Come Drive to the Cliff
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Cliff Drive is a fantastic course with lots of fantastic features. Despite being in the middle of the city, it feels pretty secluded, with few other park features in the area and treelines blocking views of the city. At Kessler Park, you'll be throwing a lot of drives near a lot of cliffs… hopefully your disc doesn't go down a cliff.
There are now 22 holes, with plans for 2 more (see the course map). There's an official 18-hole layout, with options for several more holes if you want a longer round. The regular 18-hole layout was changed from a few years ago: old hole 12 is removed, and old holes 14 and 15 are combined as hole 14. In addition, several new pins have been installed in the last year. As a result, the course has a lot more variety and challenge while still keeping the original alignment of the best holes. The tee pads and baskets of the removed holes still exist, so there are lots of options.
In addition to the extra holes, there are extra baskets all over the place. There are approximately 34 baskets on the property, including the extra holes, practice basket, and around nine holes with two baskets each. The "official" basket is the grey one with the flag, while the others are red or blue and less decorated. You can play whichever pin you want or flip a disc to decide. I usually play the longer option unless I'm not sure the long basket actually exists, or if it's a pin I don't like (such as hole 12).
The wooded holes here are absolutely amazing. Roughly speaking, 1-9 and 18 are the wooded ones, and some of them are some of the most unique holes in the area while still being completely fair and challenging. Here are some highlights: Hole 4 is uphill with a curving fairway following a literal cliff, holes 2 and 5 play way downhill into a valley with a tunnel shot, and hole 18 is a down-and-up dogleg right. Hole 7 is an epic tunnel shot that plays through a funnel like a half-pipe. It has a long basket that would be an epic par 4, but it's overgrown so it's unplayable right now.
The open holes still have some decent variety. Since the minor course redesign, all the open holes have some hills or extreme distance to work with. Several pin placements are really precarious: hole 14's basket is under a tree whose branches block a lot of shots coming in, hole 16's long pin is on an island formed by roads, and hole 17's long pin can produce some rollaways.
The "epic value" on this course seems to be better than any other. Especially on the wooded holes, the extreme elevation makes for tons of excitement even if you're throwing off the fairway. Most of the time, there are stairs to help you navigate the hills. It is absolutely mind-blowing that holes this cool can exist anywhere and still make sense, instead of being complete gimmicks. Hole 9 has one basket placement hanging off the side of a cliff and has two completely different lines to get there.
Several of the par 4 holes are super challenging and unique. Hole 16, the island hole is one of them and is super downhill, so there are opportunities for massive shots off the tee, but with OB danger to the left and trees to the right. You can lay up for the par or go for the green in two. Hole 13 is the longest "air it out" hole, but 11 is also open and plays steadily uphill to several basket placements. Holes 9 and 18, in long pins, are fun too, but also have cool shorter placements.
Cons: There. Are. No. Tee. Signs. There used to be, but they weren't maintained and got out of date when the new holes came in. With the abundance of tees and baskets, this is a big problem, and not even the newest map can fix the issues; come with someone who has played the course before. There are a few temporary signs on some holes, but not enough to mean anything. Even just the hole number can go a long way toward helping first-timers be confident they're at the right place. I believe there are plans for new signs in the future.
This course is in a rough part of town, so some pretty sketchy stuff goes on sometimes. Avoid this place after dark. I normally like quieter courses because it means I can play faster, but this is one course I want to have lots of other Disc Golfers at, because having more people makes place safer. Trash gets dumped at the course frequently and is difficult to clean up. In the woods, weeds aren't kept at bay very well in the summer.
An old reservoir comes into play on holes 12 and 15 and is super annoying. It's technically possible to retrieve discs out of, but it's dangerous, slow, and makes for a dumb challenge. Those two holes are easily the worst holes on the course. It has a fence around it, so there's a bit of a barrier, but it gets windy up there and discs will do crazy things.
