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.
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Whew, what a trip!
I’ll start with that. Months in the planning and almost as long to finally get a review up on the blog. This past Labor Day, several of the Dogleg crew flew out to Denver for a guy’s weekend full of local brew tours, good eats, and of course, disc golf.
There is soo much to cover from our trip that it’d take me hours to write up. So I’m breaking this trip review down into two parts to spare you all the details. I’ll sum it up the best I can and try to focus on mostly the disc golf part of it. At the end I will also provide a link to our Dogleg Flickr account so you can see most all of the pics we took from our trip (Special thanks to Jason for submitting his pics and for being the only other one to take a camera).
We had been talking this trip up forever it seemed, but just couldn’t get it all worked out on finding that perfect weekend to go that all of us could make. It’s always nice to get away from your local routine courses, terrain and weather and branch out to something new. Something far away that has very different terrain and weather conditions. Here at Dogleg, all of us share a strong passion for disc golf and (the majority of us) good beer. Where else has an excellent selection of both? Denver, Colorado. Home to several big beer names as well as loads of microbreweries. Not to mention all the disc golf courses!
With so many courses to choose from and so little time, I had to turn to our Twitter friends for Colorado disc golf recommendations. North Colorado Disc Golf (@NoCoDG) shot us back some of their favs which included Johnny Roberts, Badlands and Birds Nest. They also told us we should really go higher up in the mountains and play Beaver Ranch. One minor problem, we lacked a car. The closest course to our downtown hotel was roughly 6 mi away. Too far to walk and about a 45 min bus ride…exactly. We walked most places or either took the bus. Either one, it took forever to get longer distances.
Johnny Roberts DGC (Arvada, CO):
Saturday, we decided upon Johnny Roberts DGC located in Arvada to be our first course of the trip. We checked into renting a car for the day, but everywhere around was rented out. So we took to the ol’ trusty local metro transportation of the bus route. After waiting nearly 20 min for the bus to come to our stop, we were now on a 6 mi journey to Arvada. 45 minutes later, we were to our stop in Arvada.. Don’t get me started on local transportation.
Anyway, after walking a few blocks we come up on the park. Doesn’t look like the best part of town, but heard that we just had to play this course for the history of Colorado disc golf. A couple of people calling it the “granddaddy” of Colorado’s courses. You could tell. The park was crowded and the signage wasn’t real clear of where the start of the course was from walking up to it. Hole #1 you throw across an open field, which seemed a bit dangerous for other people and young ones playing around and running through it. There were a few holes where you threw across the sidewalk, which also seemed a bit dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists. One of my favorites parts of the course early on was the creek that runs through the park. This intertwining–very wide, yet very shallow–creek became a great obstacle through half of the course’s fairways. Several holes had the pin placement fairly close to the edge of the water. I thought this was pretty clever and as it required much more accuracy in laying up on your throws.
In general, this was a very tight course. It had several very narrow fairways off the tee pad with lots of trees and brush lining the sides. On the holes that had open fairways, you had to deal with pedestrians and young bicyclists crossing by as you were about to launch. I could see where people could get hit often. They had nice, concrete tee pads and decent signs on each hole. The sign’s graphics were a bit weathered, but were designed very well. Each tee pad sign had an actual photo of the fairway, prominent hole number, distance to each pin location, and an overhead graphic of the fairway. Awesome! But, it was a little difficult–once you got to the basket–to figure out where the next hole began.
[Review continued after the jump.]
Hole #6 was a longer hole and liked to suck discs into the creek off to it’s left. Not only did they roll into the creek, it left an almost impossible clear shot out through the thick brush. Here’s Joe tossing up towards #6’s basket.
Thanks to the tip from a few fellow locals, that there is no longer a Hole #8. Apparently Hole #8 line of throw used to cross back over Hole #7..all out disc war, right? Throwing towards one another and high speeds of spinning plastic. Hole #7 was neat too as you threw over the bridge down the creek line to a basket way off to the left alongside the sidewalk. Hole #9 was an Ace-able hole for sure. You tee off a slightly elevated pad and toss ~150 ft down to a lower pin placement on the edge of the creek. This is when the sandstorm hit. I mean hit hard! This is some of the hardest wind I have ever played in. The sky got dark and the wind blew furiously. Much of the course alongside the creek is dirt–which was where we were. I have never seen wind pick up dirt and blow it like that. It was ridiculous and you could hardly keep your eyes open but for a few seconds. Dirt, debris and leaves were flying everywhere. The wind storm lasted a good 15 or 20 min as we scurried as fast as we could through the next several holes. The wind in general made it very difficult to get in a good throw. Lots of our throws were picked up by wind changes and taken way off course. Bogeys and Doubles to follow.
The wind stopped, but the holes kept getting harder. More lines along the creek, more mandos, and tighter tee shots. Back 9 I fell apart and finished +7. All in all, I’d like to give this course at least another shot. Too crowded for me, but loved the challenging and technical game that it brings out of one. Not much for the scenery, I was expecting to be surrounded by more firs, pines and aspens..and hilly, mountainous terrain. I wasn’t going to stop at this course to my “Colorado Course”. I am, however, glad we got to play this one–especially to appreciate the history of Colorado Disc Golf.
Course Rating: 7/10
Good grief, we sure owe all of our fans/visitors new content. It has been some time since our last post. And let me tell you, LOTS of good stuff and our disc golf trips/events have happened in the several weeks the blog went silent. I know here at Dogleg, we’ve been extremely busy the past month or two just with our regular lives outside of disc golf. But I can promise you guys, we’re about to start spitting out some new posts here these next two weeks.
You guys deserve it. I know we’re still getting decent traffic in our “down” time, but we want to provide you guys with more content. Fresh content. Last week we brought on a new friend to the Dogleg blog who we’ve gotten a chance to play a few rounds with these past two weeks. Cool dude and loves some disc golf! I’m looking forward to what he can bring to the blog.
I’m going to try my best to write a post a day for a week straight. Yes. So come back and check it out! I also highly encourage you guys–our readers–to comment and let us know what you’d like to read more of. Hey, if you enjoy writing, love disc golf and would like to contribute, please drop us a line at DoglegDG@gmail.com to let us know!
Here’s a snippet of what you might can expect to roll out in the next few days [in no particular order].
-North Jasper Park Inaugural Ace Race Review
-Alpharetta’s Will’s Park Review/Dogshow Fiasco
-Urban Atlanta’s Perkerson Park Review
-Mancation 2012: Denver – Highlights, Reviews and Pics
-Canton’s Sequoyah DG Recap
-Discraft’s Titanium Plastic
-Kennesaw’s Legacy Park Review
-Advice on Discs
& possibly more!