“Blowing up” was the term used all weekend to describe disc golf. The sport has grown in popularity enormously, as was evident on Saturday when the Pro Disc Golf Association (PDGA) World Championships came to an end after five days in the Ogden area.

To win the world championship title, 288 players had to compete on two very different courses over the five days. Mulligans, which doubles as a golf course, plays longer with water and sand hazards that prevent birdie opportunities. The fort, actually Fort Buenaventura in Ogden on the Weber River, is known to the players nationwide for its vegetation, which can eat up every shot after shot.

“You definitely have to have every shot in your pocket to walk away as a world champion,” said Hayden Henry of PDGA Media. “The two courses complement each other.”

Grid view

  • Catrina Allen lifts her trophy after winning the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Disc golfers will compete against each other during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Catrina Allen competes during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Allen won the championship.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Kristin Tattar competes during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Catrina Allen competes during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Allen won the championship.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Joel Freeman competes during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Fans watch during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Paige Pierce competes during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Fans watch during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Catrina Allen is hugged after winning the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

  • Simon Lizotte competes during the Professional Disc Golf World Championships at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

    Jeffrey D. Allred, Desertet News

The courses are in line with what happened in the US as most courses double with public parks, golf courses, ski resorts, and colleges and universities. Ogden was awarded the contract to host the 2020 World Championships, but had to wait a year as the events were postponed due to COVID-19.

During the pandemic shutdowns, a sport that was already seeing a 15-30% annual growth rate among casual gamers exploded as people looked for a socially distant activity as soon as it was safe to return to outdoor activities.

Disc golf exploded so badly that UDisc estimates rounds increased 250% from January 2020 to January 2021, with growth seen in both men and women, and across all ages and abilities. It’s also an inexpensive sport, with intro discs costing around $ 8 and the vast majority of courses not requiring green fees.

Another contributor to popularity during the pandemic was increased coverage of pro-player events on YouTube as fans binge-watching at home and quickly realized that while disc golf is an easy sport, it is definitely not an easy one to master.

“We were in this waiting game for the tournament,” said Rob Bullen, assistant tournament director. “So while we were on the waiting game, the popularity of this fast-growing sport exploded. It was great to get the fans to see their favorite players and to create a great atmosphere for the players competing against each other. “

1400 fans were allowed to visit the worlds in person and hop back and forth between the courses and the men’s and women’s championships before both ended on Saturday in Fort. They were consistently pampered with competitive play as both titles were decided on the final hole.

“I felt the love out there all week, and when I came down that home stretch, I felt it.” – Men’s disc golf world champion 2021, James Conrad

Catrina Allen took her second world title and led defending champion and five-time champion Paige Pierce. The two had moved back and forth over the tour all week and Saturday. It looked like Pierce blocked things after hitting a 60-foot putt to save par, while Allen bogeyed 16 for a two-shot difference, but the last two holes preferred Allen, who even par shot while Pierce had survived three, only to fall just short of everyone.

“These are tears of joy, tears that result from hard work, determination, discipline and never giving up, no matter what has been thrown to me in recent years,” said Allen, whose last world title was won in 2014.

Fans and teammates cheered Allen and tried at the same time to show support for a devastated Pierce. It’s a topic that many in the sport tout as another reason for its popularity in both men’s and women’s games.

“We play against each other week after week. Some of us have been playing against each other for 15 to 20 years, ”said player Nate Sexton. “You want to see good shots and hit someone when they are doing their best. I want to play the best, of course, but I don’t want anyone to play badly. “

Sexton, who finished third, was one of several players to join the fans after watching the men’s final and it was sure to be a great one when James Conrad hit a 247-foot shot for birdie on 18, to force a playoff with defending champion and five-time champion Paul McBeth.

The crowd broke out and you could feel the shift in momentum for Conrad as he defeated McBeth on the first playoff hole (16) which he had played well all week including an ace.

“I felt the love out there all week, and when I came down the home straight, I felt it,” Conrad told the fans, “and you all helped get that shot straight into the basket.”

Conrad was one of many players to thank the fans for a great tournament while also admitting how excited they are to see the sport develop and explode.

Melissa Yack is a contributor for Deseret News.