Trying to make a living in a growing, yet still unquestionably niche sport, isn’t easy. Cranbrook’s Casey Hanemayer has played competitive disc golf for the past five years, and while it’s not always easy, he’s taken incredible strides to both develop his own game and grow the sport at home; having fun all the way along the journey.
“Disc golf isn’t the most glamorous lifestyle compared to most sports,” Hanemayer said. “It’s relatively new so it’s kind of just travelling around playing, camping, living out of the back of my car a bit, but since I love the sport it’s what I want to do for now anyway.”
Hanemayer has been active on the Alberta tour for about five years. This season he played in around 20 tournaments between Alberta and B.C.
“This year I had some ups and downs at the start of the season but towards the end of the season I started playing better golf and was trying to hit my 1000-rated mark and it’s almost happened.”
A player’s rating refers to the number that shows how close your average round scores are compared to the course rating while playing in competition, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). After this year’s season Hanemayer bumped his personal rating up to 999.
Once he crosses that 1000 milestone he will join an elite group of players. According to the PDGA there are less than 200 players in the world with ratings of 1000 or higher.
He also has been in talks with Innova Champion Discs, one of the oldest and most renown companies in the sport, for sponsorship. Once he crosses the 1000 mark they’ve told him it’s a very real possibility.
Currently he is sponsored by Clearwater Wealth Management and Ace Runners, a disc retailer out of Vancouver. He said that he’s incredibly grateful for their support as it helps allow him to travel and compete.
He said that he hopes to squeeze in a couple more tournaments over the off season in Vancouver where it’s a little warmer in an effort to bump up his rating.
Some of the notable highlights from this past season of play included placing in the top 10 of the two A-Tier tournaments he played in, including a second place finish at the Farragut State Open in Idaho.
“It was really awesome to kind of play to my potential in a bigger tournament down in the States,” he said. He added that next season he plans to go down to the U.S. for a month or two and play in some more of the bigger tournaments along the west coast.
He also made a trip to Estonia to compete in the Team Disc Golf World Championships where he got to play with and against some of the best players in the world.
Over the past few years Hanemayer has also travelled to places like Prince Edward Island to compete at the Canadian Nationals and Thailand to play in the Samui Swine Classic A-tier tournament.
You can watch him play in the latter on the Central Coast Disc Golf YouTube channel. Hanemayer plays on a card with United States Disc Golf Champion Nikko Locastro and World Champion Gregg Barsby and holds his own against some of the greatest to ever play the game.
Hanemayer has been playing competitively for five years, but his history with disc sports goes back to childhood. He grew up here in Cranbrook and his dad Morris was one of the designers and builders of the Cranbrook DGC. He moved to Lethbridge for a while where he spent his time working as a student trainer for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, working at a golf course, and of course playing Lethbridge’s disc golf courses.
Continuing to build upon what his dad helped to start, Hanemayer has been instrumental in growing the sport here in the East Kootenay, helping to design and build and secure funding for the two new courses that have sprouted up, and being deeply involved with tournament and league play.
The sport is definitely expanding here in B.C. and across Canada, but Hanemayer said that while he was competing over in Europe he noticed how much more developed it is there.
“I was talking to some of the Finnish players when I was at Team Disc Golf World Championships and they have over 700 courses in Finland with a lot of money from the sports council in Finland to put it towards disc golf every season which is really awesome,” he said. “That’s one thing if North America wants to keep up with Europe we’re going to have to do something like that for sure.”
“We’re behind the times,” he continued. “It would be awesome to have some sort of provincial funding and it’s a sport that anybody can play and a really little amount of equipment and little funding is needed. So it would be awesome to have some support from the government.”
In the near future, he’d like to see a course get built in Kimberley, have the existing courses in Cranbrook continue to be developed including adding nine more holes to the new course at Idlewild, and for A-Tier tournaments to be held here.
He said he’d love to see more involvement and financial aid from sports organizations and the provincial and municipal governments to assist the efforts of the grassroots movements started by local hard working disc golfing enthusiasts.
“We’ve been doing such a good job in Cranbrook,” he said. “A lot of people have been helping out and using a lot of their time and effort to put in three really awesome courses that we have in Cranbrook. It’s pretty amazing because we have such a small population but people really have been helping a lot in Cranbrook.”
In the mean time, he plans to keep in shape over the off season so as not to fall behind. A lot of the sport’s top players live in places like California where they can play year round.
“To shake the rust off we’ve got a winter putting league in Cranbrook here,” he said. “It’s lots of fun and there’s going to be more info on that if anybody wants to check it out on the Cranbrook Disc Golf Facebook page.”