The 2022 Flickline year has come to end and we couldn't be more thankful for our best season yet! Looking back now there was no way to know how this year would play out. Covid was still a major factor in the early stages of planning and it had been a few years since we had been together to really celebrate the joys of life, but slowly each event of the season found it's footing and thanks to some interesting weather and an incredible Tour Championship course we were able to finish the season on a high note.
This year we finally found our permanent spot for the Flickline Tour Championship. The Hillsborough Golf Club was already home to a wonderful 18 hole disc golf course nestled into the rolling hills and mature acadian forests that populate the area. This course also possess two of the most iconic holes you could ever hope to play in disc golf; the gypsum hole 9, and the covered bridge hole 16. For those players who were making their first ever trip here the 'classic' course was worth the journey alone but all the tournament players were treated to a wonderful new addition of 12 extra tournament holes that balanced distance and precision and risk and reward. Over the course of the year we have been taking feedback on how to make each division feel like the course layout they play challenges their skill set, and although we admit we haven't get it just perfect yet, each event we feel we are getting closer. Couple the new layout with Sundays high, swirling winds and every player who navigated the 60 holes here had to overcome all sorts of shot shaping, disc selection, and mental fortitude to leave the event with a smile still on their face.
Overall the scores and the level of play were a true testament of where our game is at in Atlantic Canada right now. All the divisions are now competitive and so many players are developing skill sets that allow them to improve every year it is amazing to think where we will be in 5 years. One of the true highlights of the weekend was the fact that we had 6 juniors competing. The way the layout and format worked for 12 holes each day one of the junior cards played right behind MPO lead card. It was one of the best parts of the entire tour season for me personally to hear the kids laughing and talking disc golf on every hole. When they made the island shots or any truly awesome throw you couldn't help but smile. There was hardly a golfer on the course this weekend that didn't say to themselves, 'I wish I had found the game when I was their age'. Not to mention several other junior age kids competing in the mixed AM divisions out there did pretty good too (more on that later!). In the end Griffen Giles claimed his first ever victory with an impressive final round of 4 under par. In second place we had a new player to the scene in Aiden Gallant. Aiden found the game through our Claude D Taylor course and with some support from his club decided to try out tournament play for the first time. It was great to see all 6 of these kids find their way here from different provinces. Now more than ever it feels like disc golf is becoming an option for youth. We couldn't be more proud of all them.
In FA2 we had another competitive field of 8 wonderful women. Maria Dunham was able to claim the come from behind victory after navigating the windy Sunday round to win by 2 strokes over Elizabeth Phippen. This was another joyous group of gals on the course that my card was lucky enough to cross paths with a few times. So many of their shots resulted in joyous hoots and hollers from their card mates that was a constant source of smiles every time you heard them cheering for each other. We here at Flickline are trying hard to make sure every division has a layout that finds balance challenging the skill set and offering fun to each player. I will fully admit that I haven't exactly found the exact secret sauce for this division but it is not for lack of trying. Next season we are fully committed to hearing the feedback from players and making it so this group of women feel the course layout they are playing is a fun, fair, and challenging adventure.
In MA2 we had another first time winner in Josh Penny. Josh is a competitive softball player and an overall athlete. He strong arm proved to be an asset on the open holes at Hillsborough as he was able to navigate the forward tees at fantastic 19 under par. Josh was one of 7 MA2 players to finish under par for the weekend. So many cards were competitive through all 30 holes that players have to work to win their card. This is another division that is seeing tremendous growth in both new players and elevated skill sets.
In MA40 we had another deep field and a runaway winner. Our current MA50 National Champion Mr. Darrell Chipp made the trip from Newfoundland to capture both the tour championship victory and the overall season title. We have written about Darrell before and we certainly will again but he is one of those players who studies the game understands he own skill set and mental focus in a way that few people do. His practice rounds are done with purposed and poise and it shows in his results this season. You will meet very few people in the world that love disc golf, and the personal competition associated with tournament play more than Darrell. If you are ever lucky enough to have the opportunity to join him for a round somewhere, take it. He even keeled demeanour and quiet concentration always make for an enjoyable day on the disc golf course. I know Darrell is looking to compete at a world championship in 2023 and with all that he has accomplished so far the sky remains the limit for him. Although first place in this division was decided early there were great battles all the way down the leader board. Scott Guthrie claimed second place as the only other player under par over third place finisher Donny Desroches.
