One of my favs
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Great signs
- Great baskets
- Long tee pads
- Impeccably maintained
- Pro-level course attracts good golfers, so not too many families or chuckers to get stuck behind
- Not a shared park so no pedestrians running into your lines generally
Cons: - Some tee pads were obviously not installed correctly and have cracked in spots that make run-ups slightly awkward (I'm looking at you, hole 10)
- Rubberized mats for short pads are retarded (but who plays the short pads anyway?)
- The rough is quite rough on some holes, and it can be difficult to find lost discs in (and once you find them, you're probably out of bounds anyway, so you're doubly-punished)
Other Thoughts: I think this course is underrated for what it is because you can't really appreciate this course unless you can throw 350+ feet. I'm sure it can still be fun to play the course with less distance, but you will not really be able to play a lot of the holes in the way they are meant to be played and the challenges will change. This is why you get reviews claiming that the main difficulty of this course is the distance you have to throw, but that's only the lowest bar to entry here.
Even as someone who throws 400 feet, this is a difficult course. Fairways that are quite generous if you throw 250 feet seem much narrower when you're trying to throw 400 feet and land inbounds, especially with dry summer grass and wind. For such a long course, you still have to be able to execute a lot of different types of shots here, and placement on the longer holes is absolutely crucial. Throw your first drive on 17 to the wrong spot and good luck getting par, even if you have a big arm.
I think OB's are really the biggest round killer here though. Scoring well here really does come down to staying in bounds. If you can throw 350 feet on golf lines and have an OB-free round, you will probably be under par (not that a lot of people ever do that).
Because a lot of reviews here are from 2014-2015 or even earlier, I have to say that some of the rough is not as rough as it was back then. Some holes like 15-16 have had their black berries and grass chopped back significantly and 17 has had some of its small trees removed, making more of an actual fairway so that shots through the trees are more possible than they were when McBeth miraculously eagled it during 2014 Worlds. A couple holes like 13 might have an even worse rough now than then, but mostly the course is more beat in now, which makes errant drives (a little) easier to find.
One other note: some people complain about the short pads being rubberized mats (which are definitely sub optimal) and not being well advertised. This is one of the few courses in the Portland area that is unashamedly a championship-level course. The short pads and pin positions are definitely an after-thought, and I'm fine with that. We have LOTS of great courses in Portland for people who can only throw 300 feet or families or those new to the sport. We can afford to have a couple courses that are geared towards good players, especially since we also have a lot of good players around here. I don't think there is a need for every course to cater to newbies, and this one certainly doesn't.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Play All Day
0 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: This is an amazing course, it is very (very) long and very challenging. This and Milo McIver are probably the longest distance courses in the area. I consider this a Pro Level Course.
Hard OB's, tight tree gaps, low ceilings, island OB's etc.
Beautiful greens, nice variety of foliage, and lots of par 4's.
Be prepared to be at this course for several hours, even if it's just one round.
Cons: OB is a natural preservation, they are trying to restore the wetlands and unfortunately the plants and eco-system is very fragile. They don't even want you to go looking for your disc if you throw OB. This can be costly.
Other Thoughts: This is a great course, if you want to better yourself and push it to the max, come to this course.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - As far as location and course maintenance, it's perfect.
- Be prepared to have to throw every type of throw, and be prepared to throw them all as hard as possible.
- Tee signs and boxes are perfect, baskets are perfect.
- There are red posts along the roughs to mark OB, they could be a little brighter to stand out more, but the do the job.
- One of the big challenges is the length. I don't get why people are negative about it. To me it's awesome. There are very few courses that are that long, and getting to play on it, makes you feel like a pro. If you are such a baby that you don't want to play here because it is too long, then don't play here and stop whining. I love the challenge of the length. And you can make birdies on the par 4s and 5s if you play them right and stay in the fairway.
