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A Shared Moment In Aussie Disc Golf

Rhys Kruger shaping up on Granite Mountain’s hole 17 exactly 12 months before in the 2018 Queensland Titles. Picture – Kingsley Flett

‘So what do you guys actually do?’ was a question thrown to one of the ADG board members at a tournament recently; and we get it – it’s sometimes hard to see what governance is, and the role it plays. But what unfolded recently, around what will  undoubtedly become one of the signature moments in the sports history, is a good example of what is possible when a local crew, their tournament, independent media and the ADG all pull together.

As soon as Queensland Disc Golf Championships TD and Granite Mountain owner , Nathan Lee messaged a few people with the news ‘Rhys just won with an ace’, we knew this was going to be a big story. So did everyone involved. Oscar Feldberg at Cut Roll Media, who’d filmed the event, bypassed his normal workflow and burned some late night oil to get the highlight posted up on his youtube channel as fast as he could. Our media guy used his connections with the sports biggest online publication Ultiworld, to get the video posted there and also worked late at night to knock-up a few hundred words to go with it.

Then, in a sign of how well Nate lee has communicated with his local media in recent years, the local Stanthorpe Border Post contacted the Granite Mountain crew, asking them about the tournament (not the other way around – can you believe that?) But Nate had been hospitalized with a severe bout of influenza. Thankfully Carmen Lee was available to give them an interview. We chipped-in with another press release to help the journalist write her article, while disc golf photographer extraordinaire Rhinda Larsen, kindly donated two high resolution pictures to go with the story.

Rhys Kruger used the press release and some of Rhinda’s pictures to spread the word among his local Gold Coast news outlets as well. It’s a moment like this, that has the potential to ‘jump the tracks’ and not just spread the word about our sport to the uninitiated, but convey it’s passion and skill. It seemed that everyone who cared, got behind this story as best they could.

Oh, and congratulations to Rhys Kruger on an amazing win.

Record numbers of Aussies competing overseas

The northern hemisphere summer of 2019 is proving to be the season that the most ever Aussie disc golfers have traveled internationally to compete. As the sport develops in Australia, we are starting to produce players who qualify for top level international competition. The Aussies travelling away to play are (from top left to bottom right):

Jonathan Jonas, Shaun Batey, Sue Summers, Kairi Koobakene, Ken-Kristjan Toomjoe, Priit Koiv, Matt Lamy, Archer Shaw, Ken Summers, Jacob Stanley and Andre-Kristopher Toomjoe; who are all heading to the WFDF 2019 World Team Disc Golf Championships (WTDGC) in Alutaguse, Ida-Virumaa, Estonia this August.

Jordan Wheeler is currently homeless, roaming the USA in a van and will be playing in the Pro World Championships in Preoria Illinois in August. Also Jordie has been on tour competing in a host of smaller tournaments as well as some National and Disc Golf Pro Tour events, like the Ledgestone Open and the Silver Cup.

Toosje Frequin is travelling with her good friend Cassie Sweetten, the queen of Aussie Disc Golf, to compete in the prestigious US Women’s Disc Golf Championships in Spotsylvania Virginia in September.

While Bruce McNaughton, Tim Bohan, Patrick Ferris Jr and Kim Holmes are all playing in the Amateur World Championships in York, Pennsylvania starting this week.

The best of luck from everyone in Australian Disc Golf to you all.


Australia’s 70th Disc Golf Course Installed

Melbourne Disc Golf Club members enjoying their new course, Picture – Carol Heath

Australia just had its 70th disc golf course installed this past week. Compared to most other recreational facilities, our sport imposes quite minimal hardware on the environment: in this case it’s nine baskets, eighteen tee-pads, a practice basket and some signage. The installation took a matter of days. But the real story of the Bald Hill Park Disc Golf course, in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, stretches back further than that. It’s a story of how driven individuals, clubs, municipalities and professional designers all come together to establish a community facility.

The story begins three and a half years ago at a Melbourne Disc Golf Club community league day in Aspendale. That day the City of Kingston Mayor, Councillor Georgina Oxley, along with Councillors David Eden and Tamsin Bearsley, saw disc golf for the first time, tried it for themselves and were sold on what it could bring to the community. Then the long process began.

‘It did seem to stall a few times’ Said Melbourne Disc Golf Club’s point-man for the project, Darren Stace-Smith. ‘There were initial meetings with the City of Kingston’s sports and recreation staff. They researched the feasibility of a few different parks and we worked hand-in-hand with them all the way. But it’s a big municipality, over 200,000 residents, so there are a lot of people who needed to, or just wanted to, have input. It all takes time. Everything was done with the support of the club (Melbourne Disc Golf Club). Members wrote letters of support and they got behind every community event we held.’

The Bald Hill Park story seems to be one of patience and persistence on many fronts. ‘Fergie (Recreational Activity Design’s Andrew Ferguson) was instrumental’, Darren said. ‘I know he went above and beyond plenty of times; patiently dealing with all of the requests that were made of him and, of course, being a major input on the design.’

‘There’s a lot of disc golfers who’d like these things to happen quickly’ said Andrew Furguson. ‘But you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. Especially with the city of Kingston. They were very diligent in ensuring this was going to be a top-class facility; so as well as evaluating the site, we also worked in with a risk management consulting firm and an environmental consultancy before engaging with the contractors themselves.’

The project survived a vote at three council meetings: one to begin consultation, one to approve the project and one to approve spending the money to install. ‘Bald Hill wasn’t always the council’s first choice,’ said Darren. ‘But I kept dragging it back into the conversation because it was definitely our preferred park’.

Fresh from enjoying the first round of doubles with his MDGC mates at the new course. Darren spoke of the positive reactions already seen from the locals. ‘Everyone I’ve talked to is excited about it’, he said. ‘One of the old blokes who came over had actually worked on the park from when they converted it from a rubbish tip. He knows where the old car bodies are buried, and his kids had planted some of the trees there. The park is criss-crossed with walking paths and most people tend to stick to them. Whereas the disc golf course uses a different area to that. The old fella noticed that and said that ‘it was nice to see the park being used for something else besides walking.’

In the community consultation process the course had an unprecedented high approval rating of close to 96% (where 50-60% is more the norm with projects that get the green light). Municipalities all over Australia are looking for ways to get people recreating in parks and, although we may be biased, we believe that disc golf is one of the best avenues for this.

After all of his work, Darren Stace-Smith was relieved when the project was confirmed. ‘When the contractor got hired to do the installation – that’s when I knew it was happening.’ He said. ‘We’d had an approved course map sitting there for a year but up until then I always worried the bottom might fall out of the project, until a month ago.’

‘It’s nice to have installed a course where there’s nothing left to do,’ Said Andrew. ‘Baskets, tee-pads, signage, a practice basket as well as all of the promotional material provided to the council. It’s fully completed. Now we’ll just work with them to help promote the course in the community.’

For more information about disc golf in Melbourne, contact the Melbourne Disc Golf Club.

(L to R) Chris Ronalds, Darren Stace-Smith and Paul Arden enjoying their new local course. Picture – Carol Heath

story by Kingsley Flett