Spacious, Pastoral Course Thrives With Recent Additions
21 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This gem is equal parts pleasant surroundings and memorable challenges.
+ difficult holes in mix of open and semi-wooded setting
+ strenuous elevation changes
+ pro-level challenges of length and accuracy
+ tricky shots around water
+ imposing, artificial island green
+ ongoing improvements courtesy of course's inclusion on national DG Pro Tour
+ short & long concrete tees with good signage
+ convenient rope handrails and bridges to assist climbing hills and crossing creeks
Cons: Long holes plus obscured views are mildly annoying.
- quite lengthy holes which test endurance and patience
- lots of blind shots that require scouting
- maps (and numbering) need updating for two added holes
Disc golf covers the eastern half of spacious Pickard Park. This community park also contains ball fields, covered picnic areas, playgrounds, hiking trails, restrooms and a small campground for RVs. The course, designed in part by professional disc golfer Juliana Korver, plays across sweeping, rolling hillsides of native prairie and woodlands on former farmland with a pond and creek supplying water hazards on a few holes. Though disc golf play is separated from other amenities, visitors commonly stroll or walk their dogs through trails which cross paths with the course. Additionally, cross country meets hosted at the park run through portions of the disc golf course.
This extensive course travels a long way over continually sloping terrain which adds a good degree of difficulty along with pleasant views. Its layout ribbons clockwise around the park along mowed grass paths that duck in and out of secluded pockets of woodland. Plentiful trees mostly define fairways as vexing walls of woods to avoid off to the sides with only one hole really being entirely enclosed by trees. Water in the form of a pond and creek challenges multiple approaches to greens with potentially disastrous results. Holes vary nicely in rhythm between favoring left or right shots, being long or short in distance, going uphill or downhill and playing out in the open or near woods. One drawback to all these varied features is that several holes contain blind shots which may require scouting ahead to determine the best lines to throw.
Already a well-regarded championship-caliber course beautifully set in pastoral meadows and woods, Pickard Park continues to thrive decades later courtesy of ongoing improvements associated with its recent inclusion on the national DG Pro Tour. It's exciting to see imaginative additions to the course that add extreme features: the butt-clinching 300+ carry over Pickard Pond, the artificial island green that tees off from an elevated platform atop massive logs, the severe hillside descent through woods on the back nine, and new fairways such as the bushwhacked route through trees to reach hole #3/4 (depending on hole numbering) which I saw being cleared during my last play. These stellar features add alluring challenges to further raise the profile of this long-standing gem of a course in the greater Des Moines area.
The land for Pickard Park, acquired from the Clarence Pickard family in 1976, became some of the first terraces and water diversion projects completed by the Soil Conservation Service in Warren County.
(This follows the recreational layout of current maps with the addition of two holes not included on those maps.) The first few holes #1-3 casually loop out and back across grassland downhill from the parking lot. The next three holes prominently feature the course's pond which threatens putts, approaches and even drives - particularly the throw over the pond on a newer hole between holes #5-6. An inviting fairway on hole #6 coaxes players towards a lush green just inside woods while hole #7 beckons them back out into the open from an elevated, Paul Bunyan-inspired tee pad towards an uphill, grassland island green designated by a hexagon of timbers surrounding a masonry, pedestal basket. Hole #8 travels downward to the woods, and across the creek hole #9 abruptly climbs uphill a short distance past trees.
The back nine continues down lengthy stretches of grassy, hilly fairways defined by nearby woodlands and even occasionally ventures beneath tree cover for brief periods. For example, hole #10 contends with up and down slopes plus woods on its way to a shaded, hillside green near an old children's playground on the back side of the park. Hole #11 drops sharply downhill, leading to hole #12 which throws down a wooded corridor to a small hill-protected green. A new hole between holes #12-13 cuts a steep path downhill through trees and a double mando. A short dogleg on hole #13 precedes rather long throws through wooded fairways on holes #14-15 with #14 also crossing a low creek along the way. Two more shorter holes first drop downhill to a perilous green encircled by the creek on hole #16 and then rise slightly uphill through trees on hole #17. Final hole #18, the longest of the course, journeys uphill for repeated drives to finish with a tricky approach to a narrow green right beside the pond (in its original, recreational setting) or by returning farther out near the parking area and start of the course (in its alternate, tournament setting).
