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Disc Golf Pro Tour World Champions Paige Pierce and Ricky Wysocki as well as Tour CEO and Director Jeff Spring are three major reasons why the sport is soaring in popularity and viewership

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KEVIN HUVER
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5-time Disc Golf Pro Tour World Champion Paige Pierce is considered as the G.O.A.T. in the sport and starting playing with her dad when she was four years old

Disc Golf is an emerging sport and is now played by more than 10-million people in the world and is growing rapidly in events, courses and viewers.

The 2022 Disc Golf Pro Tour will feature 23 events and the Disc Golf Network covers and streams more than 30 live events on its subscriber network, including all 4 PDGA Major Championships.

Paige Pierce, who is considered by many as the Greatest of All-Time in disc golf, joined WBGO Studios podcast SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about her amazing career and her passion for the sport. Current #1 ranked player in the world and two-time World Champion Ricky Wysocki also joins the show from Clearwater, Minnesota (the home of this past weekend's tournament). Disc Golf Pro Tour CEO and Director Jeff Spring is also a guest on the podcast.

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Doug Doyle/Zoom
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Paige Pierce (top left), Ricky Wysocki (bottom left) and Disc Pro Golf Tour CEO and Director Jeff Spring (bottom right) join SportsJam host Doug Doyle to talk about why disc golf is being enjoyed around the world

Spring says he's excited about the growing popularity of disc golf and success of the tour.

"The accessibility is the number one reason in our opinion. It's just able to be picked up by anyone, anywhere, anytime. With the course growth we're seeing across the world, well over 12-thousand courses now. We're catching up to traditional golf courses in the U.S. and that line will intersect at some point in the next decade we think. I think so many people find it easy to fall in love with."

For 5-time World Champion Paige Pierce, it's not just about excelling on the difficult courses and winning titles.

"You're connected. You're connected to the Earth, you're not on your phone, you're out in the woods, exploring and you're making memories. So many days pass that we're not even going to remember because we were watching and binging on Netflix. When you go out an play disc golf, you are truly like making memories that you're going to remember. So for me, that's why you should play disc golf because you can unplug, go outside, go hiking but also play a fun game and compete with your friends."

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KEVIN HUVER
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Paige Pierce has won 5 Disc Golf World Championships and continues to dominate the sport she loves since she was a youngster

Pierce is from Plano, Texas. She has won 15 total Major Championships, and has been consistently ranked among the top professional women since 2011. In 2018 she broke the record for the highest PDGA player rating a woman had ever achieved at 978. Since then she has broken her own record several times, most recently at 996 rated in March 2021. Her current rating as of August 2021 is 988. She is currently sponsored by Discraft.

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KEVIN HUVER
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Paige Pierce is a fierce competitor who keeps on winning championships in 2022

Pierce began playing disc golf at the age of 4 with her father and his friends. She went professional in 2009 and started touring in 2010. Pierce stresses that discs are much different than the plastic frisbees people throw in their backyards or at the shore.

"A common misconception, when you throw a frisbee on the beach, people that succeed at that, they're like I can throw a frisbee, of course I can throw a disc. But it's so much different. With discs, as opposed to frisbees, they're a lot faster and so you need more rotations on the disc. You really need to keep it close to your body and make sure that power doesn't get lost in the pull through. As soon as you give them that tip and they see that first flight that is flat and fast it clicks right then and there and they're like oh, this is different and this is fun."

Ricky Wysocki says he quickly learned the sport in his late teens. He would eventually end a seven-year reign of Paul McBeth as the "Tiger" of disc golf.

"I was always into playing basketball in middle school and high school, basketball and baseball, those are my sports. My parents were obviously super supportive of that. I was always pretty athletic and when I was in elementary school I was writing down what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always said a professional athlete. I just never knew what sport I wanted to play. Growing up my dad was the typical All-American dad. He wanted me to play baseball and go to college and do all that stuff. Some time early in high school I lost the passion for baseball and wanted to start pursuing disc golf at like 16,17 years old. That's when I really kind of knew I could make this a career and back then there really wasn't much of a future because the sport hadn't grown, there wasn't a lot of money but I was just kid and wasn't thinking about all that stuff. I was just thinking about hey I love this game, it's such a fun game and I can travel all over the country, all over the world, that's super appealing for a kid to be able to have all those opportunities."

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Ricky Wysocki is the #1 ranked player in the world and a two-time World Champion on the Disc Golf Pro TourWysocki is the #1 ranked player in the world and a two-time World Champion on the Disc Golf Pro Tour

Now, Wysocki can throw the golf disc more than 625 feet. But his short game is just as good. Pierce says she and Ricky are the two best putters on the Disc Golf Pro Tour.

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KEVIN HUVER
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Ricky Wysocki lost his passion for baseball in his late teens and opted for disc golf well before Pro Tour took off

Wysocki says the true pros know how to handle not only the tree-riddled courses but the elements like rain and wind.

" If you mess up at all with your angle, you get punished big time. On tour we're playing challenging courses with lot of out of bounds and lots of water and lots of obstacles. We're practicing and we're trying to play as much as we can in the wind to be able to dial in and really see what our discs are doing out there. The wind really does affect us. I think it definitely affects more than the golf ball for sure, but it can act like a parachute. If you throw it the wrong way and the wind is going like a crosswind and you throw your disc up too high with the wing up, your disc is just going to go sailing the wrong way. That's what separates the top players is to be able to handle all the conditions like that."

Some of the big developments during 2021 and early 2022:

- The merger with the PDGA which is the Official Pro Tour of the Professional Disc Golf Association- the only operating professional disc golf tour in North America
- Exclusive management of all media rights at professional events
- DGPT events donated over $250,000 to charity in 2021
- Over $1.5 million in prize money - includes $250,000 purse for the 2021 Tour Championship Debuted uni ed ticketing platform netting over $500,00

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DGPT
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CEO Jeff Spring has the Disc Golf Pro Tour growing in popularity, courses and viewership

DGPT CEO and Director Jeff Spring says tour is flourishing now with an audience of over 2,000,000 YouTube viewers and more than 50,000 peak live concurrent viewers.
Spring says there are more than 28,000 subscribers to Disc Golf Network, the dedicated hub of on-demand disc golf content. It's produced three broadcasts of DGPT events for ESPN2. 

"There's something addictive about the game of golf that is just as sticky with disc golf. It's golf of a new generation."

You can SEE my interview with Paige Pierce, Ricky Wysocki and Jeff Spring here.

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Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 200 awards from organizations like PRNDI, AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.