Amazing Backyard Course
7 Helpful / 1 Not
18 hole course set on a private property with two sets of tees and two targets on every hole. Course plays over ponds, through the woods and up and down and across grassy meadows. While not a Championship level course, Black Falls will provide plenty of challenge for most players. The compact design makes excellent use of the elevation and the natural features. I played this course as part of a disc golf road trip playing 12 states in 12 days.
I used bullet points for those that don't want to read the entire review.
Two Targets for Double the Fun
There were two targets on every hole. There are traditional yellow DISCatchers for the "gold" pins and the second set of targets were DISCatcher Sport targets that were spray painted silver. I was amazed how well the Sport targets were holding up as they are not designed to be left out in the elements. This was a very well designed two target course. On some of the two target courses I have played, it seems like one set of targets are the afterthought or somehow squeezed into the design. However, this course does a great job of installing two targets so that they really do provide different playing experiences. Extra target locations are thoughtfully designed. Black Falls is one of the better two target/tee courses I have played. I played one round from the Gold tees to the Gold Targets as well as an extra nine holes of mixed tees/targets.
Two Tees for Quadruple the Fun
Every single hole had two sets of tees. The Gold Tees were always longer and more challenging than the short tees. The Gold Tees to Gold targets is the most challenging layout on the property. This would be the most challenging layout on the property. That first Gold Tee is quite a challenge and I passed on that one as I would prefer to warm up before taking a blind shot over a pond. Even though I am not a high rated player, I do have years of experience and I had no problems playing from the Gold Tees. The Silver Tees are not always shorter, and try employ a different fairway to get to the pin(s). Most of the tees were natural and developed with crushed rock. Both tees on the signature Hole 18 had bricks/pavers.
Fun vs Challenge
The course makes great use of the wonderful natural features of this property. The course takes the player over ponds and down into the woods. It winds along a couple of small creeks. There are some fun downhill shots as well as several uphill treks. Target placements take advantage of natural features to add challenge. Even with the wide variety of terrain, most holes only require players to have a controlled straight shot. The wider fairways still require a straight shot and good placement to stay out of trouble and score well. While the silver tees to silver targets are easier than the Gold targets, the course still requires some amount of skills to stay in the fairways. I am not sure this would be a good course for kids or beginners.
The drive to get here is just as beautiful as the destination. Amazingly beautiful property with tranquil ponds, lush greenery and colorful flowers. This course has the requisite New England rock walls complete with moss and ferns. I visited in late September. with abundant sunshine and mild temperatures. The foliage was just starting to change. This course is twice as beautiful in the fall. The spring photos here really don't show the true beauty and challenge when foliage is the fullest. The garden off Hole 9/10 was overflowing with flowers and pumpkins.
Signs on every Gold and Silver tee showing both pin placements. There were directional arrows to the next silver or gold tee throughout the course. The hand-painted tee signs included all the information for each tee and target including, distances, OB areas and mandatories. The tee signs are color coded with Silver or Gold bands across the top, so there is no doubt which tee you are playing. While these are not super glossy computer generated signs with full color graphics, the home made signs are a perfect match for such an informal backyard course.
Clean and Maintained
All the tees, signs and targets were in great condition. The property was clean and free of garbage, butts and grafitti. There were well placed stones, bricks and boards to traverse the terrain. The holes along the grassy hillside were getting a little shaggy, but that would be expected so late in the season. Please do your part when you play and keep the course clean and free of garbage and butts.
I love the fact that the course loops back to the parking area after Holes 9/10. It is a great opportunity to get more water, drop off a jacket or pick up another disc. It is nice when I don't have to lug all the water needed to play 18 holes in a row. While you do have the option to play either nine first, I would recommend playing 1 to 18 as designed on your first time. I really enjoy the progression of the course as designed. Besides 18 is a perfect finishing hole since there is that chance to lose plastic to the pond.
Rustic and Casual
Nothing fancy here, just good disc golf fun. This is a laid back and casual disc golf course in someone's yard. This rustic homemade disc golf course provides plenty of fun and challenge for the average player. I am not sure this is a good course for new players. It does require the ability to control a disc to stay in the fairways. This course is a diamond in the rough compared to the well polished Smuggler's Resort courses.
