Who Took the State of Disc Golf 2020 Survey

Infinite Discs and the State of Disc Golf 2020 sponsors would like to thank all of those disc golfers who took the survey this year. Your input really helps us to get a great overview of how the sport is evolving and growing. We look forward to sharing the information that we’ve gathered with the public and with the brand sponsors who are providing prizes for randomly selected survey participants.

Some of the 2020 Survey Sponsors:

  • Infinite Discs
  • ZUCA
  • Prodigy
  • MVP / Axiom
  • Dynamic Discs
  • Innova
  • Discraft
  • Discmania

WHO TOOK THE SURVEY THIS YEAR?

We had 6,541 disc golfers who took the survey this year. As usual, most of the survey participants are based in the USA, though the numbers are growing in other countries as well. Of course, we launched the survey primarily to the market in the USA and it is in English, which may limit the number of people in other countries who are able to participate. Here is a look at the breakdown by state. The map displays a darker shade of green in the states that had the most participants. The color is more faint in the states with fewer participants.

Map of Survey Participants in the USA

If we remove all of the survey participants from the United States of America, then this chart shows the percentage of remaining survey participants from other countries.

Survey Participants Outside of the USA

Originally, we had under 4% of survey participants who were female, so we put out a last call request for more ladies to participate. They heard the call and we received a good number of last-minute female participants to give us a better, more rounded collection of opinions and feedback. We finished with 7.4% of participants being female. Thanks ladies!

Gender of Survey Participants

How Old are Disc Golfers?

Disc golf is known as a sport that is playable by people of all ages. You don’t have to be in your prime to enjoy a round of disc golf. Nor do you need to be particularly athletic. The learning curve is fast and there are discs designed for players at any skill level. With all of that said, let’s take a look at the average ages of the people who took the time to answer the 2020 survey questions.

Age of Survey Participants

What Skill Level Do You Consider Yourself?

When a player needs to definite their own skill level, the results can be pretty mixed. Some of us have been playing for several years, yet always consider ourselves as recreational or intermediate at best. Some of us are involved with the sport for a very short time, yet our competitive nature drives us to claim advanced skill levels. When looking at how we rate ourselves, one person’s “beginner” can be another person’s “advanced” depending on the severity of levity of our self evaluation. But it’s still a fun question to ask.  We’re always surprised at how many participants call themselves “Professional.” Do they actually make money playing disc golf? We hope so!

How Do Participants Rate their Skill Level

 

Thanks again for participating and we look forward to parsing the data and sharing what we’ve learned! Feel free to leave any comments below.

 

 

2019 State of Disc Golf–Par for the Course…Literally

Disc Golf Par Controversy

Today we are tackling a subject in disc golf that some consider controversial while others consider it just silly. Today we are talking about par. How should we determine par? Should we adopt par 2s in disc golf? Lots of disc golfers have their opinions on this subject, but in the end, does any of it even matter? In doing some research for this post, I found a well written article from our friend Steve Dodge that I will likely refer to a few times today. So what is par exactly?

Par in Ball Golf vs Par in Disc Golf

A quick google search for the definition of the word “par” in golf will yield this definition: “the number of strokes a first-class player should normally require for a particular hole or course.” Another explanation I found said that par is how many strokes an expert golfer should take to complete a hole.

The idea of par and using par as a way to define our scores in disc golf (1 under par, 2 over par, etc.) can be directly traced back to our ball golf roots. But something we might be forgetting is that par in ball golf should reflect what first-class or expert golfers are scoring, not the field at large.

This is why on the PGA tour we see scores close to par or maybe even as low as around 10-under par winning four day, four round tournaments. So why is it that for tournaments with the same number of holes on the PDGA National Tour and the DGPT we are seeing disc golfers needing to score close to 40-under par in order to win the event?

One line of thinking that I tend to agree with is that it’s all about putting. Steve Dodge explains, “In golf, the average number of putts is theoretically two…In golf, par is the number of shots to reach the green + putts (2).” So how does this translate to disc golf? “In disc golf, the average number of putts is theoretically one…In disc golf, par would be the number of shots to reach the green + putts (1). This would make about half of our holes into par 2s.”

Par 2 in Disc Golf?

While some of us may average 2 putts from inside the circle, our first-class and expert disc golfers for whom par should be determined (if we follow ball golf’s model) are nearly automatic from inside the circle. But in ball golf, even the best putters in the game will miss putts from inside 10 feet from time to time. That is just the difference between our two games.

