11 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The course plays through a secluded park with a mix of grassy fairways bordered by thick rough and some technical wooded shots. There is a mix of hole lengths, with a few chances to air it out and some ace runs. The wooded holes call for mostly straight lines but you'll need to work some left and right turning shots along the way too.
Several holes have nice elevation changes including a couple fun downhill shots and a memorable uphill drive through a gap in an old fence. The old farmhouse is a cool piece of history to play next to. There are multiple pin placements that change things up quite a bit, and the padlock and eyelet system on the tee posts is a clever way to display current pin positions.
Cons: The tees are terrible for the most part. Other than a few improved pads, the tees are rutted out sandy spots that are neither level nor flat. Most have deep enough holes and ruts that you risk twisting your ankle with any kind of run up. The signs look like they were decent at some point, but are in sad shape now. Most are unreadable, and no longer give much useful information making the blind holes a little frustrating. There are a couple spots where navigation is tricky, the course map comes in handy.
Several of the long pin settings seemed a bit silly, like they were just added on to make the course longer and tougher without regard to how discs fly. The rough in some areas gets pretty nasty with lots of thorns and poison ivy, along with thick enough brush that it's easy to lose discs and impossible to use any creativity on recovery shots. There are lots of spots that don't drain well, so many fairways had mud and standing water to contend with.
Other Thoughts: There are some really nice holes here, and it's a pretty good layout overall. The tees and signs really hurt the playability, and the rough and drainage take away from the fun factor somewhat. Most beginners won't enjoy the combination of technical shots and thick rough. More experienced players will find some nice tests of different disc golf skills.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
Pros: Great location near BWI. Nice layout through multiple use park. Well maintained by park staff cutting grassy areas. Variety of shots required from open grassy to narrow carved fairways. Risk / reward layout. Off the fairway is very thick in places.
Cons: Could use a few more signs for first timers. Used to concrete pads. A few blind shots through multiple use areas look like could be trouble? Had a mountain bike rider go through group on tee - not very polite?
Horse/rider on 18 like they owned the park?
Other Thoughts: Local players fortunate to have the maintenance support from park staff.
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: A great mix of open field throws and very narrow wooded target practice throws. Some holes are extremely challenging and rewarding. Also, knowing how and when to roll a show can be very helpful on this course. If I lived near this course, I would play it every day.
Cons: Being a traveler for business, I try to get in as many rounds as possible. I look for courses ranked 3.0 or higher with at least 18 holes. The two biggest cons of this course is signage - far too often, it's just not clear where you need to go to get to the next tee. This was extremely frustrating and I almost walked off without finishing. Other than that, most of the tee were fine gravel or sand. Not a big con, but some tees are pretty much "holes" now and it's was difficult getting footing.
Other Thoughts: If you're a first timer, print and bring the map, otherwise you'll be extremely frustrated if you're note guided by a local. If you have the time, walk the course as some pins you cannot see until you're almost standing next to them (#1, #11 and more!) For instance, I had a great drive (said some locals) on the first hole. From my lie, I could see the pin beyond the next ridge and I knew the hole was one of the longer holes, so I threw a long distance driver. Turned out the pin I laid up next to was the #2 pin and when I walked over that ridge, the #1 pin was right there. I ended up with a 4 on #1 due to not knowing exactly where the pin was.
Otherwise, I'm sure if I was guided, or played with locals, this is probably a pretty good course.
Just a little paint, cement, wood and paper would raise the rating on this course by 1.5 stars, easy.
The grass was trimmed well and the weather was near perfect. But this course needs a single fundraiser tournament where 50% of the proceeds goes towards the improvement of the course. It shouldn't take much. The money and 2-3 volunteers could improve it over two weekends. IMHO.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Solitude in Maryland
Pros: Not far from Baltimore is a place you can go to feel some solitude and play some quality disc golf. Rockburn offers a variety of holes that are all completely unique - no two are alike, and many are memorable. It's challenging mix of grassy open (but hilly fairways and woods, with heavy (and sometimes punishing rough lining the borders). The fairways are reasonable, but errant throws can be punished. Variety of narrow, wide, elevated, left, right and straight.
The little locks on the eyelets that hang on the tee signs indicate what the pin position is (top is A, Middle is B, bottom is C). Nice touch.
#6 gives you a slight dogleg left with a choice of an open tunnel to the far right or grove of thin trees that cover the entire left side. Do you play it safe or take your chances?
#9 goes downhill through thick trees, and over a creek with a dogleg right after that. Hit early and you may have a rough approach.
#12 goes up through a narrow opening right by the scenic farmhouse. It emerges into a small orchard- a the long pin is at the end of this orchard. I once saw a fox here (still the only one I've seen in my life).
#13-15 go up and down the same hill around the same farmhouse and are truly enjoyable.
Cons: Yes, the rough can be nasty. It is possible to lose discs out there. But as others have said, the fairways are reasonable, but not for a beginner, unfortunately. I took a newbie (1st timer) here and we played 1-8. Holes after that would be just frustrating.
