2023 LWS Open at Idlewild Preview: Welcome to the Woods

The final Elite Series stop before the playoffs.

One of the iconic greens at Idlewild. Photo: DGPT

For a seventh straight year, the Disc Golf Pro Tour has made its way to Burlington, Kentucky, for the LWS Open at Idlewild. This will be the final standard Elite Series event of the year, with the playoffs beginning next week at the Great Lakes Open. Coming off two rounds at Northwood Black for last week’s Ledgestone Open, players will look to keep their woods game strong on yet another long and tightly wooded course.

While this event was historically dominated by Paige Pierce, the 5-time World Champion will not compete this year as she continues to recover from a broken ankle. The MPO division, on the other hand, has never seen a repeat winner and in recent years has provided a platform for young up and coming players to showcase their skills.

Last year, Isaac Robinson had his breakout performance, averaging a 1064 rating to defeat Chris Dickerson by four strokes. Robinson also finished 10 strokes ahead of 3rd place finisher Kyle Klein. Paul McBeth later said that Robinson played so well at Idlewild that nobody in the field had a shot at beating him. In the FPO division, Catrina Allen edged out Missy Gannon and Ohn Scoggins by two strokes to pick up her first career win at the event.

Past Winners

2022DGPTIsaac RobinsonCatrina Allen
2021DGPTKyle KleinPaige Pierce
2020DGPT/A-TierEagle McMahonEllen Widboom
2019DGPT/A-TierKevin JonesPaige Pierce
2018DGPT/A-TierPaul McBethPaige Pierce
2017DGPT/A-TierJames ConradPaige Pierce

Four Things We’ll Be Watching

1. For the past several years, Idlewild has seen breakout performances from several young MPO players. In 2021, both Kyle Klein and Andrew Marwede made a splash when they went to a 2-hole playoff to decide the winner. In 2020, Eagle McMahon established himself as a major force in the sport when he won his second consecutive Elite Series event at Idlewild from the chase card. The year prior, Kevin Jones picked up his first career Elite Series win in Burlington, before going on to have a very successful 2020 season.

A whole host of previous Elite Series winners come to mind as players who can perform very well on this track. If history repeats itself, however, don’t be surprised if an emerging talent hoists the trophy come Sunday.

2. After a spring and early summer that features many open courses, the final stretch of the Disc Golf Pro Tour season is focused around woods golf. Northwood Black, Idlewild, Brewster Ridge, and Maple Hill will all be played in just a six week span to close out the summer. Last week, we saw players like Andrew Marwede, Ezra Robinson, and Casey White make the lead card, not to mention first time Elite Series winner Cole Redalen.

In the FPO division, Missy Gannon was able to pick up her first win of the year, closely followed by Ohn Scoggins and Sarah Hokom. Expect to see a little shakeup in terms of the players frequently finishing inside the top 5 and top 10 over the next month, as certain players perform better on the more demanding woods courses.

3. With Kristin Tattar at home in Estonia and Paige Pierce laid up with an injury, the FPO division feels more open than it ever has. Pierce and Tattar have won more than half of all Disc Golf Pro Tour Elite Series events all-time, and that doesn’t just account for Tattar’s recent ascension and Pierce’s dominance in the early years of the tour. Over just the past three seasons, they still account for over half of all wins on the Elite Series.

Ohn Scoggins and Missy Gannon are now the two highest rated players competing in the division, and they demonstrated why with back-to-back 1st and 2nd place finishes at the Ledgestone Open last week. Last year, Gannon and Scoggins finished T-2nd at Idlewild and now feel like the two favorites coming into this tournament. It’s certainly hard to discount reigning champion Catrina Allen, even with a somewhat poor showing last week. Sarah Hokom also feels like a candidate for a strong finish at Idlewild, as does Cascade Challenge winner Kat Mertsch. Gannon has a chance to make a big statement with yet another win this week. As for Scoggins, who has six runner-up finishes on the Elite Series in just the past two seasons, she’s beyond due for her first win.

4. After a season with four playoffs and a record low average margin of victory, the MPO division has suddenly seen three consecutive events decided by five strokes. It is the first time in Disc Golf Pro Tour history that three consecutive MPO Elite Series events had a 5+ stroke margin of victory, and only once have two consecutive events had a 5+ stroke MoV. The FPO division, on the other hand, is experiencing a record low average MoV, averaging 2.83 on the Elite Series, well ahead of the current record of 4.0. It’s not surprising to see the FPO division getting more competitive, and it’s led to more exciting finishes than the MPO tournaments in recent weeks. While some have attributed this to the tour utilizing “birdie or die” courses like Lake Eureka, Isaac Robinson’s performances at last year’s Idlewild Open and this year’s Champions Cup show that more technical courses can still allow for dominant wins.

The Course

Designed by Robert Herbert and International Disc Golf Hall of Fame inductee Fred Salaz, Idlewild ranked #20 on UDisc’s best disc golf courses of 2023, down from #15 in 2022. The nearly 10,000 foot track features tight woods, water hazards on more than half of the course, and iconic retaining walls outlining several of the greens.

Only a few major changes have been made to the layout this year. Most notably, hole 2 will now have a separate FPO basket that plays about 100 feet shorter. Last year, only three FPO players were able to card a birdie on the hole, all in round 1. Hole 6 has also been changed for the FPO division; previously, it was a long par 3 that was only birdied twice last year. This year, the FPO division will now play the same par 4 layout as the MPO division. Hole 12’s basket has been moved about 80 feet closer this year for both the MPO and FPO divisions.

2023 MPO: 9,629 Feet Par 69
2022 MPO: 9,709 Feet Par 69

2023 FPO: 9,205 Feet Par 71
2022 FPO: 9,248 Feet Par 70

Extended Forecast

Burlington should be warm with low winds throughout the weekend, with a chance of rain on Saturday.

Friday: Partly cloudy with highs in the mid 80s. Winds 5 to 10 mph.
Saturday: Scattered thunderstorms and showers with highs in the mid 80s. Winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Sunday: Mostly sunny with highs in the mid 80s. Winds 5 to 10 mph.

  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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