Good use of Elevation and Distance
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This entire course is on hillside ranging from a steep to shallow slope. It's very similar to a ski run course with several opportunities to throw downhill bombs as well as a number of holes requiring uphill slogs. But all the holes are challenging and fair. I played this course over a weekend after playing Skyline, Taylor Mountain and Golden Gate. This course is clearly the more difficult of the four because it combines distance and some technicality with elevation in a more challenging way than the others nearby.
The uphill holes are fair but can be very punishing for those who haven't learned to use spin to control rollaways (and those RH throwers who can't throw forehand to reverse spin). The downhill bombs also require some restraint and accuracy as skips on hardscrabble and short-grass areas can lead to a skip and extra throw. Still, Watching your disc fly forever down hill is wonderful thing and several holes give you that opportunity while still demanding a controlled throw.
The holes that I really enjoyed were ones that required downhill shot shaping to give an opportunity for birdie such as 12, 18 and, to a lesser extent, 9 (second or third shot, depending on drive distance, requires you to pick you path around a large tree). The challenge of the opening uphill holes also really sets the tone well for this being a more difficult course than the others that have notable elevation.
Tee pads and baskets are all excellent. When you need a bigger run up, like on 9, there's a big tee pad for you. Most pads have extra texture for traction at the end. All baskets are in excellent condition.
Cons: This course supposedly has 23 holes, but the maps online and at the course only show 18. The map also does not show all the numerous basket positions, and they cannot always be determined from the tee. You will just have to walk up and look for the basket, and hope some locals can point you to it in cases where the pin position is absent from the map.
There is no water and no bathrooms on the course, which starts about .4 miles from the parking lot. Bring plenty of water with you.
Poison Oak on many holes, forcing you to step around and over it on walking trails and even guarding the base of the basket on 15. Learn to identify this stuff and stay away from it.
Some holes are headscratchers. 7 can be just weird and may just reward skill and luck equally. It's a shot over tall trees to a hole only about 200 ft away in some basket positions. It is probably unreachable except with a luck drop under the trees which is how I got close enough to putt for birdie (and miss, @?%%!). 11 is prohibitively short (under 150) from the short tee and sticks out from the rest of the course due to its relative ease. 5, depending on pin position can be all but impossible to birdie, and very easy to par, just a hole to get you to the next one.
Although this course is bordered by a lake at the bottom of the hill it is on, the lake doesn't really come into play on any of the holes. There was no hole that I played that I reasonably thought that there was any chance that I was going to lose a disc. The closest was 10 which is a short hyzer with the lake on the right, but even so, the thought of my Wasp going into the water never really entered my mind. I think that this was a lost opportunity although I don't know what restrictions regarding the lake guided the designer in that respect.
Despite these minor things, I really enjoyed this excellent course.
Other Thoughts: Two potential cons are the $10 parking fee and long walk in. However, from a course-crowdedness standpoint, these could just as easily be considered pros. The walk in is about .4 miles and it's the easiest walking you will do at this course because it's the only flat part.
If I had to choose one course to play in the North Bay area, it would likely be this one due to the challenge and lack of crowds or Skyline due to the fun factor.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This course is a great challenge! I've played here a few times and really enjoyed it each time. There is a good mix up of distance shots to take and more technical holes, but this course is mostly about distance. The average long T is about 500 to 600 feet from the pin, hole 9 is a absolute monster at about 1000 feet. It's never been busy, which is nice if you want to take your time, but I would like to see it get more use.
Cons: Its easy to waste time searching for a lost disc in the high grass, especially if you're like me and have a lot of yellow and white discs. There's been a warning lately about a rattlesnake around hole 4 which I want nothing to do with. Other than that just be ready for a decent hike up to hole 6, it's a relatively easy walk after that.
Other Thoughts: Great views!
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The main feature of this course is the big hills. Nearly every hole has some kind of elevation, and that adds a lot of fun and challenge. You have to control your disc up and down steep hills, and lots of landing zones are sloped enough to encourage roll-aways if you're not careful. Add in some wind, and this course really rewards understanding how your discs fly when you're not on flat ground.
A handful of the holes (mostly the added letter holes) offered some nice wooded shots. It was a nice change to need to shape some interesting lines in contrast to the mostly open holes on the rest of the course. There's great distance variety, from reachable holes to some bombers including some multi-drive holes.
There are some fantastic views here, and I felt like every time we wanted to stop and catch our breath there was something nice to look at. The tees were perfectly fine, even the natural tees on the added holes weren't too rutted out yet (though that could become a con if they don't get permanent pads in the near future).
