We all heard the big announcement yesterday. Paul McBeth and Innova have parted ways for the 2019 season. Where will he go? It has not been confirmed yet, but the biggest speculation out there is that he will join the ranks of Team Discraft.
But, how does this effect sales? Let’s take a look! We snagged the sales data over the past week for Star Destroyers and the entire brand of Discraft to take a look. Let’s start off with Star Destroyers. (Like always, we cannot disclose exact sales numbers, but can show trends.)
Star Destroyer sales rocketed through the roof on Halloween after Innova’s announcement. People are stocking up on the McBeth stamped discs. We also saw higher trends in Roc3s, Thunderbirds, Novas, and even Kraits. While it is unknown how many of these discs remain at Innova’s warehouse, people aren’t taking any risks. Some people see these discs as an investment, and others as a piece of history.
Now let’s take a look at the Discraft sales for the week, just for fun.
Discraft did have a bump in sales after Halloween’s announcement, but not nearly as massive as the Star Destroyers. This is likely because it is not confirmed where McBeth will make his new home. However the rumors and speculation most often place him with Discraft.
Will these trends change going forward? We will see!
Here at Infinite Discs, we’ve had a lot of fun with disc stamps over the last couple of years. We’ve presented a huge variety of styles and artistic approaches. A couple have become standards that we keep bringing back, like the Infinite Bomber stamp which has been a hit in several configurations. The Infinite Discs Aztec stamp was the first “Stamp Wars” winner, though it only had to beat out the Tommy Cat design for that first Stamp Wars title. But that Aztec design became very popular during the 2017 year and was offered on many brands and molds.
The Infinite Discs VIP Club was a fun program initiated in 2016 with a goal to present a variety of artistically interesting stamps on great discs. Since the inception of the VIP Club, over twenty stamps have been presented on a variety of disc brands and plastics. The members of the club tend to be made up of players who appreciate unique and interesting images on the latest discs. But even among them, it has been very interesting to see the responses to different stamps. Sometimes we worry as we’re mailing out the discs that a new stamp approach won’t be popular, but inevitably we get feedback from members declaring that it is their new favorite. The club members often end up trading and selling back-and-forth, based on their differing stamp tastes.
DIFFERENT STAMPS FOR DIFFERENT TASTES
Infinite Discs has also presented a lot of custom stamps on new release discs, as well as on entire brands, or across multiple brands. Those stamps are added to our online store for anybody who wants them. Some were sleepers, while others were instant hits. But once again, it became instantly apparent that, when it comes to stamps, every person has their own taste. One person’s “most amazing stamp ever” is another person’s “most hideous stamp.” Even within the walls of the Infinite Discs headquarters, tastes in stamps vary greatly. Some prefer minimal, others prefer heavy detail, and so it goes.
One thing is for sure, we’re not afraid to try about anything. We’ve gone with basic stamp designs featuring characters (Sheriff, Anchor, Infinite Discs Clown, Relativity Einstein, etc.), we’ve gone with geometric design concepts (see the latest runs on MVP and Axiom), we’ve gone with logo-style images (the Infinite Bomber, Infinite Illuminati), we’ve gone with monsters and skulls (see Halloween stamps), and we’ve even started a series of joke stamps (see Firebread, Foxbat, etc.).
GOOD FOR A LAUGH
The joke stamps have been some of the most fun, and obviously the most controversial, criticized, hated, and absolutely loved stamps we’ve put out so far. Whenever an idea comes up as a joke, then makes it to a disc, we’re a little nervous about who will “get it” and who will simply write us off as a bunch of tasteless idiots. Well, we see both sides among the forums and fan groups, but usually the number of people who “get it” is large enough to scoop up the discs from the store.
When we released our series that started off with the Firebread stamp on Firebird discs, we were amazed how well they sold. It was a very simple design put together by Kesler who works at Infinite Discs. It was a loaf of bread with flames on it, in a minimal line art style. So, we followed up with the next two in the series, the Thunderbread (on Thunderbirds) with lightening bolts coming out of a loaf of bread, and the Teabread (on Teebirds) with a cup of tea next to the loaf of bread. Suddenly we had a hit trilogy and even ordered a follow-up run of discs with those stamps because the response was so positive…at least in terms of sales. Meanwhile, some of the feedback online was negative, saying things like “worst stamp ever” or “how could they ruin such a good disc!”
After such an unexpected hit, we followed up with a Thanksgiving disc called “Firebird” which was…well…on Firebirds. But it was a cooked turkey in the same style as the bread series, with flames on it. That one didn’t go over quite as well, probably because it felt more seasonal, and the joke was old at that point. Oh well. It was still fun to throw it out there.
Another joke stamp recently released was the “Beware the Foxbat” stamp which was presented on Foxbat discs. It was basically a dog with a fox tale and bat wings. Duh. It wasn’t supposed to be scary, or impressive, or realistic, or convincing. After all, we’re talking about a foxbat. Who even knows what that is? Apparently it is a Ukrainian aircraft? Maybe an animal? Maybe not? But now it is a dog-like, fox-like, bat-like creature on a disc. Why? Well…why not? Immediately there was an outcry on disc collector groups, thinking that Infinite Discs had once again hit a new low in stamp design, while here at headquarters, employees were musing at how many Foxbats we were suddenly shipping out to customers. After all, this isn’t exactly a top-selling disc. But those sales figures are now on the rise.
Other joke stamp ideas didn’t make it to the discs. At least not yet. For example, we came up with a concept for a stamp featuring Kim Jong Un of North Korea smiling for a selfie with his arm around a missile. We were going to put that one on a run of Discraft Nukes. Another idea that made it through the art stage, but not to the disc was a great version of the Dynamic Discs Justice stamp that simply added space between a couple of letters to change the meaning to “just ice”. Of course, ice cubes were a must.
