State of Disc Golf: Local Course Data

 

 

Here in Cache County, Utah, the disc golf scene is very active. Our club has been playing weekly for about 10 years. We live in a college town, so part of our club is transient. The most of us stick around year after year. Officially, we have 8 permanent courses within a half an hour of most of us. Sadly, not one of them is an 18-hole course. Furthermore, several of them are tiny courses that are not interesting and rarely, if ever, get utilized for league play. It is that mindset that comes into play when I look at the data in our survey regarding the number of disc golf courses near survey participants.
Yes, I’m jealous of the many people who indicated a high number of courses near them. I temper that jealousy with sympathy for those people who don’t have any, or very few, courses near them. Be grateful for what you have, I guess. Let’s start with the number of courses near us.

In the survey we asked how many courses are within a half hour of us. Those are the courses we would likely play most frequently. It is nice to see that nearly a quarter of us have ten or more courses within a half hour. Here are the numbers:

 

 

Although about half of us have six or more courses nearby, that means the other half of us have five or less. Hopefully, some of those are excellent courses. If not, those people will be spending more of their free time driving instead of playing.

 

For the U.S. people, check out the number courses and how many people live near them for YOUR state by clicking the map below.



 

Variety Is The Spice

Although the average number of courses near us is a little over five, does that affect the number of courses we play? One thing that becomes obvious to people who play disc golf with any frequency is that we love to play new courses. If we only have a limited number of courses that are a short drive away, our ability to travel longer distances is narrowed down to weekends and vacations. In the survey we wanted to know how many courses we played in 2021. It turns out that we play quite a few more courses than are in our immediate area (within a half an hour of us).

 

 

Two people in the survey played more than 200 courses. That’s an impressive amount of courses! Even the 8 people who played between 100-200 courses is pretty mind numbing. I travel to tournaments several times per year, as well as playing all of the regional courses, and that still only puts me in the 21-30 range. Only 11% of us played that many or more last year, so it’s still a small percentage. Nowhere near the major time commitment necessary for playing over a hundred courses though!

New Places to Play

In addition to finding out how many courses are close to each of us, we like to find out how many new courses were added to our local area. The growth of the sport means increased pressure on our existing courses, which sometimes leads to municipalities looking for places to install new courses. However, the survey showed that most of us didn’t have the experience of getting a new place to play.

 

 

A Great Place to Live

Over 95 percent of us had two or fewer courses installed last year. That seems like an accurate number. Yet somehow a tiny fraction of us had ten or more course installed in our area! There were 24 survey respondents who selected that answer. I would expect that to be a smaller number. Out of curiosity, I pulled up the states/countries where the people live who said there were 10 or more courses installed. Here is the list:

Michigan Massachusetts
California Alabama
North Carolina Pennsylvania
Illinois Minnesota
West Virginia Colorado
Finland Kansas
Maine Wisconsin
Texas Tennessee
Missouri

 

Since the number of 10+ courses added last year seemed high, I pulled up some prior survey results to see how last year compared. It turns out that last year definitely was an anomaly. It was several times higher than the previous year.  Here is the data from a few prior surveys showing how many people indicated there were 10+ courses added.

 

 

Does More Courses Equal More Rounds?

 

We started the blog by looking at how many courses are fairly close to where we live. I was curious to see if having more courses around means that we are playing more rounds. We might be more motivated to get out and play if we don’t play the same few courses every time. So, I took the percentage of people who played 20 or more rounds per month, for each number of courses. Then I threw them on a graph. Although the differences aren’t huge, the people who have more courses in their area do play more than the people who have fewer courses.

 

 

Nearly 18% of the people who have nine courses in their local area play 20 or more rounds per month. If you only have one or two courses near you, the number hovers around 10%. It certainly makes sense that variety is the spice of life!

Conclusion

Years ago, when we only had a course or two in our valley, we played the same course every week for league, and every time we played a casual round. We just loved playing disc golf and since we didn’t have a variety of courses without traveling, we played the course we had. I’m guessing that it’s the more casual disc golfers that might play less frequently with only a couple of options. Having more courses might motivate THEM to play more, thus increasing the numbers of people who play more.

Let us know your experience with disc golf courses. Do you think having more courses means more rounds played for you? Are you in an area where 10 or more courses where installed? Where did you sit on the number of rounds played in a month?

Check back next week for more State of Disc Golf Survey results.

State of Disc Golf Results: Pros and Videos

 

Could there be a better start to the 2022 disc golf tournament season than a multiple-hole playoff at the Las Vegas Challenge? While it is fun and exciting to see one person mop up the field by having a spectacular round, it is even more appealing to see a battle between two of the top players in our sport. Whether we watch a tournament live, or wait until the post-produced videos appear on YouTube, a large percent of the disc golf world likes to watch tournaments. As we learned in last week’s blog (HERE), nearly two-thirds of us like to PLAY tournaments. This week we will explore how many of us like to WATCH tournaments. We will also look at how we like to watch them and which players we cheer for.

Humble Beginning

Ten years ago Jonathan Gomez decided to film the final nine holes of the 2012 World Championship (Check out his video HERE). He used one camera, he had no voice-over, no flight tracking, and minimal graphics. That was the humble beginning of what has become a post-produced video juggernaut that is  Jomez Pro.

