The Best in St. Cloud
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The course is long and technical, heavily wooded and yet featuring fairways that are...fair (unlike a place like Mississippi River Park).
The first half dozen holes feature moderate elevation changes and exceptionally well guarded greens, with enough distance that deuces are still very hard to come by. The 7th is a spectacular 711' downhill hole that even a modest arm can bomb 500' and get an easy par.
The course just gets better from there. The 8th is a mando that this lefty loved and righties will hate. The 9th was an uphill 510' (am tee) hole that, owing to the snow, took me three shots to ALMOST reach the circle.
The rest of the course winds in and out of heavily wooded areas, over a small lake, cattail swamps, and other treacherous terrain. This is not for the faint of heart. Hole #12 from the pro tee was my favorite and I'd call it the signature hole (though there are far too many to choose from, as either 7 or 15 could also stake such a claim, and the almost blind hump shot on 14 is amazing).
It's simply one of the 10 best courses I've ever played.
Cons: I have a surprising amount of cons for a course I rated so highly, but here they are:
The first tee you see upon leaving the 1st green is the tee for #4. Backtracking and crossing other fairways is one of my pet peeves. #4 is actually easier from the pro tee--it's a straight shot down to the landing zone and then an easy lay up for par--and the short tee would suffice as the only tee here because of its extreme curve (an almost impossible anhyzer for a lefty to get to the landing zone and make par).
Hole #9 is simply a little too difficult, though I understand why the designer wanted the green to sit atop the hill you've just climbed. The real problem, however, is that you exit the green and see the tee for #16 and the green for #15. There are often good signs directing a player to the next tee, but there are none here. You have to backtrack about 50 feet to a small path to find #10.
The pro tee for #12 is the signature hole and the most beautiful on the course. The unfortunate aspect of the hole is that you have to play directly at the Am Tee about 200 feet away. Very hazardous and not easily re-designed.
The problem with the best hole on the course is exacerbated when you play the Am Tee. Less than 50 feet from the tee is a sign pointing to a path on the right for #13. This makes a player believe that he must finish the hole and then backtrack 250' to get to the next hole. I threw a 250' drive, a perfect 75' lay up, and then LEFT MY BAG BEHIND when I went to clean up my par. I then found a sign indicating an exit from the green to the next tee, so I had to walk back quite a distance to retrieve my bag and move forward.
The first sign should be eliminated. It's nice for a local to know an early escape route, but this sign just baffles anyone else. It's a mistake.
We also have to backtrack across the fairways of 16 and 17 to get to the tee for #17. 16 and 17 are only slightly different versions (distance is 30' different) of the same hole, so it seems as if a re-design of that area might be in order. I was able to backtrack across an area that didn't cross either fairway, but it was winter and the summer photos showed me that it is a cattail swamp that can't be navigated in summer.
Other Thoughts: The directions on this site are terrible! There's a reason this is the Hidden Lake.
If you are coming from the south on 75, as I was from Sportsman's Hill, you will not see a sign for 115 and end up at the truck stop by the freeway after 75 curves to the right. When coming from the south on 75, take 245th Street from 75 and it becomes 115.
When coming from the north and taking the 75 exit from the freeway, you will also believe that you must take a curve to the left for 75. This is also wrong. This will simply take you down 75 and along those high numbered streets of St. Augusta. Keep going straight on what is now County Highway 7. You will soon reach 115 to the right (245th Street to the left) and it's very simple from there.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
The Best Course You Never Heard Of
Pros: This course is my third favorite of all time. I've played hundereds of courses, but this is why I think this is one of the best.
1. The wildlife is amazing. The course skirts a nature trail that is truly awesome. Also the fact that it is still a fairly new course helps. The deer, coyotes, and birds have not been scared off yet and the lack of foot traffic over the very slow course as helped with that.
2. The shot variety is incredible. I literally brought my entire bag and played almost every disc. you will play shots from 200' straight shots to 711' bomb drives over an open field to 350' tight hiezers through the woods. I promise you will use every disc in your bag when playing this course.
3. It is very well marked. Though I think the layout could be improved on, there are signs for every hole that tell you where to go.
4. It is pretty slow. Because the course I kind of in the middle of nowhere I strongly doubt you will run into a lot of foot traffic. In fact we were the only pair on the course for 36 holes!
5. The elevation changes are awesome! Though the course is only moderately hilly, they do an awesome job with these hills. You basically throw up and down on about half of the course and the elevation will really throw you for a loop.
6. This course is incredibly challenging! I Have played hundreds of courses and this course challenged me more than most of them. It is very tight and the woods are pretty tight. Normally I post very consistent scores, but here it could go many different ways depending on the day.
