Wow, what a place and what a course!!!!!
11 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: I visited Idlewild one day before the annual Idlewild open. So my review is taking into consideration the immaculate condition of the course in preparation for this Pro tournament. The course seemed perfect to me. I will break down item after item of what I was impressed by, but it's deserving of a 5.0.
Nearly every hole has its unique character. Idlewild combines trees (a lot of trees), with rolling fairways and water. The brushed concrete tees are excellent as well as the detailed Tee signs. The Innova Disc Catchers are great.
There is crushed gravel spread all over the course: around the tees, the bridges, and creating pathways.
My three favorite water holes were two, six, and seven. On number 2 you're throwing up a hill and you can't see the water. I just skipped over the crown and went into the water. Fortunately I recovered that one, then threw over the water to the peninsula basket. The tee on number 6 was intimidating to me, but it was not included in the Idlewild Open this weekend. There's a little gap in between two trees that have Mando arrows and on the other side of those trees is a little swamp. If you have good control this is no problem. I suppose for the better players this is too easy so it got excluded from the Open. Unfortunately I nicked the tree and my disc ended up in the water. I'm not the only one, since I saw two other discs floating in the water.
There are two tees on number 7 and I took my chances on the long tee, which throws over the water, if you favor a RHFH like me, to a basket sloping down into the water. Unfortunately my disc ended up in the middle of that pond. So I lost two discs in the three water holes that I like. Next time I'll tee off from the short tee on number 7, which easily avoids the water from the right side.
There are many OBs created at Idlewild to challenge your technical skills. There are several doglegs where you are throwing blind down a hill, into a wood, then avoiding an island or peninsula green.
Number 15's tee sign says it is only 197 feet, but the basket is perched on a raised green, across a valley that is full of trees. Yet it is straight ahead with no elevation change. Normally I consider a 197' target that is straight ahead as an ace run, but I looked at that basket and considered it one of the hardest looking 197' shots I've ever seen. With good technical skills, and a little luck, this should be a birdie.
Another common experience at Idlewild are the tunnels you must navigate on your drives. If you don't the forest roughs will punish you.
Cons: Maybe there's too many trees, if that's possible. And maybe there's too many OB creations, if that's possible. But I can't discount a course for trees and OBs since it only requires better technical disc golf skills.
I could see how some of the steep dirt fairways would be difficult after a rain and no gravel, but when I was there it was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies. And there was fresh gravel everywhere in preparation for the Open. Unfortunately the next day the first round of the Open was delayed due to thunderstorms. The weather here can change quickly.
Other Thoughts: I talked to a friendly guy putting down the gravel who said he's been averaging 20 discs a day in his water rescue efforts. Since it's a Boone County Park I suppose he's the official park diver.
The park does not open until 7am and the day before the Open it is not open to the public. Since I was traveling through the area and I was only around there for that one day I started at 6am when the sun came up. I pretty much had the course to myself, which I'm sure is not common for such a great course.
Idlewild has a good vibe. How do you put into words that feeling of being outdoors in a spacious park with mature trees on rolling hills with rivers and ponds?! I live in Southern California and I think that we SoCal disc golfers rate our courses too highly because we've never experienced the really great disc golf courses around the country. If I get a chance to review the other courses I played on this trip (Moraine State Park in PA and Orange Crush and Seth Burton in WV) then I'll expand on this comment.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
A thing of beauty
12 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - Simple and easy to get to. The drive up to the course is beautiful and then once you are in the park its simple to find the first hole.
- Potty in the parking lot.
- Discatcher baskets are always awesome to see. Best basket out there imo.
- Nice concrete teepads. Most of them are big enough to land a plane on so thats pretty awesome.
- Lots and lots of benches.
- There was a bunch of crushed gravel out on the course as walking paths and it made finding the paths to the next holes easy.
- The course flowed pretty seamlessly. There was only maybe 1-2 times where I wasnt sure if I was heading in the right direction. Otherwise it was pretty simple.
- This course will test you mentally and physically. There are a lot of trees here and a lot of distance making for a battle thats fun to play.
