The State Of Disc Golf: Growth

The State of Disc Golf 2014—Who Are You?

This is the Part 1 a seven part series which delves into the 1,422 responses from the survey The State of Disc Golf: 2014. This series will focus on the current state of disc golf and this first article covers “Who are today’s disc golfers?”.

In this first article, we hope to shed light on the question, “Who are you?” The first few questions of our survey asked a little bit about you specifically as a disc golfer. We asked: How long have you been a disc golfer, which state do you live in, and how often do you play disc golf?

We acknowledge that the results here are a reflection of the disc golf community who is in some way, shape, or form, is involved with disc golf online. We recognize that it would be inaccurate for us to claim that this survey is a proper reflection of the entire disc golf community as a whole. While 1,422 responses in a week is fantastic (thank you everybody who took 15 minutes to respond!), we must remember that there are many more disc golfers out there. Now without further explanation, enjoy the results.

Where are todays disc golfers?

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The first question asked was “Which state do you live in?” All fifty states in the USA were represented, as well as a strong showing from Canada and outside of North America. California is dominant with 120 responses. Does this make California the top state for disc golf? Maybe.

The image to the right is color coded according to where most respondents are from, as well as the number of respondents from their respective states.

Our breakdown is this: the disc golf mecca of the world is still the great lakes area. With a strong and active disc golf community and more courses per capita than anywhere else – if you’re in love with disc golf, move there. California and Texas have sheer numbers of people and many courses to help numbers out. Areas such as Kansas and Utah show a disc golf scene which is starting to become fierce. Disc golf isn’t migrating into these areas, it’s just beginning to boom.

How long have you been a disc golfer?

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Your responses to this question were not nearly as varied. Over half of those surveyed have been playing disc golf for only three years or less and 87% have been play for less than ten years. This is solid evidence to the claim that disc golf is the fastest growing sport in the world. Players in the sport are new to it, and those who have played for a long time are still going strong and loving it. Given more time, and the current rate of growth, expect to see higher level competition become more lucrative, professional, and exciting.

A decent portion also responded as being in the 6-10 years of being a disc golfer category – this is where you will likely find many of today’s disc golf leaders. Those who have been playing for 6-10 years received 190 (15%) responses. Only 13% of disc golfers have been playing for 11 years or more.

How Often Do You Play Disc golf

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Those surveyed not only are aware of disc golf online, but they’re also active on the course. When respondents took into account the seasons and responded how frequently they play, you can see why courses throughout the country have trails beat in them near each tee pad.

Most players hit the course at least two times a week, where a large core of players are out playing four times, five times… every day. Those who said they play “rarely” were only a blip on the radar; 4 people of the 1,422 respondents said rarely. Clearly, once a player catches the disc golf bug it stays and it’s contagious.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, disc golf is growing. The floodgates are opening for the sport, and new players are coming out in droves. Where areas like Michigan and California were the primary centers for disc golf, you can now find a stronger and more organized presence of disc golf in nearly every state. A majority of players have been enjoying the sport for a short time – as these players continue to gain experience, watch the level of competition become more and more competitive, year after year. Results in coming surveys will reveal club participation and how disc golf is becoming more organized.

We encourage you to share this information
Yes, the data is interesting; but it’s also useful. Feel free to use these results when approaching parks & rec about implementing and better utilizing disc golf in your community. These results clearly show that disc golf is exploding. We are headquartered in Utah where these results have already been shared with city officials to get additional courses approved. Explain to your local decision makers that disc golf provides an opportunity for people to get outside and active, and that it’s a sport that so many people can and will enjoy!

What will change in 2015’s results?
Next year when this survey is administered we will ask additional questions, such as gender and age. Feel free to write in the comments below any of your thoughts, and/or what you would like to see asked in next years survey, relevant to “Who is today’s disc golfer?”

The next article in this series will be published on February 4, and will cover Disc Golf Memberships.

Author: Kirk

I love disc golf and I'm part owner at Infinite Discs. Recorded my first ace ever this year! I want the sport to grow because I love the competition and professionalism that comes with it. I write blog posts on touchy disc golf topics because the conversation is fun!

