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Disc Golf Continues to Grow in Southeast Asia

Slinging in Singapore

Local Course Knowledge Trumps the Tourists

The verdict is in: South East Asia is rapidly evolving into a hotbed of our sport. Long known as a crossroads of ancient cultures and a paradise for food-aholics, the region is now an idyllic destination for players wishing to escape the rigors of winter and warm up their putters for the tour season ahead. Speaking of which, the inaugural PDGA event in the southeast Asian business hub of Singapore is officially in the bag. Twenty-seven amateur players from seven countries battled on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 on a 13-hole temporary layout in beautiful West Coast Park, with the C-Tier Singapore Sling set amidst majestic casuarina trees with one of the world's largest container ports in the background.

Major cities – New York immediately comes to mind – are among the most challenging locales to secure approval for the installation of permanent disc golf courses. Reasons include bureaucratic hurdles, difficulty in gaining access to high-level decision makers, density of land use, and the number of local interest groups and other parks users vying for their own recreational facilities. This is particularly true of Singapore, which is the world’s third largest financial and trading center. Singapore Parks representatives were also on site and it is hoped that the positive impression they left with will result in their approval of the first permanent course in this thriving city-state.

2019 Singapore Sling

Based on PDGA Player Ratings, the favorites included Thailand-based American Brock Pitzer and fellow American expat George Kamenos, who now calls South Korea home. But when the last putts settled in the traveler baskets, it was local shooter Leslie Anklovitch – a Canadian transplant tennis coach – who had seized the day and the crystal Advanced division trophy. One off the pace after the opening round, Anklovitch got energy and inspiration from a delicious Indian curry lunch, shooting a course record 4-under par 38 to secure the title. He finished three clear of Pitzer, four ahead of Finnish holiday taker Janne Salmi, and five up on Hawaiian Rad Shadd.

Singaporean (by way of Tennessee) Ryan Wiggins cruised to victory in the Amateur Masters 40+ division, besting Chuck Czepyha and China-based Aussie Tim Flanders. One of the several local Ultimate players in the event, Dorothy Skonieczka, proved the class of the Recreational Women division. A great time was had by all thanks to the flawless organization of Tournament Director Lance DuBos and his generous player packages.

Disc Golf Takes Flight in Malaysia

City of Johor Bahru hosts first PDGA event

When the awards ceremony at the Singapore Sling ended, many players headed for the causeway linking Singapore to the neighboring city of Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and the Attack of the Chains, the second of back-to-back groundbreaking C-Tiers in this new corner of the disc golf universe.

The southern Malaysia State of Johor is the newest must-visit stop on the “Asian Tour Swing.” Here Ohioan Eric Grover – he and his wife Jia Xin are teachers at the local Crescendo HELP International School - have been working wonders the past few 8 months. During this time, Grover has been the driving force behind the installation of four 9-hole courses in and around the city of Johor Bahru, including one at the Bale Equestrian and Country Club which on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019 played host to the Attack of the Chains, the first ever PDGA Tour event in Malaysia. Other key local movers and shakers include Dominic Poignee, basket welder extraordinaire, and Jason Fox who manages the Bale Club. Together they exemplify the local national slogan and what can be achieved when you “Bangkit Bersama” (Pull Together).

What really stood out at the tournament was the extent to which the locals, and not just transplanted expats, have quickly become smitten with disc golf as an exciting, new and affordable recreational activity. Among the field of 38 players were five Malaysian women and six juniors, several of whom exude a natural talent for throwing plastic. In fact, the youngsters are so fanatical and inspiring – playing as often as they possibly can – that the PDGA International Director awarded them all PDGA memberships.

2019 Attack of the Chains (Johor Bahru, Malaysia)

The event also featured a unique format: the Open division led off the staggered start, and, when all groups had completed the front nine, they turned around and played to the same nine baskets from the opposite direction using a completely different set of tee pads. When everyone was back in the clubhouse, by which time the pro contingent had finished lunch, the Open players then played a final round of 18.

Finland’s Janne Salmi secured his first PDGA event win in his second ever appearance, shooting 7-under par total to edge out Singapore disc golf honcho Lance DuBos by one and Saturday’s Singapore Sling winner Leslie Anklovitch by two. Among the always smiling women, local softball pitcher and sports major Nur Hareesa Shahaini exhibited great form in besting far throwing Johor Ultimate player Nabilah Ahsanuddin. Malaysian born Jean Poignee took home the trophy in the Juniors 18 & Under division, with Putera Nabil and Muhamad Shahqirin rounding out the medal positions.

In fact, several of the blossoming Malaysian aficionados have since journeyed – by 24-hour bus ride no less – to the Thailand Island of Koh Samui and the renowned Samui Swine Classic, where they’d soon be teeing off in southeast Asia’s marquee PDGA A-Tier event. All in all, the unfolding nascent development of disc golf in southern Malaysia is a most remarkable story indeed, for which, to Eric Grover, natural born leader and newly appointed PDGA Country Coordinator, we can only extend our most heartfelt appreciation and “Terima Kasih” (THANK YOU!).

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