How Do You Feel About Disc Golf Tournaments?

Several years ago I was online looking for some information about the county I live in and stumbled upon an announcement of a disc golf tournament scheduled at a local course. At that point I learned two things: first, there was a disc golf course in my county. And second, disc golfers had tournaments! Until then I had only played disc golf a few times a year, and had no idea there were competitions. I ended up playing in that tournament, and met people that I’m still friends with today. When a local club was formed a bit later, I gladly joined.

Since then, I’ve become addicted to disc golf and a big part of the attraction is the tournaments. I love the atmosphere, the competition, the camaraderie, and often times the travel. Judging by the survey results for the Infinite Discs’ poll, there are a lot of other people that love tournaments, too. And some that never play tournaments. In this blog post we will look at the survey results surrounding tournaments and some of the reasons we do or do not play them.

 

To play, or not to play a sanctioned tournament

 

Let’s start by talking about sanctioned tournaments. A tournament sanctioned by the PDGA is different than other tournaments. The rules are stricter, participants are required to be PDGA members or buy a temporary membership, they are usually longer (more holes and/or held for more days), and typically cost a bit more. Many of us like the added rules, making the atmosphere at a sanctioned tournament a bit more serious. The payouts are also usually better than at non-sanctioned events. As PDGA members, we also get the benefit (or sometimes the detriment) of getting a rating from sanctioned tournaments so that we can compare our skill level to other disc golfers.

Over half of the survey respondents played at least one sanctioned tournament last year (53%). Of the 1,850 who played in at least one, the largest group, 472 people, only played in one sanctioned tournament. The next largest group (347) played between 6-10, and the third largest played two sanctioned tournaments. A significant number of us (110) played in 16 or more tournaments. It would be interesting to know who in the survey played in the most sanctioned tournaments, and how many!

sanctioned

An unsanctioned tournament is more like a club tournament. Although most of the basic PDGA rules are followed, it is up to the tournament director (TD) to decide which rules will be enforced and which will be relaxed, such as marking a lie close to the basket. These tournaments usually have fewer rounds and are mostly single-day events. TD’s don’t have the same requirements as a sanctioned tournament, such as fees and added cash to the purse. Therefore, the unsanctioned tournaments usually don’t cost as much nor pay out as much.

Lower entry fees and no PDGA membership requirements may have contributed to a slightly higher number of people who played in unsanctioned vs. sanctioned tournaments. The survey results indicated that 2,083 people, or 60%, played in at least one unsanctioned tournament. Over half of that group played between 1-3 unsanctioned tournaments.

unsactionedtournaments

 

Get Some Sweet Swag

 

A fun and popular type of tournament is the specialty tournament, or sponsored tournament. I call them themed, because many of these tournaments have specific, unusual types of play. Disc golf manufacturers sponsor these tournaments and use them as a vehicle to let disc golfers try their product. Popular tournaments of this type include the Birdie Bash, Trilogy Challenge, and the Ace Race.  Participants of sponsored tournaments get two or three new discs, plus a bunch of swag from the tournament sponsor, and only those discs may be used in the tournament. The format of the tournament varies, depending on the manufacturer. Some examples include:

Ace Race, where the holes are typically shorter than usual, which is good because you only get one throw to make it in the basket! You get to record metal hits, which is when you hit the basket but it doesn’t go in, and aces. The person with the most aces wins, with metal hits used as a tie-breaker The Ace Race is sponsored by Discraft, and the disc mold is a new one that will be released later in the year.

Vibram Birdie Bash, where a similar approach is found, but instead of one throw, you get two tries (on a par 3 hole) to make it in the basket. An ace (eagle) counts as five points, birdies counts as two, and a metal hit counts as one point. The person with the most points wins.

Trilogy Challenge participants get a disc from all three Trilogy manufacturers, Westside, Dynamic Discs, and Latitude 64, and must only use those three discs. The discs consist of a driver, midrange, and putter. A regular tournament is held and the lowest score wins.

