The fast-growing sport of disc golf has drawn nearly 300 athletes from all over the world to Vermont, to test their skills and compete for more than $100,000 in prize money in the 2018 Professional Disc Golf World Championships.
Californian Drew Gibson is at Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch Resort, among the top-ranked disc golfers from 40 states and 9 countries competing.
“I think it’s only going to get bigger,” Gibson said of the sport of disc golf.
The sport’s 40-plus-year-old governing body said participation is just exploding, with more members joining the Professional Disc Golf Association each year, and more courses than ever to choose from.
“We used to give a ballpark number of about 5,000 courses across the globe, and now we’re estimating somewhere around 7,000 disc golf courses alone just in the United States,” Mike Downes of the Professional Disc Golf Association said.
Sai Ananda from Washington State both competes for prize money and pursues lucrative sponsorships.
Ananda showed necn and NBC 10 Boston her gear: discs of different weights and designs that are designed to fly various distances. Borrowing terms from traditional golf, she has discs that are used for long drives off the tee and ones that are better for putts from closer to the basket.
“While someone would be sweating a six-foot putt in golf, that’s maybe a 20-25 foot putt in disc golf,” Ananda said, drawing a comparison between the two sports.
Smugglers’ Notch is one of the many New England ski resorts that’s invested heavily in new offerings for warm-weather months.
In what would typically be a slow stretch after Labor Day but before fall foliage season, the destination is eager for the national spotlight on its 36-hole disc golf center, said resort spokesman Mike Chait.
“Word is getting out that Smugglers’ is the place to be for disc golf,” Chait told necn and NBC 10 Boston. “These events bring in so many people, and it’s only going upwards.”
The Professional Disc Golf World Championships run through Sunday. It is free for spectators to attend.
The event in Vermont features a record number of female competitors for a disc golf world championship, Downes said—50 of the 283 entrants are women.