Believe it or not, there was a time in the not too distant past when Disc Golf fans in Australia got a few brief, fleeting chances to see their heroes right here on Australian soil. In 2015, and later in 2017, the ‘Aussie Open’ was included on the PDGA Tour as a Major, bringing some of the biggest players in the world down under to battle it out. McBeth, Wysocki, Doss, Jenkins, Pierce, Allen, Reading, and Barsby were just some of the names that made their way to Mundaring to take on the course, but one name stands above them all for the impression left on one particular Australian Disc Golfer.
The name Simon Lizotte won’t be unfamiliar to anyone in the Disc Golf community these days, but at that stage, he was still a relatively new name on the US Pro Tour, having just carded his first win in the Glass Blown Open the year before. Simon placed second in the Aussie Open behind Paul McBeth (who was just about to kick off the ‘McBeast’ season of 2015), but definitely placed first in the hearts of Aussie Disc Golfers – none more so than MDGC President Jeff Brunsting.
L-R : Silver Koni (Visiting from Estonia), Brian Holden (past club and MDGC board member), David Heath, Mat Adams, Jeff Brunsting, Ra Cim (past MDGC president), Dr. Greg Bowers (original MDGC president), Greg “Catch” Marter, and Simon Lizotte
Recently this picture was shared by Melbourne Disc Golf Club President Jeff Brunsting. Whilst the names in the picture are enough in themselves to constitute a gathering of Melbourne Disc Golf royalty, the shy man who looks a lot like a young Simon LIzotte on the right, upon further investigation indeed proved to be, Simon Lizotte. For more information on the somewhat surreal sight of Simon in and MDGC shirt, standing near the course map of Ruffey Lake, I spoke with Jeff hoping to get the full story.
“I met him (Simon) at the Aussie open in WA” starts Jeff. “He told me he was coming to Melbourne after the open, and when I asked where he was staying, he said he didn’t know”. Without skipping a beat Jeff said “Well, you do now!” Brunsting’s next step was to call his wife, and let her know he was bringing home “Disc Golf royalty”. He reports that she was significantly less impressed than his son Allen…
Jeff then recounts that while Simon was only in town for a few days, he managed to fit on quite a few rounds with locals. One of which being a doubles round at Ruffey Lake Park, which is where the picture above was taken. A quick road trip to Geelong followed, and after the first round there, Simon wanted to play again! Word of mouth had spread, and there was a small crowd by this stage, to which Jeff threw out the call, offering the crowd the chance to play with Simon. Lizotte then replied “No, I want to play with them…’, and gestured toward the junior players in the crowd. These juniors happened to be some of the Geelong young guns of the day, including a young Dylan Feldman. As these young players took advantage of the chance of a Disc Golf lifetime, Jeff recounts that “Simon was fantastic at giving them tips, and even taking videos of their form and giving them advice”.
It would not have been a day out with Simon Lizotte of course, without some exhibition throws, and he did not disappoint here either, throwing “across most of Barwon Valley” as Jeff tells it. As it happens, Simon had just taken out the world distance record before making his way to Australia, and left Jeff a permanent reminder of this, which takes pride of place in Jeff’s home
SImon left Jeff this signed disc as a thankyou, which is in the same mold that he had just thrown to take the World Distance Record.
Back at Jeff’s home in Chelsea, Jeff also mentioned that Simon, Gregor Marter (simon’s minder at the time), Jeff’s son Allen, and himself also went out and threw some lines around Bicentennial Park, imagining what it might be like to have a course in that park. Fast forward to today, and a new course in Bicentennial Park has just been approved by council. Interestingly, many of the lines that the threw that day imagining a course in the distant future are now proposed holes for the course! So, when we throw discs in Bicentennial Park, we may well be throwing ‘Simon Lines’!
Thanks Jeff for sharing this unique and fascinating piece of Melbourne Disc Golf history, and I look forward to uncovering more of these stories in future!