Sponsored tournaments are a great opportunity to try out new discs, get some swag, and play a tournament, all for about the cost of the discs. Winners get discs, bags, etc.  Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents played in a sponsored tournament last year. The most popular was the Discraft Ace Race, followed by the Trilogy Challenge.

specialtytournaments

 

What’s Your Excuse?

 

When I looked at survey results of all of the tournaments mentioned above (sanctioned, unsanctioned, and sponsored) I found that 29% of respondents (1,006) didn’t attend any tournaments last year. In my experience, the reasons people have for not attending tournaments usually fall into two camps: tournaments cost too much, or they take up too much time. The survey asked those two questions, and asked about tournament preferences, to see if we could find out what might be standing between us and signing up for a tournament. Let’s start with the aspects of a tournament that might prevent us from signing up.

In the survey we asked everyone to rate their level of agreement to the statement that tournaments are too expensive. We can assume that if respondents remained neutral, they didn’t agree with the statement and don’t consider expense to be an issue. Therefore, let’s look at those who agree or strongly agree with the idea that tournaments are too expensive.

When asked to agree or disagree with the statement that tournaments are too expensive, about 86.2% of us either remained neutral or disagreed with the statement. That is an interesting statistic, since the cost to enter tournaments varies significantly. Locally, I’ve seen tournaments range from $5 (for club events) to well over $100 to enter. The more costly the tournament, the better the players pack for amateurs and the better the payout for pros. I’ll talk more about payouts and costs later. With over 86% of us satisfied with the price of tournaments, that only leaves about 13.8% of us who agree that tournaments are too expensive.

tournamentstooexpensive

Since most tournaments consist of several rounds of disc golf, with some over several days, we wanted to find out how many of us agree with the statement that tournaments take up too much time. Again, counting those who remained neutral as not having a problem with the amount of time, the results were similar to the previous question. Only about 14% of us agree that tournaments take up too much of our weekend.

tournamentstoomuchtime

 

How Long Will It Go On

 

Since 29% of respondents didn’t attend any tournaments last year, I would expect the number of people who either find tournaments too expensive or feel they take up too much time, to be closer in number to 29%. And that it pretty much what happened.  Only about 3.1% of us felt that tournament were both too expensive AND took too much time, which leaves about 24% of us who have one or the other issue with tournaments. Which accounts for most of the 29% of us who didn’t attend any tournaments. HOWEVER, that is only adding up the numbers without looking at the sources of the numbers. When I looked at how many people thought tournaments are too expensive or take too much time, but still attended at least one tournament, I found that 12.4% of us fall into that category. We could make a couple of conclusions from that data. Either those respondents don’t like the cost or time commitment, but played anyway. Or, they played in tournaments that didn’t have expensive fees or last as long as bigger ones.

The survey also asked if we prefer single- or multi-day tournaments. Again, counting those who either responded neutrally or didn’t answer the question as not having a problem with how many days a tournament takes, the results are as follows. There were 16.4% of us that didn’t like single-day tournaments, and 21.7% of us who didn’t like multi-day tournaments. The largest number of respondents were those who remained neutral or didn’t answer the question. However, 31% of us do prefer single-day tournaments and 16% of us favor multi-day tournaments.

singleormultidayOut of all of the above survey results that surprised me the most was the one asking if tournaments are too expensive. I hear a lot of grumbling about the cost of playing in some tournaments, so I thought more people would agree with the statement. I would agree with the grumblers were it not for two important facts: I attend lots of tournaments, and so do many other people, because so many tournaments fill up year after year. Apparently, the market has spoken.

Taking Home Some Loot

 

Personally, it wouldn’t bother me if the amateur divisions (which is where I play) were a bit cheaper and didn’t have player’s packs. However, based on some of the survey results, I’m in the minority. Player’s packs typically consist of a tournament stamp disc, shirt, or other disc golf swag. Every amateur player gets a pack. And despite my feelings about them, player’s packs aren’t going away any time soon for a couple reasons. First, when tournament directors get disc manufacturers and other companies to sponsor a tournament, they can get products at a cheaper price. That allows TD’s to give out packs that are close to the dollar amount of the entry fee, while only spending a small amount of money on them. They can then take the difference in price and add it to the pro payouts. It’s a win-win because the amateurs get some swag, and the pros get a better payout.

