CDGC Story of the 2014 British Open
In 2005 by a few workmates and I, who had been playing disc golf for just a few months using a target course at Lloyd Park, formed Croydon Disc Golf Club. Seven of us sat in the pub for half an hour setting up an official club structure - electing a committee and committing a constitution to paper. Once done, we had a beverage or two and put together a wish list for the club. Another 5 hours later we had a whole raft of ideas that at the time seemed ludicrous!
The last thing on that list was: “To host a Eurotour event.”
There was so much to do... We had very few players, no baskets, and very little idea what we were doing! But we had lots of enthusiasm!
Gradually we started ticking items off our list and by 2012 the club had a really solid base within the British Disc Golf community. We had formed great friendships all over the country, and indeed, the world as we regularly hosted visitors. Many of these "Friends of CDGC" would come to play a part in London Calling, donating special discs to be used as spot prizes and therefore spreading the love even further.
With a good club scene and proven track-record running quality tournaments we started to think about that last item on the list. But there was one thing missing... tee pads!
Getting tee pads represented a great challenge because Lloyd Park is a Conservation Area. The council’s conservation officers are passionate and protective about their park but welcoming and accommodating when dealing with the club – a relationship we must preserve. We therefore have to tread carefully when introducing new features. For a few years the council were reluctant to allow the installation of tee pads, mainly due to the choice of material – it would have to be in keeping with the conservation status of the park. Concrete was never going to be permitted so alternatives were sought. Astro-turf was proposed and rejected. Finally we found the rubber-grid matting that was deemed acceptable. The amount of work that went into the installation was sizeable and it was volunteers from the club that made it possible. The mats were laid by amateurs who were learning on the job - they weren't perfect but they were a hell of a lot better than the mud tees that were there before! Our next step will be to find ways to flatten the existing pads, to make them safer for players.
The other disadvantage of playing in a Conservation Area is that the grass only gets cut twice a year - in April and September. Our tournaments therefore have to be at specific times of the year – only spring or autumn; otherwise the grass is too long and discs get lost even in the middle of the fairway! We are allowed to strim around the baskets and tees, but the British weather, mainly warm and wet, enables great grass growth! As well as those nettles and brambles... All well known by errant throwers!
We finished the tee pad installations in 2013 so club secretary Jerry Andrew and I started thinking about a 2015 British Open application. But two of the lads had other ideas. New club treasurer Phil Wood and club competitions director Tom Lowes thought that the club should go for it and apply for the 2014 Eurotour... just 5 months away! Both of them had run very successful tournaments at the club and so the committee got right behind them... “All hands to the pump!” Now I had to sell my ‘Games Maker’ (inspired by the volunteer army at the 2012 London Olympics) idea to the club members…
We wanted to make our event run as smoothly as possible, and give the best experience we could to players coming from far and wide. We knew that spotters were essential in quick-flowing rounds and that many of the players would never have played the course before and so would be unfamiliar with its structure and hazards. So the idea of the Games Makers was two-fold. The players would get a ‘Royal’ treatment, ensuring that they could smoothly navigate the course and just concentrate on playing golf. The Games Makers got the opportunity to watch some of the best players in Europe play the sport as well as be part of the tournament, make new friends and represent the club. This was deemed more attractive than standing in one place and spotting for one hole all day, never really getting to know the players or see their rounds unfold. It was a big ask as we were requiring them to forsake playing the tournament, the biggest tournament the club had ever hosted! To try and sweeten the deal, we offered free t-shirts and discs, as well as free entry into the Croydon tour event later in the year.
We could not be more pleased with how it worked out. The response from the players was overwhelming but the volunteers, too, felt included in the proceedings and had a great time watching the play unfold and feeling useful.
So, on behalf of the club and all the players, I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge “thank you!” to all the volunteers. The player feedback was glowing – here is a selection of their comments:
"The British humour and easy going, relaxed style from staff people was awesome."
"Thank you for the best tournament I ever participated in. The absolute shocking good thing about the tournament were the volunteers, so many hours of walking. And still had so many jokes up their sleeve. We would certainly come back next year.”
"Congrats on a truly awesome event. Best tournament I've ever played. The 'games makers' stole the show.“
"The weekend was amazing I felt so welcomed by all of the TDs, players, and spotters! Having a spotter on each hole and a score-keeper made it run smoothly! :)”
" I really liked that each group had their own spotter - made the rounds more smooth.”
"Thanks again for a nice tournament. I think that the 18 private spotters was an absolutely brilliant idea.“
"What made the weekend awesome? Got to be having a scorer/spotter.”
"I had a great time in London. Excellent tournament. It was extremely well run. I can't say enough great stuff about my tournament experience. I made a point of telling all my friends back home in the US how good it was. I took pictures of the caddy book and raved about how great it was having a spotter/scorer each round per group. Amazing! The club did a fantastic job. Just getting that many willing volunteers says so much about the club. It makes me want to be a part of it. Just like last year I was very impressed with the level of professionalism on display. I really hope disc golf evolves with more events run this way. Far to often I go events that look like they were organized the night before and just thrown together. Sometimes even a bit unfriendly. When I leave, I usually ask myself "Will I come back?" Often I say "No", just because I might fly 4-18hrs to get somewhere only to realize I would be better off playing local courses with friends. Not the case in London though. If I see events that I can make, I'm in!"
CDGC 2014 LONDON CALLING GAMES MAKERS
And Nige Williams Disc Zoo Shopkeeper.
Croydon Disc Golf Flickr Site: CDGC Flickr Site
CDGC Facebook Photos: facebook pictures
James Buchannans Flickr Site: James' Flickr Site
Rene Westenburgs photo site: Renes BO Pics
Arttu Sikanens 2 videos of the finals :
Visit the British Open website for more information.