Yes, we can be strange. Some people get it. Some people don’t.
Aside from the jokes, the serious stamps, the spooky stamps, and the simply strange stamps, we decided that all of our customer should have a chance to submit their own ideas as stamp designs. That is why we introduced the 2018 Stamp Wars contest as a way for anybody to introduce a stamp design for voting. After three rounds of voting, the 20+ submitted designs were narrowed down to a field of four stamps. Those final four stamps are being presented on equal runs of discs from both Trilogy and Innova. Whichever sells the fastest will be the top winner.
We were thrilled with the number of cool submissions to the Stamp Wars contest. There is a lot of talent out there. Once again, the stamps ran the gamut as far as style goes. There were some of the typical monsters and skulls, but also some truly creative and unique stamp concepts. Some didn’t make it far in the voting, perhaps because they didn’t have the necessary appeal to the disc golf market, but we still loved some of those eventual losers. We may find ways to work at some degree with those artists who didn’t make it to the final four. Why not strive to incorporate as many artists and ideas as possible when it comes to presenting stamps to the public? We keep an open mind when it comes to art. The only things we try to exclude are those ideas that are generally seen as tasteless or insulting.
Watch for the Stamp Wars “final four” stamps to hit the Infinite Discs inventory in the beginning of February. Then watch for the winner to make appearances throughout the 2018 season.
WHO CARES ABOUT STAMPS?
Why all these stamps anyway? Well, Infinite Discs is in the business of selling discs, and we are also disc golfers. When it comes to selecting our discs, oddly enough, the way those discs look often comes into consideration. We have come to accept and embrace a simple fact: Even though we’re selling discs that are meant to be thrown around in a game, the throwers are all individuals who like to express that individuality with the images on their discs. Whether the clean text of a stock stamp, the chaos of misprints and x-outs, the intricate design from an artist, a full-color image on Vibram rubber, or the silliness of an office joke, everybody has a preferred style. So, Infinite Discs wants to bring the largest variety of stamp styles, images, and tastes to our inventory for ALL players. We don’t ask that every person like every stamp, because that will NEVER happen. But we hope that among a huge selection of tens of thousands of individually photographed discs, you’ll find some that really appeal to you. Enjoy!
It all started in the break room at Infinite Discs…we’d just looked over a new stamp design by our favorite stamp artist, NEOmi-triX, and a couple of us were really excited about it– a stamp concept called the “Infinite Aztec”. But there wasn’t complete agreement on its appeal. We’ll just say that a couple of the younger members of the crew thought that Aztec art was, after all, very old-fashioned. They wanted something newer and more hip.
“Like a cute kitty!”
To cut a long story short, it was argued that any disc with a cool cat on it would be more popular than Aztec art. The argument became heated enough that we decided on a stamp duel. We’d do a run of both stamps on popular disc models from Innova, with the same quantities of the same molds for each stamp. Then we’d let the disc golfers and collectors decide which was more appealing. Which ever sold the fastest would be the winner. Then we’d take that winning stamp on to other disc models from Dynamic Discs, Discmania, Gateway, and other popular brands. The losing stamp, on the other hand, would be banished. Once the remaining discs were sold, it would never be seen again.
It was a deal! But we were still missing one thing– a kitty stamp. The Infinite Aztec was ready, and had only gone through a couple of minor tweaks with the integration of an Infinite Discs logo on the forehead. But the kitty went through many variations and adjustments until it was finally turned in as a final stamp design called the “Tommy Cat.”
The original kitty concept was to have an over-the-top, cute kitty drinking from a bowl of milk. NEOmi-triX sent us a sketch of the original idea, which, when we looked at it, caused many laughing fits around the office. It wasn’t a finished piece and was missing things like whiskers and tufts of fur. It looked a bit like a pug, or a guinea pig. The stamp design changed vastly from that point, with the members of “team kitty” turning to a much tougher cat concept, rather than a cute kitty. A Tommy gun was added, changing the name to “Tommy Cat” and the cat eventually took over an entire cityscape before being fine-tuned into the finished design that focused entirely on the mafia-influenced cat.
The Infinite Discs crew is now split between TEAM AZTEC and TEAM TOMMY CAT and we’re excited to see which stamp wins the duel. We invite everybody to pick a side. There are Facebook Groups for each team, which you can join to show your preference:
FIVE free discs will be given away to disc golfers who take a side, and join one of the Facebook groups. Only the winning team will earn free discs, so choose wisely.
The winning stamp design will be decided at the end of February. Whichever stamp has sold the most will be declared the winner. Future stamp runs for the winner will carry into the spring and summer months. So this is where customers will ultimately decide which stamp will carry on, and which will be forgotten.
How to find discs with Aztec and Tommy Cat Stamps
You can search and shop for special edition stamps by using the Advanced Disc Search feature on the Infinite Discs website.
Check the “extras” box and then scroll through the list of stamps and check the ones you want to see, then click the “View Individual Discs” button to see all the discs in stock with the stamp you desire. Click Here for a more extensive tutorial.
By using that Advanced Disc Search feature, you can also track which of the two stamps is selling fastest, simply by comparing how many discs are left of each. When you check-mark one of them, the number of discs remaining will appear to the right. Whichever one is lower, that is the one that has pulled ahead in our stamp duel.
If you’re having trouble deciding which team to join, consider these arguments:
Arguments For Team Aztec
When I was a boy about 3 or 4 my favorite toy was a little white cat, and you can probably understand why — they are so cute with their whiskers, and their big adorable eyes.
