More than 20 disc golfers, professionals and amateurs, descended on Beachfront Park on Sunday for the first-ever Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) tournament to take place there.
Jason Gill of Crescent City throws his tee shot at the beginning of Sunday’s disc golf tournament at Beachfront Park. WesCom News Service / Jef Hatch
Par Infinity, a disc golf club out of Humboldt County, directed the tournament, which drew competitors from as far north as Brookings to as far south as Eureka.
Tournament director Kelly Muth said the park offered a variety of features not available on other courses.
“This is a really nice park setting with the bay view,” she said. “It has good technical holes and some really good long holes that we don’t have on our courses down south.”
The setting drew professional disc golfer Rich Pelberg to the tournament.
“The reason I came out here is because the course is on the ocean and it’s a good course,” Pelberg said. “It has a lot of different holes than what I’m used to, and I expect to come out and have a good time.”
Gateway Education coordinator Ron Cole has been a driving force in raising the level of attention paid to disc golf in Crescent City.
“I’m extraordinarily excited about this tournament,” Cole said. “In 2003 when Gateway Education started talking about having a disc golf program, we had a multi-tiered plan. The first tier of the plan was to get the courses installed. The second was to develop the disc golf culture through tournaments and eventually have a PDGA tournament.”
Wild Rivers Disc Golf Club now has weekly Sunday tournaments and hosts a State of Jefferson tournament in the park every year in August.
Two of four planned courses — a beginner’s course at Joe Hamilton Elementary and the advanced course at Beachfront Park — have been installed and the club is seeking 30–40 acres of property to use for an intermediate course. The club is also involved in talks with Elk Valley Rancheria to develop a pro course.
“We’ve got the courses and we have the weekly tournaments,” Cole said, “but today was the first PDGA-sanctioned league tournament. Sure, it’s only a small league tournament, but it was PDGA-sanctioned — which means it puts us on the map.
It was part of an eight-event series that is sanctioned by the PDGA and “spread out over different courses,” Muth said. “We just want to shuffle in as many courses as we can in the event.”
The morning of the competition started out with a light drizzle but the sun was out by the time the competitors teed off at 11 a.m. and it stayed bright and sunny for the entire event.
Players in three divisions — A, B, and C — were randomly divided and sent to different starting holes to keep the tournament moving.
By the end of the day, victors had been crowned with an even split between the traveling club and the local players.
In the A group — containing all of the professionals — Tateki Noma took third, Brian Murphy took second and Jay Baehr took first. All three of the A-tier golfers are from Eureka.
Third place in Group B was a tie between Crescent City golfers Blaine Dodson and Enrique Duran. Second place went to Mike Kemp of Eureka and first place went to Kevin Mealue of Crescent City.
In the C group, Dan Weatherspoon of Crescent City took first place.
“I thought it went great,” Muth said at the end of the event. “I saw smiles and we had great weather.”
“I know everybody had fun,” he said. “People in my group were saying things like, ‘Wow, where has this been all my life? This is beautiful.’ ”