We are excited to announce details for this year’s media presentation of the United States Disc Golf Championship. USDGC fans will enjoy enhanced experiences both at Winthrop and online via unprecedented tournament coverage. Here is a summary of what to expect:
Lead Group Live Stream via Pay-Per-View
Partnership with Fulcrum Media will enable us to provide lead card coverage of rounds 2, 3, and 4. Daily broadcasts will be anchored by Jamie Thomas, Hannah McBeth, and 5-time United States Champion Ken Climo. Fans may purchase the entire 3-day broadcast for $9.99 beginning on September 23rd. Proceeds will benefit the Educational Disc Golf experience and help fund the broadcast itself.
Purchase the live stream PPV package here.
Condensed, Post-Round Coverage
Post-produced content of all 4 rounds will be provided by SpinTV (Lead Card) and Jomez Pro (Chase Card). Both media teams will apply a wealth of experience to deliver next-day, abbreviated “Front 9 / Back 9” coverage of all Championship rounds. Condensed content will be available free of charge courtesy of SpinTV, JomezPro, and the USDGC.
Live Scoring and In-Depth Analysis
UDisc Live will provide the official USDGC live-scoring presentation throughout all 4 days of competition. UDisc delivers scores and statistics with unparalleled speed and clarity so you will always know how your favorite athletes are performing.
Daily galleries and social media channels will feature still photography by Eino Ansio and Chad “Corduroy” LeFevre. Both gentlemen are USDGC veterans and are known around the world for their outstanding quality and passion for disc golf.
Social Media Coverage
Monitoring USDGC action throughout your normal daily routine will be easier than ever before. Content will be delivered through a variety of social spaces including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter courtesy of the Professional Disc Golf Association, Innova Disc Golf, the USDGC, and many more.
Skip Virtual, Go IRL
Want to see the action first hand, in Rock Hill? Get your Spectator Pass.
Thank you for supporting the USDGC.
We hope you enjoy the show!
Every year players can expect adjustments to the Winthrop Gold Course, but this year there are some real jaw droppers including two longtime holes disappearing, two brand new holes, and Winthrop’s iconic OB rope getting a major facelift.
It’s a lot to handle for any player or USDGC fan. So sit down, grab your beverage of choice and read up on some of the biggest changes to the Winthrop Gold Course in years.
For a complete look at all course changes, check out the Online Caddy Book.
Let’s start with a fond farewell to the former Holes 1 and 2, which are USDGC Champions in their own right. If we had a retirement dinner for the two it would be overflowing with friends lauding them for a job well done.
Used since the first USDGC in 1999, Hole 1 was by no means the hardest hole on the course. At 253 feet (A position), many players felt that if they didn’t birdie it, that they were already falling behind. But the layout of this hole combined with the nerves of starting your USDGC round here (after being announced by Official Starter Andy Greene), made this moderately downhill par three deceptively hard.
The par 4, Hole 2 often got lost in the shuffle among Winthrop’s heavy hitters like Hole 5 (the lake hole), Hole 7 (Bamboo Hole), Hole 13 (formerly known as 888’). However, at 629-feet it was the first lengthy hole players faced and one of the few tighter/woodsy holes that the mostly open Winthrop Gold Course possessed. USDGC Staffer Sam Covington spotted the hole for 12 years and loved watching the many roller tee shots fight their way back in bounds.
“I just think that it was a great spectator hole,” said Covington, adding it wasn’t just for big guns. He said less powerful players could throw two solid shots and still get a birdie. “I know some people won’t miss it, but it will be missed,” said Covington.
The short answer is: the USDGC is growing. More space was needed to accommodate the increasing number of spectators and to eliminate the distractions players were facing on Hole 1's tee and the green of Hole 2, said USDGC Course Designer Andrew Duvall.
Eliminating Hole 2 created space for a new fan hospitality area (complete with food and other amenities) and a new home for an improved competitor hospitality area that includes a practice putting green that is viewable to fans.
“That’s the professional atmosphere that the USDGC is going for,” said Duvall. Teams from College Disc Golf competing in the USDGC’s Dean's Cup are expected to gather here too.
