Tour Results
November 8, 2023 9:20 AM

2023 Tour Championship Recap

Benjamin Smith
Written by
Benjamin Smith

It’s hard to believe that another full season of Flickline Disc Golf in Atlantic Canada has come and gone.  As they say, all good things must come to an end and this year was certainly a good thing.

In less than 10 years, our part of the world has gone from three basket courses to over 60 and from zero PDGA events to well over 50. We have hosted five national championships, seven A tiers, eight B tiers, and the first ever Disc Golf Pro Tour event in Canada. Multiple world champions and virtually every fan-favorite player (except Calvin) have come to play in the place where we live. It’s been a remarkable run that is truly a testament to the amazing people we have here. We hope everyone that reads this takes a second to appreciate just how awesome this is. There are so many to thank that it would be impossible to list them all but we hope that each and every person who contributes in their own way sees just what an incredible achievement it is for us to be in the place we are. Disc golf has deep roots in Atlantic Canada, with great TD’s, volunteers, courses, and players.  There is no reason to believe that the next decade won’t be better than the 10 years that preceded it, and that is an incredible thing to think about.

The Course

Back to this year's installment of the Tour Championship. Our final event of the year is a grueling 60 hole affair that tests each and every skill set you have in your bag. There is length (almost too much), precision, and endurance throughout the course. The weekend is made a little bit better by the free golf carts provided to each group. Our venue is the gorgeous Hillsborough Golf Club which features rolling hills, gypsum ponds, majestic trees, and a covered bridge hole that can really ruin your day if you let it. So many holes are just one bad tree kick or spit out away from watching your disc roll into a seemingly never ending abyss. There are at least three of the most iconic holes in our part of the world here. We would argue that these holes are as good as any disc golf holes ever created.  It is a joy to see people experiencing this place for the first time and a double joy to see all the people who choose to come back.

A lot of work goes into the creation of this layout. We are constantly trying to find the perfect balance for each division to push their skill sets forward and to have a round where people feel great about breaking par. This year we fell slightly short of our goal and inadvertently made a course that was harder than anticipated. In retrospect, there are two main reasons this happened. 

First was the weather. An unseasonably cold and historically wet summer put more water on the course than ever before. Fairways were saturated and many of the places you would expect good footing were slick or swampy (more on the swampy part later). During the week of set up, it snowed twice and covered the ground so that we did not have enough time to properly pick the driest and flattest spots for all of the  temporary tee pads. This put pressure on us to design things just by math alone.  We did not get to test out some of the temporary placements and in the end, they may have been fine for dry summer weather, but cool, damp fall weather made the discs fly slower. Coupled with the fact that so many golf carts had to stay on the cart path only and by Sunday, many of the ‘dry’ places we had picked were in less than ideal shape. We identified that at least three divisions should have had shorter pads to make for a more enjoyable weekend. Although we didn’t really hear of anyone complaining, we did not achieve the goals we set out. 

The second contributing factor was the Disc Golf Pro Tour. Now, this is nothing that they did directly but more of a byproduct of seeing some of the hard holes we created for our Silver Series spill over into the design of this temporary layout.  Some holes were just downright tough. We mostly agree that they were fair, but harder than they had to be.  We love the idea of making very tough holes for the signature events in each division but even the toughest of holes should have some element of fun to them. A couple of the holes at the Tour Championship this year might have been the opposite of fun for some divisions. The first one that comes to mind is hole 12, aka the boot hole.

These boot were under par for the weekend

Normally hole 12 is a beautiful uphill par 4 that requires a decent drive followed by a unique anhyzer approach shot. It is blind from the tee, but has a wide open fairway.  From the regular tee position, which most of the amateur players used, a player has to clear about 240 feet of long grass on the left side or you throw a straight shot straight into a manicured golf fairway.  For the tournament layout, MPO, MP40 and MA1 had a longer tee pad that required a good 330 foot shot to clear the long grass side and a tricky but fair shot straight ahead. The difference this year was that the long grass was a swamp. And we mean a swamp. The water was a full 6-8 inches deep throughout this normally playable area. During the entire week of walking the course, we had no reason to venture in there (since the snow prevented practice rounds). On Friday night we received a concerning amount of calls, texts, and even videos where people voiced their concern and offered solutions. In the end, we decided the best and easiest way to solve the problem was to declare the swamp casual relief and offer people a pair of boots to slip on while they either retrieved their disc or threw shin deep from the abyss.  Either way the boots saved a lot of socks, feet, and shoes from becoming soaked for the remaining 2-3 hours of your round.  It was one of our finer TDing moments as a group and it may have been the first decision we have ever made that truly made everyone's day better.  