The second reasons player’s packs are here to stay is because it’s fun to get one! Some tournaments are famous for their sweet player’s packs. There is something satisfying about taking home a bunch of stuff, regardless of how we performed. Did you win your division? Did you finish in the middle of the pack? Did you take last place? You get a player’s pack. Not only is there the psychological satisfaction of getting something for your money, there is the fun of throwing a tournament disc or wearing a tournament shirt for years to let people know that you were there. It’s also fun to see other people sporting swag from a tournament that you attended and bond with them.

tourneyplayerspacks

Happiness Is…

One of the survey results I was most happy to see was how many people played in at least one tournament. As someone who enjoys getting together with folks who like disc golf as much as I do, it was nice to see that 71% of us played in at least one tournament.  To me, that means most of us appreciate the sport enough to dedicate a little time and money for some competition. Often times we enter just to challenge ourselves. Hopefully we leave the event with a desire to continue to play and improve ourselves so the next time we compete, we see a little progress. And maybe pick up a win. Or at least have some fun and make good memories with our fellow disc golfers.

 

More State of Disc Golf Survey Results — PDGA: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

When I first heard about the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) I was excited to join. I had been playing for a few months and really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie with the club, so I figured that joining the sanctioning body of the sport would have the same benefits, only on a larger scale. The idea of a ranking system intrigued me, too. How cool would it be to compare my ranking to my buddies’, or the touring pros? Plus, I would save the $10 fee charged to non-members when I played in a sanctioned tournament. I did join the PDGA, and have kept my membership current ever since.

I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about the PDGA, pro and con, and have my own opinions that I will discuss later. I’ll also talk about a good, free alternative to the number one reason why people join the PDGA. But first, let’s look at the poll results.

Half Full, Half Empty

Let’s start by checking out our opinions on membership in the PDGA. We asked if you are currently, or have ever been, a member of the PDGA. Slightly less than half of us, 49.3%, are or have been members.

memberofpdga

While that part was not surprising, based on what I see in the sport, the next question had some interesting results. Of the 50.7% of us who are not members, nearly half of those said they intended to join this year. If that amount of people really do end up joining, that is an encouraging sign for the future of the sport. We didn’t ask why people plan to join, but I suspect they are interested in playing tournaments and want the savings and the ratings that come with membership. That means a growing number of us are taking the sport seriously enough to get involved in competitions. As I’ve mentioned on previous blogs, I like that idea.

intendtopdga

Something Old, Something New

 

It’s always fun to see how long people have been members of the PDGA. Members with less than five-digit PDGA numbers are way outnumbered by the rest of us. So, we asked people when they joined the PDGA. Over half of member respondents joined in the last two or so years (2014 to January 2016). The sport is growing! A little over 5% of us joined in 2000 or before.

howlongagoWe Love This, We Love This Not

We asked people who are members to rank the different benefits of belonging to the PDGA. Not surprisingly, most people ranked the personal PDGA number and rating as the top reason for joining. That’s what initially attracted me. The second most popular benefit was the lifetime statistics. It is fun to see our results and compare our ranking to other people’s rankings. Rounding out the top reasons for joining the PDGA was waiving the $10 fee for sanctioned tournaments. What was the least important reason we join? Getting a discount at motels and car rentals was the least popular reason, followed by the swag you get the first time you join, then the quarterly magazine.

whyjointhepdga

 

No, Thank You

On the other end of the membership spectrum, we asked people who indicated that they were NOT going to join or who were unsure, what their reasons were. Only little more than half of those people responded to the question, with many people giving multiple reasons. Far and away the number one reason for not joining was being content not playing sanctioned tournaments. The exact language of the question read, “I’m content playing recreationally”, but I believe that would include league play and unsanctioned tournaments. Nearly 70% of respondents chose that as at least one of their reasons. Plus, many people who wrote responses in the ‘other’ box had similar feelings about formal competition. The next two most popular reasons for not joining were lack of any noticeable benefit, and the cost being too high.