I really wish they would at least flatten some of the tee pads (the natural ones). They do have a few rubber ones on the back nine which is a nice start.
Other Thoughts: Although navigation is fairly self explanatory, print the map- this will really help in a few spots.
I'm not sure why the First hole is listed as a par 4. It is surely a 3 (though I got a 4 because I plain blew it!). Also, hole 1 is a bit odd for a first hole - it goes blind over a grassy slope and hole #2 pin is the first thing you see (as it sits at the end of #1 fairway). So, a bit confusing and (if the park would allow it) I would change the teepad and plant a couple of trees for challenge (it's by far the weakest hole on the course, by design). As for the others - good show!
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 1 Not
A great home course
Pros: Considering Rockburn my home course, I have played it in many times in a variety of conditions and every pin placement.
This course gives a variety of shots at a with different lengths. Set around a park it makes good use of the elevation change, some open shots, and some wooded shots. It is a great course to get out and play over and over again without really getting bored. The different pin placements really change some of the holes to be much more challenging. For the most part navigation is not a problem (more on this later).
The course really allows you to open up your bag and use all of your discs at some point in time.
Cons: Navigation is a breeze between all of the holes except between 2 and three and 10 and 11. Otherwise the course flows very nicely.
The course lacks a few signature holes. Only number 15 is very memorable with a long down hill shot over a stream into a protected green. The other holes are nice holes but they lack that special feel.
The course can also get some really bad thorns in the summer. It has been better in recent time, but some of the underbrush is very unforgiving and will eat up a disc as well as your legs if you try to retrieve it. There have been many rounds where I watch my disc enter the underbrush but still fail to find it. With some very dense thorns and bushes, an errant disc disappears very quickly.
Other Thoughts: I would not recommend this course as a drive out of your way just to play, but with so many other great courses around it, it makes a good day of disc golf even better. If you are looking to polish up your play without the thrashings that come at some of the densely wooded course, Rockburn is a great choice.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 0 Not
Another good one
Pros: The course is in beautiful Rockburn Park. The course provides a bunch of technical shots, long drives, and tricky puts.
Multiple pin positions available, MACH 5 baskets are in good conditional also.
The course stretches from one side of the massive park to the other. Obsticles of trees, barns, rivers, rolling hills, and well groomed tunnel shots will challenge even the most experienced thrower.
Course is well laid out on the course map next to the parking lot. There are also paper copies of the course available to take with you.
Easy to find, plenty of parking
Cons: The tee pads need a make-over. As in most of my reviews to I am sensitive to this topic. There are a mix of pads on this course. Most are grass, that are dug out, due to use or poor upkeep. Some have built up wooden platforms with faux-grass covering them.
Other Thoughts: With a couple fundraising events the course can either fill in the tees or put in some more permanent. Overall impression of the course is a 'Must Play'
I love this course.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 4 Not
Love this course!!!
Pros: -I loved the design on all of the holes!
- basket C on 18 makes a great practice area
-scenery all around the course is great
Cons: -a little hard to navigate without a map, but not that bad
Other Thoughts: The mix of open and wooded holes on the course is just to my liking!
1 of 5 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Great mix of Everything. Elevation changes, fairways, trees, lefty shots, eighty shots, water comes into play on a few holes. Love it.
Cons: Really I can't complain about anything being a CON. As said in Another review if you complain about the rough.............have control and don't go there.
Other Thoughts: Very scenic drives! Down hill and over streams x2...are my fav"s. Other fun downhill and fun uphill shots!! Granted it is a technical course. You need to work through some tight wooded fairways as well especiAlly on hole 7. Love this course it was worth it to drive down And play in the spring equinox which was a lot of fun as well
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 2 Not
Getting Better All the Time!
Pros: Rockburn Branch is a solid, challenging course which has loads of variety in terrain and hole design. You'll be throwing a wide range of shots off the tee and because of the intense and often prickly rough, you'll have to know how to make save shots from awkward positions or in some cases know 'when to fold'em' and pitch out for a well-deserved bogey. Some reviewers have noted the thick rough as a con, but at Rockburn, this shaggy shule is usually far off course from where ideal shots should land - in this case, the rough acts as an effective punisher for playing beyond one's means or just throwing poor shots. Having said this, I wouldn't recommend Rockburn for the newer player who is still in the process of mastering a straight, controlled fairway drive. Without having a safety fairway shot that you can count on, this course will likely be very frustrating. For more advanced players, the rough very effectively separates players by not allowing an easy up-and-down for three. Successfully managing the rough (and scoring well) means either not landing in it (duh!) or, having the skills necessary to make great saves.
As other reviewers have stated, with the exception of a couple of holes on the front 9, this course is a nearly exclusively disc golf activity area - you will likely not have to wait for other pedestrians to clear out of fairways.
Finally, part of the title of this review has to do with all of the new pin placements and other improvements that are ongoing to make this course the best it can be. Having a number of distinct pin placements adds a lot of replay-ability to this course and will keep players on their toes. The downside to this is that newer players may have quite a bit of difficulty in locating pins on blind turns, etc.
