For the second week in a row a local sport based in the heart of the Valley Lake area will overcome recent adversity and return to hosting big events.
Last weekend the mountain bike fraternity was out in force flying down the mountain at the Gravity Enduro, but this Sunday disc golf takes over at ground level.
For the first time since the January fires, Mount Gambier Disc Golf will hold a high-level event with the Crater Lakes Classic coming to town.
Held over two rounds, the Australian Disc Golf sanctioned event which also includes the annual club championships will bring 45 talented local and traveling players to the Valley Lakes.
Mount Gambier Disc Golf president Mat Weyers said it would be a proud moment seeing players back on the course having been unsure whether or not tournaments would be possible since the Valley Lake area was lit up.
“It will be pretty good to get out and play a tournament again,” he said.
“It is our second biggest event behind the Eruption, so we are really excited to be holding something despite the recent challenges accessing the course and et cetera.”
The biggest impact of the fire on the classic itself will be the location with the majority of the much-loved Pro layout closed due to the Browns Lake area being fenced off as the area continues to recover.
Weyers said it had forced MGDG to think on its feet and come up with some creative solutions to keep play possible and believes the nine-basket, dual tee layout will be a big test this Sunday.
“Obviously we have lost 18 holes from the regular course, but the beauty of it is we have four Pro-layout baskets including the one that goes over the Freemans Lagoon area.
“We also have a few other holes which we usually keep exclusive for the Eruption, but have been forced to use over the last six months.
“While we may not be using some of the familiar holes of the past, we have got some things that will be an interesting challenge and could surprise a few people.”
To keep play possible recently, MGDG has been forced to discover new and “untapped” courses at areas such as Sutton Reserve on Wireless Road and Clements Reserve near the Blue Lake.
These courses have been used at the club’s monthly league days, but were not going to be suitable for the big event.
Weyers said it had been harder to maintain numbers with the attraction of playing at one of the nation’s best courses diminished, while participation for this year’s classic has dropped from 52 to a maximum of 45.
“It has been a big challenge and a real battle for the club since the fire,” he said.
“We would also not usually run an event at this time of year, so we have had a reduction in numbers on league days.
“We used to get good numbers from Geelong and Adelaide areas because people wanted to play the course, but at the moment we are relying on local numbers and with restrictions peeling back people are going to other sports.”
Given the current state of affairs, Weyers confirmed it took a lot of work by everyone to get the event off the ground and they even attempted to re-open some of the Pro course.
“We have been working positively with council getting sign offs and approvals has been an extra layer for the committee, who have been working very hard behind the scenes,” he said.
“We hoped to get access to the full course, but unfortunately it was deemed unsafe for the participation levels, so we have had to work with council to use the Valley Lakes area and get approval for the full day.
“They are not going to make a decision until after winter, so at the moment we are just sitting on our hands trying to design a course taking in the safety of the public, whilst making it challenging for the players and utilising the space we have.”
Despite all the challenges, Weyers is still confident of a successful event with lots of talented players ready to take on the classic despite numbers being restricted due to the smaller nine-hole course.
Victorians Ryan Spangenberg (-17) and Cassie Sweetten (+5) are the names to look out for after they set the high-water marks last year.
“The registrations are capped because we are using a nine-hole layout with two tee offs on every basket,” Weyers said.
“But the numbers were filling up quickly with a couple of players from Victoria and Adelaide already putting their hands up casing national tour points.
“There are probably three or four major contenders who can take out the overall men’s title and there are a couple of very high-quality ladies as well.
“Locally Hayden McPherson, Daryl Pearson, Justin Clark and Alex Costales will be strong contenders.
“We have also got Kate Elridge, who has been a winner before and Amy Weyers to put their hands up.
“In the juniors we have our national champion Jessica Holman and Austin Holman also making a case.”
The opening round will tee off from 9.15am Sunday morning which will also include the MGDG June league day as the 2021/22 season finale.
After lunch players will take on the course again from 1.30pm with locals fighting for the Club Championship and everyone taking aim at the Crater Lakes Classic with 15 divisions on offer.