2024 Chess.com Invitational Preview: The Season Starts Now

Pro disc golf is back!

The Olympus Disc Golf Course in Brooksville, Florida. Photo: DGPT

The 2024 Disc Golf Pro Tour season begins tomorrow, Friday, February 23rd, with one of the most anticipated events of the entire year.

In early December, it was announced that Chess.com, a website with over 150 million users would be the title sponsor of the event. Chess.com co-founder and CEO Erik Allebest is an avid disc golfer himself, and recently went on the Upshot podcast to discuss his reasoning behind sponsoring the event.

Since 2021, the DGPT season has begun with the Las Vegas Challenge, and even going as far back as 2018 with the former PDGA National Tour. Players and fans alike found the LVC to be continually lackluster, leading a switch up for 2024. The Chess.com Invitational will be held at the Olympus Disc Golf Course (formerly known as Gran Canyon, the home of Throw Down The Mountain) in Brooksville, Florida. A modified 9-hole layout of this course was used for last week’s All-Star event.

Five Things We’ll Be Watching

1. Course co-owner Paul McBeth has not played a PDGA event since the 2023 World Championships after dealing with a shoulder injury last season. McBeth has opted not to have surgery and instead received stem cell treatments this past offseason in an attempt to repair the shoulder. Paul has played the Throw Down the Mountain five times in his career and won the event each time, including wins in each of the past two seasons. McBeth averaged a 1065 rating in those events, but he’s not at 100% — he told Ultiworld Disc Golf that he’s feeling about 85% and lacking a bit of distance on his drives. The disc golf grandmaster can certainly make a statement by taking down the first event of the year at his new property, against far and away the toughest field he has ever faced at this venue.

2. Another player returning from injury is Paige Pierce, who slipped on a wet bridge during a practice round for the PCS Open and was sidelined for the remainder of 2023. With Kristin Tattar still two weeks away from making her season debut, Pierce would be the likely favorite to win this event under normal circumstances. What fans are most likely to see from Paige is a noticeable reduction in power as she continues to work her way back from the injury. Even with less distance than she is used to having, if Paige can keep the disc in the fairway and putt well, then she should be in contention for the win come Sunday.

3. The player who earned the most hype for 2024 during the All-Star weekend was Holyn Handley, who shot three strokes better than the secnd-best competitor during singles play on Sunday and was part of the second-highest scoring doubles team on Saturday. Holyn’s biggest setback has traditionally been a high OB-rate, yet she picked up her first big win at the Throw Pink Women’s Disc Golf Championship last fall, on a course that is riddled with OB lines. If her game continues to improve in that area, she will be a contender on a weekly basis.

4. 2023 Player of the Year Calvin Heimburg will be looking to start off this season the same way he began last season — with a win. The Florida native is somewhat familiar with this course, having played the Throw Down the Mountain seven times including a 2nd place finish in 2022. While Team Calvin was unable to get the win during last week’s All-Star event, Heimburg played well, earning points in both doubles and singles. Given the questions surrounding the health of Paul McBeth’s shoulder, Calvin should be considered the favorite to call checkmate this week.

5. The Disc Golf Network’s upgrade got off to a bumpy start during the All-Star week, and users were quick to point out their frustrations. Many reported playback issues across multiple viewing platforms, though improvements seem to have been made before the singles matches on Sunday. While many areas have improved with the update such as pause and rewind capabilities, no commentary audio delay, and immediate VOD following the rounds, those who had reliability issues will hope to see those problems continue to resolve. Read more on the DGN changes in Cash Line.

The Course

The Olympus Disc Golf Course is a favorite among Floridians and was purchased last year by 6-time PDGA World champion Paul McBeth and Chicago White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease (a lawsuit against McBeth and Cease was dismissed late last year). Formerly known as the Gran Canyon, this course plays host to a popular A-Tier, Throw Down the Mountain, each spring. Olympus has undergone a slight redesign since the ownership change. Every hole except for 18 now has a separate MPO and FPO basket location.

Built on the grounds of a former limestone quarry, Olympus provides a unique mountain disc golf experience right in central Florida. With lots of elevation changes and a layout that extends beyond 10,000 feet, this course is both technically challenging and physically demanding to traverse.

2024 MPO: 10,281 Feet Par 66
2024 FPO: 9,421 Feet Par 68

Extended Forecast

After a miserably rainy All-Star weekend, there is a chance of rain and high winds late in the day on Friday. Luckily, Saturday and Sunday should showcase perfect disc golf weather with sunny skies and mild winds.

Friday: Partly cloudy in the morning with rain likely later in the day, highs in the mid 70s. Winds 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts possible. Chance of rain 80%.
Saturday: Mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60s. Winds 10 to 15 mph.
Sunday: Sunny skies with highs near 70. 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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