21 of 21 people found this review helpful.
20 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: Pickard is a well-rounded course which will challenge all aspects of your game. Control, power, shot shaping, and line hitting are some of the main challenges.
Elevation is the most common and most striking feature of Pickard. Playing through the valley of 3, bombing downhill on 5, 6, 8, or 14, fighting uphill on 9, 15, 17, and 18, testing your control on 11 and 16, or fighting multiple changes on 10 and 12, the elevation is used as close to perfect as can be.
Water is another well-executed challenge. A lake sits behind the pin of 4, is the main challenge on 5, and hides close to 18's pin. A creek also sits right at maximum distance of 14, making it more about placement than outright power. The same creek runs along the whole right side of 16.
Every hole besides #17 has an alternate tee (18 has three tees) that will bring down the distance but doesn't eliminate too much of the challenge brought by the landscape. All are full-size concrete tees. Each tee has a sign, which are all in great condition with a good hole map, all distances, and directions to the next tee making navigation a breeze.
Some standout holes:
-12, a par 4 with a 15ft wide gap to hit about 200ft off the tee, then the basket is hidden behind a rise making the upshot tough if you don't get far enough to see the pin.
-14, another par 4 with a big drop into a creek if your drive goes too far. The play is a left-finishing tee shot that goes about 350, then a midrange across to a green which has a few tricky trees hiding around.
-18, Two distance driver shots (which contend with trees) to get you into position to approach a really small green, encroached by bushes on one side and the lake on the other. It's a very solid par 5, sitting at 958ft
Some extra holes are added if you want to avoid the rather bland front two. A raised turf pad between holes 5 and 6 plays across the water to the basket of 18. Another added hole between 12 and 13 is a medium length downhill par 3, which doesn't look too challenging except for the fairly small double mando taking out the big hyzer play. Both extra holes add some spice if you're looking for a more difficult 18-hole round.
Cons: The first two holes are... very poor. No trees on 2 and 1 has just one tree to beat. 1 also plays fairly close to the parking lot and right alongside of hole 3. Hopefully this one eventually gets removed and 12A becomes a permanent hole because these do not fit at all with the rest of the course. While we're at it, hole 13 is a fairly flat, dull, 290ft chip shot that finishes right. Not a "bad" hole, but just doesn't match the difficulty of the rest of the course.
Walking back up the entire fairway of 4 to get to the tee of 5 was a little offputting.
Hole 10. It's a great hole except that it encourages a long downhill bomb to get on the green that could easily fly out onto the fairly busy road. The creek being right at the dogleg also tempts that extra bit of power to be sure you cross, which might be enough to turn over and clear the fence. It seems like a glaring oversight to cut the hole all the way out to the fence line instead of shifting the whole thing in just 5 or 6 feet. Hole 8 also has a road all down the left side, but you aren't shooting straight at it.
The parking lot is shared with Indianola's baseball complex. If the fields are busy parking could become a little tough.
The green of 14 and all of 15 were extremely muddy. This wasn't an issue for the other low points of the course (8 to 9, 16 to 17) so it was a little surprising.
Other Thoughts: Pickard is a challenge no matter how you play it. Having the short tees option is nice if you want a good round but not a marathon. Stepping up to a big downhill crush or one that needs some control, no two holes are even remotely the same and not very many are gimme birdies. In the end, Pickard is definitely a must play if you're in the Des Moines area. It's a well-rounded course that's well worth your time.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful.