Cons: There are some navigation issues, especially with the added holes. Some of the signage was out of date or inaccurate, and that was a little frustrating in the spots where multiple baskets were visible. A little work on tee and navigational signage would go a lon way for first time players here.
The grass was a bit long when I played, making for some frustrating disc searches in the middle of the fairway. Prairie grass is my least favorite type of disc golf rough, especially when it's full of fox tails that you never fully get out of your shoes and socks. There's a ton of poison oak in the more wooded sections of the course. There were a couple places where I felt that holes played too close to one another, especially when elevation is added in to make bad shots even less predictable.
Other Thoughts: Beginners will find this course a bit daunting, with lots of length and some nasty rough in spots. More experienced players will find some great challenges here, especially with the addition of the wooded letter holes to test a different part of your game. Be prepared for a hike, there's a long walk back to the car, and the walk to play the course is reasonably strenuous.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Very scenic course. Rolling hills remind me of scenes from the movie Braveheart.
All of the holes have great signage, and it is mostly clear how to navigate your way around the course. I think that an arrow pointing to the next tee location could have been useful on the signs (after playing Delaveaga I always notice this on every course).
The holes are long and challenging. You have to scope out some of the holes before throwing just to know how the hole is laid out; so you don't lose your disc after teeing off. I like that part. I want a course to challenge my drive & approach accuracy, and most of the holes on this course are no slackers in this dept.
There are a lot of uphill holes on the course; makes you feel like a real chump with your drives. But what goes up must go down, and the elevation loss holes are worth the up!!!
Definitely a great course, play it if you have time. Worth the short ~20min drive off 101.
Cons: Very long-holed course. Bring your best drives, and make sure to stretch beforehand. My arm was killing me afterwards, but I'm a bit of a puss.
The uphill holes, but as I said before, you've gotta get up to get down!!
Hole 9 is just a give up. 1000' hole? Really? Just make 2 holes out of it and call it a 19 hole course. It wouldn't be the end of the world.
Drive a ways down the dirt path after the paved parking lot, it'll save you some time walking. We enjoyed the walk on the nice day, gave us some time to relax & adjust to the surroundings.
Other Thoughts: The hawks circling around are a great nature touch. The views of the lake from the vistas are wonderful. The thing I liked most about this course is that I came from playing the Golden Gate Park course in San Fran, which was fantastic, but this was total transformation to a remote, quiet, rural land. I needed my clock reset with some nature after the traffic jams of the city!
The course itself was a great change too because it is a true long wilderness course, perfect excuse to cover a lot of ground in one day!
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Top Notch Disc Golf
Pros: Stafford Lake DGC is located in bucolic northern Marin County. The park is part of the Marin County Regional Parks system and offers picnicking, nature trails and fishing. From time to time, it hosts concerts or other local events. For the most part, however, the park provides a quiet and undeveloped setting. Benches, tables, gazebos and large grassy areas are situated close to the water. Perched above the lake on a large hill, the course is set apart from other park activities. There is an approximate one quarter mile walk from the parking lot to the first tee. Payment is required to enter the park- $5 to $10 depending on the day of the week and time of year. Yearly passes are also available.
The park provides a beautiful setting for disc golf. The terrain is rolling grass hills, dotted with dense clusters of oaks, bays and madrones. As you climb up the hill, you will be rewarded with great views of the lake below and the surrounding open space. Wildlife is abundant- jack rabbits, deer, ground squirrels, turkeys and bobcats make their home here. This is a great spot for birding. Red tail hawks, black-winged kites, turkey vultures and great horned owls hunt these grounds. Migratory birds stop off at the lake and rails hide in the surrounding reeds.
Stafford is a championship level course. Tee boxes are cement and expansive. Signage is good, providing layouts, distances and elevations; pin placements are noted by a spinning washer on the sign post. Approximately half the holes have alternative tees, although some are dirt and can be difficult to find. Every hole has multiple pin placements, some with as many as five. The alternatives provide a lot of flexibility and can significantly change the nature of a given hole. For example, the short tee on hole 3 to pin A is 369', while the long tee to pin C is 639'.
The course will test your strength and control. Generally, the holes are long, although there are some exceptions. Hole 1 offers a rough introduction. From the long tee to the long pin, the hole length is 478' with 100' of elevation gain. To make matters worse, inaccurate throws can easily end up at the bottom of the hill. Be prepared to climb! At 435', Hole 6 represents the other side of the coin with a 135' elevation drop. Here, the emphasis is on control rather than power, as an errant shot can sail a long way off target with the extreme tee elevation.