notpdgamember

Why I Belong

A sanctioning body for disc golf is necessary in order to have consistency in rules and formats among players, clubs, and tournaments, and to grow the sport. I want to support that organization and will likely always stay current with my dues. However, like many of you expressed, it seems that my decision to keep current comes down to economics: I know that I will play enough sanctioned tournaments that the $10 savings from being a member will pay for my annual dues. Were it not for that “benefit”, I doubt I would be interested in renewing my membership in the PDGA. Don’t get me wrong, I like the stats and the rating. I just don’t think it would be worth the annual fee.

 

It’s Free, It’s Good, And It’s Free

 

This would be a good time to mention the Infinite Discs rating system. It is a free player-rating system that keeps track of your scores and rates both your individual rounds, and your accumulated rating based on the ratings of other users who have played the same courses as you. After you’ve played a certain number of rounds, then your rating is used to rate other players. The more scores that are entered, the more accurate the rating. The player rating system is free to join, free to use, and can be calculated automatically by using the free Infinite Discs scorekeeping app (currently in beta testing).

 

And Finally…

 

Back to the PDGA. There are just a couple things I wouldn’t mind if the PDGA changed. First, I would like it if they could switch to digital magazines. Also, I wouldn’t mind if they stopped sending out yearly tags, ID cards, and whatever else we get on an annual basis. Perhaps these ideas might result in a slight reduction of annual dues. And finally, I would like to see a two-tiered membership option. Offer the regular membership, and one that is cheaper, but omits the $10 fee waiver at sanctioned tournaments. That way if people only play a couple sanctioned tournaments per year, they will still get their number and rating. Beyond that, I’m glad they will continue keeping track of people’s stats and ratings, and make sure the rules are as fair as possible. They won’t be able to please everyone, no matter what they do. But hopefully they will continue to offer an organization that strengthens and grows our sport.

The Cascading Effect of a PDGA Suspension

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”.

pdgaratingimportant

Survey respondents also value being able to see lifetime statistics of their competitive performance that appear on the PDGA website for current paying members.

lifetimestatspdga

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.

nonpdgafee

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?

Technical Standards

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?

Ratings

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:

infiniteratingvspdga

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?

PDGA: Is it Fact or Fiction?

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?

[box type=”info”]

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.[/box]

[learn_more caption=”#1 Fact or Fiction: You do not have 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. [/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#2 Fact or Fiction: You cannot throw from out of bounds.”]Fact.
You must have all supporting points in-bounds (Rule 802.04-B-3).[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#3 Fact or Fiction: When you mark your lie, the object used must be a mini.”]Fact.
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.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#4 Fact or Fiction: Your feet cannot come off the pad when you are teeing off.”]Fiction.
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.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#5 Fact or Fiction: It is impossible to foot fault on a drive.”]
Fiction.
See answer immediately above.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#6 Fact or Fiction: You may call a foot fault on yourself.”]
Fiction.
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).[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#7 Fact or Fiction: You must allow those further away from the basket to putt first”]Fact.
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.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#8 Fact or Fiction: Do you have to tee off by lead score?”]
Fact.
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]

[learn_more caption=”#9 Fact or Fiction: A player that does not hole out (finish a hole) gets an automatic 7″]
Fiction.
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.
[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#10 Fact or Fiction: If you lazily throw a disc back to your bag, for convenience, that’s a one stroke penalty”]
Unclear.
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.”[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#11 Fact or Fiction: If a player lands in casual water he MUST play it from that position.”]Fiction
“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]

[learn_more caption=”#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.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#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.”]
Fiction
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)[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#14 Fact or Fiction: A player must write his totals and initial on his or hers scorecard before turning it in.”]
Fact
“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.”
[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#15 Fact or Fiction: When within 10 meters of the basket you can fall to the side, but not towards the basket”]
Fact
This is demonstrated in the PDGA Rules School Video “Rules School – Demonstrating Balance – Putting”. Forward to the 1:40 mark which is example A-1.
[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#16 Fact or Fiction: Players must watch a fellow group member’s throw.”]
Unclear
“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.

