9 Helpful / 0 Not
An Iowa Beauty and Beast
Pros: Pickard is an exceptional DGC layout that is very enjoyable to play and in very good condition. (A green John Deere's hats off to the park maintenance folks for the acres and acres of mowing!) It is only after playing it that I read it was a featured course during the 2004 PDGA Worlds -- and I can definitely see why. Overall, the course design and flow of holes is excellent and on an individual, hole-by-hole analysis, I would rate only four of the holes in the mediocre-to-average range (the slow "starters," #1 through #3, and the rather unremarkable, uphill #7). The remaining 14 holes are well above average to phenomenal in design quality, beauty and tournament-level challenge. A 14-out-of-18 ratio is very, very good when you consider comparable courses rated highly on DGCR.
Any good course requires you to carry an array of plastic to give you the best chance of scoring well. Pickard is the epitome of this. While, yes, as pointed out by a previous reviewer, there are a fair number of holes that are rather open off the tee -- allowing you to throw unimpeded and straight for the first two to three hundred feet -- to have a great score, you still need to skirt many well-placed (and huge) hardwood trees and the ever present prairie grass to the left and right on many of the holes. In addition, you'll want to fade your flight path with a varying degree of left and right action at the tail end to position yourself for the best approach and putting angles.
The clear separation of holes, starting with #4, gives you the sense of enjoying the course on your own or within your own group.
Diversity of hole shapes is very good: There are ups, downs (including some "Whoopee!" bombs-away throws), and side-hill fairways. I counted an equal number of predominantly right (4) and left (4) oriented holes, and the marathon-lengthed #18 hole, while straight for much of the way, requires a bit of an S-shape in the last three, four hundred feet if you are on the right half-side of the fairway. As noted above, there are plenty of obstacles on many of the straight-away holes.
Two cement tee pads on every hole; three on #18. There'll all in great condition.
Water always scenic and challenge value to a course, as it does at Pickard. A small pond comes into play on #4, #5 and #18 and, if you throw from the back tee of #5, you also need to clear some marshland (with a strong throw over 300 feet, I think) that extends to the north from the pond. A creek meanders into play to the backside of #8 and #16, making for challenging and eye-pleasing basket locations on these two holes. On #10 and the gorgeous #14 your disc needs to clear that same creek.
Classic Iowa beauty is on display, with the mix of woodlands, humongous trees on some otherwise open holes, water and prairie fields. While it is not fun to look for stray discs in the hip- to shoulder-length grass that run along the sides of many holes, I wouldn't want it any other way. The golden prairie grass adds definition to the fairways and, especially when the sun strikes it at a low angle in the late afternoon or early morning, it is what makes the course especially scenic.
Cons: Overall, there is not much room for improvement in terms of the course layout except for the opening holes. As mentioned above, the first three holes are rather ho-hum in open parkland space. I would rate these three, as well as #7, around a 2.5 or 3 on a 5-point scale. (The rest of the course is mainly filled with holes that I would rate on a 5-point scale as 4, 4.5 or 5 "pointers.")
At most any other course, 1 through 3 would be fine, I suppose. It's just that they stick out for being "lesser" in relation to the rest of the holes.
On the upside: If you dash out on to the course without much warm-up, these starting holes are forgiving so they allow you to prime your throwing length and accuracy by the time you get to the more demanding holes 4 and 5.
Amenities, such as restrooms, covered picnic areas, course bulletin board, etc. are more than adequate, but ready access to them is limited to the first three holes. I didn't see any other pit-stop locations along the way, but perhaps there is something I missed by the playground located near hole #11. I'm being a bit nit-picky and a spoiled country club elitist when I say this, I suppose, but it would be nice (dream on!) if there were a drinking fountain and/or bathroom at the top of the hill to go along with that nice, #10 tee bench that marks the end of the first 9. In any case, no worries: as long as you bring along liquids for the long 18-hole trek (90 minutes to two hours) and use a restroom before the round, you'll be fine.
Other Thoughts: Make sure you check out the detailed information contained in the links and attachments to this DGCR site. Unfortunately, I did not notice this wealth of data and perspective provided about the course until after I had played. The playdg.com "Course Waltkthrough" is particularly useful and very well designed.
Here are some jottings about my favorite Pickard holes:
#5 - What a hole! From the back tee, this is a signature hole view -- but there are others that vie for the title as well. At this length, don't attempt to clear the marsh and the corner of the pond without a big arm. If it is windy from behind, as it was when I played, it will fool you into adding distance to your drive, but it can also force your disc downward into all that muck and disc-sucking marshland that exists between the pad and the clearing.
