20 Years of Disc Golf’s Grand Experiment
The United States Disc Golf Championship was established in 1999 to help shape the future of professional disc golf. Two decades later, the event remains a favorite among fans, as well as players of all skill levels. On its 20th anniversary, the USDGC continues to affirm many of its founding principles.
One in particular, is to remain true to what has always been a truly “open” format. As the event’s qualifying document has stated since it was first written, all dues-paid members of the Professional Disc Golf Association are eligible to qualify for the USDGC. Women and men, amateurs and professionals, young and old, all have an opportunity to compete for America’s most prestigious title.
At each of the regional qualifying events, all divisions that compete using the same tees, pin placements, and course rotations, are eligible for USDGC qualifying. All it takes is to shoot one of the qualifying event’s five best scores.
20 Qualifiers for 20 Years
Each year, USDGC organizers set out to choose an ideal roster of top events that provide the greatest number of people a reasonable chance to compete. The qualifying process ensures that the USDGC field is loaded with the very best of the best. The qualifying process is an integral piece to the USDGC puzzle, and it has to be right.
This year it took a little longer than usual to find and arrange the qualifying events, but the finished product appears to be worth the wait. All 20 qualifying events will receive 5 spots each, including for the first time, the Amateur World Championships (hosted in Charlotte), where the top five scores from the Advanced Men’s division will earn invitations.
For a complete look at all of the qualifiers, view the Official Qualifying Document.
USDGC Joins the Am Worlds Party
With Am Worlds taking place a mere 30-minutes from Winthrop, USDGC officials decided to include the event in this year’s lineup. While for many years the Amateur World Champion has received an invite, this is the first, and perhaps only time each of the top 5 finishers will qualify.
A significant factor in this decision was a desire to honor the long-standing support the Charlotte Disc Golf Club has provided the USDGC. “It would have been impossible for the USDGC to experience the early success that we did, without the Charlotte club,” said USDGC Event Director Jonathan Poole. “It would be impossible to measure the hours, much less the value, that the Charlotte disc golf community has brought to the USDGC,” Poole added.
As an added perk to Am Worlds competitors, Winthrop’s Course Design Team of Andrew and Harold Duvall will assist with the Final 9 layout to create a USDGC-like, “between the ropes” experience.
Pierce Proved It’s Possible Last Year
Qualifying for the Championship is an accomplishment in itself. Many accomplished players will tell you that. Last year, Paige Pierce made disc golf headlines after becoming only the fourth woman to qualify for the USDGC at a regional qualifier, reaffirming to everyone that women certainly belong at the USDGC. With the Women’s Open division playing the same format as the Open at the Aussie Open, Pierce made the most of her qualifying chance with lights out disc golf including a 1023-rated 3rd round.
Performances like this are the reason USDGC officials encourage tournament directors of all qualifying events to allow as many divisions as possible to play the same format as the Open division. “It has always been a goal to provide the greatest number of people with a legitimate chance to qualify. That is the spirit of the Championship,” said Poole.
Champion Exemptions for 2018
The USDGC will continue to invite the following Champions to the 2018 event:
- United States Women’s Champion (FPO)
- United States Master’s Champion (MPM)
- United States Amateur Champion (MA1)
- Deaf National Champion (MPO)
In addition, the following exemptions are returning for 2018:
- PDGA Open Women’s World Champion (FPO)
- Former United States Champions: Ken Climo, Barry Schultz, Will Schusterick, Nathan Sexton, Jeremy Koling, Paul McBeth, Steve Brinster, Nikko Locastro, Nate Doss, and David Feldberg
Find Your Qualifier
Now that all 20 qualifiers have been set, it is time to start making preparations for which events you will attend. And if it is not clear beforehand, be sure to contact the event’s tournament director to confirm which divisions will provide you with your chance to dance at Winthrop this October.