Idlewild Open Preview: Bringing The Thunder And Rain

Tour hits one of the toughest tracks of the season

The tricky greens and wooded fairways of Idlewild. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen – DGPT

The past couple weeks of professional disc golf have been most impressive. Paul McBeth’s 18-under at the Great Lakes Open was followed up by Eagle McMahon winning his first PDGA Major thanks to back-to-back rounds shooting 16-under. With all this hot scoring, it’s almost fitting that up next, the tour hits one of the toughest tracks the pros will play all season.

The wooded, O.B. heavy Idlewild Open in Burlington, Kentucky appears to be a turning point for the season, setting a tone setter for the east coast swing of the professional season. But the challenges of the terrain won’t be all the top pros will have to deal with. Atmospheric challenges are in store, as the chances of strong thunderstorms should persist throughout the entirety of the three-round event.

James Conrad and Paige Pierce are looking to defend their 2017 Idlewild Open titles. Pierce’s win was pretty comfortable; she cleared second place finisher Sarah Hokom by nine strokes. Conrad’s win was a little tighter. He edged McBeth by a single stroke, carding an impressive birdie on the final hole, for the biggest win of his career to date.


The Gang is (mostly) Back Together

After several top-level players skipped the GLO to spend time playing in Europe, most of the elite touring players are back stateside and registered for Idlewild.

Some will be riding hot streaks coming into this weekend, regardless of which side of the pond they were playing on. McBeth is back from the other side of the pond. He’s up against not only the defending champion Conrad but also Chris Dickerson who collected his 19th win of the season at the Brent Hambrick Memorial Open last weekend. Michael Johansen is ready for some woods golf. Familiar names like Drew Gibson, Garrett Gurthie, and Nikko Locastro are in town. All that means 35-percent of the Open field is 1000 rated or better.

Notably, neither McMahon nor Simon Lizotte will be in attendance this weekend. McMahon will be rejoining the tour later in August for the MVP Open, and Lizotte will be staying in Europe to play The Open, and the European Championship until the MVP Open. Will Schusterick, who had a resurgent performance at last week’s PDGA Major, and mostly recovered from a nagging shoulder injury, will not be in attendance either.

Strong Women’s Field

This weekend will give us the most complete field of players we have seen since the Beaver State Fling. Pierce, Hokom, Catrina Allen, Jessica Weese, Madison Walker, Kona Panis, Paige Bjerkaas, and Rebecca Cox are all registered. 52% of the Open Women division is rated 910 or higher.

Idlewild is long which should benefit Pierce’s off the tee advantage, but it is also very tight, which may help mitigate some of that advantage. Allen had been playing very well, until recently in Konopiště. Prior to her last even in Europe, where she finished third, her last finish outside the top three was back in early May at the Nick Hyde Memorial. Since then she has won four big events including the BSF and Utah Open.

As well as we can expect those top two to play, the rest of the top tier women have been making waves of their own. Hokom has won six of her last eight tournaments including The Majestic and GLO. Weese has five straight top-three finishes and a win at the Brent Hambrick Memorial Open to her credit, and Walker just took the win at the Silver Cup. The top women are all playing extremely well and Idlewild is the first time we will have them all in the same place in a while.

Locals Come Out to Play

The Idlewild Open is being hosted by The Nati Disc Golf, the major club in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. There are 16 registered Open players from Ohio, and 15 are from Kentucky. Dutch Napier is the highest rated player of the bunch, checking in with a 1009 rating. Trevor Harbolt, currently one of the six candidates for the PDGA Board of Directors, is also registered.

How To Follow

Check in here at Ultiworld Disc Golf for recaps of each round from the Open and Women’s Open field. UDisc Live is on tap providing live scoring. Post-production, next-day video from the event is set to be released on the Jomez Productions and Central Coast Disc Golf YouTube channels. The Disc Golf Pro Tour will be providing updates via their Instagram, with event photos from Alyssa van Lanen. Live streaming of the Open division feature and lead cards are available on the Disc Golf Pro Tour channel, produced by SmashboxxTV, with the feature and lead cards of the Open Women’s division set to be broadcast in the hour before the Open live broadcast. The Open Women’s coverage kicks off at 2:00 p.m., with Open at 3:15 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Extended Forecast

The Idlewild Open will certainly have some challenging weather throughout the event. An anomalously strong area of low pressure for July will slowly spin across the region over the next few days, producing daily thunderstorm chances the weekend of the tournament.
  • 8 AM: 70° with a southerly wind around 10 mph. Isolated storms possible.
  • 11 AM: 78° with a southerly wind around 10 mph. Scattered storms likely.
  • 3 PM: 84° with southerly winds around 15 mph. Thunderstorms will likely increase in coverage again during the late afternoon and early evening.
  • 8 AM: 70° with a southerly wind around 10 mph. Isolated storms possible.
  • 3 PM: 77° with a southwest wind around 10 mph. Scattered storms possible.
  • 8 AM: 68° with a light west breeze. Isolated storms possible.
  • 3 PM: 78° with a light northwest breeze. Scattered storms possible.

With storms being in the forecast, that will be the main focus of discussion regarding the weather. Two rounds of thunderstorms will be possible on Friday. One round of storms will be possible in the morning, with an additional round of storms possible in the late afternoon. The late afternoon storms may become severe with large hail and damaging wind being concerns outside of lightning and heavy rainfall. There is also a chance that conditions become more favorable for tornadoes during the late evening hours on Friday. Of all the days in the forecast, Friday presents the highest chance of lightning. However, additional storms may form on Saturday and Sunday, which may also present a lightning hazard.

  1. Christopher Wiklund
    Christopher Wiklund

    Chris is a contributor at Ultiworld Disc Golf. He lives and works on Cape Cod in Massachusetts where he plays as much disc golf as he can, and reminds people he lives on Cape Cod. He likes spending time outside when he isn't playing video games and watching TV.

  2. Jacob Wilkins
    Jacob Wilkins

    Jacob Wilkins is a disc golfer from Bowling Green, Kentucky who has a bachelor of science degree in meteorology from Western Kentucky University. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram for a solid mixture of disc golf and weather.

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