The W. R. Jackson of the Midwest
3 Helpful / 1 Not
- WARM UP HOLES. I started to think that the first three holes - which are basically just open fields with a little elevation - were lethargic afterthoughts placed by lazy designers, but I've reconsidered. They're actually great holes on which to loosen up your arm before you need every bit of speed and accuracy to tame the rest of the course. I think they're not so much afterthoughts as they are preparation. They certainly can lead you to a false sense of security if you've never played the course before and don't know what you're getting yourself into.
- AMENITIES. Plenty of parking, pavilions with restrooms at the start, grippy concrete teepads, and great ChainStar baskets. And with little happening in sleepy Warren County since the first basket was installed in 1999, local officials have seen fit to make this a championship length course and maintain it extremely well over the past 16 years. They keep the intended fairways mowed pretty regular, which is an unexpected nicety considering the enormity of the course.
- ATMOSPHERE. Set right outside the small town of Indianola, Iowa, the massive expanse of land on which Pickard Park DGC sits is backstopped by corn fields and ball fields...and not much else. The most you'll hear while playing a round will be the relaxing sounds of nature and the occasional combine or two. If you're looking for a quiet, peaceful bit of exercise (and you *will* get your heart rate up here) to pontificate the majesty of Mother Nature, Pickard is a great place to get your zen on.
- HUGE COURSE. Do NOT bring a newbie or a girlfriend you've convinced to just "try out the game" to Pickard. It's massive and it will break them. To give you an idea of how long it is, if you've ever played W. R. Jackson at the IDGC, Pickard is only about a hole and a half shorter than that - and with just as many changes in elevation. But if you've been stuck with a local pitch-and-putt and are looking for a course that will really challenge your distance, look no further than Pickard. This bad boy is a monster.
- A TRUE CHALLENGE. Of course, longer doesn't necessarily mean better (that's not what SHE said) and Pickard isn't a one-trick pony. This course will test not only your arm but your accuracy. Allow me to elaborate:
* PIN PLACEMENT. Designers placed a premium on tee location and hole placement, utilizing the elevation and natural vegetation to create some very precarious lines. Allow me to give you a few examples:
- Hole #4 runs along a slant, with a deep forest to the right. It's a natural lefty/flick hole, but it's dangerous. You have to make it over the hill, but it finishes downhill to a pin you can't see from the tee and the pin sits about 25 feet from the pond. Long shots are wet, to leave it short leaves a risky upshot, and playing the skip off the hill to the left of the tee makes the possible downhill roll into the pond sketchy.
- Hole #5...see foliage comments below.
- Hole #8 is a long, downhill shot. It's pretty and very much a hole most golfers love to play. However, the wind up here (see below) as well as the foliage (ditto) and the creek on the right make disc selection a priority. If you turn the disc over too much you're in the shiz, if you big arms go long you're in the creek. I've ended up in it a few times and I can tell you it's tough. Of course, that probably had more to do with my erratic form and inconsistent release than a flaw in the hole, and that IS what she said.
- Hole #10. This par 5 starts throwing uphill LONG through a grouping of trees that aren't shy about putting the kibosh on your drive. Make it to the middle of the fairway and you're looking at another LONG downhill shot over a creek to the pin with bushes and briars a la #8 to the right.
- Hole #11. Par 3 downhill shot. Another fun one, but blind from the long tee. The pin sits on a menacing slant that can cause drives to roll like a phat blunt all the way to 12's teebox, leaving you a 150 foot uphill upshot to save par.
- Hole #14. The prettiest hole on the course, in my opinion. Really gorgeous, especially in the fall. But like smoking hot supermodel, she can be a real bitch. From the long tee it's a semi-dogleg right into the fairway. If you hit your mark you'll have a 250-foot shot that has to make it downhill, over a creek, and through a tunnel of hanging trees to be set up for a birdie. The fact that the Amazon is to the left AND right of you only adds anxiety to your shot.
* FOLIAGE. There's a variety in play on every hole - and while not sparse, it's not pervasive either. Trees block many of the natural lines and you'll have to choose carefully on your plan of attack to keep the disc on your intended line. Bushes are also on the table and throw a monkey wrench of their own. For example, on hole 5 you start from an elevated tee and have a BLIND drive from behind some thick bushes. If you're feeling froggy and want to go for the deuce, you have to put enough on it to carry the pond - but lay off enough to make sure you don't turn the disc over too much (see the wind comments below) -- to an LZ approximately 20 feet from the water. It's perilous for those who value their plastic. And that's not all: Pickard comes with some Carolina crazy, too. She has some really thick woodlands, and while not in play on most holes, when present should be avoided if at all possible. Like an ex-girlfriend of mine, she sports undergrowth of Biblical proportions and isn't shy about punishing errant shots that grip-lock their way into their territory. If you land in that mess you'll be lucky to escape with a bogie and (like with my ex) possibly a rash.
