2022 Des Moines Challenge Preview: Final Worlds Tune-Up

The last stop before the World Championships.

Pickard Park at the Des Moines Challenge. Photo: DGPT

After 6 months, 11 Elite Series events and a trip around the country, the Disc Golf Pro Tour regular season will come to a conclusion this weekend in Indianola, Iowa. The Des Moines Challenge was a late addition to the 2021 pro tour after the European swing was canceled, and it was picked back up for the 2022 season. Last year, thunderstorms caused delays and prevented the FPO division from playing their 2nd round on Saturday. Luckily the players were able to go on Sunday, and Missy Gannon won her first career ES event by one stroke over Jessica Weese. The MPO division was able to play all three rounds, and Paul McBeth took home his only pro tour win of the season in a two stroke victory over Calvin Heimburg.

Any MPO player outside of the top 100 and FPO player outside of the top 50 has two chances left to accumulate a substantial amount of points. Des Moines will be scored the same as any other ES event, and the world championship of course will offer 150% of the points typically awarded. Some of those fringe players are Europeans who have not played a full schedule, and many of them have returned to Des Moines this week. In total, 22 international players are registered between the two divisions as they look to get in one more ES event prior to the world championships.

2021 Winners

MPO: Paul McBeth, by two strokes over Calvin Heimburg
FPO: Missy Gannon, by one stroke over Jessica Weese1

Three Things We’ll Be Watching

1. Coming off a huge win at the Ledgestone Open, can Missy Gannon come to Des Moines and defend her title? Missy earned her first ES win here last July, and then went on to win the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship and Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship before being named the Elaine King Player of the Year by the DGPT. If Gannon can get hot again late in the season, she’s a threat to win every tournament from now until the end of the postseason.

2. For players currently sitting on the bubble, who can make a push to earn a playoff invite and who can hold off potential spoilers and retain their current spot? Finnish player Heidi Laine currently sits in 56th place, having only played the European Open earlier this year. Heidi not only has a great chance to move into the top 50, but even the top 32 by the end of Worlds, and earn an invite to both playoff events and fight for a spot in the pro tour championship. On the MPO side, keep your eye on players like Jakub Semerád who currently sits in 74th place and is registered for both Des Moines and Worlds.

3. Speaking of the World Championship, this is every player’s last chance to dial in their game both mentally and physically before heading to Emporia. Last year, Catrina Allen was coming off multiple runner-up finishes, and James Conrad had accumulated several top 10s before Worlds started. While it’s certainly possible for a struggling player to suddenly round into form at the world championship, look for players who have been trending upwards these past couple of months. For younger athletes who haven’t been in the mix quite as often as certain veterans, performing well at Des Moines and managing those nerves would be invaluable experience going into a major championship.

Course Notes & Changes

Originally designed by 5x world champion and Iowa-native Juliana Korver, Pickard Park has been in the ground since 1999 and played host to the 2004 World Championships. Like most courses, the layout has changed over the years, and nearly half of the course has been tweaked from 2021 to 2022. Starting on hole 1, the FPO teepad has been moved 163 feet closer after no player was able to card a birdie at last year’s event. The drop zones have been removed from hole 2, allowing for standard OB rules. Hole 3 is brand new and plays through the woods now rather than out in the open. Hole 4 was previously a par 3 for MPO and par 4 for FPO. Each division will now play to a separate basket as a par 3, and each basket has its own drop zone that forces players to putt directly at the water if they want to save par. The FPO teepad on hole 5 has been moved and the hole now plays 5 feet longer. Hole 11 had its basket moved a bit closer and now plays 89 feet shorter for the MPO division and 77 feet shorter for the FPO division. Hole 13 is a brand new par 3 that plays into the tree line. And lastly, hole 14’s MPO teepad has been moved back 114 feet.

2021 MPO: 9,536 feet Par 64
2022 MPO: 9,626 feet Par 64

2021 FPO: 8,650 feet Par 65
2022 FPO: 8,424 feet Par 64

Extended Forecast

Players should be ready for some wind and rain on both Friday and Saturday. With thunderstorms in the forecast, the threat of a delay or canceled round is always possible.

Friday: Scattered thunderstorms with highs in the lower 80s, chance of rain 60%
Saturday: Scattered thunderstorms with highs in the upper 70s, chance of rain 50%
Sunday: Partly cloudy with highs in the lower 80s

Read on for PrizePicks Lines & Best Bets…

  1. The FPO Division only played two rounds in 2021 due to inclement weather. 

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  1. Justin Westfall
    Justin Westfall

    Justin Westfall is a contributor at Ultiworld Disc Golf who enjoys living in Southern California, where he can play disc golf year-round. Off the course, he works in the film industry and prides himself on being a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan. You can find Justin on Twitter and Instagram @PDGAStats.



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