3 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Built on a huge track of open land dedicated to the course
- Has several massive launches which allow you to fully air things out down a hillside with ~15 second flight times
- Some technical short holes mixed in as well
- Stunning views of Marin grasslands and Stafford Lake
- Mutlple pin placements keep things interesting on return trips
- Concrete tee pads, decent baskets
Cons: - A bit of a hike to get from parking lot to first tee
- Hard to navigate first time. Need spotters on a number of holes.
- Hole 1 is a painful uphill slog, but after that, oh mama...
- When the grasses get long in spring and early summer don't bother coming. Fall is the best time
- On the mega launches, if you are just slightly off, you could find yourself walking several hundred feet down into a ravine for your next shot - think ultimate risk-reward
- Not really a con, but this is not a beginner course
- Hard to find a solid map...apparently there's a few secret holes on the front nine but I have never seen that part of the course diagrammed out
- Hard to score well if you're not a regular
Other Thoughts: Stafford is and epic destination course and probably the best in the Bay Area (when the grass isn't high.) With its open layout, this course just plays "BIG" again and again across a mountain side and then down towards the shores of the lake. If you like getting in the car and going somewhere special for several hours of disc glory and big air shots, Stafford should be on your list if you are in the SF area.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Stafford Lake County Park
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Has practice basket
Has concrete tee pads
Some holes have an alternate short or long tee pad
Has tee signs with locations of the various basket placements
Has many benches throughout course
Has multiple basket placements for all holes
Course flows pretty well
More open than wooded fairways with most holes having changes in elevations and some having doglegs
Challenging, long course with variety of pars
Park is exclusive for disc golf and you won't see other parkgoers
Baskets are hard to locate on some holes - need flags or bright paint
Needs more next tee signs - recommend a course map for the first-timer
Some holes require blind shots - recommend a spotter
Grass is high in certain areas - watch where your drives land
Long walks between the parking lot and first tee/last hole
Pay to park but worth it
This a nice, challenging 18 hole course in Marin County that I enjoyed playing while vacationing out here. This course and surrounding area has very nice scenery especially during the wet season when there's a lot of green. I had a little trouble in finding the first tee when I wandered too far on the trail but once I located the stairs then I knew that I was close. Playing hole 1 was one of the steepest holes that I ever played. After playing the first hole, the rest of the holes were easier to traverse. Some holes were wide open but not necessarily easy since the wind is a factor at this course. Holes 4&5 were pretty tight and are opportunities to lose discs here. At the time I played this solo round, the grass was green and pretty high in certain areas so that presented another opportunity to lose discs. Holes 6, 14, and 17 had some nice, breathtaking views before teeing off. Hole 7 was interesting in that there is a left and a right tee. There was an orange cone on the right tee so I thought that I should play on the left tee. It turns out that the basket was in the far right position - not sure if I played that hole correctly or not. I got to see some deer out on holes 8&9 afterwards. Hole 9 is a long hole that I almost played the hole 11 basket instead. The Mach 3 baskets are my least favorite but they were in good shape and caught well. Some of the baskets are hard to spot from the tee pad with the trees in between. This course has an extra four holes between holes 4&5 that are technical but I couldn't find them. All in all, this course was challenging and fun to play and I'm glad I played it before leaving California. I recommend playing it if you're in the area.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: - Quality Concrete Tee Pads with some alternate and short tees
- Every hole has multiple basket placements
- Tons a variety of distances
- long opens shots and plenty of short technical holes
- Tons of elevation change to add challenge
- Multiple Top of the World type throws
- Beautiful Scenery
Cons: - At Least a 1/4 mile walk to the first tee pad
- $10 to park on a weekend
- The Tee signs are getting old and beat up
- Some navigation signage would make the course a little easier to get through
- The baskets are okay, but they could use and upgrade.
Other Thoughts: The course plays across a huge peace of land that works very well for disc golf. Be prepared for a big hike that plays across rolling hills. A quality course that with some updates to Tee signs, navigation signage, and baskets it could easily be a 4.5.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Very Challenging
Even number of fade left and fade right holes.
Great balance of finesse and hulk smash shots.
Short and long tees and 3-5 pin placements for each hole.
Cons: Hard to play solo because there are a lot of blind shots on the side of a steep hill. Best to have a spotter.
Other Thoughts: I learned to play on this course. I love the challenge. It doesn't matter how many types of shots you have in your repertoire you will probably use them all on this course.
Tip: on hole 6, take the trail to the right of the normal tee pad all the way up to the fence. This is Stafford's "Top o the World". It Gives you a 520 foot shot that drops over 100 feet In Elevation and an incredible view.
Tip #2: if your arm gets thrown out easily (like mine), start on hole 10. This gives you a string of 3 par 3s under 300 ft for a great warm up.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: If you are in the area, this is a must play course. We traveled up from Southern California and were not disappointed. I feel for whoever designed this course. It had to have been an incredible amount of work getting this course put in on the mountainside. The elevation couldn't have been used better with plenty of shots up and down the hills. Hole 1 is a nice punch in the face, welcoming you to the course...400+ straight up hill to the pin. Crazy scenic views as you walk the fairways. This course requires a ton of power to get your pars.
