Johnston, IA 
Walnut Ridge Share
Uploaded By: Porkchop Hole #10 (Taken 10/2010)
3 / 402ft.   4 / 500ft. Par / Distance:
Hole #10 Approach

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Johnston's disc golf course

2-4    6/18/2021   1/18/2022
Review By: JackFlack
Played: 3  Reviewed: 3
2 Helpful / 5 Not
I was super excited when I found out Johnston had a disc golf course. This is a very nice, beautiful course.

Beginners will have a good time, but get fatigued at the distances, and probably not play the full 18.

This course is going to have the most appeal to seasoned players. They are going to LOVE this course. Just check the downvotes on any review giving this only an average rating. :-)
This is a modern course with a lot of walking and distance. It has a ball golf course feel rather than a "disc course placed in an old park".

If you don't know the course, the layout can be confusing in a few places.

This is a few miles outside of town. Why can't the 'burbs place a course inside the city? The green belts in Johnston would make a great course!
Other Thoughts: Nice course, popular, and worth a try to see if you like it. I personally gave it a decent rating, because I never fell in love with it after trying it several times. I'd much rather go to Grandview and play under shade.

2 of 7 people found this review helpful.

Placement is Paramount

1    4/21/2021   4/26/2021
Review By: Surge5
Played: 131  Reviewed: 130  Exp: 8.7 Years
22 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: First off the course stays out of the way of pretty much everything else going on in the park. It's a very serene and quiet course, but no less tough.

Comparing the open holes against the wooded ones, the woods are definitely better, but the others still have plenty of beauty and some treelines/OB to make them tougher. Long, sweeping par 4s on 7, 13, and 16 are really nice additions to the wooded masterpiece. The mix of wooded/open and left/right turners is darn near perfect.

To get a good score you'll need to be good at multiple shots. 2 is a forehand hyzer, 11 and 14 need a good backhand, and 9 and 15 require a laser-straight shot.

The big takeaway for me was placement. To challenge for birdies on the par 4s your drives needed to be in a specific zone. 10 needs to be to the right of the trees in the fairway, 12 has to be almost all the way to the left side of the fairway off of your drive, 16 can't be stuck behind the trees on the left, and 17 needs to be at the mouth of the tunnel or your birdie is gone.

Several holes play on bluffs, so going off the fairway or coming into the green too hot will be punished pretty badly by skipping down a long hill or into a deep ravine. The fairway danger is present on 10, 11, and 15, and you'll find fast greens on 5, 10, 11, 14, and 16.

Tunnels on 4, 9 and 15 make for a bad time if you get off the fairway, but if you stick to the middle each is a good birdie chance.
Cons: 1, 2, and 3 are kind of beginner holes, but I'm not against having easier holes at the beginning of a round.

Hole 8 is a simple anhyzer or flick, and 18 is just a sad, short way to end an otherwise excellent course.

The tee signs aren't much help. They're more of a playground doodle with distance markings than an actual map.

Some of the baskets are a showing their age.

The walks from 8 to 9, 12 to 13, and 15 to 16 are longer than normal. But they aren't "long" as much as they are annoying. And you have to double back on 8 to get to 9.

Hole 9 is on the very easy side of a par 5. If you don't go in the rough it's an easy 4, but it is a very thin fairway... so I see why they did it but I would still call it a 4.
Other Thoughts: There is so much good about this course that you'll forget the negatives very quickly. The quality and difficulty are excellent, the upkeep is superb (the mowers were there cutting grass which was already pretty short), and the setting is fantastic. I would go so far as to call this a destination course. If you're ever in or passing through Des Moines, make the stop, you won't regret it.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful.

