great course! but not 4.5*
2 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: The course scenery is amazing the views of the lake and the surrounding wilderness is breathtaking. Hole six is amazing a massive downhill blast that is more fun than i can express watching the disc fly is awesome. you have to throw a variety of shots hyzers, a lot of straight shots, anhyzers. a lot of throws require a high throw to clear an obstacle then an abrupt stall with not a lot of fade(hole 2). You will want to look around for a "local's" route on a lot of holes, they are there. That is something I have always enjoyed doing. You can't throw lazy putts on this course if you don't make it and it lands on edge then you will be rolling a long way. You don't necessarily have to have a big arm on this course I can see the very accurate throwers eating this course up. Hole 13 is a well designed hole imo. Long hole with a small elevation gain on to a plateau then at about 375 ft off the tee it drops off to a semi guarded pin along the tree line. Hole 18 has an awesome route out to the left, there is a good rhbh route, but if you risk the small gap out to the left rhfh it's more direct to the pin. I don't mind pay to play if it keeps the jerks out. Bring your camera, the views and wildlife are worth the entrance fee alone, then you get to play a great course to boot.
For how much land is out there some of the holes are sandwiched together. it's no doubt to take advantage of tree clusters, but again there is a lot of land out there. Some of the holes are a little too easy. Hole 1, 2, 8, 9, and 10. I'm not implying I'm so feaking good or anything I'm a good am2 player, for example hole 10 is supposed to be a tunnel hit you gap type hole. The tunnel is quite large and the hole plays about 250. Tap in bird the first day and missed a 40 ft the second. There is a lot of Not A Golf Shot Holes here. Hole 4 short hole trees to the left and right. There is a gap up the Center the hole is up to the left under a large tree. im guessing most locals just throw a thumber over the first set of trees hit the tree the basket is under and hope there token plinkos its way to 10,000. I threw a steep fh anhyzer flex low and hard with a flat top fb, i was able to hit the gap flex out under the second tree and hit a deuce, but that would work maybe 20% of the time if that. There is a lot of luck involved on this course. it seems that the hardest holes also have the slanted greens. i hate having a great drive on a difficult hole then getting a roll away. also im a smoker and while all the signs say no smoking i still did, but i dont walk and smoke i smoke put the cig out then pack it in my bag. With all the signage why Am I picking up all the locals butts next to almost every teebox?
*don't bring a jacket you can't carry in your bag, some of the ground was frozen but had to take my jacket off by hole 5 from hiking.
*sorry to all the nice locals but the players we ran into were either the college kids with a backpack and more beers than discs or the arrogant top pro locals(in their minds) who wouldn't even give us the time of day. I'm not asking for a reach around here, just look me in the eyes: hows it going?, first time out here?, watch out for hole X the right can be tricky, have a good round. This didn't affect my rating of the course I could care less about the other people on the course, but you have to advertise you course and show some hospitality. Also be careful, I had my own lack of courtesy on hole 6 I was shooting from the higher pin a someone by himself was finishing out. I saw him walking out to the right past a teebox so I threw my drive he had left either his bag or a disc down the hill and was now coming back towards the teebox which is only about 100ft from the pin of 6. Just from seeing that my disc wasnt turning over as much as I wanted it to. I knew it was heading for that teebox. I yelled fore until it hit he saw it, but was still shocked by how close it was (about 15ft) you have to take your time on this course dont rush even if there are people behind you. Some tee boxes are too close to other pins and some pins are too blind to not take you time. All in all this course is a must play. In my limited experience this is one of the few courses that has the combination of space, elevation, scenery, local club (even though I didn't see them it's evident that a lot of people are taking a lot of time up keeping this course) to reach 4.5 stars. I gave a 3.5 which Is generous by my ratings If I could it would have been a 3.25 but it's closer to a 3.5 than a 3. I rate my home course a 3.5. Stop giving courses 5 stars. 5 is perfect and that doesn't exist! A good reworking of some of the holes i feel needs to at least be looked at. Finally get out to Stafford lake!
2 of 12 people found this review helpful.
A true gem!
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Set in a beautiful spot along a twisting rural road that could be seen in a luxury car commercial, the course starts out with ample parking, bathrooms and water, a nice practice basket area, then a warm up walk for 5 - 10 minutes to the first teepad. The 60 foot elevation hike in the last 50 yards to teepad 1 let's you know right away you're in for a workout.
A detailed sign map of the course with a stash of tri-fold glossy brochure scorecards greet you there, along with the nice concrete teepad with tee sign pointing out all the pin positions and current position, along with elevation change for each.
