Disc golf tournament flies into Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Disc golf tournament flies into Snowmass

Jon MaletzAspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
A disc golfer tosses a putt at a basket at Snowmass Village. The inaugural Snowmassive Disc Golf Open lands at Snowmass on Friday. (Jeremy Swanson)

SNOWMASS VILLAGE The Town Councils approval of 18 additional baskets for Snowmass disc golf courses had Dave Elkan and Taka Sakai dreaming big last springFriday, those aspirations will come to fruition when Snowmass hosts the Snowmassive Disc Golf Open its first Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned event.Here at Snowmass, we like to do as big an event as possible, said Elkan, Snowmass Villages sponsorship and event marketing manager. This is something we pushed for. It gives us the chance to showcase one of our best-kept marketing secrets.That secret will soon be out. About 127 disc golf enthusiasts, young and old, amateur to professional, are expected to take to the slopes this weekend, Elkan said. He and tournament director Sakai originally envisioned a 54-hole event and a field of 270 five players compete on one hole at the same time. The areas record snowfall thwarted that ambitious plan, Elkan said. Remnants of the 450 inches of snow that blanketed the mountain this winter still linger on slopes above 9,500 feet.Consequently, organizers made the decision to shorten the tournament to 27 holes. That choice was ultimately a blessing in disguise, Sakai said.Because this is our trial run, we want it to go well. We dont want it to look like we threw together a tournament, added Sakai, who annually coordinates the smaller-scale Autumn Open tournament, which typically coincides with Snowmass Octoberfest. We want to present a nice course and have people go home and say, It was a great tournament and I want to go back and you should come, too. We dont want them to say, It was muddy and they shouldve only had this many holes open.Crews began work on the course just last week, but all 27 holes are laid out, Sakai said Saturday. The course was still muddy and wet. But, while weather forced the cancellation of last weekends second annual La Sportiva Trail Race Trifecta, conditions should be favorable by Friday. A Doubles Best tournament kicks off the action, then tournament participants will compete in 27 holes on both Saturday and Sunday.As of Saturday, nearly half the slots had been filled, Elkan said. The event is garnering its fair share of national interest, too groups from Iowa, Oregon and Texas have already signed up.Elkan said he is looking forward to showcasing one of Snowmass unique on-mountain activities (it is the states only ski resort with two 18-hole courses), one with broad appeal.Not everyone in the family is going to go and rent a mountain bike. At the same time, not everybody in the family wants to go on a nature hike, Elkan added. One thing we dont ever want to do is alienate anyone, especially because were so dependent on the family demographic. This is one event the whole family does. On Saturdays, every hole has a group of players on it. When its fun for everyone, its a winner.Participants will ride the Burlingame lift to the courses first hole. From there, theyll contend with a wide variety of different obstacles on a newly-designed tract. Construction and ski area updates dictate what parcel of land is set aside for disc golf each year, Sakai said.Most places have the same course every year, but ours is always different, Sakai added. Word is spreading and people are starting to come up and check it out.What sets the current configuration apart is its elevation changes the course starts at the top of the lift and winds down to the Snowmass Village Mall as well as variety, Sakai said. Competitors will face short and long holes, doglegs to the right and left, heavily wooded and wide open spaces. Water will also come into play.I play a lot of disc golf and have seen a lot of holes in this state, Sakai said. I have a good idea about what is fun to play.And he and Elkan hope Snowmass has what it takes to be a fixture on the professional disc golf calendar. While this weekends tournament is a PDGA Tier B event, the two have higher aspirations for the future.Time will tell.We dont mess around. We want to bring a national event here, Elkan said. This is just the start.jmaletz@aspentimes.com