The United States Disc Golf Championship celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2023.
Often regarded as highly as a World Championship, the U.S. Championship is a PDGA Major held each season in Rock Hill, South Carolina at Winthrop University on a challenging layout that utilizes tight OB-lined fairways, treacherous island greens, and obstacles in its course design. Prodigy Disc has only been thrown in the Arena since 2013, but has a storied legacy at the event.
Will Schusterick: 3-Time United States Champ
Will Schusterick is a founding member of Prodigy Disc, having joined the team's initial roster in 2013. Even before Prodigy entered the scene, Will had left a mark on Winthrop.
As a fresh high school graduate in 2010, Will won his first USDGC title by two strokes over defending champion Nikko Locastro. He would have the same margin of victory in 2012 over Ricky Wysocki for his second win. Will returned to the top of the podium throwing Prodigy discs for his third United States Championship in 2014 by defeating Paul McBeth and JohnE McCray in a two-hole playoff.
Will is tied with Barry Schultz and Paul McBeth for the second-most career United States Championships (3) behind Ken Climo (5).
The Legacy Continues
It wasn't long after Will's 2014 win that another Prodigy-sponsored player would take home a U.S. Championship.
In 2016, Jeremy Koling, a fellow founding member of Team Prodigy, would win at Winthrop by four strokes in a weather-shortened event that finished after two rounds due to Hurricane Matthew. Jeremy is also a frequent participant in the United States Distance Competition and Showcase, which features players throwing drives over the iconic lake on the property.
The Coronavirus pandemic did not cancel the 2020 edition of the United States Championship, and Prodigy's Chris Dickerson was able to hold off Calvin Heimburg to win by one stroke. The USDGC win for Chris came one year after he captured the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship in Charlotte, a tournament where he also edged Heimburg.
A New Era
Will's 2014 win was more meaningful than he could have realized at the moment.
A young Gannon Buhr cites the 2014 United States Championship as one of the first disc golf tournaments he watched, which solidified his love for the game and Will's status as his favorite player. Gannon would have his mom drive him to Winthrop the following year to see his idols play in person on a course he dreamed of competing on.
Flash forward to 2022 and Gannon has made a breakthrough on the pro scene as one of the tour's best young talents. The 17-year-old had joined Team Prodigy in 2017 and was now in contention for the United States title. He shook off a double-bogey on hole 13 in the final round to birdie the final five holes and top Niklas Anttila by one stroke for his first USDGC win. He became the youngest player to ever win the U.S. crown.
Since Prodigy's introduction in 2013, four Prodigy players have won the U.S. title, second only to Innova's five.
The Women at Winthrop
The United States Disc Golf Championship is only one division – MPO. Women are given the same opportunities to qualify for USDGC, but have a separate United State's Women's Disc Golf Championship Major.
While it is not a Major, the Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Championship was introduced in 2021 and played alongside USDGC.
One of the many quirks of the U.S. Championship over the years includes the Performance Flight, first seen in 2011 and discontinued following the 2015 edition. In the USDGC Performance Flight, players were competing with what amounted to a handicap.
Prodigy's Paige Pierce was the only women's player to ever win the USDGC Performance Flight, doing so in 2014. She shot lower than her projected score each round of the event and won the Performance Flight by nine strokes.