8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: There's a mountain (no lake) and you're on top of that mountain in the middle of nowhere at a resort where Dirty Dancing was filmed and you're playing disc golf. Fin.
Yes this is one of those unconventional New013 reviews.
So I pretty much last minute at 4am on a Friday decided I should take a trip. I rented a car (Murano, sweet ride), booked a hotel (Hyatt, meh), slept two hours, convinced my gf to ruin her days off by accompanying me on a purely disc golf extravaganza then took off to the mountains of Virginia.
Mountain Lake Resort is about 4 hours worth of driving from my abode and we did all that and then we're there and people working there don't know where the course is. We scrambled for about half an hour before finally getting some solid directions (a sign was down that showed the correct road) and about 5 hours after I left home I pull up to the course in all its remote mountaintopness glory.
The next thing I know Johnny drives up in a truck with two penguins. He tells me I have to leave because they're having a wedding on the course and that he always gets the last dance of the season.
I'm all like dude I just drove hundreds of miles to get here, I carried a watermelon. Carried a watermelon?
So they made me leave and now I'm kinda pissed off. I go to the office and find out that yes they filmed the one and only Dirty Dancing at this place. There's a museum and pamphlets check it out. The girls in the office are like yeah there's a wedding and again I'm like I drove hundreds of miles and they're like why would you do that for disc golf that's dumb?
Nobody puts Newsy in a corner.
I tell them that this is all an outrage and they super don't care and I nicely ask if there are any weddings, bar mitzvahs, dance competitions happening tomorrow on the course. They say no but when I come back the gate to the course will be locked...
Now this gate is over a mile from the course down a hill, I know because I had just driven it.. and there's a sign saying it's 1.2 miles. Why?
I come back the next day and yes, the gate is locked. Now I'm incredibly tired, sleep deprived, spaghetti armed and huffing up a hill to go play disc golf on a mountain.
Hole 1. There's a blue and a white tee, blues all the way. Look at the hole and think damn it better get better than this for all that.
Hole 2. It's better now, huge downhill par 4 that requires placement and length.
After all that boring actual course description stuff I'm going to skip I can tell you that I like this course a lot. It's fun. You've got open, wooded, technical par 4's in and out of the woods. Some fun downhill open par 3's. Gap hitting placement shots while dealing with some adept elevation.
6-15 is a really solid stretch of disc golf.
Most of the way through the course I was happy I went through all that crap to be there in that moment with Patrick Swayze lifting me up.
Then you play 15 which is a beast of a hole uphill and there's the wedding shit. There's chairs, a table and a makeshift alter with an intensely beautiful early morn vista in the background. At that point I realize this wedding I had to do an extra 2 hours of driving, and schedule rearranging, and missing other courses isn't actually on any of the holes. I'm triggered.
Luckily there's a super cool old ball golf clubhouse right there because yeah this used to be a ball golf course. I go over there and realize oh yeah there's an intensely amazing view overlooking a valley and other ridges as far as a baby can see. I'm happy again.
Then I play the last three holes which honestly are kind of a let down run of hey throw up hill so you're back at the beginning kind of deal. That's maybe the difference in this course being rated higher for me. No not all the wedding stuff. I'm not petty I should of called ahead I mean those last three lame holes.
Now I can also say that overall the design isn't top notch. It's good, pretty good but there's some repetition and a lot of straight shots. More could be done if somebody with a passion for disc golf were put in charge of this thing.
The pads are also crap, and there's no signs bring a map for sure, but all of that I can forgive because this resort isn't here to make your disc golf trip great.
It's about weddings, hard target archery and dirty dancing.
Other Thoughts: Seriously call ahead.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
Best in VA
Pros: -Amazing Views
-Challenging but fair holes
-Great Variety, really gives you a chance to work on every piece of your game with holes you can open up on and some more technical holes in the woods
- Good tee pads
-Fun, unique holes, you can tell the designers really knew what they were doing on this one.
