Factors Influencing Disc Purchases

Disc golf discs on racks for sale

The State of Disc Golf 2021

Factors in Buying a Disc

Three weeks ago we looked at the number of discs that we bought in 2020. On average, we bought around 25 discs each. For the record, according to the survey, we bought over 157,000 discs last year! Of all the discs sold, what factors went into deciding which disc we would buy? This week we’ll take a look at those factors and how heavily they influence our buying decisions. Let’s look at the factors in the order they appeared in the survey. In the survey, we listed the factors, then gave participants the option to choose how much that factor affected our purchases. The options were:

  • Don’t Care At All
  • Not Very Important
  • Semi Important
  • Very Important

 

Obviously, when it comes to buying discs, there are many things that each of us look for. Sometimes we have to sacrifice some of those preferences in order to get a disc. Or, we decide that the available discs don’t check enough of our preference boxes, and we don’t buy until we find a disc that meets more factors. Other times the stars align and we find exactly what we’re looking for. Let’s break it down to the different factors and see how we rate them.

Manufacturer

According to last year and this year’s  survey, only about 5% of us only throw discs from only one manufacturer. An overwhelming majority of us have a mixed bag. That being said, most of us still care about which manufacturer’s disc we will throw. Roughly 82% of us thought it was at least semi-important. That leaves about 18% of us who don’t care much, or at all, about the manufacturer.

I suspect that much of the loyalty we exhibit is because of our familiarity with certain brands. We throw what we know. When it comes to quality discs, even the smaller brands sell discs that are high quality. That doesn’t really matter though if we stick with brands we already know about. We know the flight numbers of the brands we like, and are familiar with the feel of their molds and plastics, so we stick with those. Here is the graph of the results:

Plastic

For most of us, the feel of a disc ranks pretty high on our personal hierarchy of disc factors. Durability is also a reason people give for selecting certain plastics. Flight stability is another reason we gravitate toward one plastic or another. Some of us even change plastics we throw based on the season. Or, more specifically, the temperature we’re playing in. All of the above are factors as to what plastic we throw. According to the survey, nearly all of us, 97% of us, rate plastic as at least semi-important. 65% said it is very important. Here are the numbers:

 

Flight numbers

 

When I first thought about the importance of flight numbers in selecting discs, I thought that nearly everyone would rank that factor highly in the factors that influence our disc buying. I mean, who doesn’t care what the flight number are?! But, then I thought about it pragmatically and thought that it’s really the flight of the disc that we are buying a mold for, not the numbers assigned to its flight. How many of us have multiples of the same mold and even plastic, with each one having a different flight. Whether it is wear, weight, or variations in the manufacturing making the difference, we all know that the flight numbers might not be an indication of the actual flight of the disc.

However, even knowing all that, I think most of us still look at the flight numbers to guide us to the general flight we are looking for. It’s really all we have, short of testing each individual disc before we buy it. It shouldn’t be surprising that the importance is so high.  According to the survey, over 89% of us indicated that it is semi-to-very important. Here is the graph:

Color

It was when I threw my tie-dyed colored Firebird in the reeds at Blind Gulley disc golf course in Providence, UT that I started caring about the color of the discs I was throwing. I really liked how good my Firebird looked, but when I couldn’t find the disc after 20 minutes of looking, I vowed to always choose bright colors to throw. Bright pink is my first choice. Blaze orange is my second choice. Orange can cause trouble in the fall, but most of the year it’s a good color when you’re looking for a lost disc.

I’ve even owned a jet-black disc that was simply beautiful. But I would never want to throw a black disc again. The first time they land in a bush, they disappear in the shadows. That’s where a bright pink or orange disc really shines. Yeah, it’s nice to get a variety of colors. But, I would rather save time hunting for discs by bagging easy to find colors. Here’s how the question was answered in the survey:

Weight

Most of my friends that are above a certain skill level like to throw max weight discs. It’s easier for them to control the disc to get the flight they want for a given hole. Most of my friends above a certain age like to throw discs that are quite a bit less than max weight. Generating the arm speed is easier, and sometimes only possible, if the disc is lighter than max. Based on those and other scenarios (beginners, power throwers, injured players, etc.), it’s easy to see the importance of weight in determining which discs we buy. The survey results indicate that weight is important to most of us. Over 93% of us rank weight as an important factor. Here are the numbers:

Stamp/Artwork

I like this factor for a couple reasons. First, I collect discs and have bought quite a few simply because of a cool or unusual stamp. Second, I see a lot of people interested in a particular disc because of the stamp. Yes, I would guess that good looking stamps and artwork, outside of collecting, is just a nice bonus for most people. But, a lot of us seek out cool stamps, so I figured a decent number of people would indicate that stamps are important.

