One of the things I do several times per week is put on my imaginary “private investigator’s hat” and hunt for disc golf courses that none of UDisc, Disc Golf Course Review and PDGA.com know exist. I like doing this in effort to help lots of small town courses and clubs promote themselves to the greater sport…in hopes of generating more traffic and maybe a bit of additional spending in their communities (eating out, stopping for gas and snacks, camping, etc.). Plus I also think it is nice to put lots of little towns, like my town of Springfield, Minnesota, “on the [disc golf] map.”
Twice in my years of going online and searching for new courses to play, I have stumbled across courses via viewing a community’s park using Google StreetView. One can virtually stand on the street in many of the towns in the United States of America, and see what a driver that Google equipped with some panoramic photography equipment saw as they passed through the community. And as I was preparing for a visit to the Rochester, Minnesota area this week, I decided I would virtually explore parks in towns that were in that area. Towns that currently had no disc golf courses listed in any directory.
As I was exploring Pine Island, Minnesota, I checked out the StreetView footage of Collins Park on the Northwest corner of town. And as I looked to the West? I noticed something that looked suspiciously like a basket. The StreetView footage was from 2014, and a lot can happen in five years! But since I would be within fifteen minutes of Pine Island anyway, I thought it was worth exploring. And early this evening, I confirmed that there are indeed eight homemade baskets set around Collins Park and Collins West in Pine Island! How cool is that? Finding a new course to play and add to the various directories out there via virtually standing on the street five years in the past…from 140 miles to the West? 🙂
Before my bit of “private investigator work” in Pine Island, I started my afternoon by visiting Cedar Valley Resort DGC in Whalan, Minnesota. A course that you will never stumble across just passing through town, it is miles from any well-traveled road! I saw nearly as many Amish buggies and horses on my drive to the Resort as I saw motor vehicles! But what a beautiful drive, and when I arrived at the Resort, staff were very friendly and encouraged me to play a round on their nine-hole course. I started out with deuces on Holes 1-8, but I could not quite seal the deal on my 40-foot putt on Hole 9 to get the rare score of 18. Still, shooting in the teens on a nine-hole course always feels good! And I left feeling energized to play the much longer, tougher Twin Creeks DGC in Hokah, Minnesota.
When I arrived at Twin Creeks, the staff working there were very friendly. The man I spoke with felt bad that I was playing their course while it was so soggy/swampy after some recent rains, so he said my $5 fee to play the course would include a candy bar. 🙂 He also said to play Holes 6-19, then see if I had the physical/mental energy to play Holes 1-5, that were a lot wetter. I played Holes 6-19, and got shoes and socks that I could practically wring the water out of. I also had mud up to my knees on both legs…but I had fun. And by the time I finished Hole 19, I figured that Holes 1-5 couldn’t throw anything at me that I hadn’t already seen. I ended up finishing my 19-hole round with a -7 (60), for an estimated round rating of 938. Not great, but not bad considering the conditions. And then I was off to Pine Island…
I had no idea if there would still be baskets in that park, five years after Google StreetView showed there was. So when I arrived at the park to see the same basket I saw in Google, I was very excited! It was a nice little park…two parks, actually! Collins Park, and Collins West. Though none of the eight baskets had numbers on them, and there was no tee signage to be found. So I had to take off my “private investigator hat,” put on my “course designer hat,” and figure out how I thought the person who originally designed the course intended for it to be played. I think I figured it out, in part because with only one bridge that crossed the river between the two small parks, there really was only one way to get from basket to basket. So for how I think the course was designed to play? I shot a -6 (18). But I cannot be certain I played the course the way the designer intended for it to be played, so we’ll officially chalk that last round up as a “safari round.”
Three more courses played in Southeastern Minnesota while in Rochester on other business. Woo Hoo! Two of which (Whalan and Hokah) that had been staring at me in my map of unplayed courses in UDisc…begging to be played for years! 🙂
Magic Number = 487 (1,513 Courses Played)
About Tonn’s Travels
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.