The Missouri river has breached its banks and closed down a huge portion of I-29 north. So a routine two hour drive took close to four. The choice of courses to play was pretty easy on day one; I played the course at Treasure Cove years before and was told that Seymour Smith was a really challenging course in Omaha, but it was on the bad side of town (think Cliff Drive). This point was driven home even further when Chris Boro – an Omaha Pro – witnessed a murder in the parking lot of the course just a few months earlier.
In general, if you arrive early enough you can avoid the murderers. This will help relax you and makes for a fine round of disc golf.
SEYMOUR SMITH – OMAHA
The first hole at Seymour is a warm up hole. Many course designers do this. Then the next five holes are pretty groovy. The course is built on the side of a hill but it’s not very steep. There is a creek that runs through the middle of the park, but it only comes into play on a few holes. The remaining holes are short shots that barely challenge a beginner. Perhaps the course was set short and it was our misfortune to see it on that particular morning, but overall the course was really just the first six holes. If you visit Omaha, play Treasure Cove on the Iowa side. It’s more challenging, more scenic (a hanging basket!), and has a lower mortality rate.
TUTHILL PARK – SIOUX FALLS
A mad dash up I-29 landed us in South Dakota and Tuthill Park. It was impossible to find Hole 1, so we started on 9. This half of Tuthill plays in an open field along a river – Long bombs with the basket hidden behind a tree, or next to the creek. After hole 15, you have to ask someone where the rest of the course is. Thankfully, we had someone to show us. Hole 16 is one of the best conceived holes in disc golf; Throwing diagonally up a hill from right to left into a treeline, with a serious slope to the left that has OB at the bottom of the hill. It’s a low ceiling shot, which gives you ten to fifteen feet to work with – Brutal and beautiful. You finish the course with some long walks between holes. But the long walk brings you to the top of a bluff and some nice rolling terrain. Hole 1 is the same dull wake-up shot you find everywhere, but then the course starts taunting you with long shots straight at the cliff edge. Beautiful holes – very tough. The real gem of the course is Hole 6. 500 feet, downhill, the disc must travel 300 to the left then a slow fade to the right. OB on either side of the fairway with thick trees with a thousand branches trying to grab your drive, with water directly behind the basket. We dumped our entire bags on the hole. I will often use the phrase SIGNATURE HOLE while writing. These holes are beautiful and dangerous and must be played, even if you skip the rest of the course. These holes make up part of the dream course in my head. Hole 6 at Tuthill Park is a signature hole. The course isn’t a killer, but it’s worth playing. All levels of players can enjoy it.
LINCOLN PARK – GRAND FORKS
The Missouri river takes a sharp turn to the left and heads to Wall Drug, in its place the Red river shows up from your right and leads you to Fargo, North Dakota. If you stop in Fargo you will find a small collection of well laid-out courses, but the real gem of the Red river basin is Grand Forks just an hour north of Fargo.
The flooding down south is nothing to the people of Grand Forks who watched their town take a bath fifteen years ago. They lost the whole town. Since then they learned a thing or two about water management and now Olly and Sven don’t worry about the river washing away their flannel sofas. Even with the Red river busting at the seams everywhere along its long journey north, Grand Forks was bone dry. A good thing too, because Lincoln Park is next to the river.
The terrain is flat with a maze of lovely trees spread about. Each hole is a variation of a basic theme; Go that way for a bit and then turn. Every hole is about 350 feet long with a handful of trees to navigate around. It’s a peaceful park but it lacks any super challenges. The good news is that there are two full 18 hole courses on site and you will always go home with all of your discs, but your arm will feel like jello.
HAPPYLAND – WINNIPEG
Inner city park doesn’t begin to describe it. Imagine if Kansas City built a course down either side of Brush creek at the plaza – for just two blocks. They built two pads and put up two baskets on each of the “9″ 200 foot holes. So you are playing 18, but at any moment you could play from one end of the course to the other and just create your own course. Each hole plays over a swampy creek and has to navigate a lot of low hanging branches. Though it looks easy, it plays rough. This is the course that everyone wants to build in their backyard, but with fewer drunks and less sewage running through it.
DIEFENBAKER – SASKATOON
The winds of Saskatoon are special. It’s like the air wants to leave Canada in a hurry. This factor makes this cool looking course a bit harder to play. The course is next to a river, but it’s not a factor in play. It plays short around small groves of trees and uses baskets which were built for the pizza pan days of disc golf. In fact, you can putt THROUGH the face mask pretty easily. There is one great hole, Hole 10. In the middle of the park, the town built a hill. They built it using terraces like a mini-Machu Pichu. And for one great shot, you have to drive 350 across the field and park a disc on a terrace only five feet wide. I believe it’s terrace three from the bottom of the hill. It’s also protected by trees and shrubs. Flickers and lefties would probably love this hole. We didn’t bring one with us, so I can’t say for sure. I will say that if there were wolverines on the hill, it would be Signature hole.
Leaving Canada brings you to Montana and the most dangerous course in the world… Diamond X.