So ball golf and disc golf are different in scoring. Another way to phrase that is ball golf is harder than disc golf, which is something we all like about disc golf. But since disc golf is easier shouldn’t par then be adjusted to account for this? The quickest way to account for this is the adoption of par 2s in disc golf.

This brings us to our first bit of data from the State of Disc Golf Survey. We asked survey takers if they would like to see very short or easy holes be considered par 2? The answers were pretty telling:

75% of Those Surveyed Believe there should be no Par 2's in Disc Golf

 

For the most part, we disc golfers don’t want to see par 2s out on the course. But some, especially those who are new to disc golf or unfamiliar with our culture, may be confused or surprised by this. Why would those within the sport not want to see more accurate par ratings on their courses?

Steve Dodge shed some light here again: “Setting a par 2 makes the scoring expectation much harder and, oddly enough, decreases our enjoyment of playing the game. Disc golf has a tremendous advantage in that it is more fun to play because our par score is easier to attain.” That last statement is interesting, claiming that disc golf is more fun because the par score is easier. But as we discussed earlier, a 10 ft putt in disc golf is easier than a 10 ft putt in golf, regardless of the hole’s par.

This makes me think that we have a bit of a blind spot here because we have come to expect extremely low par scores in our sport. How would you feel if you shot 10-under par at your local course and then someone came along and told you that your score was actually 1-over par if your course par was rated more accurately? But if that round had always been considered a 1-over par round, you wouldn’t care as much right?

Like when I go out and play ball golf, I know that par is pretty well out of reach. So I am pretty pleased if I score a few strokes over par.

It is all about expectation, and we in disc golf have come to expect very low scores relative to par, and as we can see in the above chart, most of us don’t care that some of our par 3 holes should be rated as par 2 if we adopted more accurate par ratings.

More Par 4 and 5 in Disc Golf?

Now what about the other end of the spectrum? What about longer and more challenging holes? We asked survey takers if they would like to see more courses with par 4 and par 5 holes. Here are the results:

More Par 4s

So once again, we see a clear answer–we want more par 4 and par 5 holes. But as we could see from our first question about par 2s, we don’t seem to care about the accuracy of our par ratings. So do we want more par 4 and par 5 holes just because we view them as an opportunity for more birdies?

When discussing a long disc golf hole and whether it should be considered a par 3 or 4, more than once I have heard someone arguing that it should be a par 4 say something like, “Well, if it were a par 3, then it would be almost impossible to birdie.” In disc golf, we expect to get our birdies, and sometimes we expect every hole to be birdie-able. And we expect birdies not just for the first-class and expert golfers, but for your average casual players as well.

State of Disc Golf – Disc Golf News

Where do disc golfers get their disc golf related news?

That is the question we’ll be answering today! The data is pretty straight forward! In the 2019 State of Disc Golf Survey we asked people “Where do you get disc golf news/updates?” They then could pick from a list of choices, checking as many as applied to them. So, we took those answers and compiled the data! We took the top 11 answers, as anything left hardly made a blip on the graph.

First we’ll break it down by all respondents, then we’ll take a look by age. Without further ado:

So- Facebook took first place as the news source for disc golf, which is understandable. Facebook serves as news and community for many disc golfers. There are many, many disc golf groups on Facebook for brands, players, and teams. News gets spread around Facebook with ease, so it’s apparent that Facebook is where we get our disc golf news.

The PDGA was the second highest. They send out a weekly newsletter that keeps everyone up to date on disc golf happenings. All PDGA members receive this newsletter, so it’s no surprise that a lot of us get our news direct from the Professional Disc Golf Association.

Instagram was next in line, followed by Infinite Discs. Then Reddit, Disc Golf Podcasts, Ultiworld, and Disc Golfer Magazine. Finally, the last three were DGCourseReview.com, Twitter, and YouTube.

Disc Golf News Source by Age

Now we’ll take a look at the same data, but broken down by age. The age ranges are general and large, but, they do still share some interesting data. Let’s take a look!

This time, we had to break it down by percentage of respondents within each age group, yielding some fun results. Facebook is still the #1 source for all age groups, but the 50+ year old category comes out on top for using Facebook as their news source the most.

At the #3 spot we have Instagram, but this one was fun to look at. 58% of the 12-25 age group used Instagram, while only 9% of the 50+ age group used Instagram. This was the biggest gap by far, but understandable if you know about social media trends. Far more young people use Instagram daily.

