(no) Bears (and no) Caves Park
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: 1) The strongest thing this course has got going for it is variety. There is a little bit of almost everything here and you're going to need a forehand and a backhand to do well on the woods holes. Hole 1 is a pretty standard park style hole with a moderate gap to hit about 200ft out. Nice and simple, but not too easy, start off to the round. Hole 2 is a long bomber par 3. Even with the downhill it plays about 420-430 to reach the pin. 3 and 4 are pretty wide open but are pretty steep up and then down hill, so they still have some interest. Hole 5 is another 400 foot hole that starts in the woods and plays left to right across a field to a very well protected basket. If you have the power to reach the pin there is great risk reward as a well placed shot will leave an easy 2, but getting just a little bit into the rough can send you straight to instant bogey territory. Holes 6-11 are all very tight woods that twist and turn in every direction and throw in some elevation for some good measure as well. Holes 12-18 all start in a tight tunnel and shoot to an open basket, or vice versa, with a mix of RHBH and straight shots. Even on the holes that are similar in design, they differentiate themselves enough to not get too repetitive. Though, some of the holes are a bit lackluster and many rely on very similar ideas to provide a challenge to the player.
2) Piggy-backing off the first point, where the specific hole design is good it's very good. Tight and technical while still being mostly fair or relatively open with a well placed basket or tee position that still forces you to throw a specific shot. Though, this is not the case on every hole.
3) Tee pads are all good. Plenty large, flat, and grippy.
4) There are restrooms on site in the form of a pit toilet near the parking lot and a port-a-potty near hole 11. They are the conditions/cleanliness you would expect.
Cons: 1) Navigation can be just a little tricky in places. Specifically the transition from 4 to 5 is a little bit of a distance and takes you right over 15s tee. Though, I recall there being a directional sign here so it's not too bad if you see the sign. Also at 6s basket there's a path that leads off to the right that looks very inviting despite tee 7 being behind you and down a narrow path. There are no signs at this point to guide you in the right place. I went the wrong way my first time here.
2) Tee signs aren't great. They just give hole distances and the recreational par, no hole maps or any indication of basket location. The distances are also generally pretty inaccurate, but that's not uncommon.
3) The woods holes (6-11) are very cramped. All of them have the possibility to interact with adjacent holes on errant shots, some are worse than others. Holes 6 and 7 take a really bad kick to end up on another fairway but 8-11 all could see you right in the middle of another fairway or near a wrong basket on just a slight error. Missing the tee shot left can send you on a B-line straight at 7s tee pad and anything off line of 10 that gets past initial tunnel has a pretty good chance of heading on to 9s fairway or 11s fairway/tee area. The open holes are more spread out but there is still some possibility of ending up on the wrong hole. Number 15 is the worst for this, as it's a pretty full power shot for most people and 4s tee pad is not very far from the preferred landing zone. Something too turned for RHBH or stalled out LHBH has a very good chance of heading right at 4s tee. Lastly, hole 18's basket has been moved due to construction of a small amphitheater where it used to be and it's fairway now crosses with hole 1. The tee shot is also blind, which makes this even worse. The new basket location also puts the gazebo near the parking lot very close to, if not inside, circle 1. The first time I played the course there was a couple old ladies just sitting in there chatting. They were well aware of the existence of the course and were watching out, but with other people this could be a serious safety risk.
4) On the opposite hand of the first two points in the pros section, the wooded holes, overall, are a bit wonky. They aren't exactly bad, but a couple have some really strange designs or shot shapes that are extremely awkward to try and hit. Specifically, hole 8, 9 and 11. 8 plays straight, under a twisty tree trunk, then at ~140ft turns right into a gap literally 8 feet wide a most and goes down hill to the basket where it opens back up just a little bit. I could see lucking into the circle every once in a while, but there is nothing resembling a clear line here. Hole 9 is a 380ft par 4 with a tight 90 degree dogleg barely 100 feet off the tee and a very small blind landing zone to have a clean look at the ~220ft uphill, barely 10 foot wide tunnel shot toward the basket. The idea of the hole is good, but it's not executed well. I think the hole would have been better served as a par 3 that just puts the tee in a spot that gets rid of the dogleg. Then hole 11 is super short, but makes a wide S-bend with some very tight gaps about 50 feet of the tee that makes the LHBH/RHFH flex shot you need to ever hope of getting anywhere close to the basket not much more than a poke and hope. Any kick, even if you are just trying to lay up, has high risk of sending you into purgatory where carding a 5 on a 230ft hole becomes very much in play.