- This course has pretty much everything. Short wooded, Long wooded, long open bombers, rolling hills, water, OB, Mando's. You need pretty much every shot to be able to score well here. The only shot that I didnt throw is a big hyzer. Every other shot I threw.
Cons: - There are a few holes out here where they do need to take some trees out. Just a hand full of holes needed fairer fairways. On a course this caliber I shouldnt have to knowingly throw a shot of the tee and just hope and pray that I dont hit a tree. Not a lot of fun when it takes more luck then skill to complete the hole.
- One of the concrete teepads had astro turf on it. Not sure why this is but its pretty terrible. I slipped and fell off of the tee because of it. Im sure it was done because the concrete below is beat to death but turf is not the way to go.
- Not really a con but I havent lost a disc in a few years and I lost 2 here. The rough is really rough in some places which sucks but that just means I shouldnt have thrown my disc there.
Other Thoughts: This course has been on my hit list for years and it felt so good to finally get to play here. The course was beautiful and a lot of fun to play. Reminded me of the great courses we have in WI. I played the 24 holes so I could get the full experience but the next time I go back I would like to just cut it down to the 18 used for the Idlewild Open. Overall I would recommend this course to every one. This is a place that every serious disc golfer should look into going at least once in their lives. This course is a thing of beauty.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Best of the best
1 Helpful / 18 Not
Pros: Top 3 coarse in the world IMO I found out about this coarse like 2 months before 2017 Idlewild open and I freaking love this coarse even when you're not shorting well it's fun as heck just amazing landscapes and nature must play
1 of 19 people found this review helpful.
The Midwest's Mecca
21 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Idlewild is a mecca. I made a 1,100-mile, 50-hour round trip from Charlotte specifically to play here. It was worth the drive.
- This fantastic voyage starts with one of the best opening holes I've seen. An open, 640-foot downhill layout. You get to pull out driver and test the arm right off the bat. A solid par 4.
- #2 & 3 are excellent in their own rights. The challenge on #2 is how aggressive do you want to be off the tee. Long and straight leaves you a simpler shot over the water. Shorter or off-line and you should lay up. My third shot wasn't more than 140 feet, but it's a nerve-wracking throw. Despite landing 5 feet from the basket, I never felt good about the throw until it came to a stop.
- #3 has water on the left, with the fairways sloped downward towards the water. It's a hole, when standing on the tee, where you may be left wondering, where can I safely & smartly land my disc. Don't worry, you'll have that thought off, most notably on #11 & 22.
- In terms of beauty, you'd be hard pressed to top #7. The pond runs the entire left side of the fairway for the 430-foot, slight uphill layout. The further right you go, the longer your approach is going to be, and the more your playing downhill back towards the basket. It takes two solid shots to get to the basket here.
- #8 is your first taste of the woods. If you want one hole to sum up the Idlewild experience, I think this is the layout. A 530-foot dogleg right that starts in the open, before having the trees become a factor the final ¼. You also get one of the artificial green surfaces, which only serves a purpose as defining OB. Another hole where players should appreciate a well-earned par 4.
- Tremendous risk/reward factor throughout the course. The key is to know when to be aggressive and when to be cautious. Holes #11 & 12 aren't ones to be aggressive on; just keep it in the fairway and take your pars. Holes #13 & 15 are your birdie chances, with #15 being a legit ace-run. If you played #11 & 12 smart, you may end this five-hole stretch (including #14) under par. Poor shots on #11 & 12, and you're needing birdies just to get your round back on the right track.
- Tee signs are your lifeline on the course. So many holes where you can't see the basket from the tee. Other than possibly #16, I felt they were spot on.
- Possibly what the course did better than almost any other I've played is the approach shots. I felt I was time and again throwing to the basket from 200 - 250 out. The course is receptive of long tee shots, often having upslopes behind the basket allowing your shots coming in hot. Case in point is the 1000-foot hole, #21. Yes, there's OB, but there's plenty of room to land on the green.
Cons: The course has a fantastic 18 holes. It does take 24 holes to achieve that. Other courses I've played had a higher success rate.
