21 Helpful / 1 Not
Best Backyard Ever
Pros: Privacy - As with magic Meadows, you can enjoy a day at Phantom Falls without feeling rushed. Take your time, rest at the car as the course loops back there at least 3 times. In essence, you'll enjoy yourself more if you pace yourself since the course is pretty physically demanding.
Navigation - I completely understand why Paulie doesn't want all these crazy navigational signs in his backyard, and even without them, this course is very easy to play. It's pretty simple finding the next tee. Sometimes the tee is really close to the basket, which would be bad for tourneys, but this is not designed to be a tournament course.
Lack of undergrowth - Maybe this is just assumed for this area, but the lack of undergrowth is really nice. You shouldn't lose a disc at PF. You have to be really errant in order to do so.
Creativity - Paulie clearly explains during the intro that there are only 15 or so baskets, and 39 holes. Which means you're playing to the same basket from different angles two, sometimes three or four times per round. Before starting the round, I thought this would get old, but there were numerous occasions where you hole out, and look around thinking "this is familiar...wait...how did I get back here?" Additionally, it is absolutely astounding that Paulie was able to get 39 holes onto about 15 acres.
The Wooden Basket - With the addition of hole 39, you begin and end the course throwing to the signature PF basket. Very cool. While #1 is straightforward, putter/mid from the patio to the basket, you better not go long. Not an easy shot, though it looks that way. #39 actually throws across a small valley back to the same basket leaving you right by the house to end the round.
Cons: Redundancy - There was usually a very straight-forward option off the tee...but there are many ways to get to each pin. In essence, you could get comfortable with an understable driver, a soft mid (to prevent rollaways) and a putter ...and play about half of the holes at PF. There is still some variety, of left and right, but when you're going so far uphill, you're simply trying to get it up the hill. I would wager that I used no more than 5 different discs off the tee for 39 holes. Bottom line, and this is my only "con", I think the best courses occasionally make the player execute a shot with which they're not necessarily comfortable. If your "bread-and-butter" is a slight hyzer or perhaps a flex-shot, you'll have no trouble attacking the pins at PF.
Other Thoughts: The amenities at PF are great. There is a lounge area at the patio where you can snack during breaks. I suggest you pack a lunch, though Paulie does have options, if you so choose. The pro shop is well-stocked.
Some see the cost as a big negative, but I don't. Paulie seems very willing to barter to get the costs down for people interested in playing his course. I know he accepts old snowboards, skis, and used discs that you can trade.
The hat tree is a pretty cool idea. I didn't take one because I didn't have one to leave, but still a cool idea.
As far as the design, it's definitely not an easy course. Some will look at the posted distances and write this course off as not challenging. I'm pretty decent and I shot a +2. I was under through about 24 holes, but your legs start tiring and closing strong is not easy. Hole 10A is 442 feet and uphill...tough 3 for anybody. In short, the average round, according to Paulie is around +13. I believe the course record is -14 .. so the best round ever shot at the course averaged approximately a birdie on 36% of the holes. (38-39 holes) The equivalent at an 18-hole course would be about -7. My guess is that most courses have yielded rounds better than -7. Why bring that up? Simple, it's not as easy as most people think.
The CTP markers are really cool. I was within inches of getting to move one on the hole that plays down the driveway and into a hidden carve out on the other side. (one of the few blind shots on the course) I was probably really close to an Ace, which would have been sweet, even though I wouldn't have been able to visually see it go in. Anyway, it's a very cool idea and there are markers for both all-time and year-to-date.
To conclude. Phantom Falls is an "excellent" course. Paulie takes great care of the course and his guests. The design is intended to be intermediate, so simply understand that going in. It is one I think most should go out of their way to play, but if it's not your cup of tea, then so be it. It's still a very cool place. Honestly, I know Paulie doesn't care for them as he likes ease of play, but if there were some more blind shots which required a player to work their discs, then I'd bump it's rating even higher. That's the main thing PF is missing, and that's just my opinion.
If you're going to the area, contact Paulie and let him help you set up your itinerary. We didn't get a chance to play Bailey or Bucksnort, but I have read good things about both. I highly reccomend Phantom Falls, Magic Meadows and Beaver ranch. All are great courses and in a beautiful region.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful.
32 Helpful / 13 Not
Most Overrated Course in CO
Pros: This is a pretty sweet backyard course. I'd trade backyards with Paulie any day! It's challenging, and there's an awesome wood basket on hole 1, which is also used for several other holes. Paulie gives you the course to yourself all day and takes care of the course really nicely.