Then one day, the old lady who lived next door died. A family with cats moved into her house and then I discovered what they REALLY ARE. I thought I loved cats, but when I went to pet the black and white one named Sister, it viciously scratched me on the arm. I still have scars from that nasty kitty.
As I grew older I began to realize their greater evil. Every time I am around cats, my eyes water, I sneeze uncontrollably, my eyes swell up, and I get hives. Just this morning as I walked into my garage to leave for works, I noticed an awful smell in my garage. And as I opened the garage door, I saw the culprit. I saw the cat tracks.
Now some of the marketing team at Infinite Discs have inserted these menacing beasts on Innova golf discs! To make matters worse, they’ve given him a GUN, a tool designed specifically for killing. This is not a message we want to send to our children and future generations.
We can do something to prevent this stamp from spreading like feral cats in the alley to Trilogy, Discraft, Prodigy, Gateway, Legacy, MVP, and VIBRAM. To stop the insanity, we must choose Team Aztec.
Please, make the RIGHT choice. Join TEAM Aztec.
-Alan Barker, Owner of Infinite Discs
Arguments For Team Tommy Cat
So, the solemn responsibility of defending the honor of the Tommy Cat stamp has fallen upon my shoulders. It is a weight that I bear with pride and dignity. As I look at this war that has begun and tore apart our Infinite Discs family, the words of the great Don Vito Corleone, “How did things ever get so far?” and just like the Godfather, I don’t know.
It seems as though the only argument that team Aztec can come up with is, “Well, I don’t like cats.” Well, I stand here before you all, and I can say with confidence, I do not like cats, but I am a proud member of team Tommy Cat. Are cats my first choice for a house pet? Just ask my parents how I greet their cats every time I go home to visit and you will know the answer.
But does that change the cultural phenomenon that cats have become in our society? Just ask our friends at Dynamic Discs which Dyemax designs are the best sellers. Cats are in right now. It is a fad that has taken novelty t-shirts by storm. It is a fad that has even tugged on my heart strings and wallet a few times–yes even I, one who has long held felines in contempt. It is a fad that unifies us all in a love for all things cute, funny, and adorable, but also appeals to the strong and fierce. And it is a fad that we at Infinite Discs would have been fools to allow to pass us by.
I believe if we had kept this campaign free of propaganda and lobbyists, the numbers would have spoken for themselves, and the Tommy Cat would have blown the Aztec out of the water.
So I stand here today not to change your hearts, but to search your hearts more honestly, and discover what you already know. The Tommy Cat stamp design put together by our talented artist is too good and too pure for us to allow it to fall out of production. This cat deserves to fly for years to come. And while I do respect the Aztec design, it does not sway the heart with the same emotional vigor that is contained in the Tommy Cat. So let us unite together, to send a message once and for all that bold and powerful stamp designs like the Tommy Cat is what we want to see in our future.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to seeing the voice (purchases) of the people guide us in the following weeks.
Your Obedient Servant,
Jace Smellie, Assistant Owner of Infinite Discs (not to be confused with assistant to the Owner of Infinite Discs…)
When the PDGA pronounced an 18-month suspension of professional player, Bradley Williams, because of a shoulder-check leaving the tee at the 2016 Ledgestone Insurance Open, it began a cascading effect that may have reached its apex with the Pro-Tour decision to separate the finale from the PDGA by making it a non-sanctioned event. It didn’t take much for the wave to swell. One of the biggest names in disc golf, Paul McBeth, quickly posted on social media that he desired more transparency from the PDGA about the decision, and soon thereafter announced that he would not play non major PDGA events in protest. Pro Tour organizer, Steve Dodge, then made the announcement that he’d decided to separate the Pro Tour from the PDGA, making the finale an “unsanctioned tournament”.
There are many more details and undercurrents that can be researched about those cascading events, but the intention here is not to outline what happened, but simply to follow that chain of events down the rabbit hole. Let us project the attitude of separation further and ask some relevant questions that arise when a major tournament featuring top-tier pros suddenly declares that it does not need the existing governing body. For example, does separation from the PDGA really mean anything if the tournament still happens with the same players, the same payouts, and the same media attention?
The Value of The PDGA
What does the PDGA offer in terms of value?
According to the 2016 State of Disc Golf Survey, the most important aspect of PDGA membership is player ratings. 86% of respondents said that their PDGA# and Rating was “Important” or “Very Important”.
Survey respondents also value being able to see lifetime statistics of their competitive performance that appear on the PDGA website for current paying members.
A good number of those surveyed also value PDGA membership so that they don’t have to pay the $10 non PDGA registration fee for the tournaments they play.
If the PDGA is a governing body (the organization that sets the rules), how did they become such, and are they necessary if the independent tournament sets their own rules– rules which are accepted by the participating players? The list of questions and “what if’s” could go on and on.
The real question is, if the big names in disc golf start shunning the de facto governing body, then how long before that governing body no longer has any sway at all? It would carry into all aspects of the game, because the PDGA only has whatever power the players concede to give it through united acceptance. Take away that acceptance, even piece by piece, and the power lessens. If the Pro Tour says “we don’t need you” and it doesn’t change the material outcome of their events, then how long before smaller tournaments decide that PDGA sanctioning is no longer a necessity for their events either?
For example, the Cache Valley Classic is a PDGA sanctioned event that takes place in Logan, Utah, where Infinite Discs is located. It doesn’t draw big-name pros, but it fills a full roster of intermediate, advanced, and open players. By sanctioning the event, the PDGA established guidelines that had to be followed to the smallest detail, and also meant that a check for a few hundred dollars had to be written out to the PDGA.
