Shake Off the Rust at Iron Hill
5 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: + The location is spectacular. Most of the course takes place deep in the forest. I prefer to play solo, so being alone in the middle of the woods made for a very peaceful session. Add to that some tall hills, and this course has some lovely views of nature.
+ The trees outlining the fairways and constantly in the way require the player to be more thoughtful than usual about all of their throws.
+ Fantastic elevation challenges on almost every hole make this course a tough nut to crack. Never-ending uphill slopes and stunning downhill glides make this course a delightful pain to play.
+ Nearly every hole has dozens of large rocks littering the ground. This may not sound like a positive thing at first, but believe me when I say that they add a dimension of flavor that few other courses can match. Instead of a disc blandly skidding across the ground when it lands, it may bounce unexpectedly and gain another few feet. As the player walks across and around them, it feels like a vigorous trek. Bring your hiking staff!
+ A few of the pins are embedded among tree branches, anchored atop rocks, or planted at the summit of pyramid hills. Some clever design was utilized here to make the course feel as though it sprouted out of the ground.
+ Fairways are mostly clear and distinguishable from rough areas.
+ Benches or logs are at every hole for players to sit while they wait or just to take in the sights for awhile.
Cons: - Some of the tee signs are inaccurate regarding distance and/or pin location. For hole 17, the diagram showing the pin locations relative to one another and their distances from the gold tee is way off. The diagram for hole 12 is missing the location for one of its pins. Hole 15's diagram has two 'Pin A' icons, which I found funny as just a typo. There might be others, but those are the ones I noticed.
- Only two wide-open holes to let loose at reckless full power.
- The silver and blue tees don't have any signs of their own, which is a shame. It means that the player would have to find and walk to the gold tee, get the information they need and then walk back to their desired tee pad.
- Many of the elevation and tree combinations will frustrate some players.
- The two pin locations are not the same color pin for every hole, which confused me and threw off my score as I unknowingly threw towards the wrong hole until I entered my scores into dgcoursereview. If one color pin starts out as the furthest from the tee, then why not keep it as the furthest color for the rest of the course so that all players can intuitively understand which one is the most challenging?
- Very few trash cans and no bathrooms save for the plastic outhouses in the parking lot.
Other Thoughts: Full 'disc'losure, I am something of a disc golf masochist. I came to Iron Hill with the intent of playing the gold tees fully expecting to suffer and flounder about in equal parts frustration and gratification as I scraped along. My personal disc golf approach is to always take the tougher throws as a way to force myself to become better faster. Whether or not it is working so far is anybody's guess...
As for Iron Hill, I got exactly what I expected. All of these holes are tough as nails. I do not think that I would recommend this course for beginners newly learning the game unless they live in the area, in which case they will get some excellent training. I should mention that there are two sets of pins and two, sometimes three, sets of tees. This results in a great number of options and customized difficulty levels for all players.
But I still think that the course's inherent challenges are naturally intimidating to players of any ability. The elevation challenges alone would be too daunting for people just starting out. Add to that the rocks on nearly every hole and the myriad of trees, and you get a perfect storm of difficulty that would almost certainly throw even experienced players for a loop.
That said, I do not feel as though my current opinion of this course accurately captures the true experience of Iron Hill. I can articulate about my personal perspective as much as I like, but I am very much aware that I was out of my league at this course while I intentionally played the harder tees and targets. So that has perhaps somewhat negatively colored my outlook on Iron Hill.
I recognize that it is intentionally challenging with the holes' distances, hills, trees, and rocks. Iron Hill will accept nothing but your best. I recognize its beauty and setting. Iron Hill will delight you with breezes blowing through branches and the soft snapping of twigs beneath your feet.
I recognize that I will have to become a better player before I can come back to Iron Hill and play it the right way. For those of you who are seeking a challenge that refuses to take pity on errant throws and dares you to climb its hills and dodge its trees, then may I suggest Iron Hill. Bring your A-game.
5 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: jimimc
The problems you had with the measurements, tee signs and the baskets not all being the same color had to do with setting up a FPO layout for the NT in September. The FPO layout will be completely different than either the Gold or Silver layouts the course is normally set up in. This fact may change your review. Come check out the course when it's set up the way the signs say. It was just moved back and will remain that way until September.
0 Helpful / 11 Not
Pros: Best course I have played. Very professionally detailed and maintained, with a wide variety of holes, and some very fun holes as well. Very clean, always updated, and a very structured feeling.