Cons: 20 bucks is a lot, relative to any other dg course...all very short and technical, although some of the short holes have steep hills so they play long. Super Repetitive. I was ready to go after 18. Should have left and played Bailey. There was nothing epic about this course aside from the wooden basket. No live trees were cut down for the course, which is a cool idea, but there is so much more to disc golf than what is offered here in these tight little shots.
Other Thoughts: I have no personal issues with Paulie or the course...but I have played well over 100 courses and to see this as the number one rated course in Colorado just blows my mind! Overall, this course just does not suit the way I like to play or watch disc golf. I really really do not understand the hype behind this one. Bailey DGC is like 10 minutes away, that course is unbelievable, as is Beaver Ranch...
UPDATE 5/20/14 - The course designer just posted a response to my review, basically saying he doesn't agree with it (no surprise there) and goes on to infer I don't know what I'm talking about. I will reiterate here this is nothing personal against Paulie, he might be a great guy...but I have to say there is something sketchy about this course's dgcoursereview ratings. Paulie asked us of we'd heard of the site before we played. We told him we knew all about it, and he changed the topic. My guess is he was getting a read on us to see if we were good targets for his next "please give my course five stars" pitch. I knew within minutes that Paulie was a natural salesman, just took me a while to put the pieces together regarding these reviews. He is selling his kia like it's a rolls royce and it seems to be working.
This is not the Ritz (as Paulie claims in his response), it's a taco shack in the backyard of the Ritz. I stand behind my review and score of this course. I felt it an obligation to other disc golfers to write this review in the first place, as I was completely misled by the dgcoursereview reviews. I take no pleasure in slamming someone's pride and joy, just sharing my experience. Nothing personal Paulie, I just think your course is the most overrated one I've ever played. That being said, you've done a great job recruiting all the positive reviewers ;-)
Also - 39 holes? With this math, I have 9999999999999 holes in my backyard (just one basket though)...
32 of 45 people found this review helpful.
Designer Response by: firstname.lastname@example.org
For an accurate account of what you can expect at PF just look at the trusted reviewers only box above. For a solid reference, there are 16 trusted reviewers who have rated PF and the average TR score is 4.53.
20 Helpful / 4 Not
A full day of a 39 hole course all to yourself
Pros: A day at Phantom Falls is an unique disc golfing experience. Paulie, the owner and designer who is primarily responsible for all the courses in this area, is a great host. This course is basically in the yard of his house, but he generously allows others to come play. It is evident how passionate he is about this course as you get a personal orientation of the course before your round where he tells you stories behind the course, the holes, and the baskets as well as tips and suggestions for navigating and playing.
His beautiful house doubles as the clubhouse and hangout porch. (special thanks to his family for being so willing to share their space with a different group of disc golfers on a daily basis!) The porch is decked out with chairs, tables, a grill, shade all close to your car. The course design brings you back to the porch at multiple times during the round so you have a chance to relax and refuel.
He basically gives you all day to play the 39 holes + the mini course. He encourages you to relax and take your time and enjoy your day. And maybe the best thing about playing here is you, and only you and your group, are the ones that will be on the course that day- you get the course all to yourself.
The course itself is solid as it sits on 15 acres of pine covered hills and valleys. It is an amazing job of putting in 39 holes on this small of an area- tremendous planning, ease in navigation, no confusion as to where the tees are or which basket to throw at. As for all his courses, he has given much thought and attention to detail in everything, down to the scorecard and hole-by-hole tip sheet he gives you.
You play over the same land in various directions and you lay to some baskets multiple times, but you would never know it. The natural tees are level. The baskets are of different varieties, but that actually helps to identify which one to throw to as he has made each one to be unique. The ground is a gravely dirt so now grass to mow and no undergrowth to hide discs- easy to find your discs and little chance to lose one.
This course is a true test in hitting lines, controlling distance, playing elevation from straight across, to steep up, steep down, and everything in between. Though the course looks to be on the short side on paper, many holes play much longer either up the steeper slopes or when you race past the basket on the downslopes. There are many ace runs here, but there are some holes where 4 is going to be a good score as well. The course is also a good test of fitness and endurance and mental toughness when you factor in having to walk up and down all day, the altitude (don't underestimate what 8000' does to the body and to disc flight for that matter), and the lucky and unlucky breaks that will inevitably happen to everyone in your group.
