Today was such a cool day for me. I got to share the fairways with my friends Cristina Palaganas Carlstrom, Paul Carlstrom, and Mike Harrington as Mike was able to play his 1,300th disc golf course at BRATS at Ann Arbor! But I also got to play three different courses designed by my long-time friend Terry Calhoun, including his home course design (BRATS).
I don’t know if I have told many people this story before, but Terry Calhoun (the father of Ben Calhoun, the player who, along with Gregg Hosfeld from Florida, were the first two players in the history of the sport to reach 1,000 disc golf courses played) is the person responsible for getting me back into the sport I love after a ~15-year hiatus from the late 1980s until the early 2000s.
Terry and I got to know one another through two different professional associations: University Web Developers and the Society for College and University Planning. And when I found out that I would need to meet with some potential Israeli business partners in Flint, Michigan one Fall day, I asked Terry if he might be interested in meeting. He said yes, and I later met with him at his office at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Our discussion about various business topics eventually drifted toward what we like to do when we’re not busy at work. I think I mentioned to Terry how I used to love golf, until being married, a homeowner, and a dad made it very difficult to afford greens fees. Terry then mentioned his love of disc golf, and I told him that I played quite a bit of “Frisbee golf” as a child in the 1970s and 1980s. He encouraged me to give disc golf a shot, sending me back home to Minnesota with a few of his discs. And the rest, as they say, is history. 🙂
Playing Terry’s course (BRATS) has LONG been on my bucket list. Not only as a course collector, but as Terry’s friend. And today was the day when I finally got to cross that item off my list. I managed to shoot a -2 (83) over 28 holes. I struggled a bit on “White” and “Blue!” But I put on a bit of a show on the “Red” portion of the course, shooting -7 over ten holes. That made me happy…knowing that for at least a third of a round? Terry could see a bit of the monster he had created with a disc in his hands (LOL). I chunked a few tee shots and putts on Blue and White! But I played Red about as good as it could be played. A fun memory.
Oh yes, before I forget! BRATS was my first chance to ever play on what Terry has named a “Gilbert Basket.” A basket that actually has two catchers instead of one. The extra catcher being on top of a typical basket. We of COURSE needed to play the two holes on his course with Gilberts as us needing to make our putts into the Gilbert! 🙂 And if my memory is correct, I think just about all of us made our putts into that top catcher (I know I got my two, which were essentially both drop-ins).
After getting a handshake and a hug before leaving BRATS, it was time for us to head over to our second Terry Calhoun-designed course of the day: Mary Beth Doyle Park in Ann Arbor. A super-short 3,570 feet over eighteen holes, it is a bunch of ace runs and deuces to be had! Although the wind was kicking up pretty good this afternoon, so I only managed a -8 (46) and an estimated round rating of 893. I also discovered that Cristina is about as scared of snakes as I am (if that is possible, ha!), after she came upon a white snake along the Hole 17 fairway. I don’t think I had ever heard of an actual white snake in the wild before today…unless you are talking about a band that was releasing albums when I was in high school. 🙂
After finishing up at Mary Beth Doyle, we proceeded to play at our third Terry Calhoun design of the day: Bandemer Park DGC in Ann Arbor. I’ve certainly had better rounds! Though I didn’t embarrass myself in front of Cristina and Mike, shooting a respectable -4 (23) and an estimated round rating of 940.
With daylight burning fast, we talked about finding ONE MORE COURSE that would help me creep close enough to hopefully reach 200 courses played in 2021 tomorrow. And after a quick review of UDisc to weigh our options, we decided to play Whitmore Lake Community DGC in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. A super-short 1,728 foot course, I definitely left something to be desired in my playing ability. I limped to the barn with a -3 (24) and an estimated round rating of 872. I think I was tired after a fun but emotional day. And after being spoiled in North Carolina with little to no wind for over a month? I had to suddenly figure out how to hit my stable/overstable lines again. I would throw understable 24/7/365 if course conditions allowed for it! Particularly as a LHBH player. But at least at Whitmore Lake, I just was not able to hit my lines and landing zones off the tee.
197 courses played in 2021 and counting! Here’s to hoping we get at least three more new courses played tomorrow.
Magic Number = 118 (1,882 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.
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.