In Praise of Excellence; The Timaru Tūkauati
Greetings, valued reader! It’s not often I feel compelled to publicly sing the praises of a Tournament Director, their event, or their impact on the game. But after a magic weekend, I simply must: Chris Smith deserves the highest possible accolades for his work in the Timaru district.
I first got to know Chris in 2020 working on the NZDG board of directors where I instantly developed a strong respect for him due to his fine corporate governance skills, his dedication to disc golf, and his hard-working and genuinely friendly nature.
When Chris spoke at board meetings, every word was carefully chosen, and his ideas were (and remain) consistently top shelf stuff.
Sadly, Chris seriously injured his right shoulder at work approximately 18 months ago, and tragically, this ended not only his plumbing business, but also his disc golf throw, and he did not re-stand for the NZDG board – which remains a terrible loss to our national body. Now, other persons may have chosen to abandon disc golf completely at this point, and change directions – but not our Mr. Smith!
Although he had to wait over a year for corrective surgery, his never-ending passion for disc golf has carried him through his non-playing days, while applying himself to the serious task of growing disc golf in South Canterbury.
But, to add insult to injury, in 2021 his inaugural Timaru Tūkauati was very literally a washout, with some of the most extreme weather imaginable, and with Sunday’s play being cancelled – due to the course being underwater.
2022 stood in stark contrast to that weather bomb, and conditions for the three-day event over Matariki weekend could not possibly have been better, with stunning orange sunrises, no wind, little frost, no rain during play, and more importantly – no excuses for poor play.
In this piece there is insufficient space to detail Chris’s work leading up to and during the event, and I would dub him a “One-Man Disc Golf Pro Tour” if it were not for his incredibly understanding and supportive wife, Michelle, who dug all the holes for the nine-basket addition to his existing (and brilliant) Torepe Fields design, and the additional nine ground sleeves for the temporary DiscMates installed at Caroline Bay. And so significant praise must be heaped on her for the hard work she put in behind the scenes, and for putting up with Chris's overflowing passion.
The Timaru Tūkauati represents many hundreds of hours of Chris’s labour, and a budget of around $18,000. Chris presented the entire thing by himself, and was getting up at 4:30 each morning to ensure the smooth running of this already-iconic event.
Much like Vortica business partner Martin, Chris is a perfectionist, and a man who continuously wants to raise the bar, no matter how high he has set it in the past.
Prior to the end of the event I wondered how he could possibly exceed what he presented this year – but he successfully answered this question when he announced the newly formed Temuka Disc Golf Club; Te Umu Kaha Disc Golf Inc. – which means “strong oven” in Te Reo. During his prize-giving, he said that he needs help – and the double entendre wasn’t lost on anyone present. Chris was clearly suffering lack of sleep, and the new club’s members will provide the assistance needed to continue raising the bar, and setting new standards of professionalism on the NZDG Tour.
I made a point of following the MPO lead card of five (which included three Vortica-sponsored players; Ryan Cambridge, Jasper van der Meer, and Jeremy Brokenshire) for the final 11 holes out in the open of Torepe Fields.
I am delighted to report I have never seen better disc golf played by a group of Kiwi players. The standard was extraordinary, and I am very excited for the future, especially after watching the juniors play so well.
It was Ōtautahi players dominating the event, and that trend is set to continue into the future, with more and more Christchurch-based players stamping their mark on the competition scene. I predict the rising tsunami of Ōtautahi disc golfers will soon leave only the minor places on the Tour to be fought over by players from other regions. Accept that as a disc golf growth challenge, if you like! Both myself and Martin’s deep respect for Chris has prompted Vortica to propose a new event co-directed by these two most-capable and most-dedicated TDs. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
And so, I strongly suggest that when early registration dates are announced for the 2023 Timaru Tūkauati, you sign up immediately, as it is certain the bulging players pack will be worth substantially more than the entry fee, and so you will effectively be paid to play.
The best news to my mind, however, is that Chris has just received permission from his surgeon to begin putting again. He has made his first errant putts, and his long road of recovery continues. I hope you will join me in wishing him a successful and full recovery as he re-joins the ranks of active disc golfers. With the bit firmly between his teeth, the wind at his back, and a good crew to help, who knows what can be accomplished in the future? I can hardly wait!
Did you enjoy the Timaru Tūkauati?
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Kia tika te rere – Enjoy the flight.