11 Helpful / 0 Not
Not Quite a 5 by the Slightest of Margins
Pros: -Located in a very big park that has a ton of activities available: fishing, hiking, running/walking trails, baseball field, children's play area and multiple pavilions
-This is one of - if not - the most well maintained and aesthetically pleasing course I have played in my short career. I can't wait to see what it looks like in the fall. Deer Lakes is tremendously well taken care of, and the course is constantly freshly mowed. The amenities are tremendous, as there are multiple bathrooms, benches, and garbage cans located throughout the course. You'll be hard pressed to find any litter on the ground. The maturity of this course is unmatched, with at least a dozen bridges located right where you could use them, a few sets of stairs and clearly defined paths to make hiking in the woods and finding the next tee easier, and clearly defined fairways in the woods with very little rough. Almost impossible to lose a disc here, everything is very well cleared out.
-The tees are perfect, with red, white, and blue on each hole. They are concrete, have great grip, are dug nicely in the ground, and are the perfect size. On many of the holes, the tees have gravel around them, and/or raised on a platform made from wood and carved out of the angled ground, adding to the aesthetic quality of the course. Each tee gives a different approach on almost every hole, adding to the diversity of the course. I've thrown from every tee, and there is a respectable difference on many of the holes, greatly supporting that tee's level of difficulty. Tremendous care went into selecting the tee locations.
-Tee signs look brand new and give all three tee and pin locations. They also point you to the next tee, which in my mind helps and makes navigation a breeze (minus one or two parts of the course). There is also a next tee sign where appropriate (between 10 and 11), which definitely helps.
-Mach 3 baskets are in good shape and are easy to find, even in the woods. Some pin positions are really creative and unique (2, 3, 9, 11, 15). Definitely some death-putt scenarios.
-You will truly experience every kind of hole here. Multiple straight shots, hyzers, anhyzers, open, wooded, terrific changes in elevation. The only thing that is slightly missing is that there are no gimmicky or extreme uphill elevation shots, but all but two holes (4 and 17) have some kind or multiple kinds of elevation change. Also, there is a tremendous variety in distances with some pretty short (2, 4, 5, 8, 11) and some very long (3, 9, 14, 16, and 18) holes, and everything in between. There is even a water hole - a rarity in this region - which gives you the fun option of taking a risk from the white or blue, or playing it safe from the red tee as it is placed near the edge of the water. There are multiple justifiable par 4's and 5's. There are clearly defined multiple lines on every wooded hole. Finally, many holes change dimension and dynamic, being flat then going uphill/downhill on the green, throwing from the open into the woods and vice versa (9, 11, 15, and 16 are great examples of this). Definitely one of the best qualities of this course.
-Loops back near the parking lot multiple times
Cons: -Some of the holes in the woods and walking around the pond always seem to be at least a little muddy, but there has been a significant attempt to avoid those problems with all of the bridges and pathways.
-For a course of this magnitude, some holes can come off as a little underwhelming
-The walk from 8 to 9 can be confusing, even though there is a pole with a sign pointing you in the general direction. My fist time playing, my brother and I followed the road and spent a half hour venturing further away from 9. Make sure you stay to the left of the road and as you get to the end of the gravel lot, you will see paths directing you to the tees. Other than that , the navigation of the course flows well.
Other Thoughts: This is such a fun course to play, and literally the only thing keeping my giving it a 5 is the few lesser holes. Deer Lakes has multiple holes that are some of the most beautiful, technical, and fun holes to play. A 5-rated course in my mind must maintain that top-level consistency on every single hole, as Moraine does. 4, 8, and 12 - while not throw-aways - are a few notches down from the other holes here. This course is a good as a 4.5 can be in my mind, and I toyed with giving it a 5. Just couldn't justify those very few lesser holes. Holes worth special mention:
3- Plays very long, going slightly downhill and then back uphill. Tough pin location uphill and behind a tight line of trees.
6- Very hard anhyzer line with OB on the right and plays uphill through a lot of trees
7- Beautiful hole! Throw downhill over some trees and battle the wind
9- One of my favorite holes in all of disc golf. Plays very long and open then through a tight path in the woods, ending with a death-putt scenario with the pin on the edge of a cliff
14- Another one of my favorites, beautiful hole, playing very long through the woods with multiple lines. Can never play this hole two times exactly the same way
15- Again, throws over a pond, not common around here
So many great signature holes!
