The Disc Golf World Tour kicks off the era of professional disc golf tours.
March 10, 2016 by Steve Hill in Preview with 0 comments
The first of the new professional disc golf tours kicks off outside Los Angeles this weekend, as the La Mirada Open signals the Disc Golf World Tour’s inaugural entry into the market.
Taking place on one of Southern California’s hallowed courses and packaged with a pomp and circumstance rarely seen in the sport, the tournament has drawn attention for not only the level of competition it will feature, but also its potential to bring disc golf to a mainstream audience.
Whether that actually happens remains to be seen. In the meantime, we’ve got the nuts and bolts of the event right here.
What is the Disc Golf World Tour?
The brainchild of former professional disc golfer and current Discmania CEO Jussi Meresmaa, the Disc Golf World Tour (DGWT) has promised the goal of “establishing disc golf as a legitimate sport around the world” through increased media exposure, marketing, and the use of universal statistics.
How is it different from the other tours?
With the DGWT beginning this weekend and ending at the United States Disc Golf Championships in October, it is the longest tour, chronologically-speaking, of the season. It is also the most geographically-diverse, with events in Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. From a number of events standpoint, however, it is the smallest, with five tournaments.
The DGWT is also a one-division contest, meaning there are no age- or gender-specific fields. At press time, only one of the 119 registered participants – Memorial champion Catrina Allen – was a woman.
The other professional tours launching this season are the Disc Golf Pro Tour and the American Disc Golf Tour.
About the La Mirada Open
Taking place at La Mirada Community Regional Park – home of the famous Golden State layout and the first PDGA National Tour event in 2003 – the La Mirada Open will host one round of play each day this Thursday through Saturday.
The course features an 18-hole, 9,078-foot, par 63 layout replete with rolling hills, island holes, and copious out-of-bounds lines. Co-designed by Meresmaa and Austin Montgomery, the layout takes the two daily courses at La Mirada and condenses them into one massive championship-level challenge.
For Philo Brathwaite, who has started his season strong with first, third, and seventh place finishes, the narrow fairways are something he expected from a Meresmaa-designed course.
“I just came from playing two tournaments – technically three in a row – where there was O.B. everywhere, so I’m not really intimidated by lines anymore,” Brathwaite said. “They are what they are, everybody’s got to deal with them. You’ve just got to find the right shot to match the holes.”
Meresmaa pointed to few instances on the course that he thinks will create some scoring separation.
“Holes 1, 8 and 17 will see bogeys from top players,” he said. “I would say number 17 [is the most challenging], since it’s an island hole and the pressure is on.”
The smart money is on reigning world champion and #1 DGWT-ranked Paul McBeth, who will be competing a few long tee shots away from his hometown of Huntington Beach.
McBeth, who has become a de facto face of the tour due to his stature in the game and his sponsorship with Innova Discs, the tour’s lead underwriter, downplayed any extra pressure that might accompany the event.
“There’s always nerves going into events, so there’s always that aspect of getting back playing and competing,” McBeth said. “So there’s always nerves in that’s sense, but to me it’s just another tournament to go out there and perform and do my best.”
Other top contenders include Simon Lizotte, who possesses the game’s biggest arm and should not be daunted by the course’s length; Nikko Locastro, who surged from the chase card into third place on the final day of the Memorial; and Brathwaite, another Southern California native who knows the lay of the land.
“I’ve been playing disc golf at that park for a long time, so I don’t really think it matters what changes or what angles you’re throwing,” Brathwaite said. “It’s just golf. I like my chances every week.”
Meresmaa, however, didn’t rule out a darkhorse candidate sneaking in for the win.
“There will be a few locals that are close the top 10 when everything is said and done,” he said.
It isn’t always sunny in Southern California, with the National Weather Service calling for a 60 percent chance of rain Friday night in La Mirada. This could have the greatest impact on early cards for Saturday’s final round, but a 1 PM tee off for the leaders should mean smooth sailing. With temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, the wind blowing out the last remnants of the storm may be the only issue.
The DGWT held a ‘media day’ yesterday, and Spin TV posted a host of interviews from the event.
Friday and Saturday’s rounds will be live-streamed on The SpinTV’s YouTube channel, starting at 2:30 PM Pacific.
Ultiworld Disc Golf will be on the scene for Saturday’s final round, so keep it here for extended coverage of the event.