The ADG Board aims beyond just being an administrator of our sport. We want to be an organization that develops its people. Tournament Directors are a critical channel that our sport flows through. Without enough confident, willing, and capable TD’s to run events we limit the social and competitive opportunities that Disc Golfers love; we also limit the public presence of our sport and consequentially constrain its growth.
Through the TD mentoring program we can provide a structured pathway for TD’s to gain confidence and experience to run tournaments. We can also recognize the competencies attained. Through this we can widen the pool of available tournament directors as well as positively impact the quality of tournaments in Australia.
We are very pleased to announce the completion of the pilot test of the ADG Tournament Director Mentoring Program. The first ADG Accredited Tournament Director is Mount Gambier’s Michelle Schulz who was mentored through the process of running the Crater Lakes Classic in March by Ryan Nicholson. Next off the rank was Sean Dobbs, proprietor of the Disc Golf Warehouse in Fremantle, who could not have found a more experienced TD mentor in Kris Kohout in co-TD’ing the Rob Hancock Memorial in Perth last weekend.
Click here for more information about the Tournament Director Mentoring Program.
After her stunning performance as a novice in the first round of the Two Heads Open in Tasmania, we caught up with Alice Si, from Adelaide, to learn a little bit more about her, and how she came to disc golf.
What sporting background did you have before Disc Golf?
I did a bit of Tae Kwon Do and rowing before I went to Scotland on a study exchange and found Ultimate. I’ve since played Ultimate for Australia and am currently captain of the women’s Ultimate club in Adelaide called Zig Theory.
What has been the biggest adjustment that you’ve had to make, coming from Ultimate?
The discs and techniques for throwing are quite different. The first time I threw a golf disc it just bent to the right. My backhand is ok now but I still struggle to throw a golf disc with my forehand – it seems like that technique is completely different.
You seem to have hit disc golf with a bit of a bang, throwing an 875 rated round in one of your first tournaments on a very difficult course. What athletic attributes do you think you bring to the sport?
I guess being an athlete in another sport helps with it. I already have some of the strength and technique to throw a disc with distance. I learned at the elite level of Ultimate that to play at your best you have to have all the actions automated so your body can take over and you don’t think too much about it. I feel that that in disc golf is similar in that I play best when I don’t think too much about it and just trust my throw.
How did you come to be playing Disc Golf?
I started playing disc golf after I moved to Adelaide with my partner Ben, who came here to do his PhD. A lot of the Outbreak men’s Ultimate club started playing disc golf during covid and we started playing with them as a social thing. To be honest I wasn’t really that into it at the beginning, but Ben was getting more into it and I went along with him. But then in a couple of league days I did really well, and I thought ‘why not keep going with it and see where it goes?’
What aspects of Disc Golf attract you?
The new crowd of people. Everyone in Adelaide has been so fun to play with and so friendly. I started playing Ultimate for similar reasons in Scotland. The course in Adelaide is accessible too. Being right near the CBD is seems that every time we go for a round, someone we know is there. I like the bag tag challenges too – it adds some competitive edge to it.
Travelling to Tasmania and playing in an Aussie A-Tier tournament suggests at least some commitment to disc golf. How much do you plan to play in the future?
I was in two minds about going to Tasmania, I think I mainly went for the holiday. But it was so much fun. I scored really well on my first round and I think I tend to play well when I’ve got talented people on my card. I managed to get some really good tips from them.
With Disc Golf I feel like I have waves of sometimes being really into it and feeling like ‘oh I should go out and practice putting a lot more’. Especially during and after a tournament when I’m riding that high I feel like I need to do a lot more in it. But then at other times I feel like my life is already quite busy, with full time work and captaining the Ultimate team, it’s really a balance thing for me at the moment.
Have you any goals yet in Disc Golf?
In one of those enthusiastic moments I applied for sponsorship with Sweet Chain Music which is a store based in New Zealand who had originally reached out to my partner Ben . So in the future I’ll be heading to a few more tournaments. At the moment I’m signed up to the Vic Open and I’m excited for that. But I’m just taking it one tournament at a time and seeing how much time I can allocate to it in my life.
If you are looking for a sign of the growth in disc golf in Australia, then these two pictures tell a tale. The first is the picture of the entire field for the 2010 Two heads Open at Poimena Reserve near Hobart in Tasmania (minus two that had left to catch an early flight and the photographer).
The second is the field for this year’s event. In the 15th year of its running this was the biggest attendance so far – 53 players from five states in a time when interstate travel is still difficult for many.
They competed on Australia’s oldest existing course, and one that is regarded by many to be among the best in the world. Tackling steep hills, unpredictable winds, rough terrain and the famous Poimena roll-aways.
It was a double roll-away 7 on the par-3 hole 5 in the first round that dented Darren Stace-Smith’s hopes, but he bounced back with one of the hottest tournament rounds on the ADG tour so far this year, a 6-under 55 that provisionally achieved a 1014 PDGA rating. Stace-Smith went on to win the event after a tense 9-hole final, by 4 throws from Chris Ronalds, with Tim Bohan in 3rd.
“I got Poimened early in my first round with that double roll-away on five” Stace-Smith said. “ I had to keep my wits about me from then on. Apart from that one hole I think I was still well under par. There’s a throw in the final 9 footage that I’ll laugh at. On the same hole I’ve thrown a putter to try to slowly get there. It was about 3m off the ground still when it sailed past the basket. It hit trees about 40m below the hole. If it gets past them it’s probably 250m away as the wind was perfect to keep it flying forever.”
It was Stace-Smith’s first win in the open division after dominating at MA1 in recent years. He puts his improvement down to a shift in his mental game. “I might be starting to develop a bit of fortitude, or stubbornness (not sure which as yet) is . I’ve fallen short a handful of times in recent memory, where I’ve had chances to win and let them slide away. I went into this one with a bit of extra intent, and tried my best to capture opportunities if they popped up. I tried to be patient and was hopeful that the chances to gain shots would present themselves.”
The 13 strong SA contingent was notable. In days gone by it was the famous Black Shirt Army from WA’s Perth Disc Golf Club that would roam the land, descend en masse on east coast tournaments and fly home with the trophies. Now it’s the red and black shirt army from South Australia doing the same thing. As the sport in SA grows, it is on a pace that might have it become the hotbed for disc golf in Australia before long.
Most Australian disc golfers who have been there, love Poimena with that unique passion that any person has for a beautiful landscape that holds their stories. These, however, are not often healthy two-way relationships. Poimena rarely loves anyone back. Ryan Nicholson, one of the leaders of South Australian disc golf, summed it up better than most.
“I had a fall onto my knee during round one; crossing the steep, wet and slippery road. I slid 3-4 meters down the road on my hands and feet and bled everywhere. Other than that, the course decimated my poor skills, poor decision making and rating. But I had a great time all-round. “
The ‘Two-Heads’ has become an institution on the Australian Disc Golf tour and the weekend at Poimena is on the bucket list of many disc golfers in Australia and around the world. With the growth of disc golf in Australia continuing and in hopeful anticipation of interstate travel being back to normal in 2022, look for the 2022 Two Heads to be even bigger.