On October 22-23 2016, Zieleniec became the most important site for the sport of disc golf and its players in Poland. Founded last year, the 10-hole Zieleniec DiscGolfPark has been expanded from 10 to 15 holes in order to host international tournaments for the Polish Disc Golf Championships in 2016. Demanding and technical modifications made to the tournament course have shown that only a single player has scored under par in each round. Par is the expected amount of points that a professional player should get in normal weather conditions, and these modifications have proved to be quite challenging. The competitors ignored the snow, hail, and heavy rain that occured during the spring tournament in Zieleniec, however the main problem was with poor visibility in the early hours of gameplay when visibility fell to only a few dozen meters. This years edition attracted a lot of interest in Europe, and among those who recieved medals were representatives of Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania. Several foreign guests whose experience and skills were ahead of many of our competitors claimed a number of places on the podium. Nevertheless, in a satisfying conclusion, Szymon Wącior from the town of Polanica Zdrój, Poland, a representative of the national team emerged the victor in the final round proving to be the best Polish player.
The Polish Disc Golf Championships 2016 are a continuation of the previous years event, the Poland Open 2015, which was Poland’s first tournament to be PDGA ranked (PDGA – an international organization of players – the Professional Disc Golf Association). Zieleniec, for Polish athletes, is not only the best place for training and organizing tournaments, but also a partner supporting the development of the sport. At Zieleniec DiscGolfPark, the pioneering of tournaments, their high standard of organization, pristine conditions, and an international aura which inspires the whole country. During this tournement, Polish PDGA coordinator, Michał Paszkowski participated in another international tournament and willy-nilly became our correspondent, with foreign players showing interest and curiosity in our Polish championships. The participants of the tournament and especially the foreign guests were pleasantly surprised by the class of the event.
The field had been prepared and made available for training Friday before the tournement. With many of the players competing for places on the podium arriving early to see the course and practice a variety of plays. For non tournament purposes the course consists of a 10-hole course, 1001 meters in length and is available free of charge throughout the summer, requiring 60-90 minutes to complete. Guests to Zieleniec can rent discs in designated areas and go play a round. During tournamnets the course is 15 holes, 1,737 meters in length, with a height difference of up to 500 meters between the highest and lowest points! Several other changes such as changing the lenght of holes or start points, adding „out of bounds” lines and mandos (refers to a specific flight path that your disc must follow during play), and an island which you must reach on your first throw are added to reach the expectations of professional players. Professionals, in other words: Filip Brückler from the Czech Republic, the youngest competitor, who came with his family and took second place in the Junior division, (with his mother and father placing 3rd and 6th in their divisions respectivaly); Mireta Jurgeleviciute from Lithuania, who before the final round (which she won) was ahead of about half of the men in the Open division; and Jari Puurunen from Finland, who was the only player of the tournament that ended the hardest hole (hole 12, 161 meters, par 4) in three throws in each round!
After a day spent training in a relaxed, calm and sunny atmosphere, the players met at the opening ceremony where the tournament guidelines were explained, last players registered, and caddy books (maps and additional info on the course) distributed. As well as reviewing hundreds of models of discs in the tournament shop and measuring the speed of throws in a special cage with a radar gun. The weekend in Zieleniec had an amazing disc golf atmosphere, which would be difficult to describe in words.
Saturday morning greeted the players with a classic view – the whole Zieleniec was covered with a cloud. After breakfast and a morning briefing competitors took the Nartorama Skyway Express lift to the top and started the first round with poor visibility and cold conditions. During the day it began to clear, mostly in the lower area of the course making the second round easier with improved scores. It is worth noting the lifts near the first hole as an unusual feature on a course and one of the perks of Zieleniec DiscGolfPark. The characteristic arrangement of holes and differences in elevations was a new and surprising element for many of the players making the first round more challenging with only four finishing under par. In the second round, many scores improved and a course record being set by Karolis Lukoseviciusa from Lithuania, who finished with -7 taking and was tied for the lead with Simon Wącior in the Open category. In the FPO (female division) a record breaking number of participants in Polish tournaments competed, with their skill being shown, notably on the 11th hole known as ‘Mordor’ where they had stunning throws able to land 20-30 meters to the basket on a 184 meter hole! Eleven is the signature hole of the tournament, this most scenic hole gives an opportunity to observe your discs flying downwards for a great distance up to 10 seconds! The basket is visible against a background of tall trees but landing in the vicinity is not synonymous with achieving a good result. Steeply inclined slopes make discs often roll down making every play difficult and risky. Even a throw from a few meters can have unwanted tragic results, meaning emotions can reach their peak on this hole. Notably Krzysztof Sadomski from Warsaw was the only participant to finish the hole in two shots scoring the one and only Eagle (having 2 points under par, in this case on a par 4) on the tournament.
On Sunday, all competetors played the third round with the top 50% going on to play in the final round consisting of the 6 hardest and most spectacular holes. Focus was on Szymon Wącior who took the lead after the third round and held it until the end winning the Polish Champion cup. Karolis Lukasevicius from Lithuania finished in second place and the third place went to Samuel Baumgartner from Switzerland. In the womens division Mireta Jurgeleviciute placed 1st, with Marta Wącior in 2nd, and Kamila Brücklerova from Czech Republic in 3rd. In the Masters category (players 40 or older), the first two places were taken by Miroslavas Jurgelevičius and Raimondas Mikalkenas from Lithuania, meaning all lithuanian players who drove 900 kilometers to compete returned home with a gold or silver medal! Amongst the Juniors were Tomek Kowalski in 1st place, and the youngest player Filip Brückler from the Czech Republic in 2nd place, being the only two in the Juniors to finish the tournament.
Disc Golf Poland, an organization representing the PDGA and event organizer, worked together on PDGC 2016 with multiple partners, to whom we sincerely thank.
Sponsors of the event include: Stowarzyszenie Zieleniec, Innova Discs, Discmania i AG-Complex, media partners: Panorama Ziemi Kłodziekiej i TVP Sport. We also thank the PDGA and DiscGolfPark for the ability to host such wonderful events. Accomodations: Hanka Relax & Spa, Vital & Spa Resort Szarotka i Hotel Zieleniec. Special thanks to Pavel Brückler, Piotr Onikki-Górski and Jan Świergiel (Disc Golf Warszawa), Marek Ziemiński, Mariusz Kielczyk, Veronika Tomilova and Michał Paszkowski for their help in organizing the event. Tournament Director: Szymon Wącior, Disc Golf Poland: represented by Artur Zduniuk. We invite you to join us on the next tournament at Zieleniec, and be assured that once again we will strive to provide a lot of challenges and entertainment. We would like to thank all of the players themselves because the atmosphere was great because of you. Thank you and we wish you many coming Aces.
Disc Golf Poland and Disc Golf Park representative
Translated by Jan Świergiel
Photos: Veronika Tomilova
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