The Dragan Disc Golf Championships were born as the very first tournament held at Dragan Field in September 2001. The tournament, called the Dragan Field Open, was a New England Points Series event and hosted 50 disc golfers competing in eight divisions.
The following year, the tournament’s name was changed to the New England Disc Golf Championships. It was a PDGA B-tier event, as well as the tournament used to decide three state representatives for the 2002 USDGC. The New Hampshire and Rhode Island spots, as well as the Maine spot were awarded at the end of the NEDGC. Twenty-seven golfers played in five divisions. The NEDGC was the first year in which the tournament itself began at noon and was preceded by a single round of winner-take-all doubles.
In the tournament’s third year, it underwent another name change. The Maine Disc Golf Championships were held on June 14, 2003. It was a PDGA B-tier event and once again, the tournament determined the Maine representative to the 2003 USDGC. There were a total of 51 players in seven divisions. 2003 was also the first year to incorporate the schedule format that continues through the current incarnation: a morning round of doubles, followed by the two rounds of competition teeing off at high noon, and ending with a showcase safari round for the top finishers.
The fourth year saw a more permanent name change as the tournament was anointed as the Dragan Disc Golf Championships. Once again the event was a PDGA B-tier as well as Maine’s first NEFA Double Points event. The tournament also joined the inaugural Maine Championship Series in 2004, becoming its largest event in terms of attendance. A Maine disc golf record 73 players took part in eight divisions.
The record was set again at the 2005 edition of the DDGC as 86 players competed in eight divisions, making it not only the largest tournament in Maine, but also one of the most well-attended events in New England. Again a PDGA B-tier and NEFA Double Points event, a new affiliation with the MSDGC was also created which sent the Pro Open and Advanced winners to the Marshall Street Disc Golf Championships in Leicester, Mass.
For the third year running, a new attendance record was set in 2006. 87 players braved the wet and windy elements to compete in the 2006 DDGC. Touring pro and the first 1000-rated player to ever compete in the event, David Feldberg, won Pro Open, taking the $600 first place prize back home to Oregon.
In 2007, the Pro Open division was the most hotly contested in many years. Twenty-one players competed, with only three strokes separating 3rd place from the last cashing position (12th). Joe Mela of Pennsylvania held on by a single stroke over Dr. Doug Ertman to win the biggest first place prize awarded in Maine to date, $1000. This year also marked the first affiliation with the Eric C. Yetter Champions Cup tournament. Dr. Doug Ertman (Pro Open) and Jason Dore (Advanced) earned free entry to the PDGA Super Tour event held in mid-September at Tyler State Park in Newtown, PA.
In 2008, records fell. For the first time, the event maxed out with 90 total participants. Not only that, but the previous course record (47) was bested not by just one player, but by four different players in the first round (and tied by one other, creating an all-record-breaking lead card), lead by the new record low of 44 turned in by 2002 champ Daniel Marcus. Greg Wintrob ultimately emerged to claim the $1000 first prize with a strong finish in the DT9, also earning him a free entry into the 2008 Eric C. Yetter Champions Cup along with Advanced champion Walter Leeman and best scoring woman Marielle Mallar.
In 2009, Maine finally broke through. For the first time in the tournament’s history, and after eight years of being first runner up, a Maine resident took home the Pro Open trophy and the $1000 first prize. That Maine resident was Derek Libby, who took a two stroke lead after round one and extended it to four strokes by the end of the tournament. That also earned him a free entry to the 2009 Eric C. Yetter Champions Cup along with Pro Women’s champion Lesli Brinster and Advanced champion Chris LeClair.
In 2010, a new two-day format was introduced and for the first time, courses other than the Red Dragon at Dragan Field were involved. A new DDGC record 103 players played rounds at Dragan Field, Enman Field and Pleasant Hill. Steve Brinster, in his third time playing the DDGC, went wire to wire in capturing his first DDGC title.
Continuing the new two-day format in 2011, another Maine resident took the title when Nick Gagne came back from a three-stroke day one deficit to win by two. Gagne is also the youngest DDGC champion to date, winning the tournament just a month shy of his 18th birthday.
In 2012, the two-day format was set aside and the classic DDGC format returned, hence the re-christening of the Dragan Disc Golf Classic. It was a soggy, wet day but in the end, the champion was Jason Land from North Carolina, edging out former champion Joe Mela by one stroke.
The most closely contested DDGC to date occured in the 2013 edition, involving the first ever playoff to determine the champion. After two rounds and the DT9, Kevin Gardner and Joe Mela were tied with a total of 124 throws, one ahead of third place and former DDGC champ Nick Gagne. After four playoff holes, Joe Mela emerged as the winner, becoming the oldest DDGC champion to date (52 years old).
With the entire lead card after round 1 tied, Tyler Grady shot a course-record-tying 44 to take a big lead into the DT9 and it proved to be enough to hold off a hard charging Cooper Legee for the victory in the 2014 edition of the DDGC.
In 2015, more history was made when Tyler Grady became the first player to successfully defend his Pro Open title, again by a narrow margin over Cooper Legee. This time needing the better score in the DT9 to break a two-round tie.
The 2016 DDGC sold out in less than a month, with all of the non-Pro spots filled in just three days. On the course, it was like a broken record as Tyler Grady completed the three-peat, again edging out Cooper Legee in the DT9. Three other divisions also saw defending champions retain their DDGC titles.
In the sixteen year history of the DDGC, there have been thirteen repeat winners: Tim Walsh in Pro Open (’01 & ’04), Brian Shoff in Pro Masters (’02 & ’04), Heather Azato in Pro Women (’03 &’04), David White in Advanced Masters (’02 & ’05), Christie Reynolds in Adv Women (’06 & ’08), Rick Williams in Advanced Masters (’07 & ’08), Marielle Mallar in Pro Women (’07, ’10, ’11, & ’12), Joe Mela in Pro Open (’07 & ’13), Davis Johnson in Pro Grandmasters (’10 & ’14), Bob Enman in Advanced Grandmasters (’14, ’15 & ’16), Tyler Grady in Pro Open (’14, ’15 & ’16), Jacklyn Bogan in Advanced Women (’15 & ’16), and Erica Johnson in Pro Women (’15 & ’16). Will there be more repeat winners after the 2017 Dragan Disc Golf Classic? We’ll find out.
Past years results:
- 2001 Dragan Field Open – 50 players
- 2002 New England Disc Golf Championships – 27 players
- 2003 Maine Disc Golf Championships – 52 players (rain)
- 2004 Dragan Disc Golf Championships – 73 players
- 2005 Dragan Disc Golf Championships – 86 players
- 2006 Dragan Disc Golf Championships – 87 players (rain)
- 2007 Dragan Disc Golf Championships – 67 players
- 2008 Dragan Disc Golf Championships – 90 players (max capacity)
- 2009 Dragan Disc Golf Championships – 90 players (max capacity)
- 2010 Dragon Disc Golf Championships – 103 players (3 courses, 2 days)
- 2011 Dragon Disc Golf Championships – 51 players (2 courses, 2 days)
- 2012 Dragan Disc Golf Classic – 72 players (max capacity) (rain)
- 2013 Dragan Disc Golf Classic – 72 players (max capacity)
- 2014 Dragan Disc Golf Classic – 72 players (max capacity)
- 2015 Dragan Disc Golf Classic – 72 players (max capacity)
- 2016 Dragan Disc Golf Classic – 71 players