The National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship has come a long way since 2007.
Tournament staff members, along with members of the Augusta Sports Council, announced Thursday at a news conference at Enterprise Mill that this year’s edition will feature 61 schools from across the country – a far cry from the six that competed in the inaugural event.
National qualifier rounds are scheduled to be held April 3, Tournament Director Alan Kane said.
The top four teams will complete the national championship field, which will play six rounds from April 4 to April 7.
Brian Graham, the executive director for the Professional Disc Golf Association, said the collegiate tournament is the most exciting of the year.
“(The PDGA) sanctioned this year probably 1,800 to 2,000 events in 24 countries around the world,” he said. “The collegiate disc golf championship is different than all of them in that you have team play, you have the kids wearing their school colors, doing their school chants. It’s got that college football feel about it.”
The tournament will feature the men’s and women’s national championships and the First Flight Championship for novice teams or for teams that did not make the national championship cut.
Teams are expected to arrive Sunday and will be able to practice immediately at the Hippodrome Disc Golf Complex in North Augusta, Kane said.
Of the 61 teams that registered, only 21 hail from the Southeast. Out of the remaining 40 teams, eight will travel from Colorado or farther.
Despite the distance, the athletes are always eager to make the cross-country trip, Kane said.
“They are committed,” he said. “They work hard all year to plan, coordinate their trip, to plan and coordinate trips to all of the qualifier events and win a spot out. They definitely spend a lot of time and money to get here to the Augusta area.”
NCDGC Chairman Emeritus Pete May added that even though the teams are classified as club sports, as opposed to varsity sports like basketball and football, the goal of the national championship is to treat disc golf just like any other college sport.
“We are going to treat it as it is just the same thing as Final Four basketball,” May said.
“We’re going to give it the same attention, we’re going to go after television and we are going to make it as great as it can be and not worry about what the status is at the colleges.”
Having grown exponentially over the past seven years, May insisted the tournament still has room to grow.
“We are probably the only type of sporting activity that could have 1,000 teams in round one,” he said.