Heather Young picked up her first golf disc in the Winter of 2017/18. 19 months later, she is on the lead card at her first Disc Golf Pro Tour event. Did we mention that she is 16? Cameras on cell phones have been around longer. Elaine King first picked up a golf disc in 1983. She has won more majors than you have fingers.
Elaine and Heather have become friends on the course and the Idlewild Open is the third time that they have competed. In August of 2018, at the Music City Open*, Heather's first pro event, Elaine beat Heather by 20. In May of 2019, at Tennessee States, Elaine and Heather were tied after regulation, with Elaine winning in the playoff. In July of 2019, at her first Disc Golf Pro Tour event, Heather finds herself on the lead card going into the final round, three strokes ahead of Elaine.
A quick history of Heather Young's disc golf career:
We have a story in the making in this 16 year old phenom. This home schooled disc golfer has three sisters and is an excellent student athlete. She excels at history (and all of her studies) and is learning to play the piano. In addition to that, she currently leads Elaine King by three going into the final round of her first Disc Golf Pro Tour event. She is also on the lead card due to her hot round.
*It should be noted that Madison Walker won the Music City Open
This sport we love, disc golf, is flourishing. We are nowhere close to reaching a cultural saturation point where our community stops growing. Every year, more people start playing and once people start throwing, in my opinion, you’d be hard press to find someone who just stopped playing altogether. It’s a sport that you can immerse yourself in or just dabble, if it’s fun for you, then it’s right for you. But, throughout the history of our sport, it’s often been mostly his story. By which, I mean no disrespect to the legendary women in our sport – quite the contrary, I think your accomplishments deserve more accolade and attention than they’ve received. Whether you’re out for a casual round, at your local C-Tier or right on up to the biggest stops of the year, you’re likely to run into mostly men. Whether anecdotally or by the numbers, the fact remains: disc golf is a male-dominated sport. But it doesn’t have to be.
So amidst all this growth for our whole community, we here at the Pro Tour are bowled over with excitement to see how much the women’s fields are growing at our events this year. Last year people, across numerous teams, poured hard work and love into growing the women’s disc golf community – Danielle Charlier, Addy Maxwell, Becca Kephard and the PDGA. Our sincere hope was those investments would yield returns in the form of more women at every event. After looking at the player registration for the first few Pro Tour events I think it’s safe to say we owe a tremendous amount of thanks to the people mentioned above, all of the women playing on the tour, and so many more, it worked.
For comparison’s sake: In 2018 the memorial had 26 women, in 2019 it will be 30. Four players may not seem like a lot but that’s an entire extra card in a field that only had six cards last year. At the 2018 Waco Annual Charity Open there were 16 players, only four cards, in 2019 the field is increasing by 50% at least with 24 women registered and two more on the waitlist now. The Jonesboro Open registration capped at 15 spots last year and this year. That cap had to be increased and the registration has almost doubled to 27 for this year. This growth in the women’s division lines up perfectly with the growth of our media plan and coverage of FPO.
Last year, for the hour before the live stream would start each evening, you could catch all of the women’s lead card shot-by-shot action. This year we will be bringing two camera live coverage of the women’s lead card as well as additional play from chase cards so we don’t miss a beat when someone is making a charge for the top. We will also have a next day edited rounds with the full complement of throw, catch, and slow-motion camera operators.
All that to say, the 2019 Pro Tour is gearing up to be the most competitive it’s ever been and we think it’s important that you get a chance to see all of it. We owe a huge thanks to the PDGA for all of their efforts to grow the women’s game, particular their support with the Women’s Initiative Grant. Without them these steps would not be possible. We really think you’ll love the increased coverage that we are giving the women’s game. Lastly, this feels like it should go without saying, but if you are a woman who throws and you’re ready to challenge some of the hardest and most iconic courses in the country, we want you on the tour. So when we come through your neck of the woods make sure you make it out to watch what promises to be a battle of champions every time.
This article written by Staff Editor & Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photo credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.
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