Today was the day I have been looking forward to for several weeks. It was the day that a fellow course design friend, Steve West, invited myself and Chuck Kennedy up to Tomahawk Scout Reservation in Northern Wisconsin to check out one of his course designs. That might not sound like a big deal to most! However, Scout camps are about as hard to get on and play as courses on various military bases. So as a course collector, when you have a chance to get on those properties and play them? You juggle your schedule around to make it work.
Today was also stressful. Not because of meeting Steve and Chuck…that was fun! Rather, I wanted my playing at that Scout camp to be a little extra special. You see, when I woke up this morning, I was sitting at 97 courses played in the State of Wisconsin. And with Rice Lake having an eighteen-hole course at the University that I had yet to play? If I could wake up early enough and get the University of Wisconsin – Barron County played quickly enough, I could also sneak down to Chetek, Wisconsin to play another eighteen-holer. Making Steve’s course design my 100th course played in the State of Wisconsin.
Steady Ed must have been looking out for me today, telling the disc golf gods to have the planets align for me. As when I arrived at UWBC, they were in the process of setting up the disc golf course for a cross country meet. Though folks said that if I could play my round quickly enough, I was welcome to play. Play my round quickly? Sounded like just what the doctor ordered…so I could race down to Chetek before meeting Chuck and Steve at the Scout camp. 🙂 So I half-jogged my round at UWBC, putting in a respectable 54 on the card (930 estimated rating), then hopped in the car and headed for Chetek.
I had heard that course maintenance at Chetek Bulldog DGC was a bit of a train-wreck. But I found the course to be in much better shape than I had heard. Some tee signs were either missing or damaged, and a couple baskets weren’t in great shape. But on the whole, things were certainly more playable than I had expected.
I was playing fast…almost too fast! As on the Hole 7 tee (pictured above), I took a pretty hard fall. Stepped on a log I couldn’t see in the taller grass, and went backwards, falling on my back on top of another log. Had my bag of discs not been over my right shoulder? I would have landed on my back right on top of a few knobs and branches on said log. But instead, my backpack took the brunt of the fall. No rips or tears, thankfully. But I’ve been sore since the fall. Though in the words of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura: “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Even though I left a fair amount of blood (literally) on that course? I managed a -8 (46) for an estimated round rating of 1015.
After Chetek, it was time for the main event of the weekend: heading up to Tomahawk Scout Reservation to play Steve West’s course design at White Pine Camp DGC with Steve, Chuck, and their significant others (I’m not sharing their names, to respect their privacy). I didn’t take a lot of pictures at the Camp, wanting to be respectful of the Scout camp’s wish for privacy. But I couldn’t resist asking if folks would mind taking the photo (above), to commemorate the Camp course helping me have Wisconsin become only the fourth US State where I can claim to have played a minimum of 100 disc golf courses (Minnesota – 303, Iowa – 264, California – 162).
After our round, we all headed up to Spooner, Wisconsin to grab lunch and have a 30-45 minute course design discussion. For folks who don’t know, Chuck basically was my “mentor,” specific to course design. And both Chuck and Steve have served as second and third pairs of eyes to see if what I’ve come up with on a couple of course designs is maximizing the property’s potential (with the top three priorities being: safety, safety and safety). And of course, with some face time with Chuck? I made sure that we got to talk a bit more about my favorite “Chuckism” specific to course design: trap holes. 🙂
When we said goodbye after our mini-course design conference over lunch, they headed West while I added Wisconsin course #101 to my collection: Spooner DGC. I just about lost my first disc of 2020 on the Hole 1 tee. Right as I was releasing my tee shot, someone behind me fired a toy rocket into the air. The noise startled me a bit, and caused me to fire my Undertow into the ferocious rough to the right of the fairway. A mustard yellow disc, in knee-high itch weeds with yellowing leaves. Ugh. I spent at LEAST ten minutes looking for my baby. Twice finding other yellow discs that weren’t mine under all those yellow leaves. And just as I was about to give up the search? There it was. Whew.
After playing in Spooner, it was time to head South and look for a hotel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for the night. I didn’t think I would get there in time to sneak in one more course on the day. But I had about 25 minutes of daylight left when I got to the outskirts of town, so I pulled into the parking area for Pinehurst Park and decided to sneak one more quick round in.
I won’t lie. My tank was on empty, especially after getting hurt in Chetek (though thankfully not nearly as hurt as I could have been). So as I raced around the first seven holes, then saw the hill I would need to climb to get to the Hole 8 basket, I was thinking I might need to crawl to the top! 😀 I made it, then thought I could find the Hole 9 tee and be done for the night. But the path to the Hole 9 tee kept going up. And up. And up. I thought I might need oxygen by the time I finally found what appeared to be the Hole 9 tee (lol), but I told myself I had one more heave-ho left in me. So I pulled out the Undertow that I just about lost in Spooner, exhaled, and let ‘er rip.
It was my best shot of the day, and my best shot of the trip so far. That little tan circle WAY off in the distance, down the hill? In the middle of it is the Hole 9 basket. And my tee shot kept gliding, and gliding, and gliding on a beautiful S-Curve, landing about thirty feet from that basket. So cool! Although instead of ending on a pretty amazing deuce (considering how tired and beat up I was), I missed the thirty-footer, and needed to settle for a par three. A -1 (27) and an estimated round rating of 988.
Time for sleep! I think it will take me about fifteen seconds to fall asleep tonight, but it is an incredibly satisfied tired.
Magic Number = 338 (1,662 Courses Played)
How it All Got Started: Tonn’s Travels >>
A main purpose of this blog will be to share information, helpful tips and tricks (everything from health and fitness to methods for saving money while you’re out “bagging courses” of your own), and ideas for better, safer course design. But I am also hoping to inspire others with my passion for the sport, via the stories I can share about all of the interesting experiences I have. All of the interesting people I meet. All of the amazing courses I am blessed to have the opportunity to play. If I can inspire even a handful of individuals to get off the couch, get “out of their bubble” or “security blanket” and explore more of this big, beautiful planet we all call home? Then I will consider this effort a success.
Derek Tonn is a member of the DGA’s Ambassador Team. His company, Mapformation, LLC, has been DGA’s partner in the development of disc golf tee signage since 2012. The longer our two companies have worked together, and the more Derek has gotten to know all the great folks at DGA, the more he has wanted to formally sing the company’s praises. The more he has realized that “Steady” Ed the father of disc golf and the modern-day Frisbee vision for the sport and his company perfectly describes his own interests and priorities related to disc golf, and the more Derek has recently been encouraged to share his story.