There is a tee shop on site. It was not open on the day I visited so I can't comment on the disc selection. There is an honor box to pay when the shop is not open. I don't know if the pro shop sells any water or snacks. Stock up on those items before you come in case it is closed.
This is not a very big property, so you don't cover a whole lot of ground to play the entire 18 holes. The walks between holes are very minimal. Plus the course loops back to the parking area after nine holes. The compact design meant I had enough time and energy to play another 9 holes and experience some different tees and different target combinations before I had to leave.
How amazing to have two full sets of targets and two full sets of tees. As it is a rustic course, one would naturally expect rustic amenities like natural tees There are hand painted signs on every single tee. There are thoughtful uses of steps, stones and boards as bridges to navigate the terrain. There is an on-site pro shop. There is a practice basket by the house and the very small parking area. There was an outhouse after Hole 1. However, I don't know if it was functional or not. The course could use more benches to allow time to relax and enjoy the experience.
Regardless of the layout you play, water does come into play at least once. 18 Gold pin is across the ponds but, even if you play safe on 18, the Silver pin is still close enough to the water for worry should you get unlucky. I played when all the creeks were dry, but the creeks would provide additional hazards after a rainfall. There is the possibility to lose discs in the rough. You could also lose a disc on some of the blind tee shots if you don't have a spotter, which is exactly why I declined to play Hole One from the Gold Tee.
Kids, Carts and Strollers
I would say yes to kids and yes to all-terrain golf carts. I am not sure I would want to push a stroller up some of the uphill fairways. It is not so steep, and the design is pretty compact, and the holes are not that long so a disc golfer shouldn't really need cart. By the same token, youngsters should be able to tag along and older kids with skills would be able to play along. The course plays back to the parking lot at Hole 9/10 so, there is opportunity to stop or take a break. There was an outhouse after Hole 1, but I don't know if it was operational. I don't know if the pro shop sells any water or snacks, so stock up before you come.
I don't recall if there were any bugs or biting things. However, I always spray for ticks and mosquitoes BEFORE I play on courses near ponds or in the woods.
A Long Drive
Here is the proof to the saying: "If you build it, they will come." This course is quite a drive out to the country and this is some extremely beautiful country to drive through. While it is scenic and fun, it will be up to you to decide if it is worth all the extra effort required to get here to play.
It is possible to lose discs in the water regardless of layout you play. If you don't have a spotter, it could be possible to lose a disc on some of the blind drives, I guess there are some rough areas where you could lose a disc, but only if you are unlucky.
The owner has graciously shared his private land to disc golfers. Be respectful of everything here and remember you are a guest. Please pay your fees, before tee off and be sure to pick up your trash and take it with you. Don't be "that guy" that leaves your trash and butts behind and cusses at the top his lungs. Please do not bother the people that live in the house.
Vermont is awesome
Vermont is beautiful from top to bottom. I started my 12 States in 12 days road trip in Vermont. I am so glad I took the time to spend several days here before heading to the other 11 States. Playing disc golf and driving across Vermont was one of the highlights of my 12 day disc golf adventure - actually probably in my life. One of the things I love most about disc golf is it gets me out into the woods and close to nature. Getting to experience the nature of Vermont up close and personal was amazing.
When I played Black Falls, it was the highest rated course in Vermont at DGCR. While Black Falls was absolutely wonderful, scenic, enjoyable, challenging and unique, I did not think it was the top rated course I played in Vermont. I would give Black Falls five disc rating for Vermont Beauty and that awesome New England vibe. It earns a five disc rating for great execution of dual tees and dual targets. It earns five discs as a fun course for skilled players. Black Falls just needs to offer a little more challenge, polish and variety to be considered the best course in Vermont.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
All The Way Up!
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Spectacular 18 hole private course featuring dual tees and baskets playing through a beautiful Vermont forest with moderate elevation changes, boulders, rock walls, a creek and couple ponds providing a unique experience. Well defined and nicely manicured fairways that give you great diversity hole-wise turning left/right and straight.
