Kristy Shields is tentatively directing a women’s disc golf tournament in Cranbrook. Paul Rodgers file.

Kristy Shields is tentatively directing a women’s disc golf tournament in Cranbrook. Paul Rodgers file.

Women’s global disc golf tournament tentatively scheduled in Cranbrook

A women’s disc golf tournament dubbed the Idlewild Endeavour is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 8 at Idlewild Park in Cranbrook.

The tournament is scheduled to be held as part of the Professional Disc Golf Association’s (PDGA) Women’s Global Event (WGE). Registration cost is $40 and players will compete by playing two rounds of 18 holes at the Idlewild Disc Golf Course with others of similar ability and age.

At the event, scores will be rated and averaged to produce your global score, meaning that even though you’re playing with women in your own local event, you’ll actually be competing with women from all over the world at the same time.

There are a total of 23 divisions ranging from juniors to seniors and those who place in the top four of each division will get prizes from international sponsors, as well as local sponsors.

The tournament is organized by Kristy Shields, who heard about the event through the PDGA’s women’s committee who organize it.

“It was pretty straight forward,” Shields said. “Katelynn O’Neill and I got our team together and then just followed the processes. Booked Idlewild, registered event, looked into insurance, ordered player’s packs, started event promotion and reaching out to sponsors. We also have such a diverse group of disc golfers that there are so many connections and a wide variety of skills within.”

Shields has been involved with organizing other tournaments in the past, but has never had the title of Tournament Director.

“It definitely adds another element, but at the end of the day it takes a team to put on a great event and that is what we have here in the East Kootenays,” she said. “The PDGA also has plenty of resources to answer any questions a TD might have.”

She said the biggest challenge has been navigating the COVID restrictions, including creating contingency plans for a range of possible restrictions that could be in place at the time of the event.

“We will always put the safety of our community first and while we hope the event can go ahead in some fashion, the event may simply may not be an option,” Shields said. “We are currently in discussion with BC Disc Sports (BCDS), who have connections with Via Sport and the Provincial Health Authority who’ll guide us with COVID regulations, specific to disc golf.”

She said that while it’s impossible to predict what will happen, it is unlikely the event will be allowed to go ahead in its originally planned format, even with the protocols they planned to put in place, which include: wearing masks within 20 feet of the tee pads and baskets and when within six feet of another player, using digital scoring, registration and payouts, meaning awards would not be given out in person.

No spectators would be allowed, mini bottles of hand sanitizer were included in each player’s pack, sanitizer spray was to be set by each basket to spray after each use and many more.

If they can’t go ahead with the event as planned, they hope to still heard it virtually. This would entail players playing a round at some time over the weekend, take a photo and submit their score after.

Shields said she first heard of “frisbee golf” for the first time when she still lived in Australia and worked as PhysEd teacher, but she didn’t realize it was a fully developed sport until she moved to Fernie in 2014. There she met Innova Disc Golf Ambassador Serge Gosselin who introduced her to the game.

“While I wasn’t very ‘good’ at it initially, I started doing tournaments pretty quickly and loved everything about them and the sport on the whole,” Shields said.

She said that the disc golf community here in Cranbrook is amazing, inclusive and full of people who will offer words of encouragement and pointers to new players.

The sport can be intimidating for women to get into, however.

”It can definitely be intimidating for women to play in such a male dominated sport, especially if you’re fairly new,” she explained. “Watching everyone else throw much further can be demoralizing and you feel like you are slowing everyone down. But know that everyone is just there to have fun and play their own game. It is also a huge learning curve and usually by the end of your first round, you’ll be throwing twice as far.”

She added there’s so much she loves about the game of disc golf: the community aspect, travelling to try new courses (pre-COVID), learning new shots and developing her skills.

“When you hit the line, or make the putt that’s out of your range; that’s what keeps you coming back!”

When COVID allows, Shields said she hopes to start a women’s league in Cranbrook. She thinks the interest is already there and that it would be less intimidating for women to approach the game, have fun and learn at their own pace.

“We see the sport growing in diversity with more seniors and juniors playing,” Shields said. “The club will be organizing a range of leagues (when COVID allows), including beginners, advanced, juniors and seniors.”

She added she’d love to see a course built that is wheelchair accessible, similar to the one in Fernie.

Shields expected about 10 women to sign up for the event and was blown away to see 30 have already signed up, with ages ranging from 9 to 75. She hopes to hit the cap of 40 players.

You can learn more about the tournament and register for it by searching “Idlewild Endeavour” at www.discgolfscene.com

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