The Play

Now this is the part of the story where we wish we had more eyes on the course so we could tell more of the stories that happened out there. There was an ace, a few eagles, and enough round numbers to make your head spin.  

It was another wonderful showing by the youth movement in each province starting off with the junior tour winner, Aiden Gallant (PDGA #236953). Aiden took home his sixth win of the season, which is a truly remarkable thing to see. Having a strong junior division is such a joy for us and we hope that these kids continue to love the game for a long time into the future.

Dwayne Crawford (PDGA#135246) capped off his remarkable six-win season with a victory and claimed the season point win by a huge margin in the MA2 division.

We had a first time winner in FA2 in Carissa Garland. Carissa is a Newfoundlander who now plays out of the MARC course.  She was one of four Newfoundlanders who played the event and is someone we hope to see a lot more in the future. 

Myles Dooley (PDGA #271231), also Carissa's partner, was second in MA1 this weekend, despite this being his first ever PDGA event. We expect the drive home was a pleasant one in that car and that the MARC baskets are going to get some action this winter.

MA50 winner was Donny Desroches (PDGA#107900).  This was Donny's third PDGA win of the season and first Flickline win.

Greg Ericson (PDGA# 75617) picked up his second tournament win of the season with the hot round on Saturday. His career best day helped him cruise to an 11 stroke victory in MP50 over founding father Duncan Dixon (PDGA# 14829) and Breakout Player of the Year winner, Alan Galant (PDGA# 147688). Alan’s dominate play in MA50 earned him the point season early on so he started to test his hand out in the MP50 division. It’s awesome to have so many players fill so many age appropriate divisions. Our game is becoming even more accessible and that’s a good thing.  Alan's smile when winning this year’s award is second only to the smile on his face when he sees his daughter competing in the FA2 division in Flickline events.

Nathalie Deveau (PDGA# 178089) capped off a remarkable 10 win season including five straight wins on the Flickline tour. She was rewarded with our Female Player of the Year honor for 2023 and we can think of no one more deserving than her. Nat has been a quiet force for female disc golf in southern New Brunswick for a while now. She was part of the wildly successful ladies nights at CDT and has been helping pave the way to offer more divisions for women to play in on the Flickline Tour. 

Nathalie and her husband Matt Sullivan (PDGA# 101942) are wonderful examples of players who came from Ultimate backgrounds and found success in disc golf. They are great human beings who find a way to balance competition and kindness and are the kind of people that make our game special.  Matt was able to claim victory in the MA40 division this year both at the Tour Championship and the overall points title.  Wouldn’t you know it, he too had six PDGA wins this season (what is with that number?).

The biggest number on wins on the season belongs to FA1 division Tour Championship winner Nicole Kading (PDGA#150312). Her astounding 16 wins this season is truly an accomplishment few will ever achieve.  It is a testament to her love of the game and commitment to play. Nicole was one of three women who easily could have been named female player of the year and one of 12 women who competed at the Tour Championship.  

One of the most enjoyable battles of the season came down to the wire in MA1.  Dylan Goudey (PDGA# 159974) was able to earn both the Tour Championship title and the season points crown on the same weekend. The battle of the youth was out in full force again this weekend with a teenager from each Maritime province finishing in the top four of this highly competitive division. Dylan and Amateur Player of the year winner, Antoni Richard (PDGA# 142471), battled down to the wire this season in a back and forth race. It has been one of the best parts of the Flickline Tour to be honest. Not because it pitted two kids against each other, but rather that it gave two young athletes the opportunity to compete all season towards a common goal.  It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of just how cool this is.  Not only are Dylan and Antoni great players, they are great people too. Next it looks like both of them will be moving to MPO so that means there is a new space that will be wide open with a million possibilities for the next amateur players to fill that void.