Since then, numerous brands have joined the fray, and the quality of video production has grown right along with number of production companies. We’ve reached the point where the top video brands will record, edit, and release a video complete with commentary the morning after the round was played. It’s a great time to be a disc golf video junkie!

Watching Pros

Disc golf videos are among the best ways to follow the professional players that we like to watch. Before we explore our video-watching habits, let’s take a look at how many of us follow professionals. It turns out that most of us do. Here is a chart showing the results of the survey question, “Do you follow professional disc golfers”:

It turns out that most of us like to follow top-tier disc golfers. Although most of us choose to follow pros via post produced video, there are other ways to keep up with our DG heroes. Attending tournaments, watching them online live, and watching live scoring are other options we have to follow the pros. However, nothing comes close to watching the post-produced videos, such as Jomez, GK Pro, etc. Let’s look at some more survey results.

Whether we are watching the pros compete or watching them give a tutorial, YouTube has added another dimension to our sport. We have the ability to consume the videos on our schedule, 24 hours a day, all for free. It’s no wonder that the top two choices for following pros are through that medium.

A little more surprising to me is how many people watch disc golf on live broadcasts. On the one hand, it’s a big commitment of time. A live video will last longer than the actual round being played, since they also include pre- and post-round content.

On the other hand, it’s convenient to have a live tournament on in the background while doing other tasks. That is perfect if your work permits you that luxury. Live broadcasts also give you the opportunity to see multiple cards play, since there is so much time that needs to be filled between throws. Plus, it eliminates the chances of inadvertently finding out about the results of a tournament before you get a chance to watch it post-produced.

YouTube Channels

As mentioned above, Jomez Pro has contributed greatly to the production quality exhibited by even the smaller brands. As such, we now have many different channels that we can turn to in order to fulfill our DG-watching desires. In the survey, we asked which tournament YouTube channels you watched in 2021. Although most of you named the ‘usual suspects’ for disc golf video, a lot of you mentioned much smaller channels. First, let’s see how you voted.

 

I think that most of us would have guessed the number one choice, and also would have guessed the top few names on the list. They are the channels that we hear about the most, and who cover the biggest tournaments. And they are all producing quality videos, which keep getting better each year.

Moving past the biggest names in YouTube tournament videos we find smaller brands that are also producing great videos. While some of them are covering local tournaments with players known only to the local area, many are featuring well-known pros. Most include commentary, graphics, and an impressive level of video quality. Although not as prolific as some of the big channels, the videos they do release are fun to watch. Below are some examples of other channels for you to check out:

Penner Productions

Sky Hyzer Productions

SM Disc Golf Productions

Soblue productions

True North Disc Golf Productions

Who We Cheer For

 

Although it is fun to watch the most talented disc golfer compete, it is even more enjoyable when one of the players we are watching is our favorite. Most of us have more than a few favorites, but in our survey we asked which pro is our favorite, and which is our second most favorite. We asked for both the MPO and FPO.

We gave participants a long list of the top rated pros to choose from. Even so, about 2% of us still selected ‘other’ as our choice. Which means there are a significant number of people not on the list that have a lot of fans.

We will start with the FPO, where five-time Paige Peirce received nearly a third of all of the votes. The five-time World Champ is frequently on the lead card and gets a lot of tournament exposure. She also has her own YouTube channel, giving fans an even deeper look at her life. She also knows how to rip a long drive, making her easy to cheer for and admire. Here are the top 10 selections for the title of Favorite FPO Player:

In second place is Estonian pro, Kristin Tattar, with 19% of the votes. Following Kristin, Kona Panis and Catrina Allen each had about 10% of the votes.

For the selection of our second most favorite FPO player, the list looks nearly identical, but with different numbers. Here are the top 10:

 

Turning to the MPO division, we see a familiar name at the top of the list. Paul McBeth has been a major player in the disc golf world since winning his first world title in 2012. Like Paige, Paul is often seen on the lead card of a tournament, giving us more opportunities to see him in action. Here are the top 10 most popular MPO players:

 

Just like the FPO division, the top 10 list of second most favorite MPO players is just a slightly rearranged list of the Most Favorite. Simon Lizotte takes the top honors for this list.

That wraps up this look at our consumption of disc golf tournaments, and the players who motivate us to watch. Comment below and let us know if your favorite player made the list. Also let us know about YouTube channels we missed.

Check back next week for more State of Disc Golf results.

State of Disc Golf Results: Tournaments

 

Once again, tournament season is upon us. We’ve already seen the top pros battle it out on some of the first big events of the year. For those of us that love to watch the pros compete, this is a great time. We have video of the tournaments that have already taken place, and the anticipation of our favorite locations yet to come. We’ll explore the State of Disc Golf survey results revealing our interest in watching and cheering for professional disc golfers in a future blog. For this week’s blog, let’s take a look at OUR participation in tournaments.

Playing Tournaments

Along with the pros returning to the tournament scene, those of us who enjoy participating in tournaments are also getting busy checking out the local and regional competitions. Not only have I signed up for several upcoming tournaments, I’ve also scheduled dates for when registrations open, to make sure I can sign up before they fill up. (I would like to explore how many tournaments reach capacity and how fast in future surveys.)