The wooded holes become near-unplayable if there has been any rain recently, since several hills get muddy easily. There are stairs or tree roots that help, but they only go so far. And when your disc inevitably goes off the fairway, good luck. Speaking of fairways, the rough can be really nasty, especially during the summer. It's not impossible to avoid, but like all courses, anyone without multiple rounds of experience won't know what the best lines are and will find themselves searching for discs annoyingly often. Hole 2 eats up discs especially often, as can kicking or rolling down hills on 3, 7, and 10, not to mention over the fence into the reservoir itself.
Other Thoughts: Because of the many holes and baskets, there are several variations available. You can play a "rain course" that includes 12A (between 12 and 13), 13A and 13B (between 13 and 14), and split 14 into two holes. That will give you the ability to remove 4-7 and possibly even a few others that become dangerous during and after rain. You can also split holes 11 and 18 into multiple holes or even make a 27-hole layout.
There isn't much in the way of amenities here, but I don't think that's a big deal. There's an oddly placed drinking fountain near the tee of 16 that I'm not 100% sure still works. There's no official parking lot near hole 1, but you can park on the side of the road pretty much anywhere and no one will complain.
This is one of the few courses I've played that can't improve from a redesign. That's not because the land is trash, it's because the holes here are just so good and cleaning out that long pin on 7 will make it even better. Signage is the main thing this course needs now, so once that's fixed, I might be giving this place a 4.5 rating. At that point, a few of the open holes (and maybe the litter and overall sketchiness of the park) will be the only thing keeping this course from a 5.
This course is truly a great course. It still has its drawbacks but is one of my favorites. Come during the day, preferably with someone who's been here before, and enjoy a super grueling round. It will be worth your time.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
15 Helpful / 0 Not
My favorite in KC, but not the best.
Pros: Elevation change. All the elevation change.
Baskets are regularly changed.
Tons of options. There are more than 30 baskets on the course, and at least 21 tee pads.
Front 9 are the most technical fun in the city. 10-17 offer a lot more open shots with several bomber opportunities, and 18 is pure joy in hole form.
Excellent views of downtown KC on 13. The reservoir you play around had some excellent graffiti art... just hope you dont have to go in to get your disc.
Cons: Trash. 1, 2, and 18 regularly get trash dumped in their fairways. There's an excellent group of guys that try to stop this but some things can't be avoided.
Navigation. Most of the front 9 has obvious paths to the next tee, but the back 9 have some very frustrating issues. 11 and 17 cross paths. 11 has 3 pins, 13 has 2 pins. Going from 16 to 17 can be hard. Basically, have a map, and play the extra holes if you want.
There's an unused hole that presents some real lost disc danger. It used to be hole 12, and is still playable, but if you go too far right, kiss your disc goodbye down a 200' cliff. (Cliff Drive, get it?)
The front 9 are almost unplayable when it's been rained on. The erosion is super bad. Definitely just make up some of your own tees and play the back 9 if it's wet.
11 to 15 can get... a little dull. There's just not a lot of variety, but I won't lie, just playing purely for distance on 13 can be really fun.
Unless you're a runner, your calves are going to HURT after a round here. Lots of up and down walking in general, especially in between holes.
Lots of lost disc opportunity on the front 9.
No tee signs.
The company you'll have on the course is... interesting. For the most part, leave them alone and they'll leave you alone.
Other Thoughts: Gosh I love this course. Holes 3 to 9 are just pure joy to play. There's a ton of safari opportunity. Tournaments can be organized on just the top half if there's been rain, and I've personally mapped and played out a 27 hole round with a buddy. The scenery is excellent, with a super cool reservoir to poke around in if you have the time. It's not a high traffic course, so don't expect to get slowed down by groups. It needs some work, but the baskets and tee pads are excellent. It's also being maintained incredibly well for the amount of trash that gets dumped on it. I get so much joy out of this course that it gets an extra 0.5 out of me. I'll stop gushing now, but go play this course... as long as it's dry!
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Sorry, I Just Can’t Get Past The Amount Of Garbage Strewn About!
Pros: Kessler Park is large, with delicious hilly terrain coupled with a nice contrast of the wooded, hilly front nine and the more open but still hilly back nine. The front nine is much more technical and treacherous while the back nine plays much longer with some wonderful long downhills.
