8 Helpful / 1 Not
An epic piece of work
Pros: Pinto Lake Championship Disc Golf Course is another of those stories of an amazing property that had been left idle and neglected for decades, until a crew of dedicated hard-working locals came in an carved a gorgeous course out of the mess...one that is certainly worthy of hosting a World Championship. I first played Pinto Lake in October 2010, which is long after this major project had begun (several years earlier). In just the time I've known Pinto Lake, it has been transformed into one of the most special places for disc golf I've ever experienced. I just can't believe how stunningly gorgeous it is now. In just the past few months the crew has cleared dozens of acres of the most dense and brutal poison oak. They've also established trails, which local residents also come out to enjoy. The stuff was so thick that nobody ever knew there were all these beautiful oak trees hidden in all that mess, which have been excavated, pruned, sculpted, and are now surrounded by green grass and the occasional flower patch. Simply marvelous.
The original 9 holes (1-4,14-18) play through variably dense forested land with big oaks and eucalyptus on finger like peninsulas sticking out into Pinto Lake. Long tight fairways (1,2,3,14,18), lots of elevation, epic par 4 tunnels (hole 2!), and even irresistible ace runs (holes 15,17) are awesome by themselves. The virtual elimination of poison oak from the fairways, the establishment of grassy landing areas, and clearly marked OB along the sides are typical of every hole in this part of the course.
The back 9, including the meadow, have undergone a similar transformation. Don't believe earlier reviews that said these holes are just open bombers...with the variable winds, elevation, and deceptively narrow fairways, it is always a challenge to throw long and not go OB. There is a very good risk/reward trade-off on all these holes, and even the most skilled players go OB quite often if their disc stalls and doesn't turnover, or flips over too long and gets carried off on an air current. Anyone who says its easy out there probably went OB dozens of times without knowing it is OB. The fairways in the meadow are also well-manicured, kept green by watering, and have clear edges with posts and rope installed along the edges of the fairways. They also play fast and skippy when your disc lands, which increases the challenge. Rollers are difficult to use, as the disc always starts curling up and usually runs off OB. I've shot under par on these holes several times, but it required very accurate long upshots and hitting big putts to do so.
There is no question that hole 12 is soon going to be considered one of the most beautiful disc golf holes in the world. Its the one that I dream most about acing. It starts off in the meadow and plays down a gradual slope (357') that begins as a wide fairway, but becomes more and more narrow as you get further down onto a peninsula that is surrounded by Pinto Lake on all sides. Pruned oak trees and manicured grass along the sides get closer together and converge at several larger oaks. To pass further you have to get your disc under the arches, and behind them is a cluster of small/young oaks, with the basket on the other side. As you walk out onto the green, you can enjoy views of the lake and surrounding countryside in all directions through the oaks. Now that the poison oak and other undergrowth are cleared out, the view is spectacular. You might even decide to spend the rest of your day down there...bring a picnic, relax a little while, get into the Pinto Lake vibe.
I love challenge, and hole 14 is probably the most challenging on the course. The goal is to try and play safely up the trail in 2 throws and try to find a window to run at the basket for birdie (par 4). If you stay on the right side of the path, you'll eventually find open sky to the right and an opportunity for a spike hyzer over the top...a really fun shot, but of course, watch out for getting caught by the oak trees if you miss the open window around the basket. If you end up on the left side of the path, you'll be looking at tight routes through the oak trees to the basket.
There are relatively well-kept bathrooms near the parking lot. Also near the parking lot you can find water, picnic areas, BBQ pits, soccer fields, baseball fields, etc.. Its a very nice park, with many of the amenities you'd expect to find in the most popular of all Santa Cruz County Parks.
