PDGA National Tour winners to be crowned, along with new HOF inductees
October 12, 2017 by Alex Colucci and Jacob Wilkins in Preview with 0 comments
For many years, the United States Disc Golf Championship marked the de facto end of the professional disc golf season. But in 2017, and for the foreseeable future, there will still be at least one last event to close out the year at the International Disc Golf Center.
Renamed in honor of the sport’s founding father, the Ed Headrick Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic takes place this Friday through Sunday. Now an annual fixture that not only marks the end of the PDGA National Tour, the event also honors the new inductees into the Disc Golf Hall of Fame, as this year’s class of Des Reading, John Bird, and Brian Graham will be enshrined during a ceremony after Saturday’s second round.
Paige Pierce is having an historic season in the Open Women’s division, and the year’s final NT should be a coronation resulting in her third Elite Series Championship as the player with the most points at the end of the season. While she has this title more or less wrapped up, a win could carry momentum over to the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship next week, a victory at which Pierce has outlined as a season-ending goal.
Over her last three events, including the USDGC, Pierce said that she’s at her best when she plays “very aggressive” golf, committing to throwing harder tee shots to help her play a more confident game. Pierce has found an ability to find that confident aggression as tournaments have played out, but of the two courses played during Pro Worlds this year, W.R. Jackson – which is featured prominently this weekend — gave her more trouble. With just three rounds to decide a champion instead of four, and with the final two at Jackson, she’ll need to find her groove early in order to get her second Hall of Fame Classic win, sweep the NTs, and take home a $5,000 bonus.
While Pierce is looking to cement a run-away National Tour season, Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki still have to settle their NT series battle. McBeth enjoys a slim lead of 12 points, but if Wysocki wins — which he has before at the IDGC complex, taking the PDGA Championship in 2011 and the 2013 HOFC — and McBeth finishes in fifth place or lower, the title is Wysocki’s for the second year in a row. This year, the stakes are even higher than in the past, as the payout for NT series champion has increased to $10,000. That’s five times the $2,000 Wysocki won in 2016.
There are some changes at the International Disc Golf Center’s courses, and they’re not due to hole design or layout. When Hurricane Irma went through the Southeast in late August, it brought significant sustained winds that took down at least 60 trees on the complex’s three courses. Tournament Director Zachary Shafer said there were holes on both courses in play for this event where the fallen trees may create lines that weren’t previously present, but that no teepads or pins had to be moved.
“The two holes that saw the biggest change were W.R. Jackson #18 and ‘Steady’ Ed Headrick #3,” Shafer said in an email. “On Jackson #18, the large leaning tree on the left side of the tee shot came down. This opens up the tee shot to where players can be much more aggressive off the tee.
“On ‘Steady’ Ed #3, there was a large oak located about 20 feet from the basket that came down, and took an additional eight trees with it,” Shafer continued. “This green is now much more open, but has a horizontal tree stump about 15 feet behind the basket that will result in a tough putt if the tee shot goes too far.”
‘Steady’ Ed Headrick Memorial Course – (Friday): 18 Holes, Par 64, 6,945 feet – This is the shorter of the two courses by roughly 1,500 feet and has one significant feature W.R. Jackson lacks: water hazards. Headrick features seven holes with water, four of which require at least some carry over it.
W.R. Jackson Memorial Course – (Saturday & Sunday): 18 Holes, Open: Long Tees, Par 68, 9,501 feet. Open Women: Short Tees, Par 67, 8,931 feet – Viewers should be pretty familiar with this track, as it was played during rounds one and three of this year’s Pro Worlds. This Gold-level championship course features plenty of trees, tight lines, and elevation changes. “Turkey Gulch,” the run of short par 3s from holes 11 through 13 that features an out-of-bounds creek running the length of their fairways, is likely the most notable stretch, where disc angle and speed control are paramount. For an extended look at this course, check out our Worlds course preview.
|PDGA Tier||Open||Open Women|
|2015||NT||Michael Johansen||Paige Pierce|
|2013||NT||Ricky Wysocki||Sarah Cunningham|
|2011||A||Dave Feldberg||Sarah Cunningham|
|2009||A||Kris Orrick||Sarah Cunningham|
|2007||NT||Dave Feldberg||Des Reading|
|2005||NT||Phil Arthur||Juliana Korver|
|2003||NT||Cam Todd||Elaine King|
Friday: Upper level ridging will keep things toasty across the region. The remnants of a weak cold front will meander across the area on Friday, leading to isolated shower chances. A few rumbles of thunder can’t completely be ruled out. Foggy conditions in the morning should give way to mostly cloudy skies the rest of the day. High temperatures will top out around 85°F.
- 8 a.m.: Patchy fog will be possible with a temperature around 72°F. Calm wind conditions expected.
- Noon: Mostly cloudy skies with isolated showers possible. Temperatures should be around 79° with an east-northeast wind between 5-10 mph.
- 2 p.m.: Mostly cloudy skies with isolated showers and storms possible. Temperatures should be around 84° with an east-northeast wind between 5-10 mph.
Hole to Watch: With a breeze coming off the nearby Clarks Hill Lake, hole 5 will be one that some players may attack. This 522-foot par 4 calls for a hyzer shot to be thrown out of a tunnel to a pin downhill. The lake will be to the players’ right side, which should help the disc hyzer into the pin for a right hand backhand thrower.
Saturday: A bit less moisture is expected across the region on Saturday. This should cut down on the clouds and rain chances. However, conditions will still be hot for mid-October: Expect partly cloudy skies throughout the day as highs top out around 84°F.
- 8 a.m.: Patchy fog will be possible with a temperature around 70°F. Calm wind expected.
- 2 p.m.: Partly cloudy skies with a temperature around 82°F. East-northeast wind between 5-10 mph possible.
Hole to Watch: Although W.R. Jackson is known for its tightly wooded fairways, the wind can still be a bit of a factor, and it is setting up for a headwind on the finishing hole. An 837-foot par 5 with a fairly tight fairway all the way to the pin, hole 18 is one where we’ll see if players go big and attack this hole for eagle, even through the headwind.
Sunday: Another weak cold front will be approaching the region from the west. This will lead to wind shifting out of the southwest aloft, bringing a bit more moisture and warm air into the region. Thus, a few isolated showers and storms will once again be possible. High temperatures will top out around 86°F.
- 9 a.m.: Patchy fog will be possible with a temperature around 68°F. Calm wind expected.
- 2 p.m.: Partly cloudy skies with isolated showers and storms possible. Temperatures will be around 83°F. Calm wind expected.
How To Follow
Jomez Productions is on hand creating next-day video of the Open feature and lead cards for all three rounds, while Prodigy Disc will cover the chase card for rounds two and three. TheDiscGolfGuy will have edited coverage of the Open Women’s division, while SmashboxxTV will air post-round shows, including the Disc Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night. Real-time scoring is available via PDGA Live, and social media updates can be found on PDGA Live’s Twitter feed.