- There are a couple filler holes. #19 serves no purpose whatsoever. Even #20, which is a fine hole, was just part of the long walk to get to #21. Once you decide to blow past the 18-hole mark, maybe 20 or 21 holes would have been better. I'd get rid of #6 & 19 tomorrow.
- There's a decent walk from #24 back to the parking lot. I didn't like the way the course ended with the final basket right behind two large trees. My thought: no matter where you are, when you're coming out from the shoot in the woods, aim for the two large trees. Let them knock your disc down and take your chances with a 15-20-foot putt. It's what I did, and it saved me a stroke. After everything you've been through on a par 90 course, having that be your final challenge was a major let down.
- Course comes too close with other park activities at times. On #9, you're throwing across a heavily used walking trail. I had to wait almost a solid two minutes to let a handful of people walk on by. Then I throw and discover I nearly hit a person with his dog, who was just hanging out in the dip in front of the basket.
- Pace yourself here. Course is nearly 11,000 feet. Even if you play fast, as I do, you're not getting out of here much under 2 hours. I'm a very fast player, and this took me right around 1:40 to play. Expect 3-hour rounds if you're with a group.
Other Thoughts: This course's best attribute is its depth of outstanding holes. Just by looking on here, you can see how many different holes have received multiple votes as the course's best. I could argue for five different holes as the best one here.
- Other than the stretch of #11 - 15, any three hole stretch on this course had at least one great hole in that stretch. #11 - 15 'only' featured the course's toughest hole (#11), another tough, long layout (#12), and two legit birdie chances/the first chance you've had to catch your breath in awhile (#13 & 15). And that's the 'worst' stretch on the course.
- I wanted to check this place out for myself, so I made a quick road trip, leaving Charlotte Friday afternoon, stopping for the night, and getting here Saturday morning. This was assuredly worth the trip, the hype, and the energy. I got to play 12 other courses in six total states before pulling back home 50 hours after I left.
- I pictured this course as being something grandiose. It was in the sense of its small tributes to disc golf with commemorative bridges and what not. That said, it's weird having a new, start-up neighborhood directly across the street. It's weird thinking having an internationally known disc golf course across the street and probably most them wouldn't have a clue.
- This is an absolute must-play. All the frills that other top-rated courses don't impress me as much as what the course offers between the ropes. This is right up there with some of the best I've played.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Idlewild is set in a beautiful multi use park, but with the exception of a walking path on a few holes, the course is away from all others activities. There are 24 holes here that range in difficulty quite a bit. This is not a course for beginners and will be extremely challenging for even experienced players (like me). The baskets are DISCatchers with the yellow bands on them. These are all in really great shape and catch well. The yellow band really helps with spotting them in the woods. The tee pads are all plenty large enough and grip just fine. This is a must have on a course of this caliber. The elevation here is extreme. some of the most up and down variation I've seen to date. The majority of the holes are mostly to heavily wooded with elevation changes throughout. A couple ponds come into play as well and the stream that runs through the property is used fantastically on a ridiculous number of holes. The creek plays OB on most making shot and placement control even more vital. There are a number of beautiful astro turf greens that really add to the aesthetic of the place. Multiple bridges to cross the creek on every hole it winds through. You'll need every trick in your bag to do well (or even ok) here. There are left turning, right turning, dead straight and multiple combinations of each. The distances are all over the place as well. They range from around 200 feet to almost 1000 feet. The tee signs are very nice too. They all have a great looking map of the layout of the hole, hole #, par, next tee arrow, and distance. Really everything that you need on a tee sign. The flow of the course is actually pretty intuitive considering the vastness of it. Only a couple slightly confusing spots but with the next tee arrows on the signs and the course map on this site not too big of a deal. The course is free to play too, which is shocking for a course of this caliber. The course was not busy when we played although that was on a Monday morning so I can't say what it's like during peak times. The course was very clean and serene when we played. This is just a beautiful piece of property to have a course on. There's ample parking and a practice basket by hole 1 as well as a portable toilet.
