10 Helpful / 4 Not
Stafford Lake-One Of Cali's Finest!
Pros: Stafford Lake is a county park ($6 week day, $8 week-end) located in the foothills of Marin County about a 30 minute drive north of San Francisco. This is a large sprawling park with a lake/reservoir which is often visible in the distance from locatuions on the course.
From the far parking lot, it is about a 1/4 hike slightly uphill to the # 1 tee box. There you will find a kiosk with great maps and other pertinent course information. Bring lots of water, snacks, sun protection and sturdy shoes. This is no walk in the park! We played in probably the ugliest time of the year here, late August, when everything was the driest and brownest and the hottest. # 1 plays up the side of the hill probably 300 feet requiring the afore mentioned massive arm which I don't have. The brown grass was incredibly slippery and hard to even walk up. I start with a double bogey. # 2 is one of the many holes requiring a spotter. Probably having a spotter on 10-12 holes is a good idea. I would say this course plays to an elite/gold player level. The tee pads are extra long for that extra long run off required. # 6' s "Top of the World" shot is great fun. The previously mentioned 1049' long # 9 is actually, IMO, a fairly managable par 4 seeing how it is fairly wide open ( a tree or two) and slightly downhill all the way. # 17 is another great downhill bomb 534' with a hyser to a basket visible in the trees. There is a great variety of shots required. Often you need to be planning your second while throwing your first. This is not the course to bring your girlfriend for her first experience (disc golfing that is).
Cons: The $6 or $8 it cost to pay although this keeps the casual players off the course. Probably the distance from the population centers. The high grass in season. The elevation, the wind, the general difficulty and challenge (both physical and golf) being greater than the skill and physical capibilities of many of us. The many blind holes. That trudge back to the parking lot at the end of the round.
Other Thoughts: Although beautiful in it's own right, in my humble opinion, it doesn't quite match Lake Casitas in the natural beauty department. I also don't feel the design and challenge are quite up there with De La and Lake Casitas either. Don't get me wrong. I think it's a great course, I just rate it a hair behind those two great Cali courses with Ryan's Ranch coming on strong. They all play to the same type of big armed type advanced players.
10 of 14 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 4 Not
Scenic, Long, Rough
Pros: - Epic Elevation Shots
- Beautiful scenery
- Length (1000 footer!!)
- Detailed Tee Signs
Cons: - Extremely rough, high sticky grass with no real fairways, bring a spotter or you'll lose some discs
- Blind holes (12 holes from the pro tees)
- Wind, part of the game but kills the long holes
- Difficulty: I wouldn't recommend it for a casual player.
Other Thoughts: I liked this course but think it's a little overrated. The shots are fun but the wind/elevation/vegetation/blindness make things very risky. If you have a big game and want to play on some CA hills, go play it but be ready for some rough grass and some wind.
5 of 9 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 3 Not
Needed a guide for sure
Pros: Beautiful setting. The course is completely separate from the rest of the park. The course gives you plenty of challenges and requires you to use each disc/shot in your bag. It is always fun when you need to be able to throw a tomahawk or forehand in order to play a course. The course gives you beautiful views of the mountains and the lake as the course is set up on the side of a hill with a decent amount of elevation. The tee pads on this course were probably one of the nicest sets of tee pads I have ever played on. They had plenty of run-up space and gave you a lot of grip. When you entered the park, you were given a scorecard and a brochure from the guard as to where you should go, but the scorecard and brochure was something I thought was really cool. It was also kind of neat to see a variety of wildlife on the course such as deer, turkey vultures, and rabbits and such. Number 6 was definitely my favorite as it is a beautiful shot straight downhill from close to the top of a big hill.
Cons: $10 is ridiculous. Now, I imagine that if I had a guide with me, or someone who has played this course, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Having said that, this course was incredibly difficult to follow in my opinion. My wife and I couldn't even find where to go for the first hole. If some people didn't come by that were also going to the course, we would have been clueless. Once we arrived to the first tee, we saw that each hole will basically have a couple different sets of tees, and that there could be up to four different pin positions. I wouldn't mind this, except on the first few holes where you couldn't see the pin, the spinning thing which told you where the basket was, was incorrect and it was frustrating. I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but when the course states that there is a no smoking policy, people should probably follow it, but of course the three guys that come up behind us were all smoking, and drinking, and just had a lack of respect for the game/course. Considering Cali's fire permits and burn bans, I would expect a little more.
Other Thoughts: I think that this is a great course, and would definitely play it again if I'm ever out that way again in Cali. I finished two over par for the day with it being the first time I ever played there. I think that with a little better signage as to where you should go for the next hole, and a better way to distinguish were the pin is, it would be a 4 or 4.5 course.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: I won't re-hash too much of what has already been said of this course, but there are few things DG tourists like me shuld know.