The course is very well maintained, and the scenery and wildlife is top notch. Mature oaks are everywhere, along with wild turkeys, jackrabbits, deer, ground squirrels, mice, vultures and hawks, etc.
The variety of holes gives the feeling of an adventure, wanting to see what's next, rather than just playing a bunch of non-descript holes. Combined with the multiple pin positions (up to 5 on some holes) that are changed around regularly, the course plays differently every time, so each trip back is a new experience with new challenges.
Every hole has its own character, with a great mix of hyzer, anhyzer, uphill, side of hill, downhill bomb, roller, and open and wooded holes. Hole 6 is one of the coolest downhill bombs anywhere, with the lake and hills backdrop that is postcard material.
Other than occasional bad luck roll-aways, the course is very fair and rewards precision placement shots and good drives, and can punish errant throws pretty badly, with a few OB's sprinkled in to keep you honest. Your putting game will be tested, with many steep hillside placements that can make or break your round.
Baskets are all Mach III's in good shape, fairways and greens are all well defined, and the hike to play the course will test your physical endurance as well as your mental game.
Cons: Not beginner friendly due to rugged hilly nature of the course and the challenging holes.
As with most Northern California courses, it can get very hot and dry in the summer which results in some bad rollaways. Bring lots of water!
Wish it were 27 holes since there is plenty of land for it. Maybe someday...
Other Thoughts: This is a must play destination course for anyone looking for what CA disc golf should be.
The mature oaks in rolling hilly terrain with abundant wildlife, combined with the beautifully laid out course with good signage, great teepads, and nice baskets make this a great time, no matter if you're throwing well or having a tough round.
An absolute gem that is rarely crowded and that I try to play a few times a year.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
a must play. one of the best
Pros: -long and short distance tees
-good mixture of tee length and elevation changes
-grills for BBQ and making a fun day trip with family and friends
-some tricky shots but nothing too crazy that you feel like you might lose a disc
-amazing scenery and great weather
-plenty of "green bowl" holes
-close to a great grocery store
-no waiting to play, its far enough to where it keeps large amounts of people off the course.
-multiple hole locations
Cons: -not enough garbage cans
-can be pretty muddy well after a rain
-pay to play
-last time i went the hole numbers on the baskets were all facing the wrong direction
Other Thoughts: remember to use your phone to take a picture of the map so you can refer to it to navigate the course. the couse is pretty straight forward but first or second timers might want to keep this in mind.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Thank you, Stafford Lake!
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -Layout. Wonderful use of space that NEVER felt repetitive.
-Views are amazing.
-Elevation, flora, and landscape give the impression that a great deal of thought went into this course. No tee or basket feels accidentally or awkwardly placed.
-Parking and a nice walk in. Be thankful for the walk. You'll want to be warmed up to get up #1!!!
-$ to play. Yes, I was happy to pay for this experience. It was that good.
-Multiple tees used to good effect. They do more than simply make the holes longer.
-Two fun steep downhill midrange ace runs. Although, go to far and your walking 100 feet downhill.
-1000 foot hole #9 that plays alongside a ball golf hole.
-The tree and tee pad area on hole 10 are a landmark. Beautiful and creative tee placement.
Cons: -Muddy pathways a little slippery.
-Water not in play as much as it could be.
-Occasionally tricky to navigate. Not a problem the 2nd time around.
-Some blind tee shots. Normally, this is fine. but driving blind to a sidehill with the potential for a 250 foot roll away isn't my kind of fun.
Other Thoughts: I haven't been to the bay area for 4 years. This course will have me flying west to the Nor Cal. area much sooner than that. Thanks for a wonderful experience to the park, local players, and sponsors. We found one of the sponsors (Moylan's Brewpub) after the round for lunch and very good beer to repay them for their generosity.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Foremost, Stafford has the fantastic hole design. Every hole is very different and interesting. There's steep uphill and downhill. Throwing into, out of, through, and over trees. There's long bomber holes, and tight technical holes. The course is not overly wooded, but the trees are used effectively.
The landscape is also stunning. Views of the lake and hills are gorgeous. There's plenty of wildlife. The course is well maintained. There are cement tees, benches, and useful tee signs. The pins move regularly between substantially different positions, and are indicated accurately on tee signs. Many holes have multiples tees. There's bathrooms and a water fountain. I've never seen it super crowded, and the course doesn't get any non-DG traffic. Unlike the very crowded Golden Gate Park and DeLaveaga, Stafford is playable on a Saturday afternoon.
