This blog post may be a little late, but it is none-the-less a well deserved one for such a significant event. Sometimes “life happens” and gets involved with our day to day schedules, but I will do my best to not let that impeded my blog posts… for this, I apologize for the tardiness. Now onto the post!
On the weekend from October 18th to October 20th, the 36th Annual Waterloo Disc Golf Classic, benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin, once again took place in the Fall weather of Austin, Texas.
This event annually takes place on the 3rd weekend of every October, rain or shine, and it always occurs on a “non-established” disc golf location and invites up to 90 players to come participate. This common set of criteria are the things that always sets the “spirit” of the annual Waterloo Classic apart from many other events in the Central Texas. This is also a great part of the excitement that draws in the large numbers of players, spectators, staff, and volunteers for the benefit of the charity and some great disc golf.
This year the Waterloo Disc Golf Club chose the location of the Hancock Golf Course. The Hancock Golf Course is one of Texas’ oldest golf courses and was founded in 1899 by Lewis Hancock, Jr. who was a former mayor of Austin. So this year, Austin’s first golf course was joined by Austin’s oldest disc golf event.
[36th Annual Event Logo]
The Hancock property is a city owned location and is run by the parks department. Being this was not a “private property” the Waterloo Disc Golf Club communicated, through its relationship with the parks department, for nearly a year to work out the negotiations for the use of this property for this specific event. With the constant communication and persistence to ensure everything was understood, the venture was successful and the Waterloo Club was able to rent the property for this unique “special event.”
A disc golf event had never been done here before, so it was a matter of communication and education between those new to disc golf and those who were new to setting up disc golf on a ball golf course.
This years course location, in all its uniqueness, desired an individuality and layout that only locals of Austin could provide. This year two local disc golf professionals were chosen to design two unique 18-hole courses that would encapsulate 36 holes. The designers were Joel Kelly of Innova Discs and Mike Olse of Vibram Discs. Working within the parameters and challenges of the golf course, they were able to use all of the unique features that ball golf avoids and blend it into the challenges that disc golfers desire.
[Courses Olse and Kelly layouts. The distances may be small, but they are very technical]
The designers were able to use the high bunkers, creeks, trees, pedestrian areas, and other unique zones to create a most challenging layout that provided you a great risk versus reward option. The additional benefit of the out-of-bounds: water, ponds, sand traps, greens, cart paths, and natural growth provided an intimidating mental obstacle for players. This encouraged them to fit their skilled shots into a field of play that would reward them with a positive outcome. In essence, these were all things that disc golfers crave to use and play in an event.
With two 18-hole courses designed, this was another monumental step for the annual Waterloo Classic. The club would be able to have two “flight groups” of disc golfers playing. Never before has the annual event had two courses, it always had access to locations that were only able to accommodate for one 18-hole course. WIth these standards now in place for the 36th Annual Waterloo Classic, the event would be able to set a player maximum of 180 players. Truly historical.
With the unique and large historical impact that this event was making on the Central Texas disc golf scene, it did not take long for the registration to fill up fast and bring in many disc golfers from all across Texas.
For the weekend event, there would be a Friday “Doubles” Format where you have the ability to play both courses with a partner, get your practice in, and continue to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House charity. On Saturday and Sunday, the event was dedicated to the “Singles” formats and hosted divisions.
At the start of the of the players meeting on Saturday emotions were all in buzz. Soon it led to a sense of excitement. During the normal players meeting speech about the event, remembering our fallen disc golfers over the past year, and thank you’s for those helping raise money for a great charity, the Waterloo Club took a moment to issue the “Spirit of Waterloo” award to Joel Kelly.
[Joel Kelly acceptance speech]
Not only was Joel Kelly a great course designer, but that he has dedicated himself to 15+ years of commitment to the local disc golf scene and these are the things that bring greatness to our sport. The “Spirit of Waterloo” is a unique and exceptional award given out only to a chosen few. It is not a consecutive award every year, there are sometimes a few years when it is not awarded.
The award is only given out when circumstances prevail that recognition should be bestowed. There are always many that are deserving of it, but only a select few receive it.