First great thing to know if that you are in the hills of CA and it is beautiful. The small lake at the base of the course doesn't hurt either.
Second thing to know is that the course is well separated from the rest of the park. You will be in your own world.
Great variety of shots needed, and great use of elevation. After all that's why you go to Stafford. There is also some excellent basket positions in the trees. This isn't just a course with hills. Basket positions are used to add even more difficulty to the course.
Nice concrete tee pads. Multiple tee pads and/or multiple basket positions. Good maps at tee pads, and they even use the screw and washer system to indicate current basket position.
I played a Saturday morning and virtually had the course to myself. Nice surprise for such a well known course. I did see one other group show up as I was about half way through my round.
Cons: Several blind shots. Due to the elevation and trees there are some tee pads that you either need a spotter, or need to walk down the fairway to figure out the shot. Probably becomes less of a con as you learn the course.
Grass. This Spring has been wet in NorCal so the grass is high. Budget cuts also mean that it doesn't get mowed as much. There was 1-2 feet of grass over most of the course. Plan on spending some time locating your discs. I played solo, but you'd be much better off playing with a buddy and helping each other locate the discs.
Long walk from parking lot to the course.
Other Thoughts: Great course. I was not disappointed even after the hype. Tough, long holes. You throw uphill, downhill, over trees, under trees. You even have a couple holes that let you air it out. All in all there isn't much to complain about with Stafford. This is definitely a destination course. Just remember it gets hot in CA in the summer, and this course has some decent climbs.
I guess my only other thought as a noodle-armed Easterner is that they had the basket in all the long positions since some guy named Schultz was showing up to play tomorrow. I don't know if it's Sgt Schultz or the guy that has signed a few of my discs, but those long positions just plain kicked my backside. Thanks for that Schultzy! If you want a nice challenge both physically and golfwise then get to Stafford while the basket are long. You aren't going to get many birdies, but it will humble you, and let you see how good you really are.
13 of 16 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.
3 Helpful / 2 Not
WOW, what a course
Pros: Challenging, long, elevation changes, beautiful, scenic, wildlife. Many options of strategy on many holes. Did I say challenging?
Cons: Middle of nowhere. Grass was super long this time of year, too much time looking for discs. It starts you off uphill for the first few holes and they are challenging, don't get discouraged though, there's alot you'll love later in the round.
Other Thoughts: Absolutely need to run down the trail to check terrain and location of many holes. I thought I had a good idea from the very helpful descriptions for each hole but once I went to look for my disc I was suprised by what I hadn't seen from the tee. If I had it to do over again I'd play it twice the first visit. It's that interesting...
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: What a beautiful park! We played in the late winter/early spring, the grass was green and lush and the park was gorgeous. The course plays on a ridge/mountainside, providing tons of elevation change both up and down hill. Great views of the lake/reservoir from up on the hillside. The first tee is a good quarter mile hike from the nearest parking area, this helps to isolate the course in its own section of the park. I was impressed with the serenity of the park, we played on a Friday morning and for most of our round we had the course entirely to ourselves. The only time you encounter non-DGers is alongside hole 9, where the course butts up against a ball golf course. Very secluded and very beautiful. I know I haven't said anything about the course itself, but the setting is just that fantastic.
This is a long, mostly open, very hilly course. The challenge comes not from narrow, tree lined fairways, but from distance and elevation change. That's not to say that there are no trees, far from it. A few of the holes have enough trees to force you to shape a particular line, but most give you the option of multiple flight paths. This course can play very long (hole 9, for example is over 1000' and basically flat). The length plus the massive elevation changes make playing this course feel more like a hike in the mountains than a stroll in the park (this is definitely a plus in my book, but be prepared). This course features multiple tees on many holes and multiple basket sleeves on all or almost all holes. The tee signs are some of the best that I have seen, with a overhead map plus distance and elevation gain/loss for every combination. With that being said first timers should print out a map and scorecard from the links/files tab. Stafford Lake features one of the most famous "Top of the World" holes ever, the monster hole 5 long. It's a steep hike up, and the tee isn't perfect (all the other tee pads are big concrete, but you will quickly see why this one is still natural), but the payoff more than makes up. Seeing pictures of this hole is what made me want to play this course in the first place. The short tee is a nice downhill shot, but the long is just awesome. It feels like you could hit the lake in the distance, you are that high up. Stafford is by no means a one trick pony though, the rest of the holes are varied and for the most part fun.