The tee pads are always extra long, the baskets are Mach II's with an extended PVC pipe with a red flag. This really helps spotting them, especially in the more densely wooded front nine. But the signs are cheesy temporary ones which gives only the hole #, no distance.
Navigation is tricky and sometimes totally confusing. After playing # 10, I walked across the park road and played, what I thought was # 11, which is what the tee sign says, only to discover I was throwing to the # 16 basket. The on-line map is much clearer here. But I still have no idea where or how to get to 17 and 18.
Signature hole? There are lots of possibles but I think I'll go with # 2. It plays across a gorge, then down and finally back up to the top of the hill again. I could really have loved it if was a prettier setting not just dirt, erosion and littered with garbage.
Cons: Serious erosion problems on the front nine. Steps would help in places but I think this course probably suffers from over playing. In other parts of the country (Minnesota) several of these holes would be shut down and given time to regenerate.
The litter problem is seriously bad on the wooded front nine. There are bags of people's trash dumped in places and the disc golfers are obviously throwing their cans where ever. This course needs the local club to step and do some serious cleanup. Maybe have a tournament where each player is given a small trash bag and you're allowed to deduct one stroke when you return your trash bag filled?
Other Thoughts: Kessler Park DGC is an enigmatic course. On one hand it sits in a wonderful park with great terrain for a course, the elevation is so perfect for a disc golf course. The course is long, challenging and well designed. Then on the other hand, you have some serious erosion issues coupled with an even more garbage and litter problem. It saddens me to see this lovely park used as a dumping ground for people's trash. After playing a few Kansas City area courses in this wet and damp weather, I've arrived at the determination that every exposed dirt patch in every park should be covered in wood chips. To accomplish this, park officials just need to cut down and chip every tree In the greater Kansas City metro area.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Tale of 2 courses
Pros: Ample concrete pads, solid baskets. 10/10
Amount/Use of elevation 9/10. There's a lot of elevation change on this course, especially on the front 9 through the woods. The back 9 has large elevation changes on some holes but they are more gradual slopes, there is still good variety though.
Use of obstacles 8/10. This course does an amazing job using the available obstacles on the front 9. On the back 9 they didn't have a lot to work with. It feels like they could have been a little more creative with the few trees in the open.
Decisionmaking 8/10. Many technical holes have multiple routes for how to play them, and the road comes into play on some of the more open holes which makes you think about your shot.
Alternate basket positions 8/10. Almost every hole has at least one alternate position, and most of them change the hole pretty significantly, especially on the wooded holes.
Variety of distances 7/10. Just looking at distances on the holes it looks like this course should be 10/10 in this category, there are several holes over 500' and several holes under 300'. The reason I didn't is that all of the open holes are on the long side while all of the short holes are the more technical ones, and this also means the short holes are all grouped together and there are several long holes in a row down the stretch, so it doesn't feel as varied as it is. The course underwent a minor redesign in spring 2018 that removed all 3 of the shorter holes on the back 9 (combining two into another massive hole and removing the other completely).
Variety of openness 7/10. There is a good mix of openness, the only reason I'm knocking this one is that the technical holes are all bunched at the start and the open holes at the end rather than being interspersed throughout.
Cons: Disc finding 3/10. The chances of losing a disc here is high for a course without a water hazard. There are lots of blind shots in wooded areas on steep slopes with a possibility for rollaways. A couple holes on the back there's a chance of throwing into the municipal reservoir, especially on a windy day.
Challenging all levels 3/10. This is definitely not a course to bring beginners to, even when set short. Advanced players will probably find the back 9 pretty boring.
Comfort 3/10. The course is extremely hilly and somewhat treacherous on the front 9, especially off the fairway. The back 9 is very long without much shade. No benches on the course, there is a water fountain before the hole 16 tee that wouldn't be too far out of the way after 11.
Course maintenance 4/10. Grass is usually well mowed. However, multiple tee signs have been damaged or stolen. Lots of trash in the wooded areas despite a few trash cans being present.