Cons: -The course is at the top of a mountain so if it is even a little windy out that day it is really windy up at the course
Other Thoughts: This should be on everyone's wishlist in the region. An amazing course.
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 2 Not
Best in Virginia
Pros: Great Course, period. Excellent flow. Challenging but fair (more fair to big arms, but hey). Excellent mix of open and wooded. If visiting Virginia Tech, skip Golden Hills, which is nice but not epic. The views at 16 (where the old Stone House is) are spectacular
As are the last three holes looking west.
Cons: Because it is literally on top of the Mountain, if the road is chained off, you walk to the top. Worth it. Boxes are natural and could be a bit muddy, worth it. Some of the older benches are falling apart, suck it up, bring a stool, so worth it. No trash cans, not much of a problem because it seems everyone knows it's worth it and packs trash out. Saw very little if any trash and I packed out the few items I saw.
Other Thoughts: Wish I knew about this gem earlier. No water as the name might imply. Blah blah Dirty Dancing, this is a destination course. Just go and enjoy.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Virginia's Great Lake!
Pros: Mountain Lake is one of the best courses I've ever had the pleasure to play. Eighteen solid holes offering plenty of challenge, plus throw in some amazing scenery and elevation changes, and this a destination course.
- An elite course needs to incorporate many factors. Among them are a mix of challenging, creative and enjoyable hole layouts; great use of the terrain, including elevation, woods and/or other natural obstacle; a course that's both challenging and fair, rewarding good shot making; and sometimes, something as simple as that 'it' factor. Mountain Lake meets all of that criteria. Plus it has some of the best views of any course I've played.
- Going through the points listed above, I was amazed just how well this course played. I came in expecting a decent course that just offered some cool elevation. It's at a resort, one that probably isn't normally appealing to the same crowd as disc golf. Think the wine crowd vs the craft-brewery crowd. That said, this course is awesome in and of itself.
- Hole #1 is a simple warm-up hole, with a basket protected by small trees. Then you get to #2 and 3, and you see how quickly the terrain plays a factor. Both holes are downhill shots, #2 at 430 feet (from the shorts) and #3, a 203 foot, dogleg that plays much shorter. You follow that up with the uphill, basket on a rock, #4 at 160 feet (very similar to #12 at Robert L. Smith in Charlotte).
- The challenge takes full effect with holes #5 & 6, with #6 being one of the course's better layouts. This is an uphill, 425-foot, dogleg left that starts out with a narrow fairway, widening up as you make the turn. This is a solid, station-to-station hole, rewarding players who can hit their targets, and not necessarily the longest throws. You'd rather throw 200 - 250 and get around the bend than go 300 feet and end up in the woods.
- Two other holes I'll highlight. On the fun end of the spectrum, is #12, a 303 foot (433 foot from the long, blue tees), sharp downhill, dogleg left hole. The fairway bends to the left in between two stretches of woods, while still offering enough fairway for you to be aggressive. The longer layout is far more enjoyable, so my buddy and I both unloading a couple shots from the tee. One shot ended up in the woods, while another landed 25 feet from the basket, so I got a good taste of what the hole can offer.
- As for a hole that combines every aspect - fun, challenging and creative - you don't have to look any further than #9. It's a 669 foot, downhill layout from the shorts (1027 from the longs) that starts in the open field to an opening in the woods. From there, the fairway narrows until you get to the basket. This is one the better holes I've ever played anywhere. I absolutely loved this hole and all that it offered.
- The scenery is amazing. Ignore the fact that you take a 7-mile ride on a narrow winding road to get to the resort. Or that you then take a 5 minute, bumping, and bouncing ride on a dirt road just to get to the course. Once you get to the course, you're on top of a mountain without anything else around. The first thing I noticed when I got to the top was the silence. No cars, no planes, no people. Just nature and an occasional bird. Standing at the top, near hole #1, looking down the open field, which you later walk up with the closing four holes, it's a sight that's to be appreciated. The view of all views however, is in the closing stretch. After finishing hole #15, take a walk behind the old, stone building and look at the open expanse of the valley below. At an elevation above 4000 feet, and nearly 2000 feet above the valley below, you can see for miles. To realize just how high up you are, you can notice a substantial temperature drop from below (saying driving in on 460) to up on the mountain.