Cons: Because you do play over the same type of land all day it can get a little repetitive. Though a couple holes have the basket straight across from the tee, there is absolutely no flat land on this course (except maybe 1 and 39). Not that hills are bad, and I would take elevation and trees over open and flat any day of the week, but I feel the best courses have a nice mixture and balance of all styles. There is also no water, no o.b., no rough, etc.- not that I want a course to be loaded with these either (and it was nice not worrying about losing a disc), but basically there was little punishment for errant shots as there was usually a way to get back on track for a 3 or no worse than a 4 on nearly every hole. (his goal was for it to be challenging yet fun, even for women, kids, and those with less distance like me, and he has done just that), but at the same time it lacks that really epic feel I have experienced at courses like Highbridge, Flip, IDGC, and Flyboy.
The footing is tricky sliding down the gravely hills in many places, sometimes hard to even stand on your lie, and it wears on your body after awhile. (I actually had a slight muscle pull mid-round as my legs stretched apart more than was comfortable on a slide, and then adding to it with my feet slightly sliding while teeing off the natural pads.) As a side note, Paulie prefers natural tees and of course this is his yard, so it makes no sense to put in concrete tees everywhere, but the fact is if you are looking for concrete tees, then go elsewhere.
The baskets are all different (which in one way is a cool factor and adds to the "backyard feel" here and as I mentioned helps with navigation), but some of them don't catch as good as others. And to make up for the shortness, most baskets on placed on slopes or edges where it is risky to go for longer putts. If you don't land under the basket off the tee, the smart play is to just lay up and drop in to avoid the bad rollaways- but when you do this 20-30 times it gets boring if you are not playing for anything serious.
He advertises "you will use every disc in your bag" and explained that each hole has multiple routes, you just have to look. Well, when you only play here once, you probably will take the obvious less risky straight route on most every hole. Factor in the altitude that causes discs to be way more stable, and I found myself pretty much reaching for the same disc on every single hole. Maybe if you played you a lot you could experiment, but most people are only playing here once.
Totally understandable why, but $20 a round would be a lot to pay to play on a regular basis, and you can't just show up and play whenever you want as you have to arrange a tee time. This of course has some plus side and is what makes it unique, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless.
Other Thoughts: This course was designed to be played with nobody else playing but you, so some things that would normally be cons are not because of the intent- like crossing fairways, tees right beside baskets, shared baskets, etc.
Paulie loves the game and is very serious about having excellent courses for people to play. He is also passionate about growing the game, especially in the areas of women and children.
The reason for 36/38 holes is 10 has 1 tee to 2 baskets, and 11 has 2 tees to one basket (both a short and long). You can play them all if you want. He actually has just added a 39th hole that plays back to the signature pine basket to finish up. I approve!
So why a 4.0 to me?---well, this is tough course to rate, the course itself was very good, just not spectacular, but all the extras that make this place special and unique boost its rating. When comparing to the other 200+ courses I have played, I felt it compared to other 4.0's I have given (like Blueberry, BRP, Hudson Mills, Lemon Lake, etc.) There are not too many places where you can guarantee to have the whole course to yourself for an entire day (the only other place I know like this was Flyboy), with the difference that he has it set up where a guide is not necessary to navigate, so Paulie just turns you loose- pretty cool!
Plan on being here for several hours and be sure to bring lots of food and drinks with you.
I highly recommend coming to this area to play disc golf. You can spend a week playing all the courses here. The Rockies are beautiful and make for some fun and challenging disc golf. For me, playing in the hills of TN and the Appalachian Mtns. all the time, I was not overwhelmed with a mountain course, but anyone from the plains states are going to have to pick their jaw up off the ground when coming up here!
20 of 24 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 12 Not
A most excellent course
Pros: There's so much right with this course that it's hard to know where to begin. The course is extremely well maintained, challenging and fun to play. The terrain is varied with lots of opportunity to try every disk and shot in your bag. Baskets are well placed and there's just a really good vibe as you walk around the course.
The $20 fee is well worth the price of admission. Being able to play the course with just your group and at your pace is fantastic. Paulie, the course designer and host couldn't be more friendly or welcoming.
Everything is as it should be at Phantom Falls. It's simply a fantastic course and, given the opportunity, everyone should plan a visit to enjoy the best that disk golf has to offer.
Cons: None I can think of.
Other Thoughts: Can't wait to play the course again.
3 of 15 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 16 Not
Pros: Picturesque scenery, very helpful "caddy notes," extremely challenging without being excessively long.
