The Parkland Association of Disc Golf has now its fourth edition of its Championship Challenge.
And, for the fourth straight year, a new champion took home the Yorkton Lions Club Trophy, and the Championship Jacket.
The championship, this year sponsored by Grain Millers, was held Saturday at the Churchbridge Credit Union Course, with Regina’s Gage McKay putting in a steady performance over three rounds at the 12-basket course. When the day was complete McKay had topped the Open Division with a minus-five score of 109.
McKay edged defending champion Mark Kienle of Wadena who shot a minus-two 112.
Nick Leclerc of Yorkton was third at a plus-seven 121, with Ian McKay of Regina fourth at 122, and Moosomin’s Josh Istace fifth at 123.
McKay said the PADG Grain Millers Championship Challenge win was big for him in terms of what he puts into being a disc golfer.
“For me winning the championship means the hard work and practice paid off,” he said. “It was something I set as a goal to win from the moment I first heard about it.”
McKay added he appreciates the past winners, Chris Hoyt of Regina in 2016, Jack Talsma of Fort Qu’Appelle in 2017, and Kienle in 2018, are all terrific disc golfers.
“To join the people on the list of previous winner’s means my disc golf skill had progressed at a great rate,” offered McKay.
So what was working for McKay who qualified placing second at the Katepwa Tournament early in the season?
“As for things that were working for me, I constantly put myself in good positions for birdie looks or par,” he said. “I had a 225-foot (roughly) throw in on basket two, and I rode the high for the remainder of the first round, only carding one bogey throughout and no OB (out-of-bounds).
“I tried to keep a positive mindset and attack when given the opportunity.”
The course of course plays into how one plays, and Churchbridge is a new challenge having been installed earlier this year.
“I really enjoyed it,” said McKay. “There are some demanding gaps that you have to hit. It really forces you to make good shots, and if you don’t then you have to scramble pretty hard to save a birdie -- most likely a bogey.”
But, it still came down to not letting other players dictate his game, said McKay.
“The greatest challenge would have to of been the other competitors, knowing that if I made a couple mistakes there were a couple guys right behind me,” he said. “So it forced me even more to make good shots and long putts.”
The championship comes after a relatively short time throwing golf discs for McKay.
“I started disc golfing at the end of May 2018, a really funny story how it happened,” he said. "My father destroyed me in ball golf in Katepwa and I was in a sour mood. My brother Nicholas Leclerc (who was already an avid disc golfer) suggested we play disc golf in Katepwa to blow off some steam and have some fun.
“Reluctantly, I agreed and actually had such a great time he lent me some discs and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
So why the instant love?
“The thing I like the most about disc golf is the versatility, you can play it for fun, or you can play it competitively. The friendships and time I’m able to spend with my brothers and father while playing makes it even that much better,” said McKay.
In addition to the huge trophy and jacket, McKay also picked up a Prodigy practice baskets.
Jackets and baskets also went to the top golfers in three other decisions as well.
Repeating at Women’s Champion was Sandy Kerr of Yorkton throwing a plus-27 103 over 24 baskets.
Doug Kerr took the 50-plus Division with a plus-six 82 over defending champ Karl Leimhofer of Inglis, MB. who shot a plus-14 90. Trevor Lyons was third at 98.
In the Junior Division, again played over 24 baskets Chase McKay of Balcarres, brother of the Open Champion, took top spot with a plus-eight 84, two better than Kade Wishneiveski of Kamsack who through a plus-10 86.
In the Legacy Co-op longest drive finale Gage McKay tossed a winning throw of 460-feet to take home a Simon Lizotte autographed disc.
The Champion's Challenge longest drive competition was won by Mark Kienle with a 430-foot drive to win a Paige Pierce autographed disc.
The 2020 edition of the PADG Champions Challenge is already set for Oct. 18, with the Sandy Beach Disc Golf Course (on Good Spirit Lake), the host course.