EUREKA, Ill. (WMBD) — The world of disc golf is descending upon Central Illinois this weekend.
2,200 disc golfers have made their way to the Tri-County region for the largest disc golf tournament in the world, the 2022 Ledgestone Open.
“I think it’s a very, very strong field and if you want to finish high here, you’ve got to really play good,” said Bohdan Bilek, disc golfer from the Czech Republic.
The tournament first started in 2011 and director Nate Heinold said participation has continuously climbed over the years. He said disc golf is a sport that is on the rise.
“With COVID, disc golf has grown exponentially, the PDGA which is the governing body of the sport has seen a trifold increase,” Heinold said.
Heinold said the growth of the tournament also speaks to the quality of the 14 Tri-County courses used in this weekend’s event.
“A lot of people value our courses and rate them some of the highest and hardest in the world, the most challenging,” Heinold said.
The CEO of Discover Peoria, J.D. Dalfonso, said the tournament’s financial impact is significant. He said the area could see upwards of $100,000 in direct local taxes generated from golfers and spectators.
“That’s millions of dollars pumped into the local economy, reflected back in taxes that support our municipalities and really our quality of life here in Central Illinois,” Dalfonso said.
Disc golfers said the Ledgestone Open is not only about competing, but the memories they make in Central Illinois as well.
“I’ve been here for two weeks, I’ve already made so many new friends,” Bilek said. “Disc golfers are just the best community I think,” he said.
The purse for the event is $130,000. The Ledgestone Open has also helped donate more than $300,000 dollars to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.