Despite its long length, the course is technically demanding, requiring a variety of shots to score well. In addition to some wide open rips, be prepared to throw over stands of trees, under low- hanging canopies and through tight windows. Poor shots off the tee will have to deal with tough sidehill and downhill lies. The pervasive slopes insure that bad shots will be harshly punished. There's hardly a flat, straight shot on the whole course.
Perhaps as a counter-balance to the long length of the rest of the course, the local club (United Flyers of Sonoma) has added 3 "letter holes" in the dense woods above hole 4 (4A, 4B, and 4C). These three holes play very short and technical, with heavily wooded fairways and radically sloping greens. The tees are dirt and the holes are not signed. The area can become overrun with poison oak and can get very wet in the winter because of a nearby spring, so it may not be playable depending on the time of year. However, these are fun holes that present some of the best deuce opportunities on the course.
Cons: During the summer, it is hot, windy and dry. As there has been fires in past, no smoking allowed. Dogs are also prohibited. If the grass is high, there are lots of burrs and it can be difficult to find discs. There is lots of poison oak, although it is avoidable. There are several blind shots; a spotter is highly recommended. There may be some minor navigation issues for first time players. There is an entry fee to the park of up to $10. The course is not beginner friendly, even in its most benign settings.
Other Thoughts: Stafford Lake DGC is a top-notch northern California disc golf course. It is a long and technically demanding course in a beautiful natural setting. Bring your hiking boots, binoculars and "A-game" and be prepared to have a great walk ruined.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 9 Not
Getting Out of the City
Pros: -Challenging, long, diverse
-Never too many people
-Lots of animal sightings
Cons: -Pay to park
-It can be very hot, bring water
-Large possibility of losing discs. Use a spotter!
Other Thoughts: Absolutely worth the hike in.
1 of 10 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Amazing views of the surrounding foothills and lake coupled with the seclusion from the masses are my top pros for this course. Some of the best shots in nor cal disc golf, ranging from some small downhill drives to long bombs. Tons of elevation to play with allowing for tons of angles to approach. Despite the big elevation changes the fast greens seen at De La are not here. Great signage with overhead views, basket and tee indicators. The newer concrete teepads are massive and more than accommodating. Never crowded and tons of fun.
Cons: Pay to play, only because the vast majority of DG is free. The long hike to get to the first tee from the parking lot and the additional weight in water you need to pack in the summer. Sure there is poison oak out here but keep it in the fairway and you have nothing to worry about. Most of the PO is not too thick and will allow you to get a disc with stick if needed.
Other Thoughts: I love this course because it is simply just perfect for the place it is in and the fun I have being there playing it. I would say this is some of the best disc golf out there not the best but hard to even think of forgetting. Leaving the course I really wish it had a true tunnel shot to complete this course but I am not complaining.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 5 Not
scenic and very challenging
Pros: Championship Caliber 18 challenging holes in a beautiful park with big hills and plenty of wildlife (we saw squirrels, many types of birds and a few deer!) Plenty of tee shots require a good grip-n-rip and your maximum distance. Never Crowded. Large Concrete tee pads are very nice, as is the signage at at each tee pad. This course also has tons of variety, throwing uphill, downhill, over and around trees. Some long holes and some short holes. #6 is a very fun hole!
Cons: Very windy- the wind will mess with your shots, unless you can use it to your advantage. I'm never a fan of paying for disc golf (or for parking). The 2 most frustrating things about playing at Stafford lake is that you will probably need a guide to get through all 18 holes and there are many blind pins where if no one is spotting your drive it can be very hard to find. Lastly, this course can play like a ghost town most of the time, with rarely anyone else playing the course at the same time.
Other Thoughts: Although this truly is a very cool course, it falls short of the great De Laveaga in Santa Cruz. De La has more holes and you can play it in the same amount of time. This course is recommended and very interesting, try to go with or find a local when you are there, and bring your wind-fighting discs!
4 of 9 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Challenging, diverse holes. Great elevation changes. Excellent place to work on your big distance throws.
Cons: Ticks. Some blind shots that require a spotter unless you absolutely know where your disc is going to land (and even then, it may roll from where you heard it land) $8 to park on the weekend if you don't have a season pass-ouch.
Other Thoughts: This course was my introduction to the game. As my buddy who brought me here realized that despite a decidedly poor performance on my part, I was not put off by the experience, he suggested I come out to this course in particular regularly. It was great advice, because if you can play this course well, you'll be handle any other course in the bay area with a reasonable degree of confidence.
