Polk City, IA

Big Creek State Park

Permanent course
3.745(based on 23 reviews)
Filter course reviews

Filter reviews

Filter reviews

Big Creek State Park reviews

Filter
10 0
knobby325
Gold level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 8.7 years 323 played 248 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Great Course in Des Moines Area 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Mar 4, 2021 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

-Great Baskets
-Decent Tee Pads
-Good mix of long/short
-Two Sets of tees for many holes
-Multiple basket locations
-Many benches
-Good 9 hole loop
-Good for many skill levels, decent lines on most holes
-Rough has been mowed down and not as bad as before, lost discs minimal
-Mostly in its own part of the park, minimal distractions

Cons:

-Tee signs could be better
-Can be confusing #1 tee vs. #10 (#1 to the right)
-Some areas can get muddy
-Long walk from #18 basket to parking area
-Walking path could be in play on #13 and #15
-Can get busy at times

Other Thoughts:

Big Creek DGC is located in Big Creek State Park on the outskirts of Polk City, IA. Located is its own area on the southern part of the park, the course is mostly wooded with an interior front 9 wrapped by a larger back 9. Multiple tees on some holes make this a decent skill level for many, even beginners (especially the front 9). . There are a couple of boomer holes, especially #11 at over 550 for the rec tees (with the long basket placement) and over 800 from the back tees. Mostly, you're playing in wooded areas, but not so constricted that you have no lines to the basket. Upkeep of the area is good, especially with the mowing down of most of the rough a couple of years ago. Only very errant throws are going to bring the water into play on 13-17 with the toughest being behind the 13 basket. I do knock this course down a little on signage. The tee signs have the basics (Hole #, distance and par), but a crude line drawing of the hole doesn't give a lot of information. There are much better signs at courses in the area and that is one improvement I'd like to see. While the map available here on DGCR is good, there is no copy at the start, a fairly easy fix, I would think. A nice day will bring a bit of a crowd here and it is used by the local club quite often. This is the course I play most often, combining a great course with proximity. Pairing this with Walnut Ridge makes for an awesome day of disc golf. Will play many more times, I'm sure.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 0
Hashish
Experience: 2 played 2 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Top 5 Des Moines Course 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Apr 26, 2020 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Big Creek is an amazing course that is always fun to play.

The newly installed DD Veteran baskets are phenomenal. This is the first course at which I have had the pleasure to enjoy the Veterans, and IMO they are the best baskets I have ever used.

Excellent flow. It's easy to navigate your way around the course.

Many fun lines to throw.

Two tee pads on most holes. This makes it easy for mixed levels to play together and for regulars to enjoy variety. You can make it a good pro test from the longs or have a fun round where you can go after a number from the shorts.

Cons:

Tee pads are the only thing here that keeps me from giving the 4.5-5.

The other is the traffic, which on a busy day like today can be quite distracting.

Other Thoughts:

Big Creek is one of the four Des Moines-area jewels along with Ewing Park, Pickard Park and Walnut Ridge. These four are the must plays in Des Moines.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
6 0
mittbull
Experience: 23.8 years 173 played 5 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Underrated drive by

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Apr 29, 2018 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Brand New DD Veteran baskets installed Spring of 2018, Red band makes them easy to spot and they catch well.

Ample sized tee pads with signs marking each hole.

Course layout is easy to follow for the most part (see cons for exceptions), with a good mix of open and technical shots.
None of the holes seem like filler holes.

Loops around to the parking lot after 9.

Benches on approximately every other tee pad.

Short pads on a number of the holes allow for a wide range of player levels (holes with short pads are notated on the sign with a for long and b for short).

Despite what some of the older reviews may have you believe, the course's play-ability changed significantly (for the better IMO) when some invasive bushes were cut and burned (~2016). This allows you to find and retrieve your disc if you go out of the fairway with out being assaulted by thorns, while still having to pay for an errant shot with remaining trees and shrubbery obstructing your line.

Cons:

Hole 18 leaves you with about a ~1/8 mile hike back to the parking lot. The only other real navigation issue I could see would be between holes 12 and 13, you have to walk across the road towards the lake where you will find 13 and 15's tee pads

The tee sign's description of the hole leave a little to be desired with nothing more than a yellow line on a brown background providing the general shape of the hole and the distance


Only two recycling bins on the entire course (no garbage cans), so plan on packing out whatever you bring with.

Relatively flat.

There are a couple seasonal bathrooms onsite, but for the most part the amenities on site are pretty bare bone so pack accordingly (or stop in Polk City on your way to the course).

