One Players Journey of Discovering Disc Golf
Paves The Way For Others To Explore The Sport
Story by Alley L. Biniarz
Photography by Christopher Underwood
Before 2019, Chantel Budinsky had never heard of disc golf. Now, she’s on her way to making it pro.
Disc golf is played similarly to golf with an objective to complete each hole with the fewest throws, except instead of using a ball and clubs, disc golfers use a flying disc or frisbee.
Chantel and her fiancé Christopher first noticed the sport in July while walking their dogs in Lakewood Park, where there are baskets located around the green area. They were completely intrigued by it; and by August, they were already buying their starter pack.
“It was actually the perfect sport to go play socially distanced during the pandemic,” Chantel explains that disc golf is a more solitary sport. They started by playing the course in Windsor only to continue looking for more courses all over Ontario until it slowly started taking over their lives, she says. Now, they even have a portable basket in their house for daily practice, especially as Chantel transitions into the professional division.
Chantel tested her skills for the pro league last August when she went to Amateur Worlds. “I didn’t really know what to expect since the Canadian scene is much smaller. When we got to Florida and saw the major tournament, I wasn’t sure how I was going to place. I practiced a lot and I went to win, but I wouldn’t know until I played,” Chantel explains her pre-tournament nerves. Although once she played through a couple of days, she thought she might actually have a shot at this.
By the third round she was in first place, but then every time she would be doing well, she says those nerves would rise up and sabotage her score; the following day she didn’t end up on the lead card. The funny thing was, as soon as she was at the bottom again, Chantel would regain her confidence and work her way back up. “I never played many sports before now and never felt that pressure to perform, so that was an adjustment. I feel like that was what was holding me back: the mental part of it.”
In that last round, she wasn’t sure if she would make it to the top four. “My legs and arms were jello from playing a few days straight, yet somehow I made it and placed third. Ever since then, that feeling of adrenaline and wanting to get better is what has motivated me,” Chantel adds.
Chantel has played tirelessly in her first full year in the female professional division, having worked her way up from throwing a beginner length of 150 feet to her personal record of 385 feet. Since transitioning into pro, she has been trying to play as many professional events as she can afford. Many of the events are in Michigan with there being as many as one per week, along with practicing every day, and participating in three or four day tournaments. On top of her existing work schedule, she says it’s been a busy but exciting lifestyle so far.
“It’s hard. It’s very expensive if you don’t have a sponsor helping out. I’ve now been approached by Prodigy Disc and am happy to say I’ve signed a 2-year contract with the company. They believe in my future and will help support my tour these next coming years.”
Chantel says that with the growing traction of the sport since the pandemic and its gaining popularity on YouTube, there will be a lot more opportunities found in playing disc golf. She adds that the female division is still small compared to the men’s. Her local league currently has four women but seeing the size of Toronto’s division growing gives her hope for the sport.
She would love to see more people become involved in disc golf, as it’s a great sport to get into for all ages as it’s not demanding on the body and is an inexpensive hobby. “You don’t have to go out and get a special disc—although those make the throwing a lot more fun. You can just grab a frisbee and go out with friends and family and have a lot of fun for free.” After that, if anyone wants to take it up a notch, Chantel suggests to contact the league and see if there are discs available for purchase or perhaps a used one that can be borrowed. “Everything else you can find through videos. Just quickly Google some techniques, get out there, and have fun!”
“When you first start, it’s pretty tricky. The course we have here in Windsor is beginner friendly because of how open and short the holes are. Some courses we’ve played are more wooded than the others, and you have to throw your disc through a tunnel of trees to the basket,” Chantel says these are her favourite courses, despite being more challenging. “Along with the one in Windsor/Tecumseh, they’ve also installed a six-hole pitch and putt course in Amherstburg that’s very beginner friendly and great for anyone looking to explore the sport.”
You can watch Chantel’s progress through her YouTube channel, Miss Frisbees, which her fiancé Christopher helps run. He enjoys capturing the background footage of her journey, where you can find all her practice clips, behind the scenes work, and watch Chantel take on the professional division of disc golf.
For more information on how to get involved, visit windsoressexdiscgolf.com.