Who Are The Disc Golf GOAT(s)?

Who Are The Disc Golf GOAT(s)?

Here at SDG we love goats. I mean for goodness sake we’ve got 4 of them, you know Birdie, Hyzer, Patches and Peaches. But today I’m going to compare a different kind of goat, G.O.A.T meaning Greatest Of All Time. So today I’d like to invite you into the GOAT debate in disc golf. Paul Mcbeth vs Ken Climo. But that’s not all, I don’t think there’s a lot of discussion at the end about the FPO GOAT. My answer may surprise you, but I think right now we have a very clear winner.

We all know the resume of Ken Climo, he’s a 12 time world champion disc golfer. He won every world championship from 1990-1998 and also 2000,2002,2006. He’s won 5 EURGC’s in 1999,2000,2002,2004, and 2007. He (probably) would have won more of the EURGC’s if the tournament had started before 1999. His peak rating was 1044 which he achieved in 2003. Ken Climo has claimed $433,178.62 in tournament winnings over his career. Ken was an absolute monster on the course, he won the first EURGC by 15 strokes which is still the record. He’s absolutely one of, if not the greatest players ever. He’s still referred to as “Champ.”

Then we come to Paul McBeth, 5x World Champion in disc golf. How can I put him ahead of Ken Climo when he’s 7 world championships behind? Well he’s rated a little bit better than Ken at their peaks. Climo achieved 1044 for his highest rating, Paul has set the record at 1062. So on average Paul would be predicted to beat Climo by 2-4 strokes per round when they’re both at their peak. However... and this is important. Ratings were not instituted until Chuck Kennedy #4949 developed a system of ratings in 1998. Climo would have been 30 when the first ratings came out, who is to say that he wasn’t better at 25 or 28 than he was at 35 when he achieved his top rating in March 2003.

Climo won his first world championship at 22, McBeth at the same age. Each went on to win the next 3 in a row. But then Climo separates himself and wins another 4 in a row. Paul placed 2nd in 2016-2018 before winning again in 2019, then losing in a playoff in 2021 to the James Conrad shot on 18. The 4 World Championships McBeth lost were by 6,8,2, and 1 strokes. He was really only in contention twice during those three 2nd place finishes. What I mean is 6 or 8 strokes is pretty far back to have a shot. Being 2 back, everything could change on the last hole.

Everyone missed the 2020 Worlds due to Covid-19, which is unfortunate because Paul would have been 29 and probably would have been the odds on favorite to win his 6th. To tie Climo he will need 7 more. If Paul won every Worlds from now until he was 37 (2027) he’d be 12x too.
One amazing feat is Paul’s consistency. Players have bad rounds from time to time but Paul is different. He’s only shot below 1000 rated rounds 19 times since becoming a world champion back in 2012. Ken Climo shot below 1000, over 19 times in 3 years from 1998 to 2001. In fact he even had an 898 rated round at the 5th Indian Summer Tournament in 2000. I’m going to guess that Climo was injured in some way at the event because he then takes 3 months off. Paul maintains much more consistent high level play than Ken did.


Oh and for the FPO we have three women tied at 5 Open World Championships. Paige Pierce, Elaine King, and Juliana Korver. So who is the best?

It’s Juliana Korver for the moment. Paige Pierce has a chance to pass her in world titles but winning percentage will be tough to match. Juliana Korver has a 69% win rate in tournaments she competes in. That’s pure INSANITY!

Korver has competed in and won 230 out of 336 events. And she just finished 6 strokes behind Paige Pierce at the Masters Cup. I couldn’t find her exact birthday but I believe she’s 50. Paige just joined the 30 club. Korver competed in DGPT events this year and managed to cash with a 22nd place finish at Worlds. Ahead of women half her age.

Check Elaine King’s career winning percentage (54%), then remember that she’s still competing in FPO and cashing (She won an FPO event in June 2021). More often than not if Elaine King was in an event she was going to win it. Compare that to Des Reading (51%), Catrina Allen (51%), Paige Pierce (47%), and Valarie Jenkins (37%). These women dominated for a very long time. But I think Korver is still the gold standard.
Juliana won her first worlds in 1998, the very tournament they started keeping track of ratings. While Paige is rated 981 at the moment, Korver was rated in the high 960’s for a long time.
If you want to hear pure dominance here’s 1998-2001 for Juliana Korver.

  • She won 32 Tournaments in a row!
  • She also won 31 Tournaments in a row in a separate streak!
  • She played 113 events in 4 years, she won 106 of them. Never finishing worse than 3rd. Over half of these were A-Tiers.
  • She tied Nate Doss in the 2001 EURGC finishing 50th and walked away with cash. I believe as the only woman to cash so far in the EURGC.
  • She won each of the 1998-2001 worlds to get 4 in a row.

So I don’t think there’s much room for discussion right now about who the GOAT is for women. When Paige Pierce’s career is done with, she may have a few more world titles, USWDGC titles, and possibly even a cash in at the EURGC where she has earned entry twice and finished 30 and 40 strokes out of cash.

Right now the players we have in the game are amazing. They’re able to tour full time, throwing further than ever, and shooting incredibly low scores. But for the moment I think that our past champions still reign supreme as GOATS.

May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397

Streeter (PGDA #70397 )

He started disc golfing in 2011 and instantly fell in love with the flight of a disc. He has a degree in Sports Management from the university of Southern Maine and has been blogging for SDG since 2020, He writes about informational disc golf content editorials, and disc golf entertainment.

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1 comment

Hello Streeter. I think to be fair in any sport when comparing GOAT’s of the past to modern day players, you have to account for the level of competiveness around them. Different rules, courses, discs. With Paul Mcbeth’s dominance and consistency over fields that are more dense than ever (Simon Lizotte, Eagle Mcmahon, Ricky Wysocki, James Conrad, Kyle Klein, and others), I feel it could be argued that is harder to win now. It would be interesting to compare the median PDGA rstings of players yesterday with that of today. Say the top 25 players and I think that will give you an accurate answer of who the GOAT is, as comparing generational talent is never 100% accurate. Thanks for the article, great read with neat information!

Lance Thomas

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