Reddit and Twitter also see a similar breakdown by age. Then, we see that Disc Golfer Magazine has the inverse trend– 33% of the 50+ group use Disc Golfer Magazine as their news source, and that stat trends down the younger you get.

This goes to show that the newer social media platforms are far more dominated by the younger crowd, and magazines are mainly used by the older crowd. This stat likely goes beyond Disc Golf Media, but it’s still fun to see within our sport.

Thanks for joining us today! Let us know in the comments what your favorite news source is!

State of Disc Golf 2019–Disc Buying Habits

We are getting into our busy season here at Infinite Discs! People are playing lots of disc golf which means they are buying lots of discs. So it seems like a perfect time to take a look back at our disc golf buying habits from 2018.

How Many Discs Do We Own?

First, let’s look at how many discs we own. Are we a bunch of hoarders? Let’s find out!

Surprise, (not really) we own lots of discs! The pie chart is a bit crowded, so here is a bar graph featuring the same information:

The most popular response was 41-60 discs, and from the pie chart we can see that almost 3/4 of us own more than 30 discs, which is more than you can fit in an average disc golf bag or cart. I remember when I first started playing disc golf and I saw someone on the course with a backpack full of discs. I thought there was no way I could ever own enough discs to fill a backpack bag. Now I have boxes and boxes of discs…

But that is the literal state of disc golf and disc ownership! And it is something that is pretty unique to our sport. You don’t see many golfers who have multiple bags of clubs, or casual basketball players who have closets full of different basketball shoes. We don’t just own the discs we need to play, but we also collect disc golf equipment.

How Many New Discs Though?

So how many new discs did we add to our collections in 2018? Again, here is both the pie chart and bar graph with this data:

So from this we could say that a rough “average” for the community as a whole is around 10-14 discs since a little over half of us bought at least 10 discs in 2018. I personally would say that is a little higher than I expected. 10 discs is a lot, especially for players who have a pretty established bag. But I think there are a couple of factors that drive us to buy more and more discs.

First of all, there are new releases. I usually write our quarterly sales reports on the blog, and almost every single time one of the top selling discs in every category is a new release disc. We for some reason in disc golf love trying out and collecting new disc molds, and there are definitely more than 10 new molds released every year.

I also think there is a sweet spot in the competitiveness and experience of disc golfers in correlation with how many discs we purchase. Beginners often purchase a lot of discs because they are excited about this new thing in their life and they are jumping in full swing. These new disc golfers are figuring out how to play and what molds will work in their bag. Then after maybe a year or more, once that disc golfer has gotten the hang of things, their purchasing may slow a bit.

This is that sweet spot. Experienced disc golfers who have for the most part found their comfort zone in the game. They don’t feel as strong of a need to buy more discs. However, if that experienced disc golfer becomes more competitive and play more frequently, they become more involved in the replacement market of disc golf. Depending on the types of courses they play, they might be losing more discs than average. Also their discs get worn in quicker and may need to be replaced sooner.

But something else that always needs to be remembered when analyzing this data is that the data is from people who cared enough about disc golf to take a survey put out by a disc golf company. We get a large number of respondents every year, but they are generally more active in the online disc golf community. So it makes sense that our numbers might be higher than expected when it comes to disc golf purchases.

How Many Discs Did We Collect?

Now, back to the data! And an interesting question that gets back to my comments earlier about us being collectors: How many discs did we acquire to collect and not throw? I think just the pie chart is sufficient for this one:

Again, we are collectors! Over half of us got a disc that we had no intention of ever throwing. This also doesn’t include discs that we collect but also want to throw a few times before hanging it on the wall or storing it away in plastic totes. This is great news for disc golf manufacturers and retailers. As we can see, their special edition, signature series, and first run discs are working in getting us to spend more money on new collectible discs.

But Where Do the Discs Come From?

So where do we get our new discs from? We asked that question, and provided survey takers with a variety of options for their responses. Here is how we answered:

As it is with the rest of the retail world, online is a dominant avenue through which we acquire new disc golf discs. So some may be surprised to see that the most popular selection was local disc golf stores that are focused primarily on selling disc golf equipment. This is encouraging for small business owners who have invested in building their own small business. It is also why companies like Dynamic Discs have opened several locations across the country.

But in a world that has seen brick and mortar stores go under because of the pressure from online retailers, why would most survey takers still buy discs from local stores? Again, this gets to a quirk in disc golf–there are benefits to seeing and holding a disc before you buy it. It is always nice to try on shoes and see them in person, but a size 11 of the same basketball shoe is going to be the exact same whether you buy it from a local Foot Locker or from Amazon or Eastbay online.

