Golf

Official disc golf tournament coming to Hinson Lake

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Photo courtesy of Chris McDonald

A sign reads “Caution: Watch for flying discs” as a group of disc golfers tee off at Hinson Lake.

ROCKINGHAM — Hinson Lake will play host to its first ever Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned disc golf tournament this October.

The inaugural Hinson Lake Classic was born out of the Richmond County Disc Golf Club as a way to take local competition to the next level following a successful disc golf tournament put on with help from the Richmond County Young Professionals in 2019, according to Chris McDonald, an avid disc golfer and admin for the Facebook group “Richmond County Disc Golf Group.”

McDonald announced last week that the club had received approval from the City of Rockingham, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and state PDGA officials to hold the tournament. This follows the completion of the city’s most recent round of improvements to the Hinson Lake disc golf course, which added hard-surface tee boxes and new signage.

“The City is very pleased that our disc golf course will serve as a venue for an officially sanctioned event by the PDGA,” said Assistant City Manager John Massey. “We’re hopeful the event will draw more visitors to Rockingham.”

The tournament will be held on Oct. 24, 2021. Registration will open on Aug. 25. The event will allow up to 72 players who will be in groups of four as they progress through the course. For more information about the tournament, visit https://www.discgolfscene.com/tournaments/Hinson_Lake_Classic_2021.

The disc golf community in Richmond County is small, now breaching 100 people by McDonald’s estimation — and includes the likes of Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris — but it’s growing. The Richmond County Disc Golf Club formed in fall 2020 and is up to 49 members who are active and competitive in the sport.

“I’d say its a fairly ‘new’ sport for the area in terms of players consistently playing everyday, and going to tournaments around the region,” McDonald said in an email. “Whether it’s new players or seasoned players that have been playing for years there is a wide variety of playing levels and it’s amazing to see.”

He added that COVID helped the sport grow because the lack of indoor events and mass gatherings pushed people to reconnect with the outdoors with smaller groups of friends or family. It helps that disc golf is accessible both in terms of cost of equipment and in simplicity of concept.

“It was just the perfect storm for the boom of players,” McDonald said. “These effects were seen all over the country.”

The difference between a PDGA tournament and an unofficial tournament is that players’ scores and final placement go towards their PDGA rating, McDonald explained. The event will allow up to 72 players who will be in groups of four as they progress through the course.

McDonald, who first played disc golf at the top of Beech Mountain five years ago, but didn’t pick it up again until the pandemic, has high hopes for the local disc golf community. With the help of sponsors and donations, the club would fund course improvements and bring training clinics to the area to help new players get started. Eventually, he wants to see it included in the school curriculum with baskets and discs available at elementary schools.

“Any way to give back to the community as a whole is what I want to see, and to potentially help provide a new path and activity for someone who has no idea what this sport is!” he said.

For those new players, McDonald said not to let the sport scare you.

“You won’t go out day one and be the best player in the world. It will take practice, patience, and a phenomenal community like ours to help make you better,” he said. “This tournament would not be a reality without our current disc golf community. No matter how good you are you will be supported and rooted for when you play and I hope the tournament embodies this mindset that our locals have. Its new to most people, but I promise you’ll want to play once you experience it for the first time.”

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Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

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