Cons: Not too much for cons here. One thing to mention right away is that the course is not very cart friendly. It can be done but it's not going to be easy. As mentioned above the navigation can be a little odd in a couple spots. Just download a map and you'll be fine though. Not that there is really anything they can do about it, but the rough off the fairways can be ROUGH. It can get thick and sharp. Just be very cognizant of where or about where your shot landed or you'll be in a world of hurt. Or lost plastic.
Other Thoughts: As has been said many, many times before, this course is NOT for beginners. This is easily one of the top 2 to 3 hardest courses I've played to date. Really probably only the bear at Highbridge was harder, and barely. This is definitely a course to go out of your way to play if you are a decent to above player. It tests every aspect of your game and punishes you in any area that you lack in. I only gave it a 4.5 out of 5 because I've never given anything a 5. I can't say it's "the best of the best" because I haven't played nearly enough of the top rated courses to say for sure. But with that being said I would bet that this is probably top 5. I'd give it a 4.75 if that was an option but it's not. Amazing course. As has been mentioned many, many times before this is a grueling course. It WILL take you around 3 hours to complete. If not longer depending on your group size and how busy it is. I've been waiting years to get the chance to play it and it was totally worth the wait. Highly recommend this place.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
One of a kind
2 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Incredibly challenging and it's the best course I've played. If you can conquer this course, or just play it without loosing control, you can play anywhere. Lots of accurate reviews already. Just a phenomenal course.
Cons: It just needs some work getting cleaned up and some minor fix ups.
Other Thoughts: If you haven't played this course and you are within a 2-3 hour drive, make a weekend trip out of it cause it's a must!!! You can visit some other really awesome local courses too.
2 of 8 people found this review helpful.
See What It Takes To Be a Pro
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Much has been said about this gem in the rolling hills of Northern Kentucky, and it lives up to the hype. 24 holes that vary from monster bomber holes (900+ feet), to throws over water hazards, to following a winding line through a tree-lined fairway, to threading a tiny needle through a forest tunnel.
The hole variety and quality here is unparalleled. It doesn't feel like any two holes are the same, and this course demands you to use every throw in your arsenal. The elevation is well utilized, the woods are trimmed perfectly, and the fairways are clear. Additionally, the "wow" factor is high here, as there are several beautiful holes that provide fantastic shot opportunities.
The course is extremely well marked. It should be noted that this course used to be numbered 1-18 and A-F, with A-E being between holes 2-3 and F occurring later (I think after 6). Now, the course has been relabeled 1-24, making navigation easier. There are also signs designating where the next hole is to aid in navigation when it is not explicitly clear.
I've mentioned this in reviews before, but I will again: this course is beautiful. The mixture of wooded and open areas, all enclosed in rolling hills, makes for several stunning views.
Cons: Not a con, but rather a warning: this course is NOT for the faint of heart. It is long. It is hard. It is probably not the best for a hot day without carrying some water. You may lose a disc on an errant throw, especially when the fairways are bounded by high grass. If you are coming here, get ready to engage in a long, arduous battle.
There are many areas on this course labeled OB here. Normally when I play, I disregard these because most of them seem to just be there for the sake of being there. The course is already hard enough, so it feels weird to increase the difficulty by having extra OB areas.
There are also some teepads that felt extremely short. This seemed to be a problem for some of the earlier holes, especially #1 (which was over 600', requiring a massive drive).
It should be noted that I would give this course a 4.75 if it were an option, and would raise that to a 5.0 if these couple issues were taken care of.
Other Thoughts: This course is a masterpiece, probably the most professional course I have ever played. The designers did a fantastic job of capturing the beauty of the park and creating a course that meshes well with it. Every serious player who is in the area should give this course a try to see where they are at and how they can improve. It is worth a long trip to play.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Fun and very challenging
Pros: Beautiful scenery and very challenging course design. This is my personal top choice for the Cincinnati / Tri-state area. The grounds are always well kept and every few years the benches and signage are refreshed. This past year during the Bluegrass open, all of the baskets were replaced with new ones. This course also provides a "short game"; so you will play 18 baskets instead of the regular 24 that Idlewild has to offer (some of the fairways have shortened lines and alternative baskets). Great place to expand your game and push your skills to the next level.
