AUGUSTA — Disc golf players from all over Maine arrived at Porcupine Ridge to play in the Pro Disc Golf Association Open hosted by the course. Some drove a few hours to play. Tyler Grady drove a few minutes. Tucked in the northeast corner of Augusta, Porcupine Ridge is just down the road from Grady’s Vassalboro home.

Just 20 years old, Grady is among the top disc golfers in the state. On Sunday, Grady won the Porcupine Ridge Open with a 10-under par 133. After shooting 108 in the first two 18 hole rounds, Grady shot a 25 in the nine hole final to win the title and the $800 first-place prize money. Last year, Grady finished second in the tournament.

This year has been Grady’s best since he started playing professional tournaments in 2013. Sunday’s win was Grady’s second in PDGA events this season, and his fourth top 10 finish in six PDGA tournaments played this season. Grady’s other win this year came in the Dragan Disc Golf Classic on June 6 in Auburn, his second consecutive win in the event. In September, he placed fourth in the Green Mountain Championship at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont, a three-day tournament in which 82 players competed in Grady’s open division.

Disc golf is played on a course like traditional golf. Instead of a hole, the target is a basket. Each player carries a variety of discs, and plays a different one depending on the situation. Driver discs have a sharper, beveled edge and the mass is concentrated on the outer edge of the disc. Putter discs are a little heavier and designed to fly straighter over short distances. Grady said he carries around 20 discs in his bag.

Grady discovered disc golf when he was 15 years old, when a course opened near his then-home in Whitefield.

“A course opened up right down the road from me, and he offered me free golf if I mowed his fairways,” Grady said. “He gave me a job, and I started playing. I played every day, got good at it, and realized I could make money.”

A couple years later, Grady heard about professional tournaments, did some online research, and began entering them. In 2013, Grady played in his first PDGA event, the Heroes Huk in Bowdoinham. He placed third. In 2014, Grady’s first career victory came at the Dragan Disc Golf Classic, when he shot 121 to defeat Cooper Legee of Turner by one stroke.

There’s some money in these pro tournaments, but not much. According to his PDGA bio, Sunday’s victory pushed Grady’s career winnings to just over $5,100. His day job is odd jobs, Grady said, mostly painting.

“I decide my own hours. I’m usually done by two, and I can go play golf,” Grady said.

Grady fell in love with the sport for the same reason many players love traditional golf.

“It’s hitting that perfect shot. Seeing it go in the basket every time. Those long shots that make everybody amazed,” Grady said.

In Sunday’s second round, Grady made a few impressive shots. After his initial shot on hole two found the woods to the right of the fairway, Grady recovered with a high arcing shot that sailed right, then cut back left, leaving him in position for a makable putt.

“That one was really tough. I caught back up in there. I knew what the disc was going to do, though. It was going to turn over in the wind and the wind was going to hold it,” Grady said.

On hole three, Grady found himself in the woods to the right of the fairway again. This time, he fired a hard, line drive shot that found the basket for birdie.

“That’s the old Tyler Grady. That’s what I expected,” said Jason Dore, last year’s Porcupine Ridge Open winner who played in Grady’s group (along with Legee and Chris Olsen) in Sunday’s second round.

On hole 18, Grady made a long 50 foot throw for birdie, to finish his round at 54.

“Those (shots) are what you want to make,” Grady said.

While waiting for the final round to begin, Grady didn’t hesitate when asked how long he’d like to pursue professional disc golf.

“As long as I can,” he said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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