Navigation 5/10. There is a map on the bulletin board, but there are some long walks between holes that aren't intuitive. Once you find the tee most holes are fairly straightforward but there are a lot of blind shots first time players will want to walk ahead to see (1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 18).
Variety of shot paths 5/10. There are five holes that require left to right (4, 7, 9, 16, and 18) and three that require right to left (10, 11, and 15). 11 and 15 are very similar holes, hyzer around the reservoir. All of the left to rights except one are on the technical holes, while all of the right to lefts are on open holes. Would be nice to have more of a mix of these.
Other Thoughts: Challenge 8/10. The technical holes will challenge any players accuracy, while the open holes the primary challenge is distance and control in the wind
This course underwent a minor redesign this year, adding two new technical holes at the start. While the new holes are cool, it caused the 3 open holes on the back 9 to be removed/combined, so to me the open holes are more boring now as they are essentially all long. There are now 6 mostly open holes in a row over 400 feet, and 4 of them play over 600'. it was nice before to have more of a variety of distances on these holes. Several holes could be pretty treacherous to walk through, especially the 2 new holes which don't have any vegetation coming in on the fairways yet. For this reason it's definitely a course to avoid after recent rains. Hole 1 is a rolled ankle waiting to happen, definitely needs a leveled out path to walk. The park also isn't in the nicest area, be wary on some of the open holes near the road.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice Flash Amongst the Trash
Pros: Kessler Park is a good disc golf course, that is not easy. 18 holes, and a number of them feature lots of elevation change and/or trees.
The concrete tees are huge, and the baskets are fairly good. There is a practice basket, and 2 baskets on the 10th hole, as well as on the 18th. Most of the pins were in the long position on my first round, making it a long one.
There are some very steep drop offs near a couple of the fairways, that can send a bad throw or a bounce off of a tree a long way down into thick rough. It was heavy in February, it must be a jungle in July. I was lucky to avoid it on two occasions, at hole 2 and hole 12. I didn't lose any plastic, but didn't save par, either.
The back 9 is more open, and traverses grass covered hills, with some very long holes when the baskets are in the long pins. A bit more potential to go OB also, as the road and the empty, fenced off reservoir are very nearby some parts.
Cons: The lack of tee signs and very little directional help is frustrating. There is a map by the practice basket, and hole 8 did have a sign at the box. Other than that, you get nothing.
The litter is disgusting. You could fill up 50 large trash bags and still have some work to do, in my estimation. Warden, bring out the chain gang, or offenders that were sentenced to community service. Maybe a Cub Scout troop could earn some badges. It is a mess. Not likely to stay clean even if it was picked up, which is a bummer.
There was a woman parked on hole 12, right under a No Parking sign, in a spot the put her car at high risk of being hit by a disc. In an effort to avoid that, I nearly went rolling off of trash mountain. Also a funky smell wafted across that side of the park, not totally foul, but there are other scents I would have preferred.
Other Thoughts: A high quality course that could be even better. Worth a visit to say the least. I am new to the area, and still have plenty of new courses to play here, but I will be back for sure.
The signs probably were ruined by some of the same vandals and vagrants who carelessly tossed the trash that was strewn everywhere. Would like to see some improvements in these areas, but I won't hold my breath. All the same, I did enjoy the round. Glad I snapped a photo of the map before setting out, it is not hard to get lost without one.
The first round here I scored no birdies, finishing with a 68. It could have been worse, but I liked the tough wooded holes on the front 9, and consistent ups and downs. The hills will give you a workout, and may be a bit much for anyone who has poor knees or hips, or just bad balance. My old dog managed to do it without too much trouble, but I would not want to try it after the rain.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
A Tale of Two Courses
Pros: - This course gives you both heavily wooded, technical holes as well as some that are pretty much wide open
- Lots of elevation
- Concrete tee pads generally in good condition
- At one of the highest points in the city, some nice views can be had around the course. The second half of the course also winds around an old reservoir that is interesting (empty now, overgrown, covered in graffiti).
