As we look toward the 2019 season we took a moment to speak with the TD of each Pro Tour event to learn a little bit more about what makes the event special. Read below to see what Discraft's Ledgestone Insurance Open TD Nate Heinold has to say about the Peoria, IL event.
How old is the event?
The event started in 2011 as an unsanctioned event, so the 2019 event will be the 9th iteration of the event.
Did you imagine the event being one of the premier events in the world?
After I visited the 2012 World Championship in Charlotte I had a big vision to make the event a top notch event. I certainly couldn't have predicted where I am now, but I did feel I could do something special. I attended the 2013 Pro Worlds as a spectator on the final day and that's when I knew I could do it. Shortly after that I was awarded NT status for 2015 and then I became a Pro Tour event and the rest is history!
What makes your event unique (course, atmosphere, side-events)?
The Lake Eureka course is certainly a conversation starter and a lot of people love it (and some people hate it). So right away we have a very unique course to showcase to the World. We also have a lot of fun side events including Disc Golf Night at the Ballpark, the St Jude Dunk Tank, a massive Flymart, an ice cream social, Disc Downtown, etc. For Ledgestone it is a combination of great courses and fun side events. Its a disc golf reunion of sorts with 1000 players. And finally, it is about the money. The AMs get a massive payout and the Pros do as well.
Are there any new extras (off-site or on-site events) or changes to the event for 2019?
We are pretty much sticking to our usual script for 2019. We are not planning any new events or changes to the 2019 event. If it ain't broke don't fix it!
Are there any changes to the MPO course?
This will be the first year we are not making any major changes to Eureka. A few rope lines could be adjusted, and a few other small things, but nothing that will be noticeable. We feel that we have finally got the course where we need it to be.
Are there any changes to the FPO course?
We are not planning on any changes to Sunset either.
Has being a Disc Golf Pro Tour event helped you grow?
Absolutely! The DGPT has really helped me in a lot of operational aspects (water, payouts, media, etc) that have allowed me to focus on other things. By having some of those other things taken care of, I can make sure the courses are ready to go, focus on other sponsors, attract other sponsors, etc. People love playing the festival games and really enjoy the DGPT's media coverage. In addition, we have seen our volunteer base spike up the last few years from being on the DGPT. All of it has been very positive.
What is your favorite funny or entertaining story from running this event?
I was driving the Gator to hole 13 last year and saw Trevor Harbolt hit hard chains on hole 17 at Eureka. The disc fell to the ground and didn't go in. What Trevor didn't know was that hole was our hole-in-one contest for a car. He didn't know it until I told him and I am pretty sure I broke his heart. Pretty unforgettable, as it was also on camera.
Are there any particular shots/scores you remember from past events?
In 2016 I will never forget McBeth's final round at Ledgestone. He was in prime position to win the 2015 event and it didn't happen, so he probably had a chip on his shoulder for 2016. He ended up winning by 12 and his final round was a masterpiece. With a field of 157 players he had the hot round by 5 strokes and shot a 50 at Eureka when it was still stroke and distance. It was an incredible round that I will never forget.
How great is your staff? and Why?
I have been fortunate to have a great staff the last few years. Jason Labella and Mike Krupicka have essentially been with me since the event became big, and they have been very valuable assets to run the scoring operations (with Mike also running Lake Eureka). In 2017, I added Jamie Kemp and Michel Munn and they have been immensely valuable additions. They will continue to take on a larger role in 2019. Kliff Durham and Brady Hanna have also been staff members for a few years now, and have really helped out at Lake Eureka. Other staff members such as Lauren Lakeberg, Noah Brooks, Wilbur Wallis, Chuck Wallis, Danny Strine Jr, David Owens, Dalton Sackett, Melissa Lawrence, Dave Walden, Calvin Kramer, Brian Lucas, Johnnie Harrison, Tim Cerven, Mark Canada have helped out over the years as well. New staff members in 2018 included Brett Comincioli, Gabe Irions, Chuck Connolly and Jason Reece and they will all be back in 2019. The big thing with my staff has been continuity: the players get to see similar faces in similar roles, and my staff continues to evolve, learn and grow. They are incredibly hard working and dedicated to their craft and they are much appreciated.
The 303 Open presented by Discmania would like to personally invite you to our 2019 event held May 3-5th in Federal Heights, CO, a suburb of Denver. The 2019 event will be the 20th installment of the 303 Open and we are excited to be selected as a Disc Golf Pro Tour test event. With the event being scheduled the week after Glass Blown Open and a minimum of $4000 added cash, we hope you’ll add us to your schedule for 2019.
The 303 Open Registration for DGPT card holders and previous champions opens December 3rd and will remain open till January 3rd at which time registration will open based on division rating floors.
The rounds will be played on the same property for all 3 rounds at the Hyland Hills owned Camenisch Park property in the 303 layout. This PDGA A tier will have full post-production video as part of the coverage as we aim to make this year’s event as much like a DGPT event as possible. With that in mind, we’ve brought together what we feel is a solid Tournament Director staff, having directed over 60 PDGA events as a whole. We are also excited about our partnership with Discmania, who recently relocated to Colorado, as presenting sponsor and our partnership with Hyland Hills Parks and Recreation District.
Federal Heights is located 10 miles north of downtown Denver and 20 minutes from Red Rocks. Jump on I70 and head west and you’re in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in less than an hour. Denver has a number of courses to enjoy outside of the event property as well including some of the best mountain courses in the world a short drive up US 285. As part of the event, we will have functions outside of disc golf that players, families, and fans can take part in including our Poker Tournament and Ball Golf Tournament.
