A Break at Burke Lake
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: + Sufficiently long and solid, if narrow, concrete tee pads.
+ The course plays in a woodsy and somewhat hilly area of a much larger park with plenty of family activities. This popular venue has an active buzz of activity everywhere you go.
+ Plenty of benches and trash cans with a few bag posts. Please do not litter, folks.
+/- The tee signs are *too* good? There is a frankly bonkers level of detail on their diagrams.
+ The course does have a practice basket, but...
Cons: - ...The practice basket is between holes11 and 12 next to a tiny parking lot... Uh, what?
- No 'next tee' signs. You have only your memory and instincts to guide you to the following tee posts.
- Fairways 1 through 8 and then 13 through 18 clash with themselves and each other. It is a very condensed course. Watch for wild throws on busy days.
- Precisely because it is within a family-friendly area, you will encounter first-timers, wandering pedestrians and small kids. Just be patient.
Other Thoughts: Hole14 looked the coolest because of how its tall trees were outlining a grand hallway. Hole15 was the most enjoyable to play because of its split fairway at first and then gradual upslope along a tunnel. It felt the most adventurous to my mind. I guess hole9 was my least favorite because it's out of the forest and didn't have the same impact.
As a whole, the course at Burke Lake is a good place to practice tactical play in a forgiving setting. The fairways don't go much further than 250 feet, so the new player can focus on missing trees and the seasoned player can focus on birdies. It's a low-pressure course, too. There's really no chance of getting lost due to the people everywhere. It's unlikely that you will lose a disc because the fairways and rough are pretty plain. And the hills won't give you nasty rollaways. This is definitely more geared towards the fresh players among us, and if that describes you, then consider this my recommendation. Go practice there!
The experienced among us won't find anything special about the course, though. These are all holes that you've played before. Birdies are nice, and you can collect quite a few here. If you're looking for complex layouts or a bunch of risk-reward throws, then this course won't really scratch your itch. It also lacks the kind of wide open areas that the big arms out there would prefer. This course is unlikely to satisfy the more serious players looking for an upper-level training ground.
But don't dismiss it as a kiddie course just because there are a merry-go-round and a miniature railroad nearby. Some of these fairways, while indeed brief, are surprisingly tight and dense with tree cover. For its small footprint, the course at Burke Lake is more technical than a lot of courses I've played in the area. The player's full attention is required on more than a few holes. It'll be over before you know it, though, which encourages multiple playthroughs, but it might get old fast.
Still, I can definitely make a gentle recommendation for this course to any course bagger, those who don't have much time to play or those with kids in search of a fun place to spend the day.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Crowded but Fun Park Golf
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: +Infrastructure in good shape. Two tee pads per hole, with good signage and good baskets.
+Makes good use of elevation and available land, with a nice mix of uphill/downhill/left/right/straight shots.
+Well-used course means not a lot of really bad rough/thorns to deal with.
+Even the shorter holes have their specific challenges to them and present interesting shots. Back half plays longer.
+Good practice area (although it's not next to hole 1).
Cons: -Just a million people all the time on nice days and weekends. So many safety concerns/people picnicking in random places/blocking fairways at any non-off-hour. One of the holes presents a hazard to a playground if you overturn a high turnover shot.
-Course is really short. I'm an 880-rated player and shot -1 from longs on the second time I played there. You've really done poorly on most holes if you get a bogie as anything other than a beginner.
-Practice area is not particularly close to hole 1.
Other Thoughts: It's a fun course and actually quite enjoyable during off hours. Good chance to practice a variety of approach shots and shot shapes. You can leave almost anything above a 9-speed at home though.
Entry fee at the gate. No one was there during COVID times when I went, but I think it's tiered for county/non-county residents.
Nice family amenities - carousel, playground, kiddie train ride, and a beautiful lake with tons of hiking paths (which, unfortunately, come way too close to the course).
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Classic short, but still a challenge
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Nicely wooded section of a big regional park, makes for narrow lanes that reward control over distance
+ Poured tees, old DisCatcher baskets still in good shape. Holes have alternate tees and/or baskets to make "Pro" and "Advanced" layouts, and the signs have bolts inserted to indicate basket in use
+ The signage is very informative (maybe to a fault), including an illustrated map that shows the multiple tees and basket positions, adjacent hole shapes and park structures, topography lines indicating change in elevation, an arrow to the next tee, any relevant mando information, and hole sponsorship. It's a bit much to take in at a glance
+ This is primarily a short, wooded course - but the back 9 features three open holes which create a change of pace. Although none of the three are particularly memorable holes, just having them adds to the overall quality of the layout
- Very tight multi use property that includes a playground, minigolf, carousel and miniature railway for the kids. Fairway #2 has the train track bordering much of the left side. Pretty funny - until you imagine the possible consequences of a stray shot
- Many of the fairways border a popular walking trail, so delays are inevitable
- Too bad the nearby lake isn't incorporated. A water carry or two would really add to the personality of the course
- There are only two mandos, but I couldn't locate one of them. The sign on #5 indicates a mando on the left. I didn't see markings on anything, so I had to guess based on the map. I'm wondering if the mando tree has rotted and been removed?