What was the payback in terms of the event’s outcome? Would fewer players have come without sanctioning? Would it have been any less or more of a success, had those hundreds of dollars been withheld? It’s hard to say. It is possible that fewer of those open players who have sponsorship deals would have come. In their absence, more advanced, intermediate and even recreational players might have paid to participate, quickly filling any vacancy. What would have ultimately been missing? A stamp of approval? A formulaic ranking for the event, the course, and the players?
Let’s assume that PDGA rules are removed from previously sanctioned events? Who then becomes the governing body? Who enforces a standard? Is it too much of a stretch to assume that the tournament directors could step in and say, “these are the rules associated with this particular tournament”. What might happen then? There are a couple of possibilities. If the players all understand and approve of the rules and still love the way the tournament is set up, then certainly that is enough. If the players don’t like the rules, don’t show up to play, and don’t have a good experience with the tournament, then the event fails, probably loses money, and likely won’t be repeated.
The tournaments that set welcome and appropriate standards for participation would succeed. The ones who muck it up would fail. Is that a bad formula for the growth of disc golf as a competitive sport? Or is it too much like anarchy if there were no central authority figure, like the PDGA, to keep rules consistent and put their stamp of approval on events?
The PDGA is not only involved with events, but is also responsible for the technical standards of the game. They set the guidelines for approved targets in tournament play, which all of us who have played temporary courses with home made bicycle wheel baskets are grateful for.
The PDGA makes the ultimate decision to approve or not approve the discs that can be thrown in the game of disc golf. Of course, that technically means the discs that can or can’t be thrown in PDGA events, but the power of that “stamp of approval” has shaped the disc market. An approved disc is much more likely to sell successfully and has a shot at becoming a staple in the game. An unapproved disc is quickly dropped from production and banished into the dark corners of forgotten products. How many players own a Gateway Ninja disc? Not many. It is unapproved. How many players pull out the outlandish looking Turbo Putter? Not many, because it is unapproved and thus is nothing more than a collectible novelty. But if tournament promoters were to separate from the PDGA who set the disc guidelines, then it is logical to say that players could pull out whatever disc the tournament director allows. Suddenly, that unmentionable 180g Destroyer comes into play. Suddenly somebody brandishes a sharp-edged Ninja disc, or an Aerobie that they can throw 800 feet.
If the tournament director says, “follow PDGA guidelines” then that certainly sets the rules. This is what the Utah Open, an “unsanctioned” tournament that will be on the Pro Tour next year has done. Would, or should, an unsanctioned tournament need to pay the PDGA for declaring an enforcement of the rules and standards that were set by the PDGA?
Can Tournaments Effectively Govern Themselves?
Let’s go back to the small action that started this chain of cascading events. Let’s assume that a tournament is non PDGA sanctioned, and one player walks past another player who is approaching the tee and gives them a shoulder-check, either intentional or non-intentional. Does the offended player have recourse if they can’t call up the PDGA and complain? Of course they would. They’d simply tell the tournament director, “this guy behaved in an unsportsmanlike manner toward me, and it effected my game.” The tournament director, who is then the immediate governing body, then could decide the appropriate response. Maybe the result would be to add penalty strokes, or maybe to kick that one player out of the tournament, or even take the extreme of saying, “you’re not welcome here anymore…ever.” That’s their call. The tournament would then either benefit or lose credibility based on that decision, and that is where it ends. It doesn’t go beyond that. It doesn’t bleed into other tournaments, other opportunities, and a player’s ability to seek a livelihood with winnings.
In a world where there is no longer a generally accepted governing body, is disc golf better off? Would it continue to grow? Of course. The game is addictive, fun, challenging, beautiful, and would continue to be so, even without an entity setting rules which really aren’t changing much. But would it be perceived as less professional without that entity watching over the competitive side of the sport? Probably. Do we need an NFL, a PGA, an NBA, an NHL? Or do we take disc golf in a different direction that feels more open, more free, more organic, and less ruled by red tape?
Another argument for the role of the PDGA remaining solidly implanted within the competitive disc golf world is that they have created a system of rating players, tournaments, courses, and events. Those ratings can consistently rank players in order, determined by performance. It is a mathematical formula, and the variables within that formula have been established and fed with data which helps division assignment. Thus, the ratings and rankings seem to make sense and treat all players, across the board, fairly. That matters, assuming you’ve paid the dues to become a member of the PDGA and you care about playing in a manner that produces accurate ratings. If the PDGA were to vanish, taking away those rankings, would chaos ensue? Would players suddenly feel like they have no measuring stick by which to evaluate their game play?
Many have argued that the disc golf rating system should be replaced with something more similar to ball golf.
While the PDGA does have a rating system that in most opinions is pretty good, it’s definitely not something that can’t be replicated or replaced. While our intention is not to create an official rating, Infinite Discs has created the Infinite Rating that uses and creates ratings very near those created by the PDGA. These ratings have been very valuable for creating divisions for our local disc golf events, especially for those players who are not PDGA members.
Compare the PDGA rating and the Infinite Rating from our recent tournament:
The main difference between the results is that the Infinite formula creates round ratings based on past results.The first round of the Infinite formula is based off of scores submitted before the tournament, while the second round is based off of scores submitted during the first round. The PDGA formula compares scores and determines a rating solely from within that round.
