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A Day in Northwest Iowa: Tonn’s Travels

A Day in Northwest Iowa: Tonn’s Travels

With blue skies, temperatures above freezing, and my wife and two daughters having plans away from home, I decided that this past Saturday (January 27) would be a day for me to check out a few new courses that I had yet to play. So I got in the car, accessed my UDisc app on my smartphone, and I was off!

Apart from my health, my discs and backpack, a working vehicle, good weather and a little bit of money in the bank?  My UDisc app is the most important tool in my course collecting arsenal. UDisc allows users to filter course maps by only showing courses that remain unplayed, and works with Google Maps to drive you to just about every course in the world.  A tool that has helped me find hundreds of courses, saving me countless hours of time behind the wheel.  If you do not yet have the UDisc app on your smartphone, what are you waiting for?  It has changed my disc golf travel for the better…and then some!

My first stop on the day was Sandy Point County Park, Northwest of Lakefield, Minnesota.  I knew that an individual had been working to secure baskets at this Park many years ago, starting with an object course until said funds for baskets could be raised.  But those funds were never raised, so the course never happened.  But before asking UDisc to remove the course from their directory, I wanted to confirm things with my own eyes.  Upon arriving at the park, I promptly got stuck in the snow.  A local pulled in behind me with his pick-up and took pity on me…pulling me out of my predicament, then refusing to accept money as a thank you.  And as a regular user of the Park, he confirmed that the disc golf course on the property no longer exists.

Then it was off to Wahpeton, Iowa, on the shores of West Okoboji Lake, to visit Lakeshore Center at Okoboji. While traveling past the property in a driving rain (and in a hurry) last October, I could have sworn that I saw a basket in a field on the property.  So I decided to see for myself if I was seeing a mirage…or if a course actually existed on the property.  After arriving on site, I did indeed see a basket. Then two, then three, then four! I found staff down in the main office, who confirmed the presence of a nine hole course on their property. They encouraged me to throw a round, and even gave me a map to help guide my way. All of said course information is now on DGCourseReview and UDisc.

Staff at Lakeshore Center at Okoboji were amazing, so helpful!  Don Reed, Site Manager, was particularly enjoyable to speak with…telling me about the history of the property and its “$10 million view.”  You won’t find the property listed on any hotel/motel search results.  But if you are ever looking for a cheaper place for you and/or your family to stay while visiting the area, consider contacting the Center at 712-337-3313 or [email protected].  If my experience on the property is any indication of how they treat their guests, I think you won’t be disappointed.

Hole 2 in George, Iowa.
Hole 2 in George, Iowa.

After the excitement of discovering a place to disc golf that none of the major disc golf course directories knew about (I’ve added between 75-100 courses to DGCourseReview over the years…probably 100+ to UDisc), I headed over to George, Iowa to check out a course I only learned exists within the past few months. George DGC is a short course, 2,175 feet over nine holes, shoe-horned into a community park and campground between several other uses.  Holes 1 and 8 seem as though they might create periodic issues between disc golfers and other park users, but Hole 2 (photo above) shocked me a bit.  Having right-handed players essentially throwing their tee shots out over the road in/out of town and a residential property…with the ball field lurking on the left as their disc slows down and turns left.  And as a left-handed back-handed player, it is all but impossible not to land a drive on the road, on the ballfield, or in the neighbor’s yard.  I would hate to see community pressure to pull said course from the ground, after the first car/person is struck by a flying disc.

If it were my responsibility to go into George to “fix the problem,” with complete support from the designers and the City (Council, Parks & Rec, etc.)? I would probably make a new Hole 2 very short. Have it tee off near or maybe inside the row of trees…throwing on a sort of diagonal line through said trees (in a position where errant throws or ricochets would not send discs into playground equipment), then put the basket just a hair to the right (road-side) of the straight line between the second and third from the last trees, away from the bleachers and a hair toward the road. Might only be a ~125 foot hole! But it’s the only way I can see to take the playground equipment, ball field, bleachers and road out of play. And short = throwing putters instead of drivers. So even if somebody does pull a crazy grip lock and/or lacks skill as a player? The discs would be flying much slower…minimizing damage/injury.

Hole 5 Long Tee at Rock Valley Rotary DGC in Rock Valley, Iowa.
Hole 5 Long Tee at Rock Valley Rotary DGC in Rock Valley, Iowa. A 322-foot Par 4.

My final course on the day was Rock Valley Rotary DGC in Rock Valley, Iowa. A 12-hole course installed in 2017 on the same land as a former course that had been removed after floods had damaged/destroyed it a few years ago.  I thought this course was a lot of fun!  Though the tee shot on Hole 5 (from the Long/Pro tee) had me scratching my head…trying to find any type of line for my driver off the tee.  I ended up doing one of those “shut my eyes and grip-it and rip-its,” threading the needle on the left to hit the right edge of the hole’s fairway.  Good enough to get my up and down for three.  But I think it would be great if they could trim that hole up a bit more…creating a more realistic line off the tee.

So three new courses played on the day…courses 177, 178 and 179 that I have played in the State of Iowa, and courses 1,253, 1,254 and 1,255 overall. My new magic number to reach 2,000 courses played: 745


About Derek

Derek Tonn Profile PictureDerek 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. And 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’s 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.


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DGA over 40 years in business