Other Thoughts:

Set in one of Iowa's larger state parks, Big Creek provides a secluded feel while only being 10 minutes from basic amenities found in Polk City (gas station, bar, restaurants, etc...).
Updated 10/19/22- there is now a practice basket on the north side of the north parking lot.

While some might find the course to be on the flat side, when paired with Walnut ridge a short 15 minute drive away it makes for an outstanding day of disc golf.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 0
Oldalan
Experience: 20.7 years 3 played 3 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Solitude in the Polklands 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Apr 4, 2017 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

The course is well maintained and I have never seen a piece of garbage. The lines to the holes have no obstructions in the way and navigation of the course is no problem. The holes that border the lake are beautiful. The solitude and cool Iowa breeze make up if you have a bad day of golf. New trees planted and brush looks like it was recently cleared. You don't have to have a big arm to score well here.

Cons:

Some of the baskets are hard to see from the tee, but I'm old. Hole #11 at over 800 feet not really a con but it seems that every time I leave that hole I'm singing "Frosty the Snowman" not because its that cold, but I took an 8 or in golf terms a SNOWMAN. OB to the left, trees in the middle of a tight fairway and a basket that resides somewhere around Polk City.

Other Thoughts:

I have never played the course in summer or when it is in full bloom. Looks like they are getting the course ready for the Masters in September. This course will make an excellent addition to the variety of courses that will be used for the tournament.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 1
Spike Hyzer 23
Experience: 30.6 years 92 played 87 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Great Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 29, 2015 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

While the description of it as mostly flat is correct, this is a densely wooded course that requires highly technical shots and has balance between left, right and straight. The 'fairways', such as they are, are incredibly narrow and you will have to execute perfect tunnel shots quite often, even though the distances from the short tees are not extreme (there are a far amount of putter and midrange holes, and the course opens up slightly for the driver later in the round, and even those holes are well designed, with mature trees lining the fairways at inopportune points). There are a fair amount of blind holes with exceptionally well protected greens.

The signs and pads are decent. It's beautiful and well maintained.The flow of the course is excellent, which makes up for average signage.

Cons:

The lack of elevation and the fact that the dense foliage can cause long searches for discs can make it a little wearying (that is a minor quibble, because the course is fair and rewards good shots while punishing bad shots).

Those two elements drop it a half point each for me, but this is one of the most highly recommended courses in Central IA for me.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
12 0
Nemmers
Silver level trusted reviewer
Experience: 10.7 years 89 played 33 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Top 5 in the 515 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 19, 2015 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

- Sweet location! Set in the small town of Mayberry...er, Polk City on Saylorville Lake, this course is small enough to stay on the down-low (read: not busy) but close enough to the amenities so you can grab a quick bite, a pack of smokes, or some fashionable adult beverages within a few minutes. No traffic noise either provides a really secluded feel for those wanting to contemplate the mysteries of the universe during a quiet, solitary round - or makes the Five Finger Death Punch playlist on your $20 Bluetooth speaker sound like a IMAX theater sub-woofer.

- Good equipment. The Mach 3 baskets catch well and the concrete teepads are grippy even in the mud and rain and snow and sleet for which Iowa winters are so well known. (Okay...maybe they're not so grippy in snow and sleet, but solid footing is always a plus no matter what the weather.)

- Awesome layout! Set in a large park in well-established woodlands, this is a pretty technical course. It offers both tight lines and open lanes with enough kick to give your accuracy and your power a run for their money. The alternate tees give both beginners and advanced players an opportunity to enjoy this course without either being overwhelmed or giving enough of a challenge. They keep the fairways mowed pretty regular in the summertime too, which is unusual for a state park so far off the beaten path.

- Well rounded! If you're wondering whether or not your upshots and short game can hang with the big dogs, Big Creek will tell you that story. A tough, mostly par 3 course (there are only four par 4 holes), you're going to need a deft touch and a metric butt-load of accuracy to tame this bad boy. Some of the fairways are fairly tight so errant shots often end up buried in the woods, while the subtle elevation changes on these tight fairways can cause off-the-mark shots to roll long enough to turn a birdie attempt into a double par bogie. However, like an ISIS initiation, a few bombs ARE required. The technicalities aren't limited to mid-range upshots; your drivers on many holes need to be deadly accurate too if you're truly aiming to play under par. In short, if you're one of those who's questioning whether or not you should move up from Rec to Intermediate or Intermediate to Pro, Big Creek can provide your answer: If you can par this course consistently or your scores on this course are improving exponentially, you're ready for the next level.