Formulas like these take the X’s and the Y’s into account when players upload scores from different courses, and then calculate a course rating, subsequent player ratings, and even individual round ratings based on averages within the existing data set. In the case of Infinite Courses, there are still very few courses and players that have a rating. Players need to upload scores under a variety of circumstances and in different locations for the X’s and Y’s to be replaced by actual, meaningful data. All it takes is enough people uploading scores in enough places, and suddenly there is a full-fledged rating system that can do essentially the same thing the PDGA system does, but without membership fees, and without the pretense of a governing body. Infinite Courses is free to access, free to use, and easy to pull up a variety of stats and comparisons, if that’s what you want out of your game. There will still be those in the silent majority who will never care about rantings, averages, and comparisons. They just want to play disc golf.
Ultimately, we can’t currently answer the questions posed by a world without the PDGA. Undoubtedly there would be less standardization in tournaments. With some of the current events, it sure teases us all with a glimpse of what that world might look like. We can imagine it. We could long for it, or we could fear it. But we probably shouldn’t worry about it, because with or without the PDGA, disc golf will continue to spread like wildfire. There is something magical in the disc golf experience which can’t be suppressed.
We want your opinion. If you are a PDGA member, what aspects of the PDGA enhance your disc golf experience? If you aren’t a member, are you more or less inclined to play a tournament if it is sanctioned by the PDGA? Is there something we’re missing that makes the PDGA more essential than we can comprehend?
Steve Dodge and the Disc Golf Pro Tour are doing some really good things to help grow disc golf. The Pro Tour has placed an emphasis on live media coverage and has focused on making disc golf events more fan friendly. It has introduced disc golf trading cards, player ratings, and a championship that provides more incentive to watch the live coverage. Disc Golf Pro Tour events also feature a festival with all sorts of disc related events to encourage more youth and family participation. While watching this and other recent events, I’ve thought a lot about what disc golf really needs to “grow the sport” on the professional level.
Last month Utah had its biggest (in terms of payout and pro presence) disc golf tournament ever. While we didn’t have most of the big name pros present, we had a handful of touring pros who came to Utah to play disc golf for the first time.
The tournament director, Jade Sewell, literally spent hundreds of hours working to make this event big — and make the Pros feel like superstar professionals. He arranged for dozens of volunteers, live stats, online voting, photographers, and video coverage from Central Coast Disc Golf.
For the tournament, Infinite Discs invested a lot of time and a money in sponsorship. While we knew this would primarily go to pro payout, we hoped from a business perspective that there would be a long-term positive return and branding advantages. The desired outcome is that professional disc golfers will draw disc golf spectators (our target market) to the event and to the YouTube tournament coverage.
A sponsor needs potential customers associating the event with their brand.
Unfortunately, the Utah Open didn’t have the big names Ricky Wysocki, Simon Lizotte, Avery Jenkins, and Will Schusterick that we saw last year. Paul Ulibarri, Cam Todd, Gregg Barsby and the local Utah pros didn’t make the final round lead card. As it turned out, there just wasn’t a lot of interest from local disc golfers or casual observers to come and watch the Utah Open.
As the final round lead card began their round, I was surprised that there were only half a dozen observers that showed up. As the amateur players finished their tournament rounds there were a few more fans that joined the gallery, but overall it was an underwhelming fan presence.
Do disc golf professionals even want us promoting their brand?
There were a few things that happened during the round that made me think the overall approach of professional disc golf needs to change IF they really want to make it a fan friendly and see BIG payouts.
I helped keep round statistics and live scoring during the final round. There was one instance where we couldn’t tell if the player’s out-of-sight throw landed in the OB bunker or not. The frustrated player (frustrated because it was out-of-bounds) refused to answer us when we asked.
As people are volunteering time to keep stats that help promote the event and the professionals’ brand, the players need to cooperate to ensure that the information is accurate.
Multiple players asked camera men that were 50 feet away to move out of their line of site. Twice, after missing putts, one of the professionals complained to the camera man, saying that he needed to be still, (which from my observance — he was) as if it was the camera man’s fault that he missed his putt.
There was also a time when the pros got into a pretty heated argument over whether a bunker shot that was right on the edge of the grass line was inbounds or not. The angry pros made an awkward, uncomfortable atmosphere for everyone present. After this instance and the cameraman berating, it seemed that the fans were hesitant to interact or even cheer after a good shot. We didn’t want to shake up a player’s fragile mental state and have them blow up for ruining their shot. It almost felt more like we were intruding on a private golf round rather than being part of a historic, professional event.
I understand that player’s livelihoods are on the line based on how well they perform, but it’s us, the sponsors, who are the ones making it possible for the relatively big payouts.
Disc Golf Needs to be Fan Friendly
The traditional golf etiquette “be still and silent” so you don’t distract the thrower may be nice for private rounds, but if we want disc golf to be a spectator sport (an ingredient needed to get serious sponsors) then fan participation needs to be open and even encouraged.
Fans love it when they can interact with the players. We love the feedback, we love being able to cheer. It’s fun to cheer for your favorite pro, but it’s just uncomfortable when you feel that you need to restrain your emotions so you don’t make too much noise.
Think of competitive basketball, in comparison. Do the players complain about fan participation? Do they demand silence during the intentional distractions when shooting free-throws? They wouldn’t dream of openly complaining, and if they do, it could be a technical and the bench for unsportsmanlike conduct.
When it’s too awkward to get near enough to the action to see what’s going on, and when you have to maintain a state of reverence instead of expressing your enthusiasm and excitement, then what’s the point of attending a disc golf tournament when there are so many other entertainment options?
Disc Golf Needs to be Camera and Media Friendly
I’m not suggesting that fans be encouraged to heckle players, but in my opinion, professionals need to change their mental outlook on how they play the game. If we want professional disc golf to grow, we need to put media coverage and fan participation first. I think professional disc golfers need to enhance their mental games so that they can make a putt without being bothered by the background movement from a fan or cameraman.
