Mancation 2012: Denver Disc Golf (Part II)
Continued from Mancation 2012: Denver Disc Golf (Part I)
After Saturday’s windy experience and lack of elevation at Arvada’s Johnny Roberts DGC, I was a tad bitter with my Colorado disc golfing thus far. First of all, I thought Denver was mountainous and had a lot more hills than it turned out to have. I expected Colorado disc golf courses to be filled with firs, spruces, and aspens, elevation changes, cool breeze and impeccable, breathtaking scenic views. Don’t get me wrong, now the Johnny Roberts course was indeed fun, but it was just not the scenic course I was hoping for. We needed to find a bigger, better course before this trip was over.
Then I remembered back a few weeks prior to our trip, North Colorado Disc Golf (@NoCoDG) tweeted us and mentioned that we needed to get up in the hills—that that’s where the bigger, better courses are. We researched that night and found out about Conifer Park at Beaver Ranch. The only problem?, it was about 45 min north of Denver and we had no car. After calling around town, we luckily found a car rental place that actually still had cars available. [There were several big events and conferences going on that same weekend, so it was hard to find any still available.] Locked it in for Sunday, check. Now we’re headed to the Mountains, boys!
Conifer Park at Beaver Ranch (Conifer, CO)
The whole drive up to Conifer was really nice. The Rockies—once off in the distance—were finally now getting closer and closer. Steeper inclines ahead as we winded up the hills leaving the city behind. The directions we had were horrible..or either it was that stupid GPS. Either way, once we got off the main road it felt like we drove in circles for a half hour trying to find one little road. I don’t know how many times it redirected us after we’d make a turn. The address on the GPS took us up one hill into this mountainside trailer park. Yea…don’t think there’s a disc golf course in this mess. “Heya Billy, 2 points if you ding one off da satellite dish into the plastic kiddie pool.” Yea..no. Ok after a different address confirmation, we’re back on track and finally get there. It’s already starting to look and feel like the “Colorado Disc Golf Experience” I was hoping for. Beaver Ranch is located down a long dirt road with a small dirt parking lot at the base. There to the side is a small cabin store-looking thing that reminded me of what you’d see atop a mountain while skiing. It is cool out, light breeze and the air is thin. Then you catch the subtle scent of the mountainous, evergreen air. Yes, this is it.
Some locals pull up about the same time we do and tell us Hole #1 is about a half mile from the parking lot.. Half a mile, seriously? Gees. That first time you know how it always seems like it takes forever? Well we walk and walk—crossing an overgrown, brush-filled creek. I’m talking thicket so thick, there could be bears hiding in there.
We get to #1’s teepad and the excitement and thrill level could not be any higher! This was intense. Hole #1 is straight uphill? Yes—with a very tight, heavily wooded fairway window staring right back at us. Hole #1 you’re basically teeing from ground level and throwing high and up into the mountain. Leaving no room for error, the first hole was a little intimidating. With the majority of us being from the Southeast, we’re not used to this level of drastic elevation change on the holes to follow.
There was a courtesy box and sign at the bottom of the wooden stairs leading up the fairway to basket #1. This was to put in your $3/per person (highly worth it) and grab a dated tag for the day’s round. After teeing off, the elevation change kicked in. I believe Tim was the only one that had a decent tee shot on this hole. On our next throws, we found ourselves fighting for a steady balance along the hill’s steep incline. I’m glad the day was cool, because with all the hiking/climbing we were about to endure, it could have been miserable.
The first four holes you’re playing your way up the mountain. So each hole the hike gets a bit more strenuous and the air gets thinner. Beautiful views of the trees and mountains off in the distance as you play. Tight cut lines surrounded by tall, thin pines and firs filled the landscape. Didn’t see any wildlife, but loved the nature sounds. I also did like how there was not a lot of small plant life around. This made it much easier to find your disc in the dirt or pine straw. Really the only thing you had to watch out for was if your disc became a roller and rolled off course…and down the hill. On Hole #10 I believe it was..we searched nearly a half hour for one of mine that skipped and rolled away. One of the zipline guides actually spotted it for us. Whew, did not want to lose that one. Oh and Yes, they had ziplines (next time I’m adding that to my list)!
