One of the participants of the 12th annual Sam Steele Days disc golf tournament tees off on the first hole. Photo by Paul Rodgers

One of the participants of the 12th annual Sam Steele Days disc golf tournament tees off on the first hole. Photo by Paul Rodgers

Successful Sam Steele tournament highlights Cranbrook’s thriving disc golf community

Paul Rodgers

The 12th annual Sam Steele Days Disc Golf Tournament was yet another community built sports tournament that took place this past weekend. The tournament saw a 20 per cent increase from last year’s in the number of players that signed up to duke it out on the 18 hole course on the College of the Rockies campus.

Teepad Brad, organizer of the tournament, had countless people to thank including, their numerous local business sponsors such as the Heidout, Andres Electronics, Mike Mahar Painting and Bridge Interiors — but he also states his deep gratitude to the people who helped build and maintain the course, without whom the tournament could never have lasted as many years as it has. He mentioned Mike Walls, Ryan Bedell, Russ Peebles, Jeff Allen and Joe Kraljix as people essential to the course and tournaments past, present and future.

The tournament was divided into three divisions: pro, advanced and novice. In the pro category, Jesse Roberts took first place, Ben Loggains second and Kevin King third. In the advanced division Glen Lowey won with Jordan McKay taking second and Fraser Bowen in third. Lowey actually had the highest score of the day with a 52. Par for the course, in case you were wondering, is 54; 18 par three holes. For reference, I personally have been playing for two years and was quite pleased with my own score of 64.

“After this thing, he’s definitely moving up to pro next year,” says Teepad Brad with a chuckle.

Brad said the tournament, other than seeing a substantial increase in attendance, also benefited from more favourable weather conditions than last year’s.

“Last year our thousand dollar Andres tent blew away and was destroyed in the wind,” recalls Brad. “So weather always helps. We can attribute the turnout increase to the support of the Kinsmen and the weather I would say.”

He says the only negative element of the entire tournament was their payout system.

“We’re going to do more of a spread payout, so there’s one thing we’re going to correct for, the payout being a little bit more spread out for cash payout. That’s one thing we recognized that we failed at this year.”

For example, first place in the pro division was awarded $300 and the second place got, among other prizes, a Bluetooth speaker.

“We recognized our mistakes in the payout structure and not spreading out the cash a little bit more through the payout,” says Brad.

Brad says that moving forward, based on some of the input he’s heard from players in the tournament, they may look at making a larger scale more professional, possibly Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) sanctioned event in the future.

“I think part of the grumblings started from people wanting a bigger tournament, wanting a bigger event and if we push this event into a bigger event it’s just going to do the opposite and exclude probably the more casual, recreational players that want to get involved with the sport. So I think keeping this event at low cost, $20 or less and keeping it inclusive as a fun, family event, would be probably the smart thing to do.”

He says that what might they end up doing is creating one or two fall events, possibly one in spring next year as well, at the new course in Wycliffe with a higher entry fee and bigger payout.

“That should probably be it’s own animal, create a new tournament for something like that. That’s where my drive is, I’ve been in discussions with two other people that are eager and ready to run a fall tournament this year so we’ll wait and see what happens there and then, if that’s successful I might pass off this event to the Kinsmen and co-op with someone else or be a part of a group next year to run this tournament, but I want to put my efforts towards something bigger of course.”