The 10 Best Female Disc Golf Pros Of All Time

Denis Flaschner, (Pro) | PDGA #49081

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Sarah Hokum, one of the best female disc golf pros of all time

In 2023 we can look forward to watching the deepest and most talented field in the history of the Female Pro Open (FPO) division. With sponsor contracts and tournament payouts rising, more women than ever have the opportunity to tour full-time and maximize their athletic potential. 

But it was a long ride getting to this point. Disc golf has always been a niche sport, and the FPO division is an even smaller niche within a niche. For decades, almost no women could make disc golf a sustainable career, and even the best of the best had trouble making a living throwing discs. 

Instead of money and prizes, past champions were fueled by competitive drive and a love for the game. They had to make a lot of sacrifices to get the FPO division where it is now. This article takes a closer look at some of these legendary players. 

Elaine King

  • 5-time World Champion (1991-4, 1997)
  • 7 Major Championships
  • 309 career wins (53% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 956 (February 2009)
  • 4-time PDGA Player of the Year

Elaine King is the winningest female in disc golf history and a true trailblazer. In June of 2021, she became the first player in any division to eclipse 300 career wins (Brian Schweberger now holds the record with 351). On the biggest stage, King didn’t just win. She dominated, winning five World Championships by an average of 15 strokes each. 

From 1990-2000, she finished in the top 2 at Worlds every year but in ’95 (she did not play) and ’96 (4th). King also holds three World Championships in the Master’s division, most recently in 2019, when she captured the FP40 title in her late 50s. She has held multiple positions in the PDGA and now does live commentary for the Disc Golf Network.

There isn’t a lot of footage of King in her prime, but to get an idea of her throwing prowess, watch this classic video of her drawing metal on this massive 850-foot downhill shot:

Julianna Korver

  • 5-time World Champion (1998-2001, 2003)
  • 6 Major Championships
  • 237 career wins (65% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 968 (May 2002)
  • 5-time PDGA Player of the Year

While King owned the 90s, a new champion emerged at the turn of the century. Juliana Korver won the 1998 World Championships by 13 strokes, kicking off a run of dominance that is unmatched in disc golf history. From May 1998 through February 2002, Korver played in 119 FPO events and won a mind-boggling 114. What happened in the other five? She got second place. 

To get a sense of how good she was during this stretch, look no further than a 37th-place finish at the United States Disc Golf Championships in 2000. As the only woman in the field, Korver finished ahead of future MPO World Champions David Feldberg and Avery Jenkins. This remains the highest finish for any female at the USDGC. In 2001, she returned to the event and finished 50th, becoming the only female to finish above the cash line. 

After spending over a decade away from the game, Korver returned to touring life in 2021. Now 50 years old, she secured several top-ten finishes, eventually winning the Disc Golf Pro Tour “Rookie of the Year” award. She simultaneously won PDGA’s “Senior Player of the Year” award, an ironic combination of hardware that is unlikely ever to be replicated. 

Des Reading

  • 3-time World Champion (2002, 2005-6)
  • 7 Major Championships
  • 205 career wins (48% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 967 (April 2007)
  • 4-time PDGA Player of the Year
Des Reading
Photo of Des Reading and her dad via Instagram.

After Korver’s time at the top, she passed the torch to Des Reading. From 2002-10, she finished no worse than 2nd at Worlds. The pinnacle of her career was a dominant two-year stretch from 2006-07 when she won 15 of 16 National Tour events (NTs were precursors to the modern DGPT “Elite Series”). 

A former college softball pitcher at the University of Northern Iowa, Reading combined her elite athleticism with a focused work ethic and competitive fire. She has continued to tour and compete for over 20 years and became a member of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame in 2017. 

But her contributions to the game didn’t end on the course. In 2002 she co-founded Educational Disc Golf Experience (EDGE), a non-profit that provides schools and youth programs with tools to introduce disc golf to the next generation of players. 

