In my last blog post I talked about the survey results regarding our opinions about tournaments. In this post I want to talk about how a desire to attend tournaments drove one disc golfer to take action to ensure he could compete, and ended up making local disc golf a little better.
Disc golf tournaments are fun and popular. But, as we discovered in the survey results, some of us have issues with certain aspects of tournaments, such as cost and how long they last. One of my friends, Steve, had some of those same issues with tournaments. He has several kids and runs his own business, and although he would love to attend lots of tournaments, time is big issue for him right now. So what did he do?
He did what everyone should do who isn’t happy with the status quo — he got to work and made the changes himself. He started the Pure Line Series, a tournament series with a simple theme: “One-day, one-round, inexpensive tournaments with 100 % payouts.” He arranged for different disc manufacturers to sponsor the tournaments, so at his tournaments the amateur division gets a different brand disc as a player’s pack. The series is held once a month at a different course each month. It caught on immediately when it started last year, and continues this year. They have been well attended. Not only can participants win cash (for the pro division) or Infinite Bucks (credit at Infinite Discs), they also get points toward the series championship that offers more prizes.
Steve is working with Infinite Discs to develop a program which models the Pure Line Series, to assist anyone interested in starting a similar series. The program will include online registration, tracking the series points, automatic amateur payout, and more. Details will be announced when the program is available for use in 2017.
The biggest lesson that we can learn from Steve is that one person can make a difference. How many times have we seen that in disc golf? One person decides to hold a tournament, or start a club, or teach some kids how to play, and the idea grows into something wonderful for our sport. Want to get a new course in your area? Get busy and make it happen. It doesn’t have to be a big idea. Organize a cleanup day for your local course. Make and hang up some signs or posters promoting disc golf. Keep some extra discs on hand to give to newbies who show up to the course with Frisbees or Ultimate discs.
One thing I’ve seen over and over in disc golf and life is that there are a lot of people willing to help out and support a good idea. They just need someone to take the lead and get the ball rolling. Be that person. Once you know there are people to back you up, it makes things a little easier for you. So, get out of your comfort zone, make your ideas a reality, and help grow the sport!
If you’re near the Utah Area on October 1st, check out the temporary venue for the Pure Line Championship… There are still spots available.
Several years ago I was online looking for some information about the county I live in and stumbled upon an announcement of a disc golf tournament scheduled at a local course. At that point I learned two things: first, there was a disc golf course in my county. And second, disc golfers had tournaments! Until then I had only played disc golf a few times a year, and had no idea there were competitions. I ended up playing in that tournament, and met people that I’m still friends with today. When a local club was formed a bit later, I gladly joined.
Since then, I’ve become addicted to disc golf and a big part of the attraction is the tournaments. I love the atmosphere, the competition, the camaraderie, and often times the travel. Judging by the survey results for the Infinite Discs’ poll, there are a lot of other people that love tournaments, too. And some that never play tournaments. In this blog post we will look at the survey results surrounding tournaments and some of the reasons we do or do not play them.
To play, or not to play a sanctioned tournament
Let’s start by talking about sanctioned tournaments. A tournament sanctioned by the PDGA is different than other tournaments. The rules are stricter, participants are required to be PDGA members or buy a temporary membership, they are usually longer (more holes and/or held for more days), and typically cost a bit more. Many of us like the added rules, making the atmosphere at a sanctioned tournament a bit more serious. The payouts are also usually better than at non-sanctioned events. As PDGA members, we also get the benefit (or sometimes the detriment) of getting a rating from sanctioned tournaments so that we can compare our skill level to other disc golfers.
Over half of the survey respondents played at least one sanctioned tournament last year (53%). Of the 1,850 who played in at least one, the largest group, 472 people, only played in one sanctioned tournament. The next largest group (347) played between 6-10, and the third largest played two sanctioned tournaments. A significant number of us (110) played in 16 or more tournaments. It would be interesting to know who in the survey played in the most sanctioned tournaments, and how many!
An unsanctioned tournament is more like a club tournament. Although most of the basic PDGA rules are followed, it is up to the tournament director (TD) to decide which rules will be enforced and which will be relaxed, such as marking a lie close to the basket. These tournaments usually have fewer rounds and are mostly single-day events. TD’s don’t have the same requirements as a sanctioned tournament, such as fees and added cash to the purse. Therefore, the unsanctioned tournaments usually don’t cost as much nor pay out as much.
Lower entry fees and no PDGA membership requirements may have contributed to a slightly higher number of people who played in unsanctioned vs. sanctioned tournaments. The survey results indicated that 2,083 people, or 60%, played in at least one unsanctioned tournament. Over half of that group played between 1-3 unsanctioned tournaments.