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25 Comments

  1. Thanks Kirk for this write-up and a little research on disc golf. I know there are still a lot to come in this series. Statistically, above 1400 responses in a week is a large observation. I would love to run some tests on your data. I would suggest that take a little time and produce as much result as you can.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Umesh,

      We certainly have plans to delve deeply into the data. I’m going to be publishing next weeks article, but for the article after that we have somebody who is taking a couple weeks to look at these things.

      After publishing this article we also realize many things that could have been improved – so we’re already looking forward to 2015! For now, there’s a lot to look forward to!

      Once this is all done, we plan to make all of the data fully available. Possibly even in Excel format, so anybody can analyze the data in many many ways. We just ask that when people publish their own findings, they refer back to the survey that we ran. We also noted that you request the PDGA fund some of the research – the only way we would like to be funded is by moving more discs to the general public. We think the awareness this will generate will help in doing so.

      Thanks again for your feedback and compliments!
      – Kirk

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks & great article! I’m biased, but surprised Iowa didn’t show more responses, or have any comments from you. Our state has 3 major metro areas with well established clubs running the show.

      I think it would be interesting to reach out to the various disc golf clubs around the country to quiz them, and correlate their results with a nationwide “user poll”…

      Post a Reply
      • Great suggestion. We’ll try and segregate things and get more participation by different regions next year.

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    • This article says that there is 15 dg courses in the state of Maine. This number is inaccurate. We have a point series in Miane called the MPT. It runs from April through late September. 15 to 20 venues participate on the tour and some of these places have multiple courses. The number is closer to 30 if not more.
      Boom Field-Saco
      Woodland Valley-Limerick x3 courses
      Bennet Disc Farm-Gorham
      Pleasant Hill-Scarborough
      Bittersweet Ridge-North Yarmouth x2 courses
      Highland Campbell-Auburn
      Dragon Field-Auburn
      Enman Field- Brunswick x2 courses
      Ackers Acres-Richmond x2 courses
      Cranberry Valley-Turner
      Stevens Mountain View-Turner
      Quaker Hill-Fairfield
      Skyriders-Fairfield
      DnD-Sydney
      Burnsboro-Vasselboro
      Porcipine Ridge-Vasselboro x2 courses
      Quarry Run-Augusta x2 courses
      CR Farms-Augusta
      Troll Valley-Farmington
      Secoast Fun Park-Windham
      DnR-Orrington x2 courses
      Riverside-Caribou
      Creative Recreations-West Paris
      Lavallee Links-Randolph
      Basket Case Links-Edgecomb
      Enfield Station-Enfield
      SDC-Sabbatus x2 courses
      I just listed 36 different 18 hole courses off the top of my head. There are also a few 9 hole pitch and putt outdoor courses and an indoor facility. Needless to say the sport has exploded in this state over the past 5-10 years!! BOOOOOOM!!!

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks for listing the courses in Maine Jim. The numbers you see in each state reflect the number of people that filled out our survey, not the number of disc golf courses. We look forward to having more respondents from Maine next year!

        Post a Reply
    • This is good stuff. At first, I also thought the data reflected # of courses and I was prepared to defend AZ and our many courses! Good work on the data!

      Post a Reply
  2. Happy to share this good news with everyone, not just disc golfers. Keep up the good works as so shall we ha Signed, A Proud Northern Michigan Disc Golfer!

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  3. This is data everyone can use. I live in Coalinga Ca. We are going from a 9 to 18 holes. We are putting in tee pads and new signs on holes. Our Parks and Rec Dept. saw how the sport was growing and has been very helpful to our club. We’ve grown from 5 to over 20 players in less than a year. Hopefully more this year. We use the Park more than any other group. Data like this show the are backing a growing sport. It well draw players to our course and city. Thanks for doing the work that show we are growing,

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  4. Very nice figures and summary of the take home messages. It’s a good idea to promote the results as marketing material , though the number of respondents is rather low compared to the number of active players. Consider sharing the survey more broadly next time.

    Nicely done!