* BREEZY. Because the park is surrounded by open corn fields, winds that would put the gusts of the Texas plains to shame often wreak havoc on your flight path. Couple this with the dangers of blind tee shots over bushes that need to carry water without fading hard or turning over into an Amazon-type forest and you've got veritable life-decisions to make with every throw.
I know I'm probably not painting these "pros" in a very flattering light, but if you want a fun, adrenaline-filled round, Pickard will deliver in spades.
- FEW BENCHES. Considering the length of this course I would've thought that there'd be more. If memory serves there are five total throughout the course (on 1, 7, 10, 11, and 14). Bring your stool.
- VERY FEW TRASH CANS. You'll need water and probably a snack or two if you want to finish this course without your metabolism and hydration level crashing, but with few garbage receptacles you'll need to take all yours with you. This course deserves to be kept clean.
- 1.5 BATHROOMS. One in the pavilion at the start of the course, and a half of one (a port-o-john) on #11. Normally this wouldn't show up on my radar as such a big deal as my rounds are typically a sausage-fest and we can pee in the woods. However, the last time I played Pickard the previous night's Zombie Burger (with fried onions and jalapenos...de-LISH!) decided to disagree with me and around hole 7 my bunghole was going to DEFCON 2. The bubble-guts were killing me for four holes until I saw the port-o-john on 11. Made a mad-dash to the leaning, decrepit outhouse that looked like it belonged on the set of a Walking Dead episode just in time to save my shorts from being flooded before my winking sphincter did its best impression of the Bellagio. Point is: They could use a few more.
- NAVIGATION. Course virgins should play with a guide or print a map before they hit the course. While Pickard has decent flow to it, some holes can be pretty confusing due to the expanse of the course.
- STRAIGHT THROUGH 18. For all the land available for this course, you'd think they could've found a way to have holes 1 and 10 start and holes 9 and 18 finish in the same spot. As it stands, once you finish 9 you're on the exact opposite side of the acreage that is Pickard Park, leaving you with a VERY long trek back to your car if you only wanted to play nine holes...or didn't figure out a way to make nine holes out of what's available. Just seems like this could've been planned a bit better.
- No topless Hooters girls frolicking along the #8 fairway.
I feel like I need to explain why I gave it a 3.5 instead of the 4+ many have given it. I must admit that Pickard Park is one of the highest rated courses in the state for a reason and it has most certainly earned it. It's got all the ingredients: It's beautiful, it's well maintained, and any disc golfer who says they aren't challenged by it has extremely flammable pants. However, I'm writing this from the perspective of someone who *wants* to be better, but isn't. Yet. Because I'm an intermediate player (at best) - someone who's inconsistent, chooses discs (and ex-girlfriends) poorly, and has bad form - this course is frustrating. The foliage, the wind, and my own inability to play the game "properly" makes Pickard just a little less enjoyable than the other Des Moines courses because it's so harshly punishing of less-than perfect play.
I don't mean to say it's a bad course; it's not...it's an outstanding course. Nor am I saying that "less than perfect playing" *shouldn't* be punished; it should. I'm saying that because of my current ability *I* just don't have as much FUN playing it as I do Big Creek, Ewing, Walnut Ridge and Grandview, and that's the name of the game. It's not a course that we middle-of-the road Intermediate players should use as a barometer for our abilities because this course will roll your confidence out like wholesale carpet. Pickard is tough for pros. Not saying anybody below pro level shouldn't play it....they should! If you're an amateur with poise, a mean snap, and a respectable putting game who thinks they can hang with the big dogs, give 'er a run. Pickard takes all-comers. But you've been warned: Don't be surprised if Pickard takes a few chunks out of your ego's taint and you leave with a light bag and a DNF on your card.
In short (too late), Pickard is for really good players who want to test themselves. It will. It's a great place to test your mettle against a truly top-shelf course. Intermediate players will undoubtedly have fun and will love to play it from time to time, but it most likely won't be one they'll want to tackle on the regular. Nevertheless, regardless of your skill level, if you're passing through the Iowa state capitol you owe it to yourself to give it a run. Pickard is definitely a "bucket list" course.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
LONG, Challenging Course!