 Best in the DSM area

5+    7/2/2020   7/2/2020
Review By: knobby325
Played: 307  Reviewed: 221  Exp: 7.8 Years
16 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Concrete tees, multiple tees on most holes
-Decent baskets
-Good mix of open/tunnel, L/R holes
-While there are shelters, mostly a disc golf park
-Usually well groomed by the Army Corps
-Good map (if you print it at home)
-Decent with benches and trashcans
Cons: -Somewhat strange layout, map a must on first round
-Long walks between some holes (a couple over 1/10 mile)
-Getting in the rough can mean a long way down a ravine
-No 9 hole loop
-Can get busy at times
Other Thoughts: Walnut Ridge DGC is one of my top 2 courses in the vast arsenal of the Des Moines disc golf scene. Located at the Walnut Ridge Recreation Area run by the Army Corps of Engineers (right across the road from the NWS radar ball), the park is mostly disc golf with 3 shelters on site. The shelters do not come into play at all. 1-3 are mostly open (although new saplings of trees aim to change that for 3), 4 is in the trees, 5 begins open - ends in trees, 6 is the opposite and uphill, 7 is a bomber shot (but stay left), 8 is open, 9-12 are in the trees, 13 open - ending in the trees, 14, 15 are in the trees and a little narrow, 16 is open, 17 is open to a sharp right, then in the trees, 18 finished up in the trees with a fairly easy par. Long walk from #3 basket to #4 tee, back past the #1 tee, #4 basket to #5 tee is over the road. #8 basket to #9 tee has a new path for 2020, much easier to find than the previous. Long walk between #12 basket and #13 tee (especially the rec tee), longest walk between #15 basket and #16 tee, across the road from #17 basket to #18 tee, and another walk (over a cool bridge) from #18 back to the parking lot. The course, especially from the back tees, is the longest in the area. Add in the walk between holes and you get a workout. I like the variety, and that there is not a ton of terrain to tackle. Wild shots will typically not result in a lost disc, but you may have to climb down some ravines on 10, 11, 14 and 15 if you get way off the fairway. A buddy saw a rusted out car in the ravine off the left of 15. This is a joy of a course to play and I play it a handful of times each summer (area is closed Mid-October to late April most years). It can get busy in the late afternoons and weekends. The small knocks are the no 9 hole loop, long walks, and better signage options available. Still a top course in the area and will play many more times.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful.

 Walnut Ridge is a Tough Nut to Crack

1    6/1/2019   6/11/2019
Review By: Upshawt1979
Played: 523  Reviewed: 415  Exp: 19.9 Years
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Walnut Ridge is a great course, that features a number of tough holes and a lot of versatility. There are long and short tees on almost every hole, as well as multiple pin positions on most holes. The tees are concrete and there are tee signs on most holes. The baskets are in fine shape.

The park is grassy and has a lot of trees. Event the holes that are mostly open will have thick rough if you stray too far from the fairway. A few holes have mild elevation change.

There are open holes with good distance, and wooded holes that have many trunks and branches dictating a very well defined line. Either way, the drives are going to be demanding if you want to set yourself up for looks at birdies or at least be set up for pars.

I liked hole 4, which is protected by the canopy of trees. It isn't a low ceiling, but you do have to shape the shot and maintain some accuracy to stay out of the rough fringes and get near the pin. Hole 7 is a long one, and offers a long downhill run. A lot of open air, but if you miss to the right you may have to search through tall grass and brush to find your disc. 10, 11 and 12 are all in the woods and have more of a tunnel feel to them. Varied distance and directional throws that have narrow gaps and tough outs if you leave the fairway. 13 is also a long one that has plenty of open air, but still enough trees so you need to place your shots strategically to get par. 14 and 15 get back to the alley through the trees, with 15 being a long hole that offers a narrow passage from point A to B. I liked the 90 degree dogleg right on hole 17. I threw blind and overshot the turn by a long way, landing a pace away from the road. A nice sidearm flick gave me a perfect skip that snuck in the back door and gave me a putt for 3, but I missed it. 18 gives one last good opportunity for a birdie to finish the round. Reachable and straight forward, all it takes it a good line that is straight and low enough to avoid all the trees.
Cons: The grass was plush and green, but had quite a few spots that were still marshy and holding water from the heavy rains in the prior weeks. Not only was the mud thick, it smelled pretty bad.

There are one or two tee signs that were gone. The layout is pretty funky, with a few long walks between holes. Definitely grab a screen shot of the map or print one out.
Other Thoughts: i would say this is a top notch course. It makes great use of the land, and presents a fantastic challenge. If you are more of a novice the short tees will make things a little more friendly.

I shot a 67, which is about 3 over par I think. I would like to have a few more rounds here and see what I could do with more familiarity.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful.

 Championship level course

1    10/25/2017   10/25/2017
Review By: JoeDirt
Played: 80  Reviewed: 15  Exp: 19.5 Years
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: I like to judge a course on signature holes. The ones you remember after you haven't played there and stay fresh in your mind. Every single hole was a great hole and I would say it would be hard to pick some out to be signature holes because all of them are great. The worst hole on the course would be a better hole than some entire courses I have played. Holes 7,9,10,15, and 17 stood out the most to me. There is multiple tee pads for every hole except 5 I didn't see but 1 pad. From looking at the signs it appeared that each hole at multiple placements. It's a course that rewards smart play. You get an advantage if you can throw far but I felt like that balances out because you don't want to land oiutside the fairway. The fairways were fair, I didn't see any "plinko" where you have to throw and pray to get tree love. I thought the holes were very balanced to left hand/right hand backhand/forehand.
Cons: A few tee pads were missing signs. I didn't see a course map at the entrance. I got turned around trying to find holes 4, 9, and 16. Some next tee pad signs would be very helpful but I still figured it out.
Other Thoughts: I would give this course a perfect score if it had slightly better signage. I loved this course. I would not skip this course if you are in the area. It is also good enough that I would go out of my way to make a stop here to play again.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.

