One Saturday in 1998, seven men installed a nine-hole disc golf course in Jacques Cartier Park. It was the first official act of the Ottawa Disc Golf Club (ODGC), a group of volunteers determined to play –and grow– the sport in the National Capital.
The idea for a club grew out of a beery conversation in 1993, when a few Ultimate players reminisced about the disc-golf courses they had played in various cities. All agreed that Ottawa should have a course; one player took it upon himself to make it happen.
Over the next five years, ODGC founder Peter McKinnon negotiated the convoluted bureaucracies of Ottawa to gain approval for a site. He prepared proposals for several parks and presented them to officials with the cities of Ottawa, Gloucester and Nepean, and to the National Capital Commission.
While the process proved long and frustrating, McKinnon’s perseverance was fueled by the belief that once a course was installed, the sport’s popularity would skyrocket. He was also encouraged by the support of The Ottawa Carleton Ultimate Association, which contributed $600 in seed money and agreed to cover any insurance costs. McKinnon’s persistence finally paid off in 1998, when a young official with the NCC convinced his superiors to grant the club a temporary lease.
Over the next few days, McKinnon had sold 11 charter memberships at $200 each, raising enough money for pole holes, tees, and signs. The course drew dozens of players that first weekend; a few months later, an inaugural tournament, the Plaid Jacket, attracted more than 40 players.
The course, the club and the popularity of the sport have all grown substantially since then: new tournaments were organized; extra holes and tees were added; a weekly league was formed; a generous sponsor came on board. In 2002, the course hosted its first professional event.
That same year, Peter McKinnon stepped down as President, keen to pass on the responsibilities of running an increasingly busy club. Today, an elected board of executive members shares this task, endeavouring to promote the sport throughout the region.
– Peter McKinnon