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Sports commission scores disc golf world championships

April 22, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Professional Disc Golf Association
The Professional Disc Golf Association has more than 30,000 members. Photo via

West Michigan has won a bid to host some of the best professional disc golfers in the world.

The West Michigan Sports Commission, or WMSC, said last week that the Professional Disc Golf Association, or PDGA, will hold its first-ever Masters World Championships in Kent County in August 2017.

The association’s masters category is made up of competitors 40 and older.

The PDGA estimates the competition at several courses across Kent County, including the main course at Riverside Park, will bring up to 500 participants, generating $600,000 in direct visitor spending.

“This bid win is a testament to West Michigan’s diversity as a sporting event destination,” said Mike Guswiler, president, WMSC. “Our quantity and quality of disc golf courses, plus Michigan’s high number of PDGA members made us a desirable candidate for this world championship, and we’re honored to host the first one for the PDGA.”

The Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Sports Commission submitted the bid for the event with River City Disc Golf, and Mount Pleasant’s John Norkowski will serve as tournament director.

Riverside Park will serve as main course, hosting the preliminary schedule and final round.

Other courses played will include Lowell’s Fallasburg Park, Belmont’s Grand Rapids Rotary Park North, Byron Center’s Earl Brewer Park and Walker’s Johnson Park.

There are 15 disc golf courses in Kent County and 249 across the state, the third highest number in the nation. The state also hosts the second-most disc golf events annually, behind Texas.

“The Grand Rapids team submitted an exceptional bid to our selection team and board of directors to host this major championship,” said Michael Downes, national events director, PDGA. “Grand Rapids has always been seen as a hotbed for disc golf, and we felt it was time to showcase that energy and enthusiasm once again.”

Disc golf

Disc golf is played like traditional golf, but with flying discs instead of balls and clubs.

Just as in golf, the fewest strokes, or in this case, throws, wins.

There are 30,454 active members of the PDGA, growing from 9,629 in 2005.

There are more than 5,500 disc golf courses worldwide, with more than 4,300 of them in the U.S., according to the commission.

There are an estimated two million people who play the sport regularly.

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