Thunder Bay – Sports – Disc golf is an outdoor activity that has grown in popularity during the pandemic due to participating athletes being able to play safely while adhering to COVID guidelines. The Northern Ontario Disc Golf Championship is planned for July 31 and August 1 and could be the first significant championship hosted in Thunder Bay since the pandemic shut down in March 2020.
The Tourism Investment Committee of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has approved $10,000 in financial support for the 2021 Northern Ontario Disc Golf Championships from the CEDC Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) Fund contingent on the hosting of the event as planned. The $10,000 from the CEDC MAT Event Fund will generate an estimated return on investment in the City of Thunder Bay of $12.96 for each dollar invested from the MAT.
“We recognize that the Covid situation is evolving but we are hopeful that the ongoing vaccine roll-out and the limited Covid case counts in Thunder Bay will help to further mitigate any risk covered by our Covid contingency plans,” said Chris Ozolins, the Executive Director of the Ontario Disc Sports Association. Chris is in Thunder Bay this weekend for a site visit along with two other event organizers Cara Hovius and Jeff MacKeigan both pro disc golfers.
The Northern Ontario Disc Golf Championships is a Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) sanctioned A-tier tournament, open to both professional and amateur players. The competition runs July 31 – August 1, 2021 with organizers looking to add festival activities in and around the championship to further promote the game.
“During the week leading up to the event, we are planning a disc golf festival-like atmosphere that will celebrate the sport of disc golf and will include additional events and activities such as flex starts, doubles events, and a board game night,” said Cara Hovius from Tilt Bridge Consulting & ChainLink Disc Golf.
Thunder Bay now has three disc golf courses – the Birch Point Course at Boulevard Lake run by the City of Thunder Bay with the other two venues at privately run golf courses. Dragon Hills Golf Course and Bayview Golf Course have disc golf setup to be played on the same layout as golf.
“The Thunder Bay region has three beautiful courses that are hidden disc golf treasures,” added Ozolins who has paid a number of visits to the city to promote game.
The Northern Ontario Disc Golf Championships have been held in Thunder Bay each year since the inaugural event in 2019. Participation and interest in the event has increased in each subsequent year.
“Our goal is to host a top-tier event, showcasing these courses to people across the country, and developing Thunder Bay into a Canadian disc golf destination,” said Ozolins pointing to a provincial and Canadian championship in coming years.
The 2019 event had 28 participants (mostly local participation), with some additional casual players. Last summer when the pandemic subsided the 2020 event drew 59 participants with some out-of-town participation.
“The 2021 event will provide an economic boost for the City of Thunder Bay especially to the local hotel and hospitality industry hit hard by the pandemic,” according to John Cameron, Sports Tourism Development Officer, Tourism Thunder Bay. “The economic impact from the event is estimated at $130,000 with over $100,000 of direct spending in the community from visitors and costs to run the event.”