As a traveling player I was a bit leery playing here because there is no map, however the signage is good and navigation is very easy. Two loops of nine holes back to parking lot.
Cons: It's all the way up to the Canadian border, but totally worth it. Tiny parking lot and not much amenity wise. Hole 1 gold tee seemed a bit close for comfort to the house. Have to cross a fairway or two in navigation. Some slippery footing in the woods - I took a spill on hole 3. Not really a con, but I wish the basket on hole 10 wasn't blind from the Gold tee and there were a couple holes to unleash a drive. Potential to lose discs in the rough. Biting flies and bugs.
Other Thoughts: The Black Falls journey starts off visually with one of the most serene backdrops driving up to the course with Jay Peak and its rivers flowing along the way in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom - I'm pretty sure I've seen it in one of those pretty motivation posters. While playing the course I felt like I was in New Zealand with all the ferns and moss covering stones, it's no wonder why Vermont is the green mountain state. I was expecting some more dramatic elevation on the course given the setting, but what elevation it has is plenty and used well.
I played the Gold layout and the course plays fair to the course manager and punishing to the shot maker that doesn't make it. I would have liked to see a few longer holes and more par 4s or even a 5 or two, but I think the course is maxed out on it's limited property as the layout feels a little squished already. The front 11 was totally awesome and diverse and then got a little repetitive switch-backing the slope on the back 8 sans hole 16 playing directly uphill slight anhyzer while hole 17 played like an "open" hole and a chance to air one out a little, and hole 18 finishing nicely with the triple ponds and pretty mountain top in the background.
Overall I had a great experience playing even despite the on/off rain conditions. I'd highly recommend to any traveling players that enjoy playing some great wooded control golf in a beautiful setting.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Tremendous design, land and execution
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Tremendous design. Challenging but achievable lines utilizing the wonderful landscape. Uphills, downhills, straight fairways, left turns, right turns and even a water carry; this course has it all. None of the holes are repetitive, each one has its place on the course. Just the right amount of trees were cut providing challenge yet fairways are very fair. Bad shots are punished, good ones are rewarded. Multiple teepad and baskets add additional layers of variety to the course. The crushed gravel (and sometimes brick) teepads work well. The Gold baskets are standard Discatchers while the Silver are Discatcher Sports, both caught well. Navigation is easy, lots of directional signs and informative teesigns. Heck, they even have a outhouse on course if you need a bathroom break.
Cons: This is nitpicky. The only teepad/basket combo without a clean line is the Gold tee to Silver basket on 12. It could use some clearing as it's a little flukey. That's it, really. Tremendous design.
Other Thoughts: This course is the best combination of excellent design and great land/landscape I've played (in the 100+ courses I've been lucky enough to play).
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 1 Not
From the Rec Player Perspective
Pros: • Awesome setting. Vermont's Northeast Kingdom is almost a fantasy world in any season. Expected to see hobbits and elves at any time. Though I saw a hobbit over by the covered bridge... keeping the troll at bay, no doubt.
• The owner has lovingly extracted a disc golf course out to of the land while preserving its natural beauty.
• Hand carved steps on the hilly sections, plank walkways in the swampy areas blend in to the surrounds.
• Creature comforts (outhouse, drinking water) available
• Nice water features, some just for show, some (18th hole) come in to play, though mostly avoided if you play the "REC" level silver to silver layout
• Clear and accurate handmade signage fits the rustic nature of the place
• Two Tees, Two baskets on every hole makes for 4 different layouts to challenge any skill level
• Silver to Silver layout is a nice challenge for a "REC" player... Every hole had a clear "PAR" line if you could hit it, but lose concentration or make an errant through and bogie or worse is possible with the dense woods looming. I didn't play other layouts, but I'm sure they will challenge more advanced players.
• Makes good use of elevation changes...and many throw lines have the high tree canopy to deal with for "tunneling" effects.
• Variety of holes... mostly open, pretty tight, good balance of left turning, right turning, mostly straight...
