2015 was an extremely exciting season for disc golf. There were many highlights that you could easily make an argument for being the “moment of the year.” Raising $200,000+ for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, having aces featured on the ESPN Sports Center Top 10 multiple times throughout the year, Sarah Hokom battling at the World Championships to finish 2nd after surviving a nearly fatal car crash all could have been the moment of the year in any other year.
However, the moment of the year for 2015 as voted by you, the readers, was Paul McBeth winning every Major Championship to pull off disc golfs first ever Grand Slam. Pulling in over 1/3 (34.12%) of the total vote, McBeth’s historic season was the clear-cut winner, and something we may never see again. What makes this feat even more impressive; McBeth did this in a year with five Majors, rather than the typical four in years past.
The seasons first Major took place in the land down under at the Australian Open. One of the biggest challenges competitors would face, aside from being a completely new course, was the heat. Taking place in late January, Australia has a completely different climate. It’s the middle of winter in the United States, but Australia was in the midst of a blistering summer. McBeth spent his offseason preparing for this change, practicing in extra layers of clothes and heated warehouses to simulate the heat of Australia. The argument that the Australian Open was a weaker field than normal Majors is valid, but this was far from being a weak field. McBeth had his work cut out for him with the likes of 2009 World Champion Dave Feldberg, 3x World Champion Nate Doss, world’s farthest thrower Simon Lizotte, and #2 ranked Ricky Wysocki all competing against him for the win. McBeth held off the field and cruised to a 6 stroke victory.
After the Australian Open there was a long break between Majors. The next Major Championship being the Scandinavian Open, held in Skellefteå, Sweden. In the layoff between Majors McBeth didn’t rest, he went on to raise his rating back up to 1050 (a mark no one else has ever hit), placing 2nd and 3rd in two National Tours events, and winning the other 11 tournaments he entered including two more National Tour events. McBeth continued his hot streak and rolled to a 9 stroke victory over Will Schusterick. It wasn’t all good news coming out of the Scandinavian Open though, on one of his upshots in the 3rd round McBeth slipped on the damp grass and tweaked a muscle in his back.
Immediately following the Scandinavian Open was the European Open. Starting just five days after the final round of his Scandinavian Open victory, McBeth was sure to keep his dominant winning streak alive, right? Not so easy. Enter #2 ranked golfer in the world, Ricky Wysocki. Through the first 2 rounds McBeth had built himself a 9 stroke lead. In just round 3, and the first 15 holes of the final round, Wysocki had charged back to tie McBeth for the lead at 30 under par. Unfortunately, hole 16’s island green was not kind to Wysocki, and he took a double bogey to McBeth’s birdie. Wysocki continued to battle through the final 2 holes to keep it interesting, but McBeth held on to his lead and escaped Europe victorious in both Major tournaments.
The next Major is the longest, most grueling, and most difficult to win; The PDGA World Championships. In spite of all this, McBeth seems to consistently play his best golf no matter where the World Championships are held. Being the 3x World Champ and having a dominant season heading into the tournament, McBeth was the clear cut favorite to take the crown. As everyone expected, McBeth would go on to win his 4th straight World Title, but nobody expected him to win in the way that he did. After the nail biting sudden death playoff at the 2014 World Championships in Portland, everyone was strapped in for another close battle for the title. After struggling in round 3, McBeth played out of his mind golf and set back-to-back course records in round 4 and 5. He shot a 51 (-13) at both Moraine and Deer Lakes, rated 1085 and 1091. Highlighted by this incredible eagle McBeth kept up his World Champion level play and went on to win his 4th straight World Title by an astounding 9 strokes.
The final Major for the year has been McBeth’s biggest hurdle of his career, the United States Disc Golf Championship. Year after year McBeth finishes in the top 10, even making it to a sudden death playoff in 2014 that he eventually lost to Will Schusterick, but he could never piece the puzzle together and claim the victory. The USDGC has been the monkey on McBeth’s back for his entire career. After 3 rounds, heading into the 4th and final round, McBeth was tied with Ricky Wysocki for 2nd place. The two top ranked golfers in the world were both 3 strokes behind McBeth’s touring partner Nate Sexton. The final round would prove to be an extremely difficult one. Battling not only the challenging course, off and on rain showers increased the difficulty factor exponentially. Quickly into round 4 the weather conditions proved to be too much for Sexton, he would shoot a 75 (+8) finished in 4th. The battle would, once again, feature McBeth and Wysocki. Given the conditions Wysocki shot a very respectable 66 (-1). Unfortunately, that was no match for McBeth’s 61 (-6). McBeth finally claimed his first USDGC title, and clearly cemented himself as one of the greatest disc golfers ever.
Paul McBeth’s 2015 season was definitely one for the history books. Not only did he claim disc golfs first ever Grand Slam, he also set the record for winnings in a season (over $70,000), won an astonishing 19 of the 25 tournaments he entered, and never placed outside the top 3. There were many moments this year that all played their part in making the 2015 season special, as evidenced by our 2015 Moment of the year Poll McBeth’s season was on a whole different level.