In 1982, the Professional Disc Golf Association held the inaugural Disc Golf World Championship in California. It was the first world championship ever solely dedicated to disc golf. From 1975-1981, the winner of the disc golf portion of the World Frisbee Championship, which featured a variety of disc sports, was considered the world champion.
Notably, the 1982 event featured only an Open division. An Open Women's division was added in 1983 and has been offered ever since. This post specifically focuses on winners of the Open division, but we highly encourage you to take a look at our post listing every Open Women's disc golf world champion, too.
Though disc golf's Worlds (as it's commonly called) is a roving event that has only taken place in the same city in successive years one time in its history and the totals of rounds and courses players have been asked to play have fluctuated widely, the prestige its winners have earned has been constant. Those with a win at Worlds are forever etched into disc golf history.
Below you can find a table noting every pro Worlds winner in the Open division along with how much money they earned, who they beat and by how many strokes, what city they won in, and more. We've included some of the most interesting things we noticed in the stats, too.
You can also take a look at which players have made the top 10 most often, again with a few of our favorite takeaways included.
All Professional Disc Golf World Champions: Open
Here is the list of every professional disc golf world champion ever in the Open division1:
|Year||Winner||Win Margin||Host City||Rounds Played||Top Prize
||Prize Inflation Adjusted||Second Place|
|2021||James Conrad||Playoff||Ogden, Utah||5||$16,500||-||Paul McBeth|
|2020||Didn't occur due to the pandemic.|
|2019||Paul McBeth||1||Peoria, Illinois||5||$10,000||$10,400||Ricky Wysocki|
|2018||Gregg Barsby||2||Jeffersonville, Vermont||5||$10,000||$10,600||Paul McBeth, Josh Anthon|
|2017||Ricky Wysocki||8||Augusta, Georgia||4||$12,000||$12,960||Paul McBeth|
|2016||Ricky Wysocki||6||Emporia, Kansas||5.5||$10,000||$11,000||Paul McBeth|
|2015||Paul McBeth||9||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||6.5||$6,000||$6,720||Ricky Wysocki|
|2014||Paul McBeth||Playoff||Portland, Oregon||7.5||$5,000||$5,600||Ricky Wysocki|
|2013||Paul McBeth||5||Crown Point, Indiana||7.5||$5,000||$5,700||David Feldberg|
|2012||Paul McBeth||5||Charlotte, North Carolina||7.5||$5,500||$6,325||Ricky Wysocki|
|2011||Nate Doss||7||Santa Cruz, California||5.5||$7,000||$8,330||Will Schusterick, Josh Anthon|
|2010||Eric McCabe||5||Crown Point, Indiana||7.5||$5,500||$6,655||David Feldberg, Paul Ulibarri, Josh Anthon|
|2009||Avery Jenkins||Playoff||Kansas City, Missouri||7.5||$5,500||$6,820||Josh Anthon|
Kalamazoo / Battle Creek, Michigan
|2007||Nate Doss||1||Highbridge, Wisconsin||7.5||$5,500||$7,095||Markus Källström|
|2006||Ken Climo||5||Augusta, Georgia||7.5||$5,500||$7,260||Nate Doss|
|2005||Nate Doss||3||Allentown, Pennsylvania||8.5||$5,000||$6,850||Matt Orum, Barry Schultz|
|2004||Barry Schultz||9||Des Moines, Iowa||9.5||$5,300||$7,473||Ken Climo|
|2003||Barry Schultz||6||Flagstaff, Arizona||7.5||$5,000||$7,200||Markus Källström|
|2002||Ken Climo||14||Houston, Texas||9.5||$4,500||$6,660||Barry Schultz|
|2001||Cam Todd||6||St. Paul, Minnesota||8.5||$3,065||$4,567||Steve Rico|
|2000||Ken Climo||8||Ann Arbor, Michigan||7.5||$7,303||$11,320||Barry Schultz|
|1999||Ron Russell||4||Rochester, New York||9.5||$4,000||$6,360||Ken Climo|
|1998||Ken Climo||4||Cincinatti, Ohio||8.5||$3,581||$5,801||Scott Stokely|
|1997||Ken Climo||7||Charlotte, North Carolina||9.5||$3,000||$4,920||Scott Stokely|
|1996||Ken Climo||3||South Bend, Indiana||9.5||$3,600||$6,084||Geoff Lissaman|
|1995||Ken Climo||4||Port Arthur, Texas||9.5||$2,350||$4,089||Mike Randolph|
|1994||Ken Climo||18||Port Arthur, Texas||9.5||$2,500||$4,475||Joe Mela|
|1993||Ken Climo||4||Huntsville, Alabama||9.5||$2,539||$4,646||Dean Tannock|
|1992||Ken Climo||9||Detroit, Michigan||9.5||$3,500||$6,615||John Brooks|
|1991||Ken Climo||10||Dayton, Ohio||7||$2,700||$5,238||Eric Marx|
Scottsdale / Mesa / Fountain Hills, Arizona
Waterloo / Cedar Falls, Iowa
|1988||John Ahart||2||Cincinatti, Ohio||6||$3,900||$8,814||Sam Ferrans|
|1987||Gregg Hosfeld||Playoff||Toronto, Ontario, Canada||7||$2,500||$5,875||Michael Sullivan|
|1986||Johnny Sias||7||Charlotte, North Carolina||6||$1,090||$2,605||Clint McClellan|
|1985||Harold Duvall||2||Tulsa, Oklahoma||6||$2,000||$4,960||Eric Marx|
|1984||Sam Ferrans||5||Rochester, New York||5||$1,000||$2,570||Johnny Sias|
|1983||Jeff Watson||5||Huntsville, Alabama||6||Tom Monroe|
|1982||Harold Duvall||4||Los Angeles, California||4||Dave Dunipace, Joe Ursino|
If you're wondering about all those half rounds, they're there because a "Final Nine" was once extremely common at disc golf world championships. They've fallen out of favor more recently, though.
