Darnestown Swim & Racquet Club
Darnestown, MD 

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I Don't Give A Darnestown
Review By: Ryal
Played: 124  Reviewed: 116  Exp: 4 Years
1 8/11/2021 8/20/2021
13 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: + 18 holes with 18 fairways and 18 baskets physically present on this piece of land.
+ This piece of admittedly pretty secluded land outlines a community pool with tennis and pickleball courts.
+ Healthy hills, wild woods and a crooked creek round out the natural features.

Cons: - Tees are dirt/mulch and weeds bordered by 4x4 segments.
- The tee signs are simple permanent marker on white posterboard. However, I will admit that they are better than nothing at all.
- No practice basket. No lost disc box, either...
- ...which is a shame because almost all of the rough and even several of the fairways are calf-high grasses, ferns, shrubs, thorns and other foresty undergrowth.
- The baskets are admittedly old, and a few are visibly rusty.

Other Thoughts: I don't know what my favorite holes here could be. I guess hole7 had a fun uphill challenge to play, and I can imagine hole13 being nice to look at if the fairway weren't so tall.

So, on that note, let's get right into it from the very start. It would seem that I made the unfortunate choice of playing here in the middle of summer. During this time of year, some of the holes at Darnestown are downright functionally unplayable. Specifically, I am talking about holes13 through 15 and possibly 12 as well. Those fairways were nothing but tall grasses, ferns and spindly scrub brushes. Yes, you can still, strictly speaking, play them as normal. However, keeping both eyes on your throw is no guarantee of finding your disc at those spots. I spent more time searching for my disc than actually playing hole13. That's when I decided to skip holes14 and 15 because those were worse. Even on otherwise clean-ish fairways like 9 or 10, the rough on the sides was comically large and bushy.

Thankfully, it's not all like that. To be fair, there were some nice challenges to be had- especially in the front nine. I liked the combination of slopes and trees in holes 3, 4 and 7. My bias in favor of hilly wooded holes was certainly satiated here.

But the fun quickly evaporated when I saw all of that tall grass in the fairways later. I wasn't liking all of the mulch tee pads. The tee signs looked like a first grader's rushed art project. Many of the holes felt copy-pasted, so very few of them stand out in my mind. By hole 16, I was muttering to myself, "Just get me out of here."

I am wondering if I simply caught this course at the beginning of its rebirth. Upon reading a few of the previous reviews, it sounds as though the course has changed hands recently. So, maybe I'm just seeing the initial stages of a redesign? If so, I hope it succeeds.

As things are right now, though, I would recommend this course only to locals and those course baggers who don't mind a bit of adversity. (Use your beta bag of discs so you don't get upset if you lose one or two!)

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Hilly, woods play in a scenic setting
Review By: DumfriesLizzie
Played: 64  Reviewed: 60  Exp: 3 Years
1 4/11/2021 4/15/2021
17 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: A very beautiful, quiet course. Peaceful and the nature walk many of us dolfers cherish. You are walking up and down one of the heavily-wooded slopes of a ravine of a winding creek. It's a very scenic place. And though there doesn't appear to be alot of disc-golf traffic, you don't feel isolated nor unsafe. You hear the tennis players and the pickleball players (and in summer, no doubt, the swimmers) when you are at the top of the slope.

I appreciate the semi-open fairways at nos. 1, 2, 5, 12, 13, 18. In several cases, you start in woods, throw across a small field, and back into woods. Or you start outside of woods and throw into it. Nos. 12 and 13 are essentially on a narrow creek plain with fewer trees (several have fallen near the 13 green) and bushes. No. 12 has a very narrow descending fairway from an elevated tee, right alongside the creek. No. 13 opens out more (larger margin of error) and has fewer trees to contend with.

Holes 14 and 15 start in the creek plain and then climb up hills. No. 14's fairway is the only one on the far side of the creek, along with the no. 13 green. No. 15's tee starts in the creek plain, the first part of the fairway is there too, and then the hole doglegs left and up the main slope of the course.

