This Illinois disc golf tournament has grown into one of the year’s biggest events

·4 min read

PEORIA, Illinois — The 2022 Ledgestone Open is underway, taking over more than a dozen disc golf courses around central Illinois and bringing elite players from all over the world.

Tournament founder Nate Heinold — the Ledgestone tournament director and now president of the Professional Disc Golf Association board of directors — has grown this event into a week-long celebration of the sport via competition on the courses, big prize money, public meet-and-greets of players, skills clinics, live music, food and more.

It’s part tournament, part festival, hitting the map as host of the sport’s World Championships in 2019, and presenting the largest purse in the history of the sport — $130,000 — in 2021.

The 2022 version will include thousands of players with a wide range of ages and skill levels. But the Men’s Pro Open (148 players) and Women’s Pro Open (53 players) will offer Peoria disc fans a look at the best players in the game.

Nate Heinold of Ledgestone Insurance is building a new office with an attached warehouse to store the disc golf equipment for the Ledgestone Insurance Open, an annual disc golf tournament held at several area courses that attracts hundreds of disc golfers from around the country.

The 2022 Ledgestone Open

The Pro Open field is stacked as always. Among the players are the top three in the Professional Disc Golf Association’s United States Tour rankings: No. 1 Richard Wysocki ($42,135 earnings in 2022), No. 2 Paul McBeth No. 2 ($42,951), No. 3 Calvin Heimburg. McBeth has 139 career wins and earnings of $644,000, while Heimburg has 53 career wins with earnings of $226,900 and Wysocki has 122 career wins with earnings of $549,000.

Wysocki and Heimburg finished in a first-place tie in 2021 at Ledgestone in a championship round halted by severe weather.

McBeth is a five-time World Champion, including the 2019 version hosted in central Illinois at the Ledgestone.

Parnu, Estonia native Kristin Tattar is in the Women’s Pro Open field, and comes in with the No. 2 ranking on the U.S. Tour. She is returning from an elbow injury and a bout with COVID.

She follows No. 1 Paige Pierce, who has 150 career wins and $351,714 career earnings. The Ledgestone defending champion dominated the field for an 11-stroke victory in 2021.

Catrina Allen is back, and is a five-time Ledgestone champion.

Bring your passport

The 2022 Ledgestone includes players scattered from the Pro Open and down through the lesser tiers from Austria, Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Stanislaus Amann spent 48 hours traveling from Austria to the U.S. to play in central Illinois.

More: How the Peoria area’s biggest disc golf tournament got bigger, better amid COVID-19

Magnus Thorstensen and Fredrik Glendrange are from Oslo, Norway and are playing the MA2 draw.

Bryce Kennedy flew more than 8,000 miles from Kerikeri, New Zealand to Peoria to join the M40 field.

The tournament schedule

Thursday, first round, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.: Men’s Pro Open tees at Lake Eureka Disc Golf Course. Women’s Pro Open tees at Northwood Park Black Course (Morton).

Friday, second round, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.: Men’s Pro Open tees at Northwood Park Black Course (Morton). Women’s Pro Open tees at Sunset Hills (Pekin).

Saturday, third round, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.: Men’s Pro Open tees at Northwood Park Black Course (Morton). Women’s Pro Open tees at Sunset Hills (Pekin).

Sunday, final round, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.: Men’s Pro Open tees at Lake Eureka Disc Golf Course. Women’s Pro Open tees at Northwood Park Black Course (Morton).

Divisions below the pros will play throughout the week at various courses.

Play will happen at: Bradley Park (Peoria), Camp Kearney (Canton), Kennel Lake (Morton), Lake Eureka (Eureka), McNaughton Park (Pekin), Megiddo at Westwood Park (Morton), Northwood Park (Morton), Sunset Hills Disc Golf Course (Pekin), Washington Park (Washington), Wildlife Prairie Park (Hanna City), Illinois Central College (East Peoria).

Special events

Thursday, 2-4 p.m.: Catrina Allen signing and disc release at Five Points in Washington.

Thursday, 6-8 p.m.: Paul McBeth, Paige Pierce and Missy Gannon meet-and-greet, plus Ben Askren signing and disc release, all at Lake Eureka.

Thursday, 6:30-8 p.m.: The band Jonny Quest performs at Lake Eureka. Food, ice cream sundae/root beer floats.

Thursday, 9-11 p.m.: Glo Disc golf at Washington Park.

Admission options

Spectators have several options for tickets, and the tournament site also has guidelines that address protocols during match play.

VIP Badge: The cost for this is $100 and gets one person free parking and admission during the entire event plus a special badge and spectator pack. The badge will get you special access to the VIP tent at the event (which will include snacks and food).

Weekly Parking Pass: $55 and includes a free Ledgestone disc and a free shirt. This gets one person admission to the event.

Daily Admission Pass: $15 per day, per person.

Children: Ages 10 and younger get in free.

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek