Disc golf national tournament comes to Kamloops

The Kamloops Disc Golf Club is hosting the Canadian Disc Golf Championship in Kamloops on June 18 and 19. The competition will be held at the two Rosehill disc golf courses in Kamloops and at the Copper Ridge course in Logan Lake.

Over 70 players from across the country will be in Kamloops for this national competition, including the 2010 world champion Eric McCabe.

Disc golf is a sport played with similar rules to traditional ball golf.

“But instead of balls and clubs, we have specially designed Frisbees. Instead of a hole, we have a target, most commonly a chained basket or a tonal pole,” explained Carrie Neal, Kamloops Disc Golf Club president and tournament director for the national championship.

“It’s a fairly easy game to progress at,” said Peter Smith, a local disc golf player who designed and built a course at the Dick Hart Park in Heffley Creek. “The rules are basically the same as ball golf. Each hole has a designated par for it. You start at a tee pad and make your way towards the target. Either you hit a tonal pole which makes noise or you throw it into a basket.”

Each throw is considered a stroke. The objective of the game is to hit the target in the fewest number of strokes.

You won’t see regular beachside Frisbee throwing here. Just like golf, the sport is all about precision and accuracy, relying on the athlete’s ability to dodge obstacles with throwing prowess. It’s also about power. Neal said the record throw spans about three football fields in length.

From its grassroots beginning in California in the 1970s, disc golf has acquired a massive loyal following in the U.S. The sport came to Canada soon after, but has just recently started to take off. According to 2010 statistics from the Professional Disc Golf Association, there are over 13,000 pro disc golfers in the U.S. and 220 in Canada (58 from B.C.).

Disc golf has many attractions, but the biggest one is the lack of expense.
“Other than the cost of your disc, it’s free to play,” said Neal. The cost of discs range from $13 to $25 depending on the type purchased.

“Just like traditional golf they’re like clubs, so we have different types, different plastics, different moulds,” explained Neal.

“Really you need one disc to start off with,” said Smith. “I play with 15 discs because they’re designed to fly differently. They fly farther and they fly in different patterns.”

Discs are built to be aerodynamic so they’re smaller in diameter and are thinner than regular Frisbees. They’re also made of heavier plastic for better durability.

There’s no dress code in disc golf and it’s eco-friendly.

“We work with the lay of the land,” said Neal. “The odd tree has to get cut down or trimmed, but typically when you go to look for a disc golf course, you look for natural fairways and natural landing areas.”

It’s also family friendly and pet friendly. “As long as your dog’s on a leash and you’re cleaning up after them, your dogs can come,” she added.

People who are interested in learning how to play the sport can sign up for a clinic at the nationals. Two beginner clinics will be hosted by McCabe where people can learn how to approach, putt and drive. Clinics can also be arranged with the KDGC.

For more information on the sport or to volunteer at the tournament, visit www.kdgc.com.

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