Cons: Some of the fairways further into the wooded areas can get pretty messy when rainstorms come through. Also, in the latter half of the course, there is a bell that you ring to alert anyone behind you that you have just finished putting that basket. This bell has been broken for a couple years, so just be on the look-out for rouge discs. The only other design problem, would be on the famous Kentucky "Y" fairway; it actually intersects one of the paths between baskets, so it's not uncommon on busy weekends or tournament days, to have passerby's (another place to watch for rouge discs).
Other Thoughts: I absolutely love this course. If you're serious about disc golf you need to add this to your bucket list. If you do visit, play all 24 baskets as well.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
25 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Idlewild is every bit the fantastic disc golf beast I was led to believe it would be. The variety in design and terrain is outstanding: this is fantastic land used to great and memorable effect. Open to tight, birdiable par 3s to brutal par 5s, rolling hills, steep slopes, water hazards, island greens, daunting mandos, it couldn't get more varied than this. These elements are often used in interesting combinations to create unique scenarios, like moving from the open rolling hill down into the tree-guarded island on 15, or 11's (in)famous triple mando laced with a small creek that takes a sharp left into slightly more open terrain approaching a guarded pin. There are so many multifaceted holes here.
The definitive Idlewild holes seem oversized, lengthened to add stages or make second and third shots as intensive and critical as your initial drive. Strategic placement is huge, as is your handling of risk versus reward: the par 4s and 5s here have so much that can go wrong on a given shot that you really need to approach them judiciously and be prepared for contingencies. This makes for a challenging mental game, but there are so many variables in play that things will go wrong at some point regardless of your intent. Idlewild is thus equally about damage control, finding ways to get back on track when a playthrough of a hole takes a turn for the worst. Holes often allow for these recovery shots, with thinned-out rough and many possible lanes available, so while you may feel down you are rarely out. The course is as challenging as they come, but that challenge is well-executed and refined.
Grooming is excellent, the concrete tees are great.
Cons: Several of the lettered holes are underwhelming relative to the high standard the original 18 set. They are generally mellow par 3s that offer a nice change of pace from the skill-intensive par 4s and 5s, but they definitely stick out a bit in relation to them. Getting them in one large chunk near the course's beginning, before you've really been exposed to the challenges of the original 18, lessens their ability to provide a largely-needed reprieve.
The course is very hard, no way around it. I wouldn't even argue if someone considered it unfair. Much of it is thus not beginner friendly and requires an appreciation for highly-technical courses. It's a physically intensive round too with lots of hillside walking and long holes. Bring water and snacks, and be prepared to have this round be the focus of your day.
Other Thoughts: Idlewild is one of the very best courses I've played, and should be high atop anyone's bucket list. Its prestige is well-earned. I will be back!
25 of 25 people found this review helpful.
Challenging, No Time To Relax Here
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Many Hills, Valleys, Beautiful Trees, Big Tees, New Baskets, Open Holes, Wooded/Tight Holes, Some Water, Some Alternate Tees And Baskets, Nice Grassy Fairways With Bridges Where Necessary, Some Island Greens With Astro Turf, Well Maintained, Usually Not Crowded, True par 3's, 4's, and 5's, Nice parking. Plays Like A Tough, U.S. Open Type Ball Golf Course, Where Even Pros Are Challenged To The Extreme To Shoot Even Par.
Cons: No Pro-Shop, No Permanent Bathroom Buildings, No Food Shop. Just a few water fountains.
Other Thoughts: Idlewild was designed for advanced and pro players. The sheer distance of this course is challenging, then, considering the elevation changes, water, trees, thick rough, and varied fairway geometry/angles, it may be the most demanding course in the world. Every hole is a unique test of players' abilities. Patience rather than frustration is in order here, more so than other courses, due to the exacting shot making required to traverse the course. Most of the holes demand players to execute at least two solid/accurate throws before they have a putt for birdie. It takes about 4 hours to complete a round. Watch the 2017 Idlewild Open on youtube for a great, detailed look at top pros playing this course. Playing this course will make you a better player.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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