Get Some Sweet Swag
A fun and popular type of tournament is the specialty tournament, or sponsored tournament. I call them themed, because many of these tournaments have specific, unusual types of play. Disc golf manufacturers sponsor these tournaments and use them as a vehicle to let disc golfers try their product. Popular tournaments of this type include the Birdie Bash, Trilogy Challenge, and the Ace Race. Participants of sponsored tournaments get two or three new discs, plus a bunch of swag from the tournament sponsor, and only those discs may be used in the tournament. The format of the tournament varies, depending on the manufacturer. Some examples include:
–Ace Race, where the holes are typically shorter than usual, which is good because you only get one throw to make it in the basket! You get to record metal hits, which is when you hit the basket but it doesn’t go in, and aces. The person with the most aces wins, with metal hits used as a tie-breaker The Ace Race is sponsored by Discraft, and the disc mold is a new one that will be released later in the year.
–Vibram Birdie Bash, where a similar approach is found, but instead of one throw, you get two tries (on a par 3 hole) to make it in the basket. An ace (eagle) counts as five points, birdies counts as two, and a metal hit counts as one point. The person with the most points wins.
–Trilogy Challenge participants get a disc from all three Trilogy manufacturers, Westside, Dynamic Discs, and Latitude 64, and must only use those three discs. The discs consist of a driver, midrange, and putter. A regular tournament is held and the lowest score wins.
Sponsored tournaments are a great opportunity to try out new discs, get some swag, and play a tournament, all for about the cost of the discs. Winners get discs, bags, etc. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents played in a sponsored tournament last year. The most popular was the Discraft Ace Race, followed by the Trilogy Challenge.
What’s Your Excuse?
When I looked at survey results of all of the tournaments mentioned above (sanctioned, unsanctioned, and sponsored) I found that 29% of respondents (1,006) didn’t attend any tournaments last year. In my experience, the reasons people have for not attending tournaments usually fall into two camps: tournaments cost too much, or they take up too much time. The survey asked those two questions, and asked about tournament preferences, to see if we could find out what might be standing between us and signing up for a tournament. Let’s start with the aspects of a tournament that might prevent us from signing up.
In the survey we asked everyone to rate their level of agreement to the statement that tournaments are too expensive. We can assume that if respondents remained neutral, they didn’t agree with the statement and don’t consider expense to be an issue. Therefore, let’s look at those who agree or strongly agree with the idea that tournaments are too expensive.
When asked to agree or disagree with the statement that tournaments are too expensive, about 86.2% of us either remained neutral or disagreed with the statement. That is an interesting statistic, since the cost to enter tournaments varies significantly. Locally, I’ve seen tournaments range from $5 (for club events) to well over $100 to enter. The more costly the tournament, the better the players pack for amateurs and the better the payout for pros. I’ll talk more about payouts and costs later. With over 86% of us satisfied with the price of tournaments, that only leaves about 13.8% of us who agree that tournaments are too expensive.
Since most tournaments consist of several rounds of disc golf, with some over several days, we wanted to find out how many of us agree with the statement that tournaments take up too much time. Again, counting those who remained neutral as not having a problem with the amount of time, the results were similar to the previous question. Only about 14% of us agree that tournaments take up too much of our weekend.
How Long Will It Go On
Since 29% of respondents didn’t attend any tournaments last year, I would expect the number of people who either find tournaments too expensive or feel they take up too much time, to be closer in number to 29%. And that it pretty much what happened. Only about 3.1% of us felt that tournament were both too expensive AND took too much time, which leaves about 24% of us who have one or the other issue with tournaments. Which accounts for most of the 29% of us who didn’t attend any tournaments. HOWEVER, that is only adding up the numbers without looking at the sources of the numbers. When I looked at how many people thought tournaments are too expensive or take too much time, but still attended at least one tournament, I found that 12.4% of us fall into that category. We could make a couple of conclusions from that data. Either those respondents don’t like the cost or time commitment, but played anyway. Or, they played in tournaments that didn’t have expensive fees or last as long as bigger ones.
The survey also asked if we prefer single- or multi-day tournaments. Again, counting those who either responded neutrally or didn’t answer the question as not having a problem with how many days a tournament takes, the results are as follows. There were 16.4% of us that didn’t like single-day tournaments, and 21.7% of us who didn’t like multi-day tournaments. The largest number of respondents were those who remained neutral or didn’t answer the question. However, 31% of us do prefer single-day tournaments and 16% of us favor multi-day tournaments.
