2012 World Championships MPO

As a photographer, sometimes the best thing you can do is just show up and see what will happen. At the 2012 World Championships in Charlotte, NC, that is exactly what I did. I had been under the pressure of working with disc golf media companies and the magazine. I felt burnt out and I missed the freedom of just showing up at a tournament with no expectations and to have total creative freedom. The only thing was this was a BIG one and world got out quick that I was there taking pictures. I took it all in stride day-by-day and let it be known that I was going to cover the Pro Men, Pro Women and Men's Pro Masters divisions.

I wanted to see Renny Gold in a bad way, and you can blame that on the CLASH DVD. I remember the video promo for that DVD like it was yesterday, it starts out with a heartbeat, and there were six pros that played 3-on-3: Climo, Feldberg and Doss versus Schultz, Schweberger and Timmy Gill playing Renny Gold. I remember buying that DVD as a pre-order. It was epic! So we drove all night and kind of woke up at Renny Gold. It looked different in person, it really did exist.

The next thing you know, I have a PDGA Media all-access badge and I’m ‘working’ the tournament. There was so much to get lost in at that event. Dana Vicich was playing for charity: DG4PM (disc golf for Pat & Meredith – his Mom and Aunt that died from cancer) and teamed up with the American Cancer Society as a fundraiser. He had t-shirts made and was taking donations in every way you could think of, including how many strokes he would get in each round or overall (you can find out more information on that from the PDGA article by clicking here).

Chris Benholtz, my love, shot the hot round in the B pool of MPO division in the second round and Bradford Park, where Par was 58 and he shot a 56 (so proud of you!). Ricky Wysocki had his little brother caddy for him, carrying a GRIPeq bag that was larger than he was. Everything about the semi-finals was dramatic, including the weather with these low lying foggy clouds which made the mood that much more dramatic in pictures, the contrast in these images reflected the mood of the tournament. Cale Leiviska and Michael Johansen had a sudden-death playoff after the semi-finals to see who was going to make it in to the Final 9. The North Carolina favorite, Johansen won that battle.

JOMEZ made his first debut with his video coverage using a Canon 5D! Sarah Hokom almost lost the title on a gimmick hole in the Final 9 (a short island hole surrounded by hay bales and a guardian tree, I was nervous for her.) but she held it together and I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a more exciting finish than her making that putt from down in the gully on that final hole.

We witnessed one of the coolest putting competitions that was hosted on the tennis courts at the Renny Gold course with Crazy John Brooks and Dave Greenwell commentating for DiscGolfPlanetTV and Billy Crump was the referee, owning that title sitting in the ref’s chair with a striped shirt with a full gallery watching in the stands.

The classic, Climo versus Schultz throwdown takes place, but this time they are playing for the Men's Pro Master's title, and the one that wins is the first person to hold a MPO and MPM World Championship titles. It's like walking on the moon.

We also see the start of the Paul McBeth's rein (“McBeast”) when he wins his first world title (Paul - you are a beast! And I can't stop laughing that I called you a 'shoe box photo guy,' at the 2011 Memorial, not in a bad way, but I am blown away that you find determination out of everything you witness).

Everything about this event was a sports photographer’s dream. If disc golf gets better than this, there is no telling what the future will hold.

LOST DISC ALERT! I lost my CE Valkryie (marble pink) weight 167g, with my name and number on it at Nevin Park on that one hole with the large boulder, I threw a flick shot into the swampy pond on the left. If you find it let me know (please don't ask how it got there, I know, it's in a weird spot and I'm probably the only person ever to throw there).

The is just a small segment of the history of the disc golf and my life as a disc golf photographer. These are stories that I've wanted to tell for a long time. **If you see a photo here that you would like to use for your own personal purpose because there is a personal connection that you have with these moments, it is okay to post on social but please do not edit them. Photo credit: LEL Photography. "PC: @LELPhotography" and tag me. I’m on social as @lelphotography on all platforms. I'd love to hear your story and what these moments meant to you.** For commercial inquiries please e-mail me lauren@lelphotography.com.

Click here for the 2012 Professional Disc Golf Association Pro Worlds results.

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