Cons: "The Dark Side" (24-36) was very repetitive. It was just up and down the same hill.
Other Thoughts: I am absolutely playing this course again. $20 is an extremely fair suggested donation.
2 of 18 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 6 Not
Great Day of DG
Pros: Paul is a great guy, not only for the wonderful course, but as a reference for the sport itself. I brought along a couple of friends who are relatively new at the sport and he was great at helping them find some game-improving discs in the pro shop.
While most people you'll talk to will say $20 is too much for disc golf, ask them, they've never played the course. The amount of care Paul and his helpers put into making sure the course is clean (the only way to lose a disc is high in a tree) makes this worth the $20 on it's own. Never mind the awesome, challenging shots you get to attempt on each of the different 38 holes.
Our DG group has made Phantom Falls an annual tradition that we look forward to as much a child looks forward to summer vacation. We're even planning on going back sometime this fall. Might even be a twice a year thing now, who knows!
Cons: Getting a tee time on the exact day you want can be difficult since Paul only has one group on the course per day (which is also supremely awesome!). Some of our group just couldn't make it since we couldn't find an available day that could work for everyone. My advice is get a list of days that work for everyone in your group (make it 9-10 possibilities organized from highest priority to lowest) then call Paul and get it figured out on the phone right then and there. It pays to have that flexibility figured out ahead of time.
Other Thoughts: Course is absolutely in my top 3 all time. It's inspired me to get some land and make my own awesome course someday!
7 of 13 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: There are too many good things about playing Phantom Falls to cover them all, but here are a few. This course is set in natural woods of the CO mountains Every imaginable shot can be used here; hysers, anhysers, thumbers, tomahawks, rollers, you name it. Every hole is a different challenge. There are up hill shots, downhill shots, across the hill shots, ace runs, shots that make you wonder whether to go for it or lay-up. Signage is beautiful with flagstones set on edge at each T-Box giving the distance. All in all playing this course is awesome, but what really makes this course a step ahead of others is the amenities and hospitality. Most, if not all, T-Boxes have benches and rakes to groom the T-Boxes. I know some people like concrete T-Boxes but that would ruin the natural setting of this course. Besides with rakes available the boxes have always well groomed when I played. Not only is the course awesome but the host, Paulie, gives a thorough orientation and pointers for new players and a review for repeat players. He is very friendly and makes everyone feel at home. You can even request that lunch be provided for your group. When you make a reservation to play, your group has sole use of the course, so you can play at any pace you want without the hassle of people pressuring you to play faster or to let them play through.
Cons: There are so many great courses in the area that it is hard to decide which one to play. So play them all.
Other Thoughts: I've played courses in the east, the south, the west, and the middle of the country. They are all different. Courses with big bombers in the open spaces are like playing center field when someone hits one to the fence. You throw the ball back as hard as you can toward the infield and hope it is near the target. Not much skill but a lot of muscle. On the other hand playing Phantom Falls is like being the pitcher. Every throw must be on target or you walk batters or they will get hits and you will fall behind in the score. This course is about skill not strength. That said, enough distance is required on some holes to let you exercise those muscles.
8 of 12 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 10 Not
Woman's point of view
Pros: As a woman, my game is somewhat shorter than most men can throw. I found Phantom Falls a wonderful site for me. I had a chance at par more often than not--my own fault that I missed putts!
I enjoyed the challenge of working my discs around trees, up steep grades--and especially throwing down long ravines.
I look forward to playing this course again and again--and being the better for it.
The course is so well marked and some of the baskets are unusual and interesting.
I thought that the orientation that our host, Paul gave is a good reminder of being kind to our forests--and being courteous to the other players--The beauty of this course and the surrounding mountains adds to the ambiance and enjoyment of the day at Phantom Falls.
Cons: I wish I could play better so I could do this place justice.
Other Thoughts: There are not enough women involved in this wonderful sport--I play with the guys and they are terrific--but as my game involves more throws I feel I slow them down some.
6 of 16 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 19 Not
Pros: this course is super player friendly, offering a personal experience not soon to forget. there was a bbq grill to use and patio for lunch break or for beer break. I never thought I would pay to play, but man it was worth it imo
4 of 23 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 19 Not
Fantastic Phantom Falls
Pros: Wonderfully laid out course that works with the natural environment that it is built on. I felt like I was playing my own personal course. The little details that this course puts are second to none!
Other Thoughts: EVERYONE SHOULD PLAY THIS COURSE!!!!
4 of 23 people found this review helpful.
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