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‘It’s brutal, but it’s beautiful.’


After a sixth-place finish at the 2018 DDGC, Holly Finley has returned this year for another shot at the title. Photo: Matt Gregoire, PDGA

Tucked into the northeast corner of the USA’s first state sits the small town of Newark, Delaware, est. 1758. Known by history buffs as home to the Battle of Cooch's Bridge (also known as the Battle of Iron Hill), where 800 American marksmen ambushed several thousand British troops in September of 1777, Newark's Iron Hill Park is now known to many as home to a very different form of warfare. With one of the most challenging courses in the country built into Iron Hill's historic grounds, the battles taking place this weekend are for the title of Delaware Disc Golf Challenge (DDGC) champion.

Under orders from General George Washington, the Americans were to “ provide every possible annoyance” during their ambush, a fitting description for how some players might feel about the course after their round. The trees on the course are so densely-packed that their canopy blocks out much of the light on even the sunniest of days. The boulders scattered along the 10,280 feet of fairways and greens beat up disc after disc after disc. Despite the misery it can cause, Iron Hill is still referred to by many of the top players in the world as one of their favorite venues, as it perfectly walks the line between difficulty and fairness.

“I came here for the woods. I want to see more wooded courses on tour,” said Holly Finley during a practice round at Iron Hill just four days after her eighth-place finish at the 2019 PDGA Pro World Championships.

“Some players don’t come here because they think it’s too wooded or unfair. I’ve heard some say that the rocks beat up their discs and when they leave their discs are destroyed and they can’t perform at their best after. Whatever your excuse is, I think you should come out to Iron Hill and give it a go. It’s brutal, but, it’s beautiful.”

With the start of the DDGC being so close to the end of the PDGA Pro World Championships, there are some that need to take a break after five days of competition in a city over 800 miles from Newark. Some, but not all. The touring pros of disc golf are more than used to the grind at this point, as the combination of PDGA Majors, PDGA National Tour events, and Disc Golf Pro Tour events has created a seemingly never-ending disc golf season.

“If I had to play on the Monday after Worlds, I’d be there,” said Catrina Allen, who finished fourth at the DDGC in 2018 with the same amount of rest between events. “I wouldn’t care.  I’m not sore. I’m not tired. Mentally, probably a little tired of course, but for this, I’ve had six days. [The PDGA] could have made us play an NT in Peoria right after Worlds ended and I would have been like, ‘Well, this is what I have to go do.’”

Paul McBeth and Sarah Hokom were the victors at Iron Hill in 2018, but only Hokom will be on site to defend her title, as both McBeth and Paige Pierce opted to take the weekend off after becoming five-time world champions in Peoria.  

Life on the road can be exhausting, but the show must go on. And it will, as the fifth stop on the 2019 PDGA National Tour begins bright and early at 8:00 a.m. EDT on Friday for the opening round of the 2019 Delaware Disc Golf Challenge. Follow the scores and stats on udisclive.com and stay tuned for post-production round coverage from JomezPro, The Disc Golf Guy, and Gatekeeper Media.  

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