-Great tee pads
-New Mach 3 baskets
Cons: Stay on the fairway. The rough is really rough in places. The fairways are in superb condition, but OB is different: there is lots of poison oak, stinging nettles, water, and other nasties if you go OB. This isn't a beginner course. Stay on the fairway, and you'll be very happy. If you can't keep it on the fairway, you'll probably not enjoy this course very much. Also, watch out for pedestrians on holes 2, 4, 13, and 14. The manicured course is attracting more people who want to come out and see the beautiful new parkland created for disc golf. The regular part of the park (not the disc golf course) gets really busy on weekends, and parking can sometimes be tough to find. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Other Thoughts: I highly recommend that you play safe the first round, or do a walk-through before playing, and get a feel for the dangers down the fairway before trying anything risky. Check out the map, if you can get online.
The OB areas in the meadow are being left alone to grow up into continuous tree stands. Planting of redwoods, oaks, and other trees is going to help accelerate this process. When you come back in 10 years, this will no longer be called a "meadow" because you won't be able to see across it. Instead, every fairway will be a narrow tunnel playing between juvenile forest on all sides. You won't even be able to see the other holes. If you could come back in 50 years, you'd see large redwood stands lining long narrow shady fairways of emerald green grass. This place is going to be even more epic!
If you're looking for an extra special experience, go to the lower Pinto Lake Park entrance (a mile back on Green Valley Rd), and rent a paddle boat. From there, you can paddle directly across the lake to hole 12.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Really tight technical holes in the trees, not all are short either.
Serious use of OB's to make the course even more challenging.
Good elevation changes on many holes including some punishing tilted fairways.
a few huge airbomb holes in the meadow with well cut fairways (the tall grass on each side is considered OB by the way).
Benches at every tee.
Concrete tee pads on all holes.
Signs on the original 9 holes (1-4/14-18) I am sure they will add the others soon.
Tons of parking (even for a tournament).
Cons: Poison Oak.
This is not at all a novice/beginner course with the tall grass, Poison Oak and OBs.
A little confusing first time thru.
A few really long walks between holes.
The tall grass OBs in the meadow will eat your disc too so watch ALL throws.
If you go OB into most poison oak your disc is gone.
Other Thoughts: This course would be better if the course could play in and out of the Meadow instead of playing all 7 meadow holes one after the other. It does get a little boring, but just play all throws off the fairway as OB this is how it will be at Master's Cup and the 2011 Worlds. This makes the treeless aspect less important. You still need to be accurate to stay safe in the fairways.
The original nine are some of the meanest unforgiving disc golf I even played. These holes are a true challenge with serious OBs, trees galore and tilting and changing elevation.
Seems like they have added a hole between the new #9 and the long 1200 foot hole which is now #11.
The designer told me it plays 61 par.
If you are really sensitive to poison oak beware it is lush here.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course at Pinto Lake is a really tough one to set a rating to because of the very distinct nature of the two sides of the course. The start and finish of the course run mostly through thick woods and have some EXCELLENT holes which will challenge the player to execute difficult shots and also to plan a strategy of attack in advance. The elevation on this section is well utilized and adds greatly to the hole designs. The middle of the course which was added as a second nine is quite frustrating as it is difficult to navigate and set in a completely obstacle-free field that, while beautiful and serene, is just plain boring for disc golf. I gave this course a 3.5 because most of the wooded holes make up for the drawbacks of the course nicely AND, as I mention below, the 'extra' holes can be easily avoided altogether.
Cons: If I had advice for anyone who plans to play Pinto Lake it would be to just play first four holes and then skip to 14-18. The main, huge drawback to this course are the field holes which are just that, wide open fields. Many players might be impressed by a 1200' hole but when there are no restrictions on line whatsoever, this is hole which really comes down to making (or missing) the wide open 200-400' (assuming you have decent pro distance) approach you'll be left with on the third shot. This is just distance for the sake of it and doesn't add anything to the rest of the course as distance is a skill already tested by the 4-5 of the previous holes. I'm not trying to say that the designer should avoid the field altogether but to put seven holes in a wide open field just doesn't get me excited.
