ATHABASCA — Twenty-five young athletes from Alberta and B.C. landed on Athabasca’s fairways Aug. 18-19 to compete in the second-annual ‘C’-tier Alberta Junior Disc Golf Championship.
Youth competed across seven age categories in the two-round event on the 18-hole Rocky Lane Fairways course, located seven kilometres south of town, with some players as young as five competing. Gavin Beamish, 15, from Spruce Grove finished first overall, posting a cumulative score of 28-under par, which was 118.
Nolan Litvak, 16, who hails from Camrose, took home first-place in the mixed junior 18-and-under category, and has big ambitions for his future in the sport. Opening-round play started at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, while the final round kicked off just before 2 p.m., in which 22 players from around Alberta and B.C. participated.
“I’ll probably play until the end of October, and then putt in the winter,” said Litvak following the awards ceremony, and added that next season will be his first in the men’s professional open.
Calgary-based James Gullacher, 8, was awarded with Most Improved Player, which recognized the participant with the biggest change in score from last year’s event as he took first place in the mixed junior eight-and-under division.
Tournament director and executive director of Alberta Youth Disc Golf Eric Anderson said the event, and even the sport itself, is about more than scores and prizes.
“They’re not just playing a sport today, they’re learning some life skills,” he said. “I feel like what I’m doing isn’t just about disc golf, what I’m really doing is building community, building people, building character, that’s actually what it means to me.”
The inaugural championship was held in 2022 at WJ Homestead Disc Golf Course south of Calgary, and also saw 26 athletes compete.
Players who placed second and third in their division this year were awarded discs, and first-place winners received discs and trophies. Unofficial tournament results, player standings, and scorecards can be found here.
Disc golf, also known as frisbee golf, is a sport where players traverse 9- or 18-hole courses with frisbee-like discs, aim at ‘baskets’ rather than holes, and attempt to complete their rounds with the lowest throw-count possible.
A labour of love
Rocky Lane Fairways owner Greg Roszmann said maintaining the course and preparing for an event like the championship is a labour of love.
“Keeping the grounds groomed, all the branches trimmed, and all the lines marked to make it a good event takes quite a few hours, but it’s all worth it,” said Roszmann. “It’s just incredible for the kids to have a good time and enjoy what we have to offer for them and makes all the work worthwhile.”
Anderson is dedicated to promoting the sport and said that holding the championship in a place like Athabasca is a way to include players from more remote areas. It also didn’t hurt that the family-friendly atmosphere, accommodations, and amenities at Rocky Lane Fairways made it the perfect venue.
“For me, I think it’s incredible,” said Roszmann, and added “it brings people to town to showcase our community and what we have to offer, so it’s pretty cool.”