Out of all of the above survey results that surprised me the most was the one asking if tournaments are too expensive. I hear a lot of grumbling about the cost of playing in some tournaments, so I thought more people would agree with the statement. I would agree with the grumblers were it not for two important facts: I attend lots of tournaments, and so do many other people, because so many tournaments fill up year after year. Apparently, the market has spoken.
Taking Home Some Loot
Personally, it wouldn’t bother me if the amateur divisions (which is where I play) were a bit cheaper and didn’t have player’s packs. However, based on some of the survey results, I’m in the minority. Player’s packs typically consist of a tournament stamp disc, shirt, or other disc golf swag. Every amateur player gets a pack. And despite my feelings about them, player’s packs aren’t going away any time soon for a couple reasons. First, when tournament directors get disc manufacturers and other companies to sponsor a tournament, they can get products at a cheaper price. That allows TD’s to give out packs that are close to the dollar amount of the entry fee, while only spending a small amount of money on them. They can then take the difference in price and add it to the pro payouts. It’s a win-win because the amateurs get some swag, and the pros get a better payout.
The second reasons player’s packs are here to stay is because it’s fun to get one! Some tournaments are famous for their sweet player’s packs. There is something satisfying about taking home a bunch of stuff, regardless of how we performed. Did you win your division? Did you finish in the middle of the pack? Did you take last place? You get a player’s pack. Not only is there the psychological satisfaction of getting something for your money, there is the fun of throwing a tournament disc or wearing a tournament shirt for years to let people know that you were there. It’s also fun to see other people sporting swag from a tournament that you attended and bond with them.
One of the survey results I was most happy to see was how many people played in at least one tournament. As someone who enjoys getting together with folks who like disc golf as much as I do, it was nice to see that 71% of us played in at least one tournament. To me, that means most of us appreciate the sport enough to dedicate a little time and money for some competition. Often times we enter just to challenge ourselves. Hopefully we leave the event with a desire to continue to play and improve ourselves so the next time we compete, we see a little progress. And maybe pick up a win. Or at least have some fun and make good memories with our fellow disc golfers.
When I first heard about the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) I was excited to join. I had been playing for a few months and really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie with the club, so I figured that joining the sanctioning body of the sport would have the same benefits, only on a larger scale. The idea of a ranking system intrigued me, too. How cool would it be to compare my ranking to my buddies’, or the touring pros? Plus, I would save the $10 fee charged to non-members when I played in a sanctioned tournament. I did join the PDGA, and have kept my membership current ever since.
I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about the PDGA, pro and con, and have my own opinions that I will discuss later. I’ll also talk about a good, free alternative to the number one reason why people join the PDGA. But first, let’s look at the poll results.
Half Full, Half Empty
Let’s start by checking out our opinions on membership in the PDGA. We asked if you are currently, or have ever been, a member of the PDGA. Slightly less than half of us, 49.3%, are or have been members.
While that part was not surprising, based on what I see in the sport, the next question had some interesting results. Of the 50.7% of us who are not members, nearly half of those said they intended to join this year. If that amount of people really do end up joining, that is an encouraging sign for the future of the sport. We didn’t ask why people plan to join, but I suspect they are interested in playing tournaments and want the savings and the ratings that come with membership. That means a growing number of us are taking the sport seriously enough to get involved in competitions. As I’ve mentioned on previous blogs, I like that idea.
Something Old, Something New
It’s always fun to see how long people have been members of the PDGA. Members with less than five-digit PDGA numbers are way outnumbered by the rest of us. So, we asked people when they joined the PDGA. Over half of member respondents joined in the last two or so years (2014 to January 2016). The sport is growing! A little over 5% of us joined in 2000 or before.
We Love This, We Love This Not
We asked people who are members to rank the different benefits of belonging to the PDGA. Not surprisingly, most people ranked the personal PDGA number and rating as the top reason for joining. That’s what initially attracted me. The second most popular benefit was the lifetime statistics. It is fun to see our results and compare our ranking to other people’s rankings. Rounding out the top reasons for joining the PDGA was waiving the $10 fee for sanctioned tournaments. What was the least important reason we join? Getting a discount at motels and car rentals was the least popular reason, followed by the swag you get the first time you join, then the quarterly magazine.