7. They allow drinking! No distributing of alcohol is allowed but there is an awesome new liquor store about two miles away with a great variety of craft beer. The course has plenty of garbage cans and no one will bat an eye over a twelve pack of beer.
8. Alternative tees! Every hole has two tees to throw from. We played all 36 holes (if you count the alternative tee pads) and it really was two different courses. Each tee pad shows the distance from the tee and most are very different shots.
9. You get to throw over water. Enough said. I love those shots!
Cons: 1. The tees are not cement. They are gravel tee pads, and they were a little muddy when we played.
2. The layout could be better. You walk backwards on several holes to get to the next tee pad which could result in backups if the course was busy.
3. During the summer the course would be very overgrown. It's wooded, and nature filled. Buckthorn has overrun the trees and is annoying. Watch your disc! It could get lost.
4. Some holes are stupid. There are a few holes that aren't exactly unmakable, but are just too difficult to be fun. Some trimming may need to be done on a few holes.
5. Some ass holes ripped off the hole signs on a few holes.
Other Thoughts: Honestly this course is one of my favorites ever. you honestly feel as though you're playing in nature. It is almost like you are playing in the middle of a nature preserve, but really you're just in the middle of nowhere. If you ever get the chance to play the course, DO IT!!! You will not regret this awesome experience.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Course is set on a large piece of land, with lots of hills, woods, and a good sized lake. The area appears to be completely devoted to disc golf, with a walking path being the only possible source of conflict.
- Lots of tight, tough wooded holes here that force very, very accurate shots off the tee. #1 is a straightish tunnel shot uphill, #2 is a downhill hyzer with a very tight tunnel finish to the left. #3 is a tight uphill gap from the long tee, #4 is a long dogleg left with a flex shot off the long tee, #5 has a two-tree gap up the fairway, which then curves down and to the left. #6 is a steep uphill to the short pad, then another tight uphill hyzer to get to the pin. #8 is a very sharp RHBH anny or a RHFH flick shot. #10 is a nice little hyzer shot, a little easier. #13 is a tight uphill valley shot, with a nasty pinch point to hit off the long tee. #14 is a VERY tight downhill tunnel shot; with the option to go way over everything. Lastly, #18 is a tight uphill shot, with a few different routes including a RHBH hyzer.
- Most of these wooded holes are tough. Especially from the long tees. The lines are pretty much clear in that there are no trees splitting the fairways, but the pinchpoints are non-negotiable, and there is some truly horrible rough off the fairway. A nice mix of flat, uphill, and downhill, left and right, long and short, tough and a little easier. Laying up might be a wise choice in many spots... but not necessary.
- Other holes don't have quite as many trees, as least not so close to the fairway. But there are still windows to hit with some other hazards to worry about. #11 plays into some woods, over a smaller valley with a swamp on the bottom. #12 plays to a small gap, over a nasty, deep valley with all kinds of nastiness. It then has a sharp dogleg right into a low ceiling tunnel. #15 is a big downhill shot over the lake from the long pads, into a gap way on the other side of the lake. The short pad is much more forgiving, just a RHBH anny through the same gap. #16 is a pretty steep downhill shot, with a patch of tall grass/swamp before the gap to get to the green. And #17 plays over a marshy area with another gap to get to the green.
- These holes are more open than those in the woods, but are definitely no walk in the park. #12 is a true par 4, just getting to the landing zone to see the second leg takes a very good shot. #15 is a true bomber shot over the lake, playing from the short pad might be necessary for the smaller arms without conceding a lost disc. #16 is pretty straightforward from the short pad, but the long pad again takes some good distance to reach the pin. #17 isn't too bad, but it does shoot over the water again.
- The last two holes that haven't been mentioned yet are different - fairly open bomber holes! #7 is a big downhill shot at 711', a chance to air one out after being in the woods. There are some trees halfway down the hill to snag the rec player's short shots, and some woods behind to offer a tricky approach. #9 is the return shot back up the hill, with some grass on the right, forest on the left, and a few trees on the fairway. Mostly just a test of raw distance.
- Practice basket in front, good baskets overall. Signs are good, with maps at the short tees. Navigational aids help to get around, the only tricky spot is a little backtrack after #9, and maybe #16. Tees were in immaculate shape when I was there in July.
Cons: - A few spots with some weird navigation. Walking back from #9 and #16, for instance. I may have just completely missed the path to #17's basket, but I ended up walking back on #16's fairway. Kind of a pain if that's the only way to go, but I am not positive on that.