14 Helpful / 0 Not
Another Great Central Iowa Course
Pros: -Concrete Tees, 2 tees per hole (only 1 on 17, 3 on 18)
-Enough variety of shot selection
-Signage is good
-Par ratings are mostly fair
-Decent use of space in the park, mostly by itself
-Layout is OK
-Not a course that is going to swallow up discs
Cons: -Long course for amateurs
-Some long walks between holes, and back to the parking lot after 18.
-Quite a bit of elevation in parts of the course
-A few benches, only saw 1 trash can
-Not 9 hole friendly, Hole 9 ends at the opposite part of park.
Other Thoughts: Kind of a hidden gem, Pickard Park is a well designed course just a short drive south of Des Moines. The course is more open than I expected and has mostly wide open fairways. A good mix of long and short, but a long course to walk overall (1.06 miles of hole distance from Rec tees, but clocked over 3 miles on my FitBit) Elevation really begins to come into play on Hole #9 and follows with the rest of the course. Hole #9 even has a rope to help you get up the hill (could due with being about twice as long, though.) #10 and #18 are around 600' at the rec tees, which is long for me, but most of the others played well. Signage has both tee boxes, some vegetation, some landmarks and a next tee direction, Could have used an extra sign between #12 and #13 tee, glad I brought the map with me. Overall, I enjoyed my round and will play again.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
If You Must Pick, Pick Pickard
Pros: I played Pickard Park with 4 inches of snow on the ground, in 25 degree cold, and still loved it. It has a superb landscape for disc golfing. Large hills covered with grass (and occasionally snow) with plenty of large trees. Woods get heavy in places, and there is water in play also.
There are multiple tees on every hole except 17. Most are long/short, but 18 also has an extra long insani-tee. The boxes are concrete, with nice signs at all of them. The baskets were all in great shape.
The layout does an excellent job of maximizing the fun and challenge. Tees and pin placement utilize the trees and hills well to create a lot of shot shapes. There are many long holes, but the fairways leave good lines and par is set accordingly.
There are several great holes, and the rest are good. No filler. Hole 14, the signature downhill bridge hole has a great approach. As you near the creek at the bottom of the hill, the woods funnel you to the line over the bridge. After crossing you must climb a bit on the other side to the pin. I got my second shot across the bridge and a good way up the other side. Felt great to make the par putt on that one.
The back nine the longer half, bookended with par 5's. These holes got the best of me, with a quadruple bogey 9 on hole 10 and an ugly snowman 8 on hole 18. I did make par on 11-17 though.
I also liked the shorter holes. 11 is only 240', downhill. The hill keeps going behind the pin for a long way. If you overshoot or get a bad roll it may be a really long comeback. 17 is not long either, but the fairway is the most densely wooded on the course. Could be a birdie or a bogey.
Cons: Very little that I could find wrong. I had to double check my map and look around for hole 13 after finishing 12.
Wind wasn't a big factor when I visited, but could make things difficult when it is really blowing. Beginners may find this course frustrating.
Other Thoughts: Pickard Park really is a marvelous course. I would definitely play this one again. If in or near the area, you will want to check this one out. I will make an attempt to get out and see it in fairer weather if at all possible.
This was the first time I ever played with fairly deep snow on the ground. The only other tracks came from a person with a sled and a dog, and a cross country skier. The only fall came on my drive at hole 3. Lost my feet and ate it. I didn't lose any discs, but I came close on 14. The ski tracks made it hard to tell where my second shot landed. There is probably still visual evidence of my round until the snow falls again, or melts.
I really enjoyed it, to be honest. Throw a hand warmer in the pocket of your hoody and put on the wool cap and stockings. Give it a try!