[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#17 Fact or Fiction: You incur a penalty for landing in the wrong basket.”]
False.
“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.

[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#18 Fact or Fiction: Discs which land on top of the target are considered in.”]
False>
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)[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption=”#19 Fact or Fiction: A single blade of grass under your disc, qualifies it as in bounds.”]
False.
An object which is connected from in bounds, towards out of bounds, does not make everything under the object in bounds.

[/learn_more]

PDGA Approved Discs: Release Rate

As disc golf becomes undeniably more popular, more discs enter the disc golf scene, vying for space in disc golfers bags. These facts about how many discs are being approved today, vs just 10 years ago may blow your mind.

 

PDGA Disc Approval Rate

1964 – 1987 Disc Approval Numbers

According to the list of PDGA approved discs (found here), the first approved disc was in 1964. That disc was named, according to the sheet “Professional” and was made by Wham-O / DTW. Twenty three years later, at the end of 1987 that number had grown to 71 approved discs.

Discs Approved Today

Fast forward to 2013. In 2013 alone, there were 73 PDGA approved discs, and as of October 15th, 2014 there are 70 PDGA approved discs in 2014. Since January 1, 2013 there have been 143 PDGA approved discs.
In all, there are 686 PDGA approved discs. Nearly 21% of approved discs in the market, have come within the last two years. This does not take into account the large number of discs which were once approved, but no longer in production. Were currently produced discs only taken into account, the percentage would be much higher.

Disc Approval Rate Per Year, by Decade

One final way to look at how disc production has changed, is to view the average number of discs approved per year, during a given decade.

1960’s:

      .2 discs per year, or 1 disc every 5 years.

1970’s:

      1.6 discs per year.

1980’s:

      6.9 discs per year.

1990’s:

      10.6 discs per year.

2000’s:

      23.6 discs per year.

2010’s:

    (To Date):51.6 discs per year.

Disc Brand Increase

  • In the history of PDGA approved discs, 48 different brands have produced discs all time.
  • Within the last two years (after October 15, 2012) 27 of those 48 brands have produced a new approved disc.
  • 21 brands have not produced a new model within the last two years, either because they no longer manufacture, or they have not expanded their lineup.
  • Within the last two years, of the 27 that have made an approved disc, 14 of those brands had never created a disc previously. Over half of the brands creating new models today, did not exist before October 2012.

[learn_more caption=”Brand status for the last 2 Years”]

Brand status for the last 2 Years

[one_third]

New Brands:

  1. Axiom Discs
  2. Deity Discs
  3. DMI Sports
  4. Dynamic Discs
  5. Essential Discs
  6. Eurodisc
  7. HOLE19 sarl
  8. Kastaplast
  9. Obsidian Discs Oy
  10. Paradigm Disc Golf
  11. Prodigy Disc
  12. Salient Discs
  13. UB Disc Golf – Hand Candy
  14. Yikun Sports

[/one_third][one_third]

Older than 2 years, with 1 or more new models

  1. CHING Sports
  2. Disc Golf Association
  3. Discmania
  4. Discraft
  5. Gateway Disc Sports
  6. Innova-Champion Discs
  7. Latitude 64
  8. Legacy Discs
  9. Millennium Golf Discs
  10. MVP Disc Sports
  11. Prodiscus
  12. Vibram Disc Golf
  13. Westside Golf Discs

[/one_third][one_third_last]

No new models within 2 years

  1. 1080 Disc Golf
  2. ABC Discs
  3. Aerobie
  4. Crosslap Discgolf Parks
  5. Daredevil Discs
  6. Disc Golf Aotearoa
  7. Discwing
  8. DKG Disc Sports
  9. Dynamic/Destiny Discs
  10. Ferris State University
  11. Hero Leports Co., Ltd.
  12. Lightning Discs
  13. Pacific Cycle
  14. Plastic Paradise
  15. Quest Applied Technologies
  16. Rip Disc Golf
  17. Skyiron
  18. Skyquest
  19. Snap Discsports
  20. Wham-O / DTW/li>