Closing hole 18 is lovely and accomplishes at least two things at once. Throwing out of a tree-crowded pocket, then across a grassy field and into/through a line of cypress (?) trees is a winning design IMHO. It's a challenge at start and finish with an open break in the middle. The line of trees also keeps discs from flying into the street and hitting cars or pedestrians. There is a split-rail fence along the left side to keep you off that property as well. Smart!

Cons: There are some very steep places that (with mud etc.) will be downright dangerous. You really want to be careful because this tract is a real trek up and down many times. Bring a walking stick; you will use it alot. And if you have any distinct mobility challenges, this is a course you need to avoid. It feels like you walk uphill more than downhill, but it actually isn't true. There are just some really steep places, like getting up from the tees of nos. 4 and 7! There are stairs to/from no. 4's tee, but none from no. 7's.

Also realize that there are distinct rollaway possibilities into the creek at nos. 3, 6, 10, and 11. The slope is severe. Even if your disc avoids the creek, you may be trekking down the slope to retrieve it from the rough. Not fun.

The creek is deep in many places, so don't just jump in to retrieve your disc (even if you are bold enough to do that). You probably will wind up breaking your ankle. Bring a disc retriever, despite the extra bulk, unless you have awesome aim. There are few foot bridges across the creek. A good solid one before the green of no. 13 and another one from the tee of no. 15 would be most welcome. Presently, you are using creek-bed rocks to get over and not always keeping dry feet.

Other Thoughts: The OB fence at no. 1 comes up quickly. As with all the ultimately-downhill holes, you can be aggressive to start (as aggressive as you dare to be in the woods!), but the approach and putt often need to be cautious. And if you are a bomber, please walk up the fairway first to grasp where you are going on your first visit here.

There are many dead-leaf beds in the rough. It appears bumble bees use it for nesting. Didn't encounter wasps, but did encounter several bumble bees. I believe these beds are intentional, to help mitigate rollaways.

The tee pads are 3/4 framing with mulch and wood chips. There are now low, plastic hole signs (temporary?) with diagrams, pars, and distances of each hole. I found the sign information invaluable, and (as I was following the trio in front of me), I could confirm the image with what they were doing or how they had walked.

I think I will avoid the summer and winter months. I imagine the insects will get pretty intense with green vegetation filling up the rough, and the wet-slickness of winter sounds like cruising for a bruising. I'll be here spring and fall when it's dry and the club members are in small number (less potential conflict).

BTW you will find tennis balls all over the place. You expect that at the close-in holes, but I found some at hole 13 down in the creek plain!

17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
 Best it's Been
Review By: hainesdc
Played: 1  Reviewed: 1  Exp: 0 Years
5+ 1/21/2021 2/4/2021
5 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: Requires every shot in the bag. Great mix of direction, elevation and hazard. Surprisingly challenging for the average hole length, largely due to elevation changes. Pristine location with a rolling landscape that plays along a beautiful creek. The course has been rejuvenated after a few years of not being regularly maintained.

Cons: A few fairways are close together, with baskets shooting near the next tee and there are a couple walk-backs from basket to next tee. Gnats in summer can be relentless.

Other Thoughts: Course managers have been back at work after a few years layoff. The realignment of Holes 1-4 due to fencing of the adjacent property is complete. Field adjacent holes continue to be opened up, providing more balance to an otherwise wooded course. Fairways have been blown off and are as clean as ever, and all tees have been rebuilt. Overall The Demon is in the best shape it's ever been.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
If you like wooded courses, this is for you.
Review By: Craig Fisher
Played: 51  Reviewed: 12  Exp: 14 Years
1 8/27/2020 1/27/2021
5 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: Beautiful scenery, challenging course.

Cons: Very overgrown foliage during the summer and so many trees to stop your throws. No built tee pads.