In our premier Female Am division we had a wonderful back and forth battle between overall tour winner, Tanis Trainor and Lysiane (Lily) Soucy. When the 60 holes were completed it was Lily who claimed a two stroke victory for her first Flickline tournament win of the season. The FA1 division has been amazing this season. Our numbers are remaining strong and it seems like any of the women competing can claim victory on any given tournament. If you look back through the season so many events are won and lost by only a few strokes. Feedback from this group has been instrumental in providing more players with positive experiences. We hope that the 2022 season is yet another step along the pathway to Atlantic Canada becoming a leader in female friendly disc golf events.
Our MA1 division was once again a beast with only 1 player finishing under par. That player is now a familiar face on our disc golf scene in Dylan Goudy. We haven't quite run out of words to describe him yet but it is a true reflection of his commitment to the game that the 15 year old continues to find ways to win in all sorts of layouts and in all kinds of conditions. I was lucky enough to go see Dylan at his home outside of Yarmouth and the space that he practices on. His two baskets and infinite tee pads from 200 feet help explain why he is so smooth in his form. His kind and loving family probably help explain his maturity, but his focus is a gift all of his own making. Despite only playing 5 Flickline events this season Dylan claimed the overall MA1 tour title and for those efforts he was rewarded with 9 permanent DiscGolfPark baskets to open up the first disc golf course in Yarmouth on land owned by his dad. Lucky for Dylan (and the entire community of Yarmouth) Dylans father was generous enough to donate both the machine time and land to build a course only a few hundred meters from their house that will be open to the public in 2023. Dylans strong play this season not only cemented his place in disc golf in Atlantic Canada it might just shape the future of so many new players in his area. When Flickline offered up 9 baskets to the MA1 winner for a course to be opened to the public in the following calendar year this is the kind of outcome we could only dream of happening.
Now there were other amazing things to happen in this division too. Dylan McCarthy took home second place by one stroke over the 2022 Break Out Player of the Year, Antoni Richard. Almost no one puts more pressure on themselves to do well than Antoni and sometimes the fact that he is the second youngest player in this division might get lost. Antoni shot the hot round on Sunday in those brutal winds and his constant improvement over the 2022 season is nothing short of remarkable. All 3 players listed above are under 25 years old and they have undoubtably set the bar high for anyone who wants to win in the MA1 division in the near future. Every other player after these three were locked in their own tight battles. Spots 4-11 were all decided by 1 stroke. Disc golf in Atlantic Canada is thriving and here is the proof.
MP40 saw a wire to wire victory by HP's Adam Dowe over fellow club member Evan White. Adam was the only MP40 player to finish under par and his steady play was key to his victory. Adam was one of many people seeing the Hillsborough course for the first time and based on his reactions we know he will be back. Tight battles played out up and down this division as one stroke divided third and forth place and the final cash spot. One bad hole here was enough to sink a few players but Hillsborough in the high winds were enough to push even the most mentally sound players to the brink sometimes.
In MPO we were treated to extra holes as Kyle Reid picked up his first Flickline tour win of the season with a huge birdie on the first playoff hole over Nathan McCarthy. Kyle has been a cornerstone of disc golf in the Maritimes and has been playing since almost the first day of Beech Hill. His second shot on hole 1 in the playoff was as clutch as almost any shot you will see and Kyle has always had the ability to mix power drives with strong putting. Although his new work schedule has not allowed him to compete as much as he would have liked to this year it was great to see him take home another victory in his already solid career. That victory was earned after an amazing 50+ foot uphill birdie putt by Nathan McCarty to force the playoff. Nate had one of the craziest final rounds of disc golf you will ever see starting 6 over par on the first 5 hole with 3 consecutive double bogies. If you have ever played a round with Nathan you will know that not much phases him and after getting the slow start out of the way he went on to birdie 11 of the remain 24 holes. The 6 players who cashed in the Open division were the only ones to finish at par or better. Again it was a true reflection of both the course and the conditions to see so many strong players humbled. As one player recapped their event for me I realized how wild it was. This is a fairly accurate reflection of many peoples round (give or take a few minor details):
Tour championship in review
Holes played: 60
Birdies : 10
Pars : 29
Bogey : 21
Doubles or worse : 0
Band hits: 11
Skip off the top of baskets: 7
Cage hits: 4
Chain out putts: 0
OB strokes : 9
C2 putts : 0
C1 25ft + : 2
Turfed shots: 4
Skied drives: 7
Minis kicked: 10
Par save after going OB: 2
Apples eaten: 4
As you can tell it was a wild ride for everybody out there but in the end the mood was great, people were kind and loving, and the general feeling was that of gratitude and happiness for us all being together and having the opportunity to compete. We have never been more motivated to do good for the players who believe in us.
