In late 2004, Jaspaul Bul and Craig Sheather were part of the BC Disc Sports Society crew that had relaunched the Duck Golf Series after it had been dormant for a number of years. At that time, tournaments were generally not sanctioned with the PDGA and the PDGA did not have a real presence in BC. According to the PDGA website, there were no sanctioned tournaments in BC from 1998 to 2002; two tournaments were sanctioned in 2003 - the Summer Solstice Showdown that took place in Kamloops and the BC Provincial Championships that took place in Vancouver; and one tournament was sanctioned in 2004 – the Canadian Championships that took place in Kamloops. To put that in perspective, there were 36 PDGA sanctioned tournaments in BC in 2019.
Jas and Craig, with input from the likes of Peter Lizotte (tournament director of the 2003 BC Provincial Championships) and Hank Stropky, wanted to create an annual flagship event that would highlight the PDGA and become the major disc golf tournament in BC each year. They called it the BC Open.
They reached out to Clint Anderson (tournament director of the 2004 Canadian Championships and also the PDGA Coordinator for BC at the time) and Clint did all the paperwork etc. to get the July 2005 BC Open sanctioned as a B-Tier event in Vancouver and provided advice and counsel. Although Clint is listed as the Tournament Director on the PDGA website, he did not actually travel from Kamloops to Vancouver for the tournament.
97 players competed that weekend at Queen Elizabeth Park and Jericho Beach. In the Open Division, Glen Olivier beat Dario Re on a playoff hole for the win. Back then, players’ ratings and statistics were less important because TD reports, round scores, and ratings could take months to get updated. Can you imagine what players would be saying today if it was still the case? 13 women competed (which represented 13% of the competitors and is a higher percentage of women participants than we often see today). Johnny Mack even eloped with one of them (Heidi Weekes) who came up from Bellingham for the tournament and moved to the U.S. with her.
They provided player packs which was a tournament concept they had seen at big events in the U.S. but was not a practice in BC. The player pack included discs, shirts, etc. Craig still has a few items in storage to remember the inaugural BC Open. Jim Brown brought them in for them and Craig had to pay him in cash after the tournament as there was no way to prepay for a tournament at that time. Cash only entry fees were collected the morning of, stashed in an envelope and handed to Jim at the end of the day. How things have changed.
Today it is commonplace to run tournaments at Queen Elizabeth Park and use the arboretum. We even have permanent sleeves now. In 2005 that was not the case and disc golf did not have the best relationship with the Parks Board staff. It took numerous meetings and some heavy relationship building to finally get permission to use the extended areas of Queen Elizabeth Park for the event. Without it, they did not have an 18 hole course for the tournament. They borrowed players’ practice baskets and the BC Disc Sports Society’s portable baskets to create two temporary 18 hole courses. To have two courses for a tournament was also a new thing to the disc golf community in BC.
In 2007, no tournament directors stepped forward and the BC Open wasn’t held. To ensure that the event remained a mainstay of the disc golf scene in BC, the BCDS engaged more directly in sanctioning the event, ensuring base funding, and in recruiting skilled tournament directors. As a BC event, the BCDS continues to be a key partner in the event’s success, and the support of the membership continues.
The BC Open was a community effort from the beginning and to see how it has evolved over the years is incredible. Today it is BC’s flagship event and the vision has been realized. Different people at different times (see table below) have stepped up to provide leadership and nurture the BC Open. We would like to especially thank Jas, Craig, Peter, Dan Laitsch, Neville Collett, and Eric Vachon for their past efforts. The BC Open is in good hands today with John Gould-Thorpe and Stewart McIsack at the helm. All these people have been supported by countless volunteers who we should be grateful to for their contributions.
Additionally, thanks to the dedication of Stewart, Chris Hartmann, John, Michael van Elburg, Wes McIntosh, Ed Fogarty, Scott Doan, Randy Cawthorn, Konrad Beston, and our disc golf community, as of 2019, the BC Open has found a permanent championship caliber home at Raptors Knoll Disc Golf Park. We had rave reviews from participants of the BC Open 2019 and expect that this year’s tournament will be even better.
*the foregoing history is based on the recollections of Craig Sheather, Dan Laitsch, Eric Vachon and statistics from the PDGA website. If you have additional information you would like to include, please contact us.
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