33rd Annual Mid-America Open brings disc golfers from across Mid-Missouri to Columbia
COLUMBIA - The 33rd Annual Mid-America Open took place this Saturday at disc golf courses across the Columbia area.
The event is put on by the Columbia Disc Golf Club and is officially sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association.
The CDGC is at their highest membership ever at 175 people, according to club member and tournament director Mark Ehler.
Disc Golf has been a rapidly growing sport in the past several years, according to Ehler. There are now 60 to 100 sanctioned tournaments across the country on any given weekend in the warmer months.
Columbia Parks and Recreation has been working with the CDGC and helping them to grow the sport in Columbia.
“We support events, so we help, in a sense, advertise the higher quality disc golf courses that we have in town, by having local frequent events as well as tournaments like the Mid-America Open,” said Ehler
This tournament took place across Columbia at Albert-Oakland Park, Strawn Park and Indian Hills Park.
The event has two tiers, tier A for professional players and tier B for amateurs. These tournaments can help professional players boost their ranking and get invited to national invitational tournaments.
Competitors do have to pay a fee to play in the Mid-America Open, but that money is immediately put back into player packages, the payout for the winners of the tournament and the player party happening Saturday night, according to Ehler.
“All the money that we collect really goes right back to the players,” said Ehler.
CDGC is a nonprofit organization that thrives off of sponsors and the dues of its members to put on events like this tournament.
Sponsors like Tether Tug, Veterans United, Play It Again Sports, and the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau are big reasons why this tournament continues to be a good mid-tier tourney, according Ehler.
“As we get more sponsors it obviously shows that more people are willing to support it, we usually add two or three new sponsors or more every year,” said Ehler.
Ehler says the CDGC is hoping to work with the city of Columbia to make a bid for a large national tournament or a stop on the national tour, in the near future.
“We’d like to grow disk golf in Columbia to be basically a destination to come and play disc golf and a destination for large tournaments,” said Ehler.
Becoming more competitive for a bid is a slow process, but Columbia Parks and Recreation is dedicated to maintaining the high quality of the disk golf courses in Columbia, according to Ehler.
According to Ehler, bringing in a national disc golf event would also require a huge community support.
“It would take a pretty big effort, a pretty organized effort to try and do something like a world event or something where we would try and bring 750 to 1,000 disk golfers to Columbia to compete,” said Ehler
Bringing in 750 to 1,000 people would put heads on beds in hotels and people out eating in restaurants, providing an economic boost to the community.
According to Ehler, having a national tournament would also put Columbia on the map as a destination for disc golfers everywhere, bringing even more people to Columbia.