Our goal is to get as many DGPT cardholders as possible to join us. Let us know how we can help make the 303 Open a stop on your schedule for 2019.
The Tour is happy to provide the first of two updates on our 2019 media plan. Please refer to the attached graphics for details. First, we will be improving the live broadcast through better video quality, more graphics, and expanded coverage. Expanded coverage includes showing FPO live, as well as including other action on the course (outside of lead cards) during both the FPO and MPO live broadcasts. In addition, we will be bringing the quality of FPO1 and MPO2 edited coverage to both the level and turn-around time that we have grown to love and expect for MPO1. The next day edited coverage will continue to be a high-quality production that proudly showcases the best athletes in our sport. Other notable additions include expanding the number of pros that offer their insights during the next day edited coverage as well as the ability to integrate players from MPO2 who challenge for the win into both the live broadcast and edited coverage.
Part 2 of the DGPT 2019 media plan will include more details on updated standards, information on assignments for our video teams, as well as media partners that we will be working with throughout the season. The Tour has high-quality video options in place for 2019 and will deliver, as it has in the past, excellent media for its events that help push the sport forward and provide opportunities for fans across the world to watch your favorite players compete.
Quality media is critical to the continued growth of disc golf. We will always focus on ensuring that the quality of the media created meets the growing expectations of our disc golf audience. This includes bringing on individuals who are experienced in disc golf media, filming, editing, motion graphics, and audio engineers. Additionally, we have created and defined opportunities for existing media teams to work with us at Pro Tour events so that they can continue to grow their brands and benefit from the amazing talent of our sport’s best athletes.
It’s an understatement to say that the world of disc golf media is changing rapidly and increasing in complexity as tours, media teams, events, manufacturers and sponsors all work to find solutions that work for everyone and result in high-quality coverage for the fans of the game. We continue negotiations with many valued partners and look forward to sharing part 2 of our media plan this offseason as we strive to deliver the best media experience possible for all involved in 2019.
The Disc Golf Pro Tour is happy to announce the addition of Jeff Spring to our team in the role of interim Director of Public Relations. Jeff will oversee outgoing communications from the tour starting immediately. Jeff is the Director of Disc Golf Operations at Smugglers’ Notch Resort and a well-known Tournament Director. Most recently, Jeff and his team at Smugglers’ Notch Resort hosted the 2018 PDGA Pro World Championship. In addition to Pro Worlds, Jeff is TD for the 2019 PDGA Pro Masters World Championship, 2019 Portland Open, and the 2019 Green Mountain Championship. Jeff has worked with the Pro Tour in some capacity since its inception. In addition to earning the inaugural Pro Tour TD of the Year award, he also served as the liaison between the Pro Tour and the PDGA in 2017 and 2018.
As he steps into this role, here’s a brief statement from Jeff:
Over the past three seasons, the Disc Golf Pro Tour has helped to grow the sport of disc golf. The tour’s focus on developing the professional side of the game to benefit our sport’s best athletes has resulted in larger and more frequent purses, a tour schedule that works better for travel, and partnership with several established and developing organizations and companies. The passion, love, and innovation that drives the DGPT has created opportunities for the sport to flourish in so many ways. I’m excited to be part of the wonderful team that is working to continue that growth!
It is a time for Thanksgiving. I am proud of the fact that our country has a holiday dedicated to giving thanks for all that we have.
I am thankful for my thoughtful and independent daughters and all the joy that they bring to my life. I am thankful for my friends and family and the encouragement and support that they openly and consistently give me.
I am thankful for having opportunities and being challenged in ways I could never have anticipated. I have grown as a person and have learned to do a much better job to accept the things I cannot change.
Lastly, as the Director of the pro tour, I am thankful for the passion that engulfs our fans. This is our sport. We all are stewards of it. When someone in our sport does great, we will shout it and share it from the rooftops. If we perceive anyone trampling on our sport, we will stand up and let the world know. This is awesome and it is why our sport will continue to grow.
Thank you to everyone that loves watching the best disc golf athletes in the world. We will continue to work diligently to grow the best Pro Tour possible.
A message from Steve Dodge, Director of the Disc Golf Pro Tour
The touring professional disc golfer. There are 65 people that can proudly say they are part of an elite group. A group that defines the pinnacle of our sport. A group that plays disc golf for a living.
Disc golf has grown up a lot in the last decade. There may have been a handful, or maybe a Simpsons' handful, of players that played disc golf for a living. Today, there are dozens, and the number will continue to grow. When we started the Pro Tour our plan was to grow the number of MPO touring pros to 72 and FPO touring pros to 24 within five years. We are on target.
The top 50 MPO and the top 15 FPO players from the 2018 Pro Tour season have earned a 2019 Tour Card. This entitles players to early registration at all Pro Tour events. Additionally, they will be featured on the 2019 Trading Cards which includes their complete stats from their previous seasons. Lastly, they will have access to the Tour Card Tent off the fairway of hole 18.
Additionally, the five top finishers at the Next Gen Tour have also earned their Tour Cards. Congratulations to Silas Schultz, Kyle Klein, Quinn Rodius, Harold Greer, and Alexander Miller for their top five finish. You are among the best amateur disc golf athletes on the planet and we are proud to invite you to enjoy all of the opportunities that a Tour Card offers.
Disc Golf Pro Tour Test Event Program
Each season we continue to improve the individual events, and the geographic efficiency of the tour.
In 2019, the DGPT will have four test events.
Throw Down the Mountain
Working together, we look forward to a bright future for our sport!
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