I shot a 74, (+11). Most of that came on the two par 5 holes, where I was +7. I got a bogey on hole 1, and double bogeys on holes 3 and 8. Did nail the birdie 3 on hole 6. Felt good about this score considering the conditions.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: I have only played one other course that was as good as this course. Lots of variety. Unbelievable use of the elevation. I like how the water is used for the holes. Only one hole do you throw over the pond, while the rest are tucked in where you have to place the Disc well or your going to get wet but if you play smart it's not hard to stay dry if you are a beginner. So many of the holes are so good that you should see them yourself in person. A lot of big holes with fair fairways. Good variety of downhill and uphill and right turning and left turning shots. Large parking lot with bathrooms. Large quiet park designed primarily for disc golf. Nice bridge and walkways. Two tee pads on each hole. Course map at entrance. Good tee signs. Really liked holes 3,4,5,6,8,9, 10, 11,12, 13, 14, 16, and 18. None of the holes were bad! Trash cans at convenient locations. Very clean, I only found one piece of trash and threw it away. (Your welcome!)
Cons: Long course, long enough that I would give advantage to bombers. If you only played long tee pads would be tough to beat a bomber here. Although it does have very punishing roughs if you don't land in fairway but the fairways are pretty big. It's a workout and a lot of distance to cover and hills to walk up. You don't get close to the parking lot really until you are done playing. If you were to get hurt or wanted to have someone meet you, you will be a long way from the parking lot in no time. I got a little turned around at the fork in the path after Hole 12 but was able to figure it out since I took a picture of the map in the parking lot. A sign pointing to 13 would be nice, and there might be one, I could have missed it.
Other Thoughts: Don't be fooled by the first two holes....every hole after those are breath taking! A course that you should pack accordingly, allot proper time for. I would drive VERY far out of the way to play this course if it wasn't on my normal route. If you have time I would put this course on top of my list to play in the Des Moines area. Actually this is right up there with the best course that I have ever played. This is a must play for anyone that lives in a nearby state.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
My Favorite Course
Pros: Pickard Park is a superbly designed course in a beautiful large city park. It challenges top level players as well as allows room for newer players to throw hard and learn. Disclaimer: I attended Simpson College, and used to play here a ton. Pickard is the course where I first fell in love with disc golf.
-Very few holes demand the exact same shot as previous holes. Almost all holes provide a unique challenge. #1 and #2 are basic hyzers, but beyond that, every hole is different.
-Very well maintained course, particularly the expansive fairways. The cut grass fairways give the illusion that this could be a ball golf course. Well maintained expansive fairways and rolling hills make for a picturesque course.
-Course offers professional level length. Multiple holes where most players likely throw 2 or more full powered shots including holes #10 and #18. # 10 forces players to throw an accurate shot off of the tee before going down a long downhill towards the basket, which is tucked beyond the creek. #18 Long is all of 966 ft with some uphill to start.
-Excellent use of natural OB. Almost the entire course is lined with thick woods/rough. Players are punished for bad shots by having a tough lie for their next lie. This is how disc golf is intended to be played.
-Besides the woods, there are some holes where the creek and pond come into play. #4 has the lake behind downhill green. #5 carries over the water from the long tee, and threatens from the short. #8 has a treacherous green with the creek behind the basket. #14 positions the creek almost in the middle of the hole, forcing players to either try to throw a risky shot over the creek or lay up to it before approaching the pin. #16 plays downhill with the creek once again threatening behind the pin.
- With the above in mind, the par 4's and 5's feel like true par 4's and 5's. #6 and #8 could potentially fall into the weird par 3.5 area, but are very difficult to score a 2 on without having 500ft of power or a long throw in. They are reasonable par 4's.
-Various creative challenges including fairways that pinch off, elevation change, technical lines, and the aforementioned water holes.
-Elevation: #3 plays along a side hill that slopes towards steep woods. #7 plays through a somewhat narrow gap off the tee and up a steep uphill. #8 throws way downhill but has the creek deep and OB road off to the left. #9 plays up a ridiculously steep uphill off the long tee. #10 incorporates a downhill second shot. #11 places the pin behind a tree with a very steep downhill behind the pin. #14 has the closest thing to a cliff you'll find in central Iowa. The steep bank provides a natural obstacle and a downhill approach to the pin. #15 long tee throws uphill before flattening out. #16 carries way downhill in the woods with the creek on the right and behind the pin. #18 long plays uphill with rolling hill throughout.