Other Thoughts: - Wow. This is a serious course with some major difficulty, plenty of hazards, tight lines, places to bomb, places to lay up, places to really think about what shot to use. Short and long pads are both high quality layouts, for sure. Beginners will want to stay clear of here unless they want a real challenge; it is definitely better suited for expert/advanced players.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
St. Cloud's Finest (easily)
Pros: I've played quite a bit of disc golf at the High Bridge Disc Golf Mecca in Sconny and let me tell ya: this course would fit in there perfectly. It's like a cross between the Granite Ridge course and the Woodland Greens course at HB. Every single hole is a complete challenge and utterly beautiful, to be honest.
It is very challenging, mixing precision and power at it's finest. The rough is so thick and dangerous....you need to have every wit with you on every shot. Is that a pro? Could be a con if you are a rec player, looking to have a fun
We did not see one other discer or group of people whilst playing. A huge plus.
It was easy to find every hole, even easier after snapping a photo of the map on the front sign on my phone.
This course is now the course I think of when I think of the ultimate challenge in Minnesota.
Cons: Need better fairways, wider.
Cement tees maybe? one there a pretty nice, though
Other Thoughts: I rank the St Cloud area course like this now:
Hidden Valley =4.5
all others about AVG
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
CHALLENGING but fair
Pros: Bring every shot in your arsenal. Technical and long, this course will intimidate and dominate. A rare combo of length and precision, this course will test the best. Nice baskets and a great layout, Hidden Lake will make you pull out your A-game if you want to keep it anywhere near par (54). Good upkeep from the park staff and local players. Not a lot of play so it's almost private style.
Cons: No concete tee pads (which I would expect fron a course of this high caliber). Bugs in the summer. Brutal rough - stay in the fairway. Floods in heavy rains. Not for novice or beginners at all.
Other Thoughts: The most challenging course in the state and maybe top 5 challenging in the region (if not the country) in my opinion. Focus and technique are key. I'd play in the semi-early spring or after the frost in the fall to avoid the bugs. Definately worth the trip for more seasoned players. You will be improved and impressed after a round here.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
St. Augusta National!
Pros: Most of it has already been said, but the effort that was put into desinging/building this course was excellent.
Great Challenge- this course is super intimidating from the tips. Still a great test of skill from the short tees. Lots of tight shots, but I didn't have such a tough time with the woods. Thought there was plenty of room to work with in the woods. If you nik a tree and kick into the woods, you definitely will pay in blood. I also managed to get tangled up in barbwire on #3. However, this course is so amazing I didn't even care!
Signage - professionally done! Great course map by pakring lot. Scorecard is well done, too! Best scorecard I've seen at a free course.
Tucked Away - I love out of the way courses in the country. Keeps the traffic down, and gives you a sense of being away from it all. Hidden is quite the reality. Once we got deep into the course, we found ourselves wondering were we were, definitely had a sense of being lost... the good kind of lost.
Beaufiful area - go see it.
Practice HOLE - not just a practice basket, a practice hole with tee pad. Found right by the parking lot, pad is by the fire hall.
Friendly staff - two guys were out mowing and hauling out cut wood. The older gentleman mowing came up to us on the practice hole and offered some advice. He chuckled alot when discussing the difficulty of the course. The younger guy hauling out wood helped us navaigate 9 to 10. One of my drives nearly took his head of when appeared around a bend, but he just laughed it off.
Cons: ....the map on the scorecard could be more detailed.... maybe some more trash cans, and a outhouse on course...
not alot to complain about.
Other Thoughts: Championship caliber course! This track blows everything else in Cloud out of the water. I've played just about every "great" course in the state and this is definitely a top five track. I just hope it gets the respect it deserves, keep it clean, keep it nice!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 1 Not
Fairly new to disc golf
Pros: This course is probably the best course in the St. Cloud area. I have only a couple of years into disc golf and have only played courses in the St. Cloud area but this one is by far the most dificult course I have played. At the same time it is also the most entertaining due to the changes in elevation and scenery. I look like the noob that I am when I play here but it forces me to improve my game.
Cons: You will be looking for discs if you are not spot on with your throws. Bugs are bad later in the summer. Water crossings if you are a noob.
Other Thoughts: This course was only opened in 2009, it will get better with use. I feel this course has the potential to be a championship course in the future. It has the makings of a great course so please bare with the growing pains. If you have suggestions please contact the city, the web site can be found online. I do work for the city but not on the park side of things. I have been trying to get this for a few years and I am glad to see it come to life.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 2 Not
Amazing in all ways... Play ASAP!
