Pros: Huge layout, decent workout hike. lots of alternate tees and baskets. Huuge bombing 1000' and short technical aceables. Extra 5 precision holes between 4 and 5 makes it 23. Seemingly impossible holes you can eventually figure out. Rarely crowded, even more rare are pedestrians since its the far side of the lake.
Cons: I think most cons are part of the charm. Extreme difficulty, difficult to follow if you've never played the course. Spotters frequently needed. Long walk from parking lot. For me these add to the course but I know sometimes people won't like these features!
Other Thoughts: This is my home course for 6 years now but I started playing this course in about 1998 or so.
This has been a 23 hole course for a couple of years (4a through 4e) so I'm not sure why there is a statement that it is 18. It's now secret!
Stafford Lake - One of the Best in the West!
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Nestled in the hills of Novato, Stafford Lake is one of the premier places to play in California due to its beauty, remote location, and challenge. The course continuously plays up and down hillsides, incorporating a variety of natural obstacles along the way. Tall grass lines the fairways, with groves of trees scattered throughout. Stafford Lake itself sits below the course and is the backdrop for the entire round. Wildlife flourishes in the area, with wild turkey, lizards, raptors, deer, wildcats, etc., roaming the land making for a visually pleasing and exciting round!
Big arm throwers will have an advantage here, but accurate throwers with good placement can save strokes along the way. Stafford Lake has a handful of wooded holes (the letter holes between holes 4&5) which add a refreshing technical aspect to what is an otherwise open course. It gives players a chance to grab a few birdies before getting back to those longer and more grueling holes. Smart play can often times beat power and distance if you can stay on the fairway and sink your putt!
Par for the course is 58, with two Par 4's and one Par 5. At over 6,600', this course plays long. Each hole has multiple pin positions and excluding the letter holes, dual tee pads. Signage provides images of local animals, par, distance, and pin locations. However, when the grass is not cut navigation can be difficult. If possible, try playing with someone familiar with the course to help with the speed of play.
Stafford Lake is known as a "pros" course. Intermediate and advanced players will experience a lot of pleasure but also pain. How much pain however, depends on your conditioning and mental fortitude. Due to constant elevation and sloped fairways/greens, discs can pick up and roll away. If you're lucky, it won't end up 50' downhill or in a patch of poison oak. Wind and heat can also play a major factor depending on the season and/or time of day. Bring lots of water, tissue, food, and sunscreen as the only restrooms and tables are near parking lot. The walk to the first tee is ¼ mile but a nice warm up in my opinion. Print off a map as navigation can be tricky at times and be prepared for the round to take a while due to the terrain. There is also a park fee of $8/M-F or $10/ Sat-Sun but again, I am more than happy to pay to play on a course as amazing as this one. If I was a local I would just pony up and buy an annual parks pass.
The course sits perfectly in the middle of San Fran and Napa, making it the ideal spot for a quick day trip whether you're visiting from the city or the wine country. Growing up near Santa Cruz, I spent most my time playing De La and Hellyer. After 20 years of living in Cali, I moved to the Pacific Northwest but always felt saddened and a bit guilty that I had never played Stafford. I always said next time but never found the time. This time I did! My best friend and I flew down from Seattle and played a bunch of courses including De La, of course, but also Stafford. I was so happy that I could finally mark this course played as it instantly became an all time favorite!
Other must plays in the area: Golden Gate Park, Skyline, De LaVeaga
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Not for the faint of heart
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: This course is just incredible. I have played at a lot of courses, but even if you only play here once, you will remember it for the beautiful views and intense variation.
The location seems pretty remote, I was here on a lovely Saturday afternoon and there were maybe 3 or 4 groups on the course at any time.
Cons: Not beginner friendly... At all. If you are not experienced at disc golf, I'd recommend keeping your discs in the bag and being the water boy.
You may lose a disc, unfortunately. Try to keep it in the fairway. Leave your first run Champion Ape at home.
The reason I haven't given it a 5 is that the course layout can be a little unfair. Hole 1 is literally straight up a hill, 450 feet. My arm nearly fell off by the time I reached hole 2.
Other Thoughts: This course is an extreme challenge. I found my way out here one day while on a work trip and I was lucky enough to play along with another friendly group. In my two holes of playing alone I nearly stepped on a snake (hole 1, basking in the sun) and saw a ton of poison oak. It wasn't a rattlesnake, but I do believe they're around. That said, play alone at your own risk.
Also, I have a hard time understanding the complaints about the $5-10 fee. This is one of the very best disc golf courses in the entire world. Those who have played it are lucky to have experienced it in their lifetime. I'm trying to imagine what I'd rather spend $5 on.
You will be tired at the end of the day... This is a day long experience. Bring a camera.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Stunning views, variety of shots needed, length, elevation, wildlife..
