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Largest disc golf tournament in SoCal plays out in Escondido

Escondido’s Kit Carson Park played host to the largest disc golf tournament in the Southern California region in an event held from March 29 to March 31.

Dubbed the Daniel Boe Memorial, the tournament featured some 341 total entrants and 110 professionals, according to Valley Center-based tournament director Mark Verrochi. In the three-round event, Steven Rico of Sylmar, California walked home the winner at -32 below par, taking home a prize of $1,205.

North County resident Max Nichols, who lives in Poway, took second place at -26. He told The Coast News the result sits as one of the better ones in his career so far as a touring disc golfer. 

“Taking second was a great feeling, but there is always so much to learn and accomplish in this sport,” said Nichols, 28, who said he considers his best finish ever fourth place at the U.S. Disc Golf Championship in 2013. “I am always wanting more, which keeps me coming back and keeps me practicing to do better at the next one.”

On the women’s side, San Diego’s Vanessa Van Dyken came out the winner with a score of -3.

“This course is pretty centrally located for both North County and South County,” Van Dyken said in an interview with the broadcast television publication KUSI. “So, I think all of the best players in the region are here right now.”

Like traditional golf, disc golf has a tour of its own administered by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). The Daniel Boe Memorial at Kit Carson Park is part of that tour. 

Verrochi said that individuals from three different countries, including the U.S., competed in the event, as well as disc golfers from 10 different states. One of them was Seppo Paju, from Finland, who took third place overall in the professional division with a score of -25. 

“This was my third year in a row playing the Daniel Boe Memorial,” he explained. “I play mostly in the U.S. I will have about 20 competitions in the U.S. this year … I enjoy the easygoing feel that the course has, it’s actually very different from my very wooded home courses.”

Expressing his love for the tournament and the atmosphere surrounding it, Paju said: “I will for sure be back at the tournament every year for the rest of my life hopefully.”

Describing himself as an “advanced amateur” disc golfer, Verrochi said he began working as a tournament director in 2010 and became director of the Daniel Boe Memorial in 2014 during its first operational year. He hopes next year’s version of the tournament can morph into an official partnership of some sort with the city of Escondido for both logistical and financial help. 

“That’s kind of the next step is trying to go to the city and see if the city’s willing to commit to making this into something truly special. I mean, it already is, but just kind of taking it to the next level,” explained Verrochi. “ … we’re bringing in a lot of money to the community that weekend with hotels and gas, food, a lot of foods. And so, it is a discussion I’d probably think about having over the course of this offseason or before the next tournament comes up.”

The Daniel Boe Memorial always takes place during the last weekend in March. Its namesake, Rancho Bernardo’s Daniel Boe, passed away at the age of 25 in a car accident in 2014 on his way back from a disc golf tournament in Arizona while driving along Interstate Highway 8.

“It’s truly wonderful to see Daniel’s spirit alive in the tournament and to his memory,” his mother Donna Boe, told KUSI. “Somebody quoted Daniel on the email page which was ‘If you’re not having fun playing disc golf, then what’re you doing?’” 

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