State of Disc Golf 2019–Tournaments, Advice for TDs

Disc Golf Tee Signs

It is Glass Blown Open weekend! GBO is considered one of the best events in disc golf every year. It is run well, and leaves players of all divisions happy and satisfied with their tournament experience.

Often times tournament directors wonder how to make their tournaments better and how to keep their participants happy and excited about their events. This year in the 2019 State of Disc Golf Survey we asked disc golfers questions about their tournament experiences, what they like or don’t like to see in tournaments, and what motivates them to participate in disc golf events.

This is especially pertinent to our sport, because disc golf fans aren’t just fans, they are players. Like we always say, part of what makes disc golf so great is it is very cheap and easy to play. Well, it is also very easy to get involved in local leagues and tournament play including PDGA sanctioned and unsanctioned events.

 

And for the most part, if we are serious enough about disc golf to take a lengthy survey, we play competitively. Of those who took the survey, we were split 70/30 with 70% of survey takers participating in at least one disc golf tournament or event in 2018. We then asked that 70% how many PDGA sanctioned events they participated in over the last year. The responses were interesting:

Particularly, I think it is interesting that the option that received the most selections was zero, showing that a good portion of disc golfers who are active in competitive disc golf may not be involved with the PDGA at all. Also these individuals may just participate in local specialty events like the Discraft Ace Race or Trilogy Challenge. Of course, we asked what specialty events folks participated in during 2018.

We shouldn’t be surprised to see the Trilogy Challenge as the most popular event. It has been established as a great value event that attracts both competitive and casual disc golfers. We can also see that local putting leagues have become very popular in the disc golf community. It is interesting that just 33.33% said they participated in none of these events, as it shows how popular these specialty events have become in recent years. Also, because I mentioned it previously, only 9.97% of those who said they participated in a disc golf tournament said that they didn’t participate in a PDGA sanctioned event nor in any of these specialty events. It just goes to show that there are still popular local events that do not affiliate with the PDGA.

This ties into our next question in the survey: How many tournaments did you participate in that were not PDGA sanctioned? here were your responses:

With this data, we see that slightly more people participated in tournaments that were not PDGA sanctioned than people who participated in tournaments that were PDGA sanctioned. For those of us who are involved in mainstream PDGA events, it can be easy to forget that tournaments that are not sanctioned still draw a lot of participants, and are a great resource for casual players who are wanting to work their way into the competitive disc golf world.

Motivating Factors for Playing Disc Golf Tournaments

So what motivates us to participate in disc golf tournaments? We asked, and here is how we responded:

At first I was pretty shocked to see that Payouts/Prizes and Player Packs were the lowest two motivators. Those are often the two motivators that Tournament Directors try to appeal to the most when they are promoting their events. But does this data mean that we should focus on something different in our promotions?

After a little more thought, it could be argued that these low numbers are a bit misleading. First of all, who receives a player pack? For most PDGA sanctioned tournaments, only players in amateur divisions receive a player pack. Professional players usually do not receive a player pack, so most survey takers who play in the pro divisions likely aren’t motivated by player packs. And the inverse sometimes applies to Payouts/Prizes for larger events. Sometimes in order to generate larger payouts for pro divisions, TDs will make their event “Trophy Only” for their amateur divisions. This means that there are no prizes besides maybe a trophy for amateurs. These events though will often provide a more generous player pack in an effort to try and “make up” for not offering prizes. So for amateurs who are accustomed to playing in trophy only events, they would naturally not be motivated by payouts and prizes that they don’t normally see anyway.

However, all of the other motivating factors can be found at pretty much any tournament regardless of division. I think it is also worth noting that we enjoy exploring new courses when we go to tournaments enough that almost half of us listed that as one of our motivating factors. I know some smaller local tournaments have found success in using a variety of layouts and pin positions for tournaments to try and change up their course to make it feel new and different for their local players.

But at the end of the day, what most motivates us to go to tournaments is the competition, fun, and social aspects found in tournament play. So TDs should make sure to foster a fun and social environment. Obviously the nature of tournaments themselves make them competitive, but TDs can still look for ways to improve that competitive atmosphere for all divisions. TDs can also add small mini competitions like distance or putting competitions in between or after tournament rounds. Even a ring of fire offers all competitors a chance to experience some competition. I remember as a young player winning prizes in a ring of fire that included some of the best local disc golfers. It was fun to be able to say I beat them at something, even if it was as simple as a ring of fire.