Pros: Everything: Difficulty, Multiple tees, every disc golf obstacle known to man, beauty, raspberries growing on the course, full 18 holes in huge park, parking, very nice bathrooms, playground, sand volleyball court and shelter, easy to find, many shot varieties, relatively easy to navigate. Tees and signs are adequate.
Cons: -Minnesota's state bird: the mosquito.
-Thick thick underbrush just off most narrow fairways.
-Too hard unless you're a very advanced player (im not but still enjoyed the challenge very much.)
-Some navigation signs made of cardboard but I think they will be replaced by longer lasting materials soon.
Other Thoughts: I am not about to go into as much detail as the other guy because his review was amazing. I am going to second everything he said except one. He mentioned no signs being put on the course and that is completely fixed. Signs for every tee and navigation signs between tees.
I believe that this course will continue to improve over time as more people play it.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Killer New Course in St Cloud area
Pros: This is a "killer" course in two of the ways in which that word is used in slang terms: several holes are killer awe-inspiring (there are several signature-type holes) and almost all the holes are killer formidable. (Once you play, you'll insert your own appropriate slang.)
I just played the 18-hole layout this afternoon in around two hours. (Much of the time was in scouting the blind pin locations, but I'm pretty sure it will still take around an hour and a half the many times I will no doubt replay this course in the future.) At the end of 18, I was left drenched in sweat, exhausted and covered with scratches (from digging around looking for my discs in tall weeds and brush). The course gobbled, chewed me to pieces, and spat me out, but I loved every minute of the hole-after-hole experience of challenges.
My 4.5 rating is strictly based on the design of the course as it would play for highly advanced, championship level players. It is NOT a course for beginners - unless they are into masochism -- or even most intermediate level players (see "Cons" section). It is a tough, tough course. It requires pinball alley accuracy on almost every hole and, on several holes, big arms. As I do not have either (I'm a moderately-skilled Grandmaster bracket player), I suppose I'm one of the first handful of casualties on this wonderful DGC addition to the St. Cloud area.
As it is a brand-new layout, with some cosmetic touches that are likely to come in the near future (e.g. yardage signs and, I hope, detailed maps), I have excluded rating criteria such as signage, directions and amenities from this review. Given the labor of love expended already on building this course, I assume these "extras" will be above standard.
To sum up, these are the plusses that jump out for me about Hidden Lake DGC based on its current state of infancy:
-- Extremely challenging. Perhaps a 5.0 rating in terms of difficulty and precision required. It's the toughest layout I've faced out of the over 60 courses I've attempted.
-- Nice variety of holes. 13 of the holes are tight, technical holes with at least a section of the hole demanding varying degrees of needle-threading through trees on fairways that vary in width from around 3 paces (8~9 feet) to 6 paces (16~18 feet). On many of these narrow fairways, if you miss, you need to bite the bullet and toss the disc a few feet back onto the fairway. The first six holes start out this way and, just when you think you can't take any more shots deflected into the dense set of trees and brush, you come into the clear on #7 and breathe a huge, giddy sigh of relief. Including this very welcome, spacious and beautiful, yet long, #7, I counted just 3 holes played mostly in the clear. (#16 is among in this category, yet this hole still requires a very careful placement on the drive.) 2 holes are over the water, including the stunning #15. (see note below).
-- Several signature holes that induced some jaw-droppage. I found myself saying to myself "You've got to be kidding" and "Oh my god" seven, eight times during the round, but these were the four holes I thought really stood out.
#7: Great hilltop view from the tee of an open prairie with the basket at the far end. After 6 highly technical holes, it is a wonderful relief to be in the wide open space.
#14: Classic tunnel hole where the drive needs to thread through an 8 foot wide opening that extends around 100 feet. It is virtually impossible to nail it through this entire 30~35 yard stretch from the back tee. An option for big arms (not me) is to throw over the trees an immense hyzer or tomahawk to a moderate-sized clearing at the lakeside basket. (You can't see this opening from the tee, so consider checking it out before your make your decision about strategy from the tee.)
#15, from the back tee: Even if you are wimp-armed like me, and need to drive from the short tees it is worth standing at this back tee in awe to look at the basket across the lake. I estimate it is 300+ feet to clear the water, and the basket is further on, through a patch of trees in a clearing that begins around 400 feet away from the tee with the hole another 100 feet or so beyond. (Not being Jesus, I couldn't pace out the distance over the water, so this is my best estimate via eying it.) I foresee #15 from the tips inspiring some gorilla-armed disc golfers to rate it the "best hole in Minnesota" if not one of the top three or four. It will certainly be one of the most photographed.