Disc Golf Needs Superstars and Drama
I’m a passionate sports fan. To me, a big draw of sports is watching my team win — when there could be any outcome. It’s the drama of not knowing what will happen, especially when I have pride and bragging rights on the line. If I don’t have a reason to cheer for (or sometimes against) a certain player or team, then I’m not going to be engaged enough to watch an entire four-hour live disc golf broadcast. If there’s no emotional bearing on the line, then what’s the point?
Professional disc golfers, the media, and the sponsoring brands need to give us a compelling reason to cheer for their “teams” and players. I recently found myself watching an ESPN women’s softball broadcast, not because I like watching softball, but because it was my college team that was playing. Can disc golfers be loyal enough to a brand that they are going to watch a finals round because a player from their “team” makes the lead card? I imagine fans are more likely to follow when the pros playing represent their home town or local club.
Disc Golf Needs Better Live Coverage
A big problem with watching disc golf is that our choices are either slow live coverage (not always reliable) or YouTube rebroadcasts where you already know the outcome and so lose the element of sports drama.
There are a few players who have engaging personalities, and have branded themselves in a way that people genuinely want to follow them and watch them win (or lose).
When live disc golf coverage is aired, there are only a few thousand hard-core disc golf fanatics that tune into the events. My guess is that most of these viewers tune in primarily because they like watching good disc golf. The lack of sports drama and professional coverage make it hard to keep the attention of hundreds of thousands of casual disc golfers and general sports fans.
There are a few things that I think can realistically be done to improve live coverage:
Increase the professionalism of disc golf broadcasts. The first time I watched a Disc Golf Planet TV broadcast three years ago, I laughed at how unprofessional it was. Walking while filming is the first great sin of amateur filmography. When the camera men needs to walk to the next shot, the broadcast footage should switch to stats, commercials, or updated footage from previous action or other cards.
Increase the speed of play. A custom of disc golf is to have the feature card play the very last round of the day. The problem with this is that disc golf tournaments almost always run slow, and backups happen. Often times the live disc golf broadcasts themselves start late. This issue is easily resolved by having the featured cards play first, or by having substantial buffer time between the aired card and the groups in front of them.
Increase the commentary. Watching silent disc golf throws isn’t nearly as fun or as informative as it could be. It’s nice to hear cheering, and it’s even better to know how difficult the shot really was when you don’t know the details of the course circumstances. When watching disc golf, I like it when the commentators tell me who the players are, what their current scores are, and what this particular shot means. One reason disc golf commentary is minimal is because of “be still and silent” golf etiquette. We either need to change player mentality so that commentators can talk while players are throwing, or else there needs to be remote commentating happening away from the actual disc golf action.
The Pro Tour is making great strides to try to reduce the downtime between shots with statistics and footage of other cards. They have between-shot statistical analysis and are aiming to have multiple card coverage. Overall our broadcasts are improving, but we still have a long way to go.
As a business directly related to disc golf, it is logical for me to sponsor tournaments, when the price is right, because while the number of spectators and viewers are small, they are my ideal target market. For the local events we sponsor, we have confidence that we will be able to sell enough product to at least cover our sponsorship and travel expenses.
But what about non disc golf related sponsors? How many more eyeballs do they need before they will sponsor disc golf tournaments?
The Vibram Open’s ~20,000 viewers is impressive compared with past disc golf broadcasts, but compared with the 38,000,000 who watched game 7 of the NBA finals — it’s easy to see why major sponsors are not reaching out to disc golf.
When disc golf events and broadcasts have enough of a following — sponsorship and money will come. Unless professional disc golf fundamentally changes to better engage fans, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Until companies see their sponsorship as an advertising investment, we will likely not see much of an increase in pro payouts. As a sponsor, I want to feel that my sponsorship efforts are a business investment and not just a donation to people who are good at throwing discs.
“I saw a drug deal when I was on a disc golf course with my nine year old boy.”
This was told to me by a disgruntled fellow player as we were making our way to our tee time at a PDGA event. He went on to express the sadness and disappointment he felt when he found out many of the local disc golfers that his son looked up to regularly smoked marijuana illegally during their rounds at the local course. This was not my first and it definitely has not been my last conversation like this. It seems that the use of drugs and other substances are intertwined with disc golf.
Just the Facts Please
In our 2015 State of Disc Golf Survey, we asked the following: In 2014, I have participated in the following on a disc golf course:
None of the Above
We allowed participants to select more than one option. The results were as shown in the chart below:
(NOTE: Totals do not add up to 100% because participants could select more than one option.)
We found this data very interesting, and we would like to spread this topic across several articles to give each aspect of it the attention it deserves. This article will focus strictly on the use of Marijuana while playing disc golf.
Well, Isn’t it Pretty Much Legal?
Unlike the other three substances, Marijuana is the only one hazed by a variety of possession and usage laws (excluding local public smoking and drinking laws). The main question at hand is recreational use, which has only been legalized in 2 of 50 States (Washington and Colorado). How does this impact the way we should look at our data? Here is another interesting chart that looks at where the disc golfers who had smoked marijuana were from:
So is it safe to assume that 92.7% of the disc golfers who took our survey chose to smoke marijuana illegally? Not necessarily. A handful of states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and our survey did not not ask where the pot smoking took place. (Maybe all 92.7% went to Washington or Colorado whenever they smoked marijuana on the course?) Even with the benefit of the doubt, it is safe to assume that a good portion of the marijuana smoking that occurred on the disc golf course during 2014 was smoked illegally.