Speaking of those players we have opened up our year end survey to better understand peoples experience, comments, and concerns. It will remain open until Nov 21st and you can find it here: 2022 Tour Survey If you can take the 10 minutes to fill it out it goes a long way to us getting better. Early feedback tells us we need to improve both our communications and course maps. Something that we are aware of and are already problem solving. I won't lie, getting feedback is both the hardest and most important part of my role in this company. Everyone who contributes to Flickline does it because they love the game, and nobody, including me, gets paid. However we all share a common goal; to make disc golf in Atlantic Canada awesome. We each take a great deal of pride in what we have been able to do and none of us are satisfied until we get it right. If you like what we do keep coming back and give us the opportunity to get better. If you see a way for us to improve, tell us and we will do the things we can to make disc golf thrive in our region.
One of the reasons we created the Flickline tour was to showcase all of the amazing people and places we have in our part of the world. Atlantic Canada is full of gems that are worth experiencing and celebrating. By building this tour we get to create wild and fun tournament courses, find local vendors with amazing goods, great food, and people who we love spending time with. Seeing players from our region compete at, and win large events like Nationals is a huge success story. Antoni's final round at the World Championship will go down as one of the best sporting moments of my personal life, and we know that he got there in part because Flickline (and his local club) are committed to running high quality events. That is a part of the reason we wanted to honour so many of the people who have excelled this year throughout our tour. We decided the best way to do that was to create 4 season long awards; Breakout Player of the Year, Mix Am Player of the Year, Female Am Player of the Year, and Mixed Open Player of the year. There were so many people in the running for this years awards that it was amazing to have debates and discussions about it. In the end those awards went to; Antoni Richard, Dylan Goudy, Tanis Trainor, and Chris Richard. The selections are based on players performance in Flickline events.
Next season we will continue to refine our tour points as we expand our tour schedule. It is your top 5 event results that count towards the year end standings and we are considering making special prizes for those players who finish in the top 10% so that more people are in the running for fun things throughout the entire season. With that in mind we are also looking at ways to be cost effective for both the players and the tour. As I am certain people can understand it takes me 1-2 full days to build the temp holes, chalk the circles (when we are allowed), mark OB, create a detailed caddy book, and all of the other things that are required to run an high level event. I am more than happy to do these things but after a careful examination of how long it takes and the overhead that is associated with these tasks the funding model for our events will have to be modified slightly in the future. For the Tour Championship we added a $5 admin fee to help cover those costs. If you take the survey you will see a proposed model for next year that follows this line of thinking. In the end Flickline is trying to serve the players who attend our events so making an entrance fee that is not prohibitive to people attending but still offers great value is what we are trying to accomplish. We want players to know how much we value them but at the same time the Flickline tour can not continue to lose money. We are always seeking sponsors and trying to find creative ways to make this relationship a win for all parties involved but it is important for us to be as transparent as possible so that people understand what it takes to make this events happen. As I have said before this is my dream job and I would work it for almost anything, but as they saying goes 'You can't pour water from an empty cup'. I love disc golf and I love the place in the world where we live. If I can continue to marry these two things I feel like I will remain motivated to produce something everyone can take pride in.
Before I wrap this thing up let me say thank you again. Thank you to the course owners who have invested in me and allowed me to build things that help bring joy into the world. Thank you to all the people who have stepped up to take roles in the Flickline brand, in logistics, TD'ing, social media, our website, scouting locations, promotions, etc, etc. So many people make our brand what it is that there are days where I feel almost guilty at how much work is being done by other people. I don't feel guilty though, I feel an overwhelming amount of pride and joy. Disc golf changed my life, it has made me a healthier person and helped me deal with things I didn't even know I had going on. It has been a double gift to see how many other people it has helped too. There are secret moments when people use courses we have built that are so personal they are beyond words. Right now there is someone out there trying to get a birdie on a hole they have not be able to master yet and they are doing it for no other reason than personal satisfaction. Our tournaments and events are only a tip of the ice burg when it comes to how many people interact with our disc golf courses. Udisc only captures about 20% of the people that play. There are so many people in Atlantic Canada now with discs in their trunk and we might never cross paths with them. That thought brings me joy every time I consider it. So thank you once again for providing me a canvass to paint on. Even when you're saying my name in vain and cursing me for not giving you a line on this f***ing hole know that I love you and I am just glad you are out there playing. Mark my words 2023 is going to be another year worth celebrating.
Thanks again for being a part of this.