It Will Wear You Down
12 Helpful / 0 Not
- dual concrete tees
- nice full color tee signs
- great natural diversity
- incorporates some decent elevation change on many holes
- good combination of open and wooded shots
- good combination of varied lengths for holes
- practice basket, though it's looking rough
- well manicured with manageable rough
- lots of disc golf if you're looking for a long course
- area mostly devoted to disc golf with no major safety hazards
- incorporation of multiple water hazards
- prairie grasses can be brutal and tear up your legs badly
- fairly repetitive after hole 10 or so
- some next tee signs, but more needed to avoid confusing navigation
- pay to play, if you view this as a con ($5 seemed reasonable)
- can be a very long round with 28 holes
- pretty punishing for newer players, and easy to lose discs
I bounced between 3 and 3.5 on this one. The first third or so of the course really wins it the 3.5. I've come to really dislike the tall prairie grass courses, as I don't mind significant difficulty, but if you spend all day blindly looking for discs it just isn't fun at some point, and this course is full of briars and thorns in the tall grasses. I probably would not choose to play this course again, but it is an impressive course with some great redeeming qualities.
Bird's Ruins is set in a large park away from most civilization, and except for crossing the road a couple of times between holes, the area is largely devoted to disc golf without safety hazards. There are some walking trails but the course was very deserted on the Thursday morning I was there. Points in its favor include dual concrete tees for each hole, full color tee signs at both tees, and a decent level of amenities. There are some nice built in bridges over creeks, and garbage cans and benches at many holes. The Chainstar baskets are just ok, but serviceable. There is a practice basket by the left side of the parking lot as you enter which I missed at first. There is also an outhouse on site.
Navigation here started out easy and straightforward and got worse as the course went on. There are a quite a few missing tee signs. The first 4 holes across the street are wooded and are a beautiful nature walk. I saw a family of snakes (mom + juveniles), a frog, butterflies, and more just in the first few holes. These holes are mostly flat, but make up for it with technical challenge and natural beauty.
Once back across the street, some elevation of the rolling hill variety starts to get incorporated. There are some cool high risk, high reward shots, like hole 7 - which forces you to throw at a significant downhill angle to a short basket location probably 10 ft from the edge of the lake behind it. The course is very well manicured for the most part, but after about hole 10 I found it got quite repetitive, with a lot of open, prairie grass type holes without many unique qualities. I'm typically not the hugest fan of courses over 18 holes, but it can work if they are all unique. Courses like Sandy Point in northern Wisconsin and Blue Ribbon Pines near Minneapolis pull this off well. I felt like Bird's Ruins could have been a lot shorter than 28 holes while still offering a similar experience. It felt forced to me.
The pro tees do add significant challenge on some holes. Often, the 2nd tee is just to add 50-100 ft of distance, but some of the ones here incorporate different lines and force different throws, which is the type of 2nd tee I think is best since it gives the course a different feel. After about hole 12, navigation got pretty confusing. Between so many tee signs missing and a lack of next tee signs, I had some trouble finding things and had to consult my map a fair bit. Things like this could be easily fixed to elevate a course. On the grassy holes, the fairways are wide enough to be fair, and it's not too hard to stay on the fairway, but you will stray eventually, and then good luck finding your disc. My legs were more torn up on this course than by the other 11 combined I played on this trip. In other areas, the rough is fairly forgiving.
This is a pay to play course, but at $5 for 28 holes it's hard to complain. Hole 28 is a good challenge with a very long water carry but to retrieve your disc you either have to drive or walk a bit of a way down the road which isn't really ideal. I can't say I've seen a setup like this before. Most of this course felt like a 3 to me, but because of the early wooded holes and diversity of nature here, I decided it just barely deserved the 3.5. I think it's worth trying out, and it may appeal more to some others, but I think the other Madison area courses are a lot more fun to go back to.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
"Please don't take it so badly 'Cause Lord knows, I'm to blame..."
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Right from the start, on #1's long tee, Bird's Ruins' rough lurks menacingly, serving warning to those foolhardy or talented enough to enter The Bush. Because, ultimately, that's what Bird's Ruins boils down to: the test of wills between you and The Bush. The Bush looms, omnipresent; here in the form of a massive hill covered in the densest patch of continuous sumac in existence, there in the form of pin-ball jails with literally no escape/scramble route/exits, and in the open prairie area as dense, thick, impenetrable schule encountered immediately and ubiquitously off, and sometimes *in*, the fairway. Recovery shots are grim affairs, usually requiring a second set of eyeballs to spot, as you say a prayer and fling it hopefully forward, always forward, in an inevitable death march toward each pin, somewhere in the distance, through The Bush. I witnessed a thrown disc rebuffed wholesale by The Bush, it smacking down this feeble vainglorious attempt to simply reach the fairway, nearly returning the disc to the thrower's arms, so impenetrable is the rough in places. Sumac prisons abound. Even after you emerge from The Bush, more or less, the fear of having to play back towards it lingers for the remainder of the round as the punishment now shifts to largely unshaded prairie scrub holes almost as bad as the thickest of the sumac.