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -VERY challenging!
-Huge tee pads
-Very very nice signs
-Every type of shot (tunnels, backhands, rollers, forehands, skips, etc)
-Good use of water, woods, and elevation changes
-Very easy to find
-Very easy to navigate
-Both bomber and technical holes
Cons: -Holes 1 and 18 (see below)
-Very open, allows for lots of wind
-Fairly easy to lose a disc at some point in the round
Other Thoughts: I played the course on a very windy and cold day so my impression of the course may get better as I play it in the future on nicer days. My review of the course is from the Pro tees prospective, as I only played one round and didn't play the Am tees.
Hole 1 is a very short boring, almost pointless hole right off of the parking lot. To me, it looks like it could be extended an additional 100 feet or so to make it a little more fun and enjoyable.
Hole 18 is an extremely long, hilly par 5 at the end of the course that almost seems pointless to me. It plays 900+ feet from the longest tee and most arms are going to barely be able to make par, if even a bogey. I feel as if they could make this single hole into two holes and add some more holes on the way back to the parking lot to reduce the huge walk you have from the 18th basket, back to your vehicle.
Overall my visit was a great one, I enjoyed the entire round, other then when my Champion Destroyer was swallowed by the pond on hole 18 thanks to the very strong wind. I do, however recommend that you visit Pickard Park on a less windy day!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Good but not the best in Iowa!
0 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: I prefer the front nine much more than the back nine, but overall a good course.
Clean and well maintained.
Not much traffic.
Cons: Back nine has to many long holes...825, 529, 606, 958...and can get confusing when finding the next hole in a few places.
LOTS of walking!
Nine finishes no where near your car for a quick break.
Other Thoughts: I just do not think this is the best course in Iowa and that is how it typically ranks.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Open with just enough trees to make for challenging holes.
-Multiple concrete Tees on each hole with nice tee signs on each hole.
-Generally a very long course, with plenty of elevation.
-Holes 4, 5, and 18 all have play by a pond.
-Surprisingly quiet, typically only a couple other people are on course. Play goes very fast for the length of the course.
-My personal favorites would be 5 over the pond (blind shot, pond not in view) and the approach on 10.
Cons: -Hole 16 and 17 are the only deeply wooded holes.
-Some holes get somewhat repetitive, throwing 300+ straight off the tee, then throwing at a basket surrounded by trees.
-18 is best played from the middle tee,(Somewhat like 10) the short tee's best line is the through by the rough. The long seems a bit too long and more of a trip back to the parking lot.
Other Thoughts: -This is a great course to learn how to throw the same disc, you will be throwing it on many holes.
-If you are not into wooded courses (I'm personally not) I would recommend coming to Pickard Park In Indianola.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 16 Not
Pros: -long open tees
-baskets in good condition and new signs
-water hazards and many obstacles
-trash cans ever other tee
Other Thoughts: -hole 18 is 800+ ft
-Great course and not much attention or people playing it :(
1 of 17 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Big park course
Pros: The course plays through a large scenic park. There are rolling hills throughout with a couple steeper hills. Lots of spots on the course have pleasant views of the park and surrounding area, and despite the city park feel around the beginning of the course you get a more secluded vibe in the middle of the round.
There is plenty of length here, several chances to stretch out your arm and throw longer drives. There are some reachable holes, especially from the shorter tees, so it doesn't get too repetitive that way. The wooded holes offer a few tighter lines to hit, and you will need some level of line shaping ability to score well and get to several of the protected pin locations.
The pond comes into play on a few shots, offering a couple risky pin positions and a hole that makes you decide if you want to go for the green off the tee with a water carry or play for the safe par. The amenities here are solid, with good signs and nice concrete pads. The short and long tees make the course a little more accessible for different levels of players.
Cons: There are a lot of long straight shots, you can throw the same disc for a lot of the holes and that gets a bit old. The course is pretty open for my tastes, with little trouble on most drives and only limited trouble around some of the pins. Long prairie grass comes into play at times, and that's not my favorite obstacle on a disc golf course. It adds frustration and loses plastic without really changing the next shot after a shanked drive.