Cons: The biggest negative about the course actually has nothing to do with the course itself. It has to do with the hassle/adventure/potential carsickness of actually getting to the course itself. As stated, it's a seven mile winding mountain road to the resort, then another two miles of a deteriorating road that ends in a bumpy dirty trail to the course. You may already be feeling sore, nauseous, or warn out just getting to the first tee. The dirt road at the resort is best navigated by a truck or SUV.
- As for the course itself, these are going to be nitpicking points. The course is a classic already. So, here goes the nitpickery:
- The course could offer a few more epic, challenging holes. Sure, some holes are beasts, but there's plenty of potential for different layouts/looks from the longs vs shorts. In the woods, you see lots of untapped areas that could replace some of the simpler, field holes with more 'wow' holes. We can play field holes anywhere. We don't get many chances to play wooded, undulated, mountain holes that often.
- The course is very rustic and simplistic. As such, there aren't benches or trash cans. Benches would be nice to relax, or at least take in the surroundings.
- With the resort being so isolated, make sure to pack in your food, drink, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. There's a basic shop at the front of the resort, but I only spotted a limited selection of energy drinks and granola/energy bars.
- Some of the list elevation variances seem pretty far off. For example, holes #3 & 4 are listed as having a decrease and increase, respectively, of around 30 feet. Neither hole seems to be a 2.5 - 3 story change from tee to basket. I only bring this up if you're trying to factor in the adjusted distance of a hole based off its listed elevation. For example #3 short (white tee) is 203 feet with a listed 32 foot drop. If you do the 3:1 ratio, that would make the adjusted elevation at 107 feet (203 - 96), and the hole plays much longer than that!
Other Thoughts: Mountain Lake is an instant classic in my book. For mountain course, I had that same feeling of awe playing here that I did the first time playing Sugaree and Ashe County in the North Carolina mountains.
- With the course being out of the way, it's a perfect excuse to have to stick around for a while and play multiple rounds. Coming from I-81 and Blacksburg, it seemed pretty close to town. Leaving the course, my buddy and I went west on 460. Heading that direction you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Well, I guess that's because you are in the middle of nowhere.
- I loved how this piece of land was being used only for disc golf. Whether it remains that way in the future, remains to be seen. At a resort, you would almost expect disc golf to be cramped in with a bunch of other outdoor activities. It is impressive how much disc golf is valued here that it gets such prime real estate, all to itself.
- It would have been nice for the course to end with more of a bang than a couple of mostly open holes - #17 is wooded, but 15, 16 & 18 are mainly open. Also, standing on the tee of #15, you're looking back up hill and realize you've got a long, long walk back to the first tee.
- I'll make myself clear. This is now one of my new favorite courses, along with being one of the best I've played. The course had me hooked and showed its greatness throughout. It's now an absolute, must-play for anyone in the region.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I know a course is something special when I literally stop in my tracks to soak it in. This can be a product of a well constructed shot or the environment in which the course is placed. In the case of Mountain lake, there was plenty of both!
You'll drive up to the resort area which is basically at the top of the mountain, but don't be fooled, you still have to drive up another paved-then-dirt road to reach the course. If you're looking for seclusion while playing, this course is for you. You know, usually I prefer to play golf with others, but in the case of Mountain lake I honestly enjoyed the solitude.
Words can't really describe the beauty of the place. Suffice it to say, you need to see this for yourself. Now for the golf.
Hole 1 opens up with a basket placement in the back of a grove of trees. A cool hole which may or may not be blind during summer. I knew from the onset that I was in for a treat.
If I wasn't already on cloud 9 (literally?) by the time I made it to hole 3, my ace run was sure to elevate me even further. I wasn't let down from there, moving on to the most eclectic hole on the course, 4, which is precariously placed on a rock formation high on the hill.
