‘It’s a Sisterhood’: Women-only disc golf tournament fuels sport growth in Sask.

Regina disc golfer Faye Gorrrill started the sport last summer and has competed in her second tournament. However, this one is a little different from their first event; It’s for women only.

“I feel more relaxed,” she says. “It’s a great thing for women to come together and make a lot of new friends.”

Since 2012, the Professional Disc Golf Association has hosted the Women’s Global Event. It started out as a biannual event, but the huge boom in popularity during the pandemic has turned the event into an annual affair.

In 2021, Saskatchewan hosted its first all-female event in Saskatoon. This year it was held at Regina’s Douglas Park.

The event gives women the opportunity to try disc golf at a more competitive level and brings together players from across the province to compete at varying levels from juniors under 10 to professionals over 40.

“It’s a more fun and encouraging environment,” said tournament director Kadie Hozempa. “Disc golf tournaments have traditionally been male-dominated. We want to change that.”

Ariel Francis, a participant in the tournament, believed the event was a good introduction for those new to the growing sport.

“It’s a really good first opportunity for girls who want to start disc golf,” said Francis.

“You don’t get intimidated by guys who can throw 600 feet and see all the crazy things they can do. You see other players who look like you and have the same build as you. Someone to look up to is more realistic.”

Disc Golf Saskatchewan’s Social Media Coordinator 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 about signing up for tournaments. But the courses are full of women. These events allow women to see other women play too.”

In 2012, the WGE had 636 players registered at just 42 events worldwide. This year nearly 3300 players will take part in 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 play not only against players on the same course, but also against any woman registered worldwide through a ranking system. That means all ages and skill levels have the opportunity to compete in a single event, regardless of the number of players.

“It’s a see-and-be-seen case,” said Danny Voss of the PDGA. “The WGE is a chance to show the world that there are other women players at the amateur and beginner level and hopefully more women will be like, ‘Hey, this is just like me. I can be separate from that.’”

“It’s a sisterhood,” said competitor Amy Nicholls. “We are with each other, we learn from each other about parenting, how to balance work and children. It’s a great environment.”

Women who tour professional disc golfers like Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen and others have become stars of the sport. Voss believes that when you have high-level women to look up to, the sport can grow at grassroots level.

“[They] are taking the look of disc golf out to the whole world and building it up from the top down,” he said. “The WGE provides the opportunity and foundation for Paige Pierce to play her first event in 10 years.”

“We belong on the field,” Brownbrige said. “If you put more women on the field, you get more families, more juniors, which makes the sport grow everywhere.”

Regina and Saskatoon disc golf clubs host drop-in nights where women can often try the sport for free.

“There’s a big community here,” said Hozempka. “We are ready to welcome and accommodate new people.”

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