    A few more questions for next time that might help the marketing angle:

    Style of play – forehand, backhand, roller, tomahawk, thumbed, scooby, grenade

    Number of aces

    Number of aces in tournament

    Number of discs in bag

    Type of discs in bag

    How often do you play in tournaments

    How often do you travel for tournaments

    How often do you play in a weekly league

    Do disc gilders make up your primary friend group

    How many of your children play

    How often do you drink when you play

    How often do you smoke weed when you play

    How often do you smoke cigarettes when you play

    How often do you volunteer to improve your course

    How often do you volunteer to help tournaments

    How often do you take disc golf vacations, ie travel to play

    How much money do you spend on disc golf each year

    Do you carry a professional disc golf bag, cart or backpack

    Do you pay to play

    How much do you typically pay to play

    At most, how much would you pay to play per round at a disc golf resort or private course

    Are you a member of the pdga

    In what range does your pdga number fall I.e 5000-10000, 10000-15000, etc

    What is your zip code

    Is disc golf your primary form of exercise

    Post a Reply
    • Hello Owen!

      Thank you for your feedback! This is the first part of the series. Some of the questions you mentioned will be covered in the upcoming parts of this series. Of course, others were not. We’ll be sure to add some of those questions into our 2015 survey! Thanks for the feedback!!

      Post a Reply
    • Excellent additional questions. I did not see the question of what other hobbies they do outside of disc golf and what are their day jobs.

      Post a Reply
  5. Wow, combining two things I love. Stats and Discgolf. Great article. Keep it up. I am from Lockport, Il, Southwest of Chicago. Last year I went to our local Park District and simply asked them if discgolf was something they would be interested in. A few meetings later, they were in love with the idea. We have gone through many changes as far as the course, but have locked in a really great concept that will be breaking ground this spring. More discgolfers need to start realizing the potential of simple suggestion. It literally started as an idea I had one day, now my local Park District is willing to put up $30,000 for my idea of a course. 18 holes with concrete tee pads. We will be the first in Illinois to have the new DGA Mach X baskets.
    As players we need to get out there and start educating people that are not familiar with our sport.

    Post a Reply
  6. It’s great that you’re collecting and sifting through this sort of info, and I salute your passion. That said, gonna have to strongly disagree with your statement that:

    “Over half of those surveyed have been playing disc golf for only three years or less and 87% have been play for less than ten years. This is solid evidence to the claim that disc golf is the fastest growing sport in the world.”

    Oh my, no.

    Putting out a call for your readers to take a survey and jumping to the conclusion that disc golf is the fastest growing sport in the world from the data received has no basis in reality whatsoever. I won’t go all statistician on you, but your claim sir is rubbish.

    Perhaps to be more accurate, you might begin by titling your series “The State of Readers of the Infinite Discs Blog,” as that is where your sample begins and your conclusions should end. Extrapolating your findings into the greater disc golfing population (of which your sample represents much less than 0.001%) should be given much more care unless you simply wish to be a tabloid spouting whatever nonsense will bring you new readers.

    Post a Reply
    • Hello Statz,

      You’re very smart, and that’s awesome. However, this blog did not exist prior to the survey being taken, therefore it was impossible to title this series “The State of Readers of the Infinite Discs Blog.”

      Instead, the survey was published through a variety of channels, including Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, DGCourseReview.com, and others. After our initial publication many individuals took to sharing it via whatever means they saw fit. This survey certainly had an element of “viral” to it.

      That’s why we referred this as a collection of results from the active online disc golf community. We recognize any inherent flaws by being able to question only those already active with disc golf online, but also acknowledged them in the article. Any other means of survey would have been more costly. Given the resources, this was very effective.

      Also, without knowing exactly how many disc golfers there are in America – let’s say, 1,000,000. With 1,442 responses, that gives us a margin of error of roughly 2.5%. Not bad, although I will encourage readers to take into account this margin of error.

      Next year we hope to get 9,513 responses to give ourselves a margin of error of +/- 1%. And again, this blog will not be the primary source of gathering results – it will be the entire online disc golf community.

      Post a Reply
      • Next time you are stat gathering please let me know. I’d be more than happy to share your poll on the PDGA social sites.

        Post a Reply
    • Thanks for your concern Statz,

      I think you might have has jumped to conclusions in your response.

      We never claimed that disc golf is the fastest growing sport in the world. To claim that, we’d have to know the rate of growth of other sports. That was not a point we were trying to make. We are simply saying that this data may be useful to help support this claim that has been made by others. This huge percentage of new disc golfers clearly shows that disc golf is growing very quickly.

