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Pro Disc Golf and the Music City Open Experience a High-Flying Elevation to Elite Status at Mill Ridge Park in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) celebrated its 14th year in Nashville over Easter Weekend (April 07-09, 2023). Aptly named the Music City Open (MCO), the event brought top-tier athletes to Nashville, Tennessee to compete over three days. Disc Golf like many games has grown in popularity and the Pro Tour allows players an opportunity to make a living in the sport while encouraging kids to pick up a disc. Fans unable to attend in person could watch rounds and highlights on the Disc Golf Pro Tour YouTube Channel and the Disc Golf Network.

Lone Star Disc sponsored the PDGA's Music City Open in 2023.

While its more famous counterpart was also experiencing hampering inclement weather 390 miles to the Southeast in Augusta, Georgia this weekend - under the tournament direction of Zachary Hoy the Music City Open was debuting as an Elite Event in 2023. Now, it was up to the players in the men and women's fields to master the challenging course set up by Hoy.

The DGPT runs from February through October hitting sites across the U.S. and beyond. It was founded with the aim of showcasing professional players while encouraging fans to socialize and enjoying watching disc golf together. In order to do this, the premier competitions had to be organized into a geographically sensible tour with a focus on the best athletes to increase an interest in the sport.

There was a lot of high-flying action at the Music City Open in Nashville.

Thanks to a dedicated tournament team and volunteers the events keep getting better. Apparently, there is a thriving disc golf scene in Music City and many of the Music City Disc Golf members sustained this tournament with the title sponsor being Lone Star Disc.

This was team MCN's first time attending the MCO. We were given a general overview of how things worked along with some basic etiquette such as "please stand still and be silent" when an athlete is throwing. Similar to traditional golf, the players walk an 18-hole course encountering many obstacles along the way. They have bags of colorful discs and some players even had caddies. The dress was a bit more casual with some contenders sporting equipment logos on their clothes and many of the holes had branding from backers as well.

We got up close to the action taking place in Mill Ridge Park.

The conditions at Mill Ridge Park on day one was challenging as it was muddy due to rain earlier in the week. Also, it was windy and unseasonably chilly so the athletes had their work cut out for them but that is the nature of any outside sport. Many rose to the occasion by giving just the right curve to get their discs near the basket. We learned that there were two people keeping score on apps and volunteers were on hand to assist spectators with navigating the course and answering questions about the game.

There was a lot of high-flying action at the Music City Open in Nashville.

Fans can choose a number of options such as following one group through an entire round which can take a few hours. Others prefer to pick one spot. There were a number of cool vantage points at Mill Ridge where the athletes had to throw the discs over a body of water to get them to the green where the spectators were close to the action. MCN did a combination in which we followed one group for a few rounds. From our vantage point, hole three was one of the toughest even if it was short. It basically was a line of trees pointing towards a basket.

In addition to the competition there was a vending village with a number of food options. Of course, there were plenty of people selling discs and accessories related to the sport. Fans could meet up with the stars of the DGPT for signing sessions and a special expanded sale was held on Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. that featured more exclusive items and merchandise being sold by the disc golfers themselves.

Gibson Brands sponsored the 16th hole and contributed the tournament trophies.

It wouldn't be an event in Music City without including music and the arts. We had the pleasure of meeting up with the team from Guardians Alien - a disc golf community from Ohio. Artists Logan Walden and Jerod Black were on site working on a large scale panel as part of their effort to paint 18 murals that revolve around the theme of "Intergalactic Disc Golf".

Each mural represents a different hole or concept built around a disc golf course amidst science fiction landscapes and characters. They also had smaller pieces, clothing and disc golf collectibles for sale as they follow the DGPT in 2023.

Teeing off at the 16th hole at the Music City Open in 2023.

On the music front, Nashville's most famous guitar manufacturer Gibson Brands could not resist attaching their name to such a fun event. So, they sponsored the 16th hole where the closest disc to the basket or the first to hole out would win a guitar from them. Gibson also provided the Championship trophies for the Music City Open with both the guys and gals receiving a custom Gibson SG with the event's colors and logo prominently displayed on the instruments.

Hoisting that prize high in the air on the men's side following Sunday's final round was German-born Simon Lizotte who was given a 2 percent chance of winning the Music City Open at the start of the tournament but an impressive score of 54 gave him a one stroke victory over runner-up Anthony Barela. Lizotte - who said he actually does play guitar when not playing disc golf - was also given a first place check cut for $8,000 which all in all adds up to nice work for a few days walk in the park.

There was a lot of high-flying action at the Music City Open in 2023.

Mill Ridge Park was a perfect locale to host the tournament with plenty of hills, woods and waterways to provide a picturesque course. While the disc golf layout is temporary the park is getting a new playground and pavilions that will see it soon emerge as a crown jewel of the region.

The Music City Open showcased top talent and it was a fun introduction to the professional side of disc golf. It is always a pleasure to see people excel at something that they love while creating a scene that encourages the next generation to consider the sport. Currently DGPT has two divisions, one for men and one for women.

Artist Logan Walden, disc golf caddies and one of the chain linked basket that dotted the course.

The Pro Tour works with all players to promote local and onsite clinics, create media opportunities through hole and disc reviews and commentary, and creates complete season stats through their partnership with UDisc. There are many people committed to increasing the popularity of disc golf so consider checking out the DGPT when it comes to your town.

Men's champion Simon Lizotte and his custom Gibson SG. (Photo courtesy of the DGPT)

Related Links: For more information on the MUSIC CITY OPEN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Disc Golf Pro Tour | Guardian Aliens Disc Golf Club | Friends of Mill Ridge Park


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