The United States Disc Golf Championship (USDGC) is one of the most esteemed tournaments in disc golf, and U.S. Champion is perhaps the only title some players would value nearly as much as World Champion. Since its inception in 1999, the event has steadily built a reputation based on the mentally taxing nature of its course (a supercharged version of Winthrop University's disc golf course), large payouts, and unique qualification process.
You can learn more about the event's history in our USDGC tournament profile. Here, we focus on those who've turned in great USDGC performances.
Below you'll find the winners and runners up of every USDGC (along with a few other interesting stats related to the winners), the reason the 2011 USDGC is often written off, who has finished in the USDGC top 10 most often, and some interesting facts about the single-division competition's few female competitors.
USDGC Winners & Runners Up
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|Year||Winner||Win Margin||Avg. Round Rating||+/- to Rating at Time
||Prize||Inflation-Adjusted Prize||Second Place|
|2021||Paul McBeth||Playoff||1052||+1||$20,000||$20,000||Kyle Klein|
|2020||Chris Dickerson||1||1051||+6||$10,000||$10,506||Calvin Heimburg|
|2019||James Conrad||1||1048||+9||$12,000||$12,756.38||Jeremy Koling, Nikko Locastro|
|2018||Paul McBeth||3||1062||+15||$10,000||$10,817.84||James Conrad|
|2017||Nate Sexton||5||N/A||N/A||$12,000||$13,308.86||Ricky Wysocki|
|2016||Jeremy Koling||4||N/A||N/A||$10,000||$11,317.09||Nikko Locastro|
|2015||Paul McBeth||5||1051||-2||$8,000||$9,201.79||Ricky Wysocki|
|2014||Will Schusterick||Playoff||1041||+13||$8,000||$9,217.49||Paul McBeth|
|2013||Steve Brinster||1||1048||+19||$7,500||$8,785.22||Barry Schultz, Steve Rico|
|2012||Will Schusterick||2||1061||+19||$7,500||$8,869.87||Ricky Wysocki|
|2011||Technically, John Key was the 2011 USDGC champ. But 2011 was a strange year. Learn more in a later subsection.|
|2010||Will Schusterick||2||1056||+41||$12,000||$15,009.78||Nikko Locastro|
|2009||Nikko Locastro||2||1052||+18||$15,000||$18,982.15||David Feldberg|
|2008||Nate Doss||4||1056||+24||$12,000||$15,157.96||Avery Jenkins|
|2007||Ken Climo||11||1062||+27||$15,000||$19,640.01||Avery Jenkins|
|2006||Barry Schultz||11||1063||+25||$11,000||$14,911.98||Brian Schweberger|
|2005||David Feldberg||2||1046||+21||$11,000||$15,106.61||Scott Martin|
|2004||Ken Climo||5||1043||+10||$10,000||$14,330.38||Cameron Todd, Darrell Nodland|
|2003||Barry Schultz||Playoff||1046||+9||$10,000||$14,787.41||Ken Climo|
|2002||Ken Climo||6||1042||-2||$8,000||$12,701.35||Barry Schultz|
|2001||Barry Schultz||1||1035||+15||$8,000||$12,315.90||Ken Climo|
|2000||Ken Climo||5||N/A||N/A||$2,000||$3,144.45||Alan Schack|
|1999||Ken Climo||15||1054||+23||$1,400||$2,277.01||Alan Schack|
Below you'll find our breakdown of interesting takeaways from the table above. Note that all the totals and statements below exclude 2011.
WINNERS AND RUNNERS UP
- Who is the current/reigning United States Disc Golf Champion?
- Who has won the most USDGCs?
Ken Climo has won the USDGC more times than anyone else: five. He also holds the record for most Pro World Championship titles in Open: 12.
- What average round ratings have won the USDGC?
During the years ratings were calculated, the average rating of USDGC winners was 1051 through all rounds. Only two players have ever won the event averaging below their ratings at the time: Paul McBeth in 2015 and Climo in 2002.
- How many different United States Disc Golf Champions have there been?
12 different players have won the USDGC. The event has occurred 22 times, so there has been a new winner 55% of the time. For the World Championships, that number is 49%.
- How many players are multi-time USDGC winners?
Just four: Climo, McBeth, Barry Schultz, and Will Schusterick. Climo, Schultz, and McBeth are also all multi-time World Champions while Schusterick has no world titles.
- What is the largest margin of victory ever at a USDGC?
15 strokes. That win margin was achieved by Climo at the very first USDGC in 1999.
- What is the average margin of victory at the USDGC?
With playoffs counting as zero, the average win margin is almost exactly four strokes (3.9).
- Who has the most second place finishes at the USDGC?
Both Nikko Locastro and Ricky Wysocki have come in second place at the USDGC more times than any other players: three. Locastro won the USDGC in 2009, but Wysocki – a two-time world champion – has yet to top the podium at the USDGC.
- What is the average top prize at the USDGC?
$10,018 is the average of all top prizes ever given out at the USDGC. Adjusted for inflation, the average buying power of the prizes in today's dollars is $12,416.
- What is the most money anyone has ever won at a USDGC?
$20,000. Paul McBeth took home that amount for winning the most recent USDGC in 2021.
What Happened at the 2011 USDGC?
The USDGC team has become known for a willingness to be experimental, specifically in areas of course design and media distribution. But in 2011, the crew behind the event chose to do more than just make changes to the course: They changed the entire format of the tournament.