 Fun experience

1    6/17/2017   6/19/2017
Review By: mgcoleman
Played: 20  Reviewed: 17  Exp: 17.9 Years
1 Helpful / 7 Not
Pros: + Beautiful setting right next to the lake.
+ Good variety of shots required, but very much accessible to both BH and FH on nearly every hole.
+ Some open holes, some serious tunnel and low-ceiling work needed.
Cons: - Very popular, so playing fast (if that's your thing) might be an issue
- Proxmity to pavillion area on first few holes and road on next few make for some waiting (let people/cars get out of the way).
Other Thoughts: Obviously a good course based solely on how heavily it is played, but probably not one I would drive more than 30 minutes to play.

1 of 8 people found this review helpful.

 One of central Iowa's must plays

5+    10/1/2016   3/20/2017
Review By: hotoatmeal
Played: 21  Reviewed: 6
3 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: -Located in a beautiful park alongside Sailvorville Lake.
-Ample parking
-Water fountain on site
-Multiple pads and baskets
-Tons of long holes (a plus in my opinion)
-Fair variety of shots (tunnel, dogleg, downhill etc)
Cons: -No access in the winter
-Park closes at dark (no glow rounds)
-Bugs can be bad at times due to the course being along a body of water
Other Thoughts: A must play in central Iowa. Advanced players are going to love this course. Not all that beginner friendly. Rounds here are going to be 1.5 hours alone and 2+ hours in a group so you better be ready for a big afternoon!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful.


1    8/3/2016   8/4/2016
Review By: FredHJ12
Played: 18  Reviewed: 18  Exp: 11.6 Years
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: -Great piece of land to put a course at. Rolling hills, nice wooded area
-Course seems to be maintained well
-Nice park overall. Big parking lot with a few shelters, picnic tables, and water fountains throughout
-Nice, big tee boxes
-Tee signs look nice and they are helpful
-Baskets were in good condition
-Very wide variety of shots. Tunnels, doglegs, slopes, etc.
-Challenging course overall. You'll be working hard for your pars. Essential to hit the right line, or at least stay in the fairway. Any miscues, and you will be looking at a bogey
-The wooded holes are very fun and kept up well. I feel that this course could get overgrown but that was not the case
-You can open up your arm a bit on the open holes, but it's still necessary to shape your shot the right way
-Holes 9 and 15 are super challenging but very rewarding if you play it well
-For as wooded as it is, I feel that the chance of losing a disc is not too high
Cons: -Navigation could be a bit tricky for someone playing here the first time. Course flow is mostly logical but still a few spots where you'll need to hike a bit
-Bugs were pretty bad in some spots
-I feel that standing water could be an issue in some spots after a decent rainfall
-Just nitpicking here, but I feel that a course of this caliber could stand to have a course map at the beginning
Other Thoughts: This is an elite course in the state of Iowa and absolutely worth traveling to. If you are a serious player looking for a challenge, Walnut Ridge is an excellent option. It's a tough round, but very rewarding overall. The variety here is top notch and I would say that this course offers almost everything that I'm looking for in a course. I have a few cons listed, but those do not really take away the fun factor of this course. I'd consider myself a big fan of this course and I can't wait to stop by again.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.


2-4    7/6/2016   7/11/2016
Review By: corngolfer
Played: 4  Reviewed: 4
This review was updated on 11/13/2018
3 Helpful / 13 Not
Pros: Pros: Good baskets and tee pads, nice mix of shot types, pro level 18 hole course,
Cons: Some of the layout is a little goofy, I've only played once but I was glad I was with people who knew where they were going.
Other Thoughts: Based on what I was hearing about this course and it's own self righteous description as the "country club of disc golf" I had high expectations, overall this is just you're average 18 hole course that has enough long shots and challenging hole layouts to be considered a "pro" course, I guess to me it didn't really live up to the hype but it is a solid course overall

3 of 16 people found this review helpful.


2-4    6/4/2016   6/8/2016
Review By: seadog19
Played: 10  Reviewed: 5  Exp: 15 Years
0 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: Challenging shots.
Very well kept and groomed.
Wooded and non-wooded holes.
Offers 18 holes.
Easy to navigate and find the next hole.
Cons: Mosquitoes can be bad on the more wooded holes.
Easy to lose discs on some holes.
Other Thoughts: I've played this course 3 times now and every time, I have greatly enjoyed my time. The mix of challenges and obstacles on this course make it very fun to play again and again. I will continue to play here many more times.

0 of 5 people found this review helpful.

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