Cons: - Since almost all of the tall grass is meant to be OB, it would've been easier to know exactly what is and isn't OB. I know the red post are meant to be the markers, but they aren't everywhere, and some places have tall grass and no red post. Like on #17, there is tall grass on the right at the beginning, but no red post. I'm pretty sure it isn't OB (from watching Pro tourney videos), but it'd be nice to confirm that.
- Everyone wants to make a big deal of the thorns, and yes, they are massive, and they are everywhere (Pro Tip: STAY IN THE FAIRWAY!!!!), but what does anyone expect to be done about it? They aren't going to mow the entire field. Most of the challenge of the course is having to stay inbounds, they aren't going to take that out.
Other Thoughts: - If you have one chance to play in Portland, play here. It doesn't matter how long you throw, this is the place to play. It does take a long time to play, but don't try and rush through it. Take your time and enjoy the beauty. Plus, you will take more time looking in the tall grass than you will save by rushing if you go OB too much.
- You have to watch your disc to the ground, especially if you go OB. I tend to turn away in frustration when I throw bad, and I instantly regret it. Fortunately, I've never lost a disc out there, but my legs have paid the price of me hunting for discs. It will be a lot less painful, if you know where your disc is.
- There isn't too much shade on the open holes, so be prepared for the sun.
- Enjoy it, there aren't too many places better than it out there.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
Can't wait to go back
Pros: Excellent signage, not crowded (I'm from Southern California, so this is big for me), and easily one of the most challenging courses I've ever played.
I'd say I'm an advanced amateur, so it was great to test my skills on this course that demands A LOT out of it's players hole after hole after hole to the tune of 10,000'. The pros make this course look so much easier than it really is. My thought is that for my group level and open players this course is awesome. For beginners? Not so much. But that's one of the great things about this course, this is a PLAYERS course - so more than likely you're not going to be playing through multiple families of 8 where each person is holding one disc.
Cons: I've heard the wind can be a factor here since it's pretty wide open. The day my wife and I played BL we had great weather. It was the end of the day in summer and there wasn't much wind, which was great. No rain either actually, so the weather wasn't a factor for us. I've heard the wind can howl out there, so I'd imagine this would make this course, which is already a BEAST, that much tougher.
This being said I'm not sure I'd call this a 'con' per se, just something to be aware of.
What people might not know about the OB on this course is that (at least in the summer), the blackberry thorns are SUPER pokey and (what seems like) everywhere. I thought it was all just tall grass when I was watching Worlds (not that those guys threw in the OB as much as I do). Lose your disc and if you're not wearing tall socks (I wasn't), prepare for some scratched up ankles if you're gonna be digging around. I'm not sure how much of a 'Con' this is though, just beware of this.
Other Thoughts: As long as this course was and as tough as it was, I REALLY do look forward to the opportunity to throw here again. When we're back in Portland, this is the course that I'll be looking forward to playing. Probably even more so than Pier Park. I can honestly say that even months after playing our round here I thought about different things I could do on different holes, and to me, when a course makes you question your game and approach to a course, that course is great. I don't give it a 5 only because there's still a lot of courses I want to play that I've heard great things about. Maybe I"ll change my rating after then, but until then, I tell ever serious disc golfer I know that if they're in Portland they NEED to play this course.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Championship Course of a Different Color
Pros: Blue Lake is a Championship Level course that will test your ability to throw long, accurate shots. It requires good course management. The key to good scores at Blue Lake is to avoid going OB on the stake lined fairways. This course is located in an extra large Regional Park in Fairview.
I have had the opportunity to play Blue Lake on several visits to Portland over the past year. I have played the Blue Lake Short Course during the 2013 Women's Championships and for the 2014 Pro Worlds. I have also played the long tees and most alternate pin placements.
I used bullet points for those that don't want to read the entire review.
It's a big one!
This Par 68 course is a 10,400 foot monster. That is nearly two miles of disc golf and doesn't include the walks between tees. All the other reviews cover this so I will agree and focus on other topics.
