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Course Collecting in Iowa and Illinois: Tonn’s Travels

By in Course Design, Tonn's Travels on September 29, 2018

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Another day, another seven new courses played in the rain and wind. Today felt more like a “job” than a hobby or fun…as I needed to slosh around in wet, muddy ground while keeping my discs low to the ground in strong wind conditions. That said, I got to learn a lot about how NOT to design disc golf holes, as well as meet one incredibly nice, passionate person who loves disc golf!

View from the Hole 4 tee at Felderman Park in Bellevue, Iowa.

Felderman Park was my first stop on the day, and I was a bit stunned to see just how much the design of that course forces discs to fly over paved walking trails. Hole 4 (above) is a perfect example. Unless you go very wide to the left, which few/no players would do on the tee? That hole essentially has two, even three, points where your disc will be flying directly over the paved trail. And if someone using the trail is running or riding bike? Your disc could be on them before you ever saw them coming. Before they ever knew someone was using the disc golf course, much less the fact that a disc is flying at them. I’m not sure who designed that course, but it seems like a prime potential candidate for several safety improvements.

After finishing up at Felderman Park, I played three quick rounds in Illinois: Old Mill Park, Point Rock Park, and Merema. Shortly thereafter, I had the privilege of playing Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois on the day it officially opened to the public. As I pulled into the parking area, I was greeted by a smiling, friendly Nora Balayti. Nora was one of the people who was instrumental in getting disc golf installed at Lowell Park, and after a brief conversation, she offered to play my round with me.  She was such a ray of sunshine on a cold, rainy day!  I really enjoyed the ~30 minutes we got to spend talking and playing together.

Course Collecting in Iowa and Illinois: Tonn’s Travels

View from the Hole 7 tee at Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois.

Lowell Park was actually a topic of conversation at 3DISC recently, as other course designers were critical of the design work (completed in part by Eric McCabe from Dynamic Discs), citing several safety issues (tees for holes in other holes’ fairways, flight paths for discs off the tee running too close to roads in the park, etc.). I mentioned how that course had at least a few things I would change, for safety purposes. But I also mentioned that the course might not have even made the top three “least safe” courses I had played that day! And that before folks are critical of said design, it would help to speak with Eric, speak with locals in charge of the project, to gain a better understanding of how often those roads in the park are used for vehicular traffic. Not to mention learn more about any other constraints or parameters (set by park staff) that designers needed to adhere to.

After thanking Nora for her hospitality, I continued heading East…playing additional courses in Minooka and Frankfort Square (Illinois), before calling it a night in Northwest Indiana. Another good day’s “work,” playing another seven new courses!

Magic Number = 575 (1,425 Courses Played)


About Tonn’s Travels

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.

About Derek

Course Collecting in Iowa and Illinois: Tonn’s TravelsDerek 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.

Title: Disc Golf Courses Played by Derek Tonn






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Course Collecting in Iowa and Illinois: Tonn’s Travels
Derek Tonn

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