Players of All Skill Levels Encouraged to Participate in Women’s Disc Golf Clinic
Story by Nancy Saunders, Photos by Doug Reid
If you’ve walked around Boulevard Lake over the past 10 years, chances are good that you’ve seen people playing disc golf at the Birch Point Disc Golf Course. Eighteen disc golf baskets are spaced around the east side of the lake, and one can hear the clanging of chains (and often some cheering) when a disc lands in a basket. Disc golf is played in much the same way as traditional golf and with many of the same rules. Players start at a tee pad and throw a flying disc toward a target, picking up where their disc landed and throwing again until their disc makes it into the basket.
In addition to Birch Point, there are courses at Dragon Hills Golf Course, L’école secondaire catholique de La Vérendrye, and in Pass Lake, at Bayview Golf Course. The game is growing in popularity in Thunder Bay; this summer will see a number of tournaments scheduled to take place in the city. As well, a brand new women’s event, the Women’s Disc Golf Clinic is slated for the Birch Point course on May 8 from 10 am to noon. For a $10 registration fee, participants can take part in the clinic and also receive a free disc (paying $20 gets you two discs).
Holly Fleming, organizer of the upcoming women’s clinic, started playing disc golf in January 2020 and fell in love with the sport. “There’s a big push to get more women out playing and enjoying the sport, and also there’s the #respectHERgame movement, because there’s been a lot of talk about respect of women on the course,” says Fleming. According to their website, part of the #respectHERgame movement’s vision is “to build a strong, safe and welcoming disc golf community that will attract and retain more female athletes. We want disc golf to be a positive, richly diverse environment that is friendly to all and promotes joy.” Fleming’s event will embody these values by bringing together women of all ages and all skill levels who are interested in disc golf to meet other players, learn new skills, win prizes from sponsors like Top Link Disc Golf, local retailer The Loop Disc Golf, and more, and to eat pizza (from Eat Local Pizza).
When Danielle Duplisea, a long-time ultimate Frisbee player, moved to Thunder Bay to attend Lakehead University, she started going to Birch Point and quickly got the hang of disc golf. She started playing as often as she could, making it to the 2015 PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships. “What I really love about disc golf is how accessible it is to all ages,” she says. “I play with my parents who are in their 60s, and I play with my friends who have little kids.” Duplisea also appreciates how disc golf has been a way to see an area or parts of a new city that she maybe wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. “You can take three discs with you in your suitcase, and play and meet people in all these new places.”
Having been the only female competitor in local competition, Arlene Lahti would like to see more women involved in the sport and in competition. “When we play in tournaments in Thunder Bay, there are not enough women players to have different age categories,” she says. “I’ve played with people who are much younger than me and I have no chance. That’s why I would like to see the sport grow, especially among older women, so that it’s a little more fun when you know you have a chance to play against people of your own calibre.” She adds that she enjoys the game because it’s a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy being outdoors with friends. “It’s […] the camaraderie of being out with other ladies. It’s companionship, and somewhere to go to get fresh air and exercise.”
For more information and to register for the Women’s Disc Golf Clinic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and join the Birch Point Disc Golf group on Facebook.