-#10 and #14 are both excellent "disc golf holes." I have described both of them above. Them along with super long #18 to finish form the courses most memorable holes.
-Amenities are decent from the course start. Plenty of room for parking. Bathrooms and water fountains available near parking lot.
-Map near start of course. Course flow is mostly intuitive.
-Teepads are paved and flat.
-Long tees are incredibly challenging, but the shorts are not stupid easy, either. Short tees remove some the course length, but maintain most of the course's technicality.
-Signage clear and accurate.
-Locals are generally friendly and helpful because Iowa.
-Lightly played for such a great course. I've never seen it truly busy except for when Des Moines Leagues come over and during tournaments. Very rarely will you have to wait on other players.
Cons: -Next tee signs may be helpful in one or two places for players unfamiliar to the course.
-Though the course is well maintained, there are large patches of poison ivy in the rough, most notably near the fence line on #8 and #10.
-For such a long course, there is not much in the way of benches for respite.
-Could use a couple more trash cans along the course. That being said, the course usually does not have much trash on it.
Other Thoughts: Pickard Park is the best public park disc golf course that I know of. Pickard feels like a well kept secret, which is nice because traffic is low, but a bummer because such an excellent course deserves to played more often by more golfers. If you are in central Iowa, swing by Pickard! You won't be disappointed!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 0 Not
Pickard Park: The Long Tees Or Bust!
Pros: -Fantastic Pro tier course! Two sets of tees, one may be shorter, but is not necessarily easier. This review is geared toward the long tees.
-I'm rewriting what is already been spoken, but every tee was carefully considered and laid out to offer up the Maximum challenge. It's as if every hole was designed with a purpose. Some don't like the opening holes, but I consider them confidence builders or warm up holes. You're gonna need that confidence when you step up to the long tee water carry on hole 5.
-This course is a challenging course, and was designed for the seasoned player. It doesn't cater to the occasional player or the new player. Newer players will get frustrated! *** see cons for the flip to this coin
-Is not a "Par 3" only course (The short tees may be more conducive to the "Par 3 only" type of scoring. I did not play the shorts). The long tees have legit Par 4's and Par 5's. Which means, you need to strategize a second shot placement for some of your approach shots. You'll also be required to be accurate at long distances. The rough can and will punish an errant shot.
-Double Dog legs, throwing over the crest of a blind hill, Downhill shots with guarded baskets, overshooting some of the downhill runs, will punish you as well. As I said, Pickard forces you to play smarter. Cannon shots may get you down the fairway, but if you lack control you could end up worse off than before you started.
- Clean, well maintained course and park, with ample parking. A Players Board at the start. Great Signage, with distances and signs at both tee locations.
-Is segregated from the rest of the park, so park pedestrian traffic should be minimal
-Navigation was fairly easy to follow, a few small hiccups, but nothing that couldn't be figured out
-Physically enduring. You will be traversing all kinds of terrain! You will be climbing hills, and walking in the woods.
Cons: -*** Heres the flip side to my coin. First, I think players need courses like this. Courses that are hard and challenging. Above an average players head. (We need our Bethpage type courses) However... This is the only course in Indianola. There is nothing for newer players in the immediate vicinity.
-You'll want to bring a portable stool. There wasn't a lot of places to stop and take a break. You will need to stop and rest occasionally.
-I seen it mentioned as a con in other reviews, and I found it to be very true. You will use the same discs, and carry the similar type of straight forward shot here. My drives alternated between my Champ Sidewinder and My Lucid Escape (However, this means you could consider a smaller pack as opposed to lugging a heavy backpack through the course. Make sure you have room for liquids)
fwiw... I did throw a Teebird on 5 and my Boss on 15.
-The course plays out and back, you won't have a chance to stop at your vehicle.