0 of 11 people found this review helpful.
worth the trip
2 Helpful / 9 Not
Pros: - two tees and baskets on every hole
- multiple shot holes
- well maintained
Cons: - some of the baskets are difficult to see until you get close
- tee signs only at one tee
Other Thoughts: Iron Hill is one of the top wooded courses I have played. There are a couple of more open holes, but otherwise everything is in the woods. Challenging, but fair. Too often, wooded courses can get very repetitive, basically variations on "hit this gap". Iron Hill has some of those tighter shots, but it also has some wider fairways, multiple shot holes, and holes where you have different options off the tee.
I could nitpick some complaints about the course, but they would generally come down to personal preferences -- I'd prefer a few more open holes, for example. But really this is just a great course. Very challenging. Worth playing if you get the chance.
2 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Fe Hill, Au Layout
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: As a rec to intermediate level player, I was hesitant to play the Gold Layout at Iron Hill. All the people I talked to claimed that it was one of the hardest courses you could ever play, especially if you only have a 300 foot arm like myself. However, I was absolutely surprised to have played well, but also get beat down by the brutal Golds.
The gold tees were nice, long, grippy concrete, with knowledgeable tee signs with map, distance, and par. The gold baskets were Innova Discatchers that were both very visable, and caught well.
The rocks that were placed in the fairway, on the green, under the basket, and around the tee. They were a great form of natural beauty, with a definite added challenge to the course. I can't be the only one who thinks rocks on a disc golf course is the coolest thing ever. Just so natural.
The course flowed throughout the beautiful park, with navigational signs that guided you along the way, as well as beat in paths along the way. These are things that you love to see at park courses, well, all courses, but it really shows that the people in charge of this course care.
Adding to that, the course itself was in great shape. The fairways were clear of grass and weeds, the rough was clean enough to not lose a disc, but also rough enough to penalize bad shots. The people in charge of the park make sure that the course is in the best shape.
Although I did not play any holes from the shorter tees, they looked worth a try if you have time to play multiple rounds, however, they do look like a possible work in progress.
The holes themselves were tremendous. You had holes that were perfectly carved throughout the thick Delaware woods. You were playing down and up steep hills, throwing each and every shot that you have in your bag and then some.
The real way to shoot well at this course is to hit fairways. If you can't throw it 400 feet, you can still be okay. Throw shots in the fairway, and par can be made However, it rewards well placed distance shots, creating score separation for the strong and weak players.
There were a lot of holes I found very enjoyable, most of the par 5s come to mind. They were true par 5s, rewarding distance and accuracy, and as stated by many before me, punished bad shots.
The Gold Tees are a legit par 72, something you rarely see. The possibilities for a 85+ round are definitely there, but you can also shoot mid 60s with a solid game. It is a course that plays differently every time you are there, as you will get into different situations on every hole.
Cons: I believe that Iron Hill has one of, if not the best gold layouts in the country. I felt like you can easily play countless rounds here without getting bored, but even the best courses have cons.
First of all, the short tees. They looked like a great option for someone who is not up for the challenge of the golds, or someone who does not have the time to play the longs, but they were not in great shape. None were concrete, none had separate tee signs. They were definitely there, and I would not mind playing them, but I know that the course could really benefit from the addition of a permanent set of short tees.
When I played, the silver baskets were not in the ground. I was not going to play the anyways, so it didn't affect me, and it is really just an added bonus anyway, but I was confused as to why they were not in the ground.
There was not a single hole I felt was filler, or really remotely close to filler, but there was not really a spectacular feature hole either. Nothing you wanted to empty your bag on.
There were some repetitive holes, not overly repetitive, but somewhat. I loved all of the holes at the course, but there was opportunity for more variation that I believe they missed.
I saw a snake, and I don't like snakes. I didn't know what kind it was, but wasn't about to ask it to ID itself. Just watch where you are stepping. Not a con, just a precaution.
Other Thoughts: This course is honestly so close to a five for me. It is most definitely a destination course, and an easy 4.5.
I can not wait to take another trip here next year, hopefully to play a tournament, that way it is in the best shape. Hopefully in the years to come, this gem of a course continues to grow and get updated enough to reach a 5 star status!
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: jimimc
Thanks. The Silver pins are pulled once a year for the A tiers. They will be going back in next week.
Iron Hill: Magnificent test of mettle
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: If you inquired about the best disc golf course in Maryland, you could forgive someone for jokingly responding "Iron Hill." Just a couple miles across the Delaware border is a disc golf course that offers tremendous design, worthy challenges and excellent multi-teepad, multi-basket layouts.
The smorgasbord of teepad and basket choices - from the short red layout to the mammoth gold layout - means that every disc golfer will find a reasonable challenge at Iron Hill. In fact, the gold layout includes 11 holes that are 600 feet or longer. Also, the baskets - the "silver" Chainstars and "gold" Discatchers - are usually in significantly different areas, offering a diversity of targets and obstacles instead of just simply a longer hole.