Cons: There isn't much negative to say about this course. Hole 9 seemed a bit excessive in the length department, but I don't throw much more than 300' so big arms will have a different point of view. It's not a course for beginners. Although there isn't a whole lot of rough to lose a disc in, the distances of some holes will quickly frustrate noobs. The only thing that I think this course is missing would be a true tunnel/alley shot.
Other Thoughts: While in Novato stop at Moylan's for a beer, its right off the 101. They have good in house brewed craft beers with a decent variety of styles, the food was good to, kinda pricey though. After playing this course I started checking out real estate prices in Novato, its that good! Prices are not in my ballpark unfortunately. I can't wait for my next trip to the bay area so I can play this gem again.
14 of 19 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 3 Not
Weekdays are the best!
Pros: Multiple pin positions, which seem to change pretty often, make this course new and interesting every time I come. (this was my second time here,)
All of the tee's are large, concrete pads, most of which have brooms nearby. (all but the long tee for hole 5, which is dirt.)
The course isn't heavily wooded but trees frequently shape the play. All except hole11. There, both the long and short tees make for some nice tunnel shots.
There are quite a few holes which offer long bomb opportunities. Hole 6 is well known but 3, 7, 9, 14, and 17, all have long downhill drives which are awesome.
The split of holes, as to weather they favored lefties or righties, is pretty equal, with a few holes where overhand shots just work better. That is to say,
I have to throw every shot I can, and a few I cant.
The fairways seem to be mowed for fire abatement, but not often. There were some pretty deep patches of grass, but most of it was only slightly overgrown.
Lost discs werent a problem.
It all shows that this park is well taken care of.
No trash seen.
The course would be a nice hike. Even if it wasn't a course. This place is gorgeous!
Cons: Poison oak seems pretty heavy on 2,4 and 5. It's all over but really doesnt come into play often outside of these holes. I think 16 also had a bush right by the basket. I do have issues with the 'oak', but this course is worth playing anyway.
Hole 16 has an old Oak tree with long branches, framing your shot off the tee, There is a large bees nest in the branches above your shot. Dont hit it!
Another con, i suppose, is that this course banned smoking completely after a couple of fires last year. (I do smoke, and just have to deal with it) This course is too sweet to be removed due to something as dumb as cigarettes. Seriously!
Other Thoughts: I can imagine that this place gets pretty backed up on the weekends due to the length, and speed of play. I've only gone on Mondays, and have seen maybe 15 people playing total over two trips. This adds a lot to the park because of all the wildlife you see. I've seen groups of deer and turkeys sitting in the way on the fairways. Thought it was a nice touch. (no we didnt throw at them!)
I havent played that many courses, but I know what I like. This place is fun to play.
A rabbit, sitting 10 inches from where your disc came to rest, under a tree, Priceless!
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
19 Helpful / 4 Not
Cream of the Bay Area Crop
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.
10 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This course has so many jaw-droppingly stunning holes, at least 4 or 5 holes would be signature holes anywhere else.
Tremendous variety in distance with holes ranging from 200' to 1000'.
Course pushes you to use every shot in your bag, dog legs, places for overhead shots, holes where you need pinpoint accuracy as well as a few wide open holes to really let loose.
The changes in elevation made every drive exiting.
Multiple tee pads that really change the flavor of each hole.
Many holes have as many as 5 different pin placements, often spanning as much as a 200' range in distance.
Great new concrete tee pads on every hole, very level, large and with nice ridges at the end of the pads for extra traction.
Maps on the first tee, as well as an informative kiosk and great tee signs diagramming tees and different positions, there were also wheels on each sign showing the current position.
Course is kept in great shape, paths were good and I didn't see any trash anywhere on the course.
Hole #6 from the extended position is a fantastic top-of-the-world hole from the extended tee, #17 comes up as a close second also playing 60' down the side of a large hill.
Amazing natural beauty, just walking the course would be a great visual experience.
Cons: Walkout from the parking lot to hole #1.
The course could have used a few holes with some thicker foliage.
Other Thoughts: Playing Stafford Lake for the first time on my trip through California was one of those truly breath-taking disc golf experiences. The first thing that you find is some really intense natural beauty, nestled in giant rolling meadows with towering Bay Oak trees, the course would be a pleasure just to walk let alone disc golf. The course has clearly been taken care of well by the local disc golf club, everything from the tee signs with the pin position indicators to the kiosk at the parking lot and on the first tee just exuded professionalism. I tried to find any real issues with the course but I wasn't able to find any, most of the problems I read in previous posts seem to have been fixed, like the spacious new concrete tee pads in place. With all the variation in pin positions and tee boxes I can see how a course like Stafford might never get old for local players. I would heartily recommend this as a must see stop on any disc golfing trip through California and my only regret was not playing this course sooner.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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