In case you don't have the time to comb through the table for some of the biggest and/or most interesting takeaways, we've put together some of them for you below.
WINNERS & RUNNERS UP
- Who is the current disc golf world champion?
- Who has won the most disc golf world championships?
Ken Climo has more disc golf world championships than any other player: 12. He had a nine-year streak from 1990 to 1998 and added three more thereafter. These results earned him the nickname "The Champ."
- How many different disc golf world champions have there been?
19 different players have won the Open division at a pro disc golf Worlds. Only six players have won the event more than once, and only three players (Ken Climo, Paul McBeth, and Nate Doss) have won it more than twice.
- What is the largest margin of victory ever at a disc golf world championship?
18 strokes: Ken Climo over Joe Mela in 1994.
- Did you notice Paul McBeth's streak?
If you didn't, it's worth noting that McBeth has been first or second at every World Championship since 2012. That's nine consecutive times taking the number one or two spot at the sport's biggest tournament on a wide variety of courses.
- What is the average margin of victory at disc golf world championships?
Counting playoffs as 0, the average margin of victory at disc golf world championships is 5.4 strokes.
- Who has the most second-place finishes at disc golf world championships?
Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, and Josh Anthon have come in second place four times at disc golf world championships, the most runner-up showings in the Open division. Paul McBeth has won the event five times (2012-2015 and 2019) and Wysocki won the world title in 2016 and 2017, but Anthon has never won a title.
- How many playoffs have there been at disc golf world championships?
Four. In 2021 James Conrad beat Paul McBeth after "the holy shot" from Conrad on the 18th helped propel the two to a playoff. In 2014 Paul McBeth beat Ricky Wysocki after a spectacular five-hole playoff. In 2009 Avery Jenkins beat Josh Anthon, and in 1987 Gregg Hosfeld beat Michael Sullivan.
- What is the most money anyone has ever won at a disc golf world championship?
$16,500, which James Conrad won in 2021.
- What is the all-time average for the top prize at disc golf world championships?
Not adjusted for inflation, the top prizes over 39 iterations of the disc golf world championships average out to winners earning $4,806. Inflation considered, it comes to $6,539.42.
- Have those averages changed in recent years?
Quite a bit. Since 2016, the average payout is $11,700 unadjusted for inflation and $12,292 adjusted.
- Has the disc golf world championship ever been played outside the U.S.A.?
Just once. In 1987, the disc golf world championship was played in Ontario, Canada.
- Which city has hosted the most disc golf world championships?
Charlotte, North Carolina, has hosted more disc golf world championships than any other city: three.
- Has anyone not from North America ever won a disc golf world championship?
No. The closest any person not from disc golf's continent of origin has come to winning a disc golf world championship is Swede Markus Källström when he lost by just one stroke to Nate Doss in 2007. He'd come in second once before in 2003, six strokes behind Barry Schultz.
Notably, a non-North American has won in the Open Women division.
We also need to do a mea culpa here. The original version of this article said Källström had come closest to the world championship of anyone from outside the United States, not just North America. We overlooked that Canadian Michael Sullivan came in second after a playoff in 1987.
Players with the Most Top 10 Finishes at Pro Disc Golf World Championships
Though there's little sweeter than a world title, simply finishing near the top at a disc golf world championship means your skills are some of the best in the game. And if you've managed that feat multiple times, it's an even greater testament to your abilities.
Knowing this made us interested to go beyond just the champions and runners-up and learn which players had the most top 10 finishes at world championships.
Here are the top 20 in Open:
|Rank||Name||Top 10s||Total Championships Played||Top 10 %|
These are some of the most interesting takeaways from the table:
- The Champ wins.
Unsurprisingly, Ken Climo, the player with the most disc golf world championships in history, holds the records for both most top 10 showings and the highest percentage of top 10 finishes in this table. What you can't see here is that he also has the highest percentage of top 10s among anyone who competed in the event more than twice. Impressively, he managed that percentage while also competing in over 20 World Championships in Open, a number that has only been reached by a total of seven players.
Notably, Ricky Wysocki (who is currently one of the world's best), has tied Climo's 90% top ten rate. Climo still has a slight edge in the decimals though because Wysocki is at an even 90% while Climo's top 10 rate is 90.48%. Wysocki will need a top 10 finish in the next Worlds he plays to beat Climo in this department.
- Poor Rico.
Steve Rico has competed in the Open division at more pro Worlds than any other disc golfer in history (25). Another record he holds – likely a little begrudgingly – is the most top 10 showings with no world title among them (14). As you can see in the table of champions and runners-up from earlier, he's also had just one second-place showing (2001).
- Matt Orum tied with Wysocki and McBeth in top 10 finishes.
Matt Orum doesn't tour that much these days, but when he does show up to compete with the world's best, he often places well. Orum is around age 30 like contemporary elite players McBeth (30) and Wysocki (28). It may surprise many that Orum has just as many top 10 showings (nine) as those two juggernauts.
We'll Keep You Posted
We plan to update this post as soon as the disc golf world championships take place each year, so keep it in a safe place if you'd like to find it again.
If you enjoy breakdowns of disc golf stats like this or are looking for great disc golf travel tips and stories, this blog has what you're looking for. For one, we imagine people who loved this post will also dig our piece "Money Talks: Disc Golf's All-Time Top Earners & More." It could also be worth subscribing to our newsletter to make sure you always know what we've posted lately.
1. The information in our table of winners was taken whenever possible directly from PDGA event pages. On rare occasions, the information on those pages differs slightly from the information the PDGA has in its own overview of Worlds winners.