- There is tasty elevation out here. Even the flatter holes like #'s 1 and 2 have little dips and wrinkles. The creek in front of #1's green is an example. Hole #'s 5 & 6 up the ante and start moving up the more hilly section of the course, with a few relatively easy warm up holes to lure unwary souls into a false sense of comfort. Hole #'s 7-10 work through established woodland with fair, commensurate punishment off the fairways, as the holes climb up and down a small ridge. While definitely not "easy" these holes are nice and technical, and some of the nicest on the course to play from a "I'm not going to die stuck in the rough 1" off the fairway" sort of vibe. #17 plays uphill with the narrowest of gaps between The Bush to hit a sumac-surrounded green. Prairie holes on out with a few wooded exceptions, before the last hole forces a water carry over a pond that, of course, leaves you a long walk all the way back around the pond to the parking lot. Just for one last kick to the shins.
- Amenities: all here and in fine shape with the exception of a few tee signs missing. Benches throughout, which was a welcome addition, from someone who typically does not use them during a round. Elevated basket on #12 in the prairie wind will test putting skills. Tees in fine shape. Bring water. In fact, slam water on the first several holes before the course crosses over the road past the parking lot, and then refill while you have the chance.
- A fairly good variety of hole types over a fairly good variety of terrain, requiring a multitude of shots, escape shots, trick shots, rollers, and anything else you can do to manage The Bush.
- A variety of yummy wild berries and fungi throughout.
Cons: - Overgrown in spots, not to the point of complete unplayability or anything, but did have to skip one or two of the long tees due to the sides of the fairways having grown almost to the point of touching. Long tee #19 was especially bad. Nothing a quick trim wouldn't correct; overall, the course is maintained well.
- There are holes where I'd posit the following: the punishment doled out by the rough is incommensurate to the poorness of the shot. The prairie holes and the Sumac Bush are prime offenders, while the established forest ridge holes are innocent, by and large. I'm used to playing long gold-level courses, taking my lumps, and loving it. This felt a bit unnecessarily sadistic in places.
- Do we really really need 28 holes here? I appreciate the bang-for-your-buck aspect to this, but my intuition tells me this course could be "shortened" to, say, 24 and become more digestible while still retaining a high level of difficulty and punishment. Eliding some of the prairie shots on the "back back 10" into perhaps a more manageable bomber hole or two without having to worry about the rough could be a nice touch, for example.
Other Thoughts: - $5 pay-to-play gets you more than your money's worth.
- If I had brought any lunch money to this course, it would have pushed me down, skinned up my knees, and taken it. Also, my name is now "Sally."
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Great in winter!
Pros: From my understanding, this course was first installed in 2011 with 18 holes and was upgraded to 27 (plus the bonus/tie breaker hole) in 2016. I played this course first in 2015 and wanted to come back to it before writing a review. 3 years later, I returned for another go. The newest 9 holes added tremendous value to this destination.
+ 28 holes of disc golf for free open year-round. To me, that's three pros in a single sentence.
+ Diversity. You have a plethora of wooded holes, prairie holes, uphill shots, downhill shots, and a couple water shots sprinkled in. There are < 200' ace runs and 600' bombs. If that's not enough, there are two sets of tees to spice things up and also 2/3 sets of pin locations.
+ Challenge. Hitting birdie's feels good here.
+ Maintenance. This course has all the equipment you could ask for. A big course map at the beginning, cement tees, descriptive tee signs, and baskets that are in good shape. The grass is mowed and trash isn't out of control.
+ Seclusion. This little piece of paradise is exclusively used for disc golf. Sure, there will be the occasional dog walker, but he/she will definitely be aware of the course and will be respectful of that.
+ A snow shovel at every tee! Very thoughtful. Additionally, there are tons of places to sit. I think behind every single tee. I was also very impressed with the wall made of branches behind 13B that protects 13C's tee.
Cons: - I would imagine that the rough bordering the fairways is outrageous during summer. I played both rounds here during winter, but I'd imagine that the threat/danger of losing a disc here is massive, especially on the longer prairie holes.
