Setting the stage
If there is anything better than disc golf in the fall under a canopy of radiant leaves and surrounded by good people, we have yet to find it. The 2023 Iron Leaf was our annual reminder that good things are worth waiting for. The second last tournament on the Flickline Tour schedule is always a fan favorite for good reason - cool dry weather, fun lines to throw, and a highly competitive field gives players the full experience.
This year was no exception. Our team tries our best to create layouts that are specific to each division with appropriate pars, distances, and shot shapes. It is something we talk about late at night when we are reflecting on the things we can do to continue improving. It is our goal to have each division play a layout where shooting even par or better is considered a good day. The overall par isn’t the only thing that matters, but it is a good indicator for each division. Even more important than score relative to par is the shots that each layout forces you to throw. Part of what makes the Iron Leaf so coveted is that the course layout is 24 holes with all different shots that challenge a wide range of your skill set. That in and of itself is wonderful but the icing on the cake is the fact that these shots are fun. Many of the holes have precariously placed baskets and every single card (not every single person) has had at least one splash out for birdie that resulted in a bogie or worse. A good round can turn into a bad one in a matter of minutes and a great round requires 100% concentration over the course of three hours. There is no feeling quite like mastering the Iron Leaf layout. It humbles you on the bad ones and elevates you on the special ones. It is without a doubt the fan-favorite event of the year.
The really cool part is that this event has almost always been like this. Although the first ‘official’ Iron Leaf was held in 2014, a fall event has been played here as early as 2012. It was the course where the Maritime Disc Golf Association was born and has always been considered one of the ‘majors’ in the maritime calendar. At least two of the three original designers of the course still make the event every year and it feels justified to see it experience so much success. The official 19 hole course is called ‘The Links at Lockhart Ryan Park’ and is a mix of hills and hardwood trees creating the holes that weave around other park amenities like soccer fields, playgrounds, and walking trails. It is a perfect example of old school disc golf. There isn’t a ton of length in the original course but each shot requires a specific touch or line to hit the birdie or ace. It’s not a stretch to say that almost every hole is ace-able and absolutely every hole has the potential to give you a snowman. The most interesting part of this course is how it will adapt to the future. There has always been a club here doing volunteer work to make the course shine. Some years, the volunteer base has a leader who can spend loads of time doing improvements, other years it is a struggle to be ready in time for the event. The course here is like many courses from the ‘before times’ - it was chronically underfunded but no one really cared. Volunteers did what they could to keep it awesome and players played it every chance they got. Now the times are changing. We have global players who can leave reviews on an app that is used world-wide. People have choices and expectations now. When players show up to a course they want to see solid tee pads, clear signage, and baskets that don’t lean. All of that takes time and we know first hand how hard it can be to get all of those things done to the standard we all wish to see. Flickline doesn’t always succeed so it is understandable that small municipalities can sometimes overlook how important a disc golf course can be in their toolbox of public infrastructure. The most fascinating thing that is unfolding is to see which places will fully embrace this task. Disc golfers want to play great courses and they will support the places that build them. Getting this message across to the paid staff of every place that owns a course may be a key to sustainable growth. It is clear that people are trying and for now that is a good thing to keep in mind.
The event itself
Back to the event itself. Going into Sunday every division was competitive. Winners from each division include:
Misha Leach claimed her second tour stop victory this year in FA2.
Nathalie Deveau earned her third Flickline win with a two stroke win in FA40 maintaining her wonderful season.
In MA2, Casper Macaulay put together a fantastic final round to hold off a strong field and claim his first career victory. This win was made even sweeter when you consider that last year, on this almost exact same layout, Casper was 27 over par. In one year he shaved 40 strokes off and earned himself one of the best trophies in the game!
Matthew Sullivan continued his winning ways in the MA40 group. His 24 under par was the best result of any division playing the ‘purple’ layout.
To the surprise of almost no one, Dylan Goudey put together three solid rounds to win his second Iron Leaf and third tour stop victory of the year. It also sets up an incredible finish for the Tour Championship between him and his Flickline teammate, Antoni Richard. If either of the players win the event outright they will claim three DiscGolfPark baskets for themselves or nine DiscGolfPark baskets donated to a new course of their choosing.
The full tour standings can be found here.
Another one of the small victories that we should enjoy celebrating comes in the FA1 division. Tanis Trainor was able to play underpar for the weekend. As we mentioned before, it is always the goal to see divisions won with scores under par. Tanis’ play is a great example of how much the female side is growing in our part of the world. Although we still strive to see more women involved in the game, the girls who are here and competing are progressing just as fast as any division. It was the second time FA1 was won at a score under par (Nicole Kading, CBU) and it points to a bright future for the division.
In MP50, Duncan Dixon made it back-to-back tour stop wins and continues to lead the way in our most senior of divisions.
MP40, Jonathan Perry made the most of his weekend by claiming his second straight Iron Leaf. This event is always close to an anniversary for JP but somehow he makes it work.
MPO was a wild ride as always but Chris Bourque came away with a commanding win for this first title of the season.
A couple of fun things before we go
Hole 4 had 14 triple bogies and one ace. That is amazing scoring separation.
A full 37 people (better than ⅓ of the total players) played the course under par, which is the best Iron Leaf scoring yet.
20% of the entire number of players all stayed at the same house (and it wasn’t the TD’s). It was an experience to say the least.
The original ‘bushwacker’ and course designer, John Ansara, played the event this year and finished second in MP40. For those folks who might be newer to the game locally Johnny was instrumental in getting the MDGA up and running and was the main reason why the Iron Leaf started. He should be a household name in the area and it was great to see him have some Sunday success!
Next on the Tour
The Flickline Tour Championship will be held November 4-5 at the Hillsborough Golf Club in New Brunswick. Registration goes live tonight (Tuesday, October 17) at 5pm Atlantic. Players get 1 round of 30 holes on each day. The amateur players pack includes a golf cart each day, dinner in the club house on Saturday night, and the green fees required to use the course. Our goal is to have the 30 hole course set up by Monday, October 30. If players wish to play during the week they can call the club house to reserve a tee time (506) 734-6000
On Saturday night we will be doing some season ending awards, and make some announcements about the future of the Flickline Tour. We fully expect this event to sell out so we strongly suggest you register as soon as you can!
Overall it's been a great season and we are always trying to refine our product. We will have a year end tour survey that starts in Nov and runs until mid December. A link will be emailed out in a few weeks.
As always thanks for being a part of this. For now we hope to see you on the course. Shoot a little and have a lot of fun!