Hinton hosts first pro disc golf tour event

Tyler Waugh Photo
The pro players were joined by amateur participants at the Foothills Disc Golf Challenge held Sept. 19 at the Hinton Disc Golf Course. Among the amateur  participants from around western Canada were locals like Isaac Cherry, who finished third in the junior under 15 division.

Tyler Waugh

The rain held off as more than 50 players – including 10 pros – competed in Hinton’s first sanctioned Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) event Sept. 19.

The Foothills Disc Golf Challenge has been a while in the making before making its debut as part of the North Woods Tour.

“It was amazing to be able to bring players of such high caliber to our course in Hinton. The tournament also attracted many intermediate and novice players from across the province, as word of mouth has spread about how unique and fun our course is,” said Tanya Nodder, who organized the event and was also part of the group who helped develop the course in Hinton.

“Pro players were really impressed with our technical, well-maintained course, especially considering it was designed and maintained by non professional disc golfers and volunteers.”

Nick Smith, a young professional disc golfer out of Edmonton, earned first place in the pro division with a score of nine under par over the course of two rounds, followed by Chad Gamelin of Sherwood Park, who finished with a total of  eight under par.

Local Matt Goodfellow earned second place in the advanced division, finishing four shots back of Andrew Noel of Edmonton with an eight over par. Hans van Klaveren earned second place in the men’s masters over 40 division, finishing six shots back with a 13 over par.

Other notable local finishes include John Duncan, who took first place in the novice division with a nine over par, and Isaac Cherry, who finished third in the junior under 15 division.

There was a Hinton Disc Golf Association event scheduled for Hinton earlier in the summer, but was postponed due to COVID. The PDGA approved tournament play again mid-summer and Nodder began taking steps to get the sanctioned event off the ground.

“Near the end of August I saw only one available weekend that didn’t have a tourney in our region, so I decided I would do it, and I quickly jumped on the last opportunity to request a PDGA tournament,” Nodder said, adding that there were approvals needed from the Town of Hinton and the PDGA.

“Once approvals were in place and I paid the sanctioning fee, it was just a matter of organizing the details, getting sponsors for prizes, and setting up the event page where players can find the tournament listed on the www.discgolfscene.com webpage and register online.”

COVID forced a couple of changes to protocol, including participants being required to sign a waiver, and also the move from a physical scorecard to online scoring.

“It worked very well, and had its challenges, mainly that many new players had never used it before, so there were some learning curves and lots of questions,” Nodder said.

“But in the end greatly saved time and manual calculations for scores and payouts.”

Nodder feels like this can become an annual event and that the inaugural competition provided some valuable feedback from participants, including the pros themselves.

One of the improvement suggestions was to cut a few more trees down off the fairway to create multiple lines out of the thickly treed areas where discs commonly land.

“Hitting trees is a theme on our course, but also creates a lot of fun when you get through! But this seems like a good suggestion,” said Nodder.

The other suggestion visiting had was the need for a designated parking lot. Expanding parking capacity is something the group is working on in partnership with the Town and the Hinton Mountain Bike Association.

Nodder reiterated that feedback was incredibly positive about the course.

“The course has been wonderfully maintained by the HDGA and volunteers this summer. With fairways raked, trails maintained, brush and grass trimmed, and the installation of the new teepads, the course looked great so there was nothing needed in preparation,” she said.

Nodder began playing disc golf in 2005 and started attending PDGA sanctioned events beginning in 2018. Besides organizing the sanctioned event on the weekend she also competed, finishing second in the ladies division.