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by Mark Cheffey
The discs were flying in Flower City Park Thursday.
One-hundred eighty golfers, both professional and amateur, competed in the first-ever Flower City Open Disc Golf Tournament Saturday, providing yet a new height for Palmyra’s reputation in the growing disc golf world.
“I’m very pleased,” said Chase Gordon, a disc golf enthusiast from Illinois who organized the event that drew participants from 11 states and from as far away as Utah.
He was also happy with the cool temperatures and wind when the tournament started at 9 a.m. sharp when compared to the all-day rain the day before.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Gordon said.
When first reported, Gordon, a first-time tournament organizer, was hoping to draw 120 golfers, but it ended up drawing interest from 230 people and ended up with the 180 maximum allowed for the national disc golf association sanctioned event.
Gordon said he is no stranger to disc golf tournaments and used what he had learned from others to fashion his first.
“I’ve played close to 50 tournaments over three years, so my goal was to take some of my favorite things and things that went well for this one,” Gordon said. “It hasn’t been completely smooth, but I’m pretty happy with how it has gone so far.”
He was definitely pleased with the local support both from the Palmyra Parks & Recreation Department as well as local volunteers.
“I never really expected them to help as much as they did,” Gordon said, noting the success in attracting local sponsorships and even T-shirts for all the participants.
Volunteers from Palmyra United Methodist Church also provided breakfast and lunch for the participants.
“And, on top of that, they’ve worked constantly to make these courses so good,” Gordon said of the local help.
For one of the local organizers, Chris Fountain, a member of the park board and a disc golf player himself, the tournament represented a new success for the park’s two courses, including the original “orange” and the new “black” course which runs through a wooded area.
“It’s way cool to see 180 people who have a love of being outside and throwing discs and playing a course we’ve put together in the community,” Fountain said.
Saturday’s event even drew some big names in the disc golf world, including Alan Wagner, who was in the top 10 in putting on the pro tour, and Ali Smith, the top women’s amateur.
The tournament’s top pro winner, Drew Cantrell, of Manchester, Mo., finished 13 under par for the two, 18-hole rounds, earning him $1,100 out of an $8,449 total purse.
Gordon is hopeful the event can be repeated in the future, but admitted he had to tone down enthusiasm during organizers’ meeting Friday evening.
“I had to stop everybody from talking and remind them we needed to get through this one first,” Gordon said. “But we do have some big ideas for next year.”