Marijuana and Disc Golf: Best Friends or Worst Enemies?
Now to the debate that rages like wildfire in the disc golf world: Does marijuana on the course harm the sport, and therefore need to be burned elsewhere so that disc golf can thrive? Or should we all just learn to get along and embrace the “counter-culture” as an inseparable part of disc golf forever?
Of course, to give these questions the proper attention, we need to answer another question. Where do we want to see our beloved disc golf in the future? Do we want to see Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki battle in a play-off for the World Championships on ESPN? Or do we want to keep disc golf to ourselves–free to play and low key?
Another question from our survey asked, “Would you like to see disc golf become a mainstream sport?” And this leads us to another chart:
And in case you were wondering how only those who smoked marijuana on the course answered this question:
And naturally everyone else’s chart would look like this:
So What Does This All Mean?
We’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions from this data, but there were a few things that caught our eye.
It would seem natural to assume that a greater majority of disc golfers who don’t smoke marijuana would want the sport to become mainstream, but this spread was only slight (a difference of only 7.9%). So, it seems safe to say, all disc golfers regardless of drug use, want to see the sport grow into the mainstream. This raises even more questions: Do we want to bring the pot with us? Should we? Can we wave the flag of “Grow the Sport” and keep our stash of weed in our back pockets?
Some have fought to make this type of scenario a reality (we all remember the Vibram Four20 release from early 2014), and with at least two more states making marijuana legal in 2015 (Oregon and Alaska), the possibility of a mainstream society embracing disc golf and marijuana together is looking more and more plausible.
Of course, this potential reality still faces a lot of friction (we all remember the Vibram Four20 discontinuation also from early 2014). There are many who have expressed a desire to keep disc golf drug free and “family friendly.” And the one huge barrier: Marijuana use is still illegal in most of the United States.
This brings us back to my friend and I on our way to the tee. He not only was upset about his boy witnessing a drug deal while playing a sport they both loved. He also shared with me an experience he had when attending a city council meeting where he was lobbying for the installation of a new disc golf course on public land. He was all but completely shut down when the city council informed him of the alarming rates of drug related crimes reported in the area surrounding their existing disc golf course. Naturally, they were more than hesitant to approve another disc golf course.
But as Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a changin’.”
Will Disc Golf make it into the mainstream? We sure hope so (at least 75.8% of us). Will Mary Jane make it too? Well, at least some of us hope so (69.8% of 24.5% of us).
This year we had enough respondents to determine which brand is most popular throughout the world. We actually didn’t bother making a map for the most popular brand, because it would look like this:
It’s true, Innova is the most popular brand in every state and region of the world. We knew that Innova was dominant from the responses in the survey, but to find out they were the favorite brand in every region. We are amazed. Even across the country in “Scandinavia” Innova was still #1. Had we asked specific countries, perhaps Sweden would have been Latitude 64.
We know that from interacting with others, they may disagree. We have seen the comments that say “everybody throws such and such brand where I live.” Our response to that is, you may not know everybody in your state that plays disc golf. In some cases, the sample size should be larger to strongly say that we are strongly confident in these results (more specifically, the results below). For example, we awarded no 2nd place in Wyoming because there is not enough data to determine.
Where things start to get interesting is when we look at where the second most popular brands are found in this image:
Here’s what stood out to us from the image above:
This is a colorful map. Many different brands (outside of Innova) are strongly favored in different parts of the world.
The closer a brand is to its headquarters, it tends to be more highly favored in that area.
Legacy is headquartered in California. What is California and Nevada’s second favorite brand Legacy? DD is in Kansas, and is dominant in the midwest. The exceptions start to come with MVP, where disc golf manufacturuing is
Before you comment:
To understand how Infinite Discs has come to conclusions in this article, please read our State of Disc Golf 2015: Introduction post. After you understand the statistics and methodology of the survey, feel free to post.
Nearly every PDGA tournament has them, the self-proclaimed PDGA police who know every rule about disc golf. Today we are putting it to the test; are the rules they are citing fact, or are they fiction?
This Q&A is in no way, an official representation from the PDGA. This myth busting is according to our researched interpretation of the PDGA rules. If you have thoughts to add, we’d love to hear them below, unless you are simply an angry troll. If you have a tendency to be a troll, find a different way to present your thoughts, and then present them.
#1 You Must Use A Mini Marker to Mark Your Lie
(To clarify, this question is asking if you must use a mini to mark your lie, prior to your next throw). Both.
You may leave your previous throw on the ground and treat that as your lie, so long as it meets the following criteria: the disc naturally fell in a definite position, it is not elevated, and no casual relief is needed (Rule 802.03-B). If your disc did fall into any of that criteria, you must mark your lie. You may choose to mark your lie if your lie is in bounds, but within one meter of out of bounds.
Essentially, most throws will likely not require a mini to mark your lie. However, using a mini may be to your advantage, therefore it is a good common practice.
#2 Fact or Fiction: You cannot throw from out of bounds.
You must have all supporting points in-bounds (Rule 802.04-B-3).
#3 Fact or Fiction: When you mark your lie, the object used must be a mini marker disc.
The wording on this can be a bit confusing, as the the rules state “a mini marker disc may be used” (802.03-B, emphasis added). The word may is in reference to if you need to drop a mini at all, or use the original disc as the lie. All other language in the PDGA rule book states “mini marker disc” for when marking your lie with an object may be necessary.
#4 Fact or Fiction: Your feet cannot come off the pad when you are teeing off.