It turns out that only 15.6% of us think the stamp or artwork is very important. However, more than 58% of us think it is semi or very important. I’m curious to see if the Collectability factor has similar numbers, but first, here are the results of the survey question:

Collectability

 

It turns out that, even though most of us consider the stamp as something that would influence our decision to buy a disc, we are looking at the stamp from an aesthetic point of view, rather than a collector point of view. According to the survey, only 17% of us consider the collectability of a disc as an important factor. Nearly half of us don’t care at all about a discs collectability. Here are the results:

Resale Value

The final factor we asked about was how much we consider the possible resale value when we’re buying discs. It’s no surprise that few of us buy a disc with the thought that we can flip it later for a profit. Only 8.5% of us consider resale value at least semi-important. Judging from the after-market sales web sites, quite a few of us will take advantage of opportunities to make a buck from discs that are hot at the moment (Sexton Firebirds, for example.) But, that is just a small part of the total number of disc golfers. Most of us just buy discs for utility. Here are the results of the Resale Value question:

The factors that determine our disc purchases can be broken down to three groupings. First, the primary reasons we buy a disc. That would be the factors most important to the flight of the disc. Plastic type, weight and the flight numbers. The secondary factors would be those that are important, but less than so than the flight factors. Manufacturer, disc color, and the stamp/artwork on the disc. And the tertiary factors would be the discs collectability and resale value. Here is a list of the factors ranked by importance (Semi and very important):

 

Check back next week for another look at the 2021 State of Disc Golf

 

Professionals and Tournaments

Photo courtesy JomezPro.com

Us And The Pros

The next best thing to being out on the course playing disc golf is watching the top pros in the sport play the game. There are many reasons to watch them play. It is so amazing to watch the lead card at a major tournament execute shots that require precision angles, impeccable timing, or gobs of power. Watching a skilled professional disc golfer ply their trade is a thing of beauty. Watching a skilled professional disc golfer shank a drive or drill a tree is also comforting. There is kind of a bonding feeling to see someone we admire because of their high level of talent, make the same mistakes that we do on the course. It’s also educational to watch them throw, then use that knowledge to improve our form.

For whatever reason, a lot of us choose to watch videos of tournaments. Sometimes we watch them live, committing three or more hours so we can see things in real time. Others of us prefer post-produced video, which is video that is edited so that you get to watch the throws and putts, but not all of the walking and waiting in between. Even if we like videos, many of us enjoy attending tournaments in person, too. But, a certain percentage of us are content to just play the game and not watch the tournaments, nor do we have pros that we follow. Let’s look at the different ways we consume disc golf tournaments.

Consuming Media

 

The question we posed was, ‘In which of the following ways did you follow professional disc golf in 2020?’ While Covid19 affected the tournament scene last year, there were still a lot of tournaments that were played and filmed. Here is a breakdown of the results:

 

 

Photo courtesy JomezPro.com

Only 2 percent of us say that we don’t follow disc golf, while 93.6 % of us say that we’ve watched post-produced tournament videos! A contributing factor to the large number of people who watch tournaments on YouTube is the high level of video quality we are seeing in the sport. Production crews like Jomez, Central Coast Disc Golf, Gatekeeper Media, The Disc Golf Guy, Par Save Production, GK Pro and others have taken video production to another level. We can now watch tournament rounds often within a day of when they were played, usually with commentary, replays, disc tracking, etc. Throw in production companies such as Ace Run Productions and Disc Golf Examiner, who offer video of local tournaments, and it’s really a good time to be a disc golf junkie!

Watching post-produced videos is easily the most popular way to watch disc golf videos. Half of us watched a tournament broadcast on ESPN or CBS Sports. That is impressive when you think that only a few tournaments were shown from those companies.

Watch Live or Watch Later

 

When it comes to watching tournaments life, and impressive 45% of us are willing to carve out enough time in the day to watch a live broadcast. I suspect a large number of those people are watching at work, which makes the decision a little easier. More people indicated they watch tournaments live than watch live scoring. A little under 43% of us watched live scoring last year. While nowhere near the number of people that watch post-produced videos, which is still a lot of people who want the tournament results instantly.

One survey result that surprised me a bit was how many people watch disc golf instructional videos. Over 76% of us watch those videos. There are so many good teachers and videos out there, and I am such a fan of these videos, that I thought that number would be higher. If you want to get a little disc golf coaching, check out some of the great online videos.

