Paradise pulls global guns

Ex-world champ: Avery Jenkins

Some of the world’s best disc golfers are coming to Paradise, near Glenorchy, for the biggest New Zealand tournament in the sport’s history.

The NZ Disc Golf Champs, running from this Friday till Sunday, are being jointly hosted by the Queenstown Disc Golf Club and Disc Golf Wanaka.

The record field of about 90 includes ex-world champion Avery Jenkins, three-time world women’s and current women’s masters world champion Des Reading, her hubby, five-times world putting champion Jay ‘Yeti’ Reading, and United States champion Jeremy Koling – all from the US.

World number 98 Manabu Kajiyama, of Japan, is the highest-ranked player in the field.

There’ll be about 10 Aussie disc golfers, NZ defending champion Martin Doerken, from Germany, and most of NZ’s top players including number one Simon Feasey of Auckland, and locals Hemi Te Awhitu and Ben Wiel-Lake, who are ranked two and three.

Big catch: Des Reading
Big catch: Des Reading

Jenkins, Koling and Jay ‘Yeti’ Reading are putting on workshops covering, respectively, backhand, forehand and putting.

Queenstowner James Smithells, who’s co-tournament director with Wanaka’s Martin Galley, says the strength of the field is helped by the nationals running straight after the Australian Open. But the stunning Paradise course, on the Paradise Trust property, is also a big attraction.

“Paradise has become the disc golf course in NZ,” Smithells says.

It’s normally only marked out for the Paradise Plates, held each March in conjunction with the Queenstown Classic.

To accommodate the numbers at this tournament, the course is being tweaked and extended from 18 to 27 basketed holes.

The shorter holes tend to be in beech forest and the longer ones in the open.

“We’ve got some uphill holes, which are always harder than they look, these amazing downhill holes where if you get it right you can go for miles, and some wicked rough, where if your disc goes in there you’ll be lucky to see it again,” Smithells says.

Players’ packs will include two discs specially made for the occasion.

The event starts this Friday with 27-hole doubles.

Then there’ll be 27-hole singles on Saturday and Sunday, climaxing with a ‘Super 6’ final where the top six players play an extra six holes.

Smithells says the tournament has taken almost a year to organise.

“[It] is intended to serve as a showcase for both this country and NZ disc golf”.