Free disc golf clinic before tournament

Among the activities taking place the day before the tournament will be a free disc golf clinic at 2 p.m. July 14 for anyone who wants to learn about the sport.

“The basics are broken down and described,” said professional disc golf player Zoe AnDyke.

AnDyke and Avie Durrant, a local rising star in the sport, are leading the clinic.

“Avie is 11 years old and she will come out and beat most of the guys. She’s good,” Tournament Director Alex Duffy said.

The Grande Ronde Valley Disc Golf Association has hosted a couple of tournaments in La Grande in the last year.

The tournament on tap for July 15, however, will be a first.

The club is hosting the Grande Ronde Open presented by Side A Brewing and Dynamic Discs, which will be the first Professional Disc Golf Association sanctioned tournament to come to La Grande.

“We decided we needed to get a sanctioned tournament here,” Tournament Director Alex Duffy said. “It’s what all the clubs have. You go to Pendleton, Tri-Cities — all the clubs, all the courses have one big sanctioned tournament a year. That really draws people into the club more than anything else.”

As of Tuesday night, 47 participants were signed up for the tournament, which will take place on the Eastern Oregon University campus. Duffy and Bryan Jungling, assistant director for the tournament, are hoping and expecting to see that number grow in the lead-up to the event.

“It’s growing every day,” Duffy said. “I imagine within the next week it will go up drastically.”

Jungling said bringing a tournament of this magnitude to town is also a way to show area players what a bigger tournament entails.

“To me, the reason why we really wanted to do it was just to introduce local players to what it’s like to play in a tournament,” he said. “Until this year, we only had about three people in La Grande who had gone and played in a sanctioned tournament.”

Jungling said that number has since jumped to between 10 to 12.

While the field is primarily made up of amateur players, four members of the PDGA are signed up to take part in the event.

That group features a trio of La Grande natives, including Zoe AnDyke, who has become one of the world’s top-rated women’s disc golfers.

“This is super special for me,” AnDyke said. “I’ve been a touring professional for seven years (and) been playing disc golf for 13 years now. I’ve been wanting something like this for that long.”

The up-and-coming sport actually brought a major tournament to La Grande even sooner than she anticipated, saying she believed it could have taken “decades.”

“I thought it would have to be me to bring it. The fact that it was started by someone else is a dream come true,” she said.

AnDyke, who has been ranked as high as 13th in the world, is a four-time state champion and was the 16th-ranked player in the world in the June rankings, according to pdga.com. She is also seventh in the nation.

The tournament itself will be a two-round, all-day affair July 15. Presently, Duffy said the hope is for each round to be 24 holes, using the baskets already installed on the EOU campus and a handful of additional temporary baskets. He pointed out that construction currently taking place on campus could tweak the course.

“I have the layout I want to play, but if construction changes, I have other holes that (we) could play,” he said.

No participants will walk away empty-handed, either.

“Anyone who signs up gets a disc, a shirt and some other swag items,” Duffy said. “If you play, you’re going to come away with something. If you pre-register, we’ll have a players’ party Friday night.”

Registration is available up to the day of the tournament, or until 90 spots are filled.

“As long as there’s still room, we’ll do sign ups all the way to (the) day of (the tournament),” Duffy said.

Registration costs are $30 for the junior division, $35 for recreational, $40 for intermediate, $45 for advanced and $60 for the open division. Cash prizes for top placers will be given out to professionals, and “script” will be paid out to amateurs.

“(Script) is basically Monopoly money they can take down to Bobolink and buy discs with,” Duffy said.

There is also a $5 ace pot to pay out to disc golfers who come away with a hole-in-one.

On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. July 15. A players’ meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. with the first round to follow.

To register online or see the complete schedule of events, visit discgolfscene.com and search for the Grande Ronde Open. For more information, contact Duffy at 541-429-0958 or Jungling at 208-739-2315.

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