Valarie Jenkins 

  • 4-time World Champion (2007-09, 2016)
  • 16 Major Championships
  • 120 career wins (38% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 976 (October 2012)
  • 5-time PDGA Player of the Year

Before she was a commentator on the Disc Golf Network, Valarie Jenkins put together one of the best careers in FPO history. She is the only woman to win five consecutive PDGA Player of the Year awards (2007-11), and her 16 Major Championships are second all-time to Paige Pierce. In her prime, Jenkins had it all: elite power, finesse, and competitiveness. 

Her career bridges a gap in eras. In 2007 she had to beat Reading and King to win her first World Championship. A decade later, she earned her fourth title by fending off the new generation of Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen, and Sarah Hokom. 

Jenkins grew up in a disc golf family, as her mother Sharon won multiple Master’s events in the ’90s, and her brother Avery won the 2009 MPO World Championship. She married 3-time MPO World Champion Nate Doss, uniting the two houses and creating a true disc golf dynasty. When these folks get together for Thanksgiving, there are a lot of World Championships at the table.

Paige Pierce

  • 5-time World Champion (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)
  • 17 Major Championships
  • 150 career wins (45% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 996 (March 2021)
  • 6-time PDGA Player of the Year
Paige Pierce about to throw her approach shot during a professional women's disc golf tournament

Paige Pierce has used an aggressive, pedal-to-the-metal playstyle to become the most decorated female disc golf pro of all time. A disc golfer since childhood, she has honed her backhand into a powerful, accurate, and consistent weapon. Pierce’s lithe and graceful throwing style is a textbook example of getting the most out of a small frame. 

While her longtime rival Catrina Allen has more career wins, Pierce consistently comes out on top at the biggest events. She ties King and Korver for most World Championships, and her 17 Major victories are second to none. Her famous competitive fire earned her the fitting moniker “Fierce.” 

After a final hole meltdown at 2021 Worlds and a 5th place finish in ’22, some wonder if Pierce is past her prime. While the competition in the FPO field has started to heat up, she still won the PDGA points title last season and remained the second-best player in the world. 

If she can find a way to take down the title this year in Vermont, there will be little doubt that Pierce is the greatest female player of all time. By most measures, she already is. 

Fun fact: Paige’s signature Discraft disc is the Fierce, which she is famous for putting with. Her most-used distance drivers are the Scorch and Hades.

Catrina Allen

  • 2-time World Champion (2014, 2021)
  • 7 Major Championships
  • 179 career wins (46.5% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 977 (November 2019)
  • 6-time PDGA Player of the Year

Catrina Allen is one of the best pure throwers in FPO history. Her short and compact walk-up, signature pre-throw elbow pump, and perfectly balanced follow-through give Allen incredible consistency off the tee pad. She has used her steady, accurate, and powerful backhand to carve out a remarkable career. 

Despite Allen’s throwing prowess, the short game has long been her Achille’s heel. She improved her putting recently, but if not for many regrettable misses in the ’10s, we might consider Allen the best player of her generation. As it stands, she easily makes the top ten.

One more thing to tack on to Allen’s impressive resume: she has the greatest single shot in the history of FPO. 

Going into the final hole of the 2021 World Championships, Allen trailed her rival Pierce by one stoke. With her back against the wall, Allen uncorked a towering backhand turnover over a tight out-of-bounds line. It barely hung on to the back end of a protected green, putting her in a position to win her second title. 

Kristin Tattar

  • 2022 World Champion
  • 2 Major Championships
  • 78 career wins (56% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 988 (October 2022)

By any measure, the 2022 FPO field was deeper and more talented than ever before. Despite the high level of competition, Kristin Tattar dominated. In her first full season touring in the United States, she finished no worse than third in any Elite Series event, won Worlds, and capped off the year with a $35,000 payday at the DGPT Championships.

Like many top-level golfers, Tattar makes navigating the course look simple. She has a balanced all-around game, dual-wielding an equally accurate forehand and backhand off the tee en route to a 74.4% fairway hit rate (2nd in 2022). Once off the tee, she cashes in at an elite pace. She gets birdies 35% of the time (1st) and bogies only 13% of the time (2nd). 

