Regina disc golfer Faye Gorrill started playing the sport last summer and has entered into her second tournament. However, this one is a little different from her first event; it’s for women only.
“I feel more relaxed,” she said. “It’s a great thing for women to get together and make a lot of new friends.”
Since 2012, the Professional Disc Golf Association has hosted the Women’s Global Event. It started as a semi-annual event, but the large boom of popularity during the pandemic has made the event an annual affair.
In 2021, Saskatchewan hosted its first all-woman event in Saskatoon. This year, it was hosted at Regina’s Douglas Park.
The event gives women an opportunity to try disc golf at a more competitive level, bringing players from all over the province to compete at varying skill levels from juniors under 10-years-old to pros over 40.
“It’s a more fun and encouraging environment,” said tournament director, Kadie Hozempa. “Traditionally, disc golf tournaments are male dominated. We’re hoping to change that.”
Ariel Francis, a competitor in the tournament, believed the event acted as a good introduction for those new to the growing sport.
“It’s a really good first opportunity for girls who want to get started in competitive disc golf,” said Francis.
“You aren’t intimidated by guys who can throw 600 feet and seeing all the crazy things they can do. You see other players who look like you and have the same build you have. It’s someone you can look up to that’s more realistic.”
Disc Golf Saskatchewan coordinator of social media Jeri-Ann Brownbridge has seen the event bring more women into the sport.
“Every year, the provincial championships have increased their female presence,” she said. “But [women] are still nervous and anxious to sign up for tournaments. But courses are filled with women. These events allow for women to see other women play as well.”
In 2012, the WGE had 636 players registered in just 42 events worldwide. This year, there are almost 3,300 players at 127 tournaments from the United States to Finland to Australia.
Canada has at least one event in eight provinces and one territory.
Players in Regina are not only playing against players at the same course, but also every woman registered in the world through a ranking system. Meaning, all age and skill levels have the opportunity to compete regardless of the number of players at a single event.
“It’s a case of see and be seen,” said the PDGA’s Danny Voss. “The WGE is a chance to show the world that other female-amateur-novice-level players exist and hopefully more women will say, ‘Hey, that’s just like me. I can be apart of this.’”
“It’s a sisterhood,” said competitor Amy Nicholls. “We are with each other, we learn from each other about being parents, how to juggle work and children. It’s a great environment.”
Women touring professional disc golfers like Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen and more, have become stars of the sport. Voss believes having high-level women to look up to can grow the sport at the grassroots.
“[They] are elevating what disc golf looks like to the world at large, building it from the top down,” he said. “The WGE presents the opportunity and foundation where the Paige Pierce of 10 years from now plays her first event of her.”
“We belong on the field,” said Brownbridge. “If you get more women on the field, you’ll get more families, more juniors, which grows the sport everywhere.”
Regina and Saskatoon disc golf clubs host drop-in nights where women can try the sport, often for no cost.
“There’s a large community here,” said Hozempka. “We’re ready to welcome and accept new people.”