Many disc golfers have bragged to this reviewer about the qualities of the DeLaveaga disc golf course in Santa Cruz, California. It is an excellent challenge and a worthy tournament course. In routing, however, it could use improvement.
In distance, hazards, and variety you will be well pleased with DeLaveaga. Built just below a ridge on hilly terrain featuring oaks and pines, you could argue over what should be the signature hole. The 27th, aka "Top of the World", would receive many votes, with a long downhill drive featuring a beautiful view of the ocean and Santa Cruz. Number twelve, The Kitchen, is a short sneaky shot over a ravine to a ridge protected by trees in front and back and reflects the general nature of the course.
The hazards are plentiful. First, there is the OB road that splits the course. It dares to suck up rollers that go too far or drives and approaches that stray left.
Second, there are the abundant trees. In some instances, they are classic examples of risk/reward guardians. The short right-to-left 21st or the grudgingly difficult ravine on your left, trees on your right fifteenth come to mind.
In other cases, the plant life was simply ridiculous. The 24th, for example, borders on unplayable due to its combination of length and limbo-height branches down the entire fairway. Bending over to walk the course when I am in the middle of the fairway does not impress me.
Third and most dangerous of all are the ravines. Featured on eighteen of the twenty-seven holes, they will make you appreciate the trees. Trunks and limbs are a poor drive’s main line of defense from becoming lost forever in the scrub brush depths. Protecting par by the basket or the fairway, ravines must be negotiated carefully if you want to enjoy your round.
The course is generally covered with hardpan, so rollers are a good possibility where you don’t fear losing a disc. Otherwise, you will find your entire arsenal of drives tested by the uphill, downhill and dogleg fairways. Trees or bushes also protect most baskets; straight putts will not be an option without careful planning and precision approaches.
The routing of the course, however, is a sore point. A number of holes cross fairways. Duck your head when walking down ten if someone drives on number nine or vice versa (another moment when you appreciate the trees). Number seventeen is hopelessly designed down a ravine and its potential replacement—hole 8A—is only a little better. With all the space available here, the local club would do well to reconsider the routing. Blind holes could be eliminated at the fourth and eighteenth and crossing fairways at the fifth and sixth. Perhaps a numbering adjustment is even in order. Due to crowded conditions, I started at the 23rd and played around to the 22nd. Despite the beautiful view at the 27th, that seemed a more logical route (IMHO), leading from and bringing you back to the parking lot.
The tees are generally excellent and the local club sells snacks and discs via the tailgate method. Stop under the tree at the 20th hole first to see if a copy of the top-notch course map is available. The excellent DeLaveaga ball golf course just up the road also sells discs and can provide a restroom. Signage is great, although a “next tee” marker on each tee map would be a nice addition for some holes.
The best of courses undergo renovation or redesign a few holes every now and then. DeLaveaga is just that—one of California’s better disc golf courses. Nevertheless, the local talent would do well to consider a redesign.
Total Score (40 possible): 32