- Easy navigation. Defined fairways off the tee gave enough of an idea of where you were throwing to keep you on track and the paths to the next hole are worn down to the point that it's almost impossible to get lost on almost every hole.

- Beautiful! A very scenic park that is not only clean, but picturesque. Seriously, Ansel Adams missed out when he didn't paint this back 9.

- No gridlock! There is usually ZERO traffic on the course. There might be a few cars in the parking lot, but the course is large enough and spread out enough that the chances or running into anyone and waiting is slim. Great atmosphere all around.

Cons:

- Signage. There are tee signs on every tee (both long and short), but they're pedestrian to the point that they're almost useless. Thankfully, the natural flow of the course makes up for that and allows for relatively common-sensical navigation, but you may find yourself walking up the fairway on a few holes in deciding which disc to throw because the signs don't paint an accurate picture of the actual pin locations when throwing blind.

- Trash receptacles. There are VERY few. If you plan on eating or drinking, please be prepared to take your trash with you.

- Poison Ivy. It's a woody course, so some nasty foliage is to be expected; however, it's not just vanilla woods and your standard, run-of-the-mill bushes; it's straight up atmospheric Armageddon. The thorns, bugs, spider webs, and the God-forsaken ivy are something straight out of a Harry Potter movie. Got into some ivy last summer and I was swoll up like a blood tick at fat camp for about three weeks. The Dark Forest takes no prisoners. I can't recommend highly enough wearing long pants and Amazon-grade, 98% DEET if your accuracy leaves something to be desired.

- No topless Hooters girls frolicking along the #8 fairway.

Other Thoughts:

Big Creek is a relatively older course, but it has aged REALLY well and has earned a place in the Top Five of courses in the greater Des Moines area. It may not be one of the longest, loveliest (I call it "The Leanist") courses around the Iowa state capital, but it certainly gives Ewing, Grandview, and Walnut Ridge a run for their money. Sure, it's not perfect, but I've yet to run into a course that is. Bottom line: there isn't much NOT to recommend about Big Creek, so if you find yourself near Des Moines and want to give your game a run through the gauntlet, you could do a LOT worse. Big Creek is worth the trip out of your way.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 1
LoewDog
Experience: 12 played 12 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Favorite Fall Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 5, 2015 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Great course in great shape.

Lots of different shots,

Disc eater in the Summer, but man I love it in the Spring and Fall!

Cons:

I appreciate the signage to keep the course clean, but a couple of garbage cans would sure make that a lot easier!

Other than that there are no cons.

Other Thoughts:

Great course to work on those shots with a mid-range or a putter...it has improved my play elsewhere that is for sure.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 4
timj5304
Experience: 19.8 years 159 played 32 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Must play in Des moines 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jan 31, 2015 Played the course:once

Pros:

This is a great woods course that forces you to throw straight. I was surprised with the 4 par 4 and 1 par 5 type holes that require placement and good shots to get a good score.

Cons:

Confusing layout in a couple spots with a lack of signage.

Off of the highway 8 miles.

Other Thoughts:

Was going to pass on this one on my trip, very glad I made time to play it!
Was this review helpful? Yes No
6 2
MidwestZest
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 23.8 years 103 played 72 reviews
3.00 star(s)

Hedge Rows 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Oct 3, 2013 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

- Well maintained course. Immaculate, really.
- Bathrooms halfway through the course around #13.
- No trash cans, take out what you bring in.
- Huge tee concrete tee pads, 4' x 15'.
- Dual tees.
- Good signage at each tee with distance and shot line.
- Last third of this course is much different from the beginning. Old, mature trees, rolling hills, and prairie grass. Very nice but still challenging, unlike the front 2/3 of the course.
- Water in play on #13 if you lose a shot long, and #14 if you lose a drive left.
- #18 nice window shot from the back tee.

Cons:

- This is not "wooded" disc golf. This is "French hedgerow-lined" disc golf. Not really many obstacles in the middle of fairways, but what makes you shape your line is a 15 foot wide fairways.
- When you do miss, there's not even room to stand when you miss, let alone find your disc.
- Course flow mostly ok, but not the most intuitive from 12-13, and 15-16.
- No warm up basket, or space.
- No course map, or any sort of sign to show where there course starts, except seeing #1 tee pad.
- Very long walk from #18 basket back to the parking lot.