We got a bit confused after hole 4 as they added some bonus holes if you go past the pin and to the right (4 or 5 new pins back in there that are mostly shorter shots through the woods). We thought we were on 5-8 and were trying to match that up with the map and were confused for a while until we stumbled into hole 5 and realized that it was a bonus loop. I wish I had known that in advance so I am pointing that out now. Not sure if those are permanent or not but I hope they are...great addition to the course.
Lots of blind shots...be prepared to do a lot of extra walking on the fairways before you throw to see what is out there. This makes for a great use of the land and adds a TON of challenge. Also makes it a bit easy to lose a disc here or there if you aren't familiar with the course and where you disc might go when throwing over a wall of trees into a valley. Not trying to be too critical about that because that is very much what makes this course amazing to play!
Bring extra discs, wear good shoes and be prepared to get worn out playing some of the best disc golf in the country. I heard someone say this was Avery Jenkin's favorite course...not sure if that is the case or not but I can certainly believe that is possible and speaks to what a beast this course is. Be prepared to be humbled and congratulate yourself if you even come close to shooting par.
Cons: Three cons:
1 - The lack of signage on the bonus holes. I am not complaining they are there...they are awesome and more holes in the shade are always welcome but it was confusing.
2 - The ground is too rough for rollers, which would be nice to be able to throw on some of these holes that are too long for my backhand shot but would have been reachable with a roller.
3 - The 1000 foot hole was incredibly challenging and awesome (how often do you get to play a hole that long?). That wasn't the problem. The problem was you could see 2 pins in view at the end and the one visible first wasn't the correct one. Not a big deal, just confusing.
Other Thoughts: Awesome park. We saw lots of wildlife (deer walking the fairways with fawns, geese, etc). Friendly people in the park were very helpful and made the course easier to follow. The views are spectacular. It just makes you want to stop here and there and take it all in. Can't wait to play this course again!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Huge layout, decent workout hike. lots of alternate tees and baskets. Huuge bombing 1000' and short technical aceables. Extra 5 precision holes between 4 and 5 makes it 23. Seemingly impossible holes you can eventually figure out. Rarely crowded, even more rare are pedestrians since its the far side of the lake.
Cons: I think most cons are part of the charm. Extreme difficulty, difficult to follow if you've never played the course. Spotters frequently needed. Long walk from parking lot. For me these add to the course but I know sometimes people won't like these features!
Other Thoughts: This is my home course for 6 years now but I started playing this course in about 1998 or so.
This has been a 23 hole course for a couple of years (4a through 4e) so I'm not sure why there is a statement that it is 18. It's now secret!
0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Stafford Lake - One of the Best in the West!
Nestled in the hills of Novato, Stafford Lake is one of the premier places to play in California due to its beauty, remote location, and challenge. The course continuously plays up and down hillsides, incorporating a variety of natural obstacles along the way. Tall grass lines the fairways, with groves of trees scattered throughout. Stafford Lake itself sits below the course and is the backdrop for the entire round. Wildlife flourishes in the area, with wild turkey, lizards, raptors, deer, wildcats, etc., roaming the land making for a visually pleasing and exciting round!
Big arm throwers will have an advantage here, but accurate throwers with good placement can save strokes along the way. Stafford Lake has a handful of wooded holes (the letter holes between holes 4&5) which add a refreshing technical aspect to what is an otherwise open course. It gives players a chance to grab a few birdies before getting back to those longer and more grueling holes. Smart play can often times beat power and distance if you can stay on the fairway and sink your putt!
Par for the course is 58, with two Par 4's and one Par 5. At over 6,600', this course plays long. Each hole has multiple pin positions and excluding the letter holes, dual tee pads. Signage provides images of local animals, par, distance, and pin locations. However, when the grass is not cut navigation can be difficult. If possible, try playing with someone familiar with the course to help with the speed of play.
Stafford Lake is known as a "pros" course. Intermediate and advanced players will experience a lot of pleasure but also pain. How much pain however, depends on your conditioning and mental fortitude. Due to constant elevation and sloped fairways/greens, discs can pick up and roll away. If you're lucky, it won't end up 50' downhill or in a patch of poison oak. Wind and heat can also play a major factor depending on the season and/or time of day. Bring lots of water, tissue, food, and sunscreen as the only restrooms and tables are near parking lot. The walk to the first tee is ¼ mile but a nice warm up in my opinion. Print off a map as navigation can be tricky at times and be prepared for the round to take a while due to the terrain. There is also a park fee of $8/M-F or $10/ Sat-Sun but again, I am more than happy to pay to play on a course as amazing as this one. If I was a local I would just pony up and buy an annual parks pass.
The course sits perfectly in the middle of San Fran and Napa, making it the ideal spot for a quick day trip whether you're visiting from the city or the wine country. Growing up near Santa Cruz, I spent most my time playing De La and Hellyer. After 20 years of living in Cali, I moved to the Pacific Northwest but always felt saddened and a bit guilty that I had never played Stafford. I always said next time but never found the time. This time I did! My best friend and I flew down from Seattle and played a bunch of courses including De La, of course, but also Stafford. I was so happy that I could finally mark this course played as it instantly became an all time favorite!