Cons: For some players, price will be a big negative. The fee is variable. It's worst on summer weekends at $10 per car. This fee undoubtedly keeps the course from getting super crowded.
The course flows pretty well, but navigation can be slightly confusing your first time. The easiest place to get lost is getting to the first tee, a 1/3 mile walk from the parking lot. A next tee sign would be helpful after hole 7. On 9, it's easy to accidentally throw at the pin for 11 if it is in B position.
Some holes are blind and a spotter is helpful.
Other Thoughts: Play from the long tee on 14. It's up the hill near the left tee for 7, and it's worth the hike up.
How to get here on public transit:
Use Golden Gate Transit to get to/from downtown Novato (Redwood & Grant). Schedule an appointment with Novato Dial-A-Ride (415-892-7899) from downtown to Novato Boulevard & Fire Road. This is the absolute western edge of the Dial-A-Ride service area. From here there it's a little over a mile walk to the eastern entrance to the park, and another mile to the first tee. Pay attention to Dial-A-Ride's hours, and schedule your trip ahead of time.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Championship level course
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -Championship level course with multiple tee pads and pin placements
-Signage is great (you still need to walk out to see many of the baskets before you shoot though).
-Tee pads are in good shape and well made
-Optional if you want to play the course long or short (use the short tee pads for a shorter, easier round).
-Good variety of long and short holes. This is one of the most flexible courses in disc golf as far as distance and shot changes. All depends on what tee you use and what position the basket is in.
Cons: -Pay to play
-Long walk to the first tee
-Hole#1 is a rough start. Huge elevation change.
Other Thoughts: This is considered by many to be the "big arm" course for the San Francisco Bay Area. The next closest course to rival it is DeLaVeaga in Santa Cruz. I highly recommend this course if you are a Pro or a seasoned Amateur player. I make a point to visit this course at least twice a month.
4 of 5 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.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Beautiful hilly course set along the banks of Stafford Lake. Tons of elevation changes and turns; the signs even state what the teepad:basket elevation changes are. Fantastic mix of driver shots and throwing options. I played with a predominantly RH sidearm thrower, and we were able to let off very different teeshots on the same holes with positive results. Great mix of superlong, long, medium and short holes. Also a great mix of open and wooded holes, and use of trees. The long ones make you appreciate the short ones, even though some were surprisingly short, albeit technical. Wonderful flowery aroma is always a breath away. Fancy tri-fold course map/pamphlet you get at the paid entrance booth. Excellent teepads.
Cons: Got stung in the top of my ear while lost with another 1st timer trying to find the 5th basket, after getting lost trying to find 1st tee. The ranger neglected to tell us that after crossing the bridge, keep left onto the main dirt road until you see the 1st tee box atop the tall set of wooden stairs on the open hill. We went right, and ended up finding what looks like future holes 19-27. Mucho poison oak.
Other Thoughts: I think Stafford is a tough 1st time play for a beginner/intermediate thrower without a guide...at least it was for me. I can envision my 2nd outing being a much more relaxed and enjoyable round. Special thanks to Matt, who helped me pull the stinger out!
Uniqueness: A (great DG course in a superb setting)
Difficulty: A (can get long & hilly; can get dense with trees)
Fun Factor: A- (will likely be upgraded to an "A" after another round)
Aesthetics: A+ (gorgeous natural lakeside setting; very clean; perfect teepads & signs)
7 of 8 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.
4 Helpful / 9 Not
Pros: There is beautiful scenery throughout and you have views of Stafford Lake from almost everywhere on the course. Some very interesting holes and right from the get go too. #1 goes steeply up the side of the hill and is unlike anything I have played. #6 must be the signature hole with epic views of the lake, and the 1000+ ft par 5 9th is without a doubt the longest hole I have played. Tee pads were solid and I liked the fact that even on a weekend during the summer it wasn't crowded at all.
Cons: This is the 1st time I've had to pay to play and it was 10$ on a Sunday. The wind was fierce when played, and being so near the ocean I'd imagine there is some sort of breeze to deal with most of the time. 2' weeds are everywhere out here so it's just a matter of time before your searching for a disc. Poison oak is never fun to get, and there was a LOT of that out there as well. The washer system for pin locations was wrong on most holes when visited so we had to spend extra time searching for baskets. Due to the number of blind shots and the high weeds I'd definitely recommend you play this course with a spotter.
Other Thoughts: I chose to play here instead of others when in the Bay because this course was so highly reviewed. After playing, there is no doubt in my opinion that this course is overrated. I would however, like to see this place during the spring, when everything is green and the weeds are down. As played, I stand by my rating.
4 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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