#8 -Whooopee! Throw from atop the hill down a wide fairway; be wary of any cross wind from the right, as it will take a RHBH hyzer all the way to the dusty road (OB) to your left. There is a great mix of trees down at the bottom of the hill, including a huge willow that draws your eye, that protects the hole from in front. A creek will come into play on any significant over-throws.
#10 - Enjoy the bench under the shade of a huge tree before starting the second 9. It's time to relax a bit and take in a beautiful vista of the Iowa fields. The short tee is at the far end of a batch of trees; if you can get your drive from the back pad to at least this distance or beyond, you'll get to toss a long down-hiller to a very tight basket location surrounded by trees on three sides and a creek in front
#14 -What a view of the hole from the bench! Another signature layout. Get onto the tee and you lose sight of the pin, so do take some time to rest... Big arms may have a shot at clearing the creek on their downhill drive (?), but for me it was the second throw where it came into play. The bridge that crosses the creek can give the impression (a wrong one) that your disc needs to go beyond it to clear water. No worries, unless there is a lot flooding, you only need to air it past the first third of the bridge.
#15 - This is an uphill, dogleg left, but don't RHBH hyzer it too much as it will land your disc in very thick brush. Err towards not cutting off the corner too much as being close to or in the foliage ruins your chance at getting it close on your second throw.
#16 - This is a great little downhill RHBH hyzer through plenty of trees. If you overthrow, you'll be in a creek that is behind and to the right of the hole.
#17 - After the relatively open Pickard layout, I absolutely loved this short hole as it the only one of it's kind on the course. It measures barely over 200 feet uphill, but it is pinball alley with a only a partial view of the basket through the trees.
#18 - Holy smokes! 958 feet from the back cement tee pad. There are mid tees (793 feet) and, at the hillcrest, front tees (602 feet). From the tips, it's uphill for the first half, the straw that does you in if you're out of shape. To top it off, the basket is in a small pocket of a clearing just to the left of the fishing pond, so it forces cautious players to be tentative on the approach and thus leaving it short. Great finishing hole!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Off The Beaten Path
Pros: This town is not real close to any major towns. However, this course is just what the doctor ordered. This course has long, short, left, right, some elevation, variance in distance, water, some light woods, OB, and a few good pin placements. The risk/reward holes were a real challenge. The par settings are not too bad at this course. Some were really long, but they tried to build some balance. There is a good Message Board, great tee signs, concrete tee pads, bathrooms, trashcans, drinking fountain, and parking lot.
Cons: I despise 3 to 5 feet tall grass rough, because it slows play down with little challenge added. This course has quite a bit of this. The early holes were a little boring and missing the long tee pads, but you could find the location intended. There does seem to be many straight shot driving holes. There is some variety here, but you could feel the "throw straight" feel here.
Other Thoughts: The fun factor here was average for me. It seemed a bit like continuous long bombs for the most part. I will say this was a good course for the area. So if you are close by, I would stop here for sure.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Iowa Prize Course
Pros: The course is an absolute beauty to say the least. I can see why a couple of reviewers give it a 5, but I will have to disagree (see cons). Not big items, but enough to keep it from the best of the best. My review is based primarily on playing from the long tees.
- Absolutely GREAT hole type variety with 7 straight / 1 straight with water / 4 right / 4 left / 1 left with water / 1 "S" shape.
- Incredible hole length variety with 5<300 / 5 f/ 300-500 / 6 f/ 500-700 / 2>700.
- Also incredible hole type variety with an appropriate mix of open fairway holes to tightly wooded holes with narrow corridors. The variety will test ALL skill levels regardless of the tee you play from, a true sign of an exceptional course. There are a couple of corridor and wooded holes to test your accuracy along with a hole or two out of a wooded surrounded tee box. Hole 9 comes to mind ( dense tree coverage with a 12' corridor to climb 15 feet in elevation just to get off the tee box - the wimps can opt for the shorter tee box and skip the experience, but I don't know why you would!)
- nice concrete tee pads.
- nice course sign at first tee.
- Great tee/hole signage.
- 16 of 18 holes were easy to navigate without a map for a first timer.
- fairways were immacualtely mowed with the excpetion of 1 (not sure why?)
- Alternate tee pad locations still give the beginner or shorter arm thrower the same experience as the long tees (maybe i should have played the shorter ones to improve my score :) )
- Once you get past hole 3, the sports complex becomes non-existant with the exception of a cheer every so often, but maybe that was for me.....ahhh - anyhow - you feel secluded in the wilderness of the course.