Instead of your typical elite disc golf event where top players battle it out to complete the course in the fewest throws, the 2011 USDGC featured only a few top players, and the scoring system was odd for a tournament that had gained a reputation as a top-tier event.
The winner of the 2011 USDGC wasn't determined purely by how many throws they finished the tournament in. Instead, players of various skill levels qualified for the event, and each player got a predicted score on each hole based on their PDGA rating. The player who played the event the most under their predicted score won the event.
That player in 2011 was 880-rated John Key, who bested his predicted score by 10 strokes.
The response to using this format as the main event at the USDGC was not very favorable, and it was never used in that way again. It was, however, used at an event called the USDGC - Performance Flight from 2012-2015 that happened on the same days as the main event, which was called the USDGC - Open Flight to differentiate the two.
Most Top 10 Finishes at the USDGC
It always feels best to win, but for many players, being near the top at a big tournament like the USDGC can be an accomplishment in itself. Additionally, all top 10 finishers at the USDGC earn automatic qualification for the year after, giving some players one less thing to stress about the following season. For these reasons, we were interested to learn which players had the most top 10s at the event over the years.
If you're using mobile, swipe left to see all columns.
|Players With Most Top 10 Finishes at the United States Disc Golf Championship (USDGC)
|Name||Top 10s||Appearances||Top 10 %||Wins|
*Climo's "Appearances" total reflects three times (2016, 2018, and 2019) he registered for the tournament but didn't finish it due to a long-term injury he continues to battle. Without these years included, Climo's top 10 rate is 69%.
These are some of the most interesting takeaways from the table:
- McMahon & Dickerson share highest top 10 rate
Both Eagle McMahon and Chris Dickerson share the highest USDGC top 10 rate, making those coveted ranks 71% of the time. Just barely behind are Ricky Wysocki at 70% and Paul McBeth at 69%, both of whom have competed at the event more than either McMahon or Dickerson.
- Ulibarri still searching
Longtime touring pro Paul Ulibarri, who has become well-known in recent years as a commentator for disc golf media company JomezPro, has the most top 10 showings with no title to show for it: eight. Wysocki is begrudgingly hot on his tail with seven top 10s and no USDGC win.
- Meresmaa only European on the list
Before leaving competitive disc golf behind to start disc golf businesses like equipment retailer Discmania and course-building enterprise DiscGolfPark, Finn Jussi Meresmaa was a fantastic pro disc golfer. One bit of evidence for that is his five appearances in the USDGC top 10. The next-closest European in top 10 finishes at the USDGC is KJ Nybo with two.
- Orum more successful at Worlds than USDGC
You'd have to take a look at our stats on the most top 10s at the World Championships to know this, but Matt Orum's top 10 rate at Worlds is almost double his top 10 rate at the USDGC. He's played Worlds 16 times and finished in the top 10 nine times (56%). At the USDGC, he's played 15 times and finished in the top 10 just five times (31%). If you made us guess why, we'd put our money on the fact that Worlds tends to feature at least one wooded course and the USDGC is played mostly in the open. Though he's a great all-around player, the Alabaman Orum likely feels a bit more comfortable in the woods since that's where the majority of southeastern U.S. courses are built.
Women at the USDGC
The USDGC has always featured just one division: Open. In 2020, a concurrent women-only event happened at Winthrop, but it wasn't the USDGC, and the same will be true in 2021 when the Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Championship runs alongside the USDGC.
However, though Open (AKA, MPO or mixed professional open) has become almost synonymous with "men," that's not its real meaning. It means the division is "open" to anyone. To play the USDGC, you have to qualify, which can be done in various ways. The most common way women qualified for the USDGC prior to the recent addition of a women's event at Winthrop was by winning either the U.S. Women's Disc Golf Championship (USWDGC) or the Open Women division at the Pro World Championships.
Below are some of the most notable accomplishments of women related to the USDGC.
- Juliana Korver is the only woman to cash at the USDGC.
In 2001, Juliana Korver won the Open Women division at the Pro World Championships (her fourth year in a row doing so) and qualified for the USDGC. At that year's showdown at Winthrop, Korver did something no woman has been able to since: finish high enough to get paid for her play. The only woman in a field of 123 players, Korver finished tied for 50th (one player in that tie was future USDGC and multi-time world champ Nate Doss). Though she earned just $83, it was still a remarkable feat, and one the five-time Open Women world champ called "quite possibly the accomplishment I am most proud of in all my years playing disc golf" in a piece published by the USDGC.
- Des Reading has played more USDGCs than any other woman.
Three-time Open Women world champion Des Reading competed at the USDGC six times, which is more than any other woman. Korver and multi-time World Champ Valarie Jenkins are tied for second with four appearances each. Reading's best showing was in 2005 when she finished tied for 95th in a field of 184.
- Pierce, Korver, Reading, and Elaine King are only players to earn a USDGC spot at a regional qualifier.
As we mentioned before, most women got their tickets to the USDGC through winning either Open Women at Worlds or the USWDGC. However, on four occasions, women got an invitation to play Winthrop the same way most male competitors do: by scoring well at a tournament designated as a USDGC qualifier (what the USDGC calls "regional qualifiers"). To qualify this way, the women had to post a score that was among the best of all competitors – women and men – at a tournament. Importantly, they also had to play the same layout as men for them to qualify in this way.
We'll Keep You Updated
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Editor's Note: When we originally published this piece, our stats for top 10 finishers were flawed. The errors were corrected as soon as we were made aware of them shortly after publication.