Good question. The former Hole 3 is now #1. The 389-foot par 3 starts the Championship with a fairway that seems to get narrower each year. Welcome to Winthrop!
Andy Greene has been the official USDGC Starter since the event began in 1999. This will be the first time in 21 years that he will be announcing players from a different location. Although he’s looking forward to some new scenery, he will miss the old spot.
“I’ve kind of gotten attached to that hole. It’s become a pretty special place for me over the years,” said Greene.
After completing Hole 2 (formerly Hole 4), players will make the short walk to the golf course where the 759-foot Hole 3 awaits (738 feet for Pin B). The tee and much of the fairway of the par 4 take place in the golf course fairway used for the US Distance competition and player warm up in past years.
Talk about wide open; the fairway is the widest at Winthrop, but after about 600-feet, the hole funnels through two big pine trees, which will act as a double mando. After clearing the mando, the green is still about 140 feet away and noticeably sloped downward, so players looking for birdie will want to plan their tee and their approach shot with that in mind, Duvall says.
Here's a look a the new Hole 3. *Note: Drop Zone to double mando has moved since story/caddy book was originally posted.
After the great wide open of Hole 3, things tighten up with this 299-foot par 3. Using two sets of double mandos, one near the tee and one leading to the green, Duvall wanted to recreate a wooded Carolina disc golf hole without much woods to speak of. Clearing the first mando, won’t be much of an issue, according to Duvall, however the second mando should present some risk vs. reward quandaries for the thrower. He added that this hole could act similar to Hole 17 in which players breeze through it in practice but may second guess themselves when it counts. Someone call In-N-Out Burger for a sponsorship of the new “Double-Double" hole.
*The New Hole 4’s green then reconnects with the same Gold Hole 5 used in previous years.
In both new holes, Duvall says you’re trying to give two open holes a more wooded feel. The tug of war between wooded and open holes is one of the dilemmas with Championship hole design, Duvall says. Wooded courses are often favored because they are the origin of the game. However, the best way to showcase these players during Major competition is through a spectator and broadcast friendly open course that demands accuracy, according to Duvall. The trick to creating a compelling course for the player and fan is to find a mixture of both. And sometimes you have to be creative and use mandos to do so, he said.
Nothing is immune to change in our effort to improve ... even the iconic yellow top rope that’s been used since the very first championship. In the past, both top and bottom OB markings have been used. The top consisted of yellow (or sometimes red) rope that ran through green stakes and served as a visual guide of the OB. The bottom, which is still being used and is the official OB marker, is the bright yellow bottom string run along the ground.
Duvall will be testing to see if new stakes without the famous yellow top rope will do the job.
Being a few feet off the ground made the top rope a pretty good visual marker, but it also made it an occasional nuisance for players with lies nearby. Plus, cameras had a hard time picking it up and after a few rounds it did not look as professional as it should, according to Duvall.
The green top rope stakes will be replaced by roughly the same number of white stakes. Each will be about a foot off the ground and have a two-inch cap colored either yellow for hazard or red for OB.
Duvall reminds everyone that this is an experiment. “If it fails miserably, we will have no problem going back to the rope,” he said light-heartedly.
Great. So, where’s the original position? For those unaware, for much of the USDGC’s history, the tee of the 1,083-foot Hole 5 has been on solid ground (near the southeast corner of the College Lake Rd loop) and not a wooden dock above the lake. Though quite scenic, Hole 5’s dock tee didn’t make for very exciting disc golf, says Duvall. A spike hyzer or forehand followed by another of the same was all many players did to position themselves for their approach across the lake – which according to Duvall was the only exciting shot to watch of the three.
With the tee pad back in its original location (for the first time since 2012), it brings the mystery back to the tee shot. Standing at the tee, the undulating fairway is such that you can never really tell where the lake begins.
“The more you try to bite off, the more you’re likely to get in the water,” said Duvall, adding that the eagle opportunity may open back up for some. Paul McBeth still remains the only person to eagle the hole.
With the original tee creating more of a downhill shot, it will be interesting to see what players, who appear to be throwing further, can do since it was last in that position, said Duvall.
