Ajax hosts 8th annual disc golf tournament
Aspen Mountain, with its rich history of mining and then skiing, also has a place in the history of frisbee golf.
In 1995, Aspen Mountain became the first ski resort with a disc golf course, and played host to the first annual Kiss the Sky Disc Golf Championship. While other ski resorts have since followed suit and installed links of their own, Aspen’s course – located near the summit of Ajax – remains the highest course, and arguably best, in the world.
On Saturday and Sunday, some 60 pros and amateurs from around the nation will test their skills on the terrain-laden links in the eighth annual Kiss the Sky tournament, a sanctioned event of the Professional Disc Golfers Association.
“Aspen was really our model for disc golf courses at ski resorts,” said tournament director Bill Wright, who also helped design Aspen’s so-called “Kiss the Sky” course. “Now we’ve got courses at Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Sol Vista, Vail and Beaver Creek and Snowmass. But Aspen was the first, and it continues to be the highest and, in my mind, the best in terms of layout and how it plays. It’s really neat.”
All 18 holes on the Aspen Mountain course are par 3, though on Saturday competitors will play an additional four holes that go straight downhill, for a two-day total of 40 holes. And just like golf, the player with the lowest combined score wins.
“It’s exactly the same as regular golf,” said Wright. “You’ve got the tee area and the basket hole – how many strokes does it take to get you there? And everyone carries a bag full of discs for the different shots – the putter, the driver – just like golf.”
Wright, who is also president of the World Flying Disc Federation, expects the top players to finish around 6 under par. Others, well, that’s why the Aspen course is also known as the “Kiss it Goodbye” course.
“You do tend to lose a few discs up there,” Wright admitted.
Spectators are invited to watch the two-day tournament. Fans can ride the gondola up to the course (at a cost of $16 for adults, $10 for youths 4 to 12), and follow players or just camp at a particular hole, like the tricky No. 14.
“These guys are pretty amazing,” Wright said. “They’re throwing discs that fly for 10 or 12 seconds, and accurately. That’s pretty cool to watch.”
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday made the official announcement that World Cup Alpine skiing is returning to Aspen Mountain in March with men’s super-G and downhill racing, part of a revamped schedule by the International Ski Federation for the 2022-23 season.