- I was the only one playing the course..... are you kidding me? A course at this level should be packed, but it wasn't. That's a huge bonus!!!
Cons: - long tees on first 3 holes were spray paint on grass. My guess is future tees are forthcoming.
- some trash on a couple of holes (more trash cans would alleviate this since the course is so awesome!)
- course would benefit from bag hangers or a bench at each hole. Minor item, but I think one that alleviates you setting you bag on the tee or in the wet grass after a rain.
- no course maps at start.
- Holes 10 an 18 in my opinion are just too long. @ 825 and 958 they only favor big arm throwers. Both holes are beauiful, but it just felt like I was playing 2 holes in one.
- A small but minor opinion of mine, is that you need a practice putting area at the start for a perfect course. It should also have markers for distance so that you can warm up prior to a round. I did not see a practice basket when I played.
Other Thoughts: - Bugs were a nightmare! bring bug spray in summer months.
- A good pair of hiking books is recommended as well. The terrain is a beautifully manicured hike!
- Some may not appreciate the 4.5 rating, but I guess I will still reserve that for the day I play the perfect course. Pickard is without question a gem of a course!!! it is very comparable to Water Works in Kansas City, MO.
- If you have an opportunity to get this direction, this course will NOT let you down. One of the interesting things to me was the desire to get "in-the-woods". I kept playing the first several holes asking myself "when does this bad boy dive into the woods?" I was not let down when it finally did, and it will test your technical game.
- A MUST PLAY IF YOU'RE WITHIN 50 MILES OF THIS ONE.
See my detailed course review for more hole-by-hole information.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 8 Not
Best of the best
Pros: This course has everything.
- Cement tee pads
- Multiple tee pads
- Drinking fountains
- Short holes
- Long holes
- Par 3's, 4's & 5's
- Water holes
Cons: Nothing takes away from this course. Definitely a must play course in Iowa
Other Thoughts: After my first time playing this course, I couldn't wait to play it again. It is truly a tester of a course.
4 of 12 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
This is what I expected from Iowa
Pros: - Bathrooms, fountains, and a solid Bulletin Board.
- Well designed, course flows so that you never doubt where you're going next.
- Map box that offers maps (nothing in it when I played).
- Great signs that indicate where the next tee is... it's hard to believe how often this tiny detail is overlooked.
- Well maintained and yet rugged at the same time. The front nine is mostly open whereas the back nine offers more in the way of elevation to deal with.
- Water comes into play on four holes.
Cons: - Construction of a parking lot was an issue when I played. It appears that the longer tee pad no longer exists for the first two or three holes.
- The lake was nasty looking. Not the kind of water I'd want to go after a disc in.
- Personal preference here, but I'm not a big fan of monster 18th holes that test you to see if you have anything left. The pro teepad here is just unreal.
Other Thoughts: - The parking lot is under construction so I parked across the street at the church. The locals I played with informed me that there's a backdoor to the park somewhere around the 11th hole.
- After being slightly disappointed with my first two selections in Iowa (Walnut Ridge and Grandview) this course showed me what's possible in terms of solid Iowa disc golf. Unlike those other two, this is a must play course if you're driving through.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
cream of the crop (corn), it is Iowa after all
Pros: One of the best, premier courses in the world. Featuring many types of holes and terrain, including water, hills, tight woods, prairie, open grassy areas and more. Many distinct par 4's and 2 legitimate par 5's. Some holes so unique and interesting they cannot be compared to anything else in existence. Well maintained, clean, safe area, good tee pads and signs. Ample parking, free. Dual tees (supposedly- I don't remember? they may be new). Has an 800' hole through some trees up and then down a hill to a narrowing gap to hit at the end, with a fence on the left and woods on the right. A big over-water shot with a safe alt. route. Finishes with a challenging, uphill 900' hole with woods on the right, some trees in the fairway, and the basket on a thin strip of grass between some bushes on the left and water on the right!
Cons: I didn't find any. Maybe that there's not much else to do in Iowa? Does that count?
Other Thoughts: This course should be on everyone's list to play.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 4 Not
amazingly well kept.
Pros: well groomed course. variety of distances. some holes have few hazards if you stay straight and others have only a narrow lane to throw down. two concrete launching pads on 17 holes and three for the super long 18th hole allow a variety of skill levels to play together at the same time.
Cons: with how nice the course is I would have expected more people to be playing the course.
Other Thoughts: I played this while visiting a friend so I don't know who takes care of the course, but it is an exceptionally well thought out course and extremely well maintained. Can't wait to play it again.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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