~ Due to the compact nature of the layout, you're almost guaranteed to spend some time throwing from opposing fairways. That's fine when the course is empty, but when you add that to the traffic on the walking trails (and miniature train), I can't imagine ever getting into a good flow of play on summer or weekend days
~ For such an old course with hole lengths that were common 30 years ago, Burke Lake holds up pretty well because of the wooded lines and changes in elevation. Sure, you might be throwing a mid now where you were throwing a "max length driver" 25 years ago, but the course still forces you to be accurate and to plan your landing angles
RECOMMENDED COMBINATIONS: I combined this with the short 18 at Pohick Bay for a fun morning in January. You could easily add in Bluemont for a trifecta, as long as the courses (and roads) aren't crowded
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Other Thoughts: Great course to get introduced to the game. The course plays predominantly in the woods without many holes requiring too great a distance. Overall this course introduces some technical elements without being overly demanding.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
good course for a beginner
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I'm still a beginner (playing for a bit over 2 years). I like that the Burke Lake course starts short (many holes under 200 feet from the red tees), and then steadily goes to low 200s, then mid/high 200s. Holes are distinctly longer on the back 9.
I believe most holes have at least 2 pin locations possible and some have 3. That is great variety for a regular visitor.
Don't be fooled. There is alot of elevation change. Uphill a little more than downhill, I believe. A few mandatories. I still score poorly on the uphill holes and that remains a challenge.
Cons: As noted by many, the holes are pretty close together. Maybe use a midrange disc on the wooded holes on the drive to stay in your lane, reserving driver for 9-11. However, some of the wooded holes are long enough for driver for a newbie! Something pretty stable then or if you have a hyzer flip in your arsenal.
Clueless pedestrian traffic (hey, I used to be such) is troublesome. Also a very busy course. My first outing in 2019, I came the weekend after Xmas. Several of us had the same idea, and it was a lovely, lovely day weather-wise.
Other Thoughts: I certainly won't be here in the spring-summer unless really early in the day. I see being here in the fall/winter is no guarantee of a peaceful round either. The cooler months though mean no entrance fee for anyone (Fairfax County resident or otherwise). The entrance fee is collected April-October.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
nice little course
Pros: Relatively short course that plays quickly. Dual teepads allow for different layout on repeat rounds. Lots of birdie holes!
Despite being in the woods, I didn't see or get any ticks! (this is pet peeve of mine as my local course has tons of ticks).
Decent variety up/down hill, left/right/straight shots.
Cons: Several fairways are close together such that errant shots may cross paths.
Few holes truly separate the pros from the ams. Everything is a par3, and a whole lot can be birdied without much difficulty.
Not so cart-friendly: lots of roots, logs, rocks and uneven surfaces.
Other Thoughts: I've only played this course once, and it was a tournament, so the baskets had been moved into their longest positions. This is a short technical course that can be played with a mid and a putter.
I'd play this course again if I was in the area.
Pros: something awesome to do at Burke Lake park!
Cons: mostly short par 2 type holes.
gets crowded quickly
not too much interest or challenge
Other Thoughts: This is in a popular park in a highly populated area. It gets crowded easily.
Most holes are not very challenging, and kind of ho hum. On the other hand it's great for teaching and getting friends/family into the sport.
Because it's in the park, it is well kept, and that's nice. There's bathrooms and garbage collection and food stand and a pool.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: It's not a super challenging course, but it does allow practice for all types of shots. Beginners and advanced players can play this course and get enjoyment from it. Advanced players will generally score very well here, but it still provides an element of interest. I grew up playing this course and would still play it today. There are a lot of ace runs that are great for confidence building. Highly recommend this course for anyone just getting started or advanced players who want a relaxing afternoon.
Cons: Course plays just long enough to keep you from playing 3 or 4 rounds, but short enough to make you want to play 3 or 4 rounds. Beware of thorn bushes in the woods.
Other Thoughts: Get out and throw, it's a fine course considering the area. There's no place like home.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
It's a 30+ yo course that plays like one
Pros: Multiple tees and basket positions on every hole. Signage is present on every hole with current basket position. Very nice use of mandos on 5 and 16 (mandos could be added on 8, 13 and 15 that would make them more interesting and more technical). This course has a bit of everything that will test your accuracy and shot selection depending on the basket position. The people that maintain the course try to keep the positions in interesting positions. Elevation is mildly a factor throughout the course, most notably on low angulated uphill 9 and 15.
