2023 Discraft’s Great Lakes Open Preview: Playoffs!

The DGPT playoffs are here!

Discraft Great Lakes Open 2022. Photo: DGPT

After 6 months and 13 Elite Series events, the Disc Golf Pro Tour playoffs begin this Thursday with the Discraft Great Lakes Open in Milford, Michigan. Originally not a part of the 2023 DGPT schedule because the Champions Cup was set to take place at Toboggan, DGLO rejoined the Pro Tour after the PDGA announced that the spring Major would remain at their headquarters in Appling, Georgia.

Now a playoff event, DGLO will offer 1.5x the normal Elite Series points and will be a four-round tournament for the first time since becoming a regular stop on the tour in 2018. With nearly $70,000 in spectator tickets already sold and Barbasol signed on as a sponsor throughout the playoffs, players could see a record-setting purse this week. For most, this will also be their final event before heading to Vermont for the World Championships.

Even with five consecutive wins from the great Ken Climo, nobody has won this event more than nine-time champion Elaine King, who first won the event back in 1987 and most recently in 2009. Since 1983, this tournament has been played on nine different courses in seven cities, and has grown from a C-tier to the National Tour, gone back down to a B-tier, and now holds a familiar spot on the Elite Series.

Last year, Corey Ellis was able to grab a stroke on Calvin Heimburg during each of the final two holes in regulation to force a playoff. Ellis threw his playoff tee shot long and out of bounds, allowing Heimburg to layup for par to earn his second Elite Series and playoff win of the season. In the FPO division, Natalie Ryan earned her first career Elite Series win by two strokes over Ohn Scoggins and Emily Beach. As the second stop on the newly formed United Series, Ryan will be present and attempting to defend her title this week.

Past Winners

PDGA TierMPO WinnerFPO Winner
2022DGPTCalvin HeimburgNatalie Ryan
2021DGPTEagle McMahonKristin Tattar
2020DGPTEagle McMahonPaige Pierce
2019DGPTPaul McBethPaige Pierce
2018DGPTPaul McBethSarah Hokom
2017AZiggy BierekovenKrystal Fromm
2016AReid FrescuraCatrina Allen
2015ABen CallawayCatrina Allen
2014ATyler HorneCatrina Allen
2013NTRicky WysockiSarah Hokom
2012AJon PerryCatrina Allen
2011BTyler Hornen/a
2010BMike RaleyDes Reading
2009AMike RaleyElaine King
2008AAl 'Sugar' SchackAngela Tschiggfrie
2007NTCale LeiviskaDes Reading
2006NTJosh AnthonDes Reading
2005NTScott MartinJuliana Korver
2004NTCam ToddDes Reading
2003NTBarry SchultzJuliana Korver
2002AShawn SinclairLeslie Herndon
2001AScott MartinElaine King
1999AKen ClimoJuliana Korver
1998AKen ClimoElaine King
1997AKen ClimoElaine King
1996AKen ClimoAnni Kreml
1995AKen ClimoBecky Powell
1994BJeff MaltonElaine King
1993BSteve KohmanMolly Morrow
1992ADan GinnellySharon Jenkins
1991CSteve WisecupElaine King
1990CDan GinnellySharon Jenkins
1989CSlate PaulElaine King
1988CJoe EaganElaine King
1987CSteve WisecupElaine King
1986CBob Huston/Kevin StewartGail McColl
1985CBob Harrisn/a
1984CJoe Eagann/a

Four Things We’ll Be Watching

1. Calvin Heimburg has been the #1 player in the world this season, but he suddenly finds himself in a precarious position. Despite averaging a finish of 2.92 on the Elite Series, well ahead of any other player in the field, he now has one less Elite Series and one less Silver win than Gannon Buhr. Buhr’s average finish comes in significantly lower at 13.75, but at the end of the day, wins trump all.

