Ace Runners Team Member: John Gould-Thorpe
When I moved from my home province of Nova Scotia in 2000, I was hoping to spend all my free time snowboarding, mountain biking and rock climbing on the mountains of British Columbia. Little did I know that 21 years later, I would be living and breathing disc golf. I have always been active in outdoor sports and have discovered a real passion and love for disc golf not only for the activity but for its social interaction and competition. Tournaments allow me to be competitive and work on my abilities to focus and perform under pressure.
I was first introduced to disc golf while attending a Tour de Vancouver birthday event day which included a stop at Queen Elizabeth Park. Like many first-timers back then, we used frisbees purchased from some local big box store. We learned quickly from some of the super friendly regulars that we could improve with proper disc golf discs and that we could buy them at a nearby sports store. We also learned that buying discs was more than just picking the prettiest disc from the rack and hoping it would fly the way you wanted it to. Thankfully, one of my buddies really likes researching before he buys anything and went on a mission to find the best discs for everyone in our group and organized a group purchase from a US online store. At the time, we couldn't find any Canadian store selling the discs we thought we needed. My first discs ended up being an Innova DX Aviar, DX Glow Roc and Champion Beast. Not bad choices for a beginner.
I played my first tournament on July 21, 2012, at the BC Open held in Langley, BC, which was fitting as I would later become the Tournament Director for the 2019 version of the same tournament. As a testament to the friendliness and strength of the disc golf community, I have since played many rounds with players I met at my first tournament and most of my best friends are fellow avid disc golfers.
The more I played, the more I realized that there was lots lacking in terms of disc golf supply, tournaments and disc golf courses. So I started selling disc golf supplies through my former fitness business and sponsoring tournaments as well as running tournaments. In 2017 I became the sole owner of Ace Runners Disc Golf.
While volunteering on the board of my local disc golf club, I became the club's township liaison and strengthened our relationship with the Township of Langley. This relationship eventually paved the way for the Township agreeing to grant us a land lease in April 2018 to build and maintain the best disc golf course in BC, Raptors Knoll Disc Golf Park (creation story here). Now that we can thankfully resume tournament play in BC and with Raptors being the championship course it is, I can once again focus on running the BC Open with the goal of making it the best tournament experience for all players, professional and amateurs alike. Due to short notice since BC has just recently announced we can return to competitive play, the 2021 BC Open will not be its usual A-Tier Event but it will be a small sample of what I am planning for the 2022 BC Open.
Over the last several years I have focused on running Ace Runners with the goal of serving our customers to the best of our ability and giving back to the disc golf community. I have been fortunate that Ace Runners has been able to become a standalone disc golf business and I thank all our loyal customers and my fantastic team who have helped us become a leader in the Canadian disc golf industry. Now what I really want to do is play a BC Open soon. Hint: we need more tournament directors!