Charlie Eisenhood and Jamie Thomas look back at the 2019 season, the major storylines, the statistical stars, the big winners, and more. Plus, some chatter about where disc golf is headed when top players decide to leave the tour.
Changes are happening on the Dynamic Discs team and Jordan Castro is the first to announce he will not be retained for the 2020 season. The Minnesotan dropped the news on Instagram Wednesday.
“Unfortunately we will no longer be continuing our partnership for the future,” Castro said. “The decision wasn’t in my hands…Thank you to the Trilogy Family/Fans for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing family.”
Castro had been with Dynamic Discs for two years after a stint with Innova.
Highlights for Castro in 2019 included a top five finish at the Beaver State Fling and a 1087-rated final round at the Vacationland Open.
Drew Gibson announced on his Instagram that he would not be renewing his sponsorship with Innova Champion Discs going into the 2020 season.
“I have nothing but love for the company and the players on the team,” Gibson said. “I have grown a lot as a player and person in the last few years and think this choice will help me reach my future goals and aspirations for 2020 and beyond!”
Gibson did not make any indication of potential sponsor changes but did say he would be posting updates soon.
The 2019 Portland Open Disc Golf Pro Tour playoff win over Eagle McMahon was Gibson’s biggest victory to date. He did not record any top 10 finishes at PDGA National Tour or Majors in 2019.
The months-long elite series is wrapped for 2019 but there is plenty of quality golf left to be played around the country.
Returning to Texas to play the Veterans Park Open, Luke Humphries picked up his biggest win of the season and first Open A-tier title. He averaged 27 points over his rating for three rounds, paced by a 1057-rated effort in round two Saturday. Humphries’s hot round proved to be the difference, as he outshot Coda Hatfield by three strokes on the way to a one stroke victory over Hatfield.
Gregg Barsby came back to catch round one leader Nolan Grider and finish in a tie for third, five strokes behind Humphries. Emerson Keith, Nikko Locastro, and Bradley Williams all had one round under 1000-rated contribute to disappointing showings.
There was no Open Women’s field at VPO.
Missy Gannon edged Erica Johnson at the Hollows Fall Classic in New Hampshire to grab her sixth A-tier win of 2019. She closed out the win with back-to-back 966-rated rounds.
Maine’s Josh DiBattista won his first career A-tier at the event. He was the only player in the 17-player field to hit 1000+ all three rounds.
A week late, but shoutout to Andrew Fish and Cassandra Lioi for their wins at the Firefly Hollow Open in Connecticut.
Fish’s comfortable 10 stroke win was his second A-tier victory in as many weeks, coming on the heels of the Warwick Disc Golf Championship. Gannon was also atop the podium in Warwick.
Texas State Disc Golf Championships will now kickoff the NT series in April, replacing former opener the Las Vegas Challenge. The LVC had opened the touring season in 2018 and 2019. The Hall of Fame Classic, hosted at the PDGA’s International Disc Golf Center in Appling, GA, has also come off the schedule, with the Music City Open in Nashville replacing it as the last event on the calendar.
Texas State was previously an NT in 2014. This is MCO’s first year on the elite tour.
All 11 tour events and locations from 2019 will return in 2020. The season will also move in a similar order, starting at the Memorial Championship in late February and finishing at the DGPT Championship in Charlotte.
The DGPT worked with the PDGA to sync its tour with Majors and National Tour events.
Over the past week Swedish manufacturer Latitude 64 has announced two long-term extensions with Estonians Kristin Tattar, Silver Latt and Albert Tamm. The Europeans join Emerson Keith in receiving multiyear contracts from the disc maker this offseason.
“Kristin, Albert and Emerson are game changers for disc golf,” said Brian Shintaku, Latitude 64 and Westside Discs Team Manager. “I think all of us will be seeing plenty of these players on filmed coverage next season. I have absolute faith there will be some big finishes as well. Latitude 64 is fortunate to have great relationships with these three rising stars!”
Known, official multiyear contracts weren’t common in disc golf before a paradigm shift last year. Latitude 64 itself had a major change in its sponsorship structure going into 2019, trimming much of what had become a bloated lineup while also losing its highest-profile player in Ricky Wysocki. Lat64’s business partner Dynamic Discs on the other hand doled out several multiyear deals to its top players.
“Latitude understands that changes are inevitable. Staying relevant is at the top of the list when it comes to team and contract decisions,” Shintaku explained. “Securing top level players has always been a priority and adjusting contracts to reflect performance and presence is necessary.”
“Longer contract means more confidence the player has,” Shintaku said. “Confidence in focusing on goals, confidence in what they are throwing, confidence to stay on the road and play more events, confidence in representing the brand that is by their side.”
