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Seeds Planted, Trip To China Wraps Up

A scene from the opening ceremony of the Xiamen Beach Ultimate Open. Photo: Brian Hoeniger

When we last checked in from overseas, the PDGA and Prodigy Team contingent in China had arrived back in Shanghai by bullet train. They then took to a sports field at an experimental middle school in the country’s largest district to introduce disc golf to teachers and students, who were already learning ultimate Frisbee. The school’s 350 to 400 students spectated from the sidelines and oohed and ahhed as Will Schusterick and Dave Greenwell launched midranges and drivers the length of the pitch and beyond.

From there, PDGA International Director Brian Hoeniger flew to the southern coast of the Fujian province and the beautiful tourist mecca and island garden city that is Xiamen (pronounced Shaa-men), where he reunited with Yikun Discs and China Disc Golf Center Director Eric Yingfeng Xu and Prodigy Disc President Michael Sullivan. The crew then took in the World Flying Disc Federation-sanctioned Xiamen Beach Ultimate Open, an event hosted by Yikun and the Xiamen Tourist Bureau, complete with sponsorship from local businesses that included a real estate development company, a Xiamen bank, a brewery, and a coffee house.

One of the highlights of the event was the opportunity to meet the coed squad from the Philippine Island of Boracay and to welcome them into disc golf and the PDGA International Program, again planting the seeds of relations with another eastern Asia country. This team is a remarkable rags-to-riches success story – they have finished in the medals at the World Championships and beaten the likes of the United States and Canada – thanks to great mentors and the kids’ pure love of, and dedication to, the game.


A group of educators attempts their first putts during a disc golf exhibition in China. Photo: Brian Hoeniger

While the beach ultimate tournament provided the backdrop, the real reason for the visit was to meet the local city and provincial decision-makers and VIPs who are keen to invest in making Xiamen the center of disc sports in China. In terms of disc golf, their vision is for a professional training facility at a to-be-determined course site that will, with time, spawn the first Chinese players capable of competing on the world stage. A former nine-hole ball golf course in a local national park – China is closing golf courses because they represent an elitist and ineffective use of land that is not readily available to the general public – could become the stage where disc golf takes flight if the various levels of approval can be secured for this dream project to soon begin moving forward.

Now we are all back in Ningbo, where our whirlwind journey started a mere two weeks ago, packing our bags for the long flight home. Overall it’s been a remarkable and unforgettable experience, and we hope that the seeds we have sown will soon sprout and bear fruit. From a PDGA perspective, one thing is clear: Eastern and Southeastern Asia are quickly becoming the next hotbed for our sport, which is well-established in Japan and spreading into Thailand, South Korea, and other countries in the region. China, as you can imagine, is the keystone piece of the puzzle.

In the meantime, on behalf of the PDGA and Prodigy Team, it is my privilege to say shin-ko-la! – thank you so much! – to Yikun Discs, the CDGC, and to all the local decision-makers and educators we have met for the unmatched hospitality and generosity they have shown us every step of our long journey across the land of dragons.

Xie xie and zai-jian!

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