Eyes of the sports world will be turning to Johnson City when the calendar flips.
The PDGA Pro Masters Disc Golf World Championships are set to begin on Aug. 3 and finish up Aug. 7. The action will be split up between Harmon Hills in Fall Branch, Sugar Hollow in Bristol, Va., and Johnson City's Winged Deer Park.
“This will be an exciting event that brings together the best players over 40 to our area,” tournament director Tim Barr said. “This will certainly be an exciting event for our area and it will show that there are good courses in the area.
“We’ve got three courses rated inside the top 150 in the world by U-Disc, which is an app that is rated by the players. Harmon Hills was rated in the top 50.”
HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?
“A lot of the credit goes to Gavin Andrews because he got in contact with the people at PDGA and started looking around for what we had to do to host a major,” Barr said. “A few years ago, when we hosted the women’s event, they really liked the way we did it and we were fortunate enough to win a bid again.”
The event was originally scheduled to be in the area last year, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, was rescheduled for 2021.
“With the shutdown, people were looking for a safe way to get outside and socially distance,” Barr said. “Disc golf is perfect and the popularity just took off. With this big event that’s drawing in players from around the world, this will only help the city corral big events in the future.”
A LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE
All of the festivities actually begin on July 31 with the Divisional Doubles at Harmon Hills.
“What’s pretty cool is that we have a bunch of players coming that are over 70 and those are the people that got the sport started,” Barr said. “Disc golf started in the 1970s, so it’s pretty cool to have some of those people here. We’ve got plenty of former champions coming and it’s certainly going to be an exciting event.”
There will also be several social events and a players banquet on Aug. 2 at the Millennium Centre ballroom.
One can imagine that players coming in from all around the country and the globe will certainly add to the local economy.
“When we had the women’s event and that was only for three days, we had 156 players," Barr said. "And I remember someone saying that it added somewhere between $500,000 to $750,000 to the local economy.
“We’ve got people coming in here for this tournament and staying 10 to 11 days. And with well over 100 more than we had the last time, the economic impact could be much greater.”
Currently, there are more than 250 players registered, but Barr expects that number to increase significantly in the coming days.
“Registration is open until July 31 and there are still some spots available in the B Pool,” he said. “We’re still in need of volunteers, though. You don’t have to have any experience at all to help. There’s a link on the website where you can go to sign up.”