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 2 Not
Not Transcendent, but Still Awesome
Pros: One of the aspects of this course that jumped out to me right as we teed off and stayed consistent throughout is how well the three tees on each hole are designed. The red tees manage to maintain the intrinsic quality of the hole while indeed being easier than the higher rated tees. I'm a low 800s player, and I always default to the easier tees on my first time playing a course. Sometimes it can be a bummer to see a hole that is interesting/challenging from the blue tees become a snoozer from the reds. Switching over to the blues in such instances, however, often means inviting an excess of frustration. I appreciated how the tee layouts at Deer Lakes handled steps up or down in difficulty; I never felt like I was being babied or missing out on what makes a hole unique simply because I was playing the reds. At the same time, the higher rated tees consistently add challenges to a hole beyond simply making it longer - new obstacles and angles mean that the blues are testing your accuracy beyond just your maximum distance. My partner and I threw from the whites and blues as well as the reds on several holes just to try out the shot they presented.
There's a great amount of variety here. Levels of woodedness are considerately balanced between open shots, tight lines, and transitions from one to the other. Hole length and elevation are similarly varied. I never felt like the course was repeating itself.
Like a lot of its brethren (Moraine, Knob Hill, etc), Deer Lakes benefits from being in a gorgeous natural setting and a well-maintained state park. Bathrooms, water, and parking are accessible and plentiful; I was especially appreciative for the opportunity to refill my water bottle near hole 7's pin. The course is laid out so as to minimize overlap with other park activities, so there's little opportunity for conflict with non-disc golfers.
The tees were perfect: concrete, well-sized, and in excellent condition. I could hardly ask for more.
Holes that stood out to me:
- 3 is the ultimate tunnel shot: super long, dead straight, and a pretty unforgiving width. I threw a beautiful hyzer flip on here and still ended up in the (very shallow) creek just to the left of the fairway. I love the thoughtful pin placement: on a hill, nestled in some trees. It keeps you dialed in right to the hole's end.
- 7 is a gorgeous, empty-your-bag hole. You emerge out from the woods onto a hill overlooking a clearing, with the basket set on the far side, just into the tree line. We threw a few shots from the blue tees for the joy of throwing over the saplings that populate the clearing's right side. The higher elevation brought the wind into play, though, and our discs got pummeled; fair warning. Thankfully there's little chance of losing a disc on an errant throw here.
- 15 stood out for the simple fact of being a water hole; you don't seem to get too many of those around here. The tees are situated to allow it to play as scary or friendly as you like: the blues will have you throwing 150'+ through a descending wooded tunnel with a relatively low ceiling just to reach the water, whereas the reds bring you right to the water's edge.
Cons: There are a few holes that stand out as being a little underwhelming. This is likely partly due to the course's high points being through the roof. 2, 4, 8, and to a certain degree 10 were a little too straight forward for my taste, with little risk/reward trade off. 8 in particular comes off as a throwaway hole. It doubly stands out because it's wedged in between two of Deer Lakes' best.
In general, the course struck me as playing easier than similar courses in the area which take place in a wooded setting and feature a lot of variety. This is relative to the tee you were throwing from, of course.
This course isn't the easiest to find. You're driving through true blue rural Pennsylvania, meaning a lack of street signs, spotty cell reception, and going miles without a point of reference to help assure you you're on the right track. It isn't terrible by any means, but with courses like Moraine, Knob Hill, and Seth Burton/Orange Crush being more or less directly off the highway, Deer Lakes stands out as being a little harder to get to. It's also a shame that it's a bit more isolated from other disc golf destinations than other courses in the area. One of the perks of hitting Knob Hill or Two Mile Run is that they're so close to other worthwhile courses. Still, that isn't Deer Lakes' fault, and the course is surely worth taking a day out to play it alone.
Other Thoughts: I feel a little guilty saying that I didn't find this course as transcendentally amazing as its rating and reputation would suggest. Don't get me wrong: Deer Lakes offers a fantastic round of disc golf. I would only argue that it isn't in a class above comparable Western PA courses such as Knob Hill and Moraine. I actually prefer those two courses to Deer Lakes. I'm having a hard time articulating why that is, but I think it has something to do with the throwaway holes I mentioned before: there just seems to be a large range of hole quality on this course, meaning it's not as consistently top notch as Moraine seems to me to be. Holes like 3 and 7 are etched into my mind's eye, and I recall them with downright giddiness, but other holes blend together and into a general grayness that speaks to a lack of top level consistency. I don't mean to be a contrarian: this is a great course. It's just that, in an area of great courses, it doesn't rise above the rest.