We also asked survey takers to rank by importance certain aspects of tournament play. Specifically, we asked, What aspects do you consider when selecting tournaments? Here is how we responded:

I think this might be the most interesting bit of data so far today. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a well run event is what we consider to be the most important thing when we are selecting tournaments. I think this is especially important for TDs who are running events on new courses or temporary courses. It is insanely frustrating to play in an event when you aren’t 100% sure of the rules or if all OB areas are not clearly marked.

But I am kind of shocked to see that the three options that received the most “Not Important” votes were Awards/Trophies, Good Payouts, and Player Pack value. If you are an amateur who hates that the big event in your area is a trophy only event, then don’t show the TD this info. Over a quarter of tournament goers consider the Awards/Trophies in your tournament not important, and only 4% less consider good payouts not important.

From this data, what people want the most are well run and organized events that stick to the schedule and give them an opportunity to compete and enjoy each others company. So instead of trying to appeal to players by giving them the biggest player pack or payout, spend some of that time/money and turn your event into a social and competitive gem in your area.

Payout vs. Player Packs

Part of why I was surprised that payouts and player packs were the most unimportant factors is because they are part of a pretty common debate in disc golf circles–where should tournament money go? Should TD’s provide a generous player pack, or instead focus on bigger payouts across all divisions? We asked for your opinion, and here is how you responded:

We shouldn’t be surprised that the top answer here, with almost half selecting it, is a mix of both, because everyone wants more of everything right? But when we look at those who answered just one or the other, people who favor a big player pack doubled the amount of people who prefer a big payout. This doesn’t surprise me, I think that all players benefit from a large player pack regardless of skill level. So if you are in a good position as a TD, try to create a high value for both the player packs and the payouts. But if you need to choose one or the other, most disc golfers would prefer that money going toward a generous player pack.

Another common debate within disc golf culture is how to divide tournament payouts. In other words, how deep should a tournament payout? If a tournament has a big purse that is paid out to a high percentage of the field, that means the top finishers aren’t paid as much as they would be if they paid out a smaller percentage of the field. The inverse, of course, is a shallow payout that makes for higher payouts for the top of the field. So, we asked disc golfers which they preferred, and here are the responses:

Similar to our last chart, we see that most people prefer moderation. But then the split after that is pretty even with a slight preference toward shallow payouts or even trophy only events. But for the most part, the standard 40%-50% payout is what most people want to see.

Tournament Stamp or Stock Stamp?

Now for one last tidbit of info for our Tournament Directors–How do we feel about tournament stamps compared to stock stamps in the player packs? Specifically, we asked,”As a player pack item, would you prefer a tournament stamp on a disc you don’t throw or a stock stamp on a disc of your choice?” This also gets to players having more of a choice in their player packs. So how much do we value that choice? Here is how we responded:

This one is pretty even across the board with people saying that it depends on the tournament and stamp coming in at the top just barely. And then there is a slight favoring of tournament stamps, which I think makes sense because it is always nice to have a more unique disc in my opinion. So if you run a good enough tournament with a nice stamp design, you can win over the neutral folks and make everyone happy, which is the goal of every TD.

But for those who prefer to have more choice in their player packs, be sure to check out a Next Generation event this year. Dave Feldberg has partnered with Infinite Discs to provide multiple options for player packs, allowing participants to choose the discs and brands included in the packs.

Why Disc Golfers Don’t Play Tournaments

Now, so far we have discussed the preferences of those who said they participated in tournaments this year, but for those who didn’t participate–why not? What kept these people from involving themselves in their local competitive disc golf scene?

As you can see, far and away the top reason why people don’t participate in disc golf tournaments is because they don’t have enough time. Again, it shows that our sport draws competitive people, even if they don’t have time to participate in organized disc golf competitions.

And for the 29.57% of folks who didn’t play in a tournament this year because they don’t think they are good at disc golf, I have a couple of thoughts. First of all–welcome to the club because a good portion of us who play competitively also don’t think we are good at disc golf. But more importantly, if you want to improve your disc golf game, I think one of the best ways to do it is participate in your local leagues and tournaments. I remember being scared showing up to my first league, and I played awful. But the people on my card were very encouraging, and I learned so much as I kept showing up and watching disc golfers who were better than me and how they attacked the course. So don’t let your fear of not being good enough stop you. Once you set that aside and start showing up to leagues and other events, I know your game will improve. I saw it happen in myself, and I see it happen all the time.