The final statistic in this segment is how many people attended tournaments as a spectator. The survey results indicate 11.5% of us watched a tournament in person. That is down quite a bit from 27.6% the year before, due to having fewer tournaments to attend and more restrictions at the tournaments that were held. Here is a graph of the results of the previous year’s survey results. Note: we did not ask about CBS and ESPN due to those companies not having a broadcast the year before.

 

 

One interesting survey result was that 94% of us said that we watch tournaments on YouTube, yet 13.2% of us said (in a separate question) we don’t follow professional disc golfer. I suppose we could be watching strictly for the love of the sport. For me, I’ve really started following certain players because I get to watch them on video or at a tournament. Here is the results of the question:

 

Choosing Favorites

 

For those of us who do follow professional disc golfers, most of us have a few favorites that we really like to watch and cheer for the win. We are fortunate in our sport at this point in time to have professionals that are so accessible. If you attend most high-level tournaments, you are rubbing shoulders with the best in the sport. They are usually happy to sign a disc or chat (if they have time). So, we asked in our survey who were are favorites. We let people choose more than one, since most of us like a few pros. Taking the top spot is none other than… Simon Lizotte. Over 18% of us chose him as one of our favorites. In second is Paul McBeth. Paige Pierce was the best ranked FPO player, with 7.5% of us choosing her. Here are the top 20 places:

 

 

To compare, let’s look at a graph of the favorite disc golfers from the previous year’s survey results. In it, we see Simon and McBeth in the top two spots again. And Paige is in fourth again. Two changes in the top five are that Kevin Jones and Eagle McMahon are now in, and Nate Sexton and James Conrad dropped a little. Here are the top 20:

 

 

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

How Many Discs Do We Own

2021 State of Disc Golf

 

 

Buying And Holding Discs

 

One of my favorite survey subjects to write about is questions about the numbers of discs that we own and how many we purchased the prior year. I’ve been buying discs regularly since I started playing. Like a lot of us, initially I bought discs like a lot of new disc golfers: because they were ‘high speed’, ‘long distance’, or ‘super long distance’. After gaining a little more experience, I started choosing my discs by their flight ratings. Then I moved into choosing plastic types that felt good in my hand. Finally, I started buying discs just to collect. (I’ll be doing an upcoming blog about disc collecting) Not everyone has the same reasons for buying or keeping a disc.

Having been in the disc golf business for a few years, and a regular player for about 9 years, I’ve seen people whose opinions about buying discs run the gamut from people who only throw a couple discs, most of which were either found or were a gift, to those people who are constantly trying out new discs and eager to throw the latest, greatest mold. I’ve seen customers spend an hour in a disc golf store, pouring over the inventory looking for the new discs. And other customers who would be looking for a specific flight, but didn’t care about brand or plastic, and would usually take the first mold suggested.

 

How Many Do We Buy

 

This blog post will shed a little light on our buying habits for last year. And it will show how many discs we are keeping in our possession. We can then look back at past year’s results and see if those habits have changed. We will also look at the number of people who buy discs for collecting, and see if that number is trending.

Let’s start with how many discs we own. The answers in the survey maxed out at 200+. I think I’ve been selecting the ‘200+’ option for about five or six years. Part of that is because I started collecting years ago. (For next year’s survey, I would like to include a question of how many of our discs will never be thrown.) But, I also like to try new discs. Let’s see how many discs we have squirrelled away in our closets, bedrooms, hanging on walls, or hiding in the trunks of our cars.

The question we asked was, ‘How many discs do you own?’. Here are the results:

Nearly a quarter of us, 24%, have over a hundred discs! As the chart shows, about 43% of us carry between 21-60 discs. That seems reasonable to be, based on the disc golfers in our club. If you carry 15-18 discs when you play, keep some backups at home, and have kept discs that you no longer throw or have aced with and want to keep as a trophy, you would likely have between 21-60 discs.

Let’s see if that percentage has changed over the last couple of years that we asked the questions. Here are the numbers for 2019:

We can see changes in individual categories, so let’s clump some of the groups together and look at the data. Considering people who have 100+ discs, we see a little more than 26% of us own more than 100 discs. In contemplating why we would have fewer discs now than two years ago, I would have guessed that more of us were hanging on to discs and buying whatever we could. I figured that discs, like toilet paper, would be hoarded due to the diminished supply on the shelves. Disc golf suppliers couldn’t keep up with the growing demand and many molds would fly off the shelf as soon as we would put them online. But, the hoarder mentality didn’t kick in with discs last year.