No, Thank You
On the other end of the membership spectrum, we asked people who indicated that they were NOT going to join or who were unsure, what their reasons were. Only little more than half of those people responded to the question, with many people giving multiple reasons. Far and away the number one reason for not joining was being content not playing sanctioned tournaments. The exact language of the question read, “I’m content playing recreationally”, but I believe that would include league play and unsanctioned tournaments. Nearly 70% of respondents chose that as at least one of their reasons. Plus, many people who wrote responses in the ‘other’ box had similar feelings about formal competition. The next two most popular reasons for not joining were lack of any noticeable benefit, and the cost being too high.
Why I Belong
A sanctioning body for disc golf is necessary in order to have consistency in rules and formats among players, clubs, and tournaments, and to grow the sport. I want to support that organization and will likely always stay current with my dues. However, like many of you expressed, it seems that my decision to keep current comes down to economics: I know that I will play enough sanctioned tournaments that the $10 savings from being a member will pay for my annual dues. Were it not for that “benefit”, I doubt I would be interested in renewing my membership in the PDGA. Don’t get me wrong, I like the stats and the rating. I just don’t think it would be worth the annual fee.
It’s Free, It’s Good, And It’s Free
This would be a good time to mention the Infinite Discs rating system. It is a free player-rating system that keeps track of your scores and rates both your individual rounds, and your accumulated rating based on the ratings of other users who have played the same courses as you. After you’ve played a certain number of rounds, then your rating is used to rate other players. The more scores that are entered, the more accurate the rating. The player rating system is free to join, free to use, and can be calculated automatically by using the free Infinite Discs scorekeeping app (currently in beta testing).
Back to the PDGA. There are just a couple things I wouldn’t mind if the PDGA changed. First, I would like it if they could switch to digital magazines. Also, I wouldn’t mind if they stopped sending out yearly tags, ID cards, and whatever else we get on an annual basis. Perhaps these ideas might result in a slight reduction of annual dues. And finally, I would like to see a two-tiered membership option. Offer the regular membership, and one that is cheaper, but omits the $10 fee waiver at sanctioned tournaments. That way if people only play a couple sanctioned tournaments per year, they will still get their number and rating. Beyond that, I’m glad they will continue keeping track of people’s stats and ratings, and make sure the rules are as fair as possible. They won’t be able to please everyone, no matter what they do. But hopefully they will continue to offer an organization that strengthens and grows our sport.
In this blog we will continue to look at who is the average disc golfer. Married? Educated? Club member? Travel to play? It’s fun to look at the statistical average numbers and see how many of the categories we and our buddies belong to. In future blogs we’ll build on these and other statistics to examine certain aspects of our sport (such as, tournaments, attitudes about DG, etc.)
According to the survey results we are married, Intermediate disc golfers, have a Bachelor’s Degree, belong to a club but not the PDGA, are employed for wages, and play a lot of disc golf! Here is a breakdown of the data:
According to several sources, the marriage rate among all adults in the U.S. hovers around 50%, so these numbers show that we are close to the national average.
We’ve got skills
With majority of us self-identifying as Intermediate golfers, it’s important to point out that the requirements for divisions are not uniform across the sport. Locally, most people who sign up for a tournament play in higher divisions than at major tournaments. For example, if someone’s PDGA rating approaches 900, they usually play in the Advanced division, and as their rating climbs past 900, there is a good chance they’ll play in the Open (Pro) division. I see that happen a lot. Using the PDGA standard for ratings, the same person could play in Intermediate all the way up to a 935 rating.
This isn’t a commentary about which division people should sign up for with certain PDGA rating, it is just a possible explanation for the survey results. One other statistic that may shed light on the number of Intermediate players is the fact that less than half of us indicated that our PDGA membership is either current, or will be for 2016. That means more than half of us simply believe that our skill level is in the Intermediate range, without the benefit of having an official rating.
Degree or Not Degree
Keeping in mind that approximately 8% of us aren’t old enough to have finished college, our degree achievement numbers are slightly higher than the national average. For example, nationally (in the U.S.) 32% of the population over 25 has a Bachelor’s Degree. In the disc golf community, 36% of us have a Bachelor’s. (I deducted the approximate number of respondents who are under 25).
In Da Club
To me, one of the big benefits of playing disc golf is the social aspect of the sport. Being part of a club helps me realize those benefits. Apparently, most of us enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being part of a group, because well over half of us currently belong to a club. More of us belong to a club than belong to the PDGA. We’ll explore some of the reasons why people do, or do not, belong to the PDGA in another post.
Off to Work We Go
Things are looking good for disc golfers on the employment front. Only a tiny percent of us are looking for work. The rest of us are employed, retired, and either can’t or don’t need to work. Shout out to our military brothers and sisters who share our sport! Infinite Discs has shipped product the people overseas in the service. We’re glad to help keep you huckin’!
