13 Helpful / 1 Not
Incredible Course: Must Play
Pros: This course rates a 4.5 for me, even considering all the substantial cons (see below). That should illustrate how incredibly the pros outweigh the cons, and how good this course's best traits really are.
Set on a large northern facing mountainside south of Stafford Lake lies some of the best disc golf holes ever devised. The mountainside exhibits multiple alluvial fans that accumulated by ancient erosion, were then uplifted by tectonic motions (the San Andreas fault is nearby to the west) and subsequently incised by creeks and rivulets to form multiple staircases, mini-valleys, and protrusions to play on, over, and through.
There are a wide variety of holes to play. The holes are mostly open, however, the tree stands that do exist are well incorporated into several holes that play around and through them. Some of the mountainside holes like #2 offer interesting and unique challenges for lofting high shots with the danger of runaway fade down slope.
What makes this place special for me is that there are some holes that simply could no exist in many other courses on Earth. Examples are the super long hole 9 with its beautiful open fairway, or the long dowhill shots at holes like 6. Simply beautiful in a pure disc golf way, these epic holes will be burned into your mind forever.
A course map is available online, and with this in hand I had no problems whatsoever in finding my way around the course. The markings are often very nice, and you can certainly tell that a lot of love has been put into this place.
Cons: Mud tee pads are present on some of the holes. It is impossible to get foot traction for your drives on these holes, so you just have to shoot for par instead of going for that birdie. Be careful not to slip and hurt yourself on the wooden sides of these mud pit tees.
The hillside can be muddy and slick on some of the holes. Hole 1 is a great example, where you have to throw up a steep slope to the basket on an unstable and slick slope, making par almost completely impossible. You might want to skip these holes if it is particularly wet (e.g., for several weeks after any rain).
Lack of facilities near the course itself make it less desirable, especially for women to play long rounds where full bladders might be inevitable.
Pay to park. OK, it's only $5 and that money goes to park upkeep and maintenance and all that good stuff, but if you played here often it would probably become annoying.
There is a modest walk from the parking lot to the first tee, about 10 minutes. Not a bad walk, by any means, but the course is definitely set away from the more civilized portions of the park.
The ranger shoos everyone out of the park well before sunset. This is kind of annoying since daylight is so precious to us disc golfers, especially in the winter months.
Other Thoughts: Hole #6 is simply incredible. No power is needed to throw down this steep slope, just put a good little snap on the disc for stability and let it sail down the mountainside toward the basket which lies on the peninsula-shaped protrusion and flat area that juts out the side of the mountain about 150 ft below the tee. A mature tree line backs the basket, but treeless steep slopes lie along the sides so a great run at the basket may well skip down yet another hill.
We found a nice gem just down the road from Stafford Lake: Tagliaferri's Delicatessen 2051 Novato Boulevard, Novato, CA 94947. Stop by and pick up a sandwich for you round, or some homemade pastas or raviolis for dinner on your way out. You'll notice some Stafford Lake stamped discs on the wall near the bathrooms.
People will naturally be interested in comparing this course to DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz. They both come out as phenomenal in my rating. While Stafford Lake simple has some of the best holes in all of disc golf, DeLa has a better situated property, better maintenance, and a more consistently designed course. Play them both and decide for yourself!
13 of 14 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
-unique course. mostly open with good use of the scattered giant trees there, and big open meadows.
-loooooong holes seem perfect for the area. its cool to watch your disc sailing over the rolling hills. you can choose whatever line you please and let it fly most of the time.
-the view from almost anywhere on the course is awe inspiring.
-we were one of 2-3 groups out there on a beautiful weekend day in april.
-our first time through we spent little extra time searching for tees.
-top of the world (#6) is right up there with Whistler's top of the world shot now that its been moved farther uphill, 3, 9, 14 (monster tee) and 17 (long) are huuuuge too... 600+ with plenty of wind all 4 trips i've made.