I probably prefer the back nine for its greater mix of woodedness and openness; the holes here seem a bit more complete and challenging from drive to putt.
I would have given this course a 4.25 if given the chance. It's about as good a "4" as there could be.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Hills lakes and woods
Pros: This course is in my top three along with tyler state park and iron hill. In my opinion it ranks slightly above tyler but is slightly less awesome than iron hill. All in all it is a great course and i hope to be back soon.
Beauty and seclusion- this course is in a secluded area of the park where disc golf is the predominant activity. As far as i know the only other activity that this area is used for is hiking via the numerous trails. Every hole feels unique and apart from everything. Every hole is majestic and outstanding in its own way. This course IS beautiful! 3 as well as 7 and 15 provide beatiful looks through forest as well as some spectacular mountain views. 3 is a fantastic tunnell shot downhill with trees on both sides. 7 provides a downhill bomb with mountains in the background. 15 is a downhill tunnel shot over a lake to a pin 25 feet from the edge.
Elevation- if i remember correctly, ever hole had some elevation change. The elevation was well balanced throughout the course. There were downhill bombers as well as huge uphill shots. If i had to estimate, id say the largest downhill was -60 ft and the larget uphil was +75 feet. I found the elevation on the tight wooded holes to be extremely challenging and provided a challenge like no other.
Shot variety- each hole demanded its own shot and line but had multiple lines to follow in order to execute the given shot. There were some holes wher i ued 7-8 drivers just to test out all the different lines. I used all of my 11 drivers, all three of my mids and 2/3 of my putters.
Distance variety- there was some massive hole lengths as well as short rewarding birdie opportunity. Hole lengths ranged from 275-850. If you played the longer holes well and executed your shots you could have a look for birdie on almost all of the holes.
Amenities- large concrete tees on every hole provide good grip and help you get the extra power you need on some of the holes. Each hole had three teepads all of them being concrete and had intricate tee signs that displayed the lines to the basket, the direction pf the next tee as well as distance and par for the hole. Two loops of nine holes that each lead back to the parking lot. Sometimes i could see only wanting to play nine holes of this massive course. There are bathrooms as well as porta potties close to the parking lot.
This course will challenge our mental and physical game. Elevation tests your mental game and i could see one shot ruining a hole and if you ant stop the bleeding, i could imagine it uining a round. This is the kind of course where 5's and 6's are not uncommon. Elevation changes as well as multiple shot holes can really test you. You habe to work for your birdies and get them when you can because there arent to many out there.
Cons: Some navigation issues if you do not use the tee sign to locate the where the next tee is. Walk from 9-10 can seem a little wandering.
Other Thoughts: Overall my experience at deer lakes was awesome! I played this cours after 7.5 hours of driving on my way to philly and it was well worth the stop. I enjoyed every moment of this wonderful experience and would love to be back soon. Beware, there is no cellnphone ervice in the park.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Deer Lakes...and Deer Hills...and Deer Trees...
Pros: Spectacular pro-level 18-hole course set mostly in the woods of a large town (county?) park.
- You're in for a treat from the start - 2 practice baskets night near the parking lot and tees for hole #1
- Ample parking lot, kiosk with course map, flyers, etc.