However, a max weight Star Destroyer from your local shop may be different from all of the max weight Star Destroyers available right now on Infinite Discs or any other online retailer. One might be more domey or have any other idiosyncratic feature you have learned that you like or dislike in your Star Destroyers.

I know when I worked in the warehouse at Infinite Discs I always got calls asking how flat a certain Champion Firebird was that we had listed online. Well when you shop in with a local disc golf store, you can inspect the disc however you want before buying your purchase. Due to overhead, some local stores may have higher prices than online retailers, but it may be worth the extra cost knowing exactly what you are getting before you buy it.

Over the last few years, I have been able to help out at our local Infinite Discs store in Pocatello, Idaho. I have seen the above scenario play out several times, but also I think a local pro shop is more inviting to newer players who may feel overwhelmed by all of the options available. Online retailers try their best to provide new players with information, but for many people it is nice to be able to have a face to face conversation with a store associate who knows about disc golf and are qualified to answer their questions.

But another interesting aspect of local disc golf stores being the most popular way that survey takers acquired discs is simply the fact that that many people have access to a dedicated local disc golf store. It would be interesting to know how many disc golf stores have opened over the last few years, but from this survey we know that at least over 60% of survey takers have access to a local disc golf shop, which is exciting for the growth of the sport.

So there you have it! What bit of data stood out to you? Is there something I failed to discuss that should have gotten more attention? Please let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comments!

State of Disc Golf – Ace Statistics

The All Elusive Ace

Have you ever wondered if you are the only one in the world to not get an ace? We’re going to dive into the cold, hard statistics from this years State of Disc Golf survey to find out how often aces happen, and who they come from most often. First, we’ll look at the straight data to see how many hole-in-ones occurred in 2018.

Alright! So we see that most of you did not card an ace last year. In fact, if we pit the aces against the no-aces, this is what it looks like:

55.8% of survey respondents did not ace in 2018, leaving 44.2% with the excitement of a hole in one! So it seems the disc golf ace might not be all-elusive after all. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll get an ace this year!

As expected, this is quite different than the traditional golf scene. According to the National Hole-In-One Registry, only 1-2% of ball golfers will capture an ace in a given year. With an estimated 20+ million golfers playing 450 million rounds a year, we see that aces are far more rare.

In contrast, we turn to disc golf and see people reporting 8, 9, and 10+ aces in 2018. But it’s no big surprise aces in disc golf are far more common. Even in disc golf’s top events, several aces are captured on camera each year.

Who Takes the Ace?

Let’s do some cross comparison and see made all of these aces in 2018. Maybe it’ll give us clues on how to snag one ourselves…

Aces by Division

This likely also won’t come as a surprise, but the data backs it up: the higher division you play, the more likely you are to have an ace. About 81% of beginners did not ace in 2018, while only 16% of professionals didn’t. There’s something to be said for skill level and hitting the basket on your first throw.


Aces by Amount Played

No big surprises here either! The more rounds you play in a year, the more likely you are to have an ace. If you only play once a week or less, your chances of an ace are only 21% (still 10 times higher than that of ball golf). If you play every day, there’s only an 18% chance you won’t get an ace. At about 10-14 rounds a month is where you’ll hit the 50/50 chance of getting an ace.

Of course, this all depends on where you play as well.


Aces by Region

Aces by State

The number of reported aces from each state on the State of Disc Golf survey.

This map shows us the raw data of where the most aces occurred based on survey results. Michigan took first, Texas second, then California and Colorado. Pennsylvania had more survey takers than Colorado, but the rate of aces reported was much higher in Colorado, causing it to take fourth place in aces reported. This map coincides almost perfectly with survey data on # of course and players in each state.


Aces Per Capita of Survey Respondents

The number of aces reported per state, divided by the number of respondents per state.

This map is a little fun, and likely not the best way to pick where to hunt your next ace. This map takes the number of aces reported in each state and divides it by the number of survey takers in that state. North Dakota took the number one spot with a reported 17 aces, yet only 9 survey takers, yielding nearly 2 aces per person. Now does this extend to all disc golfers in North Dakota? Probably not. Alaska had a similar story with 27 aces and 16 respondents.

The top dogs in the previous map (Texas, Michigan, California) were taken right back down to normal levels in this map, having less aces than survey respondents.


Thanks for taking time to join us on this ace adventure, and thank you for taking the State of Disc Golf survey and helping us with the data to process. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m packing my bags for North Dakota to get some aces.