Cons: - Most holes missing a sign. There is a faded, wrinkled map at the course but it can be tricky to navigate if you don't have someone to guide you.
- Trash everywhere; apparently this is the place to go do whip-its because the little canisters were all over the course. There were also a good number of people just sitting in their cars along the road looking shady (I know this is vague and judgmental, but to be sure they were not out there working on Boy Scout merit badges).
- Lots of overgrown vegetation around the course, although shouldn't be a huge problem if you're able to stay on the fairways
Other Thoughts: I played after it had rained a fair amount recently, and the first 6 or so holes had me slipping and sliding up and down very muddy hills. It would be better to play after a dry spell.
There is a lot of contrast from the beginning holes to the end - again from very wooded to wide open. I can appreciate both, but on the day I was playing I was definitely relieved when it opened up and I was no longer scared to slip and fall 30 feet down a hill.
Historically this is not in one of the nicer areas of Kansas City. I never felt unsafe at this course, but let's say you are playing a round with a young child and want to avoid a homeless person sleeping on a tee pad, there are many other courses around to choose from.
Overall, this course was ok. I enjoyed playing it (as I do most courses - you wouldn't be looking at this site if you didn't enjoy most rounds of DG), but I won't be making any extra effort to make it back to this course.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 9 Not
Pros: The Tee boxes. They were large and had plenty of room for most types of run-ups or approaches. There were also benches at most of the tee boxes which was nice to see.
Cons: There were not any directional signs or signage to help you around the course or to guide you to the next tee. The vast majority of tee pads didn't have signs to tell you what tee pad you were on. Since there were some longer walks to get to the next tee box finding the next tee box was, most of the time, time consuming and frustrating. Hole #6 had the first tee pad sign that we ran across. There was an abundance of trash, empty liquor bottles and broken glass scattered throughout the course. It looked like someone started a bonfire in the fairway of hole #8.
Other Thoughts: The front nine holes were mostly technical holes with a lot of elevation changes to deal with. They are very challenging holes that put a premium on shot placement. There are different lines to play, but if you don't hit your intended line there is a price to pay. That price is higher scores and the possibility of loosing a disc.This was appealing to me as I don't get to play those types of holes often. The back nine holes opens up and was easier to play from a technical stand point. I am from out of town and play as many new courses as I can when traveling. I really would not recommend this course to anyone. It was disappointing.
1 of 10 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Front 9. Character. Views. Brilliant in the winter. Challenging.
Cons: The unusual traffic in the park can be unnerving. It a shame people dump trash on the course. Maybe not the best course to take a very casual player.
Other Thoughts: I really enjoyed this course. The layout I played was full of sharp rights on the front. I have a decent sidearm and a great turnover but these angles really made me think through laying up or placing shots or being creative. I played on a lovely day in December . I can only imagine how tight the lines are in Spring/summer. You can't just walk up to this course and chuck it, it will engage your brain. I liked the control required on the front 9 and the distance needed on the back 9. The back 9 is open but with lot's of risk reward with basket placement and the wind can be a factor. I struggled a little on the front because I played the angles aggressively. I had a few OB on the back 9 for the same reason. I am rhbh and drive 370. I think i shot +1. I could have been more conservative and scored better but I really wanted to take on the challenges this course has to offer.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
That reservoir looks hungry for discs!
Pros: Great course layout! Although the back 9 can get slightly repetitive, I was happy to have a break after playing the heavily wooded, hilly front 9. I don't think it got overly repetitive or boring at all.
First 9 have lots of fun technical shots. The elevation changes here are crazy and lots of fun to play around.
Gorgeous view of downtown KC from the park. This is a very pretty park, and it's also quite large.
Baskets all in place and in good condition. Multiple pin positions abound.
Concrete tees are in good shape, and the "wedge" angle tells you where you're throwing, which isn't always apparent (more on that to follow).
The hills in this park are used perfectly and there is a great amount of variety in shots here, especially in the front 9.
Not overly crowded, and not a lot of non-DGers out either.
