Throwing everything at their sport

NZ Disc Golf Championship tournament organizer Haydn Shore and tournament director Daz Switalla at McLaren Falls disc golf course. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

It takes more than throwing a Frisbee in a park for your dog to catch.

Pro Disc Golf is a gruelling sport that requires great aim and a strong arm.

Disc Golf is a flying sport in which players throw a disc at a target. Using rules similar to golf, players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee area towards a metal basket, while avoiding obstacles like trees and water holes.

On February 7, the best of the best will be swinging by Tauranga for the 2019 NZ Disc Golf Championships, presented by Discmania, at McLaren Falls Disc Golf Course.

“It is a sanctioned Pro/Am PDGA B Tier event, which means it is on a world schedule for disc golf events,” says organiser Haydn Shore.

“Top players have a chance at winning money as well as prizes. All scores are registered on the international system and all players then gain an internationally recognised rating.

“We will have one of the biggest turn outs in the national New Zealand disc golf championships, with around 85 players already signed up.”

Haydn says the sport is definitely one for spectators, with players throwing to distances most people wouldn’t have known was possible.

“On average, a good player can throw 120 to 130 metres, and the world record is something like 300 metres. Obviously that would have been under certain weather conditions.”

Weather plays a big part in how far a disc goes, requiring players to choose the right discs to work best for the conditions.

“For the range of discs you buy, some of them do well in the headwind and some of them do better in a tailwind.”

There are thousands of different types of discs - different shapes, sizes and geometry, such as sharp or rounded at the edges, which make the disc perform well against certain obstacles. Each disc will also weigh between 150-180 grams - outside of that is non-sanctioned.

“A beginner only really needs one or two discs, but these guys at this tournament will carry up to 30 discs.”

Haydn says when the Tauranga Disc Golf Association were given the opportunity to run the event, Logan Gemmell and himself, who have some event coordinator experience, instantly volunteered to ensure the tournament reached its potential at such a fantastic location

He says McLaren Falls Disc Golf Course has everything a good course needs - plenty of variety of shots, challenging elevation changes, native bush, water hazards, an onsite lodge and beautiful scenery. The McLaren Falls course is rated as one of the best in the country.

“There’s lots of courses around the country, but McLaren Falls has all of the aspects to make a world class course. It has gradient, so sometimes you’ll be able to tee off what feels like a mountain top.

The course has also been extended to accommodate more players, and now sits at 30 holes instead of 18, providing additional challenges to an already demanding course.

“We’ve also added in a few holes to make it a little bit less gruelling. The holes are still challenging, but we’ve added in some shorter holes or less technical holes that give you a bit of a breather.”

As well as the main event, there will be field events including two exciting short formats - the Discshop NZ Longest Drive and Gull NZ Putting Championships. There will also be night golf, live music and a banquet on the Saturday night, with players invited to stay on and enjoy the festivities.

There will also be live video feeds, live scoring and a big screen for watching other players.

“It would be great to get some spectators along,” says Haydn. “There’s some pretty cool stuff being done. These top guys know how to throw it and they can throw it in all sort of crazy shapes.”

The 2019 NZ Disc Golf Championships is runs from February 7-10 at McLaren Falls Disc Golf Course at 190 McLaren Falls Road. For more information, visit the Tauranga Disc Golf Facebook Page.