GOLF

Paige Pierce Practice Round Dustup was a ‘non-issue and a misunderstanding’

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Police were called after Pierce attempted to play a practice round at the Emporia Country Club on a closed disc golf day.

Paige Pierce. Photo: DGPT.

After a dramatic end to the 2021 World Championships last summer, the 2022 event kicks off with its own drama.

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On Monday, August 22, Paige Pierce headed to Emporia Country Club to play a practice round to prepare for next week’s tournament. The front door of the establishment was locked, so she and Nate Perkins, who is caddying for Pierce this week, returned. A member of a group of golfers who were about to play recognized Pierce and came to say hello: she asked him to get a cart to go out on the course. He said yes, walked in and grabbed a cart key from her.

However, ECC is closed to disc golfers on Mondays, which is clearly stated on the site’s website. As Pierce threw a few early tee shots for practice, “a young man approached [them] and said, ‘Hey, I think the course is closed,'” according to Perkins. Mondays are for Country Club members, they were told; Pierce, who was unaware the course was closed on Monday, asked about the possibility of becoming a member so he could play. She said there must have been some kind of misunderstanding since the world championships were starting the following week.

The facility, however, was not yet leased for the tournament. A confirmation packet sent to players by TD Worlds Doug Bjerkaas in late July read: “The Emporia Country Club and Supreme-18 DGC at Jones Park are open for training ahead of Pro Worlds from dawn to dusk at no charge , beginning Friday , August 26 August 2022. The Supreme 18 DGC at Jones Park is in a public park and can be raced between dawn and dusk on the days leading up to August 26, unless another event is scheduled on square. The Emporia Country Club is a private establishment and is chargeable. If players want to practice the course before August 26, they must check the disc golf course schedule and pay the greens fee to play. More information on the Country Club’s disc golf schedule can be found here.

According to the PDGA Worlds bid documentation, full tournament layouts should only be in place and available for practice four days prior to the start of the opening tee time, which corresponds to the availability of the full practice round starting Friday.

After talking to the first employee, Pierce continued down the fairway. “The next thing we know is there’s a woman running down the fairway yelling she’s going to call the cops,” Perkins said. Communication between Pierce and Country Club staff at this point is disputed. Perkins says Pierce was just insisting on asking to join or rent the facility that day so she and other players could play practice rounds. Sources with circumstantial knowledge of the situation said Pierce was extremely rude and flaunted his wealth in conversations with ECC staff. The Emporia Country Club declined to comment for this story.

“When Paige asked to speak to a manager, the request was denied,” Pierce’s agent, Blake Shaffer of Shaffer Sports Management, said in a statement provided to Ultiworld Disc Golf. “Paige thought it was miscommunication. She was then told by another country club employee that they were calling the police. Paige picked up her things and decided to leave the class. She was not escorted out of the class. course and was not approached by any cops. This is not a problem and a misunderstanding as she was trying to train for the world championships only 8 days before they started. Paige is looking forward to competing and focused on winning his 6th world championship Pierce declined to comment further on the incident.

The police were dispatched and arrived at the scene, as reported by the Emporia Newspaper and confirmed by Perkins, although there was no interaction between Pierce and the police, as she had already left the course. Perkins challenged the Gazette‘s reports that Pierce had to be escorted: they left the course on their own, he said. The Emporia Police Department told Ultiworld Disc Golf that they never even received a name and did not speak to Pierce or anyone other than Emporia Country Club management.

“I cannot express our disappointment enough at the end of our organization,” PDGA competition director Jeff Jacquart told the Gazette. “Sometimes these players get a little too demanding and don’t understand the amount of work it takes to make these events happen and the partnerships that are created, and we really don’t like damaging partnerships.”

The overall incident echoes some of the complaints about the 2021 World Championships, when facilities were not leased and available to players prior to the event. On Monday, Pierce personally instructed PDGA and tournament staff to line up the out-of-bounds areas of the Jones Supreme course, which they did Monday afternoon. The original plan was to field OB on Thursday, after Emporia City cut the grass one last time before the tournament. Temporary lines have been put in place to accommodate players and will be realigned tomorrow as the rest of the course assets are put in place. Players will have four days of practice time available on fully prepared courses in accordance with PDGA guidelines, although Jones Supreme will have limited availability on Saturday due to the World Doubles Championships taking place there that day. .

“I think where the sport is going and how seriously athletes take the game, four days is definitely not enough to prepare for a Major,” Perkins said.

Everyone who spoke to Ultiworld Disc Golf about the situation said it was a simple misunderstanding that was overblown. “For this to turn into this whole mess, it’s super unfortunate, because I don’t think it should even be a story really,” Perkins said.

“We were fortunate to reach out to everyone involved and are confident that the situation is behind us,” said PDGA Chief Marketing Officer Danny Voss. “We are looking forward to a great week of Worlds at Emporia.”

The world championships begin on Tuesday August 30. After becoming the winningest major champion in FPO history at the European Open, Pierce will be competing for a record 6th world title.

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