Every so often when I am course collecting, courses go extinct. Either the equipment and grounds are no longer being maintained, or a property changes owners (and the new owner doesn’t want to deal with the cost or liability of operating and maintaining a disc golf course), or the owners of said property decide to do other things with the land. But every so often, on an even less frequent basis, courses go extinct so that new courses can be designed and installed in their place.
I had previously played every course that the Minneapolis St. Paul metropolitan area had to offer, including a LONG, pay to play 18-hole course located on the ball golf course at Fort Snelling, near the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Not my favorite type of course, with wind and distance being the primary challenge, it was the sort of course I would play once…just to say I had played it (to add it to my Courses Played collection). That said, I always thought that more could be done to make better use of trees to create more interesting holes/shots.
Enter Steve West, who along with Scott Belchak worked with the golf course to re-imagine and re-create a new 18-hole course on the property in 2019. This new course is similar in length (6,994 feet vs. 7,050 feet), but has several more interesting holes that make better use of available trees and terrain/elevation changes.
I was up in the Twin Cities today, attending an event that my oldest daughter was participating in as a part of the Minnesota State High School League, so I decided I would take the opportunity to check out the new course at Ft. Snelling. I had to laugh when I got to the clubhouse, as the man behind the counter collecting greens fees had to ask me what brought me out on such a windy, rainy afternoon. When I mentioned that a course design friend of mine had helped design the new course on the property, and I wanted to check it out while I was in town, he said: “Well, a round is normally $6.50 (or something close…I don’t remember exactly), but if you’re a friend of Steve (West)’s? It’s $150.” 🙂 So after quickly, sarcastically recanting my being friendly with Steve (ha!), I paid my fees and tried to play the course as quickly as was possible before the skies REALLY opened up.
The wind was howling, and intermittent light rain gave the course teeth! But I played it very well, managing to shoot a -4 (54) over 18 holes, for an estimated round rating of 963. I wouldn’t have been able to post a score like that a couple of years ago, as I am the opposite of a “big arm” on the tee! But the more I have learned the DGA Hurricane and DGA Undertow, the better I have performed on the tee. In a ferocious headwind or crosswind from the South, I was throwing my stable/overstable Hurricane with confidence…carding birdies on Holes 5, 7, 9, 11 and 16. And when that strong wind was at my back? I was getting my Undertow out there very well…“chewing up distance” and making sure that I gave myself the best chance at having a good approach shot that would result in me not needing to sweat my putt. And with only one bogey-4 on the card, on longer holes, in that type of wind and wet conditions? I couldn’t have been more happy with the results of my round.
I had to laugh too, as when I was putting on Hole 16, the skies opened up and it was raining in sheets. And as I walked to the Hole 17 tee, I must have seen 20-25 golf carts racing across the course back to the clubhouse, trying to escape the monsoon! But I wasn’t going to not finish my round and miss also adding photos from the Holes 17-18 tees on to the Disc Golf Course Review website, so I bravely marched on, a la Caddyshack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmm-ZGNCv-8. No lightning strikes (thank goodness), and no near miss on a course record! 🙂 But I couldn’t have been happier in adding course #1501 to my Courses Played collection. Particularly getting inside a dry car and turning the heat on.
Magic Number = 499 (1,501 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.