- With prairie holes, there's always a risk of monotony and lack of diversity. That exists here a little bit, but elevation, trees, and hole shapes do their best to try to prevent that.
Other Thoughts: I don't believe that the big course map at the beginning of the course has been updated to include all 28 holes. It still shows the old layout.
There is a $3 suggested donation. This is completely optional, but very reasonable in my opinion especially since it goes strictly towards improvements and maintenance of this place.
All in all, I played a very enjoyable round here with my brother. I'd definitely recommend making the trip out here. If you play the entire course, you'll definitely get your steps for the day!
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 8 Not
Good course, terrible hazards!
Pros: 28 holes and its free
Cons: the hazards.... playing in mid to late summer, good luck finding your disc if you toss it off the fairway.
Other Thoughts: For a free course its pretty damn good. the only part i really dislike is the tall grass/hazards. Playing by yourself you tend to hold back a lot on this course due to the fear of having to track down a mis-thrown disc. If I didn't live down the street I would probably never really play this course. Would much rather go and play Token Creek. But early spring, before the grass is too tall and everything is in bloom, 5 star course. Then again maybe I'm just a little bitter after losing 3 discs to this damn course due to the tall weeds.
2 of 10 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 5 Not
Great S. Wisconsin course
Pros: 28 well laid out holes in a pretty secluded, rural area. Well worth the drive from Madison, Milwaukee, or Janesville. Multiple tees and pin positions for almost every hole make the layout pretty widely variable in terms of difficulty. Most every shot in my bag was used on this course off the tee at one point or another.Signage is quite good, and making your way around the course is easy after you see it once.
Good use of elevation available, and some holes play on the side of the hill bordering the river (which you get to throw over on hole 28 if you want)
Cons: From what I've heard, the tall grass off the main fairways basically plays as a hazard in the warmer months. Was find to play when I did in the winter, as it was pretty well laid down, and even then if you threw off the fairway finding your disc took a little work. Personally I think it would be good incentive to try and learn better course management to play in the summer time, but other locals seem to think differently.
Didn't really notice many trash cans out there, but some spots had nice places to sit in case you didn't bring a stool.
Other Thoughts: This is a fantastic course! During the summer, if I have my choice to drive 25 minutes to Token Creek or drive 35 minutes here, I'd like to think that I'd almost always take Bird's Ruins. Not that Token Creek is a bad course by any means, I just think I prefer the different challenges that Bird's Ruins offers. 27 (or 28 if you play it) holes obviously makes it tougher to get 2 rounds played in a day. It's not a tough hike but it's a decently long course with some well thought out use of the elevation that is available.
6 of 11 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Very well maintained
-28 excellent holes
-Uses the elevation extremely well
-Discs are easy to find in the water (excluding hole 19/28 depending on when you went)
-Phenomenal tee boxes
-Plenty of benches
-Plenty of trashcans
-Course was very very clean
Cons: -Course is long..... but hey, 28 holes.
-The rough is... rough. You will lose a disc without spotters. Take a friend or 3.
-Apparently there is a plant here that will blister skin in sun.
Other Thoughts: I had the pleasure of playing here several times for the 2016 Am Worlds. This was my favorite of the 5.
Birds was a really really fun course. Being from Texas, I had never seen fairways mowed into punishing rough. Apparently this is a WI thing and I loved it.
Hole 7 was my favorite hole. You're a good ways above the basket, but it's really a putter shot through trees, but too long, you're in the pond. It's so picturesque that you have to run it. So much fun!
Then, on the new holes. Hole 15, I believe, is a tight, 8 foot wide tree lined fairway with a massive log wall (think wooden frontier fort) angled behind it. It's a 100% run the basket. It really makes you be accurate and rewards you when you are.
If I had to go back to Madison and could only play one course, it would be Birds Ruins. The Rebel DG Club have really knocked this one out of the park.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 1 Not
Best in South Central WI
Pros: The course is heavily wooded, highly technical, and has a great deal of elevation change to go along with some huge long holes to challenge both the big arms and the average (it's quite a treat to par those holes alongside the pros).
Natural obstacles such as an ancient, uprooted pair of trees on hole #4 just before crossing a creek add to the challenge (not to mention that the long green is surrounded to the 10 meter distance by sumac).
Hole #13 offers an elevated pyramid as the sort of unnatural obstacle that is much preferable to arbitrary and artificial OB. Hole #14 is another magnificently protected green, sumac surrounding the long pin out to 10 meters.
The holes are each exceptional, and the layout and signage is excellent, making it very easy to follow. And hey, Holly Finley calls it her home course, so if you see the Mini Cooper that she is provided by her sponsor at the dealership, you might get to say hey to the Duchess of Disc Golf (or even play a round with her).