While a map might be helpful in navigating in between holes, the "traversability" is excellent. Even off the fairway, the number of terribly sticky spots with briars and brush are few. Enough trees have been removed to ensure that most of the fairways are fair and even the areas off the fairway are bearable and allow for recovery. In fact, several gentlemen were in the process of removing a couple of unnecessary trees when I played. I appreciate that the course is regularly maintained.
The signs are detailed and nicely designed, though the signs were only at the long teepads.
The silver basket on Hole #14 is in a tree. But the basket is positioned perfectly and doesn't feel gimmicky.
Cons: With most of the course situated in the woods, the course does feel slightly redundant by the end. A lot of the holes are fairly straight, though several holes offer changes in elevation.
The short teepads aren't perfect - some of them are little more than dirt and stones. But despite the condition, I didn't have any issues with them.
Other Thoughts: I played the white tees - short teepad to long basket - but I thought that the par of 72 was a little on the generous side. (Even though I still finished over par.) All four holes that were par-5 or par-6 seemed one throw too high. A par of 68 for the white tees seems about right.
If you like wooded courses with big trees but reasonable fairways, Iron Hill is an excellent selection. I walked around the course with a huge grin on my face while enjoying the challenge and ambiance. As nice as the DGCR photos are, the course is even better than the images show. And if you're seeking to snag a course in "The First State," the easy-to-reach and peaceful Iron Hill is definitely the best choice.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Tremendous Disc Golf Experience
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 18 hole primarily wooded (2 open field holes) championship level course in a nice town park. Two practice baskets, an informational kiosk and a porta pottie are all by the ample parking area near hole 1. There are three tee pads and two baskets- a gold and a silver- at each hole, providing players of all levels with plenty of options. The gold layout is a par 72, 10,000 foot monster which will challenge you in ways most are not used to at a typical course. There are benches at many holes and attractive colored signs by each tee pad give you comprehensive information for each hole. Despite the course length, navigation is relatively easy. The design and basket placements reflect great thought and effort, and elevation is incorporated nicely into the layout. Several standout holes- hole 12 is a long straight shot then dog leg left, 13 is a really fun downhill shot with a silver basket wedged between two trees above rocks- and hole 17 is a 900 foot par 5 with a gold basket perched above a beautifully constructed rock wall and stairway.
Cons: The silver baskets could use flags extending from the top, as many are hard to see given the course's length. Although their absence doesn't detract from the golf, more benches, bag poles and navigational arrows would be of great help. Though nice, I found some of the signs to be a bit confusing with a little TOO much information- both silver and gold baskets are shown in "red", and a few of the distances were questionable.
Other Thoughts: It's hard to say much that hasn't already been said about Iron Hill on this site. Though there is the absence of water and picturesque views here, I feel this course is on par with Warwick and Nockamixon as being the best of the best on the east coast in terms of challenge and overall disc golf experience. This is no recreational course. It is a long, grueling venue where all your shots are needed, you'll work for everything you get and be plenty tired at the end of your round(s). Though "gold" is the pinnacle layout, don't think for a second that "silver" is a picnic. Run-ups are difficult, given the number of rocks on most fairways, making driving accuracy that much more important. While there are plenty of trees to hit, the course plays very fairly.
Some have said- with some justification- that part of the course feels repetitive: throw a long, straight drive off the tee to clear guardian trees on either side. But the fairness of the course and the abundance of variety elsewhere don't make this a negative for me.
Any player seeking a serious challenge will more than find one here. A super experience.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
True Championship Course
15 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Iron Hill is a true championship caliber course. This 18 hole course plays through the Delaware woods and includes two sets of targets and at least two sets of tees on all holes. Tight wooded course requires good skills and good decision making to score well. I played this course at part of a disc golf road trip playing 12 States in 12 Days. Iron Hill is the only course I played in the state of Delaware.
I used bullet points for those that don't want to read the entire review.
The Gold Tees to the Gold Targets definitely provides a Championship level challenge. I normally choose harder tees when I play new courses as I am up for a challenge. However the Gold tees at Iron Hill are truly designed for 1000 rated players and not some advanced hacker like me. For the most part, Iron Hill had ample fairways that required good shot selection. I like courses that force a player to think ahead when making shots. It is not always about how far you can throw but if you can land your disc in the right spot to set up the next shot. I thought the white/blue tees to the Gold targets provided plenty of challenge.
Two Tees/Two Targets
Where I live, courses may have two tees and two pin placements. However, it is very uncommon for courses to have two targets installed at the same time. Iron Hill has 18 DISCatcher targets installed along with 18 silver DGA style targets at all times. Along with two sets of tees, this course provides an endless number of combinations. On my visit, I played the shorter tees to the DISCatcher targets. Even from the shorter tees, this is still a very challenging course and is not really meant for new players.