We listened to input from players and created a chance to save par if they miss the mandatory. *The drop zone is now located beyond the triple mando, right of the line of trees on the right side of the fairway. The courageous players will now have a chance to save par.
Just because the former Hole 2 is gone, doesn’t mean the wooden pillars (or pillars of justice as they were known) that protected the target will disappear too. Look for these to find a home or homes elsewhere on the course. Plus, Duvall said he’ll be experimenting with new obstacles and rope patterns on 6, 9, 10, 11 and 12 to make some of the approaches more engaging.
After reading this thorough run down on Winthrop changes you’ve probably long finished your beverage of choice and have moved onto your ice cream of choice (Be sure to leave some for others in your house).
Though it’s sad to see some things vanish like former Holes 1 and 2, Winthrop Gold stays relevant by changing. By doing so we get to experience new Winthrop tests like the new holes 3 and 4 and the memories they will create. And sometimes we even get to welcome back old friends like the original Hole 5 tee. Hope everyone enjoys the championship.
Winthrop isn’t just about gold, it’s about Pink, too.
New for 2019 is the USDGC Pink Pass. With this pass, a portion of your purchase will go toward Throw Pink’s mission of encouraging women and girls to get out and be more physically active through disc golf while raising awareness and money for women’s health-related charities.
Here is what’s included in the Pink Pass
· Access to all days of competition
· Official event program/caddy book
· Commemorative credentials w/custom Innova lanyard
· Exclusive tailgating area access in the heart of the course, next to Winthrop Lake
· Limited Edition XXL Throw Pink Luster Champion Lion
· Throw Pink Wristband
· Throw Pink Vinyl Decal
Get yours at the DGU Store today!
20 years of the USDGC have brought incredible comebacks, ridiculous aces, heartbreaking defeats, all amid the picture perfect setting of the Winthrop Gold Course in Rock Hill, S.C. Since 1999, the USDGC has been the event that has brought the drama to disc golf.
Secure your spot to the Championship with either a Single Day Pass, VIP Pass, or Gold Pass.
Now that the 2019 season is underway, let’s take a look at your opportunities to qualify for the 2019 USDGC. We believe you will find them plentiful and evenly spread. The process of earning an invitation to the USDGC is similar to recent years. All you need is a top-five score at one of the designated, regional qualifying events.
Achieving a top five score at any of the qualifiers is no easy task, though. That’s why qualifying for the Championship is a feat in itself. But if you play your best disc golf it’s more than possible.
Look at the Official Qualifying Document to find your best shot to Rock Hill, SC, and for other qualifying details. Many top performers from last year like winner Paul McBeth and past winners like 5-time US Champion Ken Climo are exempt from qualifying. Look to see who else is exempt as well as which 2019 tournament champions will receive automatic bids here.
This year there are 21 regional qualifiers, which is the same number as last year that produced 130 USDGC competitors. A key to the qualifying process is getting an ideal number of competitors to compliment the course and the event itself. “The sweet spot is 120-130,” said USDGC Event Director Jonathan Poole, adding that, this range works well when it comes to starting and finishing at the desired times, getting everyone in and out of the venue safely, allowing flexibility for potential weather delays, and for our typical media coverage.
When it comes to determining the actual qualifying events, Poole said a variety of factors come into play. Generally, all PDGA National Tour events and many of the PDGA Majors held prior the USDGC are qualifiers. When it comes to filling the gaps in between larger events, the USDGC organizing committee looks at well-deserving A-tiers that will provide the greatest number of people with a reasonable chance to qualify. “Simply put, it comes down to putting pins on a map. We do our best to spread qualifying events out as evenly across the country as possible,” said Poole.
There are a lot of disc golf events but there is only one United States Disc Golf Championship. So, find a qualifier near you and hopefully, we will see you at Winthrop University this October.
On a course as challenging as Winthrop Gold, sometimes it helps to have a partner.