The other range we talked about for last year was the 21-60 disc category. For 2019, this group was a little lower at about 40%. In 2017 and 2015, that range was similar, around 41%.

Here are the charts for 2017 and 2015:

 

Let’s turn our focus on how many new discs we added to our collection last year. Our survey question asked, ‘How many new discs did you purchase via retail (at a store or online) in 2020?’ Here are the results:

Nearly 46% of us bought between 10 and 29 discs last year. That’s about where I would fall. A disc or so per month is not bad (I keep telling myself). A small percentage of us bought zero new discs last year, while a slightly higher percent, 3.3%, bought 100+ discs! We were especially interested to compare last year to previous years to see how the pandemic and limited supplies affected our disc golf buying habits. Let’s compare last year to two previous years.

If we look at the three different groups of numbers mentioned above, in two of the categories we can see the numbers rose from 2017 to 2019, then fell in 2021. The ‘100+’ discs purchased category was different. It actually rose from 2019. Let’s look at people who bought less than 10 discs last year, the people who bought 10-29 discs, and the people who bought 100+.

 

Less than 10 discs 10 to 29 discs 100+ discs
2017 29.1% 2017 40.3% 2017 2.2%
2019 35.4% 2019 43.1% 2019 3.1%
2021 29.8% 2021 36.2% 2021 3.3%

 

Between the pandemic and the supply shortage, people were simply not able to have access to as many discs to buy. The unprecedented growth rate for the sport certainly contributed to the lower number of discs available to purchase. (To put the growth in perspective, there was a nearly 84% increase in new PDGA memberships last year! From 2016 to 2019, there was only a 34.5% increase!) To get a better idea about our disc buying for last year, let’s look at another question in the survey.

We asked people ‘How did Covid-19 affect your disc golf purchases in 2020?’ Here are the results:

In the survey, participants were able to select more than one answer, since more than one answer could apply. According to the survey, nearly a third of us purchased the same number of discs last year, regardless of COVID19. Nearly a fourth of us would have bought more had supplies not been affected. There were 26% of us that were able to spend a little more than usual, because there were playing more and had the means to do so.

Not everyone was in the same financial boat as those who bought the same or more discs. Nine percent of us were not able to buy as many discs, for financial reasons. It is fortunate that the number wasn’t higher.

Buying More Or Less Than Usual

 

It was interesting to me that during all of the supply shortages, over half of us bought the same number of discs or more than the year before. I wonder how many discs people were buying that weren’t the ones they wanted, but were available. One more statistic I wanted to check out was whether the number of discs we buy each year was increasing or decreasing. I picked a delineating number of 30 to compare. It looks like the number of people who buy less than 30 discs per year is decreasing, while those who buy 30 or more is increasing.

under 30 discs 30+ discs
2017 82.8% 17.2%
2019 77.4% 22.6%
2021 75.6% 24.4%

 

 

In examining all of these numbers in light of the strange year we had as a business, it’s interesting to see that, despite a supply shortage, there were a ton more disc golfers playing, while a majority of them buying the same or more than usual. It looks like the people that buy the most discs are buying even more. And those who buy the least are buying fewer.

As 2021 unfolds we will be scrambling to get as many discs as possible, while trying to keep up with the growing demand. It’s not a bad place to be in as a business, just challenging that we can’t meet the desires of our customers. As the supply levels out a little, we should have better data to see how many discs people are buying under normal circumstances. Then again, maybe ‘normal circumstances’ will never exist for a long time.

We would love to hear your thoughts on buying discs in 2020. Were you able to get the discs you wanted? If not, did you try new discs that were available? Let us know in the comments.

Feel free to email with suggestions or comments: ted@infinitediscgolf.com

Check out Infinite Discs here: www.infinitediscs.com

 

 

How Do We Like To Play Casual Rounds

2021 State of Disc Golf

Casual Rounds

 

It’s a sunny day with a perfect temperature. You grab your bag and head out for a casual round of disc golf. What is your round going to look like? Will you play with some buddies? Will you play a solo round? Will you meet up with your brother, who rarely plays, and when he does he plays with only two discs, and one of them is even cracked, yet he still manages to beat you more often than not, even though you play year ‘round and several times per week? (True story)

This week’s blog will look at how we like to play casual rounds, and how we interact with other disc golfers who are playing or getting ready to play. We will also look at who we prefer to play with and how we feel playing with strangers.

