September 3, 2023 8:43 PM

A Sad Day for Flickline

Benjamin Smith
Written by
Benjamin Smith

This is a post I honestly never thought I would have to make. Then again, so many things have happened in the last few years that I could not have imagined that I should just stop being surprised by anything.

As I am sure all of you know, we were given the honour and opportunity to join the Disc Golf Pro Tour in 2023 as a Silver Series with an event called, "The Discmania Open". The Pro Tour has some stipulations and their strong preference (along with that of the players) is to have the MPO and FPO players compete on one course only. Since Discmania is our main sponsor it makes sense to have that course be an 'official' DiscGolfPark course featured. The team at Rose Valley has agreed to convert their course into a DiscGolfPark course. After last year, a representative from the PDGA walked all of our PEI courses and gave Rose Valley the highest marks for its blend of spectator friendly open holes, built in infrastructure, and challenging layout. This doesn't mean it is the best course on PEI, just that it works for big events.

So what is so surprising about this?

Well, here it goes. Based on all the decisions I listed above, Hillcrest Farms will no longer allow me to use their course for any event I run, including the Discmania Open and any future bid I may have for a World Championship.  To say I am heartbroken is an understatement. I would be lying if I told you I fully understand why they have made their decision, but in the end we could not figure out a way to come to an agreement.

Over the last month I have proposed several plans. None were accepted.

It is still my deep desire to find a way to partner with Hillcrest again in the future. At this present time, I do not know how.

If you have ever met me you will know how much I care about disc golf and growing the game in Atlantic Canada. You will also know how much I love Hillcrest and its design.  As I have expressed to John Houck himself, I believe Hillcrest Blue is a PERFECT course. I think my track record speaks for itself. I have promoted Hillcrest across the globe on podcasts, tv, and in print. People may not know that after the first National Championship (2018) that I ran, I sent a private letter to my team saying that I had put my heart and soul into running the event and that I wished to step down as Nationals was a huge strain on me both financially and emotionally. It was only after PDGA Canada asked me several times to take on the 2019 Nationals (as all bids had been withdrawn) that I reluctantly agreed. The 2022 National Championship was the first time that I ever used one of my own personally designed courses for an official round and over the years I have done everything In my power to show how thankful I have been for the opportunities I have been given.  I have tried to showcase other local designers and make sure not just one course on PEI was featured.

I am not writing this post to garner sympathy or to ask people to lobby on my behalf. Each business owner is free to make decisions that they feel best represent their interests. I am making this post because people will ask why the Discmania Open is not featuring one of the best courses in Canada.  I am writing this post because a small part of me feels that I have failed the greater disc golf community and let a lot of you down, and despite my best efforts I don't know how to correct it. I didn't get into this game to burn bridges and I have no intent of doing that now. I still feel like I do my best work when I collaborate and so my focus remains finding ways to build our community up together.

I am a 'solutions, not problems' kind of person. I have put out several solutions that I thought would be great compromises but none that were accepted. I am in an impossible situation; in order to be on the Pro Tour we need a big sponsor and the sponsor we have is Discmania and they believe deeply in Canada. Discmania wants to feature a course by one of their designers on their own baskets to get a return on investment.  All of these decisions are what I have had to make in order to try and elevate Canadian Disc Golf and keep it on the world map.

So how do I proceed forward?

If I knew the answer I would share it with all of you, but for now all I can do is keep working. The Discmania Open will still happen. The MPO and FPO players will use the newly revamped Rose Valley course. Am and Masters players will use Huck It and potentially two other courses. I have high hopes that Kings Pine will be rebuilt in time (Kings Pine the Second!) and one brand new course that we have just submitted a design for. If these things happen, the Masters and MA1/FA1 main course will shift to Kings Pine II. We know that many people will be disappointed by not being able to play Hillcrest and for that I am deeply sorry. I am still open to ideas and solutions.

All I can tell you is that I am trying my best and I will continue to do so everyday until I retire from this crazy world of disc golf.  Over the next few days we will start to regularly update details on the Discmania Open. I have just finished meeting with several people in the company and our short, medium, and long term plans are all being finalized.

In the end I hope everyone reads this message and knows one thing; I will continue to do my best to put on an elite event in Canada that can showcase amazing courses, a wonderful fan and player experience, and true maritime hospitality. I very much look forward to making 2023 another year to remember. If at some point in the future people no longer wish to see me in this role, I have no problem stepping down and focusing on the other things in my life that bring me happiness. Until then I will put my whole heart and soul into all of the things that I do.

Thank you for taking the time to be a part of it.