McBeth Making a Case for Grand Slam

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The United States Disc Golf Championship is all that’s left for World Champ Paul McBeth to run the table on this year’s 4 majors – a historic run that’s brought on a discussion of how to define disc golf’s Grand Slam. This season McBeth has been the talk of the disc golf world with jaw dropping play that’s amounted to record breaking rated-rounds (1132-rated final round at the Memorial Championship and then an 1119-rated final round at the Vibram Open).

After his Pro Wolds win, much of that talk has centered on the possibility of a Grand Slam. However, Paul’s season is already one for the books with three major wins, one more than anyone else in a year (the Copenhagen Open, the European Open, and the Pro World Championships).

On the phone driving back from the Vibram Open, McBeth, 23, said he was pleased with his major success, but he’s still moving forward. “I don’t take the time to look back on it,” said McBeth, adding that he’d prefer to reminisce after he’s done with the sport.

After all, he’s got one more major left ahead of him – one that could cap an incredible season and one that will require another special performance, especially after USDGC defending champion Will Schusterick returns to what’s felt like his home course away from home.

photo by Chad Corduroy LeFevre

The discussion of crowning a Grand Slam champion is a relatively recent one because it wasn’t until 2006 when the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) had at least four official majors for Pro Open singles play, according to the PDGA.

Prior to 2006, the next closest thing was winning both Pro Worlds and the USDGC in the same year, known as the “Kenny Slam” since Ken Climo was the first to do it in 2000, then again and 2002, and was followed by Barry Schultz in 2003.

The run Paul is on right now is incredible. If he goes on to win all four Majors this season it would be an accomplishment unparalleled in disc golf.
– Innova Team Captain Ken Climo

Though there were many big-time disc golf tournaments before the USDGC’s inception in 1999, the Pro Worlds was it, as far as ‘major-level’ events, said former PDGA Executive Director Brian Hoeniger in an email. “There wasn’t need for “majors” designation prior to the USDGC in 1999. Pro Worlds was, simply stated … Worlds!” wrote Hoeniger, who now acts as the PDGA International Director.

photo by Chad Corduroy LeFevre

Many refer to professional tennis and traditional golf as a grand slam model, which consists of winning the season’s four major events that are the same annually. However unlike those sports, disc golf does not have the same four major events every year. Only the USDGC and the Pro World Championships have returned as Open majors each year.