Other must plays in the area: Golden Gate Park, Skyline, De LaVeaga
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 2 Not
Not for the faint of heart
Pros: This course is just incredible. I have played at a lot of courses, but even if you only play here once, you will remember it for the beautiful views and intense variation.
The location seems pretty remote, I was here on a lovely Saturday afternoon and there were maybe 3 or 4 groups on the course at any time.
Cons: Not beginner friendly... At all. If you are not experienced at disc golf, I'd recommend keeping your discs in the bag and being the water boy.
You may lose a disc, unfortunately. Try to keep it in the fairway. Leave your first run Champion Ape at home.
The reason I haven't given it a 5 is that the course layout can be a little unfair. Hole 1 is literally straight up a hill, 450 feet. My arm nearly fell off by the time I reached hole 2.
Other Thoughts: This course is an extreme challenge. I found my way out here one day while on a work trip and I was lucky enough to play along with another friendly group. In my two holes of playing alone I nearly stepped on a snake (hole 1, basking in the sun) and saw a ton of poison oak. It wasn't a rattlesnake, but I do believe they're around. That said, play alone at your own risk.
Also, I have a hard time understanding the complaints about the $5-10 fee. This is one of the very best disc golf courses in the entire world. Those who have played it are lucky to have experienced it in their lifetime. I'm trying to imagine what I'd rather spend $5 on.
You will be tired at the end of the day... This is a day long experience. Bring a camera.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Stunning views, variety of shots needed, length, elevation, wildlife..
Cons: $10 per car on the weekend
Other Thoughts: Listen to the course discription.. it is VERY hilly with significant elevation change and poison oak everywhere. The views are amazing and feel like you are in the middle of a different country. We made the trip up from San Diego and there is nothing like this down there. This course tested my power, shot shaping, and creativity. it was a lot of fun. However, two days later and I am still extremely sore from the hike!
1 of 7 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Good use of Elevation and Distance
Pros: This entire course is on hillside ranging from a steep to shallow slope. It's very similar to a ski run course with several opportunities to throw downhill bombs as well as a number of holes requiring uphill slogs. But all the holes are challenging and fair. I played this course over a weekend after playing Skyline, Taylor Mountain and Golden Gate. This course is clearly the more difficult of the four because it combines distance and some technicality with elevation in a more challenging way than the others nearby.
The uphill holes are fair but can be very punishing for those who haven't learned to use spin to control rollaways (and those RH throwers who can't throw forehand to reverse spin). The downhill bombs also require some restraint and accuracy as skips on hardscrabble and short-grass areas can lead to a skip and extra throw. Still, Watching your disc fly forever down hill is wonderful thing and several holes give you that opportunity while still demanding a controlled throw.
The holes that I really enjoyed were ones that required downhill shot shaping to give an opportunity for birdie such as 12, 18 and, to a lesser extent, 9 (second or third shot, depending on drive distance, requires you to pick you path around a large tree). The challenge of the opening uphill holes also really sets the tone well for this being a more difficult course than the others that have notable elevation.
Tee pads and baskets are all excellent. When you need a bigger run up, like on 9, there's a big tee pad for you. Most pads have extra texture for traction at the end. All baskets are in excellent condition.
Cons: This course supposedly has 23 holes, but the maps online and at the course only show 18. The map also does not show all the numerous basket positions, and they cannot always be determined from the tee. You will just have to walk up and look for the basket, and hope some locals can point you to it in cases where the pin position is absent from the map.
There is no water and no bathrooms on the course, which starts about .4 miles from the parking lot. Bring plenty of water with you.
Poison Oak on many holes, forcing you to step around and over it on walking trails and even guarding the base of the basket on 15. Learn to identify this stuff and stay away from it.
Some holes are headscratchers. 7 can be just weird and may just reward skill and luck equally. It's a shot over tall trees to a hole only about 200 ft away in some basket positions. It is probably unreachable except with a luck drop under the trees which is how I got close enough to putt for birdie (and miss, @?%%!). 11 is prohibitively short (under 150) from the short tee and sticks out from the rest of the course due to its relative ease. 5, depending on pin position can be all but impossible to birdie, and very easy to par, just a hole to get you to the next one.
Although this course is bordered by a lake at the bottom of the hill it is on, the lake doesn't really come into play on any of the holes. There was no hole that I played that I reasonably thought that there was any chance that I was going to lose a disc. The closest was 10 which is a short hyzer with the lake on the right, but even so, the thought of my Wasp going into the water never really entered my mind. I think that this was a lost opportunity although I don't know what restrictions regarding the lake guided the designer in that respect.
Despite these minor things, I really enjoyed this excellent course.
Other Thoughts: Two potential cons are the $10 parking fee and long walk in. However, from a course-crowdedness standpoint, these could just as easily be considered pros. The walk in is about .4 miles and it's the easiest walking you will do at this course because it's the only flat part.
If I had to choose one course to play in the North Bay area, it would likely be this one due to the challenge and lack of crowds or Skyline due to the fun factor.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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