I’m somewhat hooked on tournaments and try really hard to make sure I attend my favorites. Not everyone feels the same about competing, which is why we asked questions about tournaments in our State of Disc Golf survey. We asked WHY you attended tournaments, if you did, and which kind you attended. We also asked what keeps you from playing in tournaments, and what it would take to make you start.

 

There are a variety of reasons why we play disc golf, and regardless of the reason, many of us enjoy the competitive side of the sport. There is something about our nature that makes us want to compete. I’ve noticed that for many of us, participating in an event fills that need, even if we don’t think we can win. Others DO want to win and will take steps to make that happen. Still others are completely fine playing casual rounds alone, just competing to beat their own records. Let’s see what the survey reveals.

 

Tournaments: Yes or No

 

Let’s look at the first tournament-related question, “Did you play in at least one disc golf tournament or event in 2021?”

 

Although over half of us say we played in a tournament, I expected that number to be higher. Since there are so many casual tournaments and events, which bring out people who ordinarily wouldn’t play in more serious tournaments, it just seems like there would be more of us competing. We’ll look at why people don’t compete later, but for now let’s look at the types of tournaments we attend.

What Kinds of Tournaments?

Of those who indicated that they did play in a tournament in 2021, we asked which type of tournaments they played: sanctioned or non-sanctioned. Of the 4,476 people who played a tournament last year, 75% played in a non-sanctioned tournament, and 81% played in a sanctioned tournament.  Here are some graphs showing how many of each type of tournaments we attended.

 

Why We Compete

 

Personally, I like the social aspect of competing. There are a lot of people in other areas that I only see at tournaments. It’s great to reconnect with them. And to compete against them. Most of us have a few reasons for playing tournaments. Let’s look at the survey results to see what some of those reasons are.

 

About 3/4ths of us enter a tournament for the competition. Seems kind of obvious, but that still leaves about 27% of us who don’t care about competing. The second most popular response is to try new courses. A third of use listed that as a reason for competing. Although I agree with the response, and it is definitely on my list, It surprises me that the percent is that high. Most of the tournaments that I play in are at courses I’ve already played. It’s kind of rare that I compete on a course I’ve never played before.

I like the third most popular reason people list for playing in a tournament, which is for the prizes or payout. Over 73% of us want to compete, but only a fraction of that number are doing it for the winnings. It makes me think that these same people would be competing with their buddies in a casual round if they weren’t playing at a tournament. Our species likes to compete!

No Thanks!

When I talk to people about tournaments, the number one reason people give for not competing is because of their skill level. They assume that everyone else at a tournament will be better and/or more experienced. I expected that to be a top reason selected in the survey. It turns out that it was the second most popular. The number one reason is because of time, or the lack of free time. Most sanctioned tournaments are at least two rounds, which is a big time commitment. We asked the people who said they don’t play tournaments what reasons they have for not playing. Here are the survey responses.

 

 

This Year VS The Past

As I mentioned near the beginning of the blog, the data showing the number of people who did and didn’t play tournaments in 2021 surprised me. I see tournaments filling incredibly fast and I see newer players getting into the tournament scene, so the ratio seemed odd. To confirm my suspicion, I pulled up the results of prior surveys to see how they compare to the most recent survey. Here are the results of the question about tournament play for the years 2015 and 2019:

 

 

 

Clearly, we’ve seen more interest in playing tournaments in the past. The pandemic undoubtedly played a part in the lower numbers. It also contributed the larger number of newer players.  We know from the survey results that a good number of people didn’t play because they don’t feel like they are good enough. However, if you look at how fast many tournaments fill up, it is evident that there is a large number of people that want to compete, despite the percentage of people who don’t want that experience.

It is the fact that we do fill so many tournaments that I don’t worry about people who don’t want to play them. Not only are tournaments not in danger of going away, the bigger problem might be that there aren’t enough to go around. Whether or not future TDs need to consider some of the reasons people have given for not attending tournaments remains to be seen.

We would love to hear about YOUR tournament experiences and what you see tournaments looking like five years from now. Post below and let us know your thoughts.

 

 

State of Disc Golf Results: How Often We Play

As I write this blog in early March, it has been snowing recently and the temperature will approach zero tonight in northern Utah. I suspect there will still be a few local golfers that will still huck today. However, most of us will be holed up inside, waiting for a reprieve from the inclement weather. While we still play disc golf year ‘round here, there are days that the local courses remain empty, or nearly empty. Almost every time that happens, it is related to bad weather.

How often we get out to play can be heavily influenced by where we live and the weather conditions we experience. Extreme temperatures, rain, snow, and excessive winds can reduce our playing time. The level of our desire to improve also plays an important part in how much time we carve out to throw. And of course we all have life events that dictate our free time or lack thereof, such as school, family, and careers.

How Often We Play

In this blog we will explore the survey question that asked how often we get to play disc golf. We’ll breakdown those numbers based on where we live and our skill level, to see if those factors play a part in how often we play. And we’ll look at other demographics, liked age and gender, just to see if we can find any interesting numbers.

The question we asked in the survey was, “On average, how many rounds of disc golf did you play per month in 2021?” The options to choose from ranged from zero to ‘31+’ days. Here are the survey results. The first graph shows the results in raw numbers, and the second graph shows the results as a percent of the total.