5) Just continuing on from the last point, less on the hole design and more on the rough. The rough in the woods consists very much of very thick buckthorn. For how grabby and insanely thick the stuff is the tunnels here are honestly too narrow. In the woods holes mentioned just above, specifically 8, just a little clearing would go a long way towards making more enjoyable holes. Two of the open holes that shoot out of the woods (16 and 18) have have maybe 7ft wide tunnels at most for 10-50ft and being off by just 1% will almost always relegate your second shot to just pitching out. The same goes for the holes that shoot into the narrow gaps from the field (13, 15, and 17). Hit the gap, drop in 2. Miss the less than 10 foot gap that's over 200 feet off the tee by a foot and 9 times out of 10 have nothing but a pitch out, sometimes from well inside circle. They aren't bad holes, they are just too punishing. Cleaning up the buckthorn could fix a good bit of these last two cons, and increase the health/beauty of the forest as well. But it's so far gone at this point I don't think they city/county could restore the area to anything reasonable, which is a shame.
6) This wasn't and issue while I was there, but just from seeing the course it's obvious there is massive flooding during rain. There is a large drainage pipe and a visible grassed waterway through a couple of the holes. It looks like the area is designed to have storm runoff from the whole park directed towards it to funnel into into the dry creek bed in the woods by holes 6-12. As tournaments at this course have had to run reduced holes due to flooding, this is definitely not a non-issue. It probably isn't super common, but it's definitely worth noting if you are planning to head here after heavy rains.
Other Thoughts: One word can sum up Bear Cave Park. Average. Nothing here really stands out from other courses. Ignoring all the cons, I think the layout itself is worth a 3, maybe 3.25, and if the buckthorn was able to be cleaned up in the woods I'd definitely bump the rating up. But as it stands it definitely doesn't deserve it. The course is not bad by any means, it's quite a fun time, and it will offer some legitimate challenge to most players as par averages around 930 rated during most tournaments; the DGCR SSE is very accurate here. If you in the area I'd recommend checking the course out but I don't think it's worth going out of your way for unless you are just looking to bag as many courses as possible. If you are driving through town down I-90 and just looking for some disc golf mid road trip, I'd recommend stopping at Todd Park the next town over, in Austin, rather than here.
Lastly, as others have noted, there are no bears here (thankfully) and no caves (unfortunately). Some serious false advertising going on here! haha.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Best course in the area
0 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: - good shot variety
- mix of wooded and more open holes
Cons: - pars are off
- can be confusing to navigate
- inconsistent tee signs
Other Thoughts: Overall, good course with a mix of short, long, technical, and open holes. Most of the holes were challenging without seeming unfair. Navigating the holes in the woods can be confusing your first time. Only some of the tees were labeled well, and the ones that were seemed to have wierd pars. There were holes labeled as par 5 that could have been 3.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 0 Not
Challenging 18 Hole Course
Pros: good variety of distances, dog legs, and obstacles (mainly trees and brush), concrete pads, well maintainted, course does not share space with other park activities, well designed for thru the woods and in the open fields
Cons: not much elevation variation, no water hazards, can be muddy in the spring, no BEARS or CAVES that I know of???
Other Thoughts: great course for armatures and above, excellent course in the fall with less bugs and less foliage, fun course for competition as the course will even out the playing field after 18.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Not a bad course
Pros: I am going to do this a little different than previous reviews and break the course down hole by hole. For me what makes a great course great is that every hole is unique. I don't mean that it has to be one of a kind, but it should be one of a kind for that course. So I will start with the holes that are unique in the pros section. I play mostly RHBH so when I'm talking about shot selection take that into consideration.
Hole 1: Slightly uphill shot with a few trees in the middle of the fairway. a couple of the trees form a gap with somewhat of a low ceiling. There are a couple of options here. Straight up the middle through the gap in trees or a Hyzer around the trees.
