Waco Annual Charity Open Preview: Out of the Desert, Into the Woods

Can Big Jerm or Paige Pierce make it three-in-a-row?

After a little bit of a breather following back-to-back weekends of golf, the pro scene is back at it this week at the Waco Annual Charity Open. The Southwest stops showcased open-air courses, but now it’s time to see who has been practicing their low ceiling and wooded golf game over the offseason. WACO offers not only one of the best and most clever tournament acronyms in the game, but also some of the tightest, demanding sections of golf on tour. Nine holes of heavy woods golf are juxtaposed with nine holes of park-style golf, testing players’ all-around game.

Jeremy Koling has won the event two years in a row. In 2017, he beat James Conrad in a playoff, and in 2018 he again won in a playoff by beating Nate Perkins. This year, Koling will be going for the three-peat against a field that will have some notable absences, including Nate Sexton. However, the field will include some high-profile players, like Matt Orum and Cam Colglazier, who will be making their 2019 Disc Golf Pro Tour debuts.

Paige Pierce will also be looking for her third straight win at WACO. Sarah Hokom has finished second behind Pierce each of the past two years and will be wanting to avenge a final round collapse from 2018. Pierce and Hokom have played well but not consistently in Vegas and Arizona, and are still needing to notch their first W’s of 2019. Hokom has been putting well so far; her 66-percent from Circle 1X is good for second overall on the young season. Pierce will need to avoid OB to make the podium.

After a contentious opening weekend at the Memorial Championship that included both unforced and unavoidable errors, the DGPT will be hoping to correct and impress with its media offerings. There are still questions over who will be managing the switching duties on the live broadcast, and how they will adjust to streaming with potentially spotty signal on the wooded portion of the course. We do know that JomezPro will be on site thanks to their relationship with Tournament Director Ryan Draper, although we do not know in what capacity. Rumor says MPO chase card coverage.

The Course

Brazos Park East:  MPO – par 67, 7,949 feet; FPO – par 67, 7,669 feet. Under regular circumstances, the front nine of the course plays the more open, park style of golf, and the back nine plays through the woods. For WACO,  tournament hole 1 is course hole 7. Players will open in the park, spend the middle of the round in the woods, and emerge back into the relatively open portion to finish out. You can see the caddy book here.

Both Open and Open Women’s divisions will be playing Brazos Park East Thursday through Saturday. The Pro Side of the tournament does not run on Sunday, Saint Patrick’s Day, and we can only hazard a guess as to why the tournament director made that decision. Or better yet, we can have TD Ryan Draper tell us why.

“There are no major changes to the course from last year, it’s all pretty much the same.  The course is looking really clean. There’s an extra wall behind course hole 15 long of the basket, and I’ve never seen anyone go long. We scheduled the event to work with the flow of the tour. The way we’ve scheduled things is that it’s Thursday through Saturday for the pros, Friday through Sunday for ams. This allows ams to play in the morning and watch the pros in the afternoon, so they get the best of both worlds in playing and watching. On Sunday, the ams play the same layout and set-up as pros, get to experience the same thing the pros do. We throw a really good player party on Friday night on the suspension bridge in town. This year is the best yet with a player party Friday night and JomezPro 100K Subscriber party on Saturday at McLane Stadium where Baylor University football plays.”

Crucial Shots

Pierce is one of the “local” top pros playing this weekend.

“I’ve been playing there since I was 11 or 12, I grew up only about an hour, hour and a half away. For me, there isn’t really a single hole, but the first hole in the woods is a major separator, and it’s really important to get clean off the tee. If you end up in the woods off the tee it is basically a stroke. I think of it as OB. Same for the last wooded hole. Those two are really important to get through clean if you want to score well.”

Waco Annual Charity Open | Hole 4 – Course Hole 10 

Extended Forecast

After the relatively calm conditions experienced at the Memorial, windy conditions will be in store for Waco. A strong area of low pressure to the north of the region will spread northerly winds across Texas each day of the tournament. That northerly wind will also keep temperatures a little on the chilly side.

  • Thursday: Temperatures to start the day will be right around 50°. However, we should see temperatures warm into the mid-60s by the afternoon. Gusty northwest winds will be possible all day. The highest gusts may reach 25 to 30 mph.
  • Friday: A much cooler start to the day is expected as high pressure begins to descend on the region. Temperatures are expected to be around 42° to start the day. Northerly winds gusting to 25 to 30 mph will keep temperatures cool, only topping out in the mid to upper-50s.
  • Saturday: The windy conditions look to continue on Saturday as temperatures will be around 40° to start the day. Northeast winds around 10 to 15 mph will be possible throughout the day as highs top out in the upper-50s.

The good news: at least there’s no rain the forecast!

How to Follow

Live coverage by the DGPT can be found on their YouTube channel. FPO live coverage begins at 11 am eastern, MPO live coverage begins at 4:30 PM eastern. The DGPT will also be releasing post-produced footage. JomezPro will be on-site providing their only next day post-produced coverage of the DGPT for 2019. You can follow along via UDisc Live, and be sure to check in with Ultiworld for recaps, interviews, and analysis.

  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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