Judson Mine has been on my list of courses I need to play since it first opened in 2018. And when the need (and opportunity) recently presented itself to head up to the Iron Range in Northeastern Minnesota? Well, I all but begged my travel companion to let me “need” to swing through Buhl before the sun went down. Checking out the course.

It got off to a bumpy start, literally! Google’s driving directions had us driving down an old gravel path, then a bumpy walking trail (to the confused looks from a couple players). But as we rounded the corner past the Hole 1 tee, we finally came to a parking lot for the course. I hopped out of the van, and told the couple other players: “Sorry, we’re not from around here and were just following Google’s driving directions. I’ve never played the course before.” They said it had only been their second time playing the course, but that I would love it, as it was a “really good one.”

Judson Mine in Buhl, Minnesota - Tonn's Travels
Course Map and Welcome Sign at Judson Mine in Buhl, Minnesota.

And it is (a really good one). Hole 1 starts out a little ho-hum, but the deeper you get into the course? The more fun it becomes. And what is unique to Judson Mine, compared to so many other courses I have played around the Iron Range, is how close a lot of trouble is lurking…just off the fairway.

Several of the eighteen holes have steep sloping hills just off the edge of the fairway. Miss your landing zone off the tee or in your approach shot by 15-20 feet, and you’d better pray that your disc doesn’t catch an edge. Because instead of having a 15-20 foot putt to save par? You might wind up with a 50-75+ foot uphill approach shot. I had two holes where I came at the basket a little too aggressively, and the only thing that saved me was a tree or a stump.

For being trapped in a van all day, I played the course very well. Managing to shoot a -14 (47), for an estimated round rating of 1005. That’s the best. When you can play a great course AND play it well. I played the short tees, as it was starting to get dark and I had someone waiting for me in the van. But apart from two mistakes (and two lucky breaks off the tee)? I played Buhl about as good as I could.

Magic Number = 410 (1,590 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.

About Derek

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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.

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