the year. A couple of blind pins and missing tee signs make for a lot of guessing.
Other Thoughts: The tunnel shot is one of the best holes in all of disc golf.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Des Moines' country club
Pros: Multiple large concrete tees for each hole. Some holes have alternate sleeves. Good interpretive signage. Good flow to the course. Some multi-shot (par 4) holes available. Good mix of L/R, R/L and straight holes. Good use of available elevation. Ample parking. Clean restrooms both at the parking lot and mid-way through the course. Water hydrants at several tees. Not usually very busy. Very scenic park with no conflicts with other park facilities.
Cons: Is closed during the off-season, roughly 3 months. Snack and drink vending is fairly distant from the course (more than a 3 mile drive to nearest convenience store). The drink machines mentioned by another reviewer are no longer there. Some of the signs are in odd positions relative to the tee, so that you might think you have to throw in the opposite direction. Watch for poison ivy.
Other Thoughts: This is one of the crown jewels of the Des Moines scene. It has a country club feel due to the somewhat remote location and lack of hordes of players that you will find at the in-city courses. There is plenty of challenge yet it's very enjoyable to play.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Needs a map
Pros: - Great restroom and facilities near the beginning of the course. Ample picnic tables to rest at
- Two tees and two pin positions for each hole.
- Alternates between wooded and open quite well.
- Practice basket.
Cons: - Quite a few missing signs.
- Heavy rough in some areas can be tough to find a disc in.
- This is a very large park and the disc golf course utilizes all of it. Expect long walks between holes and also expect to not always know where you're going. If a local could draw up arrows that point you from the basket towards the next hole or for Y intersections where you aren't sure which path to take this would be a much better course.
Other Thoughts: - It's a scenic course with dedicated land for disc golfers that presents plenty of challenges but the navigational issues take this from an excellent course to merely a very good one.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: This is a fun course with lots of obstacles for players. Some open holes with some back through the challenging woods. Make sure to keep an eye on the disc so you do not loose them. Must play course.
Cons: Its Iowa, so in the winter time like most Mid-west states its a tough one to play.
Other Thoughts: Definitely put it on the must do list.
1 of 8 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Challening course with all types of shots required, very good amenities, pop machines on site, well groomed, exellent mix of wooded and "park setting" holes.
Cons: Thick brush off the fairways, closes early in fall and opens late in spring.
Other Thoughts: It's a "must play" during a visit to Des Moines.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Beutifaly laid out course! great eleavation changes and a combonation of Lefts and Rights along with tight holes and open holes!
Cons: nothing really to complain about
Other Thoughts: Play it!
1 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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