The average reader may be surprised to learn that disc golf tournaments even exist. Indeed, many people are still unfamiliar with the bastard cousin of traditional ball golf. Not only are these tournaments taking place all over the world, but they are drawing massive numbers of people into various disc golf meccas across the globe. These events are a notable boost to local economies, especially in small towns, but they’re also highly competitive events that will draw the best of the best. This was the case at the recent B.C. Open, held in Langley.
It is difficult to imagine the spectacle of more than 200 players congregating on the newly-built Raptor’s Knoll course. Picture hundreds of people carrying custom backpacks filled with a seemingly endless variety of brightly colored discs. These dedicated disc golfers come from all walks of life, in all shapes and sizes and cross all age ranges. The only thing you can be sure they all have in common is the absolute love, occasionally bordering on obsession, for the sport of disc golf. This is all too apparent when you give a listen to the chattering among the players. The talk is technical, full-on disc golf lingo is being used, strategies for attacking the challenges of the course are being shared and the smiles are everywhere. This is a massive group who have found their people.
The competition that comes out to an event like the B.C. Open is fierce. Make no mistake, the attendees are athletes who have committed hundreds of hours to practicing the perfect form, getting their discs out with enough spin to smash the chains dead flat. If you have never seen someone effortlessly making 30-foot shots, you may not fully understand what this means, but rest assured, it represents a ton of practice. The folks who led this tournament barely missed any of these, regardless of the division. It was a sight to behold and the Yukon was well-represented.
The tournament, known as an ‘A’ tier, consisted of three days of competition, with each division playing three rounds of 18 holes. The course, Raptor’s Knoll, is arguably one of the best and most challenging disc golf courses in Canada. Many players had their hopes and dreams of placing high in the standings shattered by just a few tough holes.
Such was not the case for Whitehorse’s own, Al Hill. Hill, coming off of a recent gold medal victory at Anchorage’s King of the Hill tournament, was able to play safe, or “boring” golf, as he called it, missing most of the course’s punishing out of bounds and shooting a +3 over par on his first round. This lead him into contention with the top of the standings for day two, or chase card, as it is called. Hill was joined on that card, tied for eighth place with Whitehorse disc golf advocate and Whitehorse Disc Golf Association club President, Ryan Norquay. A fine achievement for the Yukon’s disc golf scene. The day’s action was heated, but when the dust had settled, Hill had managed to continue his steady play, shooting par, to find his way onto the lead card in a multi-way tie for third place.
Day three saw many ups and down across all the scorecards in every division, as players struggled to balance risk and reward in an effort to pull themselves up in the rankings. Fortunately for Hill, he was able to stick to his game plan of “safe” golf, playing an excellent round, shooting an even par at the end. This put Hill in a comfortable second place finish, two strokes ahead of Edmonton’s Jeremy Gauthier, who took third. Chance Stad, of B.C., took the win with a -5 in the advanced division, playing an almost error-free final round. Whitehorse’s, Ben Monkman came in 33rd, while Norquay landed 24th.
There was plenty of action in other divisions, as after the first round they are organized by score. This was incredibly true in the case of Jamie Roddick, an Ontario transplant now living here playing for the Yukon. The young disc golf wizard was able to pull the lead in the intermediate division from day one, shooting an outstanding -5 under par. He was able to maintain first place through all three rounds, ending with a final score of -7. This was only Roddick’s second tournament to be sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), making his win all the more impressive. Josh Paton (full disclosure—the same one writing this piece) was able to recover from a devastating round two to land in 29th place in the same division.
As the tournament wound down and awards approached, the relief was palpable. As the weary golfers took their trophies, bags, carts and coolers and packed them away in their respective vehicles, there was a slight melancholy in the air. This quickly faded into talk of the next big tournament, who was going where and what the best courses were to hit between here and there. Only one thing was certain for these disc golfing maniacs—they will meet again soon to take on the next challenge. You can rest assured that, just like those discs left in the blackberries, they will be reunited.
Live round stats for PDGA-sanctioned events, as well as archived stats of previous tournaments can be found at PDGA.com, head over to check out how your Yukon disc golf team has been faring in the many events they attend, including the nationals, coming up in September in beautiful P.E.I.