Scenes from the 2018 European Disc Golf Championship
August 21, 2018 by Bogi Bjarnason in Coverage with 0 comments
Once every two years the European disc golf community gathers for an event that will determine whom amongst the 6,000-plus disc golfers from the continent is the best. Safely tucked away in the stunning valley retreat of Sveti Martin na Muri, Croatia, far from the piercing threat of American putter penetration, lies a beautifully varied course. Over the course of four days, it would challenge most aspects of the arsenal packed by the chosen 200 players from 27 different European nations.
The Spa & Golf Resort Sveti Martin na Muri is a truly magical place; one where the building blocks for greatness are clearly delivered and are patiently awaiting assembly.
The seclusion of the resort is total and the amenities endless. Before tee-time each day one could easily enjoy a continental breakfast, go for a swim at the pool complex or get a massage and a quick haircut, and with time to spare, fit in a full ball golf putting session on the very short stroll from the lobby to extremely elevated tournament tee. From that tee the view of the valley is breathtaking, and the challenge ahead nerve wrecking. But above all else, the venue is fit for royalty.
When darkness falls and spirits are elevated beyond what can be considered kosher for the posh confines of the hotel bar, said spirits wander a wee bit down the road. There, stronger spirits are served in aprés-ski style settings at a local haunt reminiscent of the Austrian Alps. The spirits are free to soar at will, but not for too long though, as the hours of operation are modeled more on those of an English village pub, and less on those of the infamous Berghain club.
For a more cultured event, we were ferried by bus to a local winery whose name is remembered only by more sober types than myself. There, in the very opulent settings of a large farmhouse straight out of an old WWII epic, those who are partial to such pretentious things as wine tastings were privy to such a pretentious thing as an actual wine tasting.
In these settings, the challenging temporary 18th hole on the tournament course was not really the crown jewel of the Croatian experience, but more of a side order to the veritable smörgåsbord of delights offered by the area. If, however, the course were to become permanent, the Spa & Golf Resort Sveti Martin na Muri could easily become a go-to vacation destination for disc golfers the world over.
As for the championship itself.
In the sweltering Croatian heat there were to be no surprises or upsets, and as expected, the German imperial eagle Simon Lizotte swooped down from its high perch to throw the fear of god into the Finnish proles who ceaselessly seek to depose him. Although Finnish driving wizard Seppo Paju made a valiant charge at the German stronghold, the ‘Gates of Doom’ that guard the entrance to the island green of hole 1 ultimately were his undoing, as a triple bogey on round three forced him to finish five behind. Bringing up the rear of the podium was the soon to be familiar face of young umlaut-king Väinö Mäkelä, who seems destined for poster-boy status on the European continent for the next decade and beyond. All this was, of course, easily predicted by anyone with the most cursory knowledge of European disc golf.
All was quiet on the women’s front as well, as the season past has accustomed us all to seeing Estonia’s Kristin Tattar regularly rub elbows with Finnish pillars Henna Blomroos and Eveliina Salonen atop podiums across the continent. What brought home the trophy for Blomroos, in the end, was an absolutely dominating 1024-rated second round where she outpaced second-place finisher Salonen and bronze medalist Tattar by six and eight strokes respectively on her march to score an 8-under par 54.
Although trophies and a couple year’s worth of bragging rights are certainly a tasty icing on the cake. The European Championship also serves as a kind of bi-annual version of the United States Disc Golf Championship where the European scene gathers to party, hang, and have the odd PDGA meeting. And may it be so for many years to come.