Finland has one of the highest disc golf course per capita rates of any country in the world. The large number of courses means it takes a lot for a track to really stand out, but one place that's accomplished the feat is Tampere Disc Golf Center (TDGC).
Despite the center's notoriety and popularity, a local political party has recently announced a plan that would eliminate it.
Tampere Disc Golf Center: A Brief Background
TDGC is in Tampere, a city with just over 225,000 inhabitants in southern Finland that's roughly a two hour drive north of Helsinki. The 27-hole disc golf course was opened to the public in 2018. Some of the world's best disc golfers attended its grand opening, including Ricky Wysocki, Paige Pierce, Simon Lizotte, and Nate Sexton.
A key player in securing funding for, planning, and installing the course was Jussi Meresmaa, the CEO and president of popular disc golf equipment brand Discmania. Meresmaa, who was born and raised in Tampere, told us that the course was designed from the outset to host major disc golf events that would draw large crowds to the city.
"One of the main catalysts for making the Tampere Disc Golf Center as you see it today was to bring the biggest disc golf events to Tampere and Finland," Meresmaa said.
Meresmaa confirmed that wanting to host the "biggest events" includes a planned bid for the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships. If Tampere won that bid, it would become the first host of the event outside North America. In just its three years of existence, the course has already hosted the Finnish Nationals and tournaments in Finland's current premier event series, the Prodigy Disc Pro Tour.
The center took two years to plan and design, two years to build and install, and, according to Meresmaa, the local disc golf club "has put in thousands of hours of volunteer work since the opening." The work has paid off and resulted in an excellent and challenging disc golf course that in 2020 ranked among the top 50 disc golf courses in the world.
In peak season, thousands of rounds per month are played on the course. The people playing those rounds also support a thriving disc golf shop located at the center's entrance.
Why Could the Tampere Disc Golf Center Be at Risk?
In a recent local news article, a Tampere politician said that part of his party's ideas for improving the city included expanding a local ball golf course that neighbors TDGC into "the city's old fields."
"The day after that [article was published], I received a phone call from one city official," said Petri Anttiroiko, president of the Tampere Disc Golf Club. "They said that there are no 'old fields' in this area other than Tampere Disc Golf Center."
The reason TDGC feels threatened by this is that it's not a privately-owned course. It is built on public land the city controls. This means that if the idea to expand the ball golf course at the expense of the disc golf course gains a foothold with local politicians, TDGC's end could come swiftly.
"At the end of the day, the city of Tampere makes the call where they want to use their land," Meresmaa said.
How Can You Help?
If you don't want the thousands of hours of work that have gone into the TDGC to be for naught, you can help by showing Tampere city officials the amount of support there is for the course across the world. Hopefully, a high level of international interest in this issue would help end talks of eliminating TDGC.
To support TDGC, you can digitally sign the 'Tampere Disc Golf Center needs to be saved!' petition.