 

 

 

Over ten percent of us are getting out to play 20 or more times per month, which is a lot of disc golf. If you are playing competitively, you are likely one of the more frequent players. Nearly a fourth of us are playing, on average, at least once every other day.

At the other end of the active spectrum, a tiny percent of us aren’t even averaging one round per month. Maybe from injury? Or an excessively busy schedule? Whatever the reason, at least they were able to fill out the survey!

The ‘one-percenters’ in this survey average more than one round per day. Whether they are going out a couple times per week and getting multiple rounds each time, or playing at least one round per day, they are the lucky ones. Or they are unemployed or retired, or professional disc golfers.

Where We Live

I started the blog discussing the weather and how it affects local disc golf. My first thought in seeing the results is that there may be a direct correlation between where we live and how much we play. Yes, we CAN play in pretty much any kind of weather. We are just more easily motivated to play when the temperatures are above a certain temperature, and when the ground isn’t covered with snow, ice, or mud.

To test my hypothesis, I took all of the southern US states and Hawaii, compared the number of rounds they played per month with the rest if the country. Not an exact science, but there is a reason why many pros gravitate to those states in the winter. Low temperatures and poor weather can still a factor, but winters in the states north of them are colder and have more snow. For the comparison, I took Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Hawaii. I compared those to the rest of the states. Here are the results, shown as a percentage of people in each group:

So much for that theory! There were some categories that the Southern states were slightly higher in, and others they were slightly lower. Overall, we can’t conclude that the states with warmer winters get in more rounds. Their hands may be less numb, but they aren’t playing more than the rest of us.

Skill Level

Another aspect of disc golf that I wanted to explore is to see if there is a correlation between our skill level and the number of rounds we play per month. My initial thought is that someone who plays more, gets better and considers themselves as a higher level player. Also, we could say that someone who is as better player may be more interested in playing more to maintain a competitive edge in leagues and tournaments. Below is a chart showing the percentage of each skill level, according to their monthly number of rounds.

 

This time the numbers are more aligned to what I would expect. Professional disc golfers represent a higher percentage of each number category above 15 per month, and is second to advanced players in the 10-14 category. In fact, the skill levels in the categories above 15 rounds per month are in order, from low to high, according to skill level. Conversely, beginners and intermediate players take the top spots in the categories below 10 rounds per month.

 

Conclusion

 

Since we are all active enough in the sport of disc golf that we took the time to fill out a survey, read the results, or both, we all enjoy the time out on a course. Sometimes the number of rounds we play in a month is dictated us and our desires, and sometimes it is dictated by our schedules and life circumstances. Hopefully, this year will see us getting in a few more rounds per month than last. We’ll conclude this blog by comparing last year’s results to a few years ago.

It is rather impressive how similar the results are from the prior survey. In every number category the results are practically the same. With all of the growth we’ve seen recently, and the life-changing pandemic, we are still throwing at about the same amount as before. Perhaps that is a good thing.

Tune in next week when we will look at more survey results.

Introducing Clash Discs

 

 

 

 

Clash Discs

 

Tucked between the countries of Sweden and Russia to the east and west, and Norway and the Baltic Sea to the north and south is the country of Finland. It is home to professional disc golfers Eveliina Salonen, Henna Blomroos, and Seppo Paju. On the south end of the country lies Helsinki, the capitol of Finland.  Further north and east from Helsinki you’ll find the municipality of Kontiolahti, which has over 20% of its area covered by water. It is about 50 miles from the border of Russia, and it is home to Clash Discs.

Filling a Need

 

Like many ventures, Clash Discs was born out of a need. Clash founder, Timo Nuutinen, discovered that his oldest son had borrowed then lost, one of his other son’s favorite discs. The disc was out of stock everywhere and became impossible to replace. That was Timo’s light bulb moment. He figured that the solution was to make his own discs. And a new discs golf company was born.

Clash Discs started in early 2021 and saw its first prototypes by summer of that year. Those prototypes were putt/approach discs. After receiving positive feedback about the molds and plastic from those who tested the discs, the company began selling discs locally by late 2021.

 

Signing a Pro

 

For such a young company, Clash Discs made a big splash in disc golf when they announced the signing of touring pro Nikko Locastro with a six-figure contract. The contract stipulates that Nikko can throw an ‘open bag’, which allows him to throw other brands besides Clash Discs. Even so, Nikko said that some of the Clash molds immediately made their way into his bag.

“(Their) plastic feels high performance and flies true. Several discs made my lineup from the very first box I opened. Looking forward to progressing with this company by working together,” said Nikko.

The plastic that Nikko is referring to is called Steady Plastic. It is the plastic type used to make their first few releases. It has some good grip to it, and both looks and feels amazing! Just like a premium plastic. It is also durable. Another plastic that will be available soon is Hardy Plastic. It is sturdier, more durable plastic that will give discs an even longer life. Clash also has plans for a Glow plastic.

Clash Molds

The first four Clash molds to be PDGA approved were the Berry, Mango, Mint, and Popcorn. Three of the four Clash Discs are currently available for sale and the Mango will be available soon.

Seeing the names of their discs, it becomes apparent that they have a specific naming convention. Clash Discs’ believes that their molds each have a different flavor, so Design Department head Ilkka Kosunen chose the names to reflect the unique flights of each of their discs.

