Course changes and potential for spectator-less Championship Week on table
June 11, 2020 by Bennett Wineka in News with comments
After the 2020 United States Women’s Disc Golf Championship was canceled, 1 the Open Women’s division was left without a major on the calendar and plans immediately began to rectify the situation.
The PDGA and United States Disc Golf organizers Innova Champion Discs announced last week the 2020 Women’s National Disc Golf Championship will take the place of USWDGC as a major this year, and run simultaneously to the 2020 USDGC, October 7-10 in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on the Winthrop University course.
Much has changed at Winthrop since the first three women’s national championships were held on the property from 1999-2001, and updates to the course for the FPO field are being taken into consideration for 2020.
“We are in the process of gathering feedback from women who are most familiar with Winthrop Gold,” said Jonathan Poole, USDGC, and now WNDGC, Event Director.
Poole noted it was too early to announce any specific changes but that his team was willing to commit resources to the updates.
“If the consensus is that additional tee pads are needed, we are prepared to install them,” Poole said. “The PDGA has committed to covering tee pad material costs. Innova East has committed to providing the labor for installation.”
Two-time USWDGC winner Sarah Hokom told Ultiworld Disc Golf that the PDGA Women’s Committee was meeting this week to discuss layout standards and registration considerations for the event.
Paige Pierce, a three-time USWDGC winner, is one of the players familiar with Winthrop Gold, having competed at USDGC in the past, qualifying as a reigning world champion, USWDGC champ, at a regional qualifier, and through the Performance Flight competition. Poole has been in contact with Pierce regarding the course.
“It challenges each players course management which is such a key skill in golf,” said Pierce when talking about Winthrop. “It also forces the player to adapt to new situations and have to improvise. I think it highlights a players ability to overcome anything that’s thrown their direction and also the players ability to keep a level head.”
Besides making layout modifications, the WNDGC is going from a women’s-only event in the USWDGC to a shared tournament, albeit a major. Hokom, who will most likely be playing at Winthrop for the first time competitively in October, is still excited about the potential atmosphere. Pierce said she would not be thinking about WNC for what it wasn’t, and is looking forward to the shared major weekend.
Poole will be working behind the scenes to make the WNC memorable regardless the situation.
“Championship Week is shaping up to look and feel quite different from what fans and competitors are accustomed to,” Poole said. “At this time, spectators seem unlikely. That will certainly change how things feel at Winthrop for all of us. If there are no spectators there stands to be no EDGE Village or Pro Shop, for example, which are staples of the USDGC experience.
“We will be as flexible as possible for as long as we can,” Poole continued. “But it is very important to many, many people that these events take place. Our team is prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”