Teeing off on the second card of the day Saturday, our Dean’s Cup Final Match was set between Mississippi State and Liberty. During Friday's Round 1 match against Clemson, the Bulldog’s bogey free round and consistent play led to a victory, while Liberty maintained their composure after a few early unfortunate breaks to edge past NC State after two playoff holes.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs started off hot, with two birdies on Holes 1 & 2. Already two strokes back, Liberty’s resolve shined through as they answered with two birdies of their own on holes 3 & 4. With a great drive from Hunter Thomas, and two approach shots to the water’s edge, Liberty was set up to attack the green on the iconic hole 5. Things didn’t go as planned. After two errant upshots into the water, they failed to land safely on the green. Liberty was taking a bogey at best.
Mississippi State’s Jacob Henson saw an opportunity. He led the way with an absolute crush off the tee and after a slightly misplayed approach shot, he was pinned to the trees on the right side of the fairway. His partner threw his shot OB and they were looking at 400 feet to the green. This was the turning point in the match. Jacob ripped a forehand safely in bounds and just outside of circle 1. Steven Hillerman capitalized on this sensational play and hit the 35 foot step putt for birdie. Mississippi State never looked back and continued on to victory at the 2018 Dean’s Cup Invitational.
Regardless of the results, all of our the teams we’re proudly representing and giving it their best! Liberty’s Steve Bowman was pumped to have his team on this iconic stage, “for all four schools to be here, it’s a huge venue”. He goes on to say, “many of these players want to be here on the next level… they’ll go back, work hard for the next couple of years and try to get better.”
Thank you to everyone who supported us; the volunteers, staff, and especially Innova for inviting us to take part in this prestigious event. Keep up with our collegiate disc golf action all year long on Instagram @collegediscgolf and on our Facebook page, National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships.
MSU team members include: Steven Hillerman, Jacob Henson, Aaron Tucker, and Mason Nunley.
Here are the last few holes of the MSU vs Liberty match:
If you haven’t been to it already, the Throw Pink event in Rock Hill and others like it are the perfect place for women and girls to learn about disc golf. Here’s why:
At the all-female event, which happened for the fifth consecutive year on Saturday, women improve their disc golf skills next to other women and are taught by women, all while supporting women’s health and health initiatives.
Throw Pink is a non-profit with the mission of encouraging women and girls to get out and be more physically active through disc golf while raising awareness and money for women’s health-related charities.
Saturday, dozens of women and girls made their way to the Winthrop Recreation Area in Rock Hill. It was the first year the USDGC partnering event was held on site at Winthrop near the USDGC’s EDGE Village (Educational Disc Golf Experience).
Kelli from Lancaster, S.C., was excited to get throwing instruction from women. She said although her brother gives tips, it’s not as helpful because men throw differently.
(Here Kelli talks about why she enjoyed the Throw Pink event skills clinic).
Things got started when 4-time World Champion Des Reading gave a brief overview of the history of the game and how the discs fly. Groups were then broken up into three skills stations including driving, approach, and putting which Reading led. Reading reviewed proper disc grip, how to use your legs to propel the disc among other tips.
(Here’s Reading giving some beginners the basics of putting)
The event was raising money for both the National Breast Cancer Coalition and other Throw Pink initiatives. Lisa Ann Wheeler, South Carolina representative for the National Breast Cancer Coalition, was excited to be a part of the event and to share about her organization’s program, Deadline 2020. Deadline 2020 is an initiative to find a cure for breast cancer by the year 2020. Wheeler, like many people, is personally affected by the disease. Her mother died from breast cancer.
(Here’s Wheeler talking about Deadline 2020.)
Over at the driving station, pro tour disc golfers Madison Walker, Kona Panis, and amateur standout Hope Brown provided tips maximizing tee shots and long approaches.
“Following through is huge,” Walker said. “If you’re not following through you’re not getting a full flight.”
Along with following through, the women also emphasized practicing to prefect the timing of their throw and to find suitable discs for beginners among other tips and demonstrations. Brown encouraged attendees to start with straight flying 150-160-gram discs.
“You don’t want a max weight disc because it makes you have to throw so much harder,” said Brown.
(Kona Panis demonstrates the standstill drive at the driving skills station).
Charlotte area pro Debbie Scott was nearby teaching the approach shot. She said the approach is important because “After you drive you’ve got to get your disc to the basket.”
