2021 Great Lakes Open Preview: Tough Sledding Ahead

Toboggan course gets improvements under new direction

Despite a long history dating back to the early 1980s and a brief stretch on the PDGA National Tour, since the Great Lakes Open (DGLO) returned to the Elite Series in 2018 the event has felt a bit like a pro’s cameo on a course known for its amateur event, the United States Amateur Championship. On the precipice of its fourth decade, however, a renewed focus on an already impressive property is turning DGLO into a standard-bearer on Tour.

Paul McBeth’s 18-under par round in 2018 immediately made the tournament a notable addition to the DGPT, yet it also somehow gave a false impression of the Toboggan’s perceived lack of challenge. As new TD Nate Heinold takes over this season, he and the Michigan-based crew have added some improved hole designs, as well as installed some much needed elements for an Elite Series event, such as permanent tee pads across the property. The upgrades are no knock on the former layouts at Toboggan or the quality of golf getting played in Milford, but it does account for the considerations needing to be made to keep it up to new tour standards of player abilities. Discraft gets to show-off in its backyard, and the efforts are showing at the event.

As DGLO continues to evolve as a tour stop, the players are having to fight off post-Worlds and summer stagnation. This weekend kicks off grueling couple, consecutive weeks of humid stops through the midwest. Discraft-sponsored McBeth and Paige Pierce each have two wins at DGLO and are both avenging tough Pro Worlds runner-up finishes. This has also been the time of year where newly-crowned champ James Conrad starts to really get into form. Speaking of good form, Kristin Tattar has found hers midway through a short US tour. A commanding victory at last week’s CCR Open gives her two A-tier wins in the last month. Pierce has handedly won the past two DGLOs and all competition is welcome.

Past Winners

  PDGA Tier MPO Winner FPO Winner
2020 DGPT Eagle McMahon Paige Pierce
2019 DGPT Paul McBeth Paige Pierce
2018 DGPT Paul McBeth Sarah Hokom
2017 A Ziggy Bierekoven Krystal Fromm
2016 A Reid Frescura Catrina Allen
2015 A Ben Callaway Catrina Allen
2014 A Tyler Horne Catrina Allen
2013 NT Ricky Wysocki Sarah Hokom
2012 A Jon Perry Catrina Allen
2011 B Tyler Horne n/a
2010 B Mike Raley Des Reading
2009 A Mike Raley Elaine King
2008 A Al ‘Sugar’ Schack Angela Tschiggfrie
2007 NT Cale Leiviska Des Reading
2006 NT Josh Anthon Des Reading
2005 NT Scott Martin Juliana Korver
2004 NT Cam Todd Des Reading
2003 NT Barry Schultz Juliana Korver
2002 A Shawn Sinclair Leslie Herndon
2001 A Scott Martin Elaine King
2000 n/a n/a n/a
1999 A Ken Climo Juliana Korver
1998 A Ken Climo Elaine King
1997 A Ken Climo Elaine King
1996 A Ken Climo Anni Kreml
1995 A Ken Climo Becky Powell
1994 B Jeff Malton Elaine King
1993 B Steve Kohman Molly Morrow
1992 A Dan Ginnelly Sharon Jenkins
1991 C Steve Wisecup Elaine King
1990 C Dan Ginnelly Sharon Jenkins
1989 C Slate Paul Elaine King
1988 C Joe Eagan Elaine King
1987 C Steve Wisecup Elaine King
1986 C Bob Huston/Kevin Stewart Gail McColl
1985 C Bob Harris n/a
1984 C Joe Eagan n/a

What We’re Watching

  • Ragna Bygde Lewis is a former podium finisher at Pro Worlds and can still fling a Frisbee. The Swede now resides in Michigan and doesn’t play much outside of her home state, but she could easily match an eighth place showing from the 2018 Great Lakes Open, the last Elite Series event she played.
  • Since getting engaged during an In The Bag video, Colten Montgomery and Kona Panis have yet to play an event. Let’s see those good vibes carry over to good results.
  • Ricky Wysocki will be playing his first event since Pro Worlds but has stayed plenty busy. Most recently Wysocki was helping open a new disc golf retail store in Arizona. Did Wysocki take enough time to actually rest to feel rejuvenated over a busy break?
  • Traditionally you gotta shoot low to keep pace, with past MPO winners averaging double-digits under par each round. Will the added distance and new tee pads affect the scoring?

GRIP6 PICK 6 Lock of the Week

Eagle McMahon is 1-for-1 at DGLO having won the event last year with a birdie on the final hole. He’s been quiet since Pro Worlds, playing a small C-tier back home in Colorado, but is averaging better than 1060-rated golf over his last three rated rounds. Kevin Jones would also be a fine add to your group. He finished as runner-up to McBeth in 2019 and just two strokes out of first a year ago.

After a subpar Pro Worlds, Jessica Weese has rallied with three consecutive top four finishes, including a win at the Majestic. She has two podiums and a fifth place finish at DGPT-editions of DGLO.

The Course

Toboggan: MPO – 10,159 feet, par 63; FPO – 8,755, par 66

The recent upgrades to the Toboggan course have stretched the layout by a couple hundred feet and raised the par a notch as well. Players are going to be getting in their elevation changes on the slopes of Kensington, and will want to avoid the thick, natural roughs off the often wide fairways.

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