A disc golf tournament was held over the weekend in Campbell River, seeing both new and experienced players take part in the first competitive event since COVID-19 health restrictions were eased.
The two-day Hack’s Sporting Goods Disc Cup tournamentwas held June 19 and 20 at the Cooper’s Hawk Disc Golf Course in Willow Point Park. The event was organized to bring new players to the sport, build community and “just golf,” said Austen Hack, player and manager of Hack’s Sporting Goods, run by his grandfather, Manfred.
With provincial travel restrictions lifted, the tournament featured players not only from Campbell River but also from across B.C., including Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver.
Each day of the tournament featured three rounds over two divisions, red (shorter holes) and blue (longer holes). June 19 featured a singles tournament, in which 50 players — the limit set by the province — competed individually. There was also a kids’ division with three players, including a nine-year-old.
The winner of the red singles division was 14 year-old Matthew Ohnona, who travelled from Pender Island.
“He has a bright future in front of him,” said Hack. “It just goes to show it’s a sport where age doesn’t matter.”
June 20 saw 36 players competing in the doubles tournament, in which each player throws from the tee, then both team members continue to throw from whichever disc is closest to the basket, until they get one in. The red doubles final featured a dramatic finish, with leaders Dana Dunsmore and Darren Scott successfully fending off a team trailing close behind.
Both Dunsmore and Scott took up disc golf about a year-and-a-half ago, when other sports were sidelined because of the pandemic, and have since played whenever they can.
“When COVID stopped ball, we had to find something else competitive — we’re very competitive amongst our friends,” said Scott. “It saved our last year.”
The pair’s success shows it does not take years to start play well, said Hack. But playing often certainly helps.
“It’s just like people say — practice makes perfect,” he said. “The more you go out and play, then the more you get that understanding of the game.”
Many others have turned to disc golf — played outside and distanced from others — over the pandemic, resulting in the course becoming busier as of late.
“Sometimes on weeknights, you’re having to wait, because there’s two or three groups in front of you,” said Hack. “It’s definitely picked up.”
That growth may need to be accommodated, said Colin Filliter, Campbell River Disc Golf Club president.
“I think it’s time to start looking for a second course somewhere around Campbell River,” said Fillister. “We don’t quite have a solution for yet, but I think that’s the next step for growing the sport here.”
The 150-member club invests all membership fees back into the sport, including funding course improvements, which is made possible through a close relationship with the city’s parks department. Recently the club worked to make the course more welcoming to all player types by introducing ‘sprinter pads’ to its front nine holes, which cut the hole’s length by about half.
“Sprinter pads are good for young players, new players and seniors — anybody who just doesn’t feel comfortable playing from the longest distance,” he said.
To build on the sport’s momentum, the club is planning on hosting a local event in July as part of a tournament series throughout Vancouver Island. Hack’s is also planning to host another event in September.
“It’s good to get it going again,” said Fillister. “We’re seeing a lot of familiar faces again, but also a lot of new faces, because disc golf has just blown up.”