She taught attendees about throwing your approaches to the ‘Easy Circle’ so that the putt that comes after is no problem. She said each person’s Easy Circle is a different length from the basket and the more they played the better they’d know what their Easy Circle is.
Hannah Schreiber of Virginia was a quick study when she threw a sidearm approach directly in the target.
“I don’t throw sidearm much. I mostly throw backhand, but that was sweet, super sweet,” said Schreiber.
After the skill session concluded, the event wrapped up with a short round on the beginner friendly course set up by 2018 USDGC Course Designer Andrew Duvall.
Throw Pink Director Sara Nicholson, who coordinates Throw Pink events throughout the year, felt the event was another success. Bringing ladies together for a good cause and a good time, all while learning about disc golf is a win-win, said Nicholson.
Fending off a hard charging lead card that included Nate Sexton, Kevin Jones and James Conrad; Paul McBeth (-34) outlasted them all and claimed his second U.S. title Saturday during the USDGC.
The final round and much of the 2018 USDGC took place amid unseasonably warm conditions, though the temperature decreased by a few degrees for a high of 87 on Saturday.
Though there were several nice runs from players like Ricky Wysocki (5th -27), Eagle McMahon (6th -26), and others in the second and third cards, the race for the title was primarily on Saturday’s lead card. Though McBeth never lost the lead during the final round (or the entire event for that matter), each member of the lead card got within striking distance.
Going into the round with a five-stroke lead, McBeth knew he had to come up with something special to get the win. And, though his round of -5 wasn’t pristine, he came up with big plays when he needed it.
One of the most pivotal moments of the final round was after James Conrad tied Paul McBeth on Hole 13, which was the first time anyone had caught him during the event). McBeth then made three straight birdies on holes 14 through 16, taking the lead by three strokes going into Hole 17.
Three strokes is still a small margin, though, when you step up to the unpredictable Hole 17 with the island green.
On McBeth’s tee shot he clipped a tree branch not far off the tee and landed OB, much to the shock of the entire gallery surrounding the hole. McBeth then stopped any thought of a Hole 17 meltdown when he then switched to a forehand driver instead of another backhand putter and landed safely. He hit his putt for bogey and went to the final hole still with his lead intact, though it was now only 1 stroke.
After birdies on the first two holes, including a sweet 45-foot jump putt for birdie, Conrad cooled down on holes 3 and 4 making a par and a bogey on those holes respectively and found himself down by six strokes. However he didn’t back down. After Hole 4 he birdied 4 of the next 6 holes including Hole 8 where he made an incredible backhand roller second shot that made its final turn just in time to nestle at the bottom of the sloped green. He hit that birdie then bombed his drive on Hole 10, leading to an eagle. After that he was only down by two strokes.
Conrad kept charging. When he birdied Hole 13 and McBeth missed his 40-foot birdie, things were all tied. However, as McBeth was making birdies on holes 14 through 16, Conrad could only make par. By Hole 17, McBeth was up by three strokes. But after seeing McBeth struggle with his backhand putter tee shot, Conrad knew he had to make a move. Using his putter, Conrad then stepped up and laced it right to the basket, nearly acing it.
(James Conrad talks about tying up McBeth after Hole 13 and his Hole 17 tee shot.)
Kevin Jones had a great start, birdying six of the first seven holes including Hole 5. In one of his big round moments, he got within one stroke of McBeth after he made birdie on Hole 5 while McBeth found the water on his approach over the lake and ended up with a double bogey. Jones then missed a putt near the circle outside the beach green of Hole 6 to fall two back of McBeth. He stayed that way until Hole 9 when Jones failed to save his par while McBeth gained two strokes with a birdie.
Jones then worked his way back to within a stroke of McBeth when he made birdie on Hole 12 after two effortless long drives and a solid putt as McBeth made bogey. While McBeth was making his charge on holes 14 through 16, Jones nearly kept the pace. He made birdie on Hole 15 after a smooth drive, but couldn’t capitalize on his 45-footer for birdie that hit the band on Hole 14 and when his birdie putt on Hole 16 failed to settle in the basket.
