European Open 2019 as a spectator

The famous hole 1 at The Beast.

This year’s European Open was second for me, as a spectator (never attended as a player though). As usual, European Open is held at the famous temporary course, The Beast, located in Nokia, Finland (a heavilly modified version of the permanent 12-hole course Nokia DiscGolfPark). Personally, I would consider Beast one of the best courses in Finland, would it be a permanent course.

This year, the European Open was held on July 18-21 (with Presidents Cup held on July 17) with 4 rounds and about 150 players from over 15 countries (Tyyni 2019 had almost 1000 players, but didn’t attract all of the best).

Historically, the European Open has attracted the best players in the world, so one can expect good golf and amazing shots during the competition. Paul McBeth, the reigning champion, has won the European Open 4 consecutive times, so he can easilly be considered a winning candidate.

During the recent years, I have been increasingly more interested in watching tournament coverage live, as a compilation or on-site. When the best of the best are coming to Finland, I couldn’t resist.

Arrival

When I arrived at the venue, I decided to start with shopping at the temporary Innova Pro Shop during the event, that sells a wide range of discs, all from basic discs to rarities and discs with European Open stamps, and other disc golf related merchandise. Of course I had to buy “a couple” of discs.

For those interested, row by row, from left to right: Nate Perkins Neo Method (signed by Avery Jenkins), Simon Lizotte Shadow Titan Forge Method, Teebird3, Glow Roc3, KJ Nybo Glow Roc and FD.

Following the action

After filling my bag with plastics, I chose, which group to follow. There were many tempting groups, but I finally chose the group with Avery Jenkins as the most interesting player. Avery has been a professional player since 2000 and is highly popular and a central figure in the disc golf scene, so it felt natural to follow his group.

As long as you follow the etiquette , you are allowed to be very close the action itself, sometimes only a few meters from the players. You can either follow a specific group (or card as it’s customary to say) or select at which holes you want to enjoy the action from, or both!

What makes the European Open so special too, is the size of the gallery following the players, especially the feature, chase and lead cards. Hundreds, if not more than thousand, of people actively following the players on-site is a amazing scene. Some of the people are just random people that have heard that a big tournament is in town!

The gallery is at its biggest usually on the last day when the lead card is playing. During my visit, there were somewhat big galleries positioned on several holes, even if it was not the last day.

During the final day of the tournament, the gallery following the lead card was indeed… BIG!

This is by far the biggest and best gallery I’ve ever played in front of.

Ricky Wysocki
The video above was filmed during the last round of European Open 2019.

The gallery is allowed to walk with the players, as long as the spectators don’t interfere with the players. I was able to walk and talk with the players, at least occasionally, in between throws. That’s one of the beauty with disc golf, the players may be the best in the world, but they still interact with the spectators. They talk and joke with fans and gives autographs to fans. They are not raised to some pedestal and shielded from the rest of us.

Small pop-up cafe found on one of the fairways.
Hole 16. Colten Montgomery after a lucky inbounds skip. The disc hit the ground just outside of the haystack and then somehow managed to skip over the OB line (the haystack).
View from the top of hole 18, near the basket.
Hole 18 basket.

Final thoughts

I had time to attend the event for one day (about 2 hour drive from home). I arrived at the Beast in such time frame that I wouldn’t be able to follow the lead card, but that was okay. I was there for the atmosphere and the event itself. I was lucky to find a tee time, where Avery was teeing off. The weather was absolutely perfect; warm and sunny. The shop was full of cool discs to choose from, and of course, the round of 18 holes of disc golf watching Avery & co was an event that I will long remember.

Avery was very professional and considerate towards fans, even if he was frustrated after a tough round. Something that needs to be appreciated.

Video coverage

Here are some videos from the first round of European Open 2019, both MPO and FPO. At least, take a quick look!

European Open 2019 – MPO, round 1, first 9 holes.
European Open 2019 – MPO, round 1, last 9 holes.
European Open 2019 – FPO, round 1, first 9 holes.
European Open 2019 – FPO, round 1, last 9 holes.