Tattar just never seems out of position and makes very few mistakes. Through a three or four-round event, this clockwork consistency makes her very difficult to beat. Maintaining it for an entire season was simply incredible. If she can stretch it out for the rest of her career, she could be a legend. 

While she still needs to build a resume to compete for a top spot on this list, Tattar’s incredible 2022 season, and the promise of more wins in the future, make her deserving of a spot.

Birgitta Lagerholm

  • 2004 World Champion
  • 2 Major Championships
  • 4-time European Champion (2001, 2003, 2007-8)
  • 46 career wins (47% win rate)

Before Tattar’s title last season, Birgitta Lagerholm was famous for being the only non-American in MPO or FPO to win the World Championship. The Swede did so in Iowa in 2004 by fending off a field that included Reading, Korver, King, and a young Jenkins. Her other Major title came at the Scandanavian Open in 2010.  

She was a top-ranked player in Europe for an entire decade, and Lagerholm’s four European Championships are the most for any MPO or FPO player. An all-around athlete, she is also a champion Dragon Boat rower. 

Sarah Cunningham

  • 2010 World Champion
  • 2 Major Championships
  • 89 career wins (41% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 969 (August 2013)
Sarah Cunningham throwing a disc
Sarah Cunningham photo via PDGA Media

While she does not have eye-popping cumulative stats, Sarah Cunningham has one of the best peaks in FPO history. From August 2009 to September 2010, she won the Vibram Open (now the MVP Open) at Maple Hill twice, the 2009 United States Women’s Disc Golf Championships, and the 2010 World Championship. 

Very few players have been World and US Champions simultaneously, and she makes a strong argument for being the best female disc golfer in the world for 09-10. She had to beat four players on this list to win 2010 Worlds, including an in-her-prime Jenkins.

Cunningham only toured nationally for a few seasons and spent most of her best playing years balancing local tournaments in South Carolina with a few national events. Because of the low number of FPO players in her day, she played dozens of these local events in MPO, often finishing in the middle of the pack. 

Sarah Hokom 

  • 2012 World Champion
  • 3 Major Championships
  • 101 career wins (29% win rate)
  • Highest Player Rating: 975 (July 2020)
A photo of Sarah Hokum professional disc golfer walking down the fairway

Armed with the most unique forehand throwing form in disc golf, Sarah Hokom has built a fantastic career slingin’ sidearms of all shapes and sizes. While she has never been the unquestioned top player in the world, her longevity near the top is among the best in FPO history. Her World Championship and 3 Major titles put her in the top ten all time. 

Hokom’s peak came in 2012 when she beat Jenkins by a single stroke to win the World Championship. A consummate grinder, she is one of the all-time top money winners with $220k in career earnings. Fifteen years after she played her first professional round, she still holds the #8 position in the current PDGA World Rankings

So Who is the Best Female Disc Golfer Ever?

Based on peak performance, longevity, and accumulated accolades, we can immediately filter down to the big four: Elaine King, Juliana Korver, Valarie Jenkins, and Paige Pierce.

Comparing players across eras is difficult in any sport, but that is particularly true of the FPO division. Jenkins and Pierce have the most Major victories, but until 1998, the World Championship was the only event considered a Major. Through 2005 there were only a handful of opportunities for top players to boost their resumes on the highest stage. 

Drop King or Kover into the current touring landscape, and they might have 20+ Major victories. But it’s hard to imagine they maintain the same level of dominance in a more competitive field.

So many unanswerable questions come to mind. If disc golf was a more viable profession in the mid-2000s, does Korver stay in the game longer and win a few more World titles? Could Pierce, at the peak of her powers (996 rated in 2021), easily win every tournament in the shallower talent pool of the 90s and 00s? In 1997 King won Worlds by 25 strokes. Could she pull a similar feat today? 

It’s impossible to know. But it makes for a great thought experiment. In the end, you have to give Pierce the title of Best of All-Time, though it’s tough to argue against Korver’s career 65% win rate and her incredible run of absolute dominance at the turn of the century. 

Pierce may not have quite as good of a peak, but she has better longevity at the top and did it against stronger competition. She still has plenty of time to build on her legacy and cement her place as the best we’ve ever seen. 

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