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Conquering the Kootenai: Disc golfers take on river at Troy event

by Canda HarbaughWestern News
| June 23, 2009 12:00 AM

An amateur disc golfer won “Discs Across the Kootenai” – an event that has been referred to as the icing on the cake of Troy’s Timberbeast disc golf tournament.

“It’s almost unheard of,” said participant McCoy Connor about an amateur winning the long drive competition over the Kootenai River, which has happened now for two straight years.

Scott Wardian of Spokane Valley, Wash. was awarded $100 after his disc sailed the approximately 500 feet over the river and then slid up the boat ramp at Roosevelt Park.

Damien Hoffman of Missoula won the pro men’s division at Saturday’s tournament with 22 below par and 86 strokes. Connor of Missoula was runner-up one stroke over Hoffman – taking second place for the third year in a row.

Connor was also runner-up in the “Discs Across the Kootenai,” a long drive competition that takes more than just strength, according to Erik Nugent, tournament organizer and founding member of Garden City Flyers in Missoula. 

“It’s not about how strong you are,” Nugent said. “You have to have technique.”

David Dick of Missoula prepared for Saturday night’s throw by scoping out wind conditions over the river. Though the wind was calm on shore, he learned after tossing tree cotton from the bridge that the wind was blowing south over the river.

It was bad news for some throwing techniques.

“Forehands will be money,” Dick said to tournament co-organizer Brian Bjortomt, “but not backhands.”

More than 20 participants stood on the 40-foot cliff to take as many tries as they wished, or as many as they had discs, to make it over the river. Children camped out at the boat ramp, preparing to jump in and retrieve discs that landed close to the water’s edge.

With every one that made it to shore, the crowd clapped, cheered and whistled. 

Dick put a few across the river. Connor, a former Discs Across the Kootenai winner, sent five out of six onto the opposite shore.

“Unfortunately, it’s one I probably could have sold on ebay for $100,” Connor said while everyone packed up after the event.

The contest is just one of the reasons why Connor looks forward to Timberbeast.

“It’s my favorite (tournament) of the year, no doubt about it,” Connor said. “The long-drive just caps it off.”

Timberbeast has seen another year in which it will probably be the biggest disc golf tournament in the state, organizers said.

The secret?

“Troy really opens their arms up and says ‘come on in,’” Nugent said. “The difference is coming to a place where the whole town is behind it.”

Connor mirrored Nugent’s thoughts. He pointed out Troy community involvement and recalled the mayor and his son setting up tee boxes before last year’s tournament.

“It’s the atmosphere,” Connor said. “What seems like the whole town shows up to watch. This is really actually a special thing here.”