Nothing feels quite like putting everything you got into making a disc go as far as possible, and Stafford gives you plenty of opportunities to do just that-and right from the get-go! Hole 1 requires your first throw to be massive, regardless of the pin position. And if you read through all the reviews to get to this one, you've heard more than enough about hole 9.
I finally got to play the course for the first time after they did some serious mowing, and oh, what a difference that makes! The grass gets really tall, and it's a given that at some point, you'll be disc-hunting. This course claimed 2 of my Katanas (one, the day after I bought the $%&# disc!!)
I HIGHLY recommend this course, and when going for the first time, try and go with someone who has been there before. It'll make the experience much better!
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Cream of the Bay Area Crop
19 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: The Stafford Lake course is located at the back of a huge semi-wilderness park which offers hilltop views of the surrounding landscape and quiet solitude (at least on the winter day we visited). You might think you are in a backcountry area through much of this course; wildlife abounds here - we saw many little critters roaming the fairways along with a herd of deer (& a young buck!), wild turkey, and several large hawks up above.
Holes range from completely open to moderate woods and shots off the tee are extremely varied - this course won't "make" you throw a particular type of shot, the multiple options on the tee usually allow the player to play to his or her strengths. However, there are holes where particular shots are really going to maximize your opportunities for birdie and holes which require some planning before tee-off. You'll also find several really challenging par 4's and a par 5 and even a 'gimme' par 3 or two depending on pin locations.
Hole 3 is a prime example of the kind of great golf out here. You tee from high on a sloping hillside across a small depression and down into a large undulating field. There isn't much to get in the way yet so you can really open up and launch one. If you've put some muscle behind your drive and have landed somewhere within the landing area, you will be looking at another 300-400' slightly uphill approach through moderate woods which force you to throw one of three approach lines. The really huge arms may be able to launch a huge spike or tomahawk over the protecting tress. The rest of us will be looking at a low ceiling RHBH turnover, long sidearm, or roller to avoid the guard trees while still working up the slight incline towards the pin. Snatch a birdie 3 here and you'll have something to remember no matter how the rest of the round treats you.
Pros: Skill level - The course has definitely been designed with the elite/gold player in mind. Many of the par 4 holes require placement shots of 400+ feet (equivalent flat distance) and then approaches which range from 200-400 feet depending on elevation and tree coverage. This all creates a course where gold level players will rarely find themselves wanting for situations where their skill will be adequately rewarded. Several holes require planning not just off the tee but also into 2nd drives and approach shots and many holes offer multiple distinct routes (with unique risks) off the tee. Those at mid-range skill levels will still find plenty of opportunities to test their skills, although some birdies will probably be out of range due to the sheer distance of a few of the multishot holes.
Navigation - Even for first-time players with no guidance, we very easily were able to find our way around this course. The flow is mostly very natural and logical. The one hole which we were initially baffled by and I'm sure many others before us was hole 2. The teebox here is elevated and faces a massive wall of trees, you would expect a basket at the bottom of the hill, but a quick check of the tee sign told us that the hole length was much too long for this. After a bit of scouting we found that the hole throws directly over this intimidating wall to the pin out in an open hillside past the line of trees. A very unique and memorable hole to say the least.
Maintenance/Baskets/Tees - Nice grippy concrete (even when a little wet) and Mach III's which were all in great shape. The course was pretty much trash free and while not "groomed", it looked as good as I think you would ever expect with a course so large. Stafford is definitely well cared for!
Aura - We played on a somewhat drizzly winter day and were able to really enjoy the solitude that the course has to offer. With the quiet and calm, it was almost like hiking rather than a regular disc golf round. I'd be interested to see how the feel of the course changes on a busy summer weekend.
Cons: Some might consider the walk from the parking lot to the first hole as a con but I think this probably helps keep the park less crowded and also allows disc golf to be the sole activity in this area of the park. That said, you'll probably want to be at least a little in shape to enjoy the course and score well here because of the hills and walking required.
I would probably not bring a true beginner to this course unless they were generally very patient and already excited about the game. It is mostly open which helps for beginners, but the hills, hole distances, and a couple of holes (e.g., #2) will probably prove very frustrating.
Other Thoughts: This course is definitely a must-play and qualifies as a destination course in my opinion. Add in Golden Gate park which is not very far away and you've got the cornerstone of a really nice disc golf road trip. Out of the nearly 400 courses I've played thus far, Stafford Lake earns a spot in my top 15.
19 of 23 people found this review helpful.
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