Thursday, April 10, 2014
Disc golf players from across the country will hit the Hippodrome on April 16 for the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship.
The National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship has been in existence since 2007 and boasts a field of nearly 100 this year.
“The PDGA World's was hosted in Augusta in 2006 and the Hippodrome was one of the host courses,” Alan Kane, National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships general manager, said of the tournament. “After the World's were over, the folks at the Hippodrome wanted an event like that every year, but World's is a bid process, so Pete May, the founder of collegiate disc golf, came up with the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships. They had seven teams in 2007 and here we are seven years later with 95.”
The staggering growth of the tournament has come with more interest in the sport and an effort to get more tournaments to lead up to the Collegiate.
“It's really blown us away, we've had 50 percent in growth, again, so we went from 63 teams last year to 95 coming this year, from over 60 different schools,” Kane said.
“Our women's field more than doubled in size, we have six women's teams plus nine individual competitors coming. We started qualifiers two years ago, so teams have to go participate in these other events all year to get here. That's been able to spread interest, so we have 18 other events trying to get people to come play, so they're getting teams started. It's started to grow exponentially from all over. It was just the Southeast, for the first five years 85 percent of the teams were from the southeast, but now it's closer to 40 percent.”
John Borelli, owner of Killer B Disc Golf in the Hippodrome, is ecstatic for the new players who will be in the area.
“It's fantastic, it's our busiest week of the year, besides Christmas,” he said. “It's wonderful, I love all of the energy and all of the kids. They're only here four or five days, but you make those quick relationships and they are all happy. They are all happy to be here and to play. A lot of them have never been in a disc golf store this big, or a store at all, so they're all blown away. For the first few days they come in wide-eyed and excited about all of the merchandise.”
Borelli said the publicity from helping host the Collegiate helps spread the word about Killer B around the nation.
“It's great for Killer B,” he said. “We're getting our name out there nationally, piggy-backing on the Collegiates. The Collegiates are only going to get bigger, and I'm lucky to be involved in it.”
On the course, Kane has been working to ensure the playing surface will hold up with the large crowds that will be playing.
“We've done a huge amount of work out here, just trying to get all the courses ready for the huge field that we're going to have at the national championships,” Kane said.
The National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship will take place from April 16-19. Entry is free April 16 through 19, and is $10 on April 20 for the Championship. The Hippodrome Disc Golf Complex is located at 917 Atomic Road.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.