Personal Preferences

 

The first survey question we asked you to check all of the boxes that applied to you regarding casual rounds. We offered the following choices:

  • I play disc golf whenever I want, whether anybody wants to play with me or not
  • I prefer to play disc golf alone
  • I prefer to play disc golf with other players
  • To me, disc golf is a social sport and it isn’t the same when played alone
  • To me, disc golf is a personal challenge, and other players are not important in my rounds
  • Playing disc golf has been a great way for me to make new friends

 

Here are the results:

 

It’s nice to see that most of us (78.8%) just like to get out and play, regardless of who we are with. Even if that means playing a solo round. Other people are fine playing with someone or not (32.8%), as long as they are playing. I would have thought that most of us would pick at least two of the choices. However, the survey results indicated something different. Over a fifth of us just gave one answer

 

Challenging Ourselves

 

Of those people who indicated they view disc golf as a personal challenge, they attend tournaments and events at a nearly identical rate as everyone who took the survey. I would have thought that the drive to push oneself would translate into more of a desire to compete against other players. But, the numbers indicate that they are satisfied just to push themselves. Here is a graph we posted last week showing the overall percentage of us you played in tournaments or events last year:

 

 

Joining a Group

 

The next survey question asked how we felt about people asking to join the group we are on in the middle of a casual round. It is not surprising to see that nearly 3/4 of us either don’t care or actually like it when people join us. I’ve seen that a lot in disc golf, and I like it. A few of us, about 18%, either don’t like it or are really bothered by someone jumping in the group. I suspect that with many of those who are bothered are just concerned about the group size. Socializing is fun, but slowing the game down because you picked up a couple more people can be frustrating. Most of us only have so much time to play and it’s nice to get as many holes in as we can. Here is the chart:

 

 

The next scenario involves us showing up to play, and getting invited to join another group. A little over 3/4 of us either like or love when we’re invited to play with an existing group. About 9% of us don’t like it or hate it. That is similar to the number of us who prefer to play alone (see the first chart, above). Here is the graph about being asked to join a group:

 

 

A Round in Progress

 

For the next couple questions, we asked how likely it was that we would ask to join someone who is playing. The first question asked if we would be comfortable asking to join if we know them. An overwhelming majority of us would be comfortable with, or at least neutral, asking to join someone if they were already playing.

 

 

I wondered if there may be a correlation between the numbers of disc golfers in an area and the comfort level in asking to join a person or group. In the county that I live, there is a core group of regular disc golfers and we all pretty much know each other. Nearly all of us would be comfortable asking to join any other of us, unless we wanted to play alone. I can see in more populated areas where people might not know the people in a group, and would not feel comfortable asking to join. The next question addressed that very scenario, and it appears that my theory may be correct. The results were nearly reversed from the last question, with over 90% of us feeling neutral to very unlikely to ask to join strangers in a round of golf. Here are the totals:

 

 

Who Do We Want To Play With?

 

The last few questions concerning playing with people revolved around who we would prefer to play with. We asked people to pick on a sliding scale if we like playing with certain groups. The first chose was asking if we like playing with friends and family. Over 99% of us indicated that we would be at the very least neutral when it came to playing with them. Most of us like to play with family and friends. Here are the results:

 

 

Next we asked how people felt about playing with casual acquaintances. As you might suspect, the numbers weren’t quite a favorable as playing with friends and family. Still, nearly 80% of us are perfectly fine playing with people that we don’t know so well. And the number of people who aren’t so happy to play with casual acquaintances was a bit higher than the last question. Check out the numbers:

 

 

Finally, we asked how we felt about playing with strangers. I’m guessing that the wording of the question affected the results. If you are playing with people you know, and prefer it that way, you may be much more likely to let a stranger join the group. Some people may not feel comfortable striking up a conversation with someone they don’t know, if it’s a one-on-one situation. But, in a group they would be perfectly fine adding someone else to the conversation. Still, a third of us are happy to play with a stranger. And a third of would prefer to play with people we know. That leaves a third of us who are neutral. Here are the numbers.

 

 

Do These Seem Correct?

 

When I see the numbers from the survey my first thought is always, “Do these numbers seem accurate based on my experiences?” Most of the results of these questions pretty much do look like what I see. If not in my local club, at least what I see in the great northern Utah/southern Idaho disc golf scene. Which leads me to believe that the disc golf experience I’m having is similar to what many of you are having. Which is cool to me. It makes me feel like I’m part of the disc golf family.

Check back next week for more survey results.