• Practice basket near parking. The "main" parking area is limited to just a few cars, but lots of places to park within a short walk to the first tee
• Course owner lives on site and has discs for sale and is a fount of disc golf wisdom. Tips on places to stay, where to eat dinner, other great courses in the area.
• The Gold baskets are bright DISCatcher Pro's
Cons: • Some of the tee boxes a bit scruffy and smallish...
• The Silver Baskets are DISCatcher Sports though the course owner has added inner chains so they catch well.
Other Thoughts: DGCourseReview.vom had this course as #15 in the world. Heading up to the course I was pretty skeptical. How could something this far out be just a few ticks below Maple Hill? I've played some other fabulous destination courses that don't make the course top 25: The IDGC courses in Appling, GA, Sabattus up in Maine, and The Blockhouse in Spotsylvania, VA. Would Black Falls exceed these courses?
After playing a few holes at Black Falls I felt that maybe this course was a bit over-rated... but as I played along I started really enjoying the natural beauty of the place, and appreciating the details that the course owner lovingly put in to the place.
Is this course one of the top 15 in the world? I'll let the law of large numbers determine this one, but I had a great time and it was well worth the 4 hour drive for me. Black Falls may be rustic and un-refined, but this place certainly captures the heart and soul of what disc golf is all about. There is Vavaldi's Four Seasons, then there is Earl Scruggs Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Which is a "better" piece of music? I guess it depends on the listener. With Black Falls you can almost hear the banjo solo...
My wife also enjoyed our "Northeast Kingdom" Vermont experience and enjoyed the great vistas and exploring small towns. This is so close to Canada half of the radio stations were French language stations from Quebec. Montreal is Southwest of Black Falls. We came in on the "shortcut", Rt 58, which turns into a gravel road for much of the way coming in off I-91. Spectacular scenery, and I was amazed that when it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere I'd suddenly get 4 bars and a 3G connection on my cell phone. (NOTE: Road can be closed in snow/mud season)
14 of 15 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 2 Not
Crown of Northeast Kingdom
Pros: I recently got the opportunity to hang out in Montgomery, VT for a week with nothing to do but play this course. It was an amazing week. The first few rounds I was in awe. Every hole feels completely different. There are two courses overlaid on the same land. Silver and Gold. I played mostly silver the first few rounds with a few golds sprinkled in. My last few rounds were gold only. Not only does each hole feel different, they play differently as well. To do well here you will need a variety of shots. The course is well maintained by the very dedicated Johnny Betts. His love for the course is visible at every turn. The thought that went into the layout and balance astounded me.
If I had to pick out highlights I would have to go with gold holes 4,5 and 18. Four has a long tight stream lined approach to the base of a big steep hill which has the basket perched on it's peek. Don't overthrow of you will go down the equally steep back side of this ridge. Five plays back down the hill through a wicked tight gap. Eighteen requires a straight throw over water. Gets the blood pumping every time.
Cons: I typically like to play in sneakers. My time playing this course was in peek Spring with lots of rain. Boots were required to stay dry during the off fairway trouble I often got myself into. I would add that I played the course in pouring rain and still had a blast. It's that amazing a course.
Other Thoughts: This course and the area of Vermont it's in are beautiful. I didn't get tired of the course even after playing it almost exclusively for a week straight. The fairways are laid out such that if you can shape the shot, you can make the shot. Every hole is very playable. Most are challenging. Like.Michelangelo with marble, Johnny has carved this course out of the Northeast Kingdom. He found the course that was "in" the land. I don't know what perfect is so I leave my rating at a 4.5.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
Run towards the border!
Pros: - Excellent layout. The holes use the terrain really well to create an excellent variety of holes.
- Challenging to all skill levels with two tees and two baskets on every hole.
- Convenient and classic outhouse.
- Discs available for purchase on site
- Well defined and maintained fairways.
- Not crowded
- Beautiful location in northern VT
- Super clean
- The owner is a super guy that is totally passionate about disc golf, and his course.
- Tasty wild berries all over the course in the right season (mid-late summer)
Cons: - Getting in the rough on some of the holes can be ROUGH. It is supposed to be rough, but watch out for wild blackberries that will cut you up.
