Time to go for shot and hole out at the Foxwood Open Disc Golf Tournament

By Susan Cook-Scheerer

While most sports competitions have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, one major tournament will take place in Waterloo Region this week. Darrell Bankes is Tournament Director for the Foxwood Open Disc Golf Tournament happening August 29-30 at the Golf North property in Baden. 

“This is a US Disc Golf Championship qualifier, so it's a very important tournament,” says Bankes. “It's the only qualifier being played in Canada this year.” 

The Foxwood Open, which will showcase some of the best Ontario players in the sport, is also a testament to how popular disc golf has become. It was just 3 years ago that Foxwood decided to put in a 9-hole disc golf course to see if it would take off. And it did. In fact, there was so much demand for the sport that in 2019 Foxwood hired Bankes – who is also President of disc golf course design company TinLid – to design their first 18-hole course, which is called “Big White”. Golf North and Foxwood continued to do well with disc golf, and contracted Bankes again to build a second 18-hole layout: “Big Red” opened this past spring. 

“I've probably built 15-20 disc golf courses in the past last 3 years,” Bankes says. “There are more courses every year and lots of people are becoming involved. Disc golf becoming less of a 'fringe' activity and more mainstream.”  

While the two 18-hole courses at Foxwood are tournament caliber and will provide a challenge for this weekend's competitors, Bankes says many free disc golf courses are popping up in public spaces like parks where anyone can play and enjoy the game. Courses are becoming popular add-ons for craft breweries: GoodLot Brewing in Rockwood has added a course so guests can enjoy a drink and a game at the same time. Bankes is also seeing more courses being developed on both public and high school properties. It's a great school activity he says, especially for these COVID times. “Kids get to be outside, they have their own disc, they don't have to touch each other, but they all get to play together while staying socially distant,” he explains. “And the kids also learn the good etiquette that disc golf teaches – patience, waiting for your turn, practice makes perfect, and so much more.” 

The Foxwood Open was originally scheduled to take place this past May, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Bankes says they're fortunate the qualifier can go ahead, because it's on a public golf course which is allowed to be open under Ontario's Stage 3 re-opening strategy. “Foxwood has followed all the mandates and regulations that have been put in place by local and provincial health authorities in order to be able to open as a ball golf course, so we are able to run this tournament, and run it safely,” he says. Some changes to the tournament needed to be made in order to adhere to those safety standards. For example, instead of a traditional shotgun start, all 140 players will show up for set tee times in order to endure proper distancing. But for the most part, the tournament will go ahead as normal. Foxwood is a ratings based tournament, meaning players will be playing against players ranked in the same skill level, regardless of age or gender. Each player will play two rounds of golf on Saturday and one round of golf on Sunday, with all players playing on both courses. The tournament has received support from several key sponsors, including Innova Disc Golf, Explore Waterloo Region, and Wellington Brewery. There will also be a generous payout for winners in the professional divisions, while amateur winners will be awarded prizes. Anyone wanting to catch some of the action can see video coverage of the Foxwood Open on the True North Disc Golf YouTube channel.  

While Bankes is excited about this year's tournament, he's already planning to make next year's Foxwood Open even bigger. “Along with the continued support of our community sponsors, we're working to find a title sponsor for the tournament,” he says. “We're also looking to double the size of this event for 2021, and bring over 200 players to Waterloo Region on the May long weekend.” 

A list of competitors and tee times for this weekend's Foxwood Open can be found on the Professional Disc Golf Association website. 

Foxwood Open
August 29-30, 2020
Foxwood Golf & Country Club, Baden ON

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