Disc Golf Exclusive
Covers acres and acres of Blue Lake Park and yet only takes up a small corner of this giant regional park. The area is dedicated to disc golf and you don't have to worry about picnickers or dog walkers. This exclusive use adds to the experience. It is nice to have such a large area of the park all for disc golf.
Par 62, Short Course
There is a short course map with distances from the 2014 Pro Worlds in the links/files.
The 7,823 Foot, Par 62 Short course is a combination of alternate pin placements and temporary short tees. The giant dogleg 5 has a short tee that removes that from play. This short tee location should be permanent for players that don't want to risk losing discs in the rough on the first part of the hole. Hole 7 combines a short tee to a short pin. The short tees on Holes 14 and 17b are very appropriate. The short tee on 16 is in front of the giant rosehip bush/tree taking this disc-eating monstrosity out of play. The short tee on 17 starts beyond the initial choke point, making the hole much more enjoyable.
The short tees are still challenging for experienced players and would provide newer players with less punishing alternatives. This drops the course to only 7,200 feet. The first short tee is on Dogleg Hole 5 taking it from 590 to 295 and removing 300 feet of unforgiving red stake fairway. There is still a big choke point next to the well pump hill and a lot of OB stillin play, so this is not an easy shot. The short 17 tee takes a lot of the giant blackberry clusters out of play. It is still quite a challenge to get to the pin through all the trees on one of the only wooded fairways here.
Alternate Pin Placements
The alternate pins are thoughtful and make this monster course a little shorter and more enjoyable for the average player. The alternate placements (and tees) are shown in the short course map from the 2014 Pro Worlds. The short placement on Hole 7 removes having to cross over the OB ditch attempt the anthill basket placement. At Pro Worlds 2014, there were alternate pins on Holes 3, 7, 11, 13, 15 and 18.
No new players
Please avoid this park if you are new to disc golf. Until you can be certain you have some control over the flight of your discs and honestly understand how to throw accurate shots to specific landing areas, don't play here. The chances of ending up in OB rough and losing discs will suck out the enjoyment factor. Avoid playing here if you only have one disc. If you lose it, you won't be able to finish the round. Pier Park is perfect for first time disc golfers and 20 minutes away down Marine Drive. Pier is also FREE to play. Again, if you are a brand new player this will not be enjoyable if you do not have complete control of your disc.
Yummy! The blackberries were abundant and perfectly ripe for Pro Worlds 2014. Apparently there were great yields from recent rainfall;. It was an awesome treat to stuff my face round after round at Worlds and there were still millions of berries I didn't get to eat. Folks who live around here probably don't think this is as awesome as I do. The blackberries can be very vicious and quickly draw blood from the unsuspecting disc golfer.
Change of Pace
One of the things that is so great about Blue Lake is that it really offers a change of pace from the traditional wooded Northwest disc golf course. Many of the marshland meadow holes are very reminiscent of the flat and wide open "prairie" holes found on many courses in the rest of the US. The first part of the course is much like a typical urban park but a large portion of the holes play in or near the meadows. High winds can come into play. Players of these kinds of courses should have some experience with the high winds and fairways lined with tall grass. To be clear, these fairways are quite ample and not super narrow. They just happen to be lined with a mix of tall grass and thorny berries. They rough is also lined by miles and miles of OB stakes.
Park Entrance Fee
This is a regional park and charges a $5.00 daily fee. This is a full facility park so I don't really see that as a big con. The entry fee helps insure the course stays maintained. and provides restrooms and trash removal. It was in excellent shape for the 2014 Pro Worlds. If there are spots available, you can park on the street by the tee of Hole 8 for free.
All 18 in a row.
Once you leave the parking lot, you don't return until after Hole 18. This is a big course plus you cover some extra ground walking to the next tee. There is no water available on the course, so be prepared and bring along what you need. You could play a shorter loop by heading to Hole 13 Tee after Hole 8. However, 14 through 17 are the longest and most exposed holes on the course, so don't really think of this as a "short" cut.