-Once you've finished, it's an extremely long uphill walk back to your car
Other Thoughts: I've had Pickard Park in my wish list for years! I finally gave myself a trip to Pickard as a Birthday Present! (Happy Birthday to me! :) ) It did not disappoint! I'm going to make this suggestion! PLAY FROM THE LONG TEES!! The long tees were definitely above my play grade, but I was determined! I didn't come here expecting to have a great score, I came here to experience this legendary course! I may not have been a contender for best score, but I had a great time making it happen! I did surprise myself on a few holes!
It's definitely not for the newer or inexperienced player, it will frustrate those with a shorter arm! However, it will give a newer player something to aspire to. You'll definitely want to bring snacks and extra liquids! In the summer, it will get hot and you will be a long way from your vehicle! Plan accordingly!
Pickard Park is in Good Company with the other Iowa Courses, such as Camden II, West Lake and Wildcat Bluff! It's definitely a destination course and worth every bit of the drive! I drove from Mount Pleasant, and would do it again in a heartbeat!
I'll leave you with this nugget, for when you play Pickard. As Patrick McCormick said in his 2nd book "Discs and Zen", when asked "How can I throw farther?" his response was "Play from the Long Tees." So I emplore you, unless you just started, Play Pickard from the long tees and enjoy the journey!
16 of 16 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 4 Not
The W. R. Jackson of the Midwest
- WARM UP HOLES. I started to think that the first three holes - which are basically just open fields with a little elevation - were lethargic afterthoughts placed by lazy designers, but I've reconsidered. They're actually great holes on which to loosen up your arm before you need every bit of speed and accuracy to tame the rest of the course. I think they're not so much afterthoughts as they are preparation. They certainly can lead you to a false sense of security if you've never played the course before and don't know what you're getting yourself into.
- AMENITIES. Plenty of parking, pavilions with restrooms at the start, grippy concrete teepads, and great ChainStar baskets. And with little happening in sleepy Warren County since the first basket was installed in 1999, local officials have seen fit to make this a championship length course and maintain it extremely well over the past 16 years. They keep the intended fairways mowed pretty regular, which is an unexpected nicety considering the enormity of the course.
- ATMOSPHERE. Set right outside the small town of Indianola, Iowa, the massive expanse of land on which Pickard Park DGC sits is backstopped by corn fields and ball fields...and not much else. The most you'll hear while playing a round will be the relaxing sounds of nature and the occasional combine or two. If you're looking for a quiet, peaceful bit of exercise (and you *will* get your heart rate up here) to pontificate the majesty of Mother Nature, Pickard is a great place to get your zen on.
- HUGE COURSE. Do NOT bring a newbie or a girlfriend you've convinced to just "try out the game" to Pickard. It's massive and it will break them. To give you an idea of how long it is, if you've ever played W. R. Jackson at the IDGC, Pickard is only about a hole and a half shorter than that - and with just as many changes in elevation. But if you've been stuck with a local pitch-and-putt and are looking for a course that will really challenge your distance, look no further than Pickard. This bad boy is a monster.
- A TRUE CHALLENGE. Of course, longer doesn't necessarily mean better (that's not what SHE said) and Pickard isn't a one-trick pony. This course will test not only your arm but your accuracy. Allow me to elaborate:
* PIN PLACEMENT. Designers placed a premium on tee location and hole placement, utilizing the elevation and natural vegetation to create some very precarious lines. Allow me to give you a few examples:
- Hole #4 runs along a slant, with a deep forest to the right. It's a natural lefty/flick hole, but it's dangerous. You have to make it over the hill, but it finishes downhill to a pin you can't see from the tee and the pin sits about 25 feet from the pond. Long shots are wet, to leave it short leaves a risky upshot, and playing the skip off the hill to the left of the tee makes the possible downhill roll into the pond sketchy.
- Hole #5...see foliage comments below.
- Hole #8 is a long, downhill shot. It's pretty and very much a hole most golfers love to play. However, the wind up here (see below) as well as the foliage (ditto) and the creek on the right make disc selection a priority. If you turn the disc over too much you're in the shiz, if you big arms go long you're in the creek. I've ended up in it a few times and I can tell you it's tough. Of course, that probably had more to do with my erratic form and inconsistent release than a flaw in the hole, and that IS what she said.