Other Thoughts: This course really is worth the run towards the Canadian border! Such a beautiful spot and a wonderful course!
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Get here to play
Pros: Variety: Each hole feels quite different from all the rest without any tacky addtions to attempt to create unique holes. This is achieved through tremendous use of elevation, excellently shaped fairways, and difficult but fair basket locations.
Signature Holes: This course has multiple! #4 plays downhill toward the base of a ridge, across a stream, and then to the top of the ridge. #5 is a shorter but exciting tunnel shot back down the ridge. #10 is a 500+ tight tunnel downhill into a more open field with the basket at the far end. #18 shoots over multiple ponds that are easily accessable to retrieve splash downs.
Options: 2 sets of tees + 2 sets of baskets = 4 layouts.
Scenery: Northern VT, in the mountains, enough said.
Tee pads: I prefer cement tees, but I can't dock Black Falls because their crushed stone tees are very level, dry, and more than large enough. Honestly, cement tees would detract from the pristine beauty of the course.
Baskets: In great shape.
Upkeep: Clean fairways, grass mowed, signage present and accurate.
Owner: Didn't personally meet him, but I have heard nothing but compliments.
Cons: Location: Not very close to anything. I understand that many people would find this a PRO since the course is never crowded.
I will add more here if I can ever think of any.
Other Thoughts: This course has an unpolished feel to it, which is different than most of the destination courses in New England. But it works! A very relaxed setting, quiet and beautiful. The respect for the course is obvious because I did not see a single piece of trash or empty can/bottle.
Super fun course to play, and it challenges your game both mentally and physically.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 9 Not
Two tees and pins per hole
Great diversity in hole lengths, elevation and tree density.
Challenge for pro's and easy for beginners.
Very well taken care of. Always mowed and tees are kept flat and solid.
Outhouse, and water available on course.
Good tee signs for easy navigation.
Cons: Parking can get tight if it is crowded. This is usually not an issue as you are more than likely to have the course to yourself
Other Thoughts: A true destination course especially paired with sister course "Cherry Hill" next door. You could play here for a week and not get tired of the golf.
4 of 13 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Great mix of holes with a good balance of long and short as well as fh/bh-friendly shots.
2 Tees & 2 Pins for every hole, course difficulty ranges from easier/beginner (Silver>Silver) to very challenging (Gold>Gold) so you can show up with a group of beginners or pro's and have a great time.
Always well maintained.
Discs and more available for sale at the shop.
Good signage to help navigate around the course.
Cons: Tee pads are crushed stone which is fine, but a couple could be a tad bigger.
Other Thoughts: Beautiful location, camping is available.
Not a con, but be aware that the course plays near/over the house/garden. Watch your language.
I really love the balance of this course with tight & technical to go with a few bomb shots.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Make the trip...
Pros: Two sets of tees and baskets makes 4 unique ways to play, challenging beginners and pros alike. The hole diversity is also outstanding with a good balance of forehand and backhand friendly lines, tight wooded alleys, open fields, orchards, streams and ponds. Lots of well-utilized elevation adds to the challenge and enjoyment of many holes. Good signage and easy navigation make it very friendly for first timers.
Gravel / natural tee pads are in good condition. Discatchers at every hole.
Cons: The only gripe I've ever had in a dozen visits is that the rough can be rough! Leave the fairway at your own peril, particularly in the spring. It helps a lot to use a spotter, particularly in the overgrown spring months.
Other Thoughts: Owners are super-friendly and Jonny's shop has a good selection to top off your bag or take home a BF-stamped disc as a memento (they just fly better).
There's always a defined fairway so no "throw and hope" shots. At the same time even the field holes are bounded with treelines and OB so you have to hit your line to stay safe.
While some quality courses lack a "signature hole" this one has at least 4! Holes 1 (especially from "tournament golds"), 4, 10, and 18 are particularly beautiful, challenging, and unique. There are no gimmes or filler holes here.
This is a great destination course. Bundle it with nearby Cherry Hill, Brewster Ridge, Wrightsville Beach, or Center Chains and have yourself an unbeatable golf road trip. Its fun any time but the autumn is gorgeous at the Falls.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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