Located at the northern end of Poverty Bay, Gisborne is yet another of New Zealand's gem locations - for living, visiting and of course for disc golf!
This fact was proven with a great First Light tournament in August of 2010. Or intrepid reporter Bob G headed down early to provide some support to the locals in growing the sport there, to play the tournament, take some pics and to write this story...
The late Bob Clark was the driving force of Disc Golf in Gisborne. We had talked numerous times since the course went into Alfred Cox Park right on his door step but didn’t meet until he came across to the Taupo Classic in 2009. What a great guy, and according to him was in heaven; living with the lady of his dreams (who was also an avid knee boarder), right beside one of the best surf breaks in the world and on top of that a permanent fully basketed 18 hole Disc Golf course just over the fence. Bob had played Disc Golf back in San Diego in California and didn’t realise the sport was establishing itself here in Gods own. He was so keen to see it happen he even paid for 9 of the baskets himself and did all the instillation and maintenance when the council, Sport Gisborne and Tourism Eastland had used up their available budget. He set up a local club, the ‘Gisborne Gold’s’ and encouraged locals to make use of this great amenity that was free to play.
Bob was keen for the NZDG Tour to come to his neighbourhood and had committed to TD a tour event but sadly found out he was very sick towards the end of 2009 and tragically passed away on new years day 2010. So I had no hesitation in taking over the running of the inaugural ‘Gisborne First Light Disc Golf Tournament’ and adding ‘Bob Clark memorial’ to the name. We will not forget this passionate man.
At the players meeting on the Saturday morning I was chuffed to see 18 competitors at this inaugural event, including Bob’s Gisborne playing buddy Rangi Harrison and his 9 year old son Taran. We had tour players from Auckland, Tauranga, Tokoroa, Taumarunui and a rent a crowd from Levin and were joined by the late Bob’s wife Suz for some quiet time to remember our mate before heading to our tees.
The format for the weekend was 4 rounds, 2 rounds each day with the morning rounds off the standard Tee’s and the afternoon rounds off the longer championship Tee’s installed on 4 holes.
The course feedback from players was all good, short but technical, accuracy was imperative especially the holes beside the river, there were a few who needed to come back at low tide to retrieve the odd disc.
Saturday evening saw Dean Marshall heading back to the motel with a 4 shot buffer on the pack and keen to set new course records after a good nights sleep .. but .. it didn’t go to plan. Sunday morning saw him shoot his worst round for the weekend and Auckland’s Damian Peters shoot his best, he bettered his first round short course record by 1 coming in with a 44 and taking the lead by 3. The battle was on for the final 18 Sunday afternoon. While all eyes were on Damian and Dean, ‘Mr. Consistent’ Blair Joines from the LTD in Taumarunui quietly whittle, whittle, whittled away at his playing partners and snuck home to take the inaugural Gisborne First Light Bob Clark Memorial by a solitary shot. Nice work Mr Joines, and the lesson to remember .. always keep your eye on the quiet ones.
In closing I would just like to add what a joy it is organising and running an event in a town where everyone is so supportive of our sport. The Gisborne City Council who came to the fore by mowing and line-trimming the course the day before the event, rescued from the river, fixed and replaced basket #9 and tee #10 and even came to see me in the park on the Thursday before the event to ask if there was anything else they could do for us. I asked if they could possibly put a plank over one wet slot in the park and the next day there was a bridge there. Brilliant! East Coast Tourism is a big supporter of the course and were always very positive about having it installed. They wanted the event to be a success so much they brought a radio campaign for the week leading up to the tournament and organised media interviews and photo shoots. They also have discs available to anyone who wants to have a round or two from their i-site which is right beside Tee One. Thanks heaps! Also we wouldn’t have a course there if it wasn’t for the crew at Sport Gisborne, especially now ex Sport Gisborne member Fiona Duncan who has remained super active with Disc Golf in Gisborne. I'd also like to thank Leanne and the crew at the Lone Star restaurant and bar for looking after us with drinks vouchers and vouchers for dinners at their excellent establishment.
We’ll be back, see you all again when we come to town for the 2011 Gisborne First Light Bob Clark Memorial, if not before.