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All Open Women Disc Golf World Champions & Most Top 5s
Alex WilliamsonWriter, Editor
Jun 27 • 5 min read
Collage of professional women disc golfers who've won world championships
Five multi-time Open Women disc golf world champions and the only non-American world champion in Open or Open Women ever. Top row left to right: Elaine King, Juliana Korver, Paige Pierce. Bottom row left to right: Des Reading, Valarie Jenkins, and the Swedish Birgitta Lagerholm. All photos are crops from originals. Lagerholm photo credit: hlehto on Flickr. All others: PDGA

From 1975-1981, the disc golf portion of the World Frisbee Championship, which featured a variety of disc sports, was considered the de-facto world championship for the sport. The player who won the women's division in disc golf at the WFC was therefore the world champion.

In 1982, the first-ever world championship devoted solely to disc golf took place in California: the inaugural Professional Disc Golf Association Disc Golf World Championship. That first championship didn't feature a protected women's division, however, and, unsurprisingly, no women competed in it.

The next year, the event did include a protected women's division, making the 1983 PDGA Disc Golf World Championships the first time there was ever an event dedicated only to disc golf that awarded a world title to a woman. The professional women's division (Open Women) has been part of the event ever since.

Though disc golf's Worlds (as it's commonly called) is a roving event that's 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 Women 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 five at Worlds most often, again with a few of our favorite takeaways included.

All Professional Disc Golf World Champions: Open Women

Here is the list of every Open Women's disc golf world champion ever1:

Year Winner Win Margin Host City Rounds Played Top Prize Prize Adjusted Second Place
2021 flag-us.svgCatrina Allen 1 Ogden, Utah 5 $10,000 - Paige Pierce
2020 None. Didn't occur due to the pandemic.
2019 flag-us.svgPaige Pierce 5 Peoria, Illinois 5 $5,000 $5,200 Eveliina Salonen
2018 flag-us.svgPaige Shue (neė Bjerkaas) 6 Jeffersonville, Vermont 5 $5,000 $5,300 Paige Pierce
2017 flag-us.svgPaige Pierce 5 Augusta, Georgia 4 $5,500 $5,940 Valarie Jenkins
2016 flag-us.svgValarie Jenkins 6 Emporia, Kansas 5.5 $5,000 $5,500 Catrina Allen
2015 flag-us.svgPaige Pierce 1 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 6.5 $2,500 $2,800 Sarah Hokom
2014 flag-us.svgCatrina Allen 2 Portland, Oregon 7.5 $2,250 $2,520 Paige Pierce
2013 flag-us.svgPaige Pierce 1 Crown Point, Indiana 7.5 $2,000 $2,280 Valarie Jenkins
2012 flag-us.svgSarah Hokom 1 Charlotte, North Carolina 7.5 $2,000 $2,300 Valarie Jenkins
2011 flag-us.svgPaige Pierce 3 Santa Cruz, California 5.5 $2,000 $2,380 Valarie Jenkins
2010 flag-us.svgSarah Cunningham (née Stanhope) 6 Crown Point, Indiana 7.5 $1,450 $1,755 Des Reading
2009 flag-us.svgValarie Jenkins 14 Kansas City, Missouri 7.5 $1,600 $1,984 Des Reading
2008 flag-us.svgValarie Jenkins 12 Kalamazoo / Battle Creek, Michigan 8.5 $1,650 $2,046 Des Reading
2007 flag-us.svgValarie Jenkins 5 Highbridge, Wisconsin 7.5 $1,800 $2,322 Des Reading
2006 flag-us.svgDes Reading 9 Augusta, Georgia 7.5 $1,800 $2,376 Courtney Peavy
2005 flag-us.svgDes Reading 18 Allentown, Pennsylvania 8.5 $1,750 $2,398 Juliana Korver
2004 flag-se.svgBirgitta Lagerholm 2 Des Moines, Iowa 9.5 $1,400 $1,974 Des Reading
2003 flag-us.svgJuliana Korver 11 Flagstaff, Arizona 8 $1,500 $2,160 Des Reading
2002 flag-us.svgDes Reading 8 Houston, Texas 9.5 $1,500 $2,220 Juliana Korver
2001 flag-us.svgJuliana Korver 7 St. Paul, Minnesota 8.5 $1,460 $2,175 Lesli Todd
2000 flag-us.svgJuliana Korver 11 Ann Arbor, Michigan 7.5 $1,765 $2,736 Elaine King
1999 flag-us.svgJuliana Korver 19 Rochester, New York 9.5 $850 $1,352 Elaine King
1998 flag-us.svgJuliana Korver 13 Cincinatti, Ohio 8.5 $952 $1,542 Elaine King
1997 can.svgElaine King 25 Charlotte, North Carolina 9.5 $1,015 $1,665 Anni Kreml
1996 flag-us.svgBeth Tanner 4 South Bend, Indiana 9.5 $1,060 $1,791 Anni Kreml
1995 flag-us.svgBecky Powell 1 Port Arthur, Texas 9.5 $650 $1,131 Anni Kreml
1994 can.svgElaine King 15 Port Arthur, Texas 9.5 $800 $1,432 Amy Schiller (neė Bekken)
1993 can.svgElaine King 16 Huntsville, Alabama 8.5 $751 $1,374 Chris O'Cleary
1992 can.svgElaine King 11 Detroit, Michigan 9 $750 $1,418 Amye Jerez
1991 can.svgElaine King 10 Dayton, Ohio 7 $775 $1,504 Susanne Giendl
1990 flag-us.svgAmy Schiller (neė Bekken) 19 Scottsdale / Mesa / Fountain Hills, Arizona 9 $588 $1,205 Elaine King
1989 flag-us.svgChris O'Cleary 3 Waterloo / Cedar Falls, Iowa 5 $450 $972 Amy Schiller (neė Bekken)
1988 flag-us.svgChris O'Cleary 8 Cincinatti, Ohio 6 $930 $2,102 Elaine King
1987 flag-us.svgVanessa Chambers 1 Toronto, Ontario, Canada 6 $800 $1,880 Chris O'Cleary
1986 flag-us.svgVanessa Chambers 4 Charlotte, North Carolina 6 $415 $992 Roxanne Spencer
1985 flag-us.svgRamona Hale 6 Tulsa, Oklahoma 6 $500 $1,240 Vanessa Chambers
1984 flag-us.svgMarie Jackson 6 Rochester, New York 5 Judy Horowitz
1983 flag-us.svgMarie Jackson 2 Huntsville, Alabama 4 Vanessa Chambers

