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USDGC Has Best of Both Worlds
The USDGC has it all this year: the world’s best disc golfers battling it out in one division, and for Performance Scoring competitors, a chance to see just what it takes to do battle with Winthrop Gold for the better part of a week.
Taking place October 3-6 in Rock Hill, S.C., competitors will be divided into two flights of 72 : the Open Flight and the Performance Flight.
Event director Jonathan Poole said the new format should be the blue print for the future after the tournament opened the field to broader skill levels last year with the Performance Edition.
“We needed to find a more sustainable tournament model, and one that engages a broader group of competitive disc golfers. This is the format we hope to carry well into the future,” said Poole.
Vying for the US Championship and cash prizes, the Open Flight will take on the Winthrop University Gold Course under the traditional stroke-play format.
In the past, Poole has referred to this meeting of the game’s best as the ‘Super Bowl’ for professional disc golfers and he believes that same feeling will be present in 2012.
However, unlike previous years when the field totaled around 180 competitors, the Open Field has been reduced to less than half that number, making every spot even harder to obtain.
“The opportunity to compete for a ring at Winthrop is now an even greater accomplishment,” said Poole, who has led the event since its 1999 inception.
After hearing next year’s details, 2010 US Champion Will Schusterick is looking forward to a Championship that resembles more of what he’s used to.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be there for sure,” said Schusterick, who’s coming off his first full year on tour that was filled with impressive finishes.
The Knoxville, Tennessee resident, who opted to stay home during the Performance Edition, said he just wished this was the format for last year, when some long-time competitors felt their tournament was missing.
Still, the event, which has historically served only the game’s elite, allowed a whole new group of golfers – including amateurs – to experience it. And, many of those felt it was a tournament of a lifetime.
Those qualifying in the Performance Flight in 2012 can expect the same thrills that so many experienced last year.
Performance Scoring creates a projected score based on a player’s skill level, course difficulty, and layout. After the round, each player’s performance is evaluated by comparing their projected score with their actual score. Last year, Florida resident and USDGC newcomer John Key beat his projected score by a total of 16 strokes to take home the USDGC Performance Edition title.
All USDGC entrants must be current PDGA members. Performance Flight competitors must have a rating of 875 or higher and have played a minimum of 12 rated rounds between November 1, 2011 and October 1, 2012.
Qualification for the Open Flight will look much like it has prior to 2011, when top finishes at PDGA events earned invites. This year, the top five overall scores at six of the PDGA’s National Tour (NT) stops qualify, which could include advanced players if they’re playing the same conditions.
Plus, the top five at the Southern Nationals Pro Championship,the Stockholm Open and the World Championships in Charlotte, also earn spots. After qualifying, players have 30 days to register. Failing to meet that deadline, players will not be able to qualify again until the Monday Qualifier.
The top 20 finishers from the 2010 USDGC are exempt and must register by August 31, 2012.
Performance Flight competitors will gain entry through events selected by PDGA State Coordinators. Preferably, Disc Golf United’s Performance Scoring used at the local tourney will determine the qualifier, however coordinators may also select a deserving individual. State and National representative spots must also register by August 31st.
Contact your PDGA State Coordinator for more details on how to qualify for the Performance Flight. Poole said this method should give more people across the country the chance to qualify for the flight.
Those exempt from Performance Flight qualification include: the top ten from the 2011 USDGC Performance Edition, Team Europe from the 2012 President’s Cup, and Open Flight regional qualifier tournament directors. The registration deadline here is also August 31st.
Once October rolls around, the Monday Qualifier is all that’s left. Starting at 8 a.m. on October 1st, anyone (including non PDGA members) can try for a top score. Those who qualify must immediately pay the tournament entry fee and PDGA membership fees if applicable. Monday Qualifying is slated for the Open Flight only.
Attention will naturally shift back to the pros in 2012, but those earning Performance Flight invitations will no doubt be glad they came. They’ll be reminded of that through the tournament’s lavish player treatment, the beautiful Winthrop Gold Course, and each time they pinch themselves when they can’t believe their eyes.
Poole said Performance Scoring may not be the biggest draw just yet, but its time will come. Once people come to appreciate the inclusive system on one of the world’s premier stages, the Performance Flight will develop a following of its own, he said.
Come October, Rock Hill will be the place where every disc golfer wants to be, whether you’re an 875 or 1045-rated golfer. Winthrop Gold has a place for you. Now it’s your time to stand and deliver. —-