And finally, our last stat nugget–for those who didn’t play in disc golf tournaments, what would help in convincing them to show up to future events?

I am surprised to see that over half of people who said that they didn’t play in a tournament said that them getting better at disc golf would convince them to show up to future events. So maybe it is an issue not people thinking they aren’t good at disc golf, but rather they just don’t think they are good enough. Again, refer to my earlier discussion of how participating in competitive disc golf will improve your game. I believe that nobody should ever feel like they aren’t good enough to participate in disc golf tournaments or leagues.

We also see that time/location changes could help almost half of those who didn’t participate in disc golf events show up in the future. Of course, this is a hard thing to get right since everyone’s schedule is different.

Let Them Play With Their Friends

Another piece of interesting information is that 45.87% of folks said that they would play more if they could play with their friends rather than strangers. While it isn’t always ideal, most tournament directors allow people to request being on the same card as their friends. Even if they don’t advertise this, any TD will tell you that there are plenty of disc golfers who have no problem asking anyway. But maybe if TDs are trying to draw more casual players to their events, they can make sure they know that they will be allowed to play with their friends.

So we covered lots of data in this one! What stood out to you that I might have missed commenting on? Do you have any advice for Tournament Directors? Please let us know in the comments!

And last but not least–thank your TDs! A Tournament Director is often a thankless volunteer position. These people donate their time and energy to create a positive event for their disc golf community. They grow the sport and are trying their best to be a positive influence in their communities. So thank you TDs!

Memorial Championship Team Competition Results

Our second week of the professional disc golf team competition was another exciting one. Eagle McMahon dominated the tournament averaging 1077 rated rounds while making Fountain Hills look like a beginner course. Fellow Discmania teammate Simon Lizotte was not far behind him. The domination by the “crush brothers” earned enough points for Team Discmania to claim the win for the men’s side of the team competition.

On the women’s side, Finnish sensation Evalina Salonen extended her final round lead by shooting an incredible 1015 rated round; securing the win for Team Innova over a surging Paige Pierce and Team Dynamic Discs.

Team Innova won the overall competition when combining both results for both the men and women.

Get the discount code for the winning teams brand and

 

Overall Standings

With another dominating performance by Team Innova, they are clearly #1 in the overall performance after two weeks. Team Discmania may have a chance to secure a few more victories on the men’s side of the competition if the Crush brothers keep finishing in the top positions. Team Prodigy and Discraft have the talent to compete on any given week, we just haven’t seen any top finishes yet.

On the women’s side, it appears that the real competition will be between Team Innova and Team Dynamic Discs. Prodigy, Discraft, and MVP all have talented players, but just don’t have the number of top tier players to earn enough points to compete throughout the overall season.

Which Disc Golf Team Won the Las Vegas Challenge?

If you’ve been following some of our recent blog posts, we’ve evaluated the “Team” aspect of disc golf.

While some of the employees at Infinite Discs were discussing “Disc Golf Teams,” we thought it would be fun to find out who really has the best disc golf team — from an on the course competitive standpoint.

Our intern Ethan has created a website that shows team results for the different disc golf pro tour and national tour events using a point system similar to cross country and swimming.

To put something on the line, and reward the winning “team” we are also giving a 10% off discount code for the winning team’s brand the week following each major tournament.

Results from the Las Vegas Challenge are in. If you want to find out who won, and take advantage of this weeks discount code, check out the new team competition website at DiscGolfTeams.com

What Discs Did Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki Throw in the First Round on Tour With New Sponsors?

Paul McBeth prepares to Tee off on the Infinite Discs Course

The 2019 Las Vegas Challenge kicks off the 2019 tour, and The MPO and FPO divisions played their first round on the beautiful Infinite Discs Course at the Wildhorse Golf Club on Thursday. One of the feature cards of the MPO division was the “Champions Card” which featured four previous champions of this event–Philo Brathwaite, Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, and Eagle McMahon. This card was filmed by JoMez Productions, and can be watched on their excellent YouTube channel that just reached over 100K subscribers.

This round was highly anticipated in the disc golf world, because it gave us our first chance to see the two best disc golfers in the world play disc golf for the first time on tour with discs from their new sponsors. Just in case you have lived under a rock over the last few months, Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki announced that they will be changing up their bags due to new sponsorship agreements. Paul McBeth is now sponsored by Discraft, and Ricky Wysocki is now sponsored by Innova.