- 3 concrete tee pads on each hole, beautifully framed and level
- 3 pin locations on each hole, generally grouped close together
- Colorful, detailed tee signs at each pad provide great hole map, tee locations and flight path for each tee, par, distance for that tee and next tee arrow
- Picnic tables (with attached benches) at almost all of the tees (generally in between blue and white tees)
- Mach 3's for all holes plus practice baskets
- Challenge - this course will beat you up because you not only have to have good throws, but you also have to deal with the up and down walks
- For not having much water (1 pond throwover and a couple small/dry creek beds), a few select OB areas added to the difficulty
- Didn't appear to be a high chance for losing discs (well except the damn pond that ate my TL) - not much brush on the sides and most of the fairways were trampled
- Terrific variety - uphill on #1, #8, #10; downhill on #5, #7, #15; down then up on #2, #3, #11, up then down on #13; right on #6; left on #13 - the list goes on and on
- Having multiple "signature holes" is one sign of a true gem - holes #3 with the long down tunnel and #15 with a downhill drive over the end of a pond obviously get a lot of love - I loved hole #7 and could spend all day unloading my bag on that 350' downhill all the way hyzer hole - hole #9 was also terrific with a long hyzer drive into a tree-smattered field, slight left to right approach to a tight opening in the woods, only to have another left turn in the woods with a steep dropoff back/right of the pin
- You dont' get all punishing holes right in a row - after the long, tough #3, you get a nice flat field throw in #4 and then short, downhill at #5 - after long, wooded, uphill #14, you get the awesome downhill pond throw on #15, neat, right to left on #16 and a couple relatively flat holes on #17 and 18
- While I always enjoy wooded courses over open course, I love "grove" holes, with a select smattering of trees in optimal locations creating necessary lines - #4, #7, #9 come to mind
- You're generally off on your own - only a couple spots where I could envision coming near other park-goers, but if you come with family or kids, there are pavillions, playgrounds, fishing ponds, etc. close by
- Water available in a few palces out on the course (refer to the map)
Cons: - Certainly not an overwhelming amount, but for such an overall top notch course, I felt a few holes were throwaways (an unexciting throw across a flat field, etc.) - #12, #17 and #18 come to mind - less than spectacular way to finish your round
- While the next tee arrows on the tee signs were good, it would be nice to have some next tee indications near the baskets in case you forgot to look at the tee sign - navigation was generally fine, regardless (#9 took me a bit to find)
- I know I played it in spring, but this course really seems to hold water (#3, #6, #14, #15, etc.) - I found a little round-about path during my second round on #15 to avoid going down to the lake shore where it was real soggy, but there was no sign for it and ended up soaking my feet during my first round - a little sign to the path would be nice
- While having 3 tee pads is awesome regardless, they are generally just shorter/longer versions of the same line (some are definitely not - #1, #11, etc.) - would be nice to have more variety overall
- Path down to the parking lot after #9 is pretty steep and was very slippery due to mud
- While the pin positions are generally pretty close, it would be nice to have an indication on the tee sign as to what position it's in - would require less walk-ups to see where you're going
- Picky here, but I'm partial to Innova baskets on wooded courses, since the ones without bands/flags can easily blend into the wooded background on longer holes
Other Thoughts: - No trash to be found anywhere on the course
- Course lived up to its name as I saw a deer with 2 babies running through the woods near #3/5/6 and then again crossing the road on #17/18
- I actually felt like I was getting hunted/stalked by bumblebees a couple times
I'm so glad I was able to play this championship level course while I was in Pittsburgh. No question - it makes you work (I was a few over from the whites), but the terrific design and variety make it all worth while. The tees, signs, baskets, etc. are all very refined - kudos and thanks to those who built and maintain this wonderful course.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 17 Not
Pros: Great course with a solid variety of holes. Plenty of long holes through the woods that challenge your distance and accuracy at the same time.
Cons: The course can be very unforgiving, especially for beginners. The lake can also be annoying.
Other Thoughts: While its cool to have water in play on a course, its tough when the water is a marshy wasteland where discs go to die. It isn't really an option to get your disc back if it goes in the water. Technically you aren't even allowed to go in. Even if you do go in, you have to wade through mud and smell like garbage for the rest of the day.
1 of 18 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: This course has it all. You get a fair mix of tight woods shots and open bombs, an equal blend of straight, left and right, and a lot of elevation change. Every time I play here, I get to throw every mold in my bag! I make it to this course at least twice a week, and it never gets old. I also appreciate that during the summer months, you can always see improvements being made and baskets being moved to keep holes fresh.
Great signage, easy to follow paths, and excellent flat teepads that setup different lines for different skill levels. This is how a course is meant to be run.
Cons: Well there aren't really any in my eyes. Hole 15 over the water seems to eat a lot of people's discs, so I wouldn't be surprised that others dislike this one. I just bring some old junker disc to toss here and if it goes in the drink, not a big loss.