The Mint is Clash’s overstable putt/approach disc. It was the first mold released by them. The Mint is a beadless putter, similar to the Zone or Harp. It will fight a headwind and deliver a reliably hard fade at the end.

The Berry is a straight-flying midrange that would be comparable in flight to a Buzzz or Truth. It is a shapeable mold that gives you control over its flight. It comes in weights ranging from 160’s to 180g and is currently available in Steady Plastic.

The Popcorn is a beadless, straight putter that still has a fade to its flight. It’s like a beadless Tomb, but with a slightly deeper rim. The fairly neutral flight means it can be shaped for approaches.

The Mango is among the few discs already planned for release. It is an overstable midrange disc. The Ginger and Pepper were approved this year and will be released this spring. The Ginger is an understable fairway driver and the Pepper an overstable distance driver.  Some of these molds will be available in the Hardy Plastic, and some in the Glow. There will also be Nikko Locastro signature series discs, but no word yet which molds they will be.

Growing the Brand

Clash Discs has plans to announce additional team members later in the year. They say that their team members will represent disc golf in several different countries and continents. As for now, Nikko will be the only touring pro representing Clash Discs.

Even though signing a well-known pro was a big step for such a young company, Clash says that they wanted to come out swinging. Their plan was to create premium plastics and make those available on plenty of different molds, representing a variety of disc types. They want players to be able to have a complete bag of Clash Discs.

“The first year was spent making molds and test castings. The goal was to find good premium plastic and there were almost 100 test-driven plastic grades, ” said Markku Pyykkönen, CEO of Clash Discs. “We got about ten different molds designed and tested so we could hit the market with the whole product family. And our product development continues to be very high quality, fast and flexible.”

The Clash Future

Clash Discs has faith that they will grow as a company as disc golf continues to grow. They recognize the popularity of the sport and how disc golf can be played by such a variety of demographics. And they want to contribute to the growth and popularity. Speaking about the future of Clash Discs, Markuu said, “In the future, we will invest in actively getting more and more premium quality molds. And our product development continues to be very high quality, fast and flexible.”

Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s safe to say they are off to great start and are headed in the right direction. They are passionate about disc golf, they have some great molds, and they have impressive plastic. Check out the the latest news and information about Clash Discs on their website (HERE).

Which Mold Would You Chose?

Be sure to check out Infinite Discs current selection of Clash Discs (HERE). Then comment below to let us know which of their current or future molds would have the best chance of making it into YOUR bag. We’ll randomly select three commenters and send them a Clash Disc! If you’ve thrown a Clash disc, let us know which mold(s) you’ve thrown and what you think about the disc and the plastic.

 

 

 

 

State of Disc Golf: Skill Level

When we start out playing disc golf in a club, we are frequently confronted with the decision of which division is right for us. At a club league, it’s pretty easy to determine whether or not we are playing in the division for our skill level. If we are regularly crushing the competitors in our division, it would be time to move up to the next division. If we are the ones getting beat by significant margins, maybe a lower division would give us more competition.

When we step up to sanctioned tournaments, we have to reevaluate our skill level to determine the best division for us. A local tournament will attract a different skill level for a particular division, versus a national event. Our PDGA rating can help us find the best fit, and sometimes restrict our decisions. Having our rating and seeing how we perform at tournaments and during league can help us overcome the Dunning-Kruger effect (overestimating our skill level).

While the subject of tournaments is something that we will discuss when we analyze the results of that part of the survey, today we will cover how we view our skill level. We will look at the breakdown of skill levels based on other demographics, such as age and gender. Finally, we will look at how those numbers have changed from previous surveys.

Our Skill Level

 

Let’s start out by looking at how we answered the question, “How would you rate your skill level as a disc golfer?” As discussed above, how we rate ourselves can be based on a variety of things. Even those who chose, ‘Professional’ may have done so for a variety of reasons. Are they playing in the pro division for the competition, despite having a PDGA rating that would qualify them to play in an Amateur division? Here is the breakdown of how we self-identify our skill level.

 

 

With half of us identifying as having intermediate skills and more than ¾ of us identifying as a beginner or intermediate player, my first thought explaining those numbers is the rapid growth we’ve seen in disc golf the past couple of years. We could conclude that since there were a lot of people who just started playing, they wouldn’t have progressed past the Intermediate level by now. We can look at other data in the survey to see if that hypothesis is correct. First, let’s see how those numbers have changed since earlier surveys.

Checking out the survey results from 2015, we see a higher percentage of players identifying as being in the Advanced or Professional divisions than this year’s survey.

 

 

Skill vs Time Playing

 

Let’s compare the skill levels when they are sorted by the year the player started playing disc golf. That should show us how the pandemic affected our skill levels as a group. Here is the chart:

 

 

We can see that around 30% of all survey respondents started playing in 2020 or sooner, and identify as a beginner or intermediate player. That certainly accounts for the larger number of total players in those divisions, as compared with the survey results from seven years ago. It will be interesting to see how fast people move up skill levels in future surveys.