After the first 7 holes (1/3 of the way done), we needed a breather. Lots of walking, hiking on this treacherous hilly mountainside already. I’m glad we brought all of the water and snacks that we did. Come prepared if you play this course! Especially with this tight #8 (pic below) coming up, we needed to think about just how in fact we were going to pull off this next laser drive. It required roughly a 100+ft straight shot just to clear the tree line with literally less than a 15-ft window to work with. Here in the pic below, Jason’s eyeing the fairway leading up to the basket. Throw it soft to lay up and keep your line? or risk pinballing one through the trees and down the left side of the hill with a burner? Decisions. I’ve scored par on every hole up to this point and up by several strokes, so what do I have to lose? I’m going for it, son. Indeed did hit a tree or two, but would end up serving me well on this one.
I managed to hang on at even par through the first 9, then I started to fall apart…as did everyone else. I would go on to bogey the next 6 in a row…ouch. The holes were getting longer and more difficult. We were feeling the burn from all the walking/hiking and arms were getting sore after the next handful of holes.
I feel like we’ve been playing across the top of this mountain for hours. Isn’t it time the holes start making its downward spiral? Yep. Here goes. Hole #17 was a beast of a downward distance hole. This hole is some odd 430’+ long, but you’re pretty much teeing off from on top of the hill aiming to a downward basket. With a steep incline directly behind the pocketed basket, you could huck the hell out of your disc and not worry too much of overshooting the hole..As long as you angled it downhill. My goal, spike it in the hill behind the basket. Or at least hit it hard enough it would catch an edge and roll down to the pin. Check out the view from the teebox down to the basket.
Then the rain came. And it fell hard! With nowhere to go, we found slight shelter under some low-lying branches. The next few holes we played in the pouring rain. We were this close to the end—can’t stop now. Conifer Park is made up of “21” holes, but could not seem to find Hole #21. Hole #20 was a steep downhill hole with a heavily-wooded line to the basket. This hole you needed one to lay low and set down or your disc might be rolling all the way to the bottom off the mountain. There was one last teebox after Hole #20, but was not designated by a teesign. Could this be #21? It was long and far and required throwing over that overgrown, hellish creek I mentioned earlier. And the bad part about it? The creek lied maybe 50-ft in front of the basket. You either had to lay up before the creek, or bomb one hoping to land on the other side. We turned this into a CTP hole instead.
All in all it was an excellent course with 21 beautiful holes. By far, the absolute BEST disc golf course I have played yet (yes, even topping Flyboys). Conifer Park at Beaver Ranch has the whole package. You’ve got the cool weather; the beautiful scenery; the mountains; the tall-standing thin trunked trees; challenging elevation…everything. This course is not for the beginner nor would I recommend for people out of shape. It’s rough. It demands lots of stamina, walking and hiking up steep terrain. Some holes have loose footing on the dirt and straw on the hillside. Bring LOTS of water/snacks. You’ll be out here for a few hours with just the amount of time to walk the entire course. It’s challenging and I loved every minute of it. I would catch myself taking in the scenery and snapping pics and missing some of the great shots we made. Ahhh if I just had some of those on film. No aces, but a few close ones. I love the outdoors, nature and I certainly love the mountains. This course made my “Colorado Disc Golf Experience”. It was everything that I imagined disc golf in Colorado to be like. I would’ve been highly disappointed to make it all the way out here from Georgia, and to have not gotten a chance to play something of this caliber.
Course Rating: 9.8/10
If you’re ever in the Denver area, you have to go play this course. Set aside a few hours to play..and of course, transportation to get there. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a ways out of the way but you will not regret it. No wonder it is rated a 4.6+/5 on DGCourseReview.com.
For a full look into our Denver Disc Golf Experience and over a hundred more pics, please check out our Dogleg Flickr page.
If you liked this post, don’t forget to “like” it and share below! Thanks guys!