Today was a special day for me. Not only did I get to play what I now consider to be the top course I have played in the State of North Carolina! But I got to share the fairways with two of the best players in the history of the sport of disc golf. With nearly 400 PDGA sanctioned event wins between them.

Sharing the Course with Legends - Tonn's Travels
Eric Vandenberg and Elaine King, posing for a photo on the Hole 9 tee at Diavolo in Cary, NC.

Elaine King (#3090) and Eric Vandenberg (#3089) took a couple hours out of their busy lives today to show me around what is probably one of the top 40-50 courses I have ever played…and what I believe is the best course I have played in North Carolina: Diavolo at New Hope, in Cary, North Carolina. Lil’ ‘ol me, a course collector from southwestern Minnesota, who has won a grand total of three sanctioned tournaments (as an Intermediate, MA40 and then MA50). Playing with one of the two winningest players in the history of the sport and another player who has won nearly 100 tournaments over the years. So I expected to receive three helpings of humility today (which I did, ha!). But what a special, special memory that I will cherish.

Elaine and I know each other a little bit, as she was the person who interviewed me for my current position on the Disc Golf Foundation Board of Directors. We have communicated, here and there, ever since! But we both lead busy lives, so I try not to bother her unless it is important. Eric and I have been getting to know each other a bit in recent months, as he is also one of the couple dozen players in the history of the sport to have played at least 1,000 courses. An incredible accomplishment, in addition to his prowess in tournaments. Eric, along with Avery Jenkins and Gregg Hosfeld, are probably the three most-skilled players to have reached 1,000+ courses played over the years.

Eric was putting on a show off the tees the entire round. So, SO long and accurate! He would probably have been out-driving me on the tee by 50-60+ feet even if I was healthy! But it felt like I was a high school basketball player, trying to guard a starter in the NBA! 🙂 I hung with him/them on a few holes. But Elaine had so much more skill than me in Circle-1 and Circle-2, while I don’t think Eric made a bad tee shot or missed a putt the entire round. Pretty amazing to watch.

Meanwhile, I limped to the barn with a +6 (83) on the 22-hole monster that is Diavolo, for an estimated round rating of 944. Nothing to be ashamed of! But when you see how the sport can REALLY be played? How players can reach Circle-1 when I could never hope to reach it? How much better folks can be around the basket? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few seconds where I was thinking about pulling a little Wayne and Garth from the movie Wayne’s World, a la: I’m not worthy! 😛

Butt-kicking complete (ha), and after adding the best +1 to my course collection that I have played on this trip? I had to head back to reality and try and get more mapping and tee sign design work done. It sounds like Eric is willing and able to show me the ropes on several more courses over the next several days, however. So I’m already excited to have the opportunity to explore more courses in the area.

Magic Number = 152 (1,848 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

Sharing the Course with Legends - 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.