After heading North to try and escape the rain that was present for most of my visit to Kansas City in the past week, one of the awesome consolation prizes of that decision was my ability to play the rest of the courses I had yet to play in the greater Des Moines (Iowa) metro. And with sunshine, actual SUNSHINE, for my entire day today? I was able to play four of the longest courses in Southern Iowa, along with four additional recreational courses:

  1. Osceola DGC in Osceola, Iowa
  2. Soaring Eagle in Saint Charles, Iowa
  3. Pickard Park in Indianola, Iowa
  4. Ewing Park in Des Moines, Iowa
  5. Grandview University in Des Moines, Iowa
  6. Walnut Ridge in Johnston, Iowa
  7. Interstate Battery DGC in Urbandale, Iowa
  8. Shuler Elementary School in Waukee, Iowa

I was happy to play the four smaller recreational courses as well! But today was mostly about unfinished business at Osceola, Pickard, Ewing and Walnut Ridge. Weather, work and/or time of day has forced me to reluctantly drive past Osceola and Pickard in the past. And last Winter, when I actually had the time to play Ewing and Walnut Ridge? Walnut Ridge was closed as I drove to the park gate, while I injured myself in the snow and ice a course or two prior to stopping at Ewing Park, and VERY reluctantly decided that I should not risk further injury.

Some of the Best Southern Iowa has to Offer - Tonn's Travels
View of the Course Welcome Sign and Hole 1 Tee at Osceola DGC in Osceola, Iowa.

My morning started at Osceola. 7,280 feet over eighteen holes, Osceola kicked my behind! I struggled my way to a -2 (62), but my estimated round rating didn’t even crack the 900s (899). My lack of power/distance on the tee right now was on painful display. And every hole where “drive #2” wasn’t spot-on from the fairway equaled a four on the card. Five 4s and two 5s to go along with one deuce (on the 207-foot Hole 6) doomed me. But I was still having fun, playing with blue sky and only wet grass. Wet feet, instead of having a wet everything. 🙂

Some of the Best Southern Iowa has to Offer - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 7 tee at Pickard Park in Indianola, Iowa.

After a quick six holes in St. Charles, Iowa, it was on to arguably one of the best courses in Iowa: Pickard Park in Indianola. I had forgotten that the course would be hosting a major PDGA tournament within a week of my visit, so I felt lucky not to be passing through town and unable to play! I did need to navigate golf carts and cars/vans on the course, as folks from the Des Moines area were working on the course this morning, getting it ready for the major sanctioned tournament. But it was easy enough to play around them, so I did my best.

Some of the Best Southern Iowa has to Offer - Tonn's Travels
View from where I sunk a long approach shot at Pickard Park.

My score on the 7,889-foot, eighteen-hole round was nothing to brag about…a +4 (67) and an estimated round rating of 876 (see: no power/distance off the tee killing my ability to card deuces and threes). But I did need to share at least one “humblebrag” from the course, as the photo above shows the spot where I made my longest shot of the trip so far (Hole 11? 12? 13? I forgot to write it down). Well over 100 feet! And after it left my hand, I was yelling to my Squall to GET DOWN! It heard me and listened…only to catch nothing but chains and come to a rest in the catcher portion of the basket. I let out a sigh of relief, as if it hadn’t hit the basket, that was going to be one tough putt to make from right of the basket.

After Pickard, it was on to Ewing Park, where I played MUCH better! A +2 (61) on this 8,015-foot MONSTER of an eighteen-hole course! But the terrain better matches my skills, plus my approach and putting game was spot-on the entire round (I don’t think I missed a single putt I could/should have realistically made). So I was rewarded with an estimated round rating of 992, which put a skip in my steps as I happily walked back to the car.

Some of the Best Southern Iowa has to Offer - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 3 tee at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Before continuing on to Walnut Ridge, I snuck in a quick nine holes at Grand View University. There were a lot of groundskeepers mowing and trimming around the front half of the course, but I made sure to wait until holes were absolutely clear (to not risk coming anywhere close to a safety incident). And fresh on the heels of showing Ewing Park who was boss (hehe)? I attacked those holes with confidence, to the tune of a -8 (19) and an estimated round rating of 988.

But that was just a warm-up/preview for the fourth of the “Big Four” courses I had on my To Play List today, Walnut Ridge Recreation Area. Another 7,749-foot eighteen-hole monster! My “heave-hos” with primarily my upper body (terrible form with my IT Band injury) were running out of both “heave” and “ho” by the time I made it to Walnut Ridge! 🙂 But I fought through the pain to manage a +1 (65) and a 949 estimated rating. I got to chat up several local players on the course, which was fun! And before I walked off Hole 18, I got to help one of those locals find his missing driver that had kicked DEEP left of the fairway on Hole 18. Leave no disc behind!

Some of the Best Southern Iowa has to Offer - Tonn's Travels
Course Map and Welcome Sign at Interstate Battery DGC in Urbandale, Iowa.

Sitting at 87 holes played on the day, I figured that I might as well see if I can get over 100 holes played again, so I found two more recreational courses to play. Interstate Battery DGC in Urbandale, which I had driven to once before (only to find the baskets had been pulled for the Winter), and Shuler Elementary School in Waukee. Fourteen more holes of disc golf (Shuler only has five holes), to get me to 101 holes on the day. But after playing Osceola, Pickard, Ewing and Walnut Ridge? I felt like I had played about 250 holes! And when I made it to FreshFitMeals in Urbandale to see if I could get myself a nice, healthy dinner? The young woman behind the counter took one look at the limping, sunburned, sweaty, dirty 50-year old mess in front of her and said: “You look like you could use a free smoothie!” 🙂 Yes, yes I could!

Today was a day! But a great day, as I had been wanting to play those four courses in Southern Iowa for years. Pickard, then Ewing, were my favorites! But all four were fun. I just hope I get the chance to play them again in the future when I am healthy. See what I can do when I can add another ~50-75 feet of driving distance off the tee.

Magic Number = 204 (1,796 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

Some of the Best Southern Iowa has to Offer - 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 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.