It will soon be a 27 hole track for the World's, and the new holes look great.
Cons: It is about a 30 minute drive from Madison, but it's free and slightly superior to both Elver and Hiestand. It's the only course open in the winter in the area, and it can be muddy and slick and treacherous, so wear hiking boots with good traction.
Other Thoughts: It's secluded and quiet, near nature trails, water, and large farms. You can scarcely tell there is a small city nearby, and there are opportunities for bird and nature lovers to get their geek on about that as well as the great course.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Course has what many of my local courses don't have, elevation, water and bomber holes. Course fairways were mowed and looked to be kept up well. Some very fun short wooded holes. Course is very diverse in shot requirements. Some really enjoyable holes that are ace runable from the regular Teepads. Teepads are nice new concrete. Hole 14 had some great benches. Hole 13 has a nice pyramid basket that are becoming more popular. I enjoy these as there are plenty of flat greens on this course. From the sounds of it from our DGCR "course guide" that many holes have been widenend and they are mowing more than they used to. That is good news. Also mention of expansion.
Cons: Long walks and crossing trails that if not for a guide we might not have made. I PMed a DGCR "course guide" and he PMed me back and we were able to meet up with him and play. So glad he was along. Also even with 5 guys in our group hawking shots off the fairway we still spent much time looking for wayward drives. This would of course be better in early spring.
Other Thoughts: The course is definately going to be great. I can't rate it a 4 as the overall enjoyment was rubbed raw by constant searching when landing off the fairway. It was almost amazing how our discs would bury themselves in the prairie grass. the course guide asked us what teepads and we said am tees and he said, "good decision." Looking at some of the teepads was just amazing the tightness or the added distance required. Of course the alternate pin position on hole 14 that we didn't play thankfully was one of the craziest things I have personally seen for a pin placement on the course. Cut a 50 foot circle in the middle of some 10 foot high tree like bush like forest requiring a 60 or 70 ft carry to the circle from the closest mowed part of the fairway. You can see a picture of it when you look at the pictures of Hole 14 on the site. The guide that played with us said yeah that is the alternate pin and we said OK?. Overall for the most part a great disc golf course.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Best free 18-hole course in the county
Pros: Each hole on this course is pretty unique and there is a good variety of challenge throughout the course. The teepads are nice and on most of them someone has even put a post-it arrow on the current pin placement. There are small signs everywhere that show you where the next teebox is if it isn't obvious. Overall the course is well maintained and awesome!
Cons: There are four holes in the middle that have you going up and down a pretty steep hillside, so be prepared for a hiking type environment. Also, there were a good amount of flies and mosquitos when I went, so make sure to have some bug spray.
Other Thoughts: I wish this course was closer to Madison! Marshall is a cool little town, but besides the amusement park (which I've only driven by) this park is probably one of the bigger attractions. I didn't play the 19th hole since it was muggy out and I was tired, but I was prepared to if I was feeling up for it. I had a couple of beater discs in my bag at the ready. I also didn't play it because I wasn't quite sure how to get over to the basket and it seemed like a decent hassle for one extra hole.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 2 Not
I wish I lived in Dane County
Pros: - Located in a scenic county park
- Easy to find with ample parking near holes 1 and 18
- Wide Variety... short wooded holes, wide open distance, water hazards, elevation, and more
- Fun and challenging for a wide variety of skill levels
- Dual concrete teepads and pins
- High quality of upkeep and care... trash and recycling bins throughout the course
- Accurate and detailed teesigns
- Benches, logs, stumps, or plastic chairs located at each teepad
Cons: - I could definitely see how the rough could ruin a solo round, especially during the summer. It wasn't long enough this time of year (mid-spring) to be a problem while playing in a group of 4. We never spent more than 2 minutes looking for a disc over the course of 2 rounds.
- In the current pin positions, there were three short, downhill, doglegs that became a little monotonous.
Other Thoughts: I was really impressed with this course. The quality of the design is top notch. There were several holes that made me think about risk vs. reward and most presented two or more line options. Some people complained that hole #9 (in the horseshoe position) is way too difficult to birdie... I like that design because it rewards good course management. A controlled shot will set you up for a manageable par while those that go for the unlikely birdie will find themselves in jail and scrambling for a bogey. The care and upkeep were closer to what you would find at a high quality pay-to-pay course. The natural beauty of the land was remarkable. I heard the calls of cranes (I was told they were whooping cranes) on a nearby lake/pond throughout the day. I am definitely looking forward to playing here again.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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