|A Model Disc-Golf Community|
|News/Features - Local News|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2007 02:21|
Be forewarned the following commentary is a shameless effort to provide publicity for the River Cities Rumble Disc Golf Tournament, a sporting event the Reader co-founded last year with the Quad City Disc Golf Club (QCDGC).
Just over a year later the QCDGC (started in 1999), led by tournament director Chad Eng, has succeeded in securing a couple significant milestones for the second-annual River Cities Rumble.
First, Eng was able to expand the tournament to two additional courses: Eastern Park in Davenport and Middle Park in Bettendorf. This expansion, along with the rave review for West Lake Park's championship-caliber course and increased sponsorship dollars for purses ($6,000 this year) allowed the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) to move its sanctioning level from Tier B to Tier A Super Tour, making it a qualifying event for the 2007 USDG Championships.
Second, after the 2006 Rumble, Eng and his volunteers were able to convince the Scott County Conservation department to commit to the capital investment of making the 24 holes at West Lake permanent. After seeing how beautifully the course played and how well the players responded to it last year, it was a no-brainer for the park to become a disc-golf destination for families, amateurs, and pros alike year-round.
But while park officials had committed to installing the 24 baskets, it was not going to be feasible until later this summer. Eng, with assistance from Quad Cities native and disc-golf pro Jay Reading, was able to work out a package with Innova, the basket manufacturer (and his corporate sponsor), that ensured that the baskets arrived in time for the QCDGC volunteers to have them permanently installed as of Monday.
Iowa is known nationwide for its disc-golf courses, players, and clubs. Iowa is second in the nation behind Texas with the number of disc-golf courses. Des Moines hosted the 2004 PDGA Disc Golf World Championships. More than 900 pros from throughout the world competed for over $80,000 in purses. Players and their families descended on the state capital for one week, providing a huge boost to the local economy and a platform to showcase the community to a worldwide audience. According to Reading, "That year is still considered to the best Worlds tournament by many pros." According to Eng, "There are discussions on message boards out there about how some people being recruited to work and live in Iowa are making the move due to the reputation we have for great disc-golf courses and players."
Reading says that the PDGA reports a 15-percent growth worldwide annually over the past three years in disc-golf participation: "This sport is starting to reach a tipping point, and communities new to the sport are starting to look at the phenomenal grassroots growth the Quad Cities has achieved in the last seven years as a model for their own development."
When asked why West Lake has such appeal to pro disc-golfers, Reading says, "That's an easy one. The ultimate course has holes made up of one-third wide-open spaces, one-third wooded areas, and one-third elevation changes and/or hazards like water. West Lake has all of that - hills, water, woods, and great connecting trails maintained by the parks department."
When asked if the Quad Cities has what it takes to host the PDGA World Championships someday, his response was, "After we get the 2009 Women's Nationals and a couple more Super Tour events like the Rumble under our belt, there is no reason why the Quad Cities could not compete for the Worlds."
Play begins at 8:45 a.m. at all three courses on Saturday, with two rounds that day. On Sunday, the third round begins at 8 a.m. at all three courses. The primary spectator opportunity will be on Sunday at 2 p.m., when players with the top four scores compete in a nine-hole playoff at West Lake.
For more information, visit (http://www.rcrumble.com).
All in the Reading Family
Jay Reading and his wife Des both hail from Bettendorf and are touring pro disc-golfers. Jay was a Division I football player and Des a Division I softball player at University of Northern Iowa. Neither was able to play last year's Rumble, but both have entered this year's event and are even assisting the City of Bettendorf on Friday with a civic dedication and grand opening of the new Middle Park course, which Jay was a consultant on design for. The Readings will be on-hand for the ceremony at 3:30 p.m. and then will give a disc-golf demonstration from 4 to 5 p.m. Des was named Rookie of the Year in 2001 and won the Women's World Championship in 2002. The couple is also the 2002 Mixed Couples World Champion. Both the Readings are opting out of events on the national tour in California this week to be at the Rumble.
The Readings helped start and run EDGE - Educational Disc Golf Experience (http://www.edgediscgolf.org) - a curriculum-based program designed for schools and anyone else working with youth. Jay says that he has worked with the Bettendorf School District on curricula it can use and the Rock Island District for after-school programming. Jay Reading was recently a presenter in Augusta, Georgia, where he helped the Quad Cities secure the 2009 U.S. Women's Disc Golf Championship. According to Reading, "There is a lot of buzz about the Quad Cities out there."
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