Navigation: Other reviewers have said it, I'm only going to reiterate that navigation after the front four holes is a nightmare to figure out for first time golfers and you'll have to backtrack nearly completely after finishing a few holes to get to the next tee. This appears to mainly be a limitation of the geography here with the lake cutting several arms out of the land that the course sits on. I think a little bit of signage would go a long way and of course, navigation is only really a problem for first-time explorers to a new course.
Other Thoughts: Pinto Lake is going to be a really fun round as long as you know which section(s) you are interested in playing. If you like a technical challenge or you are newer, play the shorter wooded loop of 'original' holes. If you really love the fun of bombing your disc without worrying about deep rough, by all means, head to the back field holes - you'll love them. The course is also worth it for course-baggers because some of the front holes have some very unique fairway designs which incorporate nasty out-of-bounds areas which are very effective.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 10 Not
Pros: great course new signs all over , i couldnt see how u need course is easy to navigate , clean ,benches everywhere, bring your big arm for the long holes , super fun course no waiting "delayed" , stop and get the best bacon wrapped dog at the store on the way in
Cons: some poison oak
0 of 10 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 5 Not
very long and tough course with no map to the back 9
Pros: front 9 are awesome but hella long shots, old barns and buildings...kinda cool, bathrooms, not much traffic, free parking- and lots of it, front 9 is very easy to get through without a map or guide..
Cons: very narrow shots on alot of holes, very long shots on alot of holes, lots of poison oak, way too many OB's, the dumb map AND course do not tell you where the effing back 9 is, the lake will eat your disc if you try too hard to shoot far on #5...LOL
Other Thoughts: apparently the back 9 is on some little trail going around the lake near hole #4 if im not mistaken, lots of free parking, somebody HAS to put a new map up and a sign towards the back 9, dont keep it a secret dummy's... id play it if youre on a road trip or in the area, but its a doozy!!
2 of 7 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 3 Not
So-So new nine
Pros: A few nice holes
Cons: See below
Other Thoughts: Not my favorite course in the area. Original nine has some good holes, but some very tight, dangerous holes as well.
Don't really like the new nine at all. Basically the new nine is in a big giant meadow with no trees and no character at all. I don't think it is designed very well. It seems as if the designers only cared about using the entire field.
The space between 9 and 10 is over 400 ft., could have been a hole.
The 1200ft. #10 is kinda boring, just throw drive after drive until you finally arrive at the hole.
#11 was actually a really nice hole down towards the lake by a grove of trees, but then you have to backtrack the entire hole to get back to #12.
Just way to much dead space between many holes, not an efficient use of the space.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: 9 very challenging holes. fantastic scenery and pleasant people. the course has a good flow and the old 9 hole course is fantastic, putting shot selection over power on every hole. on site bathrooms, dog friendly, 2 practice baskets right next to the parking lot and first tee. tons of parking. the new holes now #'s 5 - 13 are all pretty much the same thing but offer you a chance to really let loose and rip huge drives without the worry of loosing a disc.
Cons: lack of variety on the new holes. i personally felt that the new holes only added something to play, rather than the same championship level of the old set up. there is poison oak but keep it in the fairway and your good.
Other Thoughts: holes 13 and 11 were by far the best holes of the new ones.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Original 9 holes are very tough and narrow, shot selection is everything. When you finish #4 turn around and follow the access road across and up the hill to the meadow.When you get to the top, turn right and follow the running trail till you find #5 that runs along the path.#6 crosses the meadow. #7 runs along the path on the far side of the meadow. #8 brings you back across the meadow. #9 is a dog leg left along the path.#10 starts in the middle of the meadow, so we you finish 9 just walk to the middle through the mowed area.#10 is a 1200' straight shot down the middle to the end of the meadow with great views of the lake.#11 heads straight down to the farthest end of the meadow, more killer views. Double back to #12 and it follows the path.#13 is down at the bottom of the hill and has a good path started, but keep on the lookout.#13 runsalong the edge of the lake and brings you back to the access road.Croos back over and continue on to #14(the old #5).The new nine are wide open but extremly long, 1200' on #10. Also the baskets on the new nine are all posts.