      In addition, this data is not from readers of the Infinite Discs Blog (this blog is actually brand new and didn’t even exist one week ago). Data here was compiled by users from the Reddit Disc Golf Group, DG Course Review, the Google Plus Disc Golf Community, DiscGolfersRUs, Talk Disc Golf, our database of Infinite Discs Customers, Infintie Discs Facebook Fans, and several other disc golf Facebook groups throughout the country.

      While our sample does not fully represent disc golfers as a whole, it is, like we stated at the beginning of the article, “a reflection of the disc golf community who is in some way, shape, or form, is involved with disc golf online.”

      If there are 10 Million disc golfers in the United States who are “involved online,” our survey would have only needed a sample size of about 385 to provide a 95% accurate reflection. We far exceeded that with more than 1400 respondents.

      Post a Reply
      • If there are 10 Million disc golfers in the United States who are “involved online,” our survey would have only needed a sample size of about 385 to provide a 95% accurate reflection. We far exceeded that with more than 1400 respondents.

        Be careful. This is only true if those were randomly selected respondents. Since you have self selected respondents (those willing to fill out a long survey on disc golf) there may be a lot of hidden biases in the sample.

        Post a Reply
        • Absolutely. This survey is by no means a random sample, but a voluntary one that includes only those online disc golfers who were willing to take the survey. The purpose is to give us some ‘fun’ data about the current state of disc golf. The reality is that the number of disc golfers willing to take a voluntary online survey is substantially less than 10 Million.

          If somebody wants to invest the time and money to randomly visit disc golf courses throughout the country to survey disc golfers, we are happy to to publish results of their findings.

          Post a Reply
  7. A survey I conducted in 2010, which had a few more respondents but was in the same range, yielded an average of ~160 rounds played, per player per year. That both surveys yielded similar results lends credibility to the estimate.

    This is memory, I haven’t dug it out, but I believe the average respondent also had ~130 discs. I thew out the ones claiming to have 10,000 or more, but later met some of them!

    Post a Reply
  8. Just to be clear your first section “Where are todays disc golfers?” you come to the conclusion that “the disc golf mecca of the world is still the great lakes area” without providing any evidence for that.

    Your map of the survey is nothing more then an incident rate. That through biased methods of collecting survey’s XX number of people from these states responded to this survey. For example the 81 people that responded in Michigan is pretty damn good when compared to California considering that California is 4x larger in gross population then Michigan. However the incident rate on such a small figure could easily be skewed due to something as simple as a couple friends sharing the survey in Michigan. So please if you are to declare a place “THE DISC GOLF MECCA OF THE WORLD” please actually provide evidence to support the claim.

    Post a Reply
  9. Unbroken Chains…Charlotte,VT
    18 holes. 2 ponds…water hazards…
    Come and play!!

    Post a Reply
  10. Loved this article! good to see Michigan getting the respect it deserves. We here in the mitten know that disc golf is a year round sport even in the damn polar vortex or whatever they are calling it.
    Definitely wanna give a shout out to Up In The Air Disc Golf based out of Waterford, MI, for bringing a disc golf course to the historic abandoned ball golf course on Belle Isle in Detroit, MI. Making it the only fully playable course within Detroit city limits. Hopefully we can one day bring the course back to its true glory with manicured fairways, putting greens, and the amazing view of downtown Detroit in the background. I personally think it would rival Flip City as being one of the best courses in Michigan.
    But overall, great article I am so happy to see this sport growing so rapidly around the country, and not just up here in Michigan.
    All the best to you boys at Infinite Discs, always my first stop when shopping for plastic!

    Post a Reply
  11. From my point of view You did a great job and the data collected is a much help for me as a sports promoter in a 40.000.000 people country that has no places to play disc golf and I will definitely show this survey to cities, parks, media and sponsors as there are almost no other facts and researches except from PDGA website.

    From this perspective You would be very lucky to read such articles and have no questions about it, whether it is 100% or 50% accurate. It shows a trend, it helps to reach the people that can be interested in joining the disc golf players society, what’s important for the players and probably much more.

    To sum up – except from saying “I have got an idea! Let’s build a disc golf course! It is fun – I will show You some You Tube films” I can now say: “Hey, there is a survey!”

    Appreciate that!

    Artur, Warsaw – Poland (EU)

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