The final Elite+ event of the season!
August 2, 2023 by Justin Westfall in Preview with comments
The 2023 season is beginning to head into the final stretch with the World Championships just four weeks away, and the first Disc Golf Pro Tour playoff event in just two weeks. Players hoping to earn an invite to the Great Lakes Open will need to get inside the top 96 in the MPO standings, and top 48 in the FPO division. For the MVP Open, that will be cut down to the top 72 MPO players and 36 FPO players.
The Discraft Ledgestone Open has been a premiere event longer than the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s inception, making a splash on the 2015 PDGA National Tour with a record setting $117,453 purse. Since then, it has become a destination tournament for pros and amateur players alike, with over 2,000 competitors scheduled to play in this year’s event. Nobody has won this tournament more than 5-time champion Catrina Allen, who won it four years in a row from 2013-2016. Last year, Ricky Wysocki became the first MPO three-peat champion with a four stroke win over Paul McBeth. Missy Gannon was able to pick-up her 2nd career Elite Series win by six strokes over Ohn Scoggins.
The Ledgestone Open is the second and final Elite+ event of the season. Elite+ events are four round tournaments with a cut after the 3rd round and feature the largest purses, additional media coverage, and elevated spectator experiences, as well as awarding 1.5x the normal Elite Series points. Along with holding the designation of Elite+, the Ledgestone Open will be the first ever Disc Golf Pro Tour event that’s part of the new United Series, which loosens the tour’s existing policy on eligibility for gender-based divisions.
Ledgestone Open Past Winners
|Year||PDGA Tier||Open||Open Women|
|2022||DGPT||Ricky Wysocki||Missy Gannon|
|2021||DGPT||Ricky Wysocki & Calvin Heimburg (tie)||Paige Pierce|
|2020||A/DGPT||Ricky Wysocki||Catrina Allen|
|2019||A/DGPT||Paul McBeth||Paige Pierce|
|2018||A/DGPT||Nate Sexton||Jessica Weese|
|2017||A/DGPT||Josh Anthon||Valarie Jenkins|
|2016||A/DGPT||Paul McBeth||Catrina Allen|
|2015||NT||Simon Lizotte||Catrina Allen|
|2014||A||Nikko Locastro||Catrina Allen|
|2013||A||Devan Owens||Catrina Allen|
|2012||A||Nikko Locastro||Sarah Hokom|
Four Things We’ll Be Watching
1. On July 14th, the Disc Golf Pro Tour announced the FPO division would be canceled at the Ledgestone Open as well as at several other DGPT events to limit financial burden due to litigation challenging the PDGA policy on eligibility for gender-based divisions. 11 days later on July 25th, the DGPT reversed course, and instead announced the launch of the new United Series. The United Series is a new event designation that will allow any transgender women who meets the PDGA’s less restrictive requirements in their Gender Eligibility Policy to compete.
The United Series will have its own points system, equal to the number of DGPT points awarded at the event. Since Ledgestone is an Elite+ event, 150 DGPT points as well as 150 United Series points will be awarded to the winner. The final United Series event will take place at the MVP Open, and the top three competitors in United Series points will receive bonus payouts.
Last month, a Minnesota judge granted Natalie Ryan’s request for a temporary injunction, which allowed her to compete in the FPO division at the Preserve Championship, where she finished in 14th place. Ryan, who is in 68th place in the DGPT standings after playing just that one DGPT event this season, will not need to reach the top 48, per standard DGPT playoff rules, in order to register for the Great Lakes Open, a United Series event at which she is the defending champion. The DGPT told Ultiworld Disc Golf that the more permissive eligibility policy will supersede the playoff standing requirements. As a result, Ryan will be able to compete at both DGLO and the MVP Open.
2. If Ledgestone is known for one thing, it’s having the largest purse on tour outside of the Tour Championship. Last year, $125,000 was awarded to the MPO and FPO divisions, with $10,000 going to the MPO winner and $8,000 to the FPO winner. Now with the new Elite+ designation, a well-known presenting sponsor in Merrell, and nearly $50,000 in spectator tickets already sold, expect to see yet another record-setting payout from this event.
3. Due to a lack of cell phone service on the course, the Disc Golf Network has never been able to broadcast the first 9 holes at the Northwood course live. This has tended to be particularly frustrating as a viewer during the FPO final round. While recorded clips from those holes typically get played on the broadcast, it has been difficult to tell exactly who does and doesn’t have momentum going into the back 9. Last year, DGN was able to make some upgrades that allowed live coverage of the Beaver State Fling for the first time. Ledgestone TD Nate Heinold told The Upshot podcast that they expect to have coverage this year, thanks to a new fiber line to Northwood Black and new cellular technology purchased by the DGPT.
4. With Kristin Tattar still over in Europe and Paige Pierce likely out for the rest of the year due to a broken ankle, defending champion Missy Gannon has a great opportunity to claim a second straight Ledgestone victory. Coming off a Silver win at the Mid America Open, Ohn Scoggins also has a great opportunity to claim her first career Elite Series win; she finished second to Gannon last season. Still, the betting favorite would likely be 5-time winner Catrina Allen, who most recently won this tournament in 2020. On the MPO side, it’s hard to bet against Ricky Wysocki, who has won this event three years in a row. Wysocki is well-known for his scrambling ability, which gives him quite the leg up on the tricky Northwood Black course. Last year, Ricky led the division with a 71% scramble rate; next best was Matthew Orum at just 59%.
The Ledgestone Open features three courses between the MPO and FPO divisions, none of which have any major changes from 2022 to 2023. With the exception of some small adjustments to OB lines, all three layouts are unchanged.
The starring course at the Ledgestone Open is Northwood Black, a treacherously long and tightly wooded track that features some of the most difficult holes on tour. In fact, hole 12 at Northwood was the single hardest hole in the MPO division last season. Averaging more than a stroke over par, the 1,080 foot behemoth has given up just nine birdies since 2021. The FPO division will play at Northwood Black in rounds 1 and 4, while the MPO players fight through the woods in rounds 2 and 3.
While most FPO layouts on tour are modified versions of an MPO layout, Sunset Hills is a terrific course that is designed specifically for the FPO division. The track is very scorable for the average FPO touring pro and produces highlight moments like Holyn Handley’s albatross on hole 6 last year.
Sunset Hills will be used for rounds 2 and 3, while the MPO division will play the Lake Eureka Temp course in rounds 1 and 4, a park-style course with OB in play on all 18 holes.
Lake Eureka MPO: 9,665 feet Par 63
Northwood Black MPO: 10,499 feet Par 68
Sunset Hills FPO: 7,539 feet Par 61
Northwood Black FPO: 8,678 feet Par 68
With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast throughout the weekend, weather delays are a strong possibility. Hopefully the thunderstorms will remain at bay, and both divisions will be able to complete all four rounds. Two years ago, the final round of MPO was entirely canceled due to thunderstorms.
- Thursday: Rain early with sunshine later in the day, highs in the mid 80s. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.
- Friday: Partly cloudy with highs in the upper 80s. Winds 5-10mph.
- Saturday: Rain showers early with thunderstorms possibly developing in the afternoon, highs in the mid 80s. Winds 5-10mph. Chance of rain 50%.
- Sunday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms possible in the afternoon, highs in the low 80s. Winds 10-15mph. Chance of rain 50%.