Where Do You Play?
A fun part of this sport is playing a variety of courses. Over half of us have between 1-3 courses within a 10-mile radius of our house. A small group of us have to travel more than 10 miles to get to the closest one. An even smaller group (171), but much luckier, has 10+ courses within 10 miles! However, I think this number might be slightly off. When I first looked at that survey result, I wanted to find out where these places are that have so many courses. I figured there would be a couple of locations in Michigan, Texas, and a few other states that were flush with places to play. After cross referencing the question with the location of the participant, I found that there are 25 states and one other country that allegedly have that wonderful disc golf density. I’m skeptical as to that number, too, since one of the states is Utah. I live in Utah and I know for a fact there aren’t ANY points that have 10 or more permanent courses within 10 miles. Perhaps people’s distance estimating skills are to blame?
I’d like to see people comment about specific locations that really have 10+ courses in a 10-mile radius. You don’t have to list the courses, just the location. Let’s see how many there really are.
Also, a little more than a fourth of us saw at least one new course installed within 10 miles.
Hittin’ the Road
Since nearly all of us (95%) live in places that have 9 or fewer courses within a 10-mile radius, it is apparent by our responses that we like to travel to play other courses. Over half of us played 10 or more different courses last year. The largest group was the 10-15 range, with nearly a third of us falling into that category. Happily, everyone who responded to the survey played at least one course last year!
One adventurous soul indicated he played 200+ courses last year. Curious and insanely jealous, I had to investigate this number to learn more about his other responses. The follow-up questions asked about how often we played during certain times of the year and his responses to these questions led me to believe the 200+ answer was a mistake. Or maybe a fantasy. Still, eight people indicated they played between 100-200 courses. Even if they are all on the low end of that scale, it sure sounds awesome!
For the next blog we’ll look at our responses to questions about tournaments.
For this blog post we want to continue to look at who we are, and comparing that with our favorite brands. Our goal is to see if there are certain segments among us that favor certain brands. Then we can see how those opinions change over time.
Where Do We Live?
It’s nice to have disc golfers from all over the world respond to the survey. While most of us live in the U.S., the percentage of us that live outside the country increased a tiny bit to 9%. With Major tournaments, some of the top players, and a few manufacturers in other countries, ours is truly a world sport. That is great news to the 78% of us who want the sport to become mainstream, but not so good for the 4% who don’t (18% have no preference). As the sport grows, it will mean more courses, clubs, tournaments, and products. Toward that end, we are encouraged by survey participation around the world. With that in mind, we will begin by looking at graphs from survey results that show where in the world we are from.
Gender Make Up
Past surveys have shown that a majority of us are male and around 30 years old. This year was no different. The percentage of female respondents fell slightly, with 4% of disc golfers filling out the survey being female, versus 6% last year.
In some areas of the country, such as college towns, the average age of disc golfers will vary slightly from the rest of the country. The club I belong to fits that description. However, when I look at the clubs outside of my immediate area, their member’s ages align better with survey results. According to the survey, the average age of all disc golfers falls in the 30-35 year range. Same with last year. Perhaps at that age people are more established in their careers and feel like they have more time to play disc golf. Most of the time families have been started by then and are either getting to an age where they can join a parent on the course, or are at least more independent, allowing the disc golfer more opportunity to play. Whatever the reason, that age group continues to lead the survey.
It will be interesting to see how that group ages and if they keep playing in large numbers. With cries of ’60 is the new 40’, maybe we will see current members of that age group continue to play, and older groups have the largest number of members. I hope so. I also hope the younger age groups balloon. It is great to see such talent coming from young golfers. Think about Eagle McMahon, or last year’s Amateur World Championships. Not only is it impressive to watch such talented young people, it will help our sport continue to grow.
As was mentioned in the opening paragraph, in addition to finding out more about who we are, another goal of this blog was to break down the demographics and find out what groups favored which brands. Our hope was that we could find some interesting data, such as finding certain groups (age, experience, geographic location) that favored certain brands. Let’s just say that the results were underwhelming. Not that I have a problem with nearly every state, region, age, gender, and experience level choosing Innova as their favorite brand. It just becomes so redundant to write about. So, let’s just look at the few locations that didn’t choose Innova as their favorite. (Or tied with them).
Arkansas 28 Dynamic Discs
Asia 12 Discraft
Australia/New Zealand 10 Discmania
Hawaii 5 Discraft/Innova
New Mexico 20 Discraft/Innova/MVP
Vermont 7 Innova/Westside
And there you have it. With less than half of all respondents choosing Innova as their favorite brand, we hoped there would be more groups that would favor another brand. While that aspect of the blog didn’t turn out like we thought, at least we can learn about us as a group along the way.
