For top pros, taking cash at big tournaments provides validation that disc golf can be a career, not just a hobby. While the competition at the top is for glory, the competition at the cash line can be for next weekend’s tournament entry fees and gas to get there. Years ago when there was less sponsorship money in the sport, taking cash was all the more important to sustaining life as a professional disc golfer. Innova Team Captain, Nate Sexton, went over 15 years and 264 events without missing cash, one of the longest runs our sport will ever see. Through any course type and any condition, through injury and just plain bad days, he finished in the top 40% of more events than most touring pros will play in their entire careers.
Nate Sexton’s historic cash streak started over 15 years ago at the Stumptown Disc Golf Spring Classic in Estacada, Oregon. He took 6th place and earned a whopping $18. Now, 264 events and over $200,000 of winnings later, the cash streak has come to an end right back where it started in Nate’s home state of Oregon.
What is most impressive about Sexton’s streak is the strength of his tour schedule during that time. Each year since 2008, he has competed in multiple Majors, National Tours, and DGPT events. It would be one thing to reach 264 consecutive cashes playing mostly C-tiers; Nate Sexton managed that accomplishment playing most weekend’s against the strongest competitors in the sport. In fact, Sexton’s cash streak at DGPT Events, PDGA Majors, and Tour Championships spanned a longer period of time than his streak at all PDGA events. Sexton went 122 consecutive tournaments and 6,579 days, without missing cash at the biggest events in our sport.
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In that time, Nate racked up an impressive list of wins. He took down the 2018 Ledgestone Insurance Open, the 2018 and 2019 Canadian National Disc Golf Championships, the 2020 Las Vegas Challenge, and many more events from A-tier to local C-tiers. The crowning achievement of his career was his win at the 2017 United States Disc Golf Championships, the most prestigious event in disc golf. In 332 total tournaments played, Nate has landed on the podium of over 50%, has won over 25%, and has cashed at an unbelievable 94%.
Nate has called the end of his cash streak bittersweet. He admits to shedding some private tears as he walked down the Fairway on Hole 18 in Portland. But he also views the end of his streak as an opportunity. Nate is now free to stray from the “Safeton” golf he’s become known for. He says he will try to play more loosely and perhaps more aggressively going forward. He sounds ready and excited to throw more fun lines, more backhands, and to take bigger risks.
It is hard to imagine we will ever see another MPO player put together a cash streak even close to Nate Sexton’s. With the field becoming stronger each year, more and more top name players miss the cash each weekend. With more athletes in contention, comes more of a need to play aggressively if you want to win. That increase in competition and need for aggressive play makes 15 years without missing cash seem near impossible.
Though this marks a significant moment in Nate Sexton’s career, he is the same incredible disc golfer that he was last week. All of the top players miss cash now and again. We expect Nate’s got some top finishes still to come. Now that he’s clear to play without the streak looming in the back of his mind, maybe Sexton is just starting a new era of success coming from a more aggressive brand of disc golf.
Congratulations to Nate on a display of consistency unlikely to be repeated again in our sport. Your dependability over the past 15 years has made you one of disc golf’s all-time greats.