After spending the past eighteen hours presenting at a conference in Brookings, Oregon for work, I needed to make my way ~4.5 hours North to Eugene, Oregon for another work conference. This week is what I have jokingly referred to as “hell week” for work, since I need to spend five days in hotels, adding hundreds of miles to our car’s odometer. But it also is affording me an opportunity to visit a handful of new disc golf courses that I have yet to play in the greater Eugene area.
My disc golf on this trip started with a course that had been on my list to visit for the past year: Paradise Disc Golf Course in Creswell. I’ve driven within miles of the course probably 8-10 times since moving to Coos Bay! But the timing has never worked. So today, I made sure to leave Brookings early enough to allow enough daylight to play at Paradise. I also texted Ralph Huntoon and Eugene Fackler last weekend…to make sure I had permission to play this private course (along with telling them approximately when I would arrive).
Google Maps was pretty accurate in telling me when I would roll into Paradise, and Eugene met me with a smile…welcoming me on the property. I wasn’t sure he would have time to talk about their labor of love, but they did me one better: Eugene and Ralph joined me for my round. So we could get to know one another a little better, and so I could get all the wonderful little ideas behind the design of their eighteen-hole course on the property. So much fun!
If I am completely honest? I always get just a tiny bit nervous…playing with experienced players and designers (Eugene is a very accomplished player with a history of top card performances/finishes at major events such as Am Worlds). Not because I care about impressing anyone with my scores or rating! Rather, “wearing the (DGA) shield” is an honor I take incredibly seriously. So after twenty-nine days without being able to throw my discs, AND being tight after a 4.5-hour drive, I was playing a little tight. Thank goodness for my “radio-controlled” DGA ProLine Squall! 🙂 I told Ralph and Eugene that my Squalls are easily the best, most reliable discs I have ever thrown. And even tight and rusty? I was hitting all of my lines off the tee and from the fairway.
I was teasing Ralph and Eugene, asking if they know Gregg Hosfeld, telling them that my goal on every course is playing “boring disc golf.” What Gregg talks about a lot. Instead of being a hero or trying to make ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten? All I’m trying to do is hit my landing zone off the tee to create an easy approach shot, then stick my approach, then drop in for par. On holes that I know I have an excellent chance of getting a deuce? THEN I attack off the tee! But on holes where the risks of a bogey-four far outweigh the chances of getting a deuce? Lay up and live to fight another day. And on the first fourteen holes? I played that plan to near perfection.
On Hole 15, I’m not sure why I decided to play UNboring disc golf! But over the last four holes, I decided to throw caution to the wind. After Ralph and Eugene told me how to safely play Hole 15, I decided to risk a 4 or 5 by throwing a spike hyzer line with my Squall off the tee, throwing up into a former treehouse. I came SO close to hitting chains, then came to rest about 7-8 feet right of the basket. An easy deuce. Then on Hole 16? I took another aggressive hyzer line off the tee, coming to rest about ten feet left of the basket.
Through sixteen holes, I was sitting one shot off of the course record. So then I REALLY started thinking I needed to go for it. And on the Hole 17 tee, I clipped some branches left of the fairway, barely getting 100 feet toward the basket, with no good line in an approach shot to the basket. Ugh. I did what I could in my second shot, then got my up-and-down! But a bogey-four on a hole I should have easily parred wasn’t a good feeling. Then on Hole 18? I threw a solid tee shot, a solid approach shot, only to miss my putt into the top of the lighthouse. Back-to-back bogey-4s.
Three shots off the course record my first time playing the course wasn’t bad! But not playing “boring disc golf” and an unforced error to end my round had me wondering if Ralph and Eugene were going to tease me about practicing what I preach. 🙂
I certainly didn’t embarrass myself, playing sixteen solid holes of disc golf! I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t want a “do-over” on Holes 17 and 18. But again, it’s not about scores or ratings! And I think I represented DGA well. Now we’ll see if I’ve won a couple more converts over to the DGA ProLine Squall. The best disc in the history of the sport.
Magic Number = -10 (2,010 Courses Played)
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’s (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.