For the next blog we will continue to find out more about us, such as education, occupation, etc., and about our disc golf habits.
The results are in, and once again this series of blogs will examine the numbers, the changes, and the interesting aspects of our opinions about disc golf. We sincerely appreciate everyone who took the time to share a little bit about yourself so that we can get a better picture of the disc golf community.
We will begin by looking at the brands we like and the changes from the last survey.
With the certainty of Paul McBeth sinking a 10-meter putt, Innova dominated the category of ‘Favorite Brand’ again this year. Last year they not only led the category, they also had an increase in percentage of respondents from the previous year. This year’s survey showed a little different picture. The undisputed champion (pardon the pun) of the disc golf world slipped a little bit, dropping from 48% to 43%. But, that’s still higher than the 2013 survey (38%). The next few positions experienced a few changes, but not big numbers. Discraft dropped from second place at 12% last year, to fourth this year at just under 10%. Dynamic Discs gained some ground, going from fourth last year with 6%, to second this year at nearly 12%. In third place, Latitude held steady at 10%.
When taken as a whole, the three members of the Trilogy brand (Westside, Latitude 64, and Dynamic Discs) were the favorite of 26% of respondents.
It is interesting to note that nearly a third of us changed our favorite brand from last year. With that much change, there is potential for some big swings in numbers. Yet, other than Dynamic Discs’ 6% increase, none of the changes were drastic.
Just Can’t Wait!
Although it is interesting to explore our favorite brands, there are other statistics in the survey that give a clearer picture of which brands are important to us. For example, the question “From which brand do you most look forward to new releases” showed a lot more even distribution of votes across manufacturers. According to the survey, 22.5% of us look forward to new releases from Innova. They are still number one in this category, but that is nearly half the number of respondents that chose Innova as their favorite brand. The second-most anticipated release is from Dynamic Discs at 15.3%, and rounding out the top three is Latitude 64 with 11.9%. Incidentally, nearly 12% of us don’t really look forward to new releases.
Is Innova going to lead every poll category? Nope. For the question, “Which brand is the most innovative?” MVP edged out Innova for the lead spot, 23.2% to 22.6%. MVP gained in percentage about what Innova lost. The two companies have been trading positions for the last few years. The third and fourth positions were held by Dynamic Discs and Latitude 64.
Innova isn’t just dominating nearly every poll category, they are garnering respect from more than their die-hard fans. In the category asking which manufacturer has the best reputation, Innova took a huge lead over second place, getting 58.2% of the votes. The next closest was Dynamic at 12.9%. Perhaps people know how long Innova has been involved in the sport. Maybe it’s their sponsorship of so many events. Maybe it is the fact that they sponsor the four-time world champion, and other world-class disc golfers. It could even be their thorough selection of discs. This does not seem to be the type of category that would be inflated because of Innova’s wide and varied distribution channels. It just appears to be a nod to an old, established company. Whatever the reason, the number of respondents who voted for them far exceeds the number that chose Innova as their favorite brand. That’s pretty impressive.
Similar to last year, about 6% of us have only one brand in our bags. Most of us are happy to throw discs from a variety of manufacturers, but these loyalist only throw a single brand. Innova aficionados make up 54% of the single-brand supporters. Discraft devotees come in second at 14%, and Prodigy proponents come in third with 8%. The survey didn’t ask for how many of each brand people had in their bags, so there could be a good percent of us who could be close to having a one-brand bag. However, most disc golfers love to experiment with brands, discs, and plastics (or rubber!).
What are you throwin’?
Now it’s time to turn away from how we feel about certain brands and turn to one of the most interesting and telling indicators of what manufacturers we like: what discs are in our bag. As I mentioned before, indicating which brand is our favorite, or which disc company is most revered, does not paint a clear picture of what we huck. So, let’s take a peek inside the bags of the thousands of people who responded. Spoiler alert: Innova won this category, too.
It won’t come as a shock to anyone that most of us have at least one Innova disc in our bag. Again, they are one of the oldest manufacturers, host the widest selection of discs, can be found in a bigger variety of stores, etc. Over 83% of us are carrying around at least one Innova. That number is down ever so slightly from 86.8% last year. That is not a huge decrease, but it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the disc giant.
