Champ wants to slip discs into city park

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

On Terry Pratch­ett’s Dis­c­world it sort of makes sense that a game called disc golf would ex­ist.

When you are three times New Zealand women’s disc golf cham­pion, it makes even bet­ter sense that the game ex­ists right here, right now.

Not only women’s champ for the last three years, but Gemma Sul­li­van is a mem­ber of the first New Zealand disc golf team to be sent to a world cham­pi­onships. The six player ‘‘black discs’’ (kid­ding – they have no such name) are off to com­pete in Van­cou­ver, Canada in Au­gust.

Gemma is fundrais­ing for the trip, and sell­ing raf­fle tick­ets for a prize pack that is on dis­play where she works in the Wat­tyl Valspar paint sup­plies store on the cor­ner of Camp­bell and Wald­ing St.

The shop is also where she’s known to her workmates as ‘‘Gemma Ko’’.

The metal sculpted thing with chains set up nearby is a disc golf hole or tar­get. Ex­am­ples of the three dif­fer­ent weighted and edged discs used to play the game – a driver for dis­tance, a midrange ‘‘iron’’, and a smaller rounded edge put­ter, are also dis­played.

‘‘It’s just the same as golf, only we use discs.’’ Play­ers even yell ‘‘Fore!’’. The game in some form or other has been around since 1926, but got a re­boot in the 60s when the fris­bee fly­ing disc came along. It is still known as fris­bee golf, and has been fea­tured on SkyS­ports and Prime’s The Crowd Goes Wild.

‘‘It’s the sec­ond fastest grow­ing game in the world and it’s re­ally easy to get hooked on.’’

There’s even a bid to see disc golf in­cluded in the Com­mon­wealth Games.

It was Gemma’s fa­ther who got her and her brother Jack­son play­ing when she was aged about 12. Her fa­ther still com­petes; her mum cad­dies. ‘‘It’s a great scenic walk.’’ So keen is the 25-year-old Kiwi ‘Game of Throwns’ queen to see the all-ages fam­ily-friendly pas­time achieve greater pro­file, she has sub­mit­ted a com­pre­hen­sive pro­posal to the City Coun­cil to set up a per­ma­nent eight hectare, 18-hole course, one she and her brother would de­sign, as part of the devel­op­ment of the Lin­klater Block.

The near­est cour­ses for Gemma to prac­tise on are in Up­per Hutt and Pe­tone.

‘‘It’s huge in Queenstown - where there are two cour­ses. Ev­ery­where peo­ple there are walk­ing around with fris­bees.

‘‘If there was a course in town,’’ she says, ‘‘I would be spending all my spare time on it.’’

‘‘‘It’s the sec­ond fastest grow­ing game in the world and it’s re­ally easy to get hooked on.’’ – Gemma Sul­li­van

. PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

Aim­ing for the disc golf world champs in Canada, New Zealand women’s cham­pion Gemma ‘‘Ko’’ Sul­li­van wants to set up a course in the Lin­klater Block

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