Other Thoughts: This really is one of the Crown Jewels of the Pittsburgh area. If I didn't live near by, I would still drive quite a ways to play this course frequently. I wish it had 9 more holes, as there is still plenty of land.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 9 Not
Challenging At First - Easier The Second Time Around
Pros: There are A LOT of pro's to this course!! 1: Its challenging yet fun! Lots of up's & down's, around's & through's. 2: Its very beautiful & scenic! A few wide open, grassy meadows & hilltop views of the bright blue sky! 3: Its rarely crowded. Enough said. 4: You face obstacles you won't find at other courses. The 2nd time through you will do much better!
Cons: I'm not a big fan of the 15th Hole with the water hazard. We lost a disc in there our 1st time through the course.
Other Thoughts: Overall.... this is one of coolest courses I have seen in the Pittsburgh area! I've played Schenley Park, Knob Hill & Philips Park. Playing this course makes me better each time I go back and play the others.
Don't get disappointed if you have a rough go on your 1st time, you will improve the next time, I promise! Everyone in my group did. Just stay focused & don't get down on yourself if you have a bad hole. You will eventually LOVE this course more than you love chocolate milk! :)
2 of 11 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Solid and Enjoyable Course
Pros: I took my kid (she's nearly 10 but the size of a 6-year-old) and wife and except for the tantrums on a few holes because the kid was scared to walk down a few slopes (kids are soft these days! :D), we all had a great time.
The course has red, white, and blue tee pads that are all ample sized concrete slabs. I have a short-run-up when I x-step and they were at least twice as long as needed.
The signage on the course is great. The tee signs clearly show where the next tee is and most holes have an arrow pointing you towards the next tee.
The multiple tees offer not just the same shot but different angles, which was nice.
The undergrowth is kept to a minimum which allowed for relatively easy finding of discs as well as skip shots and other things that use the ground. There are not too many trees - just the right amount to punish bad shots and reward good lines.
The elevation changes work into the design of the holes *beautifully*. The second hole is a great example of this, and many pins are tucked onto slopes.
I've only played here once but the multiple basket locations are varied on each hole, which is great and will keep the course "fresh" for many, many rounds.
OB is clearly marked on the tee signs AND in most cases marked on the ground with white stakes and even some rope or string. Awesome.
Great scenery. We didn't see much wildlife but the hills are nice and though we could hear other players, we didn't see them more than once or twice. You feel like you have the course to yourself.
There are variations in hole design, from those in the woods the whole way to those in the open the whole way to those, like the ninth, that start in the open with a big bomb and end in the woods. Great variety.
Even though we're all new to disc golf, all three of us found the course challenging but fair. We had a great time.
Cons: Really nit-picky here because this course is pretty darn good. If I could give it a 4.75 I would, but it's not *perfect* so I have to choose 4.5.
Some of the lower holes get pretty damp, but that's just how water works - it goes downhill.
The signs pointing you towards 7 after 6 could be a *little* more specific, and after 9 to 10 as well.
A few of the slopes MAYBE could use some steps, but again, that's mostly because my kid hasn't been in the woods very much. :)
Uhhh... Yeah. That's about it. Like I said, really nit-picky.
Other Thoughts: The PDGA app, oddly, has this course with 18 par threes. I shot +26 or something like that according to the PDGA app, and that's not right. I submitted the proper pars but I don't know if that matters.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 79 Not
Pros: ~ well maintained
~ concrete tee pads
~ well marked with signs
~multiple pin locations
~ multiple tee pads
~ 2 9 hole loops from parking lot
~ many parking lots to start at different holes if busy
~ good mix of open and wooded holes
Cons: ~ muddy at times...bring your waders
~ poorly designed stretch on back 9 (13-15)
~ could be a physical challange to walk if older or have health issues
~ hard to tell pin locations
~ fan boyz sending me threatening PMs about my reveiw
~ back 9 could of been layed out better....wouldve like to seen 27 holes with land used
8 of 87 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 17 Not
Fantastic Western PA Course
Pros: The course has great signs and great tee pads. Good baskets. Great long holes through the woods. Has elevation changes. The signs help you navigate the course with ease going from one hole to the next.
Cons: Has one hole where you have to throw across a lake and there are low hanging trees which will knock your disc into the lake. Very risky shot from the white tees. The course takes a long time to play but it is such a good course that really does not matter.
Other Thoughts: Some of the out of bounds is unclear. This course is definitely worth driving 45 minutes or making a special trip for because it uses the land well and is one of the best courses in PA if not the best one. The course takes a long time to play but it is such a good course that really does not matter.
1 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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