Thinking back, there seemed to be a fairly even amount of wooded and open holes, with many being combinations of the two. If I had to guess, I was throwing downhill more than uphill, but not an overwhelming amount.
Dual tee pads allow for Intermediate through Open players to be challenged. This course may be a little tougher than average for a rec player, to whom I'd suggest practice a little more before heading here in order to get the most out of the course.
Despite being on the top of the mountain, there aren't many spots to lose plastic. Just like any wooded course, you could become buried in leaves, but the undergrowth isn't overbearing. I can't speak for how thick it is in the summer.
There were a few benches in the right spots, but honestly on a course of this caliber I'd like to see every hole have a bench. It's a literal hike to play this thing and it can take a lot out of you.
Cons: The course, despite the accolades I listed above, does suffer from a few downfalls. If these were to be corrected, this course could easily be a 5/5.
Firstly, in typical Southwest Virginia fashion, the tee pads are a combination of natural/gravel-rock mixture. Although amply sized, they still lend themselves to poor form and potential injury. I'm a sucker for concrete pads so it's always a bummer throwing from something else. To get concrete to these pads, however, would require mixing on site as I highly doubt a concrete truck could make it up the road.
There was a slight feeling of repetitiveness. Not overwhelming, just present. The entire course careens through a solitary field (apparently cut out for a ball golf course) which makes you see double.
There aren't any tee signs at all. Zero. Surely with some of the money the course generates they'll be able to remedy this, certainly a lot easier than concrete.
There are a few "filler" holes. Namely hole 11. I was really disappointed with that hole, as others have pointed out as well. It sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise well laid out course. I highly suggest a redesign.
There may have only been 1 sweeping dogleg (6). Many of the shots felt too "straight" although you typically had to throw hyzers to reach the basket.
Although there are white/blue navigation arrows posted on trees, without a map you might walk up to the wrong tee pad (I did on a few instances). Just consult your map before you walk.
Other Thoughts: Be sure to stop at the gift shop to pay before playing the course. You'll want to stop to get directions anyway and the staff is friendly and will provide info, a course map and trail map.
Another thing to note, if you're expecting lunch directly before/after playing you better pack it. In fact, a picnic would be really awesome with the views from the course. Other than that, there isn't any food other than what may be available at the resort for at least 20 minutes.
One last thing that may matter, remember you're going to the top of a mountain. It will be significantly colder up there than down in the valley. Dress appropriately as well as have the right plastic in case it gets windy.
I really wish they allowed camping on site because this place would be perfect for that destination golf getaway. It's the only time I've truly felt alone with nature on the course and man was it an awesome feeling. Soak it in!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 1. Peaceful and serene. I felt like we had the entire course to ourselves (we did). We played the entire round in the fog and it was awesome! i can wait to come back when visibility is over 400'. The natural beauty alone makes this course a must play in my book.
2. The course is very well maintained. My hat is off to the folks that maintain the course. Grass was short in the fairways and long in the rough. There is very little underbrush.
3. Length- there is a great mix of long and short holes.
4. Variety- Bring all your favorite discs you will need every shot in your arsenal. There was so much variety, I just could not wait to see what the next hole would bring.
5. Elevation- The elevation is managed well. There is a lot of climbing but it always complemented the hole design.
6. Benches- beautiful benches on several holes
Cons: 1. No trash cans. I know the park staff must work their tails off to keep the course in such great shape and unfortunately a few rude players decided not to carry their trash out. Maybe a couple of trash cans would encourage those folks to put trash in its proper place.
2. Golf course road- It had been raining all morning which made it fun. Several muddy spots and low clearances were a challenge for my Sentra but we made it just fine. The road could use a little help.