- Hole #10. This par 5 starts throwing uphill LONG through a grouping of trees that aren't shy about putting the kibosh on your drive. Make it to the middle of the fairway and you're looking at another LONG downhill shot over a creek to the pin with bushes and briars a la #8 to the right.
- Hole #11. Par 3 downhill shot. Another fun one, but blind from the long tee. The pin sits on a menacing slant that can cause drives to roll like a phat blunt all the way to 12's teebox, leaving you a 150 foot uphill upshot to save par.
- Hole #14. The prettiest hole on the course, in my opinion. Really gorgeous, especially in the fall. But like smoking hot supermodel, she can be a real bitch. From the long tee it's a semi-dogleg right into the fairway. If you hit your mark you'll have a 250-foot shot that has to make it downhill, over a creek, and through a tunnel of hanging trees to be set up for a birdie. The fact that the Amazon is to the left AND right of you only adds anxiety to your shot.
* FOLIAGE. There's a variety in play on every hole - and while not sparse, it's not pervasive either. Trees block many of the natural lines and you'll have to choose carefully on your plan of attack to keep the disc on your intended line. Bushes are also on the table and throw a monkey wrench of their own. For example, on hole 5 you start from an elevated tee and have a BLIND drive from behind some thick bushes. If you're feeling froggy and want to go for the deuce, you have to put enough on it to carry the pond - but lay off enough to make sure you don't turn the disc over too much (see the wind comments below) -- to an LZ approximately 20 feet from the water. It's perilous for those who value their plastic. And that's not all: Pickard comes with some Carolina crazy, too. She has some really thick woodlands, and while not in play on most holes, when present should be avoided if at all possible. Like an ex-girlfriend of mine, she sports undergrowth of Biblical proportions and isn't shy about punishing errant shots that grip-lock their way into their territory. If you land in that mess you'll be lucky to escape with a bogie and (like with my ex) possibly a rash.
* BREEZY. Because the park is surrounded by open corn fields, winds that would put the gusts of the Texas plains to shame often wreak havoc on your flight path. Couple this with the dangers of blind tee shots over bushes that need to carry water without fading hard or turning over into an Amazon-type forest and you've got veritable life-decisions to make with every throw.
I know I'm probably not painting these "pros" in a very flattering light, but if you want a fun, adrenaline-filled round, Pickard will deliver in spades.
- FEW BENCHES. Considering the length of this course I would've thought that there'd be more. If memory serves there are five total throughout the course (on 1, 7, 10, 11, and 14). Bring your stool.
- VERY FEW TRASH CANS. You'll need water and probably a snack or two if you want to finish this course without your metabolism and hydration level crashing, but with few garbage receptacles you'll need to take all yours with you. This course deserves to be kept clean.
- 1.5 BATHROOMS. One in the pavilion at the start of the course, and a half of one (a port-o-john) on #11. Normally this wouldn't show up on my radar as such a big deal as my rounds are typically a sausage-fest and we can pee in the woods. However, the last time I played Pickard the previous night's Zombie Burger (with fried onions and jalapenos...de-LISH!) decided to disagree with me and around hole 7 my bunghole was going to DEFCON 2. The bubble-guts were killing me for four holes until I saw the port-o-john on 11. Made a mad-dash to the leaning, decrepit outhouse that looked like it belonged on the set of a Walking Dead episode just in time to save my shorts from being flooded before my winking sphincter did its best impression of the Bellagio. Point is: They could use a few more.
- NAVIGATION. Course virgins should play with a guide or print a map before they hit the course. While Pickard has decent flow to it, some holes can be pretty confusing due to the expanse of the course.
- STRAIGHT THROUGH 18. For all the land available for this course, you'd think they could've found a way to have holes 1 and 10 start and holes 9 and 18 finish in the same spot. As it stands, once you finish 9 you're on the exact opposite side of the acreage that is Pickard Park, leaving you with a VERY long trek back to your car if you only wanted to play nine holes...or didn't figure out a way to make nine holes out of what's available. Just seems like this could've been planned a bit better.