Other Thoughts:

- I implore you to never take a beginner to this course. They will straight up quit the sport.
- I'm definitely a rec player, but this course is very unfair, and has a very low fun factor. Sure, you could plod along the first 12 holes 75-100 ft at a time, but that's really not fun, or why anyone plays the sport. Just overly punishing for missing your line.
- Love 13-18. Just a shame that you have to contend with 1-12 to get to them.
- This course is worth a stop, just be ready to be cut down at the knees!
Was this review helpful? Yes No
6 0
mashnut
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 22 years 831 played 767 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Nice technical course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 24, 2012 Played the course:once

Pros:

The course is cut through dense forest with cedars and nice brush. It's thick enough off the fairways that you'll pay for missing your line but there are some opportunities for creative recovery shots. There is a pretty good mix of hole shapes, the layout forces a balance of left and right turning shots.

From the longs, there's a nice mix of shorter reachable holes and a few that allow you to throw a longer drive. A couple are open enough to let you rip one, the rest will punish you for trying to bite off too much at once. The shorts are a nice alternative for newer players, and still have some nice variety without quite as much challenge. The concrete tees are in nice shape, and the tee signs have hole length for all tee and pin combinations.

Cons:

The alternate pin positions are a nice touch to add variety, but the signs don't indicate which position is in use. There are a handful of blind shots, so not knowing where to throw can add some extra walking to scout the course. The walk back to the car after the last hole, and without the course map you might not immediately figure out where to go. There are a couple holes that feel a little repetitive, the shorter holes all run together a little with similar lengths and basic hole shapes.

Other Thoughts:

Beginners will find the short tees approachable, with reasonable lengths but tough rough. More experienced players will find nice challenges from many of the long tees, you'll need a pretty good mix of skills to score well and shaping 250-300' lines is key. I would definitely recommend a stop here if you're in the area.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 3
DjKilliQuik
Experience: 21.7 years 57 played 17 reviews
3.50 star(s)

tough! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 26, 2012 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Very challenging course. Lots elevation changes on the back 9. Very manageable on the back 9 short and very hilly. I like that they switch up the long and short tee pads and catchers.

Cons:

The beast was a little rediculous. Could have cleared out alot of the holes a little more. There is a lot of really low ceilings. Too low.

Other Thoughts:

Be prepared to throw a lot of straight tunnel shots. You will use your buzz a lot
Was this review helpful? Yes No
3 0
Wheelz
Experience: 14.1 years 28 played 22 reviews
3.00 star(s)

Tight & Technical 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:May 25, 2012 Played the course:once

Pros:

Challenge -The course is a great challenge and really forces you to hit lines and keep the disc in the fairway. The long tees provide a hefty challenge for even the seasoned pro.

Tee's - The tee pads are in great shape and there are two per hole. They have a great texture, and when we played the course it was raining and we didn't loose our footing once.

Fairways - The fairways are grass and appear to be nice a mowed. As long as you stay in the fairway you should have no problem with losing discs.

Design - The course flows really well and it is easy to follow. At times it seems like you are in a hedge maze as the fairways are nice, short grass and they are boarded by a wall of trees/shrubs. The paths and holes are clearly marked.

Cons:

Tee Signs - The tee signs are very vague and don't provide much information. Many times a straight line is shown from the tee to the disc, even though the fairway may dogleg right or left.

Rough - I am all for punishing bad shots, but the rough here is pretty ridiculous. If you go off the fairway at all (and most fairways are no more than 10 yards wide) you are going to be spending a lot of time looking for your disc. A 2 or 3 could easily turn into a 5 or 6 if you go off the fairway.

Short Tees - The short tees are very easy, most are under 300 ft. I understand that public courses have to accommodate all skill levels, but they are easy even for most rec players.

Other Thoughts:

Overall this is a pretty solid course. Even though the course moves around a large lake, water doesn't really come into play. It is kind of out of the way, but if you want to work on your short game or work on the technical aspect this is the course for you.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 5
HYPNO-TOAD
Experience: 17.9 years 80 played 5 reviews
3.50 star(s)

ALL HAIL HYPNO-TOAD 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 27, 2010 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

course is very technical, i think the worlds were partly held here in whatever year it was. couple bombs from the longs, shorts were 8-10 strokes easier, some very nice holes on the back nine along the lake

Cons:

the rough is very young and treacherous- dumpster shots may be necessary - rude cross country skiers are common

Other Thoughts:

its pretty nice
Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 2
dustbuster232000
Experience: 23.8 years 30 played 10 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Amazing Frustration 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:May 22, 2010 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Both beginner and advanced player friendly. Offers a good mix of long and short with left, right and straight shots to challenge your game.

