, 2023-01-18 09:30:00,
Having built Queen’s Park’s first disc golf course with his bare hands and a few good men five years ago, it would have been difficult for Jonny Ferrari to foresee Invercargill hosting the sport’s national championships — but here he is.
Now Disc Golf South Invercargill president, Mr Ferrari said he used to have to travel to Queenstown to play, until he convinced the Invercargill City Council to give consent to build a short course in the city’s Queen’s Park.
With funding from the Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) Community Trust, the short course was completed in November 2018 and the Disc Golf South Invercargill club formed shortly after.
The club opened an official championship-level course in Queen’s Park late last year, which will now be host to the ILT Southern Smash 2023 New Zealand National Disc Golf Championships in March.
“Hosting the national champs is a pretty massive opportunity, it’s massive for us. We’ve really grown leaps and bounds to get to where we are to do it.”
Mr Ferrari said the local club had grown quickly and now had more than 60 members.
“We’ve had the South Island champs last year; now this year we’re having a crack at nationals.”
He said the tournament had enrolled about 260 competitors, making it New Zealand’s biggest disc golfing event so far.
“We’re all stoked about it. The sport’s just taken off down here, so we’re absolutely rapt.”
Tour director for the New Zealand disc golf board, and Disc Golf South communications and event planning manager Braden Marsden said the club had to build up a bit of prestige before the tournament to show that region was worthy to put on an event that could host a lot of players.
“Tournaments in the past, we’ve had 70 [people] and then 100, and with the Covid alerts last year we still managed to have 120 people because we were running in a safe way … Now we’re looking at 260 this year — that’s beating the previous record by 100 players.”
Almost 50 competitors were attending from overseas, he said, including a few Australians and a handful from the United States.
Disc Golf Dunedin club member Tim McMullen had watched the sport grow for more than 40 years.
It “exploded” in popularity during the Covid-19 lockdowns, as it was one of the few sports that could be done while socially distancing.
It was also one of the few sports that continued to be performed on a professional level, bringing in new fans who wanted something to watch.
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