Hole 2: Straight, wide open, downhill shot. This is the longest hole on the course. If you're not over 400ft expect to take a 3.
Hole 5: Blind anhyzer shot out of the woods into the open and back into a narrow gap in the woods. Pin is maybe 40-50ft back in the woods. If you are long enough to get there and you miss the gap, your second shot will be very difficult.
Hole 6: Elevated tee with fairway narrowing about 80-100ft out and bending around to the right where the pin is protected by several large trees. The low ceiling where the fairway narrows makes this a very challenging tee shot. It is possible to throw a thumber over the top here, but if you miss right you will be in a densely wooded area that is nearly impossible to escape for par.
Hole 7: Blind, slightly up hill with a little turn to the right. The fairway feels narrow here, but is wider than it appears. Usually a putter or a mid here with just a little turn. This is one of the most birdieable wooded holes.
Hole 8: Blind anhyzer shot with a couple of trees in the middle of the fairway right were the fairway begins to bend to the right. If you make the bend in the fairway, you will have a look at 2.
Hole 9: If there is a signature hole here, IMO this is it. The fairway here quickly bends to the left over a creek and back to the right where it narrows to the basket, which sits on a slope angled toward the creek. Your tee shot is a hard hyzer to a landing area just in front of the creek. If you can get it across the creek, even better. The second shot is pretty straight, but very narrow, and the slope at the basket has caused a lot of good shots to end up wet. I have a love/hate relationship with this hole. I absolutely love the layout of the hole, but one bad shot and you can end up with a 5 or worse.
Hole 10: Ace run! Straight, fairly narrow, slightly down hill with some large overhanging branches. Fun hole.
Hole 14: Tee from the woods to an open fairway that bends to the left. A big hyzer is the shot here, and beware of the usual head wind. I don't know why, but out of all the holes facing this direction on the course, the wind seems to factor in the most on this one.
Hole 15: Open, uphill tee shot with woods all along the left and a tree on the right about 50ft off the tee. The basket is in a gap in the woods on the left a little over 300ft of the tee. The hole plays much longer than it is, and if your tee shot lands to close to the woods, you may not have an angle to hit the gap with your second shot.
Hole 18: Blind tee shot out of a narrow gap in the woods with a hard turn to the left. A big hyzer off the tee could put you close, but make sure you hit the gap off the tee.
Cons: As I said before, to me unique holes make a course great, so cons to me are holes that are not unique. In this section I'm going to group the holes that are pretty much the same.
Holes 3, 4, 12, and 16: These holes are all straight off the tee into an open fairway other than one or two trees located in the center of the fairway. The only thing that really separates them is that 3 is uphill, 2 is downhill, and 12 is a little longer. 12 and 16 both tee from a gap in the woods, but its not really tight enough to make it that interesting. These are pretty much all your choice of hyzer/anhyzer to miss the tree.
Holes 13 and 17: Both of these holes are a wide open, straight shot off the tee into a narrow gap in the woods. 13 is a little longer than 17 but they still pretty much feel like the same hole.
Hole 11: This hole is unique, but the wrong kind of unique. Previous reviews have noted this hole as well, but I wanted to touch on it too. I play this hole as a par 4. It is probably the shortest hole I have ever considered a par 4 and probably the shortest I will ever consider a par 4. For a RHFH player it would be an extremely sharp S curve shot, but honestly there is not enough distance to get any disc to complete an S shape. Even if you did happen to get the correct shape and you end up in the middle of the fairway, you still have to contend with the large shrub that pretty much completely protects the basket. I'm not sure if these is a really bad design flaw, or if things have just over grown and narrowed the hole over the years, but IMO this hole needs a makeover.
Other Thoughts: I have played this course 50+ times over the last couple years, and my opinion has changed a bit since the first time I played it. It's kind of like buying a new house. You may have thought it was perfect when you bought it, but after living there for a while you start to notice all of the flaws. I absolutely loved Bear Cave the first time I played it and now I'm starting to see the flaws. Even with the flaws, this is still my favorite course in the Rochester area.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Lots of open holes
Pros: Huge nice tees, nice baskets. Great wooded holes, tight and hard, but not super punishing, and very fair. You throw a good shot and you will be rewarded. Super good mowing job, nicely mowed fairways that point to the baskets, and the path to the next hole.
