Today was a fun day, needing to head up into Northern Minnesota to spend the weekend designing my eleventh disc golf course. And of course, on the way? I had to cross a few courses off my To Play List. A couple courses not in any course directories, a course on a military base, and one of Minnesota’s oldest courses…that went in the ground the year I first started playing “Frisbee golf” (1978).
My day started at a course that very few people know exists: Watertown DGC. Baskets are still in the process of being installed, and those course features are still a combination of metal poles and wooden stakes (where one can temporarily play the course as an object course). But I knew the course was there, given the fact that I was the one who had the privilege of designing the tee signs for each hole.
The first six holes play adjacent to some elementary school property, and then after heading into an open area South of the school, you enter what can only be described as a Fall Wonderland! I couldn’t have picked a better time to check out this course, with the explosion of Fall colors…except for the fact that my main drivers in the woods (a DGA Undertow) are mustard yellow, and my main mid-range approach discs (a DGA Squall) are bright orange. 🙂 I would very-cautiously throw my shots and start running to watch where the discs landed, so I didn’t need to start my weekend with a lighter bag of discs! I finished the round, full bag of discs intact, with a -7 (48) and an estimated round rating of 955.
After Watertown, it was on to check out a course I have wanted to play ever since a fellow course designer, Tim Mackey, started talking about it: Montissippi Park in Monticello, Minnesota. And it was, hands down, the best course I played on the day. Even on a weekday afternoon, that course was PACKED with players! I guess the secret it out…how good a course it is. As over eighteen holes, I must have needed to ask to play through at least 15 other players! My *only* complaint on the course? Par is much too easy, as while I held my own to manage what I thought should have been a -1 (53) on the Blue tees? It was actually counted as a -4, with an estimated round rating of 999. ~940-950 and a -1 is more like it…but I suppose it’ll look more impressive as-is on my DGCourseReview.com scorebook.
After Montissippi, I headed up to Little Falls, to check out a small six-hole course that had recently appeared as unplayed in my UDisc app: LeBourget Park. It was a small park, with five baskets and six concrete tee pads. However, I could not be 100% sure of where the course actually started (no signs, no numbers on the tees, no map in UDisc). I put on my best Course Designer hat, and played it as I might have designed it, though I could not be 100% sure I played it correctly. As I THINK it should have been designed, however, I managed a -3 (15).
After the quick six-hole round, it was time to head up to see if I could beg my way on to a military installation a bit North of Little Falls: Camp Ripley. I drove up to one of the gates, put on my best “I am not a secret terrorist” face (ha), and said who I was, what I was hoping to do at the military base, and told the guard that I knew who the course designer was (Cale Leiviska), and was curious to play his design and see what I thought about it. I must have passed the “doesn’t seem like a terrorist” test, as the guard took my ID, checked my records out, then gave me a temporary pass to enjoy a quick round at Camp Ripley. I didn’t know where to park, which ended up being awfully close to the Hole 12 basket (which four players in fatigues seemed less than thrilled about), but I got my round played without incident. Managed a -6 (30), which I thought was probably in the 940s-950s, though DGCR estimated that rating at 1037. Not a chance it was anywhere near that good of a round…though it was mistake-free.
After leaving Camp Ripley, it was time to try and beg my way on to ONE more course: Crow Wing Lake Camp in Brainerd, Minnesota. One of the oldest courses in Minnesota (1978), and a course that only recently replaced its plastic cones with DGA baskets, this course is very clear about being for campers only! I emailed the owners about a week ago, saying who I was, and could I PLEASE have the chance to play their course on my way up to Brainerd. I received no response.
So I decided to drive in and give it my best “beg,” since I wasn’t sure when or if I would ever have the opportunity to camp there. I drove into the main drive, parked in the area marked Visitor Parking, and then went in the main office to see if I could speak with Phil, one of the co-owners who I had emailed about a week ago, to ask permission to throw a quick round. But the office was empty.
Not wanting to trespass, I went off looking for anyone who looked like they might work there, and after a bit of a search, I came upon a friendly man who was doing a bit of work on the property. I walked up and asked: “Are you Phil?” He said: “Why yes I am!” So then I explained who I was, what I do with DGA and this blog, and asked if I might P-L-E-A-S-E play a round on their course. And he told me that because I asked permission, rather than just assuming I could go out and play, he would let me play a quick round. Woo hoo! It’s not often I get to play courses that were designed and installed back in the 1970s…so this one would be a rare treat. The course was designed for people throwing Frisbees, of course. So it wasn’t necessarily challenging with disc golf discs. But that wasn’t the point. As I had been staring at that course on my Unplayed Courses map for literally years…and today I FINALLY got to cross off that To Do from my list. 🙂
Tomorrow will be a busy day of course design work! But I’m feeling satisfied, getting five new courses played. A few of which can be extremely difficult to receive permission to play.
Magic Number = 324 (1,676 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.