The second-most common disc manufacturer in our bags is Discraft, with 62.8% of us toting around the brand. Last year 69.2% of us carried Discraft, which is a lot bigger year-to-year drop than Innova. Whose discs are poaching the bag space from these two giants? The members of the Trilogy are. Latitude 64, Dynamic Discs, and Westside, in that order. Latitude 64 went from 42.3% last year, to 49.6% this year. Dynamic Discs experienced a bigger gain, shooting from 35.3% to this year’s 48.6%. Westside also experienced a large increase in fans, moving from seventh place at 26.1% last year, to fifth place at 36.5 in this year’s survey.
As we’ve seen in the past couple years of conducting the survey, the numbers among the top companies ebb and flow. The growth of the sport creates opportunities for smaller disc companies to stake out their position in the world, and try to create a few more chinks in the armor of the big boys. Newer golfers may be more willing to try different brands, perhaps even with an attitude of rebellion against the “establishment” of older companies. Although the market will prevent too many new competitors from emerging, several existing companies are making headway into what was formerly the domain of Innova and Discraft. Whether newer companies can overtake the top brands remains to be seen, there are a couple of factors that I assert will affect the chances of growth for smaller companies:
Becoming the discs that beginners start with. Most of us have a soft spot in our hearts for our first discs. I suspect they affected our buying habits for a long time. By actively introducing new players into the sport, manufacturers stand the chance of becoming their go-to brand.
Find the plastic/mold that becomes popular. Okay, it is a lot more difficult to find the next hot model than just releasing a bunch of new discs. But, by continuing to experiment with new materials and molds, the chances of hitting a popular disc goes up.
Sponsorship certainly helps keep their brand in people’s minds. Especially if you get lucky and sponsor a world champion.
It is fun and interesting to look at how we view the companies in the disc golf world. Although we can only speculate as to what is driving some of the numbers, it is still interesting to look at data from the survey and see what is the most current snapshot of our preferences in brands. In the next few blogs we’ll continue to look at who we are and what we like.
A practice basket is one of the best ways to keep your putting technique sharp. From time to time people ask which basket they should buy. In this blog post I will discuss four types of baskets and make recommendations for each one.
Let’s break baskets down into four different types:
The two things I ask before I recommend a basket to someone is how much they want to spend, and how the basket will be used. Specifically, how often will the basket be moved around, and will it be used for leagues or tournaments. Generally speaking, I would recommend the heavy-duty baskets for their quality and being the closest to duplicating the performance of a professional-level basket. If you are okay with the weight, bulk, and cost of the heavy baskets, that would be your best bet. However, if you will be transporting the basket a lot, you might not want to deal with the weight and bulk of the heavy-duty baskets. In that case, a light-duty or foldable basket will better suit your needs. Or, if you just want an inexpensive basket to practice with, you’ll be satisfied with the light-duty or foldable types.
Infinite Discs asked a group of us to test all of the baskets mentioned above. After hundreds of putts on each one, from a variety of distances, we compiled our numbers and our opinions based on those numbers. The information below represents our results and views of the baskets.
With that in mind, let’s examine the four types.
This type of basket collapses down and fits inside a bag for ease of transport. They are great for practicing at home, and easiest to take elsewhere. They are comparable in price to the light-duty baskets. The Innova SkillShot has a smaller target area and because of that almost falls into the category of the ‘Narrow Target’ basket type. However, it catches discs much better than the other Narrow Target baskets and for that reason deserves to be in this category. Testing the SkillShot resulted in the most misses, which is not surprising given the smaller target area. The Traveler slightly edged the Mach Lite success rate, but not by much.
Recommendation: The DGA Mach Lite is a quality basket that performs well, is easy to set up or down, and easy to transport. It is the most expensive of the three foldable baskets, but worth the extra money. If budget is more of a priority, you’ll be happy with one of the other two. If you can pay the little extra, it’s worth it for the performance of the Mach Lite.
You are most likely considering this type of basket if you want to fine tune your putting. These don’t catch discs as well (it’s not their purpose) so you won’t haul it to a league or tournament very often. I have a Bullseye and like to use it to practice. It’s nice to train your brain to hit smaller targets. Since it is a smaller target, you will miss a lot more putts than on a regular basket. For that reason, I like to go back to my regular baskets after a bit. Even though you know a lot of those missed putts on a narrow basket would be successful on a bigger one, it’s nice to see a successful putt. I like to say that Narrow Target baskets are better as a second basket.
Recommendation: Both of these baskets are built well and look good, but the Marksman costs quite a bit less. For that reason, I would recommend the Dynamic Discs Marksman.
These baskets are slimmed down versions of the heavy baskets. They have fewer chains, and are lighter and less expensive. They aren’t as easy to fold up and move as the foldable type basket, but are easier than the heavy-duty baskets. Fewer and lighter chains mean more spit outs and misses, but not a significant amount less. These baskets cost $50-90 less than the heavier baskets, making them a good choice if you are on a budget.