Cons: Lots of wide open holes, about 6 of the holes have no real challenge to speak of (the are just open field throws). The signs are trashed and not correct.
Other Thoughts: Really between a 3 and a 3.5 but the wooded holes are good enough to push it over the top. If there were more of those and less totally forgettable open holes I'd score it a ton higher.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Prelude to a real Cave course
Pros: 1) Big trapezoidal concrete teepads here. There are blue and red boards to also indicate which tee you are on.
2) Mach baskets with the number plates facing the tees which is always appreciated.
3) DGA signs with Hole #, Par and distance.
4) There are a few benches out there for seating.
5) Excellent variety of the foliage density. There are completely wide open holes, some moderately wooded hole, and then the extreme tight fairways too. This always makes for an enjoyable day because you cannot feel like every hole is the same.
6) There is an excellent shot variety needed on this course. You have to throw all directions, on many different lines. You might even be able to throw a roller.
7) Beginner friendly for the most part because it is fairly open. There will be a challenge on the tight wooded holes but they are short enough it isn't a big deal, because they can always throw out a simple recovery shot if necessary. It also exposes beginners on what to expect on other disc golf courses as they play more challenging courses. I would like to think that is what keeps people coming back.
8) The challenge of some of the shorter holes rewards a great shot . . . it feels like you got an ace when you park some of those holes. It means your execution was right on. I only had a few birdies but I appreciated it when I did make one.
Cons: 1) There is quite a bit of compaction and subsequently erosion around some of the tee-pads and in the woods. There is no way turf will grow on some of those wooded holes and there really isn't much mulch used here to help keep the soil in place.
2) There are a few dangerous spots out here due to fairways passing near others, or tees in precarious spots where stalled out drives might dive off to the side. I hate to see these sort of things, I imagine some of them have occurred over time as the course got more and more beat in, so hopefully it wasn't a design problem. I do consider thinking about the future and potential destruction should be part of the design process if we want sustainable courses that can stay in the ground for a long time.
3) Crazy double dogleg hole (#11 I think) hyzer all the way out with a massive shrub in front of the basket. It is possible to hit the right line here, it just seems like it might be just a little bit too difficult. The turns are super tight and super short so it seems virtually impossible even with an incredible shot.
4) Maybe a little too much reliance on the prairie holes. I much prefer wooded holes because the prairie holes typically are just wide open and throw wherever you want. Personal preference and not necessarily a reflection on the design.
5) Signage could be better with maps.
6) Directionals could also be helpful for navigating the course. The flow is not really intuitive in a few spots so it could lead to confusion.
7) Repetition with a handful of prairie holes, then a handful or tight dense woods, then back into the prairie. It is too bad they couldn't somehow break things up better, but that is not a fault of design, this is simply a goofy shaped property.
Other Thoughts: I came here expecting a Bear Cave. I was disappointed we didn't get to play inside or near a cave. I guess that is what made me drive to St. Louis to play Crystal City Underground just a week or two later.
It is a decent course with some issues but also was still a lot of fun to throw. I am glad I stopped on my way, but I might look for alternatives if I ever pass through here. Nothing was so breathtaking or overwhelmingly awesome that I would feel the need to come back. I would not avoid the course if I had no other options however. I would say the course is slightly better than average . . . due mostly to the variety.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 1 Not
Dont drive by without playing
Pros: Great tees, mowed fairways, mix of intricate wooded holes and completely wide open holes with narrowish fairways lined through beautiful wild prairies of flowers and brush, all with slight elevation changes, water fountains, bathrooms, decent flow of course.
Cons: Needs signage and directions to next tees. but those things will only bother you the first time you play here.Could be a little longer as anyone that can throw 200 feet and straight here will TREY almost every hole.
Other Thoughts: If your on I-90 dont miss out on this great course. Several opportunities to make high-five-worthy birdies or enjoy fantastic vistas.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Good course not far from Rochester
Pros: This is a good 18 hole course just a short drive from Rochester. I'm jealous that the much smaller Stewartville gets a better course than all of the ones in Rochester!