The rule states “Supporting point contact outside the teeing area is allowed if it comes before or after, and not at, the moment the disc is released” (802.01). The question, however may need additional clarity. Your supporting points must be in bounds during the release. That means that a run-up which takes you off of the tee-pad is OK. It also means that one foot may be off the ground, in front of the tee-pad, so long as the disc is released before that foot comes into contact with the ground.
Disc golf may need instant replay to properly rule this one. Until that is allowed, if a supporting point is outside of the tee-box during release, it will have to be called by somebody other than the thrower (802.04 E and F).
This also means that if you don’t like where the tee-pad is located, you cannot tee of from the side of the pad.
#5 Fact or Fiction: It is impossible to foot fault on a drive.
See answer immediately above.
#6 Fact or Fiction: You may call a foot fault on yourself.
There was a time when this was true. However, because a foot fault may work to your advantage on an errant throw, it is not allowed to call a foot fault on yourself (8020.04 E).
#7 Fact or Fiction: You must allow those further away from the basket to putt first
The away player throws first. However, “To facilitate flow of play, a player who is not the away player may throw if the away player consents.” (801.05 D).
If a player throws out of turn, without consent of the away player, it may be called a courtesy violation.
#8 Fact or Fiction: Do you have to tee off by lead score?
If you play out of turn, it is considered a courtesy violation. Contrary to the “away player” where a player may consent to allowing another to throw first, the tee off order has no such courtesy allowed.[/learn_more]
#9 Fact or Fiction: A player that does not hole out (finish a hole) gets an automatic 7
A penalty applies, but it depends on the players intention.
Intentionally did not hole out: It is considered withdrawal from the tournament (803.03.G.3) Unintentionally did not hole out: It is the number of strokes made, plus three penalty strokes. For example, if you forget to place your disc in the basket on a 1 foot putt. One stroke for holing out, and two for the misplayed hole.
#10 Fact or Fiction: If you lazily throw a disc back to your bag, for convenience, that’s a one stroke penalty”
1: The PDGA defines a throw as: “The propulsion of a disc by a player that results in a new lie.” (800.02)
2: In the PDGA Q&A, the PDGA says: “You can throw it with your foot if that works for you. Note: That also means that kicking the disc can be penalized as a practice throw. Applicable Rules: 800 Definitions (Throw).” (Q&A, Q29)
3: The PDGA Q&A also says: “The throw begins when movement of the disc in the intended direction begins. A disc dropped or knocked out before or during a backswing does not count as a throw.”
Our call is that this needs additional clarity. There are a number of arguments that can be made citing these two examples. The argument I’ll be using “But Tournament Director, I intended to throw towards the basket, not the pond.”
#11 Fact or Fiction: If a player lands in casual water he MUST play it from that position.
“A player may obtain relief only from the following obstacles that are on or behind the lie: casual water, loose leaves or debris, broken branches no longer connected to a tree, motor vehicles, harmful insects or animals, players’ equipment, people, or any item or area specifically designated by the Director before the round.” (803.01-B)[/learn_more]
#12 Fact or Fiction: If your disc is in a tree and is not retrievable you get penalized a stroke.
Fact & Fiction
If the disc is retrievable or not is not a factor here; whether the two meter rule is in play, and if your disc came to a rest above the two meters is the only factor.
#13 Fact or Fiction: If you tie with somebody on a hole, the order of play is changed, in favor of the player with no penalty throwing first.
The only factor in determining order of play is the score. The order of play rules say nothing about factoring penalty strokes into the equation. (801.05)
#14 Fact or Fiction: A player must write his totals and initial on his or hers scorecard before turning it in.
“At the end of the round, each player shall sign the scorecard to attest to the accuracy of the score on each hole as well as (805.02.F) the total score.”
#15 Fact or Fiction: When within 10 meters of the basket you can fall to the side, but not towards the basket
#16 Fact or Fiction: Players must watch a fellow group member’s throw.
“Players should watch the other members of their group throw in order to aid in locating errant throws and to ensure compliance with the rules” (801.04.B, emphasis added).
The language the PDGA uses is “players should…”, not must. The rules then go onto further explain that a player who refuses to help search for a lost disc would incur a courtesy violation (801.04.D). Therefore, if watching the flight of a disc, or watching the players performance to monitor any breaking of rules is expected of players, then a repeat courtesy violation offender may be justified penalty. While debatable, this rule seems to ultimately encourage players to be actively involved with their groups tournament play. If you are oblivious of others actions, it should incur you a penalty for repeat offenses. Will it? That may be up to the tournament director.
#17 Fact or Fiction: You incur a penalty for landing in the wrong basket.
“Wrong Target. The player has holed out on a target that is not the target for the hole being played. If no subsequent throw has been made, play continues from the resulting lie.” (803.03.G.2).
Essentially, the player has been penalized enough by playing to the wrong basket. They then continue their play to the correct target, totaling all strokes taken to hole out at the correct hole.
If a player played to the wrong basket, and has then teed off for the next target, a two stroke penalty is incurred. It would seem most logical that a “Failure To Hole Out” penalty would apply (which adds three strokes of penalty), but the rules explicitly state that it is a two stroke penalty.
#18 Fact or Fiction: Discs which land on top of the target are considered in.
This is one of the most discussed, and should not be debatable at this point; however, new players enter the sport daily, and many-a-player have seen discs come to rest atop the basket, so it is a worthy question.
“The disc and it must come to rest supported by the chains and/or the inner cylinder (bottom and inside wall) of the tray. It may be additionally supported by the pole.” (802.05.A)
#19 Fact or Fiction: A single blade of grass under your disc, qualifies it as in bounds.
An object which is connected from in bounds, towards out of bounds, does not make everything under the object in bounds.