Other Thoughts: I went there in the summer without reviewing the course, so I was disappointed because of that. My skills are not good enough for the course because you really need luck and control of your shots on several of the holes. I love playing disc golf, so I will always applaud anyone who builds a disc golf course in Maryland.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.

Darn tough to play
Review By: pmay5
Played: 286  Reviewed: 181  Exp: 18 Years
1 7/18/2017 11/29/2017
This review was updated on 1/27/2021
5 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: Nice of this private club, in the middle of a nice neighborhood, to let the public come and play their course. Please be courteous.
Most baskets are in good shape.
Good use of the elevation behind the pool, most holes play up, down or along a couple of small creeks.
Good mix of left, right and straight holes. Two open holes, the rest are in the woods.

Cons: Tees are natural, usually short and rutted.
No tee signs, just pvc pipe to mark the tees.
Most of the course is heavily wooded, there are lines to hit, but you have to be precise.
I was there in July and the undergrowth was overgrown, all over the rough, over the fairways, over your shins. Good place to lose a disc, even if just off the fairway. I didn't play all of the holes down by the creek, it just looked too easy to lose one.
A lot of blind tee shots, playing solo, this made it even more difficult to play.

Other Thoughts: As I said in the Pros, it was darn nice of the club to open the course to the public. I was shocked to see that it is rated higher than Calvert Road. This is a much tougher course to play, with a lot more problems. Looking back through the early reviews, this course received a lot of 3.5 and 4.0s early on, it is a long way from that now.
I'd love to have this course in my neighborhood, but I'm guessing the people who put the course in probably don't live in the neighborhood any longer, or no longer play.
There are some fun holes here: #9 throws into the woods, bending right and downhill, it was fun once I figured out where the basket was. #12, down by the creek, has a decent enough fairway, but also a bottom area down by the creek for errant drives. #18, finally a drive out of the woods, basket is hidden behind large bushes, plays real tough if the fenceline is OB.
The fairways are not bad on the holes up on the hill, but the overgrown holes just make this the wrong kind of challenge to play.
This course could definitely use some maintenance (bet the colder weather helps with the weeds) or just more rounds played, not sure if either will be happening soon.
I really wanted to play Seneca Creek this day, on my final four march to 100 courses, but I was too early and the gates were still locked. So this was #98.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
  Darnestown in the rain
Review By: jp_mcguire
Played: 1  Reviewed: 1  Exp: 0 Years
1 4/22/2017 4/24/2017
2 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: Tight course layout. Accuracy is key to a good round.

Cons: Lot's of blind pins and the layout is tricky to follow.

Other Thoughts: I played the first nine in the rain this past weekend alone. The course is kind of hard to figure out. More than once I had to spend time trying to figure out where a basket or teepad were. Lost a disc that was found the next day, so obviously the people who play here are legit. I'd assume in season the little pvc pipes at each tee would be up to give you a general direction of where the pin is. One suggestion I've also seen work is an arrow on the basket pointing to the general direction of the next tee pad.

Course wise if you like a tightly wooded layout with LOTS of elevation change, this is the course for you. It's not a bad course but compared to Seneca which is so much better maintained, the biggest plus about the course is probably how few people seem to play it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
 Not a must play, but not horrible
Review By: ramonstone
Played: 8  Reviewed: 5  Exp: 10 Years
2-4 1/1/2016 5/14/2016
This review was updated on 8/24/2016
2 Helpful / 1 Not

Pros: This course has 18 holes and an interesting setup and the baskets are pretty good. You can play a round with your group pretty much by yourself with the whole course being yours. It is pretty much all woods, which I like a lot, but may be different for other players. I don't think pros would like this course, but I like that when I play it with players that are a little less talented than me our scores are closer together because anything can happen