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 women's disc golf world champion?
    Catrina Allen

  • Who has won the most women's disc golf world championships?
    Currently, three players are tied for the most disc golf world championships in Open Women. Elaine King, Juliana Korver, and Paige Pierce have all won the title five times. While all three players are still active, Pierce is both the most active and most likely to take over the top spot given that she is the youngest by many years and still dominant in the division.

  • How many different women's disc golf world champions have there been?
    17 different players have won the Open Women's division at a pro disc golf Worlds. Nine players have won the event twice or more and eight are one-time champions.

  • What is the largest margin of victory ever in the women's disc golf world championship?
    Elaine King's 25-stroke advantage over second-place Anni Kreml in 1997 is the largest margin of victory ever in Open Women at a disc golf world championship.

  • What is the average margin of victory for the women's disc golf world championship?
    Historically, women's world champions often dominated their competition. The average win in Open Women has been by 7.8 strokes. However, the average win margin has gone down considerably in the modern era. From 2011 (the year Paige Pierce won her first title) to 2021, the average margin of victory in Open Women at Worlds has gone down to just 3.1 strokes. 

    Another interesting stat in this vein is that women champions have won by double digits a total of 13 times. That's only happened four times in Open.

  • Who has the most second-place finishes in women's disc golf world championships?
    Des Reading finished in second at the world championships in Open Women a record six times. Reading wasn't always denied the top spot, though, and won the world title in 2002, 2005, and 2006. On a related note, Anni Kreml is the only player in Open Women to come in second at the world championships more than twice but have no world titles. She came in second three times.

  • How many playoffs have there been for the women's disc golf world championship?
    None. The event has been decided by one stroke six different times, but there has never been a playoff for the women's disc golf world title.

MONEY MATTERS

  • What is the most money anyone has ever won for the women's disc golf world championship?
    $10,000, which Catrina Allen won in 2021.

  • What is the all-time average for the top prize for women's disc golf world championships?
    Not adjusted for inflation, the top prizes over 38 iterations of the women's disc golf world championships average out to winners earning $1,847.66. Inflation considered, it comes to $2,367.48.

