On Friday, the Professional Disc Golf Association announced a sizable change to the annual World Championships. Beginning in 2017, the PDGA will host three separate events with the new Masters Disc Golf World Championships joining the Pro Worlds and Amateur Worlds events.
This change will allow for larger fields in both the age-protected Masters divisions and Open divisions for both the men and women. In 2015, the World Championships held in Pittsburgh saw a total of 405 competitors. Just 191 of them (143 men, 48 women), or 47% of the field competed in the Open divisions. In fact, the largest pool was the Grandmasters division with a total of 88 people (80 men, 8 women). Masters saw the next highest registration with 78 competitors (72 men, 6 women).
By moving the age-protected divisions to another event, this potentially doubles the available spots for both events. There has been many frustrations over the last few years when a limited number of spots were allowed with many willing competitors were left on the outside looking in. This move aims to reduce those frustrations and should allow for even better competition.
This also allows for people to compete in both the Pro Worlds and Masters Worlds. For names like Ken Climo, Barry Schultz, JohnE McCray, and others, there is a chance for two World Championships in a single year. Don’t let age fool you, there are many names in the Masters Division who can easily hang with their younger counterparts.
Along with the larger fields, a new format has also been announced. In previous years we’ve seen five to six rounds plus the finals which requires two rounds on at least one or two days during week. Now, the World Championships will consist of just four rounds and no semifinals or finals. Only one round will be played per day. This change comes after many discussions between the PDGA and top professionals.
By limiting the number of rounds, this should allow many locations the chance to host the World Championships as only two courses are now required.
Finally, the PDGA has announced a purse of $100,000 for Pro Worlds. The 2015 World Championships saw a purse of $109,564, but that was for the entire event with 11 divisions. Now, that $100,000 will be spread across two divisions.
With the overall growth in disc golf, there has been the need to split the World Championships. Yes, it has been exciting to watch all the professionals in one location compete for a world title, but with the limited fields, many have been left out. These events should be opened to as many people as possible and only having 143 spots for men and 48 for women available isn’t the ideal situation.
Initially, the World Championships will be the only major event to follow this new format. As demand grows we wouldn’t be surprised to see more events start to take this format. Even the Disc Golf World Tour is moving to something similar with their “One Division. One Champion.” format. While a dedicated women’s division isn’t available, they are opting out of all age protected divisions as a whole.
Bids are now being accepted for the Pro Worlds and Masters Worlds events. There isn’t a lot of time to put together your bid packages with the deadline set for January 29, 2016. Learn more at PDGA.com.