Now let’s take another look at our skill levels and organize them by gender and age. We’ll start by looking at data from last week, our numbers when sorted by gender. Although the number of women taking the survey was up over 2015, the percent of women dropped a bit this year compared to the earlier data. Here is the chart showing the numbers for 2015 and 2022:

 

 

 

Here is how the number of each skill level look, when sorted by gender:

 

 

As we can see, the skill level representing the largest number of men is intermediate. It represents 48% of all respondents, and over half of all the men who responded. For the women, the beginner/recreational division is the largest. Nearly half of all women who took the survey are in this skill level.

Sorting By Age

 

If we were to look at our skill level according to our age group, what would we expect to find? More pros in the prime ages? More beginners in the younger groups? We can find out by sorting age groups into skill levels. We’ll start by looking at the raw numbers, then we’ll sort them by skill level and the percentage in that age group. Here is the raw data:

 

 

I think it is more interesting to see how each age group is divided according to skill level. In other words, it is more interesting to look at the age group that you play in, for example, and compare it to the same age group in 2015. First, let’s take a look at the results for the most recent survey.

 

That tells us that the group with the highest number of pros is the 51-60 age group, which has about 5% of its members that are pros. The group with the highest percentage of beginners is the 71+ age group (not counting the under 12 age group). Interestingly, the 12-17 age group has the highest percentage of intermediates AND advanced players.

We can now compare those numbers to the ones in 2015.

 

 

The 2015 graph shows that the 61-79 age group had the highest percentage of pros, with nearly one in five members of the age group identifying as a professional. The 51-60 group took the top honors for the percentage of the most beginners, although the group barely beat the 30-35 and 41-50 age groups. The 71+ age group was the intermediate leader and the 12-17 was the advanced leader, both groups holding on to the titles for 2015 and 2022.

It’s interesting to see the change in how many people consider themselves ‘advanced’ players. There were more advanced players than any other skill level in all but one age group in 2015. But in 2022, the advanced division wasn’t the largest in any group. Instead, the intermediate division was the most popular in every division.

Check back next week when we will continue to look at more survey results.

State of Disc Golf: Demographics

2022 State Of Disc Golf

 

We’re back for another look at the State of Disc Golf as we start the tournament season for 2022. Just like last year, our world and our sport is being affected by the global pandemic. While it appears society is looking more ‘pre-pandemic’ than last year, we are still dealing with its effects on the supply chain. Many molds and products are still not available. But, while we can’t control what is available to sell, we can still look at the world of disc golf and analyze the data to see how disc golf looks this year, and how it has changed over the years that Infinite has been running the survey.

 

Age, State, and Gender

 

This year we had over 7650 people take the survey. We’ll take a look at a variety of answers every week for the next couple of months to learn more about our sport and the people who play it. We’ll start with some basic demographics, looking at our age, where we live, and our gender. Let’s start with our ages.

 

Aging Divisions

 

One thing that I’m always curious to see when looking at the results of the survey is how the numbers compare to what I see in the disc golfers in our region. Our local club is small and it seems like the demographics are pretty close to how it looked when I started playing regularly about 10 years ago. But, we see other clubs at tournaments so it is still possible to get a large sample size.

What I see happening in the tournament scene is that the 40-plus divisions are getting bigger. That is encouraging to see because it means more people are continuing to play as they age. We are still getting young players take up the sport, which is great for the future of disc golf. But, the older divisions are growing. Let’s see how that compares to the survey results.

Below is a graph of the results of the question, ‘How old are you?’

 

 

We’ve seen the basic shape of the graph in previous surveys. The 30-35-year-old group is the largest, then a drop in the 36-40 group, followed by a spike in the 41-50 group. The 41-50 group is the first group that includes 10 years. In looking at previous years’ results, however, we see a sharper drop after the 30-35 group. We’ll look at a couple different years, and to compare them equally we will look at the percentage of respondents in each group, rather than the total number. Here are the graphs from previous surveys.

 

 

It’s good to see the growing size of the older groups. We’ll look at other survey questions to find out more about them and their disc golf world.

 

Where We Are From

 

The sport of disc golf is played in countries all around the world. We have seen non-US players battle it out with the top US pros on top-tier tournaments, and pick up wins. Recently, Estonian FPO player Kristin Tattar make headlines with her lucrative contract with Latitude 64. There is no doubt that disc golf is a global sport. There is also no doubt that the United States still has the largest number of disc golfers, and the survey showed that. Not surprisingly, the largest number of disc golfers are in the states with the biggest population. The states in the top ten will exchange positions from year to year. But it’s tough to find more disc golfers if your home state doesn’t boast the sheer number of people in other states. Here is the leader board for this year.