Other Thoughts: We like to stay properly "hydrated" on long rounds but carrying all that extra "water" gets heavy on a long course. We carried our little coole rto the 2 basket and were able to park it on the #8 tee pad then leave it on the 18 tee to pick up at the end of our round. It was nice to have ice cold water to start the back 9.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Lake Lodge Lover
Pros: Mountain Lake DGC is outstanding. I talked to the friendly staff at the Mountain Lake Outfitters next to the lodge before hitting the course. Glad I did because they gave me directions to the course, a nice scorecard/map, and I learned that Dirty Dancing was filmed there. I liked disc golf way better than their cinematic history. The course has a good bit of spacious wide open meadow with trees on the edges or rough patches, and it also has good woods holes also. You know with "Mountain" in the name it will have elevation change, it is a considerable factor on most of the holes. The second hole is a great example, 701' and -51'. Third hole is under 300' in distance, and -41' of elevation, another really fun hole. 4 is not the toughest, but maybe the most memorable. The basket is uphill 35' on top of a big boulder 185' away from the tee. Great pin position. Holes 5 and 6 are also really great holes, lengthy and with wooded fairways, 5 way downhill, and 6 uphill. 8 comes into more open area up a hill. 9 is epic, 1045' par 5, starting in open, and moving into trees. A long way through both, and dropping 63' downhill. 13 and 14 are also very good holes. The last few are set in the more open areas, but still using the edges of the trees and change in elevation well for strategic purposes. There are multiple tees, I played the longer blue tees, and refer to those distances. The DISCatchers are in nice shape. There are ruins of an old building after hole 15, that are on a scenic overlook, worth stopping for a look.
Cons: You can drive to the course, but the dirt road was muddy when I was there, narrow and pretty rough in places. It does save you a hike up the hill. The tee boxes could be improved, but are not terrible.
Other Thoughts: Overall I was impressed with Mountain Lake DGC and would say it is a must play for serious disc golfers, if you are close enough to swing by. It is out of the way, worth the drive for sure. Pretty challenging on the blue tees, a par 65 course. I made two birdies (holes 3 and 7) and I finished at five over par (70).
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
A Great Course
Pros: - Fair and interesting length with a nice mix of long open holes and short wooded with every other combination in between.
- Scenic, it does overlook the blue ridge mountains.
- Occasional benches
- Relatively easy to find lost discs due to less dense foliage, which mostly consisted of ferns.
- Multiple tees
- Well Maintained
- Markers (on trees and on the baskets) for the next hole were easily understood and makes it hard to get lost.
Cons: - No signage at the beginning of the hole (but you can pick up a map at the front desk)
- No trash cans
- The drive up the mountain from the lodge is a bit much for most. It's one lane, steep and heavily wooded, if you encounter someone along the way I hope you have fun. Would not recommend without 4-wheel drive, but it's not impossible for cars without, it could just pose a challenge especially if the road is muddy.
- gravel/dirt tee boxes
Other Thoughts: I highly enjoyed this course, it's challenging but fair. Some really interesting holes and some great scenery on hole 15 and 16. Hopefully they plan on finishing it with signage and possibly concrete tee boxes.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Design - I'd like to buy the person who installed this course a beer. Fantastic use of the property.
Elevation - Lots of it made for a fun and challenging round.
Scenery - It is the most isolated place I've ever played disc golf and I loved it. I kept looking around expecting to see bears looking at me like what are you doing here. At times I felt like I could have been in a rainforest. Thousands of ferns everywhere. We bumped into 5 wild turkeys who quickly ran off. Exploring the old rock clubhouse building and surrounding views was enjoyable.
Length - I never felt like the long holes were too long or the short holes were too short. I liked the differences between the blue and white tees (we played the whites).
Navigation - Couldn't have been easier.
Condition - The grass was cut nice and low in the fairways and on walkways to each hole. It also seems that someone cleared the fairways on the wooded holes of knee high undergrowth. This is clearly an impressive amount of work and was very appreciated!
Friendly shop employees - They even offered to let us borrow discs to play!
Cons: Teepads - While the current dirt/rock mix were the best natural tees I've ever used (and never really affected my throws or bothered me) I would still always rather have large, flat, level concrete pads. This would be a bigger problem if it rained.