Heimburg now has six consecutive podium finishes, but has not earned a win since the Jonesboro Open back in April. A repeat win at DGLO would immediately reseat Calvin as the obvious Player of the Year. If he continues to come up just short of matching other players’ great performances, however, voters may begin to lean in favor of Buhr, especially if the wunderkind picks up his 2nd career Major before the season wraps up.

2. Valerie Mandujano is officially back after a win in Idlewild last week, her 3rd Elite Series win over the past two seasons. Since Mandujano’s win at WACO last year, only Kristin Tattar and Paige Pierce have more Elite wins than her. Valerie also has the largest average margin of victory for players with more than one career DGPT ES win. With Paige Pierce likely out for the remainder of the year and Catrina Allen coming off the two worst finishes of her career, Mandujano could be Tattar’s toughest competition once she returns for Worlds and the remainder of the season. The Toboggan course sets up well for Valerie’s game, and notching back-to-back wins would be an enormous boost going into Worlds.

3. With likely the biggest celebrity appearance in disc golf history, comedian and podcaster Bert Kreischer will be in attendance at DGLO and taking part in a charity fundraiser for the Paul McBeth Foundation on Wednesday. Bert first played disc golf in college and in recent years has rediscovered the sport, discussing his love for the hobby in appearances he’s made on programs like the Rich Eisen Show and the Joe Rogan Experience.

Kreischer has over 6 million followers on Instagram and TikTok combined, and his feature film “The Machine” has grossed over $10 million since its release earlier this year. The VIP zone at DGLO, which has already sold out, will be renamed to “The Bert Zone” with additional bleachers, tents, and a large video board. Discraft will also be selling exclusive Bert Kreischer discs onsite.

4. For the first time since 2019, Japanese player Manabu Kajiyama will be competing in the United States this week. At 1056, Kajiyama is currently the highest rated player in the world by PDGA rating. Manabu has 122 career PDGA wins over 210 events; all but 10 of those wins have come in Japan. While his PDGA rating is almost certainly inflated as a result of mostly competing in one region, we’re excited to see how Kajiyama fares on the Toboggan course against top-level competition.

Course Changes

The Toboggan course has seen changes each year since becoming a part of the pro tour, and 2023 will be no different. Tournament Director Nate Heinold has once again made the course longer and more difficult for both the MPO and FPO divisions. There are changes on over half of the course this year, but the most notable and anticipated change is alternating pin positions on several holes. Holes 1 and 2 will have an ‘A’ position, used for rounds 2 and 3, and a ‘B’ position, used for rounds 1 and 4. Hole 11 will also have an alternate pin position, but this will only be used in the MPO division.

Hole 3 will now have much tighter OB lines, and the optional drop zone has been removed. A tall grass area short of the green that used to be a very common landing zone is now in OB territory. Hole 7 had OB added along the right side, while holes 8 and 14 now have OB surrounding the entire hole. Hole 14 used to have a shorter FPO teepad but now will play from the MPO teepad to a separate shorter basket.

Hole 9’s MPO pin has been removed: the hole is now 89 feet shorter and plays the same as the FPO layout. Hole 16 will play as an island green this year, with a drop zone just outside the green for any tee shots that do not land inside the island. Lastly, hole 18 has been redesigned from a Par 3 into a much longer Par 4, with OB surrounding the entire hole.

2023 MPO A: 10,866 Feet Par 65
2023 MPO B: 10,957 Feet Par 65
2022 MPO: 10,763 feet Par 64

2023 FPO A: 9,088 Feet Par 68
2023 FPO B: 9,109 Feet Par 68
2022 FPO: 8,955 feet Par 67

Extended Forecast

Rain and strong winds are likely for round 1, but the weather should improve to near ideal conditions as the week progresses.

Thursday: Cloudy early with showers likely in the afternoon. Highs in the mid 70s. Winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 90%.
Friday: Sunny with highs in the low 70s. Winds 10 to 20mph.
Saturday: Sunny with highs in the upper 70s. Winds 5 to 10mph.
Sunday: Partly cloudy with highs in the mid 80s. Winds 5 to 10mph.

  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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