It’s not yet a sport that attracts thousands of spectators to international play, but South Surrey’s Chris Hartmann is a world champion nonetheless.
Hartmann was one of 12 individuals selected for Team Canada’s appearance in the World Flying Disc Federation 2017 World Team Disc Golf Championship, held at Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Great Britain Aug. 23-26.
There, Hartmann and his team edged Finland – who went undefeated in round robin play – in a tie-breaker win to secure the gold medal.
Participating countries included Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia. Finland, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Slovakia and the United States.
“As it turns out, the top four teams that made it to the semi finals were all really close and all of the matches going down to the last putt, of the last hole, of the last person playing,” Hartmann told Peace Arch News Wednesday.
Each team includes juniors, men, women and players over 40-years-old.
“We had a couple of juniors there. It was pretty exciting for one them who never travelled in a plane before.”
Disc golf is a sport where participants follow an 18-hole course and throw discs – instead of hitting golf balls – to a designated area. The “hole” is a net. Score is kept in a similar fashion to that of traditional golf.
Hartmann said the sport is growing “by leaps and bounds,” internationally, and, particularly, in British Columbia.
When he first joined the Professional Disc Golf Association – which now has more than 100,000 members – B.C. had very few sanctioned events, now, there are 20-30 in the province every year, Hartmann said.
“It’s growing very fast,” he said, adding that the ultimate goal of professional disc golf players is to see the sport adopted into the Olympics.
“A couple of years ago there was an application made to the International Olympic Committee to include… disc sports as official sports status.
“One of the requirements was that there has to be international competition between countries.”
He said the sport is quite thrilling to watch, as some athletes can glide the disc up to 600-feet, but the spectators have yet to catch on.
“People still don’t understand what it is,” he said, adding that the crowds were small at the UK world championships.
“Just before I went to England I went to Michigan to play in the world professional masters. There, you’re starting to get some galleries. The top players, the touring pros, you’re starting to see hundreds of people in a gallery following around,” he said.
Travelling is a big part of the sport, particularly for Hartmann, as the City of Surrey is one of the few cities with more than 100,000 people that doesn’t have a disc golf course.
The nearest course for Hartmann, who lives in South Surrey, is Dale Ball Passive Park, Langley.
Hartmann said there’s been discussion with Surrey about creating a disc golf course, but nothing has came off the drawing board.
“We’re hoping that we can work something out in Surrey and see something fairly soon. It’s so perfectly situated, close to the U.S. and we don’t have any real top end championship disc golf courses. We have to go down to Seattle or Portland to see championship courses.”
Hartmann said a championship course will give the city the ability to host provincial, national and international competition.
“There’s been work done with the city, there’s a real willingness to try and get a course in and there’s been a lot of plans on the books. But for whatever reason, they haven’t been able to advance.”