Signs and Tees
Wonderful full color tee signs with informative graphics. Both sets of tees are developed. The Gold tees were all made of concrete. The shorter tees were framed and filled with crushed rock or had rubber mats. Except for some run off from recent rains, all the tees were in excellent shape on my visit. Dont forget the map. Some walks to next tee that are not intuitive.
18 In a Row or not
The course is technically two 9 hole loops. After you play the front nine, the tee for Hole 10 is close enough to the parking area to get back to your vehicle to pick up more water or supplies.
Clean and well maintained
The entire course was clean and in great condition. All the tees, signs and targets were clean and free of vandalism. There was no garbage lying about and I don't recall seeing any butts. I was impressed how well the fairways were maintained.
Kids, Carts and Strollers
I would likely say no to kids and no to kids in strollers. This course covers a lot of ground for walkers and it would be tough to push kids in strollers on the uneven terrain. An all-terrain disc golf cart might be up for the challenge. This course is simply too long for younger ones to play along. There is an opportunity to stop after nine holes and take a break at the restrooms located off the parking area.
There was record rainfall in the area the day before I played and some lingering showers during my round. Despite the record rainfall, the course was in excellent condition. While there was some sand and gravel washed up on a few tees, there was virtually no standing water or mud on the course.
Bugs and Poison Ivy
I don't recall seeing any poison ivy, and there were no bugs when I played in the rain.
I am really trying to think of anything negative to say about this course. I wish I wouldn't have left my map and cell phone in the car as I did miss a couple of turns to the next tee. A few more navigation signs or next tee arrows would have been most helpful. As this is a Championship level course, it may not be suitable for total beginners, but I can't knock it for that.
Other Thoughts: Is it too much?
I am not sure this dual tee course needed two sets of targets. Some of the silver target locations seemed to be afterthoughts. The Silver targets seem overshadowed by the Championship caliber of the Gold course. It seems easier and less expensive to move a single target between a few pin placements for variety. I would personally rather have more benches, signs and navigation aids on every tee instead of double targets.
I played this course as part of my 12 States in 12 Days disc golf road trip. I am glad I had the opportunity to play this top rated course. This is not just the top rated course in Delaware, but one of the top rated courses in the world. A true Championship course that is fair and fun for all. I hope I get the chance to play it again someday.
Updated to correct errors and typos.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 3 Not
The Best Course on the East Coast
Pros: Very long, next-level woods golf. The Gold layout is the premier woods course in the world. Break 70 and you'll feel really good about yourself. It's fair and punishing. Come here to challenge yourself.
Red (Short to Short) and White (Short to Long) layouts are very fun if you're looking for a more casual round.
Cons: Very few left.
Hole 2 could lose a couple trees to be more fair. This will happen in time.
A few drainage issues after big storms, but getting better and better. Barely an issue anymore.
Other Thoughts: Prepare to feel small.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This review is for the Gold Layout. Extremely challenging, features long, tight woods holes and a few open field crushes that will test almost every aspect of your game. Hole 1 is a left-right shot with a relatively narrow passageway that opens towards the pin...don't finish early right...super trouble! Hole 2 is a right-left with plenty of trees to navigate that the top arms can reach for a rare deuce opportunity. Holes 3 and 4 feature open field tee shots to set-up approach shots into the woods. The rest of the course consists of woods holes with lengths of about 300-800 feet. Tee shots are critical, and if you get "off-line" you will need to be creative. Grueling and technically challenging. Distance markers are present on several holes (assuming you are in the fairway!)
Tests you mentally and physically. Roots and rocks can turn that perfectly placed drive into a tree filled scramble. Prepare to get f****d, now deal with it! Great course to hone your tournament skills, both physically and mentally.
Cons: A large number of holes have the same tee shot....straight and as far as possible. This is a good shot to have, but it did become somewhat repetitive.
Other Thoughts: The course shows a ton of love...Jimi Mac and the crew deserve super kudos for all the hard work and dedication...it shows!
Cheap hotels near the course...if you are staying in Elkton, Md DO NOT get on the freeway unless you want to pay a hefty toll. Take the back road (Old Baltimore Pkwy) for travel N/S of the course.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Bring your A-game
Pros: There are 4 layouts to choose from. Get in where you fit it and play the red if you are a beginner and either the white or silver if you are more advanced. If you are up for the absolute most difficult round you have ever played there is the gold layout.The gold layout will test you mentally and physically on pretty much every shot. It will be emotional and there will be ups and downs. Afterwards you will be proud you finished and you will think about all that was left out on the course. Whether it was your pride or strokes you will realize that you cannot beat the hill, you can only hope to contain it. Future champions will be forged at iron hill. It's that kind of place.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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