MP40 was a back and forth affair that saw JF Doucet (PDGA# 107279) take a commanding lead on day one only to have Michael Stoddard (PDGA# 121199) shot one of his best ever days of golf on Sunday to take home the win.

MP0 was once again a hotly contested race but for back to back Flickline events Chris Bourque (PDGA# 150926) was able to earn the victory. Chris’ steady improvement in virtually every facet of his game has helped him win six events this season of his own and the 2023 Flickline Tour Professional Player of the Year award. For the Tour Championship it was a tight race coming right up to the end. Pierre Landy (PDGA# 120350) played fantastic golf all weekend and was within a few inches of forcing a playoff on the 60th hole of the weekend.  

To Sum It Up

As we have mentioned several times, the Tour Championship is the final stop in the annual Flickline Tour. We have tried our best to create something that players feel honored to be a part of with each Flickline event.  It has always been of utmost importance to us that we did our part to show off the amazing courses that we have and give a wide range of players a fair and dignified chance to compete at a high level. Throughout the years we have steadily been getting better. We are not perfect, but we try to listen to real feedback and improve.  At the end of the day, we as a staff are constantly amazed at just how wonderful it has worked out.

2023 Flickline Season Winners:

Jr Divisions Aiden Gallant (PDGA #236953)

MA2 Division Dwayne Crawford (PDGA#135246)

MA40 Division Matt Sullivan (PDGA# 101942)

MA50 Division Alan Galant (PDGA# 147688)

FA2 Division Mandy Isenor (PDGA# 211131)

FA40 Division Nathalie Deveau (PDGA# 178089)

FA1 Division Tanis Trainor (PDGA# 138127)

MA1 Division Dylan Goudey (PDGA# 159974)

MPO Division Chris Bourque (PDGA# 150926)

Seeing these names listed above doesn't really tell the entire story. Each course on the Flickline Tour is different and all presents their own unique set of challenges. To  win the tour title you have to play well through all kinds of weather, terrain, and mental roadblocks. Some events are easy for your skill set, others are not. We sincerely hope that each of the players listed above know how much fun it was to have them compete at our events. We know what it takes to win over an entire season, how much practice goes in when no one is looking, and how much time you have to put up to travel to all the places in Atlantic Canada where we compete.

By pretty much every metric available to us, it truly feels like Flickline has been successful this year. Each tour event, course opening, and community engagement session yielded positive results, but each of those endeavors took something out of us too. The Covid boom was a real thing for disc golf, but so is burn out. The level of expectation for both players and TD’s is getting higher. The old way of volunteerism took us so far, but it won’t get us the rest of the way. A typical Flickline event takes at least two visits to the course before the event, 20+ hours of design and set up, $1,000 in fundraised cash, and a laundry list of supplies to make it all look the way we want. Currently all of that is being done by 100% volunteer hours and although we have occasionally paid nominal fees to some people to help, this is not the norm. Honestly, it’s nobody's fault either. The game evolved this way. In the early stages of events there was no real set way to operate. Procedures were wildly different depending on the events you went to and what was offered. Being a TD was kind of a public service that you did for your community but then things grew and all sorts of people stepped into the game for the first time and they asked questions like, “why do you do it that way?” and more and more people began to think about it.  Now transparency is everywhere and it’s helping people see what really goes on behind the curtain and how much work running an excellent event really is. To be clear, it has been amazing. For the first time it feels like we can identify all the things that make an event genuinely great and now all we have to do is execute.  

Year-End Survey

Therein lies the problem. Identifying what people want and then finding people who can do the work. It has always been our motto to look for solutions, not problems, so that leads us to the 2023 Season End Survey. This survey is our chance to understand what players want to see in an event, if a tour is important to them, and how we can best create a situation where people are being paid (modestly for now) for the services they provide. The survey will stay open for 1 month and close in early December.  Flickline and our partners do our best work when we can accurately understand how to serve the people who play the courses and take part in the events. We have always dreamed big. Not because we want to take over the world, but simply because we can see a pathway where Atlantic Canada is the envy of every place that disc golf exists.  We have the people, the courses, the space, and the time.  Now we just need the direction and we can set sail.