  • Have those averages changed in recent years?
    Yes. The average payout to the women's disc golf world champion since 2016 has been $6,388 adjusted for inflation. That's over 3.5 times the inflation-adjusted average of all the previous years of the event (1983 to 2015), which comes out to $1,758. The 2021 purse of $10,000 won by Catrina Allen was over five times that amount.

  • How do changes to Open Women payouts compare to Open?
    Winners of Open Women have always earned less than winners of the Open division. The increase percentage-wise from the lowest-ever payout to the highest has actually been far greater in Open Women, however. Looking at numbers adjusted for inflation, the highest ever women's payout ($10,000) is 928% more than the lowest ($972). In Open, the inflation-adjusted highest ($16,000) is 523% more than the lowest ($2,570).

LOCATION

  • Have the disc golf world championships ever been played outside the U.S.A.?
    In 1987, the disc golf world championships were played in Ontario, Canada. That's the only time.

  • Which city has hosted the most professional disc golf world championships?
    Charlotte, North Carolina, has hosted three pro disc golf world championships, more than any other city.

  • Has anyone not from North America ever won a women's disc golf world championship?
    Just once. 2004 champion Birgitta Lagerholm of Sweden is the only player in the Open Women or Open division from outside North America to win a disc golf world championship.

Note: This section originally said no one from outside the U.S.A. had won an Open Women championship, which is incorrect. Elaine King currently resides in the U.S. but is originally from Canada.

The Top Women in Top 5 Finishes at Disc Golf World Championships

Even for those who don't win, getting on or near the podium at a world championship demonstrates elite skill. Knowing this made us wonder which professional women disc golfers had most consistently been at least among the best at world championships over the years.  

That's why we created a table of Open Women competitors who've made the top five at disc golf's Worlds more than twice:

Rank Name Top 5s Total Championships Played Top 5 %
1 Elaine King 15 28 54%
2 Valarie Jenkins 12 15 80%
T3 Des Reading 10 15 67%
T3 Paige Pierce 10 11 91%
T5 Juliana Korver 9 12 75%
T5 Catrina Allen 9 10 90%
7 Anni Kreml 8 10 80%
8 Birgitta Lagerholm 7 10 70%
9 Vanessa Chambers 6 6 100%
T10 Sarah Hokom 5 11 45%
T10 Kelli Hughes 5 6 83%
T10 Amy Schiller 5 5 100%
T13 Sarah Cunningham 4 9 44%
T13 Ramona Hale 4 4 100%
T13 Chris O'Cleary 4 4 100%
T13 Roxanne Spencer 4 7 57%
T13 Beth Tanner 4 4 100%
T13 Lesli Todd 4 9 44%
T19 Carrie Berlogan 3 7 43%
T19 Ragna Bygde 3 5 60%
T19 Elizabeth Carr-Sypien 3 5 60%
T19 Lisa Fajkus 3 6 50%
T19 Joanne Gallagher 3 4 75%
T19 Courtney McCoy 3 7 43%
T19 Deb Renner 3 6 50%
T19 Angela Tschiggfrie 3 6 50%

These are some of the takeaways we found most interesting about these numbers:

  • King is Queen.
    Elaine King leads the Open Women division in top five finishes by three. She's also competed in the top tier of her division at more world championships than any player in history: 28. We know we didn't put the top 10s here, but King actually placed in the top 10 at 24 of those 28 events. That's longevity if we've ever seen it.

  • Vanessa Chambers leads 100% club.
    Six women have competed in more than two Worlds and made the top five every time they've competed. Two-time world champ Vanessa Chambers managed that feat through the most competitions. Chambers last competed in Worlds in 1989 before leaving her world championship days behind to start a family. That was her sixth straight Worlds and sixth straight top five showing. She was in the first group of disc golfers ever inducted into the Disc Golf Hall of Fame in 1993.

  • Pierce leads active players.
    Though Paige Pierce and Des Reading both played 2021 Worlds, Pierce is by far the more actively touring player. So we think it's fair to say that among very active pros, Pierce's 10 top five finishes at Worlds (the same number Reading has) is cream of the crop.

  • Missing World Champions
    There are only two players who have been the Open Women disc golf world champion but don't appear on this list: Marie Jackson and Paige Shue (née Bjerkaas). Jackson entered Worlds only twice and won both times (1983 and 1984). However, Shue has entered the event seven times, and the only time she has ever finished in the top five was when she won in 2018.

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. Think about 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.

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