Today was a big day for me, as both a course collector and a stats/numbers/quants “wonk.” The day I became the fourth player in the history of the sport to reach 1,400 disc golf courses played. It always makes me a little reflective, sentimental, nostalgic. Thinking about the thousands of hours, the thousands of miles behind the wheel, spent to see and play courses across every corner of the United States. Along with portions of Canada, France and The Netherlands. How the journey, the experience, has changed me for the better. I am SO blessed, having been able to play some of the world’s best courses, as well as meet thousands of nice people along the way. Hearing all their stories. Hearing their passion for the sport, and how they are evangelists. Spreading the “Good News” as frisbetarians. 🙂
My day started at Duncan Park in Savannah, Missouri. A nine-hole course with some teeth…weighing in at 3,716 feet. Roughly 410 feet per hole. Put a 27 on the card. Not bad, considering how I don’t have the arm/drive to get out there more than about 350 feet off the tee. But with water coming into play on the final three holes, and the fact that my shoulder was just about done after a LOT of disc golf on the trip, I was pleased with that effort.
After Duncan, I made my way up to Maryville, to play the 18-hole course at NW Missouri State University. Had my ups and downs, trying to protect my left shoulder off the tee. But I managed to still shoot a 49 on the course, for an estimated round rating of 957. I didn’t like how a few of the holes ran parallel to roads and campus drives (a “theme” I seemed to encounter during my drive back home from Kansas City), but there were at least a handful of fun holes on the course. And for students looking to enjoy a recreational round or two? It is literally the only place for people to play within 27 miles in any direction. Kind of interesting…how there are SO many places for people to play in Southwest Iowa, but not nearly the quantity of courses available to enjoy in Northwest Missouri.
East Union School in Afton, Iowa was my next stop on my trip toward home. Perfect timing, with it being Sunday and the course being located on public school grounds. Okay/decent for a K-12 course, though I didn’t want to mess around with running chains on a few of the holes that had tall/thick rough. As I REALLY didn’t want to waste time searching for lost discs. Managed a 26 on that 3,081 foot course. Fine for a quick rec round. Though if I would have had spotters and/or been playing in an event, I would have done more to try and set-up deuce putts on Holes 2, 4 and 8. After East Union School, I played McKinley Park in Creston. Officially my 1,400th disc golf course played. Though I had no time to celebrate, as I was still trying to work one more course in before the skies opened up and some storms arrived in the area.
My final round on the day was at Southwestern College in Creston, Iowa. It was fun being on campus, as today was the day that freshmen were moving on to campus. All the arm-fulls of clothing and school supplies, all the dads helping carry in furniture while the moms did their best to triple-check the 124 items on their “To Do Lists,” doing their best not to cry and give their babies just ONE MORE hug! 🙂 I joke, of course. As joking/laughing keeps me from thinking about sending my oldest off to college in less than three years. It might be “Dad” nervously running through 124 items on a To Do List, asking for just ONE MORE hug, before Libby disappears into her dorm to begin life away from home [sigh].
After finishing the 18th hole at the College, a nice man named Joel Wires came up and asked me what I thought about the course. Turns out he works for the College’s Marketing Department, spending time on-campus photographing students and their families as they are getting ready for the start of Fall Term. Joel also is an avid disc golfer, playing numerous courses in the area, as well as helping with the re-design of the College’s course after a 2012 tornado (the course was originally designed by Mike Holmes). And after telling him about Tonn’s Travels, along with my designing eleven courses in Southwest Minnesota and Southeast South Dakota, he asked me for feedback and ideas on their course’s design.
It was fun, talking design with the designer of that course! And most of the ideas for improvements (safety, challenge) that I shared with Joel are things he had already been thinking about. Or in a few instances, a few of the current holes were the result of “making lemonade,” after losing numerous trees to a tornado a while back. Along with needing to re-configure a bit of the course to accommodate new construction on campus in recent years. Hopefully my ideas on a few things I might improve on the course were useful. Nothing too crazy! Just trying to have roads and campus drives come less into play on Holes 2-4, along with some changes to the way Holes 7, 12 and 13 are maintained.
Tomorrow I should push for home! I hope all goes well.
Magic Number = 599 (1,401 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 our “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 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.