Recommendation: I would be happy to have any of these three in my backyard. While testing these baskets we had a slightly higher success rate with the Hive and Lite, but fewer spit outs with the Mach 14. Since it costs a little less, my recommendation is for the Discmania Lite. It’s the least expensive in its class, but performs similar to the other baskets.
The closest to the professional baskets found at the disc golf course, these baskets are great for practicing at home or for playing extra holes at a tournament. Testing this type of basket led to the highest success rate and the least amount of spit outs. They are made well, with the higher price tag to go with them.
Recommendation: Although it costs more than all of the other baskets, the Dynamic Discs Recruit is worth the extra money. It looks good, performs well, and even has a wheel to make moving it a little easier. While testing it, we all liked the feeling of confidence we got while putting on the Recruit. Its large target area and band around the top gave us a great psychological boost. The basket looks and feels like a professional basket, while costing significantly less. Like the light-duty baskets, all three models are good. So, if the Recruit is out of your budget, you can spend a little less with one of the other two and still get a good basket.
With Christmas just a couple weeks away, it’s a great time to think about the gifts for the disc golfer in your life. Whether it’s your sweet heart, a buddy, the guy who runs your club, or a blogger for Infinite Discs 🙂 , sometimes it’s tough to decide on the best gift to give to that special person. After all, disc golfers like specific discs and getting the right model, plastic, and weight for them can be a tough choice. Fear not! We’ve compiled a list of gifts that most disc golfers would enjoy and appreciate.
To the casual observer, the only thing a person would need to play disc golf is a few discs. However, to a disc golfer there are tons of additional items that make the game a little better.
– For example, how about a copy of the inFlight guide? If you’ve ever wondered the flight numbers for a certain disc, and how it compares to your favorite disc, the inFlight guide is for you. A handy reference full of universal flight ratings and flight charts, the guide will help you know the flight numbers for nearly every disc available.
– Do you know a disc golfer who plays in the rain or the sweltering heat? Chances are, they could use a Dirt Bag. The Dirt Bag helps disc golfer’s deal with moisture, humidity, and sweaty hands to achieve a better grip on their disc.
– Everybody needs a calendar. But, instead of pictures of puppies, cars, or beautiful models, why not get your disc golfer a disc golf calendar?! Featuring scenic shots from courses around the globe, the disc golf calendar is something every golfer would love.
– Disc golfers of any skill level would benefit from the advice given in the book, Zen and the Art of Disc Golf. This book gives practical advice for building a foundation for becoming a better disc golfer. It is a book BY a disc golfer, FOR disc golfers.
Bags: Okay, certainly every serious disc golfer already has a bag. But what about those days when they just want to carry a couple discs? Having a smaller bag around for those ‘putt and approach’ or tester rounds will make it easier to lug just a few discs around the course, along with some water or a snack. Is the special person in your life cramming all of their discs in an over-stuffed small bag? It might be a good time for them to move up to a backpack style bag. Plus, it gives them an excuse to get more discs to fill the new bag! One especially hot disc golf bag is the new Innova Heropack.
Stools (seats): If your disc golfer likes tournaments or plays in a league, chances are they would like to take a break while waiting at a tee box. A stool or seat is the perfect thing to allow golfers to take a break from the action and save precious energy for the game.
Misc: There are a variety of items that every disc golfer should have. A retriever, for example, has saved many a golfer from wading out into a pond or river to retrieve an errant disc. A good towel is invaluable for removing moisture due to rain, dew, or bodies of water. They also come in handy for cleaning mud from discs or for drying hands. If you really want to score points with the disc golfer in your life, give them a portable basket for Christmas! Every golfer wants to improve their putting, and a portable basket allows them to practice at home.
Discs: For the more adventurous gift giver, new release discs are a fun gift to give. Who doesn’t love to try the newest plastic or rubber to hit stores?
For an especially inexpensive gift, Innova also has the OrnaMini. A tiny disc that serves as both a Christmas Tree Ornament and a mini-marker.
Apparel: Who doesn’t love sporting a shirt from Infinite Discs? Choose from comfortable cotton or moisture wicking shirts in a variety of colors, all with the Infinite Discs name and logo.
Gift Cards: Okay, let’s face it, some of us either don’t do well selecting gifts for others, or, we are searching for a gift for a very picky person. The safe bet is a simply a gift card from Infinite Discs. It’s the sure-fire way to know that the person will love what they get!