MVP Open Preview: Tour Opens New Era At Marquee Event

It's a tall task to defend a title at Maple Hill

Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen – DGPT

It would be fair to describe Maple Hill as the birthplace of the Disc Golf Pro Tour, and surely the news of Steve Dodge selling his stake in the Pro Tour this week will be a prominent topic of conversation both on and off the course at the MVP Open. 

Most players and fans have expressed sincere gratitude for the work that Dodge put into establishing the tour, and also excitement that New Englanders, Todd Rainwater and Jeff Spring, will be taking the reins.

Even with the big announcement, the DGPT rolls on with the MVP Open at the iconic Maple Hill Disc Golf Course in Leicester, MA this Friday. Last year’s MVP Open brought one of the most exciting finishes of the season, with James Conrad holding on to beat Paul McBeth by a single stroke. Both Conrad and McBeth are slated to be on site. This is McBeth’s first event since claiming a fifth world title, while Conrad is looking for his first elite event win of 2019.

On the course, there have only been a handful of multi-time winners, and there has yet to be an Open player who has successfully defended their title at Maple Hill in the modern touring era. In fact, the only player who has won at Maple Hill in back-to-back years since 2008 is Paige Pierce who won four times in a row from 2014 to 2017.

In the MPO field, there are 144 players registered, and 53 are 1000 rated or better. We will have the full complement of FPO talent on hand, as 18 of 30 women registered are rated 900 or better, including locals Erica Johnson and Nicole Dionisio, both of whom finished in the top 15 in 2018. The MPO field, however, is somewhat diminished this time around. Eagle McMahon, Chris Dickerson, Jeremy Koling, Nate Sexton, and Bradley Williams are all sitting it out this year. Michael Johansen is not registered but will be playing Maple Hill for the Tim Selinske U.S. Masters next week.

Past Winners

 TierOpenOpen Women
2018A/DGPTJames ConradSarah Hokom
2017A/DGPTRicky WysockiPaige Pierce
2016A/DGPTBradley WilliamsPaige Pierce
2015NT/DGPTRicky WysockiPaige Pierce
2014NTJeremy KolingPaige Pierce
2013NTPaul McBethValarie Jenkins
2012NTCale LeiviskaCatrina Allen
2011NTNate DossSarah Hokom
2010NTNikko LocastroSarah Cunningham
2009NTBarry SchultzSarah Cunningham
2008NTAvery JenkinsValarie Jenkins

The Course

Two pretty major changes to the course are in place for 2019. Hole 4 features a new mandatory, which eliminates the right side alley utilized by many righties as an anhyzer flick option, or a lefty hyzer line. Hole 9 has been changed to a par 4, owing to a new basket placement. The new pin is elevated and moved to the far right side of the green, making almost every attempt for the basket a death putt.

Maple Hill Gold: Open – par 60, 8,465 feet

Water hazards come into play on holes 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 14. The only hole where dry-land OB will come into play for the top of the field will be holes 2, 6, and 18. Although there is OB directly off the tee on a number of other holes over the course, it would take a truly disastrous throw to bring them into play. This year’s layout looks similar to 2018 but with a couple of new basket placements around the property.

Maple Hill Mixed: Open Women – par 61, 7,243 feet

The women will be playing a layout that combines elements of the four different tee and pin positions which are available at Maple Hill. This year’s layout plays the same overall length as last season but will give us the opportunity to see the Open Women attack Gold pin and tee positions on holes 4, 5, 9, 12, 13, 15, 17. For those counting along, that means that the Open Women will be playing almost half its round on the exact same layout as the Open Division.

Please refer to the caddy books for both Open and Open Women divisions.

Extended Forecast

A cold front should move through the northeast United States throughout the day on Friday. However, the front won’t reach Maple Hill until late in the afternoon. Ahead of the front, strong southwest winds will be possible. High pressure will settle into the region on Saturday, leading to nice conditions. Those nice conditions should continue into Sunday as the center of high pressure moves east of the region.

Friday: Isolated afternoon showers possible. The high temperature will top out in the upper 70s with gusty southwest winds likely throughout the day.

Saturday: Mostly sunny skies with a high temperature in the low 70s. A northwest wind around 5 to 10 mph is likely.

Sunday: Wind will shift out of the southwest throughout the day. Afternoon highs will top out in the low to mid 70s.

Last year temperatures were a bit warmer leading to a heated battle in MPO and Sarah Hokom’s hot play in FPO. With temperatures being a bit cooler, who can stay hot and take home the win?

How to Watch

Smashboxx TV will be producing the livestreams each day which can be found on the DGPT YouTube channel. Central Coast Disc Golf will have a lead or feature MPO card available next day, Gatekeeper Media has MPO chase cards, and GK Productions is following FPO lead. 

UDisc Live will cover live scoring.

  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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