Send out a spotter
Keep your eyes on your throws and send out a spotter if you are at least a threesome. The player who had the highest score on the last hole (and teeing last) should head out and spot on certain holes. The extra long grass all looks the same from the tee, a spotter can at least narrow down the search area. This will help prevent lost discs for you and speed up play for all the other players on the course.
It is easy enough to follow along by paying attention to the tee signs. I would recommend using a map your first time or playing with someone who has played before.
Bring Bright Discs
Avoid losing discs and bring brightly colored discs. Throwing into the staked OB is a fact of life for those playing Blue Lake. Choose bright colors, so that when you go into the rough, the discs are easier to find. Hot Pink and Neon Orange are two great colors that are easy to spot even in the deep rough. Avoid the color of the grass which ranges from green to tan.
Plan enough time
It takes at least three hours to play a round here. By the time you walk the entire 10,400 feet 18 hole monster you will cover at least two miles. That doesn't really count time looking for lost discs. It takes even more time if you have to wait in line to get in the park.
Kids and Strollers.
This place is super level and super grassy. It is probably too long for young kids to walk, but they could certainly ride along. There are no restrooms once you leave the parking area and you don't return until after you play all 18 holes. It takes at least three hours to complete for adults. There is no water on the course so Prepare accordingly. While disc golf here may not be that kid friendly, there are lots of other great activities for kids and families in the park, including playgrounds and Blue Lake.
The only restroom facilities are in the parking area near the first tee. These had running water and were in good shape. There were ample opportunities to find privacy during the round. On my last visit, there was also a portable restroom on the street by Tee 8 and Tee 16. Not sure if these are permanent locations.
Cons: Flat, Long and eventually repetitive.
In addition to lots of super long holes, the course does not offer any elevation changes. It is located among wetlands right next to Columbia River. There are some unique and challenging holes, but after a while, you are just throwing as far as you possibly can and trying not to land in the OB areas. Sometime you get to do this in high winds! Hole 14 - 17 are flat, giant stake lined fairways of 910, 815, 800, 950 all in a row. Even if you don't play the stakes as OB, it can be brutal to just find your disc.
No Permanent Short Tees
This course needs concrete tees for all the short tees. If additional concrete tees are not an option, an improvement would be to install some wooden boards to mark the front of the tees. The short tees are still challenging for experienced players and would provide newer players with less punishing alternatives. This drops the course to only 7,200 feet.
Long entry lines on weekends
Cars really do back up to enter the park on weekends. I thought folks were exaggerating about this inconvenience, but unfortunately it is true. Avoid lines by getting here early. The lines are not for the disc golf, but for all the other activities going on at this super large park.
Blackberries and Rosehips
While blackberries are awesome to eat fresh off the vine, blackberries are the devil when they line disc golf fairways. These plants can tear you to shreds instantly and some are impenetrable. I have never, ever seen blackberry bushes/colonies the size of a two car garage! If your disc lands in one of these, think twice before you attempt to retrieve.
Missing in Action
Lost discs are a distinct possibility for those that stray too far off the fairways or have the rotten luck to land in a mature blackberry patch. The water level in the ditches and drainage areas can provide even more opportunities to lose discs. Watch where you are throwing and have someone in your group go up and spot to save time and speed up play. For this reason, this course is not recommended for new players or those with only one or two discs.
The only restroom facilities with running water are in the parking area near the first tee. I suppose it is better than no restroom at all. There were ample opportunities to find privacy. There were portables on 8 and 16 on my last visit.
Park Entrance Fee
Some consider this a negative; I thought the daily fee was worth it. It is a well maintained park and the disc golf area is exclusive. If you really don't want to pay the daily entrance fee you can park on the street by Hole 8 tee for free. Unlike the State Parks this daily pass cannot be used in other parks because this is a Fairview Regional Park.