-pay to park, but you can park up the road a couple hundred yards and walk in if you forgot cash or whatever. then ask the guy at the gate for directions. they were cool with parking outside and walking in.
-small amount of trees makes some of the holes feel redundant due to lack of obstacles. mostly trees with grass. i prefer accuracy to distance, though.
-this is a truly incredible course. from the setting, huge distances on the holes seem to reflect the expansive views. we saw deer, wild turkeys, hawks, a fox. an epic experience. This course has more open bombs than wooded shots, but thats what the landscape calls for and the course was integrated perfectly into it. I can't imagine any way to improve this course.
-i had this course rated a 4.5, but have since vastly improved my distance and control when driving in windy conditions, which makes me feel more in touch with what the course calls for, bringing it to a perfect 5.
-it has been pretty windy every time i've been there. missed lots of 15 footers :/
-all nice concrete tee pads now of satisfying size, contradictory to the pictures you see here.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Gorgeous area,very challenging,great elevation changes,very dynamic wind,multiple tees (on some holes),multiple pin positions (on all holes),mowing and weed wacking are well kept up (these days)
Cons: Not all tees are concrete(yet),extremely rough on rec players,if you cant get out to around 400 its going to be fairly hard to score well,the hike can be pretty taxing if you're not in good shape
Other Thoughts: this is a great course to go out and really work on airing out some big distance lines, some of the holes that stick out as the best are, #1 this is a daunting uphill shot that at its longest position is around 500 feet with over 100 feet of elevation!, #6 (long tee) this newly built long tee has transformed one on the highlights of the course into one of the highlights of CA disc golf, located a good hundred feet up the hill behind the original tee it turns what was already a tough and fun extremely downhill shot into the biggest elevation shot ive seen anywhere,#9 1000 footer with just a couple of well placed trees along the fairway, a tough 4 and rarely seen 3, #14 (long tee) in the 5 to 7 hundred foot range(depending on pin position) with the elevation to carry you there if thrown right, #17 big shot playing both down and along the side of a huge hill that usually plays into a considerable headwind
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Beautiful views, very quiet, very challenging,multiple pins and tees.
Cons: No water or restrooms on course.
Other Thoughts: Loved this course. People who aren't in good shape, expect steep hills, with lots of hiking. Took about 3 hours to play. When you get to the first tee, you'll get an idea of what your in for.
This time of year, bring several towels onto the course as the short grass is wet.
No water or bathrooms on the course, so bring water will you. As for the bathrooms, very clean nice ones at the parking lot. So do your # 2"s before leaving.
Don't recomend this course to beginners, unless your ready to walk long distance's to get your disc. Holes 3,6,17, are awesome holes, but if you leave your throw to high, expect walking way, I mean way down hill to get your disc and throw way back up to get to the basket.
Hole 9 is 1000' long and is the only hole with a slight downgrade and has plenty of room to throw.It's wide open. Golf course is on your right so just stay left alittle and enjoy throwing as hard as you can. I made it in 5.
Lot's of the tee pads shown in the photo's are now concrete pads instead of dirt. Saw deer, and a huge flock of wild turkey's while playing. So peaceful, such great view's, can't wait to throw this course again. It's a must course for your list to play.......
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
I can't wait to come back!
Pros: Beautiful area, well maintained (brush is fairly well cleared for play AND environmentally the course has very good erosion control measures A++!), a great work out, unique, takes advantage of topography and vegetation to make great holes, great hole diagrams with aerial photos, multiple tees and baskets, very friendly locals (the best sign of a good course), The oak trees are absolutely gorgeous. I am very impress by the erosion control and the environmentally conscious management of this course.
Cons: Playing solo for the first time is hard. Many holes seems like disc eaters but are actually OK if you know the course. It isn't free, course closes at 5pm in winter (locked gates!!! booo!), Even with a map I couldn't find some holes, little directions to the next tee pad
Other Thoughts: Getting to the course can be confusing. Follow the road until the unpaved parking area, and walk along the dirt road through the field (about a 200 yard walk to the tee). Get a map!