- No topless Hooters girls frolicking along the #8 fairway.
I feel like I need to explain why I gave it a 3.5 instead of the 4+ many have given it. I must admit that Pickard Park is one of the highest rated courses in the state for a reason and it has most certainly earned it. It's got all the ingredients: It's beautiful, it's well maintained, and any disc golfer who says they aren't challenged by it has extremely flammable pants. However, I'm writing this from the perspective of someone who *wants* to be better, but isn't. Yet. Because I'm an intermediate player (at best) - someone who's inconsistent, chooses discs (and ex-girlfriends) poorly, and has bad form - this course is frustrating. The foliage, the wind, and my own inability to play the game "properly" makes Pickard just a little less enjoyable than the other Des Moines courses because it's so harshly punishing of less-than perfect play.
I don't mean to say it's a bad course; it's not...it's an outstanding course. Nor am I saying that "less than perfect playing" *shouldn't* be punished; it should. I'm saying that because of my current ability *I* just don't have as much FUN playing it as I do Big Creek, Ewing, Walnut Ridge and Grandview, and that's the name of the game. It's not a course that we middle-of-the road Intermediate players should use as a barometer for our abilities because this course will roll your confidence out like wholesale carpet. Pickard is tough for pros. Not saying anybody below pro level shouldn't play it....they should! If you're an amateur with poise, a mean snap, and a respectable putting game who thinks they can hang with the big dogs, give 'er a run. Pickard takes all-comers. But you've been warned: Don't be surprised if Pickard takes a few chunks out of your ego's taint and you leave with a light bag and a DNF on your card.
In short (too late), Pickard is for really good players who want to test themselves. It will. It's a great place to test your mettle against a truly top-shelf course. Intermediate players will undoubtedly have fun and will love to play it from time to time, but it most likely won't be one they'll want to tackle on the regular. Nevertheless, regardless of your skill level, if you're passing through the Iowa state capitol you owe it to yourself to give it a run. Pickard is definitely a "bucket list" course.
16 of 20 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
LONG, Challenging Course!
Pros: -VERY challenging!
-Huge tee pads
-Very very nice signs
-Every type of shot (tunnels, backhands, rollers, forehands, skips, etc)
-Good use of water, woods, and elevation changes
-Very easy to find
-Very easy to navigate
-Both bomber and technical holes
Cons: -Holes 1 and 18 (see below)
-Very open, allows for lots of wind
-Fairly easy to lose a disc at some point in the round
Other Thoughts: I played the course on a very windy and cold day so my impression of the course may get better as I play it in the future on nicer days. My review of the course is from the Pro tees prospective, as I only played one round and didn't play the Am tees.
Hole 1 is a very short boring, almost pointless hole right off of the parking lot. To me, it looks like it could be extended an additional 100 feet or so to make it a little more fun and enjoyable.
Hole 18 is an extremely long, hilly par 5 at the end of the course that almost seems pointless to me. It plays 900+ feet from the longest tee and most arms are going to barely be able to make par, if even a bogey. I feel as if they could make this single hole into two holes and add some more holes on the way back to the parking lot to reduce the huge walk you have from the 18th basket, back to your vehicle.
Overall my visit was a great one, I enjoyed the entire round, other then when my Champion Destroyer was swallowed by the pond on hole 18 thanks to the very strong wind. I do, however recommend that you visit Pickard Park on a less windy day!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 5 Not
Good but not the best in Iowa!
Pros: I prefer the front nine much more than the back nine, but overall a good course.
Clean and well maintained.
Not much traffic.
Cons: Back nine has to many long holes...825, 529, 606, 958...and can get confusing when finding the next hole in a few places.
LOTS of walking!
Nine finishes no where near your car for a quick break.
Other Thoughts: I just do not think this is the best course in Iowa and that is how it typically ranks.
0 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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