Baltic Sea Tour – Growing Disc Golf in New Countries
Have you ever heard the history of disc golf in the Baltic countries? Any clue how it all started?
Disc golf has been played in the Baltic since the year 2002, when the first courses were established in Estonia (Maeotsa) and Lithuania (Zarasai). The sport came with support from Sweden and Finland – the biggest disc golf countries in Europe. Format of play was more fun those days – recreational round after some Ultimate matches, or simply a fun round for a bunch of friends.
It all changed in 2008 with initiative from Estonian players, and support from some Lithuanians and Latvians – let’s make something bigger for ourselves! That’s how the Baltic Sea Tour was born and came to be in 2009.
The mission for the Tour has been very clear since the beginning – make highest level disc golf competition and – most importantly – support the growth of the sport in Baltic countries!
The format was also made simple and accessible – only two divisions were played. Open and Amateur (that included juniors <17, grandmasters+ and women).
The Tour was launched in 2009 with 4 tournaments across 3 countries. Overall winner in 2009 was Losif Yusim from Russia. The amateur division was won by Estonian grandmaster Einar Sauk – the owner of the first permanent 18 hole course in the Baltics.
2010 started with very positive changes. The tour became a PDGA approved series (C-Tiers). More and more Finnish players started traveling to Baltic tournaments, holding clinics for the local players. Not surprisingly, the overall winner came from Finland – ex-European Champion Ville Piippo won the title quite easily. The amateur division was led by growing Lithuanian junior talent Gabrielius Gricius.
The third season saw a surge of interest by players and expansion of the tour. It grew to six tournaments and expanded boundaries, including one tournament in Finland (Helsinki Open, played on th famous Tali course). It also saw first sponsors coming into help – Finnish retailer Frisbeepoint was kind to support each tournament with merchandise. The competition grew stronger and stronger and top positions were decided only in the last tournament. Finnish master Veli Berglund finished above the rest. Lithuanian junior Pranciskus Gricius (only 12 years old at that time) won first place in the amateur division. The Tour had well over 100 players participating with many touring through most of the tournaments.
The fourth season is came to its end this weekend with the last tournament on the oldest permanent course of Lithuania in Zarasai. While the winner of the Amateur division had already been decided – Pranciskus Gricius defended his title again, the Open division was not so easilty determined. Miko Fyhr of Finland had a very good chance of winning the title (4th place in the last tournament would clinch the title for him), but current leader Gabrielius Gricius of Lithuania could still have given him a fight for the title.
With the Zarasai Open closing the tour, organizers are already looking forward to next year. It’s a pleasure seeing the great results that the Tour has given to these countries. Estonia grew in building courses – having 15 permanent courses installed (compared to 2 or 3 when the Tour started); Gabrielius Gricius of Lithuania has finished 3rd in Junior division in European Championship this year; Latvia has finally installed the first permanent course in Laumas. It’s all thanks to the hard work and dedication of Baltic disc golf enthusiasts and volunteers.
Visit www.balticseatour.eu for more information.
Baltic Sea Tour Manager
Lithuania Country Coordinator