State of Disc Golf 2019 – Average Throwing Distances

During the 2019 State of Disc Golf Survey, we asked players about their average throwing distance on drives. When looking at the overall field of players that responded to the survey, here are the percentages that claimed specific distance abilities:

You’ll notice that the largest percentage of overall players claimed a distance between 301 and 350 feet maximum. That distance represents almost 31% of players. The next largest percentage claims a distance between 251 and 300 feet, at almost 27% of those surveyed. Close behind that is the 351 to 400 foot range at 22%.

That means that if you add together those three categories with a distance from 251 – 400 feet, that covers the vast majority of players while much smaller groups claim 400+ feet. Only 2.1% of those surveyed claimed to be able to through 451 to 500 feet and a minor sliver of .5% claimed a distance of over 500 feet.

DISTANCE VS AGE

We thought it would be fun to take a look at the results broken down by age groups. So here is a very chart-heavy report, but we hope that you enjoy seeing how age influences distance. As you scroll through the age breakdowns, you’ll notice that the middle ages have a much higher number of survey participants, but the averages stay pretty close…

AGE 12 – 17

AGE 18 – 21

AGE 22 – 25

AGE 26 – 29

AGE 30 – 35

AGE 36 – 40

AGE 41 – 50

AGE 51 – 60

AGE 61 – 70

AGE 71 +

Only when you start to hit the charts for 61-70 and the 71+ age groups do the distance abilities begin a dramatic drop-off, landing more of those older players in a range under 300 feet.

DISTANCE VS ELEVATION

Now, for a little something you’ve never considered, we have a breakdown of the claimed distances from survey participants versus the elevation of the states in the USA where those players are from. Did you ever wonder how much elevation figures into distance? While higher elevations often make disc flight paths more overstable (and the reverse for lower elevations), the abilities to throw further seems to favor those who live at higher elevations.

This chart, provided by Lucid Software’s analysis team, can be a little bit hard to decipher, but it basically takes the average elevation of all the survey participants that answered for each distance. You can see that the further the distance (shown at the bottom of each bar) the darker the bar becomes, with the darker bars representing higher elevations. The average elevation is shown above each bar.

The black box feature’s Lucid Software’s bullet points (or take-aways) stating that distance data seems consistent with other sports, like baseball, and that disc golf course designers in higher elevations might consider longer hole distances. Of course, we can take or leave that advice, but the data seems clear regarding distance versus elevation of where players live.

However, here is a thought– it could be that the courses are very different at lower elevations where wooded courses are more predominant. In those lower elevation, wooded courses, players need to play with precision as their focus, rather than distance. After all, if playing in the woods, there is little need for power throws due to low ceilings and obstacles. However, at higher elevations, the trees may be less predominant on courses, making distance more of a factor. You either throw far across open fairways, or bomb high throws over the tops of the few trees on the course.

What do you think is the cause for this distance disparity when it comes to altitude? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and thanks again to all of the thousands of players who participated in the survey.

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!

State of Disc Golf 2019–Brand Preferences

Which brands do we prefer to use? Did our favorite brands change this year? This is an especially interesting year in disc golf to take a look at the survey responses that relate to this topic because of the many sponsor changes made by top professional disc golfers this offseason.

In fact, we tried to address the big offseason changes directly by adding a new question to this year’s survey. This survey was taken at the beginning of this calendar year during a time that was well after the news broke that Paul McBeth would be sponsored by Discraft and Ricky Wysocki would be sponsored by Innova. So we decided to ask straight up–Have you thought about purchasing Innova because of the Ricky Wysocki switch? We also asked–Have you thought about purchasing Discraft because of the Paul McBeth switch? Here is how we responded:

Well, if you didn’t know already, Paul McBeth really is the king of disc golf in so many ways. As you can see, just over a third of all survey takers have thought about purchasing Discraft product strictly because Paul McBeth is now throwing their discs during tournament play. And then, as we saw in the favorite disc golfers post, Ricky Wysocki’s change to Innova doesn’t seem to have been as well received. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really think it is because the fans Ricky Wysocki gained over the last few years while he was sponsored by Latitude 64 viewed Innova as more of a rival than the fans of Paul McBeth viewed Discraft. This is a fascinating anomaly in disc golf.

But as the data has proven in multiple ways, we as disc golf consumers care about which brand of discs sponsor our favorite pros, and it influences our buying habits.

One little tidbit of data is especially interesting in this enigma that is the relationship between favorite disc golfers and favorite brands it what I would call the Eric Oakley effect.

