I love disc golf! No other way to put it. I am always up for a challenge and think too many courses are made for the mainstream and not me and the people I like to play with.
My design philosophy and review preference is such that I place high value on variety. I like a variety of different types of holes - long/short, wooded/open, OB, water, elevation, etc. Stoney Creek is actually one of the best examples of this IMO. I also see no reason any course cannot have two permanent tees, and multiple pin placements. I highly believe that a championship mega course that will challenge the top pro, can easily add some short tees and appeal to (and be enjoyed by!) the moms and dads playing with their kids for the first time. Any course in a large public park better have a set of beginner style short tees!
My reviews are generally based on both the wow and challenge factors, basically how "worth it" is the course to travel out of my way for. I love wooded courses, appreciate extreme challenge and risk, love to see things out of the ordinary, and don't much care about how I score but how it feels to play a course. I want to play a course that makes me think about what or how to throw, makes me calculate risk, and makes me feel that much better for executing a tough shot.
"How to get a 5 Disc Rating". The course better be gorgeous and really 'wow' me. Some amazing scenery and amazing design that really challenges a good player. It must have excellent and ABSOLUTE variety and balance - open, tight woods, long, short, left right, uphill, downhill, water, OB, risky greens, gimmicks, etc. My preference will be given to crazy tight and tall mature wooded courses under a canopy of trees, but it still needs some open rippers as well, water, and elevation. The course will need that extra something not found everywhere else - true water hazards, decent OB, and a long downhill bomber to let those disc fly (everyone loves floating discs off hills and mountains)! The course better make me very glad that I drove for possibly hours, or took time out of a family vacation to play it! More than 18 holes always helps make a course worth the trip, and I will always consider companion courses which are both excellent and very near one another.
What the disc rating numbers "mean" to me...
5 - I would play this course in ANY condition and be glad I did. I would travel to this course from major distances. I would skip out of work or other engagement to play this course. I treat a 5-disc course as currently the best of the best I've played, and readjust my rankings if I play better ones. There are multiple 5-disc courses, not just one.
4.5 - Essentially a 5, but just one or two aspects of the considerations I put into my rating are missing. I got a bit nitpicky about a few things, and this course wasn't complete disc golf nirvana (e.g. treating a 5-disc course as perfect or yet to be or incapable of being /designedplayed)
4 - A SOLID course, one that I would play over any lower rated course without question. Typically just missing "the feel" of losing myself in a disc golf round/adventure, mostly due to not being in a remote and gorgeous natural setting. City parks typically fall into this shortcoming, excellent design, but crowds, traffic, noise, etc.