Over the past few years, I have participated in several lively conversations about what makes a place to play disc golf a “course.” Specifically, how I have determined how many actual disc golf courses I have played over the years. Some people tell me that I should be using UDisc, the best disc golf app in the industry (by FAR). But I’ve always told them that there are two major problems with using UDisc (and not DGCourseReview.com) to count one’s total number of courses played:

  1. UDisc hasn’t been around for nearly as long, and never had hundreds of now-extinct disc golf courses added to their directory.
  2. How liberal UDisc is in determining what a course is.

I LOVE UDisc, don’t get me wrong! But seriously, just about anything can be considered a course in their directory. And this afternoon in Portland (Oregon) proved it.

When a Course Isn't a Course - Tonn's Travels
View from Hole 2 at Xerox DGC in Wilsonville, Oregon.

My first course on the day was Xerox DGC in Wilsonville. It is a course on private land but UDisc lists it as a course that is available to the general public. So I decided to take my chances. Halfway through my round, I saw a security vehicle driving slowly past, checking out the redheaded weirdo playing disc golf in the rain and mud! 🙂 But he left me alone, so I figured it was okay for me to be there. I didn’t play nearly as good as I wanted to, managing only a -5 (22) on the 2,195-foot recreational course! But DGCR said that was still good enough for an estimated round rating of 961. So the combination of that and me not needing to have an uncomfortable conversation with security officers was a win in my book.

When a Course Isn't a Course - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 1 tee at Kraxberger Middle School in Gladstone, Oregon.

My second stop on the day also attracted attention (only this time, local police), but again, they didn’t seem too concerned with my being there. 🙂 Kraxberger Middle School in Gladstone, Oregon was another shorter recreational course, measuring 2,431 feet over nine holes. This one basically had holes running immediately adjacent to private property and numerous fences. I’m sure that neighbors have complained with discs flying into their backyards and having the occasional trespassers…as with a lack of skill and/or a little wind, it would be incredibly easy to wind up on private property. I threw numerous “safeties” as a result, only managing a sub-par -3 (24) over nine holes. But that was MUCH better than knocking on some annoyed neighbor’s door, asking if I could go in their yard to retrieve a disc.

When a Course Isn't a Course - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 3 tee at Clackamas Community College Harmony DGC in Milwaukie, Oregon.

My third stop on the day was at Clackamas Community College in Milwaukie, Oregon. A short four-hole course that currently only plays as a three-hole course due to campus construction. A very easy pitch and putt, I yawned my way to a quick -3 (6), which DGCR said was only good enough for an estimated 843 rating. I guess you need to ace one of those three holes to crack the 900s…ha!

When a Course Isn't a Course - Tonn's Travels
Practice Basket at Wichita Park in Milwaukie, Oregon

Then came “Exhibit A, B and C” as to why I don’t use UDisc to determine my total number of courses played. “Exhibit A” was a single practice basket in Wichita Park (shown above). UDisc includes that practice basket on my map of unplayed courses…so I figured since I was in the neighborhood, it was a good opportunity to forever remove that “course” from my unplayed courses map. But other than making 7-8 putts (do I get to count them as 7-8 aces? ha), there really wasn’t much to see here.

When a Course Isn't a Course - Tonn's Travels
Practice Basket on N. Colonial Avenue in Portland, Oregon.

“Exhibit B” was much the same. I approached its location on Google Maps, expecting to find some type of park. Instead, I laughed as I found a single basket actually installed on public land, between the sidewalk and city street. The neighbor across the street was enjoying a cup of coffee on his porch, so I chatted him up a bit. Saying that I was in the neighborhood and wanted to check out the “course” on the property. He laughed and said: “Yeah, a lot of people do that.” I guess to pad their Courses Played number? 😉 Can I count the 7-8 putts I made on this basket as aces too?

When a Course Isn't a Course - Tonn's Travels
View of a backyard putting area at Arbor Beer Lodge in Portland, Oregon.

My final stop on the day, before catching the Max to head downtown to meet my wife and daughters at Powell’s, was Arbor Beer Lodge. The very friendly staff person behind the bar said I was welcome to take my Steady BL and head to their patio area, to try my luck at putting. I liked two of the putting challenges they had created, including the one seen in the above photo, where you needed to arch your putter in over a pallet. It took me two tries, but I got my second putt to catch nothing but chains.

So I guess I would ask anyone reading this post: Did I play three new courses on the day, or did I play six? DGCourseReview (and I) say that I played three new courses this afternoon, while UDisc says I played six. I think considering Wichita Park, Colonial Avenue and Arbor Beer Lodge as courses substantially cheapens what it means to have played a course! What it means to say you have played a large number of courses. But I know some people will count them. [sarcasm] Maybe I should start counting them too? It would sure make it a LOT easier to try and catch up to the players ahead of me on the overall courses played list. 😉 [/sarcasm]

Magic Number = -5 (2,005 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

When a Course Isn't a Course - 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.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Steve West

    I count practice areas, so I don’t have a problem with that. My count can be described as courses plus practice areas played.

    What I avoid is places where the landowner does not know about or want a course there. Just because someone made a map of where tees and targets could go does not make it a course, and it should not be listed at all in any directory.

    1. Olorin

      Steve, or another way to restate what you just said is that your “Real” course count equals your total minus Practice Areas. That’s what Derek said and what makes the most sense to me.

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