I brought my family and girlfriend here for my Birthday, and we all had fun. The park is multi-use, but the course is on its own so that should never be a problem. The fairways are all nicely mowed, but there is some long grass in the rough. There are a good number of trash cans and benches. We found a scorecard in the kiosk at the start of the course.
The course has small elevation changes, and a good mix of open/wooded holes. The wooded holes are fun - there's one which goes straight about 150-200' then turns sharply left. I overdrove into a tree and threw the next shot from up in the tree :)
Hole design is good, forcing you to use many different shots.
Cons: We got lost once in the woods for a couple of minutes - navigation can be a little difficult for a first-timer.
Some of the signage is missing, incorrect, or faded. Some of the holes outside of the woods are quite similar.
Other Thoughts: We played from the long tees so I can't give an opinion on the shorts.
Definitely worth the drive at least once if you are in Rochester or surrounding area. I plan on coming back whenever I'm in Rochester.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Lots to offer in this multi-use park besides disc golf: softball complex, walking trails, multiple shelters and pavilions, soccer fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, grills, and an archery range. Park was maintained well as a whole, the entire park looked great. Kiosk area for the course. The course seems to be separate from most if not all other activities.
Nice large concrete tee pads (for the longs). Wooden boards for the shorts (though I didn't pay attention to see if they were all still in place). Baskets seemed to be in good shape. Several benches throughout course to rest on (mostly around the wooded holes). Trashcans available on most holes. On the open holes, the fairways were mowed shorter than the grass around it, giving it a ball golf field. Not a lot of elevation available, but there were several holes that were slightly up or down hill.
Nice mix of left to right and right to left holes. Also a good mix of open vs. wooded holes. On a few holes, you start by throwing within a wooded area to an open area, and on others you threw from the open area back towards the woods where the pin was 20' - 40' in the timber. Several holes had blind pins, which added to the challenge.
Cons: No map at the kiosk, and on a lesser note no scorecards were available at the time. Normally neither of those would not have been an issue but.... Tee signs were a large issue here. Many signs were missing and even those there were either inaccurate in both distance and pin location or unreadable. So, a map in the kiosk and - or a scorecard with distances would have been helpful.
Navigation was difficult in a few areas and I found myself doing a little backtracking. There were many little offshoots (aka I think my disc went in here) that at times could be mistaken for trails leading to the next tee.
Many holes became very repetitive. Though I liked throwing into and out of the wooded areas, many holes were like the one before it, and truly felt as if I was throwing the exact same hole.
Other Thoughts: A couple holes I liked: Hole 5 which was a big anhyzer (RHBH) hole teeing off from inside the woods, throwing into the open and then the pin is back in the timber 40ft or so. Hole 6 has a slightly elevated tee, throwing over a very small stream (though no water was present on my trip), fairway closes around 180ft and becomes very tight and elevation comes into play and you are throwing up a fairly steep incline, pin is around the corner up to the right with large tree's protecting the pin.
The course was fun to play, but some of the cons took away from the game play. However with that said, this is a course that will reward you for playing safe on several of the holes. Playing safe can give you a good par score, but go for it and chuck your throws in the woods or off line with the openings for the pins, you're going to have issues trying to regroup and save a bogey.
Also, I appreciate the "rough" on the open holes not being waist high prairie grass. Shin height was perfect for saying you were in the rough yet still having the ability to find your discs.
If there could be some updates and or new tee signs, this course would be really great. Regardless, I will probably try to hit the course again if I am in the area.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Dual concrete pads. Well cut fairways, some traffic but not so much where you get backed up and everyone who was slow let our group through.
Cons: It is 2 hours from the twin cities where I live which kind of sucks. One con to me is this course has the same shot over and over again for the most part but I like the length and scenery for sure.
Other Thoughts: I would say this course is very comparable to Lakewood Hills in White Bear Lake, lots of shots that favor a lefty. I will say the markers at the tee box are WAY off on distance and are faded. There was one that was listed as a 140 ft and it was easily 300 up hill. I went down to Austin to play Todd park and I recommend this one on your way home if you make the trip and just go home up 52!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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