Disc golf dreams come true
VAIL — A true disc golfer can’t walk Vail Valley Drive without envisioning a course there.
On Sunday, those imaginary holes became a reality as 36 men and nine women tossed discs over Gore Creek, into and out of Ford Amphitheater, over volleyball players at the Vail Athletic Fields and through the backstop fences at the Ford Park softball fields.
It was the biggest event thus far for the Flying Eagle Disc Society, a growing organization in the valley that’s up to 140 dues-paying member from the 50 they started with four years ago. The event was part of the GoPro Mountain Games, which wrapped up in Vail on Sunday.
“It’s nice to get recognition from GoPro because they have so much influence in the adventure/mountain sports world,” said Lenny Siegel, a board member with Flying Eagle. “This event, having all these other sports alongside it, gives disc golf a big spotlight.”
Flying Eagle partnered with the Vail Valley Foundation and Vibram to bring the event to this year’s games.
“We’ve had a phenomenal reception,” Steve Dodge with Vibram said on Sunday. “The players are really loving the course. Players were telling me this is the first time they’ve had urban areas, fields and woods all in the one course.”
Teeing off in Ford Amphitheater, with concession stands serving beer and fans everywhere, gave that section of the course a real sporting event atmosphere.
“The fact that we had hundreds of people cheering our guys on, it just lit up our day, and last night people just couldn’t stop talking about how much fun that was,” Dodge said. “I’ve had more than a few people tell me that this has been the highlight of their life.”
The event saw about 120 entrants. Those participants were narrowed down in skills challenges on Saturday, as a way of ensuring only the most accurate would be threading the needle between the trees and the tennis courts at Ford Park at the big show on Sunday.
“Only 33 of those people were from our club,” Siegel said. “A lot of people came in from out of town to play.”
Also underway this weekend is a large disc golf tournament in Fort Morgan, which saw 180 or so participants. While the Fort Morgan event was a lot closer, Vinnie Castillo, of Fort Collins was one of many Front Range disc golfers to opt for the Vail event this weekend.
“You don’t get the vibe, the people, the atmosphere like this at any other events,” Castillo said. “Everything’s so nice — there’s bathrooms everywhere, live music; this is where you want to be.”
Siegel said he was hearing similar stories from guys such as Castillo all day.
“These are people that look to play disc golf every weekend,” Siegel said. “They’re traveling here, getting hotels here and spending money on meals here, and they’re happy to do it.”
Between the growth of Flying Eagle, the growth of the sport in general and the validation from the Vail Valley Foundation and GoPro in the form of a great disc golf event, Siegel said he sees more events like this one in the group’s future.
“Events like this could be the future of disc golf in our area,” he said.
Learn more about the Flying Eagle Disc Society by visiting http://flyingeagledisc.com/.