2024 Preserve Championship Preview: Back to the Midwest

The second-to-last stop before the European Swing.

The Preserve. Photo: DGPT

With last week’s DGPT event taking place in Finland, most of the US field should be well rested and ready to get back on the course this week for The Preserve Championship. Held at the Preserve Disc Golf Course in Clearwater, Minnesota, the tournament begins this Friday, June 21st. Players had to travel nearly 1,700 miles from Portland to Clearwater following the Beaver State Fling. Aside from Albert Tamm and Lykke Lorentzen, every European player — and a handful of Americans — has headed home to play in the DGPT Euro Tour as things gear up for the European Open next month.

The Preserve Championship was born in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, when course designer Cale Leiviska purchased an abandoned golf course along the banks of the Mississippi river and began turning it into a disc golf destination. The Preserve Disc Golf Course sits an hour northwest of the Twin Cities and features three courses which are combined into the championship level Black Bear layout. Earlier this year, Leiviska sold the property but remains the course designer and is heavily involved in the event.

Last year, Ricky Wysocki completed a wire-to-wire victory to earn his second career win at this event. Wysocki got off to a blistering start with a 15-under par opening round that included zero pars. He was able to extend his lead with each day, winning by five strokes over Calvin Heimburg and Cole Redalen. It was a similar story in the FPO division, with Catrina Allen coming out and shooting a 10-under par opening round to take an early four stroke lead over Rebecca Cox and Kristin Tattar, the latter of whom was only able to grab one stroke on Allen over the next two rounds as Catrina walked in her second DGPT win of the season.

Past Winners

2023DGPTRicky WysockiCatrina Allen
2022DGPTBradley WilliamsPaige Pierce
2021DGPTRicky WysockiKristin Tattar
2020DGPTNikko LocastroPaige Pierce

Four Things We’ll Be Watching

1. Still looking for his first win of the season, Ricky Wysocki has a great opportunity to get that monkey off his back this weekend. Wysocki has finished 1st, 2nd and 1st at this event over the past three seasons.  The Preserve sets up well for Ricky’s more aggressive style of play. The course demands both power and finesse shots as well as excellent putting, all areas that Wysocki excels in. Calvin Heimburg would be another likely contender this weekend, having finished as the runner-up at this event twice. Heimburg, however, is not registered to play this weekend. Gannon Buhr, on the other hand, will play this weekend and has been red hot in recent weeks. He has yet to earn a podium finish at the Preserve, and in fact has finished worse each of the past three years, coming in 10th last season. Not only could he make a big statement by flipping that narrative this weekend, he would also join Paul McBeth and Eagle McMahon as the only players to earn wins in three consecutive DGPT Elite starts.

2. Coming off a win at the Portland Open, two-time Preserve champion Paige Pierce will make her return after choosing to skip the Beaver State Fling. Much like Wysocki, this course favors Pierce’s aggressive play style. If she putts well and executes the touchier woods shots, she should absolutely be in the conversation again this weekend. Her biggest competition may be Holyn Handley, who should have some extra confidence coming off her first DGPT win at the Beaver State Fling. Handley finished 3rd here last season, and has podium finishes at 7-of-10 DGPT events this season.

3. Simon Lizotte will return to the tour this weekend for the first time since his win at the Music City Open two months ago. Lizotte has two career podium finishes at the Preserve, both of which required strong putting performances. The two years that Simon did not podium, he finished outside the top 15 and putted well below his season averages.

4. In a shocking announcement made earlier this week, Kevin Jones and Prodigy Disc parted ways with 18 months remaining on his contract. Jones signed a 4-year extension in December 2021 but has failed to earn a win since the 2020 Tour Championship and has not cashed in half of his events this season. Kevin’s birdie percentage has dropped significantly from 39% last season to just 29% so far this year. While his putting has remained relatively consistent, his tee-to-green statistics have dropped each year since his breakout season in 2020. Jones is registered to play this weekend and we will be curious to see if he sheds any light on this development — and if he chooses to throw any non-Prodigy discs.

Course Changes

The Black Bear layout on the Preserve Disc Golf Course offers a good mix of open and wooded holes and requires several water-carries throughout the round. This event has traditionally been birdie-or-die, and with only a few changes to the layout this year will be no exception. The three main changes this year are all in the middle of the course starting on hole 8. This lengthy par 5 has now been shortened by 300 feet and will play as a par 4. The basket has been moved off the hill and now sits near the water. Hole 10, which is the longest on the property, now has its basket tucked into the woods on the right side and forces players to throw over OB in order to reach the green. Lastly, hole 11 in the MPO division now has the teepad moved back 40 feet to its previous position. This is one of the more iconic holes on the property, where players throw over water to a small elevated green. This tee position saw nearly 50% more OB strokes in 2022 than the shorter position that was used in 2023.

2024 MPO: 10,743 Foot Par 66
2023 MPO: 11,081 Foot Par 67

2024 FPO: 9,310 Foot Par 66
2023 FPO: 9,648 Foot Par 67

Extended Forecast

A strong possibility of weather delays with thunderstorms in the forecast for rounds 1 and 2.  Sunday should see much better conditions with warm temperatures and moderate winds.

Friday: Rain with thunderstorms developing in the evening, highs in the mid 70s.  Winds 5 to 10 mph.  Chance of rain 80%.

Saturday: Cloudy with rain early then scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon, highs in the upper 70s.  Winds 10 to 15 mph.  Chance of rain 80%.

Sunday: Mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70s.  Winds 10 to 15 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.


PLAYERS: , , , , , ,

More from Ultiworld
Comments on "2024 Preserve Championship Preview: Back to the Midwest"

Find us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Find us on Facebook