Variety - I didn't experience any sweeping hyzers or turning par 4's. Mostly straight-ish shots (maybe playing from the long pads would add this?).
Ferns/grass - Right off many of the fairways (and covering one fairway) are knee high grass and ferns. They look nice but can make finding a slightly errant shot tricky so take careful note of where your disc lands or you could be walking around an area until you walk by it.
Bears - I didn't see any but I know they were out there. Probably. Maybe not, but still... bears! And maybe even mountain lions!
No camping - I would enjoy a weekend of camping and playing here. C'mon, let us camp!
Flies - Lots of some sort of black flies that would land on you (not the biting kind). They don't fly away when you swat at them. At one point I had 10 or 15 on me at once and it was annoying. Maybe a seasonal thing.
No cell reception - Is this really a con?
Other Thoughts: The road up to the course wasn't difficult to traverse in my sedan at all. I just took it slow and never had any issues driving right up to hole 1.
The weather was 10 degrees cooler than the bottom of the mountain. Fantastic.
TL;DR All in all the course was well designed (difficult but not ridiculous) and easy to traverse with the scorecard (with map) from the shop. I felt like I was on a disc golf vacation during the round. Just away from it all. I will definitely take the chance to play here again and after playing around 150 courses I can say the overall experience of playing Mountain Lake puts it solidly in my top 10. If you have the chance to play here you should not pass it up. Just watch out for bears!
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Baby? Not in the corner!
Scenic: The course is set atop a ~4100' mountain plateau, originally cleared for a ball golf course. Nice views across to the neighbouring mountains, and the view down into the valley, from the stone remains of the former clubhouse behind basket-15, is most impressive.
Your car will hate you for the final mile - the dirt "road", barely a car wide, with potholes, ruts, exposed rock, nearby tree branches, etc., Minimal amount of parking. I had no cell phone reception.
This nicely presented course is one of many outdoor activities offered to the guests ($5 for non-guests) of Mountain" Lake" (its size varies greatly, depending upon precipitation) Lodge. While food might be available at the Lodge, cheaper food (aka Subway) and petrol are found ~6 miles down the hill in Pembroke.
The course is located upon a mountain plateau, and was originally a ball golf course. The disc golf course uses the fairways cleared for the ball golf course, the copses of trees used to define/separate these fairways, and the forest of hardwoods which formed the border of the ball golf course. Plays in a counterclockwise manner, with holes 1-14 zigzagging their way down the landscape, while the final four holes return you directly along the opposite side. Some of the baskets are located on the edge of the former ball golf greens.
Two tee locations per hole, averaging ~320' from the whites, and ~425' from the blue. Tees are long-n-wide, framed by logs and/or stones, and natural (dirt and/or bits of gravel). Only tee-7 was poor, i.e. a protruding tree root in the midst of the box. Excellent, easy-to-follow course, which includes both distance and elevation change details. Blue/white arrows pointing towards next corresponding tee.
The design uses the available assets well, Even blend of completely open holes, completely wooded holes, and holes that begin one way, and end the other, combined with elevation change on most holes. Basket-4 set upon an impressive rock formation, basket-14 nestled, at the end of a narrowing tunnel, underneath the few evergreens to be found within a mass of deciduous trees, and white tee-18 cut out from the hedgerow separating fairway-2 from fairways 8, 9, and 18, are all nice touches.
Score/challenge-wise, as a middling-advanced player from the whites, I faced good variety: some birdy opportunities, some cut-n-dry par-3s, some challenging par-3s, and some holes that essentially were par-4s for me. Birdied open 8&11 both rounds, took 4s on rolling-elevation/twisting-and-turning wooded #6, and open, upslope 639' #15. The most difficult hole (for me, popped me with a double bogey both times) was 669' number-9 - open initially, you then enter a narrowing and descending tunnel, needing to be straight for a long duration.
The title? Much of the movie "Dirty Dancing" was filmed here.
A bit out of the way, and a bit rough (the final section of "road", especially), but quality disc golf in a scenic environment will be your reward if you make the trek.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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