The Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs has a long tradition, dating back more than 20 years. This year the event has an opportunity to cement their prominence in the sport by taking their place as the second stop on the Disc Golf Pro Tour. Joining the DGPT means more eyes looking toward the Texas tournament as well as the many professional disc golfers that will make the pilgrimage to play “the bEast” on March 16, 2017. One of the past challengers to the famous course was the legendary Jay “Yeti” Reading, who won the tournament in 2011. Yeti will be competing in this year’s event, hoping for the WACO magic to return. Does the prolific Reading have a chance to repeat against his young adversaries looking to cut their teeth on this wooded, savage course?
The uniqueness of “the bEast” is its steady mixture of tight fairways, long holes, and incredible and surprising elevation. As if that isn’t enough many holes have the characteristic of combining all of those elements in one happy, daunting package. If a disc golfer has any chance of conquering the layout and claiming a victory they must have amazing accuracy while also peppering in enough power to reach baskets behind hungry, outstretched trees. Sound easy? Fortunately for us fans, the class of competition that will attend this year’s event will be up to the task.
Looking beyond the rankings and matching a player’s positive characteristics is another way to find a winner. The one player that has the skills to take down the course in my mind is Jeremy “Big Jerm” Koling. Because he is a long-time resident of North Carolina, he knows how to maneuver a disc through dense tree lines. Many of the courses in his neck of the woods have trained him to hit a line like no other. Recently joining the Innova family, Koling must perfect those newly adopted discs in order to shred this course. All things considered, the one attribute that gives Koling the outright edge is his dominance with the sidearm throw. Employing a forehand with distance along with accuracy can help him envision lines that most backhand players cannot easily achieve. His stats in the 2016 season show that he’s 79% in fairways hits and an equally impressive 76% circle 2 in regulation. Although “Big Jerm” Koling is my pick to win, this year’s amazing MPO field will be a thrill to watch and will most likely be an onslaught of heated competition that won’t be settled until the last hole is exhausted.
The amazing ladies of disc golf are the other side of the coin. This year’s FPO division is tougher than ever. After a fantastic finish at the Memorial Championships, Sarah Hokom could be the underdog dog story waiting to happen and this week’s second stop of the DGPT might be the start of something great for Hokom. Of course Catrina Allen is always in the conversation when it comes to raw talent and ability to execute with a win on the line. The Memorial Championship also showed that Val Jenkins with a fresh bag and even better attitude, might be ironing out her new discs, perfecting her lines, and giving the rest of the field a run for their money.
Of all the names to throw out that has a chance to win this week at the Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs, there is one that stands above the rest. Paige Pierce, armed with her trusty Dynamic Discs “Convict”, can slay any course at any time. She has never played with more confidence and she’s showing maturity beyond her years. Since Paige is experiencing a renaissance this year it would only be fair to talk about her 2017 DGPT stats so far, and what jumps out is her #1 in fairways 64%, #1 circle 2 in regulation 58%, and #1 in scrambling 80%. This is a woman that might not lose all year! Of course it’s still early in the season but her skills give us the same thrill that another winning female player gave us so many years ago. That woman was 5-time World Champion Juliana Korver. It may not be fair to compare Paige to such a legendary player as Korver but a legacy must start somewhere and I believe we are witnessing something great. Is there anyone right now who can defeat Paige Pierce? Grab your popcorn, cancel all your appointments, and glue yourself to the television screen for the Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs because it just might be the most exciting event in the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s lineup.