So I have decided to collect some of the information that everyone is concerned about–what discs are they throwing now? Below is a breakdown of every disc that both Paul and Ricky threw during their first round on the Infinite Discs course. I personally am not at the event, so as you will see there were a handful of discs that I am not positive about. But if you know which discs they are, please let us know in the comments.

So here is the data!

Paul McBeth’s First Round at LVC on the Infinite Discs Course

Course Par: 59

Round Score: 50 (-9) (two penalty strokes)

Hole by Hole Breakdown:

  1. Predator, Luna, Luna
  2. Undertaker, Luna, Luna
  3. Force, Luna
  4. Wasp, Luna
  5. Kong, Luna
  6. Luna (OB), Luna, Luna
  7. Drone, Luna, Luna
  8. Predator, Zone, Luna, Zone (tap in)
  9. Force, Zone, Luna
  10. Undertaker, Luna, Luna
  11. Force, Zone, Force (tap in)
  12. Undertaker, Luna, Undertaker (tap in)
  13. Wasp, Luna
  14. Force, Luna
  15. Predator (OB), Luna
  16. Predator, Luna
  17. Kong, Luna, Luna
  18. Force, Luna

Total Disc Molds used: 8

Most Used Disc Mold: Luna (50%)

Most Used Driver: Force (13% of total)

Most Used Midrange: Wasp, only thrown twice.

Round Overview:

Paul had a decent round overall. The disc I felt he was the most accurate with was his Forces. He didn’t have to break it our a ton, but he seems to have really figured that disc out already. The disc he struggled with the most was his putter, the Luna. It is common to see these pros need some time to adjust when they change up their bag, and that’s all I’m going to credit this to. There were several long runs that we’re used to seeing Paul hit or at least draw metal on, and it just wasn’t there this round.

Ricky Wysocki’s First Round at LVC on the Infinite Discs Course

Course Par: 59

Round Score: 48 (-11)

Hole by Hole Breakdown:

***updated from earlier post due to new info

  1. Firebird, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (orange)
  2. KC Roc, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (orange)
  3. Destroyer, KC Aviar?? (not filmed), KC Aviar (orange)
  4. Firebird, KC Aviar (white)
  5. Monster, KC Aviar (white)
  6. KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (white)
  7. Firebird, KC Aviar (white)
  8. Firebird, Pig, KC Aviar (white)
  9. Destroyer, AviarX3, AviarX3 (tap in)
  10. Firebird, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (white)
  11. Firebird, Pig, Firebird (tap in)
  12. Max, KC Aviar (white)
  13. Firebird, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (orange)
  14. Destroyer, KC Aviar (white)
  15. Firebird, KC Aviar (orange)
  16. Firebird, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (orange)
  17. Firebird, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (white)
  18. Destroyer, KC Aviar (white), KC Aviar (white)

Total Disc Molds used: 8

Most Used Disc Mold: KC Aviar (54%)

Most Used Driver: Firebird (23% of total)

Most Used Midrange: KC Roc, only thrown once.

Round Overview:

Ricky played a solid round overall. He seemed to be really comfortable with his green Champion Firebird that he was throwing off the tee all day. Similar to Paul, he seemed the most uncomfortable with his putter. He hit a few long putts, but he kept switching back and forth from a white putter to an orange putter. I am almost positive that they are both KC Aviars, but if I get news contrary I will update this post. He also fell victim to a vicious strong side spit out on hole 17 that may have impacted his confidence on an inside the circle putt on hole 18 that he left short.

All in all, it was just fun to watch disc golf again, and it is always fun watching these two professionals go at it on the course. I am excited to see how this event finishes out, and I am very excited to see these two get more accustomed to their new equipment throughout the season. I’m sure we are going to see some memorable moments from these two on this year’s tour.

What did you all take away from watching their first rounds? Did I make a mistake on my disc identifications? Please let me know in the comments!

Infinite Discs Course at Las Vegas Challenge

Paul McBeth prepares to Tee off on the Infinite Discs Course

Infinite Discs is a major sponsor at this years Las Vegas Challenge presented by Innova Champion Discs. We are the course sponsors for what is now known as the “Infinite Course.” To help us continue sponsoring professional disc golf events such as this, consider purchasing some of our Las Vegas Challenge fundraiser discs here.