Apparently there may be poison oak on the course. If you are afflicted, take precautions.
There are a lot of videos from the 2014 Pro World Disc Golf Championships on YouTube. This will give you a chance to see it before you play it, or at least see how the top pros play this course. Watch the Semi-Final and Final Rounds for the Blue Lake action and be sure to catch the amazing sudden death playoff. Compare your scores to the top pros from 2014 Pro Worlds: http://www.pdga.com/tour/event/16386
Columbia River Gorge Disc Golf Road Trip
Portland is the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge. When I land in Portland I always stop at Blue Lake first because it is so close to the airport and I can play a round while waiting to check into the hotel. I did an awesome disc golf road trip playing the courses up the gorge from Portland to The Dalles. I played 10 courses, from Pier Park to Tree Tops. The trip also included other epic Oregon courses.
Marine Park Drive
If you are a visitor to the area and you don't have time to do the Columbia Gorge, Marine drive is a great way to approach and leave the park. Marine Drive is along the southern banks of the Columbia River. It provides awesome views of the Columbia river and is the gateway to the gorge. It also passes right next to the runways at the PDX airport. It is fun to see the jets up close. This park is only 15 minutes from the PDX airport. Pier Park is another 10 minutes down the same road.
North Portland Hotels
I enjoyed staying at the Best Western Cascade Inn and Suites in Troutdale. It is only five minutes away from the course on 1-84. I have also stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Jantzen Beach. HI Express is on Hayden Island in the middle of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington on I-5. Both hotels offered free breakfast, indoor pool and spa and were right of the main freeways. The Cascade Inn is also super close to Dabney State Park. It is a great hotel if you also plan to play other courses along the Columbia River Gorge. The hotels next to the airport also looked nice and fairly new. If you don't mind jet noises, these seemed reasonably priced and are only minutes away from Blue Lake. Staying close by removes having to drive in the sucky Portland freeway traffic.
This is absolutely a 5 Star Championship level course worthy of hosting the 2014 Pro Worlds Finals. This course would absolutely receive a 5 Disc rating if it had permanently marked short tees. It provides a great challenge for the top pros and an amazingly difficult challenge for skilled players. I rate Blue Lake a 4.5 must- play course for serious disc golfers that want a unique challenge.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 5 Not
The Future of Disc Golf
Pros: Design, Course Flow, Baskets, Teepads, Course Atmosphere.
Cons: Thick Rough, No Rope, Tee Signs
Other Thoughts: This course is setting the standards for the future of disc golf. OB on every hole (there is no rope, but you can tell what the OB is with the cut fairways) with a perfect mix of par 3's, par 4's and par 5's. If your a player who appreciates the "golf" aspect of disc golf, you'll love every second of your round. It feels like the way disc golf is supposed to be played. As a pro who can throw accurately up to 400-500ft, this is one of the best courses in Oregon. It forces you to throw every type of shot and it is pretty much wide open with 75-100ft wide fairways, so it's not really challenging to hit the fairway. But if you do decide to "go for it" you can easily find the rough, which is extremely thick with grass and blackberries and likes to eat your plastic. I would recommend playing it safe off the tee and then going for it on your second shot.
The first 10 holes are relatively simple if you take what the course gives you while the final 8 holes are long and challenging, so get ready to grind out some pars. The tee signs could use a little more work. They don't show the OB at all and they could outline the entire hole better, instead of just showing a line through some trees. There are only a few spots where it would be nice to know which way the next hole is, but it's pretty easy to find your way around. This isn't the best course to learn how to play disc golf on, but once you get serious about disc this is a great course to learn how to throw every shot in the bag.
Blue Lake is definitely worth checking out, but you better focus on every shot or you will probably lose a disc in the deep rough. Once this course get fully established, it will rival Milo McIver as the best course in Oregon but as of now it's a close second.
Can't wait for Worlds in 2014!!!!!!
7 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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