2021 USDGC & TPWDGC Preview: Wet Weather Welcomes Pros To Winthrop

On a course with myriad holes that can ruin a round, who will persevere?

Hole 6 at Winthrop Arena. Photo: PDGA

Coverage of the 2021 USDGC and TPWDGC is presented by Skybreed Discs.

The United States Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University is an institution. A week-long disc golf festival in Rock Hill that bridges a generational gap that has gotten larger in recent years. With the addition of the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship, a full field of Open Women’s competitors rounds out the event to make it more inclusive than ever.

What’s as big of a tradition as USDGC itself is the hand wringing beforehand. This year fans mocked the addition of five “driving posts” off the tee on hole 9, and the price for an event-only pay-per-view, a practice that has been happening for several years.

Fortunately, the PDGA Major always seems to deliver in terms of on-course drama. The last two versions almost saw final round comebacks as the leaders and eventual winners struggled to hang on. Over par rounds are common from top-rated pros. All those added elements of extra difficulty, as contrived as they sometimes seem, often pay off.

Now that FPO has its own annual showcase at Winthrop with the TPWDGC, even if it doesn’t hold the same status as a Major, we get to see another side to the Arena course and a new set of characters write their own stories on the course.

The close to the regular season was unpredictable in its results, but this week offers players a chance to leave a mark on 2021. Do we see a first-time Major winner crowned, like we have in four of the last five USDGCs? Or does another piece of hardware get added to an already stacked cabinet?

Past USDGC Winners

WinnerRunner Up
2022Gannon BuhrNiklas Anttila
2021Paul McBethKyle Klein
2020Chris DickersonCalvin Heimburg
2019James ConradJeremy Koling & Nikko Locastro
2018Paul McBethJames Conrad
2017Nate SextonRicky Wysocki
2016Jeremy KolingNikko Locastro
2015Paul McBethRicky Wysocki
2014Will SchusterickPaul McBeth & JohnE McCray
2013Steve BrinsterBarry Schultz & Steve Rico
2012Will SchusterickRicky Wysocki
2010Will SchusterickNikko Locastro
2009Nikko LocastroDave Feldberg
2008Nate DossAvery Jenkins
2007Ken ClimoAvery Jenkins
2006Barry SchultzBrian Schweberger
2005Dave FeldbergScott Martin
2004Ken ClimoDarrell Nodland
2003Barry SchultzKen Climo
2002Ken ClimoBarry Schultz
2001Barry SchultzKen Climo
2000Ken ClimoAl 'Sugar' Schack
1999Ken ClimoAl 'Sugar' Schack

What We’re Watching

  • Ricky Wysocki is no. 1 in our Power Rankings yet again, still calls South Carolina “home” on his PDGA page, and has been close to winning USDGC in the past, so is 2021 finally the year? With wet weather in the forecast — again — we may see Raincoat Ricky rise to the occasion.
  • It will be almost two months since Paige Pierce last won a traditional format event, but no other player in the TPWDGC field has as much experience on Winthrop as she does. Pierce is never one to back down from the added pressure of a big stage, so even if it’s not a Major for the FPO division, she’ll probably be at her best as she takes on the Arena.
  • Another season with rain in the forecast. Straight through Saturday looks to be soggy, and while it certainly has added drama in recent years, it also can lead to unfortunate bad breaks you hate to see at an event of this prestige.

GRIP6 Pick 6 Locks Of The Week

Can you believe Calvin Heimburg has only won two traditional format events this season? He got a nice payday at the DGPT Match Play Championship, but he’d probably prefer a U.S. championship ring to go with those 12 other top five finishes. Heimburg doesn’t rely on a sidearm as much as some other players who find success here, but he’ll have plenty of open air to attack with his directness. He also should have a chip on his shoulder from a flaming hot final round last year that almost ended in a victory.

Without much history to go on at Winthrop for the FPO field, it’s easy to default to last year’s champ, Paige Pierce, who also has several years experience as an invited participant and Monday qualifier for USDGC. We’ll ride the hot hand, though, and go with Hailey King as the player to watch. She had one of her lowest rated rounds of her year on Winthrop last year while playing 32 strokes worse than Pierce, yet we’ve seen King’s maturity grow throughout the season.

The Course

USDGC: Rounds 1 & 4 – par 66, 9,886 feet; Rounds 2 & 3 – par 66, 9,788 feet
TPWDGC: Rounds 1 & 4 – par 68, 8,741 feet; Rounds 2 & 3 – par 68, 8,746 feet

If you like watching the disc fly, you’ll like Winthrop. If you like watching players hit narrow targets and landing zones, you’ll like Winthrop. If you prefer woods golf and hate “artificial” OB, then maybe you don’t love Winthrop so much. Sometimes called the US Sidearm Championships, the course traditionally plays well for a lefty backhand or righty forehand player.

Here Are The Course Changes For The 2021 USDGC & TPWDGC

Extended Forecast

A broad upper-level cutoff low will transition to more of an open wave throughout the weekend. This will lead to moisture transport from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean Wednesday, and then just the Atlantic Ocean Thursday through Saturday. This will lead to a plume of moist air sitting on the North Carolina and South Carolina border. Daily showers and thunderstorms will be possible for the tournament, especially during the warmest part of the day. Rain could be heavy in the strongest showers and storms.

Wednesday: Isolated showers and thunderstorms possible. The best chance may be in the afternoon and evening. Highs will top out around 80°. Easterly wind of 5 to 10 mph possible.

Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms possible. Highs top out in the upper 70s. Northeasterly wind of 5 to 10 mph possible.

Friday: Showers and thunderstorms possible. Highs top out in the upper 70s. Northeasterly wind of 5 mph possible.

Saturday: Isolated showers and thunderstorms possible. Afternoon highs top out in the mid 70s. Northeast wind of 5 to 10 mph possible.

How To Watch

How To Watch The 2021 USDGC And Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship

  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]

  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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