I had less than 2 hours to play this course so I had to skip some holes and play conservative to not lose discs and time... but I was blown away by the character of this course. The next time I am anywhere near it I will make a point to play it again. The locals were super friendly, hang around long enough and you can find an experienced group to play with,
This course is definitely worth $5.
I am used to playing at 6300ft so watching my discs soar down the big hills with massive right hand bends was soooooo fun!!!!
Head Wind + elevation drop = ???? FUN!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: very tecnical with some great elevation shots. Only course I have played with a 1000+ ft shot on it. Beautiful area, especially in the spring.
Cons: Grass can get tall in spring, so really spot your disc, you have to pay to park,
Other Thoughts: overall a nice course, especially if you are looking for a workout.
3 of 10 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Humbling, but fun!
Pros: I have only been playing for 2 months and had only played the course in San Francisco. The guys at the first tee told me that the course will be very humbling, and boy was he right! It's a great course in a massive park and the holes are long. I shot a legit 8 on the 1000+ foot hole and was happy. If you're looking for a very good hike with lots of elevation changes this is your course.
Cons: Poison oak is every where and I mean every where! If you throw a disc into a patch of poison oak you're gonna be in big trouble.
I spent at least 40 minutes of my day searching for the tee box on several holes. I would really be nice of there was some type of marker that would direct you to the next tee.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 10 Not
Worth the walk!
Pros: Challenging. Multiple Pins and Tees. Scenic.
Cons: Parking fee. No water or restrooms on course.
Other Thoughts: Use spotter on blind shots, especially Hole 2. Tall grass in spring; Pick a line to the disc.
1 of 11 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: Good fun! Puts forth a challange. The place is well mapped out.
Cons: Pay $5 parking fee.
Other Thoughts: Worth the drive, make a day out of this place, it's one of the best in the area.
3 of 13 people found this review helpful.
18 Helpful / 3 Not
Challenging and Distinctive NorCal Course
Pros: Natural setting, views, length, layout.
Cons: Tall, sticky grass.
Other Thoughts: This was the first course I played in California and it is a whole different game. It's like playing disc golf on the classic Marin/Sonoma county cattle farm, with tall, sticky grass, steep hills, beautiful views from many tees, and a lot of hiking instead of merely walking. This course requires some skills I'm otherwise not usually asked for in my disc golfing experience, especially along the lines of throwing up steep hills or along the sides of steep hills, but I love it anyway.
While Novato seems like a basic suburb, this course is kind of out in the country. You have to park the car and start walking, across two big fields before finding hole #1 many hundreds of yards away from the parking lot (bear left - there's a path there). The first time I played this course, I hiked up the steep hill to find the basket, caught my breath, and proceeded to throw my disc only halfway up because I had no experience throwing up anything like that kind of incline. The first few holes are equally challenging. I tell you though, the view from hole two and onward of Stafford Lake and the surrounding countryside are as cool as anything I've seen on disc golf course. Those first few holes require uphill throws, throws into thick trees, throws along the sides of this steep hill, and #6 is a great hole down a steep hill. 400 feet and I fly the whole way. This course is a whole different challenge, and it is real fun and good exercise too.
You should be able to follow this course without too much trouble. Not wanting to hike uphill needlessly gets me to pay extra close attention to the map. You may have to spend some extra time looking for discs in the tall grass too - I noticed locals using spotters. This course has dirt tee-pads, but they are leveled out and plenty long. This was the first course I played where the legitimate par was higher than 54 - #9 is 1000 ft+ for instance. #6 and #17 are among the coolest holes I've ever played and the rest of the course is pretty crazy too. But it is different - the long grass and uphill shots make it a different game really, than I'm used to, and it's not really fair to compare it to most of the other courses I've played. I can't wait to play it again.
Favorite Hole - #6 - long, long shot down gradual, open hill, with a tremendous view of Stafford Lake from the tee.
18 of 21 people found this review helpful.
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