[/one_third_last][/learn_more]
[learn_more caption=”Discs Approved Since October 15, 2012 (Click to view the list)”]
[one_third]

Model

  1. Lace
  2. King VIP Air
  3. Stag
  4. Tursas
  5. Underworld
  6. Rival
  7. Zombee (Ace Race 2012)
  8. Amp
  9. Patriot
  10. Tern
  11. Escape
  12. Fugitive
  13. Judge
  14. Trespass
  15. Delivery
  16. Transition
  17. Transporter
  18. D1
  19. D2
  20. D3
  21. D4
  22. Shock
  23. 135G UltiPro Junior Ultimate
  24. 150G WaKa Freestyle Disc
  25. 175G UltiPro Ultimate
  26. View
  27. Assault
  28. Sabotage
  29. Vendetta
  30. P3 – Putt & Approach
  31. Proline Breaker
  32. Tangent
  33. Mace
  34. Laseri
  35. M1
  36. M2 (originally the M3)
  37. M3 (originally the M2)
  38. M4
  39. PA1
  40. PA2
  41. PA4
  42. Suspect
  43. Giant VIP Air
  44. Stag VIP Air
  45. Sword VIP Air
  46. Warship VIP Air
  47. MD3 – Midrange Driver
  48. Renegade
  49. Fury
  50. Tensor
  51. Mystic (retooled)
  52. Verdict
  53. Delivery Organic
  54. Transition Organic
  55. Transporter Organic
  56. Stiletto
  57. Truth
  58. Atlas
  59. Omega SuperSoft Big Bead
  60. O-Lace
  61. unLace
  62. F1
  63. F2
  64. F3
  65. F7
  66. Crank
  67. Rask
  68. Rage (retooled)
  69. Tank – Panzer
  70. D5
  71. Procul
  72. Nova
  73. Mortar
  74. Prometheus
  75. Resistor
  76. Bandit
  77. Gauge
  78. Mongoose
  79. Warden
  80. D5 (retooled)
  81. Saint Pro
  82. Foxbat
  83. Harp (Kannel1)
  84. Hatchet (Sotakipves1)
  85. Sorcerer (Tietäjä1)
  86. World (Maailma1)
  87. F5
  88. Yao
  89. Mantis (Ace Race 2013)
  90. Servo
  91. Antidote
  92. Jade
  93. Aries
  94. M5
  95. Alias
  96. Envy
  97. Rask (retooled)
  98. Tiger
  99. Inertia
  100. Switch
  101. Witness
  102. Daedalus
  103. Chimera
  104. Impulse
  105. Motion
  106. Tesla
  107. Outlaw
  108. Crave
  109. Claws
  110. Gui
  111. Wings
  112. Inspire
  113. Thief
  114. FD2
  115. Scythe
  116. Boatman VIP Air
  117. Shield
  118. Tursas VIP Air
  119. Underworld VIP Air
  120. Torrent
  121. PA3
  122. Four20
  123. Enforcer
  124. Claymore
  125. Dagger
  126. X1
  127. Monstrum
  128. Vein
  129. Lex
  130. Da’e
  131. Gou
  132. Hu
  133. Jun
  134. Assassin (retooled)
  135. Chief (retooled)
  136. Kaxe
  137. Missilen
  138. Backdraft
  139. Shaman
  140. Clash
  141. Supreme Legacy
  142. Felon
  143. Freedom
  144. Buzzz OS
  145. Bird-Dog
  146. Terrapin
  147. Touch
  148. Thunderbird
  149. Veteran
  150. Solace
  151. Honey
  152. H1
  153. Jiao
  154. Wei
  155. CD2
  156. Outlaw (retooled)
  157. Splinter
  158. Proxy
  159. Theory
  160. H2
  161. H4
  162. All in One