Cons: Drainage and teepads are two of the main drawbacks that I see out here. First, the natural teepads can be pretty rutted, the local club, however does a ton of maintenance out here!, but from time to time, you'll hit Rockburn at a time where mother nature is a step ahead of the volunteers. The local club is starting to put in nicer tees (rubber mats) and is experimenting with some strange raised astroturf tees which just don't work very well as they are slippery and you have to step up during the runup to throw from them. Drainage doesn't need more than a quick mention, but the back wooded holes at Rockburn especially are not the place you want to be when it has been raining - check the course conditions or recent weather before heading out and you'll be less likely to run into unexpected mud.
Other Thoughts: As I touched on earlier, this course isn't for the 'newbie' player because of the 'rough' rough, but it is just this feature which makes Rockburn a great tournament course for more experienced players. Large variety in shots, terrain, and now pin placements will keep you coming back for more!
12 of 14 people found this review helpful.
16 Helpful / 2 Not
B = Nice, But Begs for Better
Pros: Since I rate courses from the longest tee/basket combinations and then try to back up my rating with my verbiage, I feel bad that I'm seeming to slam Rockburn Branch for all the bad long basket locations, especially since most of the other locations are wonderful. See below for more.
What I personally like and how this course stacks up in my list of 18 hole courses (over 180 played):
1) Holes with good risk/reward. Fair, but harsh punishment for bad decisions or execution. == B-
(There are plenty of wooded holes with harsh punishment for bad throws. The problem with most of these is that the punishment is so disproportionately high, that you are foolish to go-for-it on the long baskets. That makes them boring putter-putter-putter par-3 holes. There is very little decision making imposed on you by this course - very rarely do you need to choose the best route/line to the basket.)
2) Holes that have rewarding birdie opportunities for me (I rate only from the longest tee/basket combination). I'm a Blue level player (950ish skill) who throws 300' accurately, 360' max. == D
(This course has lots of really cool holes if set up correctly. But for the long positions, only 5 and 13 are rewarding holes due to distance and shape. Both happen to be really fun downhill holes too. But those good holes are offset by all the other holes that are either too long for me (450' throwers will like some of them) and others that are just quirky extensions of god holes that do nothing but add a boring or inaccessible 50-150' to an otherwise decent/good/excellent hole).
3) More wooded than open - lots of variety of shots required caused by hole shape and topography == B+
(There is a good mix of woodsy holes and open holes. Maybe slightly more open than my preference, but still pretty good. Great use of available terrain as to where the holes are placed (hole design for scoring purposes is another issue). There are some fun opportunities the course forces on you; making you have to work your disc from right to left and left to right in interesting ways (16 & 17 come to mind), but overall this course is more about throwing basically straight and accurately.)
4) Natural beauty (Appalachian beauty preferred) and seclusion. == A-
(Seclusion from the hustle-bustle is fantastic! You hardly see modern civilization at all from the time you walk out of the parking lot to tee 1 until you pop out of the woods after holing out on 18. The exception is the abandoned farm house and barn that holes 11-15 surround. But for me that is nice nostalgia, not a big distraction.
There are lots of beautiful spots on this course, but overall it is just nice....not full-on beautiful. I would describe the course as "rustic".....very much the feeling of playing on an old ranch. I like!)
5) Bonus points for multi-throw holes with defined landing zones, good risk/reward and multiple options to play them. == 2 bonus points for this.
(There are a lot of holes that are tweener holes - boring par-3's that you would really be pushing to call par-4's. They are par-4's if you are considering players with max D of 275-300'. But, the only par-4's I think are legit are #1 which at 539' is two boring open throws (ie 300' + 240'), and #12 which at 720' is too long for me to ever birdie and whose obstacles at the bend and at the basket make it probably more challenging than it needs to be for anyone except maybe 1000 rated players. Still, I applaud the designers for including at least a couple multi-throw holes! The world needs more of these.)
PS: I grade courses on a school grading system...60-100 with no F's and the average/center point being a B-....been doing that for a long time and started transferring my ratings list to the similar 11 level rating system here when this cool/amazing site came online.
Other Thoughts: I suppose I do not read too well since I thought it was Rockburn Ranch (not Branch) when I made my visit. I was pleased with the east coast Ranch feel of this course. Very rustic reeling - complete with the fences and farm house. But the playing experience makes me believe that Branch is more like it. It seems like almost every single long basket location was added as an unnecessary Branch to existing holes....making them unreachable. The vast vast majority of holes in the longs are simply not very good disc golf holes.
I could go hole-by-hole and defend what I am saying, but I won't since I do not even know how often things are set up in all long positions. What I will say is that if this course is set up in the "best of" basket locations, it is bumping up on a 4.0 (A grade) course for me. This is one of the few courses that I end up slamming with my rating (and verbiage defending my rating) since I rate a course from all longs (I cannot figure out how to objectively rate courses that have hundreds of setup options due to flexibility afforded by 3 basket locations per pin - all of which make the hole quite different). I really want to grade it an 82 (B-/2.5 discs) but I found it in my heart to grade it an 83 which is a B/3.0.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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