Players Frustrated With Perceived Oversights At Pro Worlds

A warm-up area and Brodie Smith social media post set off an avalanche of criticism.

Brodie Smith at 2021 Pro Worlds. Photo: PDGA

Ultiworld Disc Golf’s coverage of the 2021 PDGA Pro World Championships is presented by Skybreed Discs, a top online retailer and preferred vendor of the 2021 Ledgestone Insurance Open, and Aria Discs, a new disc golf brand making discs designed for beginners.

After Brodie Smith posted about paying $1,000 out of his own pocket to rent the entire driving range at Mulligans Creekside for players at 2021 PDGA Pro Worlds to warm-up during round one on Tuesday, a number of others chimed in on social media to voice their displeasure at the perceived unprofessional nature of the event.

The initial complaint involved only half of the driving range at Mulligans being reserved for Pro Worlds warm-up, including 200 feet of nets for driving and a putting area with four practice baskets, while the other half remained open to ball golfers. Players soon added that OB lines at Mulligans were not clearly marked, tee times for round 1 were very late to post the day before the event, and that a player, Zackeriath Johnson, was hit by a golf ball during practice.

“I’ve come to expect this,” one touring player, who did not wish to be named, told Ultiworld. “[The PDGA] simply don’t care.”

The PDGA said that it works with the event Host Team to establish the best venue possible for Elite Series events and Majors, and that problems with the facilities were not communicated prior to Smith’s rental and subsequent social media post.

“When the Utah Open was a Pro Tour event [the warm-up] area was the same set-up used then. This was really the first we heard about players wanting to be able to air the disc out down the range,” said Danny Voss, PDGA Director of Marketing. “A similar warm-up area like what we had available works at many Elite Series events like MVP, Fountain Hills, and in Peoria. It was not a unique thing to the venue, but I would consider it an oversight because it had been a tried and true method in the past.”

The 2018 Utah Open DGPT event had a 136 player field across two divisions compared to the 279 player field at Pro Worlds. The Fort course has a similar warm-up area to Mulligans originally, with several practice baskets and about 80 feet of nets for driving. Voss said that after becoming aware of the players’ concerns about the warm-up area, the PDGA worked to immediately rectify the situation.

“Given the feedback we received from players after Brodie’s post, the PDGA worked with Mulligans to reserve the other half of the range for the remainder of the event. This not only helped us provide an amenity requested by players, but also afforded the same opportunity for other pools to have the same warm-up area for subsequent rounds,” said Voss. “We discussed this adjustment with Brodie after his first round and offered to reimburse him the money he paid to the golf course for the other half of the range. He declined the offer, so instead we’ll add at least that amount back into the payout to be distributed back to the players.”

The PDGA recently received criticism in the build-up to the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship due to the number of courses being played and insufficient practice time reserved only to competitors. Voss said that with more direct contact from players to tournament staff or the PDGA these issues can be resolved more efficiently.

“There’s not a lack of people to reach out to on site,” said Voss. “But sometimes those conversations don’t happen, and that seems to be the case on Tuesday.”

The driving range problem isn’t just reserved to disc golf. One frustrated ball golfer posted online Thursday about the area being closed for Pro Worlds.

  1. Bennett Wineka
    Bennett Wineka

    Benn started playing disc golf in the '90s but has somehow never gotten any better. He lives in Decatur, Georgia and cares too much about Atlanta United and UNC basketball. Email him at [email protected]

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