Tournament season is kicking off early this year for East Kootenay disc golf as Cranbrook’s Casey Hanemayer held the first-ever Rocket Bear disc golf tournament on Saturday, April 16.
This was a special event for a number of reasons. It was a two-round, PDGA sanctioned C-tier event with one round held at Wycliffe Regional Park, which just opened that weekend — a very exciting day for area disc golfers — and one round at Mission Hills Golf Course in Cranbrook.
This is the second time in 2022 that a pop-up disc golf tournament has taken place on a ball golf course, the first being the inaugural Flannel Fling back in February, but the first time at Mission Hills.
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Hanemayer’s mom Jerri Hanemayer runs Mission Hills and so it was relatively straight forward to get them on board to host the tournament, which also served as fundraiser for Hanemayer’s upcoming season when he will play numerous events on the Disc Golf Pro Tour in the United States.
The Dynamic Discs Open in Emporia KS. on April 28 to May 1 is his first event, then he will head to Colorado for The 303 Open, before playing pro tour events in California, Oregon and Minnesota.
Hanemayer’s inaugural Rocket Bear had spots for 65 competitors and the event sold out. Combined with raffle ticket sales for some amazing prizes, the event was a true success and will help support Hanemayer a great deal.
“I’m super, super happy for the support,” Hanemayer said. “I got a bunch of people from Alberta, a bunch of people from the West Kootenay and I was super surprised, even some people from Kelowna came down. I’m just super excited for everyone supporting me and it definitely is going to help me go tour down in the States and to go across east to the World Championships.”
Hanemayer said his main goals on tour are to see how his skills stack up against the best players in the world and his biggest aspiration is to finish in the top 15 at a Pro Tour event this summer.
While he just took a week off to focus his energies on organizing the tournament, Hanemayer said his game is feeling strong ahead of departing to compete later this month.
“Right now, I haven’t played in a week so I’m feeling pretty blah right now, but when I was playing every day a couple weeks ago I was shooting 10 down pretty much every round at the Cranbrook Course so my game is feeling really good,” he said. “My putt was feeling good and I wasn’t trying to throw hard it was just coming out smooth and easy so I’m happy with where it was. I want to get on top of that before I go down.”
This wasn’t the first time Hanemayer has been Tournament Director (TD) of an event, he’s played that role at the Sam Steele events several times, and helped out elsewhere, but this was the first time he solo TD’ed a PDGA sanctioned tournament.
“This is the first time and I didn’t play and just fully TD’ed,” he said. “It was really weird, it was the first time I’ve actually just kind of watched disc golf. It was nice actually, it was nice that I was just here and watching and making sure I had everything set up, and I think it ran fairly smooth for a first time running a tournament.”
He added he hopes to see the Rocket Bear become an annual tournament, saying he was extremely appreciative to everyone who brought out a basket to Mission Hills, especially Jesse Tomalty who brought nine of his own from Invermere.
“People responded really well to the pop up course so hopefully Mission Hills is on board and eventually, hopefully they get a full, permanent course at Mission Hills here,” Hanemayer said.
The event saw stiff competition through two rounds at very different courses, encouraging a wide range of play styles and abilities. Jeremey Gauthier from Edmonton won the Men’s Pro division and Cranbrook’s Kristy Shields won in the Pro Women Division.