San Juan Island Open to be nationally sponsored

The 4th annual San Juan Island Open will be held on Saturday, April 27 at Roche Harbor disc golf course on Rouleau road in Roche Harbor. This will be the first time that the event will be sponsored by the Professional Disc Golf Association as a C-tier event. While A-tier events can go up to a week and must include a minimum of 54 holes, C-tier events can be completed in one day with a minimum of 18 holes, and PDGA membership is not required to compete.

Rich Miller, Friday Harbor resident and disc golf enthusiast – “one of the oldest guys out there” at 76 – has been playing disc golf at Roche Harbor for a few years as a way to stay active. According to Miller, the disc golf scene at Roche Harbor is an impressive one, with 18 tees located in open areas as well as in the woods, offering a variety of technicalities and challenges for a range of different skill levels. Additionally, the course is completely volunteer-operated and maintained, and Miller believes the course only continues to improve thanks to the dedication of the volunteers.

Every Sunday, a doubles tournament is held at the course with a $5 dollar entry fee. The best throw between each two-person team is counted, and cash prizes based on the number of participants are given to first and second-place teams. According to Miller, the April 14 doubles tournament had 25 players participate.

The course is host to a variety of players, from families with children and beginners to players who compete in A-tier PDGA events. A few of these players took the time to complete the paperwork and apply to have the San Juan Island Open sanctioned by the PDGA. Miller hopes that the annual event will continue to be nationally sponsored from this point forward.

As of April 17, the tournament has 72 players registered in the following categories: Mixed Pro Open, Mixed Pro Open 40+, Mixed Pro 50+, Mixed Amateur 1, Mixed Amateur 2, Mixed Amateur 40+, Mixed Amateur 50+, and Women’s Amateur. The first round begins at 9:30 a.m. and goes until 12:30 p.m. with the second round beginning at 1:30 p.m. after an hour-long lunch break and the round will end at 4:30 p.m. Although spectators are welcome to come, carpooling is highly encouraged due to limited parking.

Miller listed a number of reasons why disc golf is becoming a faster-growing sport on the island, including the serenity of the course, the economic advantages, and the supportive community.

“The course is open to everyone; it’s rare on a nice day to not see anyone playing,” said Miller. “The course is free to use and we even have a kiosk at the course with a locker that has frisbees you can borrow to play, it’s very economical. And everyone is supportive; there’s always a comment and it’s always positive. It’s an all-year long sport and it’s open anytime anyone wants to play.”