[/one_third][one_third]

Manufacturer

Vibram Disc Golf
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Legacy Discs
Discraft
MVP Disc Sports
Legacy Discs
Innova-Champion Discs
Dynamic Discs
Dynamic Discs
Dynamic Discs
Dynamic Discs
Eurodisc
Eurodisc
Eurodisc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
MVP Disc Sports
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
DMI Sports
DMI Sports
DMI Sports
Discmania
Disc Golf Association
MVP Disc Sports
Latitude 64
Prodiscus
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Dynamic Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Discmania
Dynamic Discs
Latitude 64
MVP Disc Sports
Gateway Disc Sports
Dynamic Discs
Eurodisc
Eurodisc
Eurodisc
Latitude 64
Dynamic Discs
Innova-Champion Discs
Millennium Golf Discs
Vibram Disc Golf
Vibram Disc Golf
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
Discraft
Kastaplast
Gateway Disc Sports
Millennium Golf Discs
Prodigy Disc
UB Disc Golf – Hand Candy
Innova-Champion Discs
Millennium Golf Discs
Salient Discs
MVP Disc Sports
Legacy Discs
Legacy Discs
Legacy Discs
Dynamic Discs
Prodigy Disc
Latitude 64
Innova-Champion Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Prodigy Disc
Yikun Sports
Discraft
MVP Disc Sports
Salient Discs
Latitude 64
Millennium Golf Discs
Prodigy Disc
Axiom Discs
Axiom Discs
Kastaplast
Paradigm Disc Golf
MVP Disc Sports
MVP Disc Sports
Dynamic Discs
Innova-Champion Discs
Deity Discs
MVP Disc Sports
MVP Disc Sports
MVP Disc Sports
Legacy Discs
Axiom Discs
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Axiom Discs
Dynamic Discs
Discmania
Latitude 64
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Westside Golf Discs
Disc Golf Association
Prodigy Disc
Vibram Disc Golf
Dynamic Discs
Latitude 64
Latitude 64
Prodigy Disc
UB Disc Golf – Hand Candy
Salient Discs
UB Disc Golf – Hand Candy
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Gateway Disc Sports
Gateway Disc Sports
Kastaplast
Latitude 64
Salient Discs
Gateway Disc Sports
Axiom Discs
CHING Sports
Dynamic Discs
Dynamic Discs
Discraft
Paradigm Disc Golf
Paradigm Disc Golf
Salient Discs
Innova-Champion Discs
Millennium Golf Discs
Vibram Disc Golf
Essential Discs
Prodigy Disc
Yikun Sports
Yikun Sports
Discmania
Legacy Discs
Obsidian Discs Oy
Axiom Discs
Axiom Discs
Prodigy Disc
Prodigy Disc
HOLE19 sarl
[/one_third][one_third_last]