By Hole 17, he was three strokes behind McBeth like Conrad. Jones sent his forehand tee shot to the right side of the green. Then, when he went for his birdie, it sailed too high over the basket and over the hay bales into OB. After finishing the hole with a double bogey his chances of a US title were pretty much over. His third-place finish was his best at the USDGC.
(Kevin Jones talks about the experience of the final round lead card and more).
Down by eight strokes at the start of the round, then down by 10 strokes after Hole 4, Defending Champ Nate Sexton did a great job of clawing his way back into contention. After Hole 13, he’d gotten within 3 strokes of the lead. However after a bogey on Hole 15, his only for the round, a repeat US title looked to be out of reach. Sexton ended up shooting the hot round of the lead card with a -8, and placed at solid 4th.
With McBeth managing to save his bogey on Hole 17 and Conrad making birdie to get within 1 stroke, it all came down to the last hole. Conrad laced a big drive up the fairway but landed close the mando tree halfway up the hole. McBeth chose midrange off the tee landing in the fairway’s center then opted for his Teebird3 for his second, releasing it clean. Feeling good about the shot, but still anxious for the spotter’s call, he showed the most excitement of the round when he saw the green flag followed by the gallery’s approval.
Conrad, needing a birdie to put the pressure on, threw his stable midrange, but it clipped a tree branch landing short of the green. With everyone then seeing that McBeth was parked for a sure birdie it was essentially over and McBeth became a two-time US Champ and Conrad got runner up.
(McBeth talks about that pivotal approach shot on Hole 18 and more here:)
The first time Harold Duvall saw the Winthrop University Recreation Area in 1988 he knew it would be the perfect place for Championship disc golf.
“What it presented was the most beautiful public space in Rock Hill and a unique venue to have championship disc golf that was viewable by a gallery,” said Duvall. There were plenty of big disc golf events happening at the time, but few were situated in a setting that would accommodate spectators, so Duvall knew he had something when he found Winthrop.
At the time, not much was going on in the way of disc golf in South Carolina, according to Duvall, who had recently moved there from California. When it came to modern day disc golf courses in the state, Earlewood Park in Columbia, (established in 1989), was pretty much it, he said. It took a few years to foster a relationship with Winthrop University, key in that was arranging targets from two seldom used South Carolina state park courses to be repurposed at Fewell Park in Rock Hill and at Winthrop. Duvall also sweetened the deal by having volunteers install them.
When Duvall got approval for the course, he didn’t take the design lightly. He said it took hundreds of hours of course design deliberation with both the spectator and the player in mind before the Winthrop Lakefront Course was opened in 1992.
From the gallery’s point of view, Duvall wanted them to see the players at their most spectacular, so he created holes where they’d witness long, incredible shots. At the same time, he designed the course so that those throwing the shots would feel equal amounts of anxiety and excitement each time they approached the tee.
One of the property’s great assets, besides it’s beauty and diverse terrain, was the College Lake loop road that surrounded much of the course. Being near most of the holes, it was ideal for spectating without crowding the players – something that was hard to avoid at any other venue hosting large disc golf events at the time. When he was finished, he had a course that the students of Winthrop University could enjoy and something that could be used for championship events. Much of it still remains today in the modern-day version of the Lakefront course (a shorter version of the Gold course that mainly plays around the lake).
Many may not realize it, but back then Hole 1 didn’t begin near the Winthrop Shack. Actually, the first hole began near the current player parking lot and ended about 290-feet away near the green of the current Gold Hole 4. However, there was no signature ring of Leland cypress trees, just a few short cedar trees, said Duvall, adding that those were later planted by the disc golf community as well as many other trees and vegetation throughout the years.
The next hole then moved back toward College Lake Road, followed by two holes along the Winthrop Lake (what is now Gold Hole 5). The course then flowed around the lake and finished at where Gold 4 now is located.
In 1997, the Pro World Championships came to Charlotte, and Winthrop was used for the finals. Not only was the Lakefront course used, but a temporary 18-hole course was installed on the nearby Winthrop Golf Course that was called Eagles Landing. Duvall said the Lakefront course used for Worlds was quite similar to the course that opened in 1992, though the numbering may have changed.
Here's a PDGA video of the Finals in 1997.