 

 

I was curious to see the ratio of disc golfers were in every state, so I got the population numbers from World Population Review website to find out. I divided the number of survey participants for each state into the population of that state. Here are the results:

State # Survey Participants 2022 population DG Density 1:x
Vermont 43 622,882 14,486
Utah 230 3,363,182 14,623
Oregon 209 4,325,290 20,695
Maine 62 1,359,677 21,930
Kansas 127 2,919,179 22,986
Colorado 256 5,961,083 23,285
Minnesota 228 5,739,781 25,174
Delaware 38 998,619 26,279
Idaho 71 1,896,652 26,713
Michigan 348 9,995,212 28,722
Missouri 206 6,184,843 30,024
Wisconsin 188 5,867,518 31,210
Indiana 204 6,842,385 33,541
Iowa 93 3,174,426 34,134
Washington 225 7,887,965 35,058
Ohio 331 11,727,377 35,430
North Carolina 291 10,807,491 37,139
Tennessee 182 7,001,803 38,471
Pennsylvania 331 12,805,190 38,686
South Dakota 23 902,542 39,241
Kentucky 113 4,487,233 39,710
Nebraska 48 1,960,790 40,850
Illinois 304 12,518,071 41,178
Alabama 117 4,949,697 42,305
New Hampshire 32 1,378,449 43,077
South Carolina 124 5,342,388 43,084
Montana 25 1,093,117 43,725
Connecticut 81 3,546,588 43,785
Virginia 194 8,638,218 44,527
North Dakota 17 774,008 45,530
Alaska 15 720,763 48,051
Oklahoma 83 4,007,179 48,279
Arkansas 63 3,042,017 48,286
West Virginia 35 1,755,715 50,163
Georgia 201 10,936,299 54,409
Texas 552 30,097,526 54,525
Maryland 107 6,075,314 56,779
Arizona 132 7,640,796 57,885
Massachusetts 118 6,922,107 58,662
Mississippi 49 2,961,536 60,440
New Mexico 31 2,109,093 68,035
California 529 39,664,128 74,979
Rhode Island 14 1,062,583 75,899
Hawaii 18 1,401,709 77,873
Florida 269 22,177,997 82,446
New York 214 19,223,191 89,828
Nevada 36 3,238,601 89,961
Louisiana 48 4,616,106 96,169
Wyoming 6 582,233 97,039
District of Columbia 6 718,355 119,726
New Jersey 68 8,870,685 130,451

 

The state of Vermont has one disc golfer who took the survey for every 14.4k people. Utah is in second place, but that likely has a lot to do with Infinite’s headquarters being in Utah. California, which routinely has among the highest number of people who take the survey, is near the bottom of this list.

Infinite has customers around the world and many of them participate in the survey every year. For Canada, we broke the numbers down by province. For the rest of the world, we had participants select the region of the world they live in. Here are the results:

 

Gender

 

When it comes to the part of the survey that asks about gender, there is never really a question of which gender will have the highest number. But I am always interested to see if there is growth in the number of women taking the survey. Presumably that would mean a growth in the number of women in our sport. With so many of the top women disc golfers signing contracts that they are excited about, and with so much exposure in terms of tournament coverage, we certainly seems poised to grow the women’s side of disc golf. Things like last year’s FPO World Championship, which was every bit as exciting as the MPO Championship, should add a little more fuel to the fire of growth.

We’ll look at the results from past surveys and compare those to the most recent survey.

 

 

Although the data shows a slight drop in the percentage of women vs men taking the survey, the raw numbers are slightly up. In 2014, 286 women took the survey. In 2020, there were 330 women who took the survey. I would hope that the percentages would at lease stay the same as the number of disc golfers rises.

The PDGA shows fairly steady ratios between men and women between 2014 and 2020. Considering the explosion of growth in disc golf, that means that at least the number of women disc golfers who take the sport seriously enough to join the PDGA is rising. As we explore the rest of the SoDG survey, we might find data that will shed more light on the subject of women in disc golf.

In the previous two surveys mentioned in the charts above, we only had two choices for gender. That is why in this year’s survey there is the third option. We wanted to have an option for those who don’t identify with the binary choices.

Best Distance Driver For 2022

Best Distance Driver of 2022

 

We looked at the best selling molds, the best rated molds, and counted your votes for your favorite mold, and we can declare the winner of the Best Distance Driver. And boy was it close! The Innova Destroyer and Wraith traded position on top of the sales and fan vote categories. And the ratings were separated by a hundredth of a point!

The top five were all Innova/Infinite, which is not surprising after seeing the results of the individual categories. Four of the top five molds have fairly similar flights, the exception being the 5th place Maya, the only understable mold. Here are the top molds and their ranking in the different categories.

Mold Sales Rating Fan Total
Innova Destroyer 1 4.63 2 7.63
Innova Wraith 2 4.64 1 7.64
Infinite Discs Emperor 3 4.75 3 10.75
Infinite Discs Pharaoh 4 4.71 4 12.71
Infinite Discs Maya 5 4.58 5 14.58

Here are some comments mentioned by fans:

Matt M – “Destroyer has to be my all time mold. Why? There are so many different throws you can make with it. A controlled spike hyzer, a sidearm flick, an all out distance bomber.”

David M – “My go-to is a seasoned Star Destroyer. It has a good feel for backhand and forehand. One at a lighter weight like 167-170 if I’m wanting a little more turn. The Destroyer is the gold standard for good reason.”

Tom – “My favorite driver has always been the Wraith. As they break in the develop a little instability so I can bag several Wraith of various plastic / beat in yet have the same grip. The Wraith is also very good in wind as I find it very reliable and wind resistant. Plus what is not to like about the Halo Wraith, wicked cool stamp.”

In this series exploring the best discs of 2022, we started with putters and have been moving up the speed ratings until this week. You can check out the survey results for Putters, Mid Ranges, and Fairway Drivers by clicking these links. Today, we will finally check out the highest-speed discs, the distance drivers, or high-speed drivers. Once again we will look at the sales data to see what people are buying. Then we will rank the molds by their Infinite rating. Finally, we will ask you to vote for the distance driver that you feel is the best. Then we will compile the information and declare a winner! We will also award one lucky commenter a gift card for their input.

