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.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Championship level course
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 / 10 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 14 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.
3 Helpful / 14 Not
Pros: Huge terrain course, you'll definitely get your workout. Solid range, most holes are driveable but it just doesn't seem to happen for me! Right by the lake, a half mile walk from the parking lot so it's secluded and beautiful.
Cons: Very slippery in the winter on the steep mountainside.
Other Thoughts: I will play this course again. Had a blast.
3 of 17 people found this review helpful.
20 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: - Huge secluded course, I didn't see anyone on the course who wasn't a disc golfer
- Lots of elevation change starting with a huge uphill that will definatly work your arm out.
- Great views of the surrounding hills and the lake at the bottom of the course
- Nice concrete tee pads
- Multiple tee pads on many of the holes
- Lots of pin positions
- Great kiosk next to hole 1 with a nice map of the course and other course info, as well as scorecards and maps.
- Pay to play helps keep the riff-raff out
- Holes vary alot, from shorter, ace-able holes (only a couple) up to the 1000+' bomber.
- Design manages to pull in lots of diffrent shots without having alot of trees.
- Very detailed signs with a nice overhead view of the hole, distances to each pin position and a washer to show which pin position it is in.
- Realy fun downhill shot on hole 5 long, is worth the walk up and throwing off a natrual tee pad.
Cons: - Definatly not a beginers course, they will end up getting frustrated by the distance and elevation
- 6-8$ pay to play seemed a bit high, but it does help keep the unriff-raff off the course
- 1/4 mile hike from the parking lot to hole 1, (gets you warmed up in my opinion)
- Grass can be high some times of the year
- Can get realy hot in the summertime
- Gets windy at times
- Some blind shots that you might want to have a spoter on.
- No smoking (fire hazard)
- POISON OAK
Other Thoughts: Stafford Lake is a championship caliber course in Nor-Cal. With wonderfull design and lots of great views this will be a course that sits in my memory for a long time. It was hard on me as I tend to max out at around 300', but it was still an experence worth having. You start off your round with a 1/4 mile walk to hole 1 which is a huge uphill that will have even experenced players working hard for their par. Though most of the course is in open fields the trees that are around are used well. As you make your way through you will be treated to an epic downhill shot on hole 5, if your willing to take an extra hike up the hill behind the regular tee pad, and be willing to throw on a natural tee pad. Hole 9 is a 1000+' hole that runs along a fence seperating the disc golf course from the ball golf course next door. It plays just slightly downhill and in my opinion it's a par 5 for Am's and a par 4 for Pro's. This course is well worth a visit if your a pro traveling through the area, or an am who likes some punishment.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: -variety of hole type, length, and elevation change.
-mix of open, trees, hills, shrubs, creeks.
-fairly easy to find the next hole
-challenging, but playable. (Im rated at 850 for the PDGA I shot 6 over)
Cons: -the first tee is hard to find, its approx. 1 mile from the parking lot. (Follow the gravel road, across the bridge, up the hill)
-It was very wet (I played at the beginning of Spring, wet was expected)
-You'll need to be able to throw kinda far (I average 300')
-Throwing straight also helps
Other Thoughts: Simply magnificent! What a beautiful course. Great design. I only played here once, but it is was awesome. I played in the clouds with a heard of 20 deer. If I am ever close to this course again, I'll be there!
3 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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