Watch the pros play the Infinite Course Here:

Men’s Feature Cards

Women’s Feature Card

State of Disc Golf–Disc Golf Tournaments

The 2018 Glass Blown Open is in the books! This annual event is considered one of the most inviting for disc golf fans and amateur players in the world. The host city, Emporia, Kansas, has a population of just over 20,000 and is considered by many the “Disc Golf Mecca.” So with another successful GBO coming to a close on Saturday, it seems like an appropriate time to discuss our participation in disc golf tournaments and the potential economic impact of that participation.

In our State of Disc Golf Survey at the beginning of the year, we asked disc golfers if they played in any disc golf tournaments in 2017. Just shy of 3/4 of us did compete in a tournament with 72.59% of survey takers answering in the affirmative. Of these disc golfers who played in a tournament, we asked how many PDGA sanctioned tournaments they played in as well as how many non-PDGA sanctioned tournaments. Here were the results:

 

What do these numbers tell us? It looks like the majority of us who play in tournaments still keep it casual, only playing in a handful of tournaments. We can see that more than half of us played in 3 PDGA and non PDGA sanctioned tournaments or less this year. I’d say I am a bit surprised by how low that number is, and I am also surprised that there isn’t a larger difference in these percentages. I would have imagined there would have been significantly more participation in PDGA events, but the spread is pretty even for both.

Now for some questions that lead to great info for those of us who are trying to grow the sport by getting our local parks and city officials to support disc golf. This info could also be useful when trying to seek out sponsors for your local events–How far are we willing to travel for disc golf, and how much money do we spend when we do travel?

Again, here I think the numbers should do most of the talking, so here are our responses to those questions:

 

 

 

As someone who has been involved in running tournaments and installing new disc golf courses, the statistical tidbit that I think I will use in future meetings is over a quarter of competitive disc golfers are willing to travel anywhere for a disc golf tournament. “If you build it, they will come,” right? If the courses are good enough and the payout high enough, the disc golfers will come and they will bring their wallets with them. Now city officials may not be ecstatic by the size of those wallets based on the results of the second question, but still, communities know that community events bring in money. If you get the chance, ask business owners in the small town of Emporia, Kansas what they think about disc golf tournaments. And if you don’t get a chance, take notice of all the “Welcome Disc Golfers” signs your friends who went to GBO posted on their social media accounts.

Getting back to our involvement in disc golf, my final takeaway is something that I think is pretty unique to disc golf. And that is disc golf fans are also disc golf competitors. Yes, there are community leagues for basketball and soccer that fans of those sports participate in, but do all fans of those sports also compete? In my last article, I reported that 77.4% of survey takers follow professional disc golfers. If we assume that the 72.59% of disc golfers who played in a tournament in 2017 also follow the pros, that would mean that less than 5% of those who follow the professionals don’t compete themselves. I’d imagine that number is much bigger for those who follow the professional game in basketball, soccer, or most other sports.

Why is that? Well, most of us learned about professional disc golf well after playing it first since pro disc golf is not in the mainstream. Also all we need to do to compete in disc golf is pay the tournament registration fee. Team sports require…well, a team of players who are willing to practice and play together. Also in most locations, disc golfers can practice and prepare to compete without spending a dime except for the money they spend on their gear. For other individual sports like ball golf or bowling, you can’t access the competition facility to practice for free. The ease of access is greater for disc golf competitors, so we see more participation in the amateur game.

Which leads to the common discussion in our sport of how much does the amateur game fuel the professional game? This year after the Las Vegas Challenge, participants were invited to provide their feedback for the event, and one of the main questions asked was if they should split the event into two weekends, one for amateur competition and one for the pros. This would allow for a larger field of competitors. You would have to contact Jeff Jaquart and the fantastic crew at the LVC for the results of that survey, but just by word of mouth I heard a lot of my fellow competitors express that they would likely not make the trip back next year if they didn’t get to see the pros compete that same weekend. But the question I have is how many fans would make the trip just to watch the pros if they weren’t competing themselves? Would the gallery be smaller for the final round of next year’s LVC? No matter the answer, I can’t help but think of the huge gallery I saw all 4 rounds of the Masters (that’s a kind of big ball golf tournament for those who don’t know :)), and it just makes me think that we still have a long way to go in disc golf.

What do you think? What are you most surprised by in these numbers? Comment and let us know!

How One Person Made Disc Golf a Little Bit Better

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.

How Do You Feel About Disc Golf Tournaments?

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!

sanctioned

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.

unsactionedtournaments

 

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.

specialtytournaments

 

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.

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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.

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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.

singleormultidayOut 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.

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Happiness Is…

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.

 

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