Cons: Course was not maintained well at all when we played in late August. Trash and broken glass everywhere. Knee-high grass abounded, which meant there really weren't fairways per se on most of the back 9. It's bad when the tee pads are basically just slabs of concrete surrounded by tall grass.
Signage was nice when present (and it did tell you where to look for the next tee), but unfortunately many of them have been stolen or were otherwise not present. There are a few areas where navigation is not intuitive. Take a picture of the map with your phone, it's a life-saver.
Not to beat a dead horse, and I didn't really dock my rating for this, but this neighborhood around this course is bad. Probably marginally better than Swope, but I would NOT play here anywhere close to dark.
While I don't find the back 9 objectionable, I do believe they leave a slight something to be desired after seeing what the front 9 was. I don't really see any way they could have blended it any better and it wasn't a huge deal, but I see the point here.
Lots of OB roads throughout, and the road thru the park does get some use so you have to be semi-careful.
Other Thoughts: This course is in Old Northeast, fairly close to the Kansas City Museum. I got here by taking Independence Avenue (24 Highway) east from downtown, then turning left on Wabash and going the whole way into the park.
This is a great course, in my opinion. The front 9 were incredible and very memorable. The back 9 were average -- not horrible or boring, but just nothing I would drive this far into a very questionable part of town to play.
However, all things told, this course was well worth the play. Just keep your head on a swivel and enjoy the round. I wrestled between a 3.5 and a 4 on this course. At the end of the day, for the uniqueness of the experience, I think it's definitely worth a play.
However, I do have to dock a little bit for the ambience. Trash can absolutely be picked up and signage replaced, but when you can't even find 11's tee pad for 10 minutes because of the knee-high grass and there's a shady-looking dude in an Escalade just chilling with his car running right by the basket for 10...well, yeah, it DOES take something away from the game. I say this as a suburbanite -- many of you might not feel that way. But, if you're a fellow suburbanite, you know what to expect.
Again, I think this course is awesome, it was a blast, and absolutely worth the drive in from very suburban Lee's Summit. Give it a go! I would love to play here again and re-review if the grass has been mowed and trash somewhat picked up.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
A tale of two courses.
Pros: The front nine! Very interesting shots through wooded areas with a fair amount of elevation change. Nice and interesting pin placements that make for challenging shots that require a good amount of precision.
Just an excellent set of 9 holes well laid out in some great terrain.
Cons: The back nine! Pretty much wide open, except for some out of bounds areas that are more frustrating than fun. One shot goes right along a road, where if people are parked on the side of it are right in your flight path. You have to play it safe just so you don't hit someone's car. Another couple holes follow a fence line where if you are inaccurate, you're not going to retrieve the disc as there's a 6' fence with a 20' drop on the other side of it into what looks to be some sort of abandoned water detention area.
The back nine also is just plain uninteresting, consisting of nearly all pretty wide open long shots, most of which are flat. There are some cool giant trees, but that's about the only high point.
The course also suffers from vandalism/neglect, as there is garbage everywhere, and many of the tee signs are either missing or laying on the ground. It's a bit tough to find your way to the next tee some times (we never did find the tee to 11, and just played it from the 10 pin).
Other Thoughts: My rating is mostly about the fun of playing the course rather than the condition, as garbage can always be picked up and signage replaced, but the course layout is what I care about. Once you know a course, despite the signage (or lack of it), you can still have fun playing a well designed course.
It would actually be a great course if the front and back nines could have been mixed together. A wooded shot, an open shot, a wooded shot, an open shot, etc. However, as is, you play this really fun and interesting front nine, and then get dumped into this barren and bland back nine. I'd still go just to play the front nine though, as I really had fun on that portion of the course. If I could just rate the front nine, it would get a 4.5, but the back nine is closer to a 1.5 for me.
For those worried about the area, don't worry! No, that part of town isn't great, particularly after dark. But the park is fine in the daylight. I suppose if you're from a nice suburb, the drive in might intimidate you a little, but it's no big deal.
As a bonus, Pigwich is just north of the park, so do yourself a favor and grab yourself a sandwich afterward! It's a real hidden gem of the area.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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