The potential contestants who fill the crowd at Let’s Make A Deal, a nationally syndicated game show on CBS hosted by Wayne Brady, are often decked out in costumes.
Sometimes the outfits are off-the-rack buys from Target or repurposed Halloween get-ups. Sometimes they’re made just for the show. And every now and then you get one that really makes you stop and watch the screen for a second.
In mid-October, Shelton Basham had a lot of disc golf fans staring at their TVs when he was called up to compete on LMAD in a homemade disc golf basket costume. He even made good on his efforts by being the big winner on the day.
Basham heard saw our call and reached out to us. We exchanged some emails with the cell phone security entrepreneur and learned this wasn’t his first time hitting the jackpot on a game show — he also won enough money on the original run of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with Regis Philbin to put a down payment on his first home.
We wanted answers to the real questions: how did he make his costume and what discs did he bring along?
Ultiworld Disc Golf: Can we get a little background on you?
Shelton Basham: 50, married for 24 years, father of two, living in Anaheim CA. Have volunteered for over 14 years with, and now help lead a group that throws parties for kids in our local shelter every month. Consistently coming up with or finding on the internet new games to play.
UWDG: When did you start playing disc golf? Do you have a home course now?
SB: Played a little in college but as my son Spencer, now 20, got older was looking for something different to do so I introduced him to disc golf. Took him out for a couple of rounds and had a great time. Neither of us are good, but that’s not why we play right?
Beach Central Park is our home course. Even gave them a shout out at the taping but that part was cut out, the magic of editing. I also explained that its actual name is disc golf. I called it “Frisbee Golf”as that’s what I brought. This too didn’t make it to air.
UWDG: How did you end up going to Let’s Make A Deal and where did you get the idea for the disc golf basket costume?
SB: It was something I always talked with friends about doing but we never got off our collective butts and did it. I told my son to take a day off of work and I’d get us tickets. It’s actually VERY easy to get tickets, but in no way guarantees you a slot on the show. I also am a fan of game shows that are challenging. I saw this as a challenge to find [a costume] that would be out of the ordinary and also something the hosts could play with. That way it’d make for more interesting TV.
Once we secured a date I was looking through the garage and came across a pair of discs…and that’s when it hit me! “Be the Basket!” Looking online, I’d seen people attempted this costume before so I copied a few of their concepts, hopefully improved upon them and came up with a couple tweaks of my own. To complete the outfit, I had my son come as a blind referee/official.
UWDG: Was the costume made just for the show? How did you make it?
SB: Yep, just for the show. Actually added bits and pieces over the weeks but like any good procrastinator stayed up ’til 1 am the night before putting the finishing touches on it!
Other then the hula hoops from the Dollar Store, everything else came from Home Depot or was already in my garage.
Drilled holes around a plastic hardhat, insert red PVC piping and secured them with hot glue.
Added a plastic fitting over each pipe with glue to make it look better and more secure. Drilled small holes at the end of each pipe, inserted small “Screw Eyes” so there was a place to connect the double ended snap hooks.
From there I attached the pre-cut plastic chains and used the same type of hooks on the other end of the chain to attach to my belt under my shirt. (That’s to make the chains taper inwards for a more “realistic” look.”)
Connected the Hula hoops together with zip ties and secured them with colored electrical tape.
Used a para-cord type rope to hang over the shoulders and connect to the hula hoops.
Lastly took a metal skewer, used two differently colored pieces of construction paper and connected this “flag” with packaging tape. Said “No Zonks” on one side and “18” on the other.
UWDG: Will you wear the costume for Halloween this year?
SB: Unless my son’s taking it to an actual Halloween party then yes, you’ll find me in the driveway handing out candy and having kids throw discs at me!
UWDG: Did any other people in the crowd know what you were?
SB: You bet. I had a number of other hopeful contestants trying to make baskets while we were in line and in the waiting area.
UWDG: What discs did you have with you?
SB: Through trial and (painful) error I decided getting hit by a putter or driver was not something I wanted to endure multiple times. Plus I didn’t want anybody else playing to damage equipment or another person. I went the el’ cheapo route and bought Dollar Store Frisbees. Put black electrical tape on there to hide the logos for use on TV. Almost impossible to get hurt from one of those.
UWDG: Did you end up winning anything on the show? Did you keep anything?
SB: A 2019 Mazda 3! I don’t have the car yet, but expect to get it around Christmas or a bit sooner. (They have 90 days after the show airs to get you your prize.) I test drove one recently and feel I’m a little too tall to drive that car comfortably. Maybe I’ll have to take my son and daughter out to Huntington Beach Disc Park for a round to see who gets it!
Portions of the conversation were edited for clarity.