Best Distance Drivers

 

There is something about the feel of a distance driver that sets it apart from other types of discs. The wide rim makes you feel like there is something significant in your hand, both in terms of mass and of potential distance. The sharper edge has a distinct feeling that is unlike other discs. Their higher speed rating requires a little more effort in your throw, making the movement a little more physical. All of these things add up to a different experience when you throw a distance driver.

The high-speed, or distance driver category has been the bane of many new disc golfers. Someone new to disc golf may not understand that the name of the category refers to how fast the disc must be thrown in order to fly like it’s designed to do. Instead, newer players regularly buy discs that they don’t have the skill to be able to throw properly. Therefore, many bad habits might be formed before the disc golfer understands the need to start by throwing lower-speed discs. Lighter plastics can help someone without the arm speed to throw higher speed discs. However, there are benefits to throwing lower speed discs when starting out.

High speed drivers account for slightly over a quarter of all disc sales at Infinite. That’s pretty close to where we could expect it to be. It does trail putters as a category by a couple of percentage points.

 

 

 

 

To find out which molds were the most popular, I pulled up a list of the top 20 discs that were sold in the past year. Below is a chart with the top discs, along with the percentage of all distance drivers sold:

Rank Brand and Mold % of all distance drivers
1 Innova Destroyer 10.5%
2 Innova Wraith 9.0%
3 Infinite Discs Emperor 6.5%
4 Infinite Discs Pharaoh 5.2%
5 Infinite Discs Maya 3.2%
6 Innova Beast 2.3%
7 Innova Shryke 2.1%
8 Innova Mamba 2.1%
9 Discraft Avenger SS 1.9%
10 Discraft Nuke 1.9%
11 Innova Tern 1.7%
12 Discraft Force 1.5%
13 MVP Photon 1.5%
14 Discraft Surge SS 1.4%
15 Discraft Hades 1.4%
16 Innova Boss 1.4%
17 Discraft Zeus 1.3%
18 Discraft Thrasher 1.3%
19 Discraft Scorch 1.2%
20 Innova Katana 1.2%

 

Brands in the Top 20

 

Although most people know about the popularity of the Destroyer and Wraith, they may not know that one out of every five distance drivers sold at Infinite is one of those two molds! Those are some successful molds. In addition to holding the top two spots in the category. Innova is also responsible for 8 of the top 20 distance drivers we sell. That ties Discraft, who also holds 8 of the top 20 spots. In a distant third place is Infinite Discs, with 3 of the top 20. There were only four manufacturers in the top 20, and here is a chart with the breakdown:

 

 

 

Although Infinite Discs only had three molds in the top 20, those molds accounted for a significant portion of the distance drivers sold. In fact, sales of Infinite’s three top-20 molds surpassed Discraft’s eight molds in the top 20. Here is a list of the four manufacturers in the top 20, with the percentage of overall distance driver sales for the past year:

 

 

 

 

Best Rated Discs

 

Now let’s take a look at the Infinite Discs rating for the top molds. These are the ratings that customers have given each mold when they give a review. The ratings give us a picture of how people feel about the disc once they’ve had a chance to throw it. That’s a more accurate indication of the long-term view of people’s opinions of the disc, assuming it’s been around long enough for a significant number of people to rate the mold.  Infinite Discs’ Emperor and Pharaoh top the list, with ratings a bit above the rest of the group. Here are the top 20 discs, sorted by Infinite rating:

 

 

Infinite Discs Emperor 4.75
Infinite Discs Pharaoh 4.71
Innova Wraith 4.64
Discraft Zeus 4.64
Innova Destroyer 4.63
Innova Tern 4.61
Innova Shryke 4.6
Discraft Surge SS 4.59
Infinite Discs Maya 4.58
Discraft Hades 4.58
Discraft Thrasher 4.58

 

Fan Vote Results

We asked you to let us know which mold you considered to be the best distance driver. You responded by the hundreds, and we’ve compiled a list of the top molds. Just like the top mold sales, the fan vote was all Innova/Infinite. Topping the list wasn’t the popular Destroyer. It was the Wraith, which is like a slightly slower Destroyer. In addition to the brands you would expect to make the list, there were votes for many other brands, including Divergent Discs, Viking, Millennium, Legacy, Axiom, Kastaplast, Thought Space Athletics, and DGA.

 

Here is a list of the top voted discs, along with the percentage of people who voted for that mold.

Mold Percentage of Votes
Wraith 13.9%
Destroyer 9.4%
Emperor 4.5%
Pharaoh 4.1%
Maya 3.7%
Boss 3.4%
Grace 3.0%
Mamba 3.0%
DD3 2.2%
Shryke 2.2%

 

Thanks to everyone who voted! We randomly selected one voter to win the $50 gift card. And the winner is:

 

Let Us Know Your Favorite!

 

Now it’s your turn to let us know about your favorite distance driver. Even if your disc didn’t make the list, let us know what it is, and why it is the best disc for you. This is a great chance to show people looking for a distance driver why your favorite disc works for you!

1 2 3 4 5 10