Cons: poision oak, spotters and a map are a big help here.
Other Thoughts: This is shaping up to be a a real championship course.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Excellent signage
-Two practice baskets
-Variety in shot selection
-People were friendly
-Plenty of shade
Cons: -Poison Oak (Lots of it)
-A living, breathing disc eater (stray shots beware)
-No map for the new meadow nine but just use the directions posted by one of the reviewers. It worked for me.
Other Thoughts: I said I would return to this hole and I did. More than half a year has gone by and it still humbles me. I think I shot the same score in fact. The difficulty of this course has tripled by introducing the new 9 holes up in the meadow area. These holes are bomber holes (which I enjoy). You get the ying and yang all in one course. Technical and Distance. The hardest holes, I think, is three and 'old' 5. Three because it slopes down to the left which for a RHBH player is not a good thing and that's not even mentioning the barrage of trees you have to maneuver to reach the basket. Five because the water on the right of the narrow uphill road. Needless to say, this course is definitely difficult and should easily be a championship course when all the extra holes have tees and baskets (presently they have dirt tees and totem poles).
The course design is extremely tight which calls for control on every shot. I fortunately escaped with all my discs (again) but definitely be aware of throwing your favorite disc on some holes because it might be your last. Since you're throwing down small access roads anything thrown not on target can disappear down the side and into the lake. Be aware of the OB on every hole. There noted on the signs before every hole.
The poison oak is everywhere! If it wasn't for my wife pointing out all the poison oak (and my apparent immunity to it) I would have been covered in it. On my second visit I had to walk right into it to retrieve a disc (#13 is a basterd by the way if you go right). Apparently I'm still immune. I would recommend pants when you play here and perhaps a picture of the stuff if you don't know what it looks like. Besides that, the course is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
One last thing... when you approach the park from the south (HWY 1), pass the first entrance into the park and go about a half mile more until you reach the other side of the lake and the second entrance. I spent about 20 minutes trying to find the course when I made the wrong turn on the first entrance.
Also, on #13 I couldn't find the tee area even though its a small well defined pathway. About half way down the path a happened to see some white spray paint which I took for the tee area. It will be on your left.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: There are some excellent shots at pinto, and each packs a challenge. Not a course for beginners, which may keep the throngs away. Some beautiful pin settings (especially hole 6), great tees, lovely trees, and a chill atmosphere.
Since this is going to be a 2011 worlds course, I thought I might saunter down the Pinto to check out the new holes and work done on the course. The course plays like a par 60, with the new holes being mostly open and fairly flat but some are long. There are birdie opportunities out in the meadow though, and a 5 on the 1200' hole 11 should be attainable for most advanced players. Great new benches out in the meadow! Did I mention the giant tee pads? AWESOME!
Cons: The 1500' walk that takes you back up the entirety of hole 12's fairway to hole 13. There had to be a way to play the meadow differently...perhaps clockwise to prevent this. In the end, it's a minor design flaw...especially compared to Tom's other course with its crossing fairways and shots into a parking lot!
Bring Tecnu, as poison oak is prevelant!
Other Thoughts: The big arms are going to love this place...especially the meadow. However, Pinto will challenge any disc golfer to throw accurately and far. The pins aren't nearly as precarious as Dela, which makes for more comfortable putting. But the OB more than makes up for it. My earlier review mentioned how the OB seemed frivolous. It made more sense to me this time around, though everyone I played with yesterday went OB at some point. The course has several round altering holes, which should make it fun to watch in next year's worlds! Great job by the volunteers to install some sweet benches throughout. The tee pads came out great and all that's needed is more permanent course signage.
Also, killer old farm equipment, barn, and farmhouse add a historical legacy to this course.
Pin positions are likely to be extended even further on several holes for Worlds.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Join Disc Golf Course Review
for free to add your review. Have an account already? Sign In
to add a review.