Cons: Parking is not good at all. There are no real tees, it is mulch in a wood box, so they would be muddy in the wet weather, and are terrible to throw from. And they are very small and some tight so you cannot get a run-up really. The holes are so close together that if there were people on the course you could easily blindly hit someone. There is only one tee and one pin on all wholes so it doesn't provide any options. It doesn't loop to the lot so you have to play all 18 before you can get back to the car. Down near the creek the bugs are horrible. I'm lucky they don't bother me, but on certain holes they do because they are so bad. "The Wachutu are BITERS!" There are signs, I don't know if they are better since the last time I've been there, they were very rudimentary, but there are arrows pointing to the next tee. But I got a little confused the first couple times so it's difficult to navigate

Other Thoughts: Private swim and racquet club in a neighborhood. Must respect that. The parking lot is not for disc golf, it is for members of the club. Golfers are expected to park on the grass next to the first tee. It is not a heavy traffic course. There are rarely other players there when I've been. And full disclosure: I haven't played this course since 2015 or before, but I just started reviewing so I'm excited to review. So I will play this course again soon for update

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
 Good course but could be better
Review By: Longjonsilverz
Played: 54  Reviewed: 21  Exp: 15 Years
1 8/23/2015 8/25/2015
2 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: Nice wooded course with a variety of terrain. layout is decent and makes good use of the location.

Cons: Really needs some work. The tees are worn out and many are very short and full of roots. There are a few broken and missing tee signs which are just plastic pipes near the tee boxes. Some of the holes are basically a throw through randomly scattered trees and hoping for the best.

Other Thoughts: This is a good course, but it is a little frustrating when you nearly get a hole in one a few times and instead your disc rolls 100ft down a hill because it landed on a rock and you end up with a 7 or worse because it happens again when you putt. The maintenance could definitely be improved. The course is a nice walk through the woods around the club. The nearby Seneca creek course is much better but can be a little crowded sometimes so this is an alternative for a quiet course.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

 Could be great....
Review By: GreenFieldsDC
Played: 147  Reviewed: 6  Exp: 21 Years
1 8/22/2015 8/24/2015
This review was updated on 9/8/2015
3 Helpful / 4 Not

Pros: -Front 9 ok
-Pretty, quiet course. I was the only player on a Saturday afternoon
-Lots of trees, which could also be a con given the chance of disc loss and interrupted flight

Cons: -Back 9 almost unplayable due to lack of maintenance, missing tee markers, a missing basket
-Will come back in fall/winter when foliage is down
-I've been told that the work on this course is ongoing, which is great to hear because it is a nice layout and great location.

Other Thoughts: Cant wait to play in fall and winter!

3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
 Diamond In The Rough
Review By: Mohawk Mack
Played: 20  Reviewed: 9  Exp: 11 Years
5+ 3/29/2015 4/6/2015
3 Helpful / 0 Not

Pros: Never busy. Challenging course. Tight layout but forces you to work on your accuracy. Nice mix of holes for lefties and righties. Holes 1-3, 5, 10 (If played as a Par4), 12, 15 and 18 are birdie-able but require a perfect tee shot. Holes 12-15 are beautiful holes. It's a great place to play if Seneca is packed.

Cons: Signage and the tee boxes. You definitely need to play with someone who knows the course if it's your first or second time, but proper signage will definitely fix that problem. The tee boxes are wood chips. That part isn't so bad, it's the huge 4X4 that sits on the front of the tee boxes that makes it hard to throw a full shot and have proper follow through. The only other problem is some of the tee boxes are not level, due to lack of maintenance or poor design/construction of them, or missing, like the short tee on 14 is missing in action. Darnestown is in the woods and by a creek, so if bugs and ticks bother you, come prepared, but you're playing disc golf outside, in the woods, in Maryland, bugs, ticks and other wildlife is part of the game.

Other Thoughts: I like this course. It will challenge you and it's a good work out being hilly and wooded. In the warmer months, it's great to play because of the tree cover and keeps you out of the sun.
If the course gets some signage, and the tee boxes fixed and is properly maintained could easily become my home course. When I say the tee boxes need to be fixed/maintained, I'm saying they are definitely playable, but to take the course to the next level, some work needs to be done. All and all, I really like this course and it's a diamond in the rough.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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