Note: I opted for #15's front tee. Even from this "A-is-for-Amateur" shorter location, the hole is scenic as well as challenging as it requires a well-placed annie throw over the marshy south end of the lake into the narrow opening that leads to the raised basket area.
#17: Another beauty over a marshy section of the lake to a tightly placed basket on the other side. Get your cameras out again. (I did.) This is reachable for those who can throw over 200 feet, but the trick is in avoiding the late fade to the left as this will bring doom. Over-compensate or avoid failure - i.e. aim to far right - and you'll likely go into the woods and bogey automatically. This is like the classic opposite-sex beauty you aspire to win over: so gorgeous, but there's the risk-reward aspect of whether you should go for it straight on or not. (Life is short; go for tit.)
-- Beautiful natural setting. Did I already say this course (when you're not in the thick brush) is a pretty sight to behold?
-- Multiple tee pads (two) to vary the angle and the degree of difficulty on each hole. Even from the front tees, though, this is a tough test for advanced players. Using the ball golf analogy, most of the Hidden Lake DGC front tees are akin to the "Blues" (back tees) at three-tee (Blue/White/Red) ball courses and the backs are akin to the "Blacks" (championship tees) you only see at upper-end (i.e. expensive) tournament caliber ball courses.
Cons: -- NOT for beginners (for them, it would be a 1.0 ~ 2.0 rating course) and it could be highly frustrating for many intermediate players as well, even from many of the front tee pads. If you still want to take the Hidden Lake challenge, on the tight holes I strongly suggest you throw your most stable (straight-throwing) disc, even if it is a mid-range disc like a Roc or an approach-putt disc. On the tight holes (all 13 of them), it is far better to get past the first 100 to 150 feet of obstacles (trees) and stay on or close to the narrow fairways than risk the early deflections deep into the woods.
-- Time looking for discs. It would be a miracle if you survived the 18 holes without spending less than several minutes looking for your discs. In my case, I spent 10 to 15 minutes of my two hours doing just this - and I thought I was being VERY careful. My favorite two discs are colored green (bad idea on this course). I ended up sticking with my bright-colored discs and made sure to follow the flight of my disc all the way to it's landing. Suggestion: Avoid playing alone - less eyes to see where your disc gets shot down or deflected. When playing in a group, take turns going up ahead at least 100 to 150 feet and help locate (within a few feet radius) the drive's exact resting spot.
-- Perhaps a bit too many "blind" baskets (especially in the first stretch of six holes), but then that is a big part of what makes the course such a formidable test of disc golf.
-- Tee pads are well laid out and pointed properly (consider these points as additional "pros"), but the surface is a bit less than adequate (red dirt with small pebbles scattered about) if you want a non-slip surface for run-ups and footing. They were a bit "mushy" today due to a recent rain so I found myself off balance a few times. On the positive sign, if they were cement pads, I would not have seen the deer tracks clearly imprinted on the dirt of tee #12.
-- Wood ticks. Be sure to check yourself after the round. I sprayed myself with strong spray (it's supposed to ward off ticks) at the start of the round, but I still found three lodged on my socks and one lodged on my leg. It's summer now, so I wore shorts. Even if it's hot, you might consider wearing long pants on the course. I plan to the next time.
Other Thoughts: Augusta, GA, has the Masters' Augusta National for ball golf and the PDGA headquarters for disc golf, and now St. Augusta, MN, has Hidden Lake DGC. I would not be surprised if it becomes another Augusta-named Mecca for top golf players, in this case, those of the circular air-floating variety.
Since this could be a very frustrating experience for the novice or even average disc golfer, I recommend that there be a warning sign at the start of the course that is similar in wording to what's posted at the ball golf's Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York - site of the US open a week ago. Here's what that sign says: "The Black Course is a difficult and challenging course that should be played only by low-handicap golfers." It's worth thinking about for Hidden Lake.
In addition, I recommend every player take along some strong bug spray, a towel (in case you need to wade into get your disc on 15 or 17), and plenty of water or other fluids. Once you head out to the course, you're on your own for a very long stretch.
Updated 7/14/09: When I played the course, there was no course footage or pars posted, but now I see that there are. I have deleted my own estimated footage information from the original review. Since I prefer a challenge, I was tough on myself and had estimated a pro par of 62. I see that the course information, taken off the tee signage, notes that it is a pro par 70. Tournament players will break par rather easily, I'm sure, but given the amazing amount of obstacles on most holes, I am somewhat relieved to see that the posted par is within reach of an over-the-hill thrower like me. Can't wait to give it another go when I'm back in the area again.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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