For the first USDGC, the course saw some serious changes and was now referred to as the Winthrop University Gold Course. Hole 1 was repositioned to its current location by the Winthrop Shack and the course now flowed similar to modern day, though several of the holes and numbering would be revised through the years.
(Here’s the course map from the 1999 USDGC Program)
One of the biggest design risks was to take two of the Lakefront course’s greatest holes and try to create something truly special. 1999’s Hole 8 combined a signature par 4 and an equally beloved Par 3 into the Gold Course’s first Par 5.
This hole continues to be 5-time US Champ Ken Climo’s favorite USDGC hole. And he really liked the original tee pad. Especially for right-handers, it was a turnover shot that made you think twice, he said. “You were blind to the lake,” said Climo.
Other noticeable changes for 1999, were the addition of three holes beyond the Winthrop baseball field and what was then a nursery. (At the time they were numbered 12, 13, and 14.)
1999 Hole 12 (par 4) and Hole 13 (par 5) along with other multiple shot holes was a new concept to disc golf at the time. The USDGC made multiple shot holes, par 4’s and par 5’s, the rule more than the exception and helped move the sport away from the drive and putt mentality of course design, according to Duvall.
Rick Rothstein, who covered many USDGC’s for his Disc Golf World News Magazine was a fan of the design. With most other courses at the time, you just threw as far as you could, but at Winthrop you had to throw controlled shots to set you up for the green, said Rothstein.
Dr. Rick Voakes, who played in the first USDGC as well as 10 others, was also in favor of the course’s emphasis on shot placement.
“I think that was huge. I think that made the sport more credible and a more professional kind of sport,” said Voakes.
The 1999 USDGC was also the first time a disc golf event used yellow rope as a marker for artificial OB. Duvall remembered it being placed on holes 12, 13, and possibly 18 that year.
“The rope at that time seemed like a very far-fetched idea, but it made sense. With some of those open holes, it added some character,” said Andy Greene, who was on the USDGC Organizing Committee.
Hole 17’s green was guarded by hay bales, which still happens today. But having to land your tee shot in the island green or be forced to re-tee was something new. That year the PDGA granted a rule variance allowing players to retee if their shot did not land in bounds, according to Rothstein’s coverage of the 1999 USDGC.
Fast Forward two decades later, the Winthrop University Gold Course has seen dozens of changes and can still be considered at the pinnacle of disc golf design. Today the job of updating the course is in the hands of Harold’s son, Andrew, the 2018 USDGC Course Designer.
Andrew Duvall says his current approach to Winthrop Gold Design is to continue with his father’s vision of creating incredible disc golf for spectators and demanding, yet inspiring holes for the player. And that means re-evaluating each hole, each year, even the holes that are considered iconic. “The focus is always creating the best course for the players. If we felt that the course played better backwards, I don’t think we’d be scared for a total redesign,” said Andrew Duvall. Hole 9 is a good example of that this year. It was completely redesigned for 2018.
Along with keeping with his father’s vision, Andrew Duvall said he and the rest of USDGC staff will have to remain flexible for future changes to the Winthrop property.
Over the years, the course has had to adapt to the addition of such things as tennis courts, a wetlands research area, baseball field improvements and other facility changes. With the USDGC being a guest on Winthrop University property, USDGC officials must expect more changes with a growing university set in a thriving metropolitan area, said Andrew Duvall.
For top pros, in the circle putting has practically become a given, which ultimately isn’t interesting for the player or the spectator, according to Andrew Duvall. Last year, five, 6-foot wooden pillars were installed on the right side of Hole 2’s green, guarding the target. And, although that move was controversial, the putt from that side was no longer a guarantee.
The approach to Hole 2’s green was also made more difficult with the pillars presence. Now the player had to land on the correct side of the pillars or risk a contested putt.
“I think the posts work as exactly as they should. They make putting more interesting, but they make approaching the green more valuable as well,” said Andrew Duvall.
He said they will look to create more putting challenges in the future. In the end, it’s about testing the top disc golfers and their abilities while wow'ing the crowd at the same time, said Andrew Duvall. And he feels pretty good at the kind of must-see disc golf they’ve created so far.