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Junior Worlds Puts Disc Golf's Future Front And Center


2017 Junior 6 & Under World Champion Kaidin Bell, 6 years old, tees off at the Mini Golf competition on Field Events day. Photo: PDGA

In the last few years, the PDGA Disc Golf World Championships have seen a lot of changes. With the rapid growth of the sport over the last decade, what was once just two events has now been split into four separate world championships: Pro Worlds, Am Worlds, Pro Masters Worlds, and the PDGA Junior Disc Golf World Championships.

That’s not to say that junior competitors have never been included in the world championships; it’s just that this is the first time in many years they’ve been split off for their own separate event. In years past, they’ve been packed in with the rest of the amateur divisions for what most people have always referred to as simply Am Worlds, despite the official title having been the PDGA Amateur and Junior Disc Golf World Championships.

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Australia's Evelyn Heath competing in the Long Drive competition during the 2018 Junior Worlds Field Events. Photo: PDGA

It’s been nearly two years since the PDGA announced that the juniors would have a world championship of their own once again, and the opening day of competition is finally upon us. Emporia, Kansas, was selected as the host of the event thanks to their amazing track record of running top-level tournaments, and they certainly have not disappointed. A record turnout of 198 junior competitors, including a handful of international travelers, have made their way to the middle of the United States; one young lady, Evelyn Heath, came all the way from Doncaster, Australia, to compete in the Junior Girls 12 & Under division.

In addition to receiving the warm welcome that only Emporia can offer, the players have been treated to an incredible players pack, including eight discs, a Junior Worlds ZÜCA Compact Cart, and much more. Win or lose, the competitors here are going home happy.

The competition itself will see 11 divisions taking on six different courses that combine for 10 different short and long layouts. This is just one of the reasons that Emporia is such a great fit for the event, as they already have permanent courses in the ground designed for even the youngest of junior competitors.

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The players pack Zuca carts (right) filled the grounds of Emporia Middle School on Field Events day. Photo: PDGA

The Junior 18 & Under and Junior 15 & Under divisions alone combine for well over half of the entire field, with 18-year-old Mikael Hakala of Finland coming in as the highest rated player at 978. At the other end of the spectrum, there are four competitors -- two girls and two boys -- in the Junior 6 & Under division. With that kind of age range, spectators can choose between watching the adorableness of the youngsters or the heated competition of the older kids -- and everything in between.

Round 1 is already underway here in Emporia, and we’re in for a long, extremely hot and humid week with temperatures staying at or near 100° F from now all the way through the finals on Saturday.

Follow along with real-time scoring on pdgalive.com all week, and make sure to check out the results from last Sunday’s Divisional Doubles and the Field Events that wrapped up last night. We wish the best of luck to all of the competitors here at the PDGA Junior Disc Golf World Championships presented by Dynamic Discs.

Last but not least, to the parents of those kids: make sure they stay hydrated!

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