Record turnout at disc golf championships

Hundreds of disc golfers have descended upon Invercargill for a shot at the national title in the New Zealand championships that will begin in the southern-most city midday today.

A practice day yesterday gave players the chance to get a feel for the Queens Park championship course prior to the Southern Smash New Zealand National Disc Golf Championships officially began today.

Tournament director Kelvin Jenkins said the tournament had a record turnout of 260 players who signed up from as far away as Australia, the United States and Germany.

"This is a first time down here hosting the national tournament, and as well as that it’ll be New Zealand’s biggest tournament, being at the 260 mark.

"It’s a big jump going from [the previous record of] 94 people in 2018 to 260 in 2023.

"The sport itself has grown massive over the last couple of years, to the to point where every tournament is selling out.

"I was chatting to a guy earlier who runs a telco tournament. He said his tournament sold out in 40 minutes."

Mapping out the course the day before the New Zealand National 
Mapping out the course the day before the New Zealand National Disc Golf Championships begins are (from left) local player Ethan Stout, Jackson Sullivan, of Auckland, Kevin Koster, of Australia, and Christopher Sinai, of Wellington. PHOTO: BEN TOMSETT
Disc golfer Benjamin Bielman had arrived in Invercargill from Florida for the event.

"I just played a huge tournament in Florida two weekends ago in what we would consider in the States a huge tournament about the same size as this.

"This course is much more challenging than the courses that I played in Florida. So this is impressive."

Marc Jacobs, originally from Calgary, Canada, has been living in New Zealand for the past 20 years and was part of its grassroots disc golf scene during the early days.

He has since played all over the world.

"The courses that we have here — the level of difficulty, the risk/reward, the challenge, the design — it’s got to to the point where [they’ve] really laid out great courses.

"When foreigners come here, I think they get a little bit of a surprise as to how difficult it is.

"They just think it might be a bit of a walk in the park."

Professional disc golfer Jackson Sullivan, touted as one of the best players in the country, said the Southern Smash was one of the biggest disc golf events in the country and one of the few titles he was yet to win.

There was some fierce competition in the tournament as the increasing popularity of the sport was widening the talent pool, he said.

The tournament runs at Queens Park Golf Course from today through to Sunday.

The prizegiving will be held on Sunday evening.