Artist Ryan Advent: creator of the Arnold Classic stamps for the past 5 events
During the month of March the weather has the chance to be almost anything. While some disc golfers flock to Arizona and the Memorial Championship, others remain back in their home state and takes what Mother Nature dishes out. This past week was the 5th Annual Arnold Classic played at the Walnut Hills disc golf course in sunny Columbus, Ohio. Perhaps “sunny” wasn’t the most useful adjective in the arsenal considering…more on that later.
In 2015, Arnold Schwarzenegger and representatives of his Arnold Sports festival reached out the Columbus Flyers Disc Golf Club to inquire about holding a disc golf event that would coincide with the festival’s arrival to Ohio. From that fortunate meeting the Arnold Classic was born.
With every stop of the Arnold festival, multiple sports are presented to children to get them excited about a healthy lifestyle & physical fitness and this year’s “Kids Expo” was no exception. Volunteers from Central Ohio were onsite to ensure that the sport of disc golf was well represented at the festival
Head of sales for the Columbus Flyers, Ken Blackwood suffered a stroke in 2012, but has a passion for disc golf that runs so deep he has volunteered his time at nearly every event including this year’s Kids Expo.
Another addition to this year’s Arnold Classic was a separate day of field event and a doubles tournament to raise the excitement for the event. Tournament Director, Dean Barbo worked hard to make this edition of the Arnold the best ever.
Holding a disc golf tournament in Ohio at the beginning of March can lead to some unusual weather conditions for the event. Columbus Flyers President, Cory Clark recalled one extraordinary experience the second year in its history, “That year it was so cold that the ground froze before we could plant all the flags on the course. The flags are only the thinnest of wire but still a no go. So we had to use a drill gun to make holes in the frozen earth. But we had to be quick getting the flags in because the ground would re-freeze within seconds.”
Last week’s event may not have been quite that cold, but just as the tournament began the temperatures dropped, the snow began to fall, and the course turned into a winter wonderland much to the chagrin of the competitors. The weather aside, everyone came bundled, and ready to battle the snow and each other.
In the Novice division the standout player was Chris Acquista (pictured above). This amateur player won his division by 5 strokes to take down his second victory of his young tournament career.
Perhaps the weather may have been the reason why many players were grouped tightly within the pack and the Recreation division felt this as well as Paul Harris (+12) won by a lone stroke over Wayne Harpster (+13).
Another highlight of the event was Advanced player Ben Foster (pictured below) taking a victory away from Evan Hughes with the help of 13 pars the final round.
You might be asking yourself why pars are the highlight of his round. The Walnut Hills course is long and difficult under the best of circumstances, but when you add the wind and snow, pars become a welcomed score.
In the Open division, Manuel Spicer had one of the most solid two rounds at the event. He took down the pro division by shooting a 979 and a 999 rated round with snow under his feet most of the day. Manuel won the event by 6 strokes over Ben Creger and Steve Duros.
Christine Jennings (pictured above) braving the snowy footing
The idea behind the partnership between the Columbus Flyers Disc Golf Club and The Arnold Classic Festival is to show the potential of what a human being can do when they push themselves to the limit. There are no doubts that all the competitors of the 5th Annual Arnold Classic needed a little extra perseverance to make it to the finish line. But for those who braved the cold and the snow to reach the summit this year, they know what it feels like to be a champion.