World disc golf champ loves Tahoe course
“World class” has been the mantra for the volunteer builders and designers of the disc golf course at Bijou Community Park since its inception in 1993.
On Saturday, the best player in the world confirmed the goal has been achieved.
Ron Russell, the defending world champion from Michigan, played the 27-basket course along with several more world-class players from the region who are preparing for next week’s Triple Nugget event in Northern California.
“It’s majestic,” said Russell, during the highest-level skins contest Tahoe has ever had. “It’s a great course. It’s picturesque and beautiful. It’s long and it’s laid out correctly. I like how you can begin the course from three different spots.”
The high-caliber group of eight, which included Geoff and Johnny Lissaman of Grass Valley, Calif., and Harold Hampton of Orangevale, Calif., began their round on No. 16.
The course was set up in its longer and more technical positions. Signature 16, with it’s postcard backdrop of Freel Peak, was in the longest position at 530 feet.
Russell, taking his first shot of the day, drove 465 feet – leaving him with, if you are the world champ, a birdie opportunity. His long putt clanked the basket, on line but an inch low.
Hampton, however, took the first skin with a 100-foot shot.
The group played on for several hours, enjoying a low-key atmosphere at a championship course.
The players were preparing for a three-event series held at Grass Valley, Browns Valley and Santa Cruz. At the Triple Nugget, Russell will face nine-time world champ Ken Climo, who was finally knocked off at the 1999 world championships in Rochester, N.Y.
It’s likely Russell and Climo will someday square off in Tahoe.
But it won’t happen this year.
“I’d definitely play at the Bijou, but I am committed to the In Flight Open in Lansing, Mich.,” Russell said. “I’ve won it two years in a row, so I have to play it.”
The Bijou tournament, which acquired the Tahoe Daily Tribune as its title sponsor a year ago, is a Super Tour, national circuit event this year for the first time. An amateur tournament will be June 10-11, with the pros coming June 17-18.
While Russell won’t be in Tahoe, the rest of his skins competitors from Saturday will be. And organizers for the Tribune tournament will no doubt make sure its tournament in 2001 won’t be on the same weekend as the In Flight Open.
“I love it up here,” Russell said. “If it doesn’t conflict, I’ll be up here for sure. This place is awesome.”
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