Today marks 67 days since I wound up in the Emergency Room in Kellogg, Idaho with what turned out to be a kidney stone…and I STILL have not passed that stone! 🙁 Every day is a bit of an adventure, though most days the pain is bearable. I tell people that what having a kidney stone has robbed me of the most is peace of mind. At any given moment, I could go from feeling “okay” to wondering if I should have my daughter take me back to the ER here in Oregon because the pain is all but unbearable. Twice that has happened to me, once in the middle of a class I needed to participate in at work. That is a problem, as I can be on the road at times for 3-4 hours at work…and if I have one of those excruciating spells while I am a couple hours from help, alone? Not good.

Needless to say, I haven’t felt confident enough to venture far from home, which has put a GIANT roadblock in front of my disc golf course collecting efforts the past few months! Although today, with my daughter working all day and my actually feeling caught up at my TWO full-time jobs? 🙂 I decided I would see if I could navigate Oregon Dunes DGC.

Oregon Dunes DGC - Tonn's Travels
Hole 6 approach shot at Oregon Dunes DGC in Coos Bay, Oregon.

I had been warned by locals about this object course (wooden poles, with metal plates around the top to act as your target):

  1. You WILL lose discs, and
  2. It is next to impossible to navigate.

Not wanting to lose discs, and not wanting to get lost in an area where I could immediately be doubled over in pain while seeing animal tracks as big as my fist and dozens of empty shotgun shells on the ground? To say I was nervous playing today would be a serious understatement. But I needed to play this course at some point! And with nothing better to do this afternoon, I thought that today should be the day.

Oregon Dunes DGC - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 12 tee at Oregon Dunes DGC in Coos Bay, Oregon.

The first 8-9 holes lived up to their reputation. Microscopic fairways and dozens of chances to lose a disc if you aren’t careful. I didn’t even bother pulling a driver out of my bag until I got out of the trees and into the dunes, opting to throw my bright orange ProLine Squall on every throw for my first half of the round. There were two holes where I thought, even after throwing shorter safeties off the tee, I might never see that Squall again! But thankfully, I found every tee shot until I got out of the trees and into the open.

Oregon Dunes DGC - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 17 fairway at Oregon Dunes DGC in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Once I got out of the trees and into the dunes? It was absolutely everything I had hoped it would be and so much more. I haven’t told many people this before, but ever since I went to the United Arab Emirates for work back in 2012, I have been having numerous recurring dreams about designing and playing a disc golf course in the dunes. I even had my business partner in the region see if he might approach the Royal Family of Dubai…seeing if they might be able to make things happen! But it never went anywhere.

And then in January 2022, I was asked to interview at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay. The first time I laid my eyes upon the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area? I knew I was being led to this area, in part, to help introduce one of the most unique places to disc golf in the western United States mere minutes from the Pacific Ocean. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, I don’t know who with! But I know that before I leave this Earth, I will help to introduce one of the most unique places in the United States to enjoy the sport I love.

Oregon Dunes DGC has tastes/touches of what disc golf could be in the dunes! But it isn’t even five percent as amazing as it could be, with proper design, equipment and maintenance. Disc golf, a course that would have people talking about in the same breath as folks do when mentioning some of the top courses in the country, needs to come to Coos Bay. I know it makes me sound like a giant “homer” (ha), but I’ve been dreaming about this for nine years. I’ve played nearly 2,000 disc golf courses around North America and Europe. I know many of the world’s top course designers. And what we could do here in the dunes would be special. So, SO unique from anything I have ever seen and played. I got a tiny taste of it what could be like on the back nine today. But the current course pales in comparison to what it could (will?) be.

Despite my kidney stone pain, I managed a +4 (61) over 6,755 feet, for an estimated round rating of 991. MUCH better than I expected to play, given how little I have been able to play while battling my kidney stone. But I played mistake-free, taking what each hole gave me, which is always half the battle: playing smart.

Magic Number = 39 (1,961 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

Oregon Dunes DGC - Tonn's Travels

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.