Eric Oakley is one of the best touring pros not just at disc golf, but at marketing himself using social media outlets. This makes him an especially valuable team member for any sponsor. His manufacturer sponsor over the last few seasons has been Dynamic Discs, one of the Trilogy brands (Dynamic Discs, Latitude 64, and Westside).

In the survey we asked survey takers if their favorite brand of discs changed this year, and if they answered yes, we asked who their new favorite brand is now. So we took a look at survey takers who named Eric Oakley as one of their favorite disc golfers. Then of those participants, we looked at which ones changed favorite brands. Of these survey takers, 83% said their new favorite brand was one of the Trilogy brands. We see this trend when looking at other professionals as well, but Eric Oakley seemed to have the strongest influence this year.

However, when asked why they changed favorite brands, survey takers did not cite professional influence at so high a rate:

So if data trends show professional disc golfers making a significant influence on our brand preferences, why did so few cite them as reasons for changing their favorites? In my opinion, I think it is fair to say that perhaps these survey takers tried out discs made by their new favorite brands because of the influence of their favorite professional disc golfers, and they stuck around for reasons like the feel and flight of their discs. As was previously mentioned, nearly 33% of all survey takers said they would consider throwing Discraft discs just because of Paul McBeth–before Paul had even thrown a Discraft disc in tournament play!

Of course, this leads to the question–for those who changed their favorite brands, which manufacturer was their new favorite? Well first of all, it is important to note that only 20.76% of all survey takers said that their favorite brand changed during the last year. So for the most part, disc golfers stayed true to their previous favorites. But let’s look at which brands that 20% chose as their new favorites:

TOP 5 NEW FAVORITE DISC MANUFACTURERS

  1. Dynamic Discs–17.45%
  2. Discraft–13.33%
  3. Discmania–10.97%
  4. MVP–10.46%
  5. Innova–9.50%

Remember that Eric Oakley effect I talked about? We can definitely see that influence carried over here. You could also argue from these results that the McBeth effect is so strong that he doesn’t even have to throw a disc to make people change their favorite manufacturer.

We also asked survey takers if they could only throw discs made by one manufacturer, which would they choose? For this question, we put together different brands made by the same manufacturer. Here are the overall results:

IF YOU COULD ONLY USE DISCS MADE BY ONE MANUFACTURER, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

  1. Innova/Discmania/Millennium/Hyzerbomb/Infinite–45.84%
  2. Dynamic Discs/Latitude 64/Westside–27.73%
  3. Axiom/MVP/Streamline–10.47%
  4. Discraft/DGA/Plastic Addicts–10.20%
  5. Prodigy–2.22%

I think a lot of this comes down to selection. If you look at how many discs are available from each of these manufacturers, it pretty much coincides with these results. But it is significant that almost half of all disc golfers who took the survey would choose to only throw discs made in an Innova factory if they had to make that choice. All other manufacturers were selected by less than 1% of survey takers.

This leads us to what I believe is the ultimate indicator of our true brand preferences. We can claim certain brands as our favorites, but which brands are we actually throwing and including in our disc golf bags? Let’s look:

I don’t think that Innova being the most popular is too big of a surprise, but over 80% of survey takers having at least one Innova disc in their bag is a bit surprising to me. It just goes to show how dominant their influence has been in the disc golf world over the years. I also was a little surprised to see that Discraft was number two. I would have predicted Latitude 64 to be the number two. Which means I was also surprised to see that Dynamic Discs was higher than Latitude 64.

That being said, it is important to note that the question just asks which brand of discs are in our bag. So if a survey taker has only one disc of a certain brand (like the extremely popular Discraft Buzzz) then they would include that brand in their response.

The trilogy brands together were the third, fourth, and fifth most popular brands. For a long time Latitude 64 was the only of the three that had a “complete” lineup, so they were always the most popular. However, both Dynamic and Westside Discs have released more and more discs giving players–especially those loyal to Trilogy–more options.

Looking further down the chart it looks like things shook out as expected. I was a little surprised at how low Prodigy was considering it wasn’t that long ago that they took the disc golf world by storm and had a large team of professional disc golfers. But Prodigy has been a little more aggressive this year with newer molds being added to their lineup like the recently hyped D2 Max. It will be interesting to see if they can get these new molds into the bags of disc golfers.

So we have thrown together several charts and lists here today, but what does it mean? No, I’m really asking, what do you think it all means? Let us know in the comments what you think of this data and what it says about our current state of disc golf!

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