Cons: $10 per car on the weekend
Other Thoughts: Listen to the course discription.. it is VERY hilly with significant elevation change and poison oak everywhere. The views are amazing and feel like you are in the middle of a different country. We made the trip up from San Diego and there is nothing like this down there. This course tested my power, shot shaping, and creativity. it was a lot of fun. However, two days later and I am still extremely sore from the hike!
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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.
Best Course in the Bay Area
2 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: -Absolutely beautiful course
-good mixture of bomber shots and technical
-the extra 5 holes really add to the technical aspect of this course.
-top of the world is cool , top top of the world is Awesome
Cons: -A lot of PO
-Can be pretty brutal to play in the sumer time.
Other Thoughts: 100% a destination course.
This in my opinion is not a beginner course,
Be sure to bring plenty of water because this is a work out for sure.
This is my favorite course in the bay area hands down.
It was sad and some what hurtful to see the lake diminish last year in 2014 but and I am so excited and to see it filled up again!
2 of 8 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.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course is an epic destination spot for playing, especially if you are a gold lever player or a top pro looking to challenge your game. There are many opportunities for long bombs off the tee and this is required in order to score well. You will be throwing a lot of uphill and downhill throws, with great variety in the shape of your shot as well. Landing areas and the way you land is crucial to avoiding discs rolling away and there are many tricky basket locations that don't help you out on that front. Punishment off the fairway is decent.
There are both multiple basket locations and tee pads for even more variety here. I played the course with all short positions but I scouted out the middle and longer positions as well to concrete my rating and overall thoughts on the course as a traveling player, being as I am not a local and am not completely familiar with the course.
The par four hole and par five hole(s) have very defined fairways and landing areas with lots of good punishment for those not hitting the lines and landings. As an amateur the par five, hole nine hole was very difficult based solely on length but looks like a very good challenge for pros with obstacles that I didn't really have an issue with. The large tree in the middle of the fairway and the tree wall on the right make a top player have to choose a shot/line here where I could just 'throw down the middle' and be fine.
Make sure you play the long tee for hole number 14; this is a sort of "top of the world shot" that is highly underrated as a hole. Sure it may not be as open or as high up as the `Whistler's Bend' hole but it's a much better, challenging hole at least in the far position that I didn't get to play sadly. This is a great downhill shot without just being there for fun, it's also a good, hard hole...Giggity...
Cons: Its gets very hot and dry in this area during the Summer time and there are a lot of up and down hill walking in the heat with virtually no shade. Keeping with this theme there are some blind basket locations with require scouting before you throw. The grass can get very tall and make finding your throws much more difficult, I played it while this was the case. The new wooded section has poison oak all over it so bad when I was there that we didn't even want to go near those holes and only checked them out from a distance. $$$ It's a tad on the expensive side for some ($8 If I remember correctly) of those who want cheap golf. The long walk from the parking lot to the course is a bit of a hassle.
Other Thoughts: Each tee sign has a picture of something on it from a rabbit, deer, turkey, tick, etc. and every hole that had whatever picture on it we saw all of those the day we played. I got pictures of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, wild turkeys, lizards and the lake of course. I also got my first tick ever stuck to me and I freaked out a little as we don't really have much of those near the Seattle area.
The views are awesome, the golf is awesome and the wildlife is abundant and awesome and there is lots of it. I wouldn't take a brand new player here unless I hated them but other than that you should be playing this course! Seriously get off of the computer and go play!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
An epic disc golf journey
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This park has an abundance of beautiful scenery and wildlife. There is a great mix of long, short, uphill, downhill, open, closed, left doglegs and right doglegs. There are handful of holes that have some serious distance. This course will test your range of skill. Baskets, maps, and signage are very good. Tees are almost all concrete and are generally in very good shape
I finally got a chance to play the 'bonus' holes up the hill from 4. They've successfully filled in some design gaps with heavily wooded tight lines and tunnel shots. These holes really round out the course nicely and add shot variety that doesn't really exist in the original 18.
Cons: This course requires a lot of hiking in a hilly wilderness area. Pack in extra water and snacks. Wear pants and durable shoes to protect from burrs and poison oak. Despite coming prepared, I ended my round exhausted and dehydrated.
While I greatly appreciated the bonus holes, they were poorly marked and blanketed in poison oak. I grew very tired walking up and down hills scouting for tees and baskets.
Other Thoughts: This can be a tough course both physically and mentally. It's an epic slice of land where the course designers seem to have virtually unrestricted control over layout. This leads to some really spectacular and thoughtful layouts. If you're above beginner, give this course a try!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: This course was just amazing, don't really know where to start. Great views, great tee boxes, pocket maps at hole #1 for first timers like me, brooms at most if not all tee boxes.
Cons: Can be confusing on the basket you are throwing at on a few holes. Also someone new to the course may stumble on to the "extra holes" and wonder whats going on these are not on the map.
Other Thoughts: Very friendly fellow behind us that we let play through gave us a few tips for navigating the course, like the rabbit ears that hide a basket on a hole(a bush that almost looks like a rabbit head.
1 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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