Cons: The course is very compact with many holes running sub 250ft. Many of the holes also run side by side on every one which make it easy to overlap into another person's hole if your shot is off, you overshoot, or if you get an unlucky tree bounce. Some of the notable examples: Hole 1, which is short and that if you overshoot or get bounced will end up in the way of hole 3; Hole 13 which curves right can easily land in the direct path of hole 8 and if an unlucky bounce back into hole 12; With all the trees on Hole 15, it's possible to get an unlucky bounce into the path of hole 17. Also the long tees add an increase in technicality without adding too much distance due to the compactness of the course.
Also, the first half and the last half of this course run right next to a walking path around Burke Lake and often has a good amount of traffic on it during midday. It is possible to have your disc reflected into the path if your shot is off. Another issue is that sometimes walkers on the path will decide to do a little off-the-trail walking into the disc golf course. I've been here over 10x and have seen this happen twice, and though it will rarely happen, it can sometimes happen.
Although signage is great for showing the layout of the hole, there is currently limited signage directing traffic to the next hole. This is notably an issue on hole 6 to hole 7 as you have to go right back to the start and left to see it; hole 8 to hole 9 as you have to cross the street to get to hole 9; and a warning sign on hole 18 to be aware of hole 6 because in order to get to the big parking lot you have to directly cross into the throwing path of hole 6 which can sometimes be dangerous. Since the course has been around for so long, the path to many of the next holes are worn out and visible, but it still would be good to add more signage to direct the flow of traffic of players playing on the course.
IF you are NOT a resident in the area, this course costs money to play (it costs $$ to enter the park). Usually it is free during holidays and certain times of the day on weekdays where there will be no one at the gate but the gate will be open. Be aware of the cost and plan ahead if you intend to play here.
Other Thoughts: I believe ratings and reviews are highly subjective. My review reflects my experience playing the course over the course of a year and with an intermediate level of playing experience. I understand that others may have a different view and different opinions. My review will attempt to be as unbiased as possible.
This course reflects its age. It's a 30+ year old course that plays like one. Back then discs and flight properties were different than are today, courses were few and there were less people playing. If anything I appreciate the fact that this older course has stood the test of time for more people of a newer generation to play in.
Other thoughts that are neither a pro or a con as they are subjective to the player and their preference on what they feel a disc golf course should be:
This course is short and highly technical. The only long open shots are on 9, 10 and 11. Every other hole has you selecting shots around trees or hitting precise lines and finishing accurately. There is a good variety of shots that reward good shot selection. There are no water features and there is no significant elevation change in this course (though mild elevation is present). The course does though have a good selection of other challenges already mentioned above. A lot of complaints have been about course traffic both of players and of walkers along the Burke Lake trail. The only suggestion I would have to alleviate this would be to add signage next to the trail on the holes that are next to the trail: hole 2, 3, 4, 5, 15, 17, 18, and by the road behind basket 8 and 13. I would also add directional signage leading to the next basket on hole 6 to 7, 7 to 8, 8 to 9,15 to 16, 18 to start (and also a warning sign by the trees near hole 18 to be aware of hole 6).
In summary this course is a typical course of the era it was made. It will appeal to players who like technical ace runs due to its short nature and its very good use of the trees to force players to think about their shot selection. It has a little of everything while not being the best at any of them, which is typical of almost every course. Shots in tight corridors, dog legs, elevation, short open bombers and sharp corners are all throughout this course. As I stated above, there are a few things that can be done to make this course flow better and minimize player/pedestrian interaction and delays. As it is, the course is a decent course worth trying out, both fun in it's technicality and interesting in it's layout. Try it out and you may find something you like here. I certainly did and hope you will to.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Avoid this course on the weekend
Pros: Each hole position was adequately marked and for the most part, baskets were clearly visible. There were two tees for each hole. There were a fair amount of technical shots required. The back nine had some longer holes which was much needed.
Cons: The front nine are ridiculously short and often the tees for the next holes are so close the baskets of the other tees that there was a constant barrage of discs from groups behind. The main road is has to be crossed over twice and thrown near three times. There are several walking and biking paths that are adjacent to fairways so if a shot goes astray it is important to be vocal to joggers and bikers. Overall the layout is very cramped, and was often more distracting than engaging. The tees are cement, very narrow, and wood framed. which made getting a good run up quite a challenge when necessary.
Other Thoughts: This only applies to weekend visits specifically summer. As a non-resident the $10/car cost to visit is an absolute deal-breaker if 4 people aren't going in one car. I will never visit on a weekend, summer day again. If you are not a resident and want to check this out, absolutely go during a time when kids are in school. There was a lot of rate of play friction from players of different caliber and group sizing issues.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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