Looking ahead - the Chowder Cup & 2024

We had so many cool stories to share that we will try to do that now.

When we ran the DGPT event we were worried we would be the worst stop on their tour. We were not. In the end we ran that event with about 50 volunteers when they usually require about 150. It was a testament to how hard Maritimers work, it was also a good indication of where we are as a region. We do incredible work, with amazing courses, but we still are falling short of the full buy in from the outside world. It will happen. Key people have continued to step up for Flickline to make things better. Both Rose Valley and Kings Pine waived their fees this year to help offset the financial loss from the event on the TD. It's worth noting that it was an amazing gesture that helped ease the burden, but it is not ideal for anyone. We don't think anyone here really takes this for granted, but sometimes we can lose sight of how much work goes into keeping a course looking amazing. Hillcrest has always set the bar, but it is worth saying that we are so thankful for all the courses and all the work they have done to allow us to get to this point. We all want to see fair compensation going forward in the future and we are just trying to make that happen. Although the DGPT event here may not have big the biggest event we have had, there are some long lasting legacies that we think came out of it.

Our MPO division got a taste of what the high end of the game looks like and really showed our players what they have to improve to get there. Advanced stats, video coverage, and access to the worlds best players is a real treat and we hope this paves the way for the MPO division for years to come.

On the FPO side we might argue it was even more impactful. Isabell Bourque's ace has been making the rounds on social media since she snagged it but maybe even more impressive was the fact that Canada's own Karen Martel secured a spot on lead card every day. Events like this show our Canadian women the pathway to success. You can make a direct link from that event to this weekends Tour Championship where our very own Tanis Trainor played FPO and put up scores that would have had her in the mix for the age protected Open division that shared the same tee pads.  We have taken so many big strides forward this year that we are cautiously excited about next season.

No matter what happens next year with the tour and the events schedule, we will be satisfied with the outcome. It's up to the people now to show us what they want. Flickline has already announced that we will host a Sackville Stop on May 4-5 and a 'Double Island, Triple Crown' event in CBU on June 29-30, Corner Brook on July 2-3, and Stephenville on July 6-7. We would love to see at least 20 mainlanders make this trip. We promise you won't regret it. We have also secured the date for another chapter of the Discmania Open, October 4-6. This year's event will only be held at Kings Pine and will primarily be a regional A Tier with at least one cool surprise. After that all options are on the table. The Iron Leaf (potentially September 21-22) and the Tour Championship at Hillsborough (November 2-3) will still happen, but we are exploring ideas about how they will run. As we have said dozens of times before, showcasing our region has been the backbone of this tour. If we can have a situation in the future where new TD's and courses have a way to be including in this success, we are all for it. That's where the cautious optimism comes in. The unnamed tasks and delicate logistics are not something most people have time to think about and that is OK. Flickline arrived at this place through trial and error, lots of quiet reflection, and even more public input. We also feel that the structure we have is fair to the players and engaging for each card. The funniest part of the entire thing is that events only effect 10% of the playing population (or less) but they are the catalyst for the most growth and financial support. We know competing is not for everyone but we are constantly looking for ways to capture the people who are here and who have made their lives better by throwing discs.

Now the most important weekend of the calendar is coming up, The Chowder Cup! We have started to set up the Wallace River Golf Course for our annual inter-provincial championship. We have asked the owner to allow the course to stay open for an extra week if possible and as soon as we know, we will share that information out with all the players who want to take their annual crack at it. There may be live streaming for this event as we do our best to share this fun competition out with the people who don't make the trip. Stay tuned for more announcements. We have some exciting course news to share with you in the coming weeks!

A final thank you goes out to all the course owners, clubs, and individuals we have worked with this season. Special thank you to the DMO event team, Fudge, Pat, Mandy, Luc, Kim, Duncan, Pierre, Tanis and to everyone else who played, helped, or generally contributed to the best season yet of disc golf in Atlantic Canada.

As always, shoot a little and have a lot of fun!