Other Thoughts: This course would be a bit long for most beginners, I could see that getting a little frustrating for shorter armed players. More experienced throwers will enjoy the chances to open up and throw some drives. This is a fun and scenic course even if it doesn't put much of a premium on accuracy and line shaping.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 15 Not
best course ive played so far
Pros: My favorite course so far. Good mixture of shots and elevations. Long holes are managable and difficult. And short holes are difficult. A couple of good wooded holes. Love the rediculousness of the 900 footer. Fantastic! World class course. Not for beginners. Very nicely kept park as well.
Cons: Love everything about this course. Thats all
Other Thoughts: Very highly recommended. Bring multiples of your go to discs the little lake pond thing has eaten up a couple of mine
1 of 16 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 29 Not
Pros: nice variety of holes.................................................................................................................................................
Cons: best for pros.................................................................................................................................................
Other Thoughts: ......................................................................................................................................................
2 of 31 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 14 Not
Pros: Good signage, well maintained park, good baskets, great layout minus 1-3. the course was a lot of fun great for golfing. Lots of placement shots which is what golf is about i love long holes.
Cons: The first couple of holes could be better when compared to the rest of course. Out in the middle of nowhere.
Other Thoughts: I really enjoyed this course, too bad it was almost lose your disc dark when i played through 18 the best hole awesome green. If you are in des moines area and have a chance should play
2 of 16 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Awesome Park Course
Pros: Maintenance: This course was well groomed. The city parks department must cut the grass regularly. Their efforts show in the immaculate fairways at Pickard Park.
Elevation: Even though this is Iowa, the course designers here did an excellent job of utilizing the elevation with which they had to work.
Water: Water comes into play on a number of holes here. Each time it is used very effectively, most often as the basket is placed on the side of a pond with water to the right and a tree or trees to the left. This causes the RHBH player to play there shot over the water and use the fade to bring it back to the shore as the left is blocked by trees. This is used on #5 and #18. There is also a meandering creek that protects the back of the green on a hole toward the middle of the course.
Variety: Elevation, shot-shape and distance are all varied extremely well throughout this course. No two holes are even remotely similar. There are some really long holes as well as some potential ace runs. If you are a moderately skilled player like myself, there are opportunities for birdies...but you better take them when you see them.
Cons: Pickard does not loop back to the parking lot at any point during the round. As hot as it gets in the summer, coupled with the relatively "open" course makes a mid-round pit-stop almost a necessity. There is also no drinking water available on the course once you start your round. In short, bring a lot of water...you will need it.
Rough schule: This is one of my big pet peeves. The rough is supposed to be punishing. This is definitely the case at Pickard Park. However, at least clear some of the brush out around the fairways. We spent probably an hour looking for discs at this course, most of which were about 2-3 feet off the fairway. One of our four even lost a disc that looked as if it landed in the fairway. After coming over the hil and looking at where it should have been, it could have been no further than 5 feet off the faiway...and we never found it. Again, rough is there for a challenge, but it makes for a cumbersome roundd when you are looking for 10 minutes for any throw that skips off the fairway. It wouldn't take much work with a weed-eater to rectify this situation.
Hole #18/Flow: Hole #18 does not fit this course. I don't mind having a long hole. I understand that in tourneys, this hole is important because someone could make up a couple of strokes on the final hole. However, the flow leaves you so far away from the parking lot after #17, that #18 has to be long simply to get you back to he parking lot. It has a tricky pin placement by the water, but other than that hole #18 is just boring.
Other Thoughts: Pickard Park is the home of an excellent disc golf course. There are a number of great holes here. Be prepared for a long round as you will likely be looking for a few errant shots,and the course is long. Make sure to stay hydrated as the course seems like a strenuous walk due to length and hilly terrain...or maybe I was just really out of shape when we played here. (It was pushing 100 degrees that day)
If you happen to be in the Des Moines area, make the 30 minute drive south to Indianola and pley this excellent course. It is a fantastic course and worth driving slightly out of the way to play. Give yourself plenty of time and enjoy the terrain. It is a beautiful area. At many public parks, disc golf courses are relegated to the land that simply cannot be used for anything else. Pickard Park breaks this mold. This land is excellent for disc golf and the course is well-suited for the terrain.
Additionally, I lost a disc on this course and was called back two days later by the guy who found it. I add this because there are some really classy people in this area who play disc golf. I travel and play quite often and have found that people in other areas of the country call numbers on found discs much more often than they do in Tennessee. Kudos to the Iowa disc golf scene for encouraging player courtesy.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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