Cons:

Easy to loose a disc in the underbrush in the wooded sections, a good cleaning of that would greatly improve playability. Possibly changing the last few holes to get you closer to your starting point.

Other Thoughts:

This is a good course but recently we have had bad experiences playing, slow play or multiple disc play as well as not so friendly " Read Drunk" players. While patience is a virtue mine was wearing very thin on those days.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 3
chelseahawk3
Experience: 21.8 years 28 played 10 reviews
3.00 star(s)

Decent, tiring course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:May 3, 2010 Played the course:once

Pros:

Has decent tees and pads. Has signs on most holes. Has some scenic holes with decent longer holes.

Cons:

Some holes can be quite tight. Some holes cut directly out of dense forest. Which means that if you don't drive straight you may be screwed. A few holes close to a sharp cliff and lake.

Other Thoughts:

Overall this course can be discouraging. Not enough short holes. Too many long, tight holes. There are also some blind holes without signs, which makes it very hard to find the hole.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 5
JDubya
Experience: 17.6 years 8 played 1 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Big Creek 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jul 25, 2009 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Good baskets, multiple tees, very challenging tight fairways, Nice scenery, mix of short and long, Accuracy is the name of the game on this course!

Cons:

Walk back to car after 18, no trash cans, very dense bushes

Other Thoughts:

You either throw a great round or you just get beat down. Stay on the fairway as lots of poison ivy and sumac.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
9 2
Donovan
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 37 years 298 played 187 reviews
4.00 star(s)

When Being Dense Is Good 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 24, 2009 Played the course:once

Pros:

Dense woods make this a great little course. Accuracy is the key here. There is water, lots of trees, and some great pin placements, all with left and right shots. Some of the early holes were rather similar, but this place has some real nice looking holes. The lake plays right next to a couple of them. This course is rather clean and well maintained. Navigation is fairly easy here. Concrete pads and tee signs are on each hole. Bathrooms and water fountains were at the end of hole #12.

Cons:

No par was listed, but the par 3 on each hole is close enough for this course. The tee signs did have footage but that was about it. Most of the holes on this course are under 300 feet so not much variance. There was lots of Poison Ivy, Sumac and so forth. There is kind of a long walk from #18 back to the #1 parking lot. There were no trashcans, so you have to haul your trash out.

Other Thoughts:

The fun factor for this course was very decent. The difficulty but fair holes made for a great round. I would certainly play this course again. It is a bit of a drive from Des Moines, IA, but I would say it is worth it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
5 2
SpikeHyzer
Experience: 21 years 110 played 33 reviews
4.50 star(s)

Accuracy rewarded here... 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Feb 21, 2009 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

This course has a good mix of short and long holes. I would say that there are definitely par 3's, 4's and 5's on this course. Probably one of the toughest holes in the state is on this course(Hole 11). There are restrooms on the premises as this is a state park. There are also drinking fountains available. There is water that comes into play on a handful of holes.

Cons:

Like many others have stated, poison ivy can be a problem between late May and early October. This really is the only drawback to this course

Other Thoughts:

I highly recommend playing this course early in the season or later in the season. The course is probably the best winter course around.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 3
arowan21
Experience: 21.8 years 62 played 5 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Big Creek 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Mar 1, 2009 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Tight fairways, really challenging, Multiple tees

Cons:

Really tight fairways, DENSE brush just off of fairways, lots of poison ivy, winter ski trails

Other Thoughts:

Lay up and don't go for the pin, your score will thank you. Learn to chuck your understable mids and putter before playing.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
5 1
cydisc
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 27.9 years 257 played 84 reviews
3.50 star(s)

A gem in the spring and fall 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 20, 2008 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Good baskets. Multiple large concrete tees on most holes. Good balance of throws. Decent elevation. A logical flow and very easy to find the next hole. A challenging course for most players.

Cons:

Tee signs have the minimum amount of info. Can be quite difficult to find discs that wander even a little ways off the fairway. Poison Ivy. No garbage cans.

Other Thoughts:

The bulk of the course is carved out of cedars and brush. The final 6 holes are in a more manicured portion of the park with lawn and mature oaks and walnuts bordering Big Creek Lake. As mentioned in the title, due to the profusion of poison ivy, it's often best to play the course before and after the normal growing season for Toxicodendron radicans. The course has a good flow to it and it's nearly impossible to get lost. 1-9 and 10-18 loop back to the parking lot. It's a challenging course for most players, but if you are able to throw a good UD, you can do quite well by going over the top of the short trees and brush.
Was this review helpful? Yes No

Latest posts

Top