In a humbled grace, Joel Kelly accepted the award in true professionalism. He then dedicated it to everyone who helps support disc golf. He was a true stellar gentleman and professional that sets a commitment standard for many others to follow.
There were over 200 people in attendance and they emphatically applauded since they knew his award was well deserved.
After the players meeting, the cards were handed out and the competitive disc golf play took over. The course looked great, the Fall weather was perfect, the hosts of Hancock were accommodating, spectators had many vantage points to watch the action, and disc golf was in full effect as the two worlds of golf and disc golf merged into one.
Once the cards started coming in from the first rounds, many of the players could not hold back their excitement for the layout of the course and the event overall. Many have never played on a golf course, no less, had the chance to play disc golf on a golf course, so it’s historical importance continued on with each players smile as the cards were turned in.
[players looking at freshly posted scoring updates]
Overall, there were 176 players that participated. Some needed to drop out due to unforeseen events, but the memory was still made everlasting. Within the playing groups and event for the weekend, the Waterloo Classic truly lived up to its classic and historical nature. Here are some examples:
– The lowest PDGA Numbers registered were #133 and #200
– The highest PDGA Number registered was #61541
Break down of PDGA Information:
8 players with PDGA numbers between 1,000 – 4,999
24 players with PDGA numbers between 5,000 – 9,999
28 players with PDGA numbers between 10,000 – 19,999
30 players with PDGA numbers between 20,000 – 29,999
20 players with PDGA numbers between 30,000 – 39,999
24 players with PDGA numbers between 40,000 – 49,999
10 players with PDGA numbers between 50,000 – 59,999
4 players with PDGA numbers starting at 60,000 and higher
– 36 players in Master’s divisions (10 pro and 26 amateur)
– 54 players in Grandmaster divisions (20 pro and 34 amateur; including 4 amateur Grandmaster women)
– 13 players in Senior Grandmaster division (all amateur)
In total, with 103 players out of 176 total players competing in “Age 40 & up” divisions, plus a number of other players eligible to play there but chose instead to play Open, Advanced, Intermediate, and/or Recreational you could boast that the seasoned veteran disc golf community is strong and loyal to great events like these.
Additionally, you can vest interest in the fact that the newer generations of disc golfers will join these historical records and come back again. Year after year, great events like this keep the “Spirit of Waterloo” and the sport of disc golf growing.
[view event results here: http://www.pdga.com/tour/event/15884]
As a side note, not to leave too much of an “older” impression, several kids and younger adults played the event in the Recreational and Intermediate divisions, plus one Junior Girl participated (she was around the age of 7).
The event truly displayed that it does not matter what your skill level is or what your age is, but that events like this bring us all together in a positive influence for the love of a great sport.
By the end of the weekend, the 36th Annual Waterloo Classic started out with the historical implementations of a great event location, a great design integrating golf and disc golf, and it ended with a great impact for charity fundraising. In closing, the clubs goal was to raise $8,000 at the tournament, but with the outstanding work placed into the event, the Waterloo Disc Golf Club raised $10,750 for charity and literally shattered previous event amounts.
[many sponsors helped out]
With this great amount, the Waterloo Disc Golf Club donated $8,000 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and then allocated the remainder $2,750 for disc golf projects around the area.
The spectacular event of the 36th Annual Waterloo Disc Golf Classic will always be remembered for many things: from the challenge of play to the friendships that were made, everyone took away something of deep appreciation.
This event showcased the ability to bring some of the strongest disc golf traditions together, while involving community relationships, between public and private groups. The golf course community was enlightened by what disc golfers can do and the disc golf community was able to see the partnership a golf community can provide.
The 36th Annual Waterloo Disc Golf Classic was a “hole in one” for everyone involved and it truly set a historical standard that will be hard to follow.
Play Disc Golf. Play it forward.
*Disclaimer* I am a board member of the Waterloo Disc Golf and was directly involved in this event as a player, participant, and organizer, but all noted facts are accounted for to its utmost of accuracy. My passion is the same for the sport and the club. Play it forward.