Date Approved

10/30/12
10/30/12
10/30/12
10/30/12
10/30/12
11/02/12
11/13/12
11/14/12
11/28/12
12/03/12
12/07/12
12/07/12
12/07/12
12/07/12
12/11/12
12/11/12
12/11/12
01/01/13
01/01/13
01/01/13
01/01/13
01/15/13
01/16/13
01/16/13
01/16/13
01/16/13
02/08/13
02/08/13
02/08/13
02/13/13
02/22/13
02/22/13
03/04/13
03/04/13
03/05/13
03/05/13
03/05/13
03/05/13
03/05/13
03/05/13
03/05/13
03/10/13
03/10/13
03/10/13
03/10/13
03/10/13
03/29/13
04/04/13
04/19/13
04/19/13
05/14/13
05/30/13
05/30/13
05/30/13
05/30/13
05/30/13
06/18/13
06/18/13
06/22/13
06/25/13
06/25/13
07/06/13
07/06/13
07/06/13
07/06/13
07/08/13
07/18/13
08/29/13
08/29/13
08/29/13
08/29/13
09/03/13
09/03/13
09/03/13
09/23/13
09/25/13
09/25/13
09/25/13
10/14/13
10/14/13
10/17/13
10/22/13
10/28/13
10/28/13
10/28/13
10/28/13
11/01/13
11/01/13
12/01/13
12/01/13
12/16/13
12/20/13
01/06/14
01/06/14
01/12/14
01/12/14
01/12/14
01/19/14
02/10/14
02/10/14
02/17/14
02/17/14
02/22/14
02/22/14
02/22/14
02/22/14
02/25/14
03/09/14
03/09/14
03/09/14
03/09/14
03/22/14
03/22/14
03/24/14
03/24/14
03/24/14
03/24/14
03/24/14
03/24/14
03/25/14
03/25/14
03/31/14
04/07/14
04/13/14
04/13/14
05/04/14
05/04/14
05/13/14
05/13/14
05/13/14
05/13/14
05/13/14
05/13/14
05/19/14
05/19/14
05/19/14
05/22/14
05/22/14
06/09/14
06/10/14
07/14/14
07/14/14
07/14/14
07/19/14
07/19/14
07/19/14
07/20/14
08/05/14
08/05/14
08/05/14
08/26/14
08/26/14
08/26/14
08/26/14
09/05/14
09/17/14
09/17/14
09/24/14
09/24/14
09/26/14
09/26/14
10/01/14
[/one_third_last][/learn_more]

[box type=”download”]We’re curious what you think. Comment below and let us know your thoughts on any or all of the following:

  • With this many new models and new brands, is it good for the sport?
  • History shows us that not all of the molds being produced today will remain in production. Will discs be moved to “out of production” more quickly, because more discs have entered the market? Or is there room enough for all of the new molds being released, especially when considering industry growth in general?
  • Do you like the additional selection, or do you wish we were back to the days of ?
  • How much of your bag is comprised of these new molds?
  • From the brands which are older than two years, and have not produced any new discs, do you own or use any of their discs? If so, which discs?

[/box]

Tournament Payout Depth

After the Maple Hill Open last week, Paul McBeth posted on Facebook about the depth of tournament payouts. He stated that he felt that a player who performed far worse received compensation far above what it should have been, especially when compared to the scores of those who competed at a higher level. I can’t recall the words exactly, it looks as though the post has since been removed.

In other words, those who placed near the top took less because the payout was spread across a broad number of people. Paul was both negatively blasted and praised for his comments.

What is “Payout Depth”

The payout depth is the percentage of competitors who receive a payout. You can view the PDGA “Pro Payout Table” here. Clicking the link will prompt you to download a .xls file. With this scale, the top 45% receive a payout. The last 20 paid receive 37% of the payout.

When looking at the issue, the comments boiled down to two issues with payouts:

Should Tournament Payouts Promote Champions or Promote More Participation?

The argument is that when a regular champion receive more, others are less inclined to take part in the sport. I think that assumption is false.

Disc Golf Needs a Champion. Why Tiger Woods was Good for Golf

I once lived in Denver, where Sports Authority is headquartered, and became friends with one of the Chief Executives. He and I were lounging on a Sunday watching “ball golf”, and Tiger Woods was on the brink of losing his 5 stroke lead in the final round. With only a 1 stroke difference between him and Woody Allen and two holes left to play, what was once a leisure game of golf became intense. This executive was depending on Tiger Woods to come out victorious. I inquired why, and he said that when there is a champion which people can cheer for, the sport thrives and sales increase. In the end, Tiger was victorious, much to the relief of my executive friend.

I share that story to kick this post off, because disc golf needs a Tiger Woods. Yes, for sales. Money coming into disc golf is a good thing for places like Infinite Discs; I’m not going to hide that. So if you feel I’m bias, that’s why.

But it’s more than just dollars and cents. Champions are good for the competition, the passion, the structure, and most importantly, the fanaticism. It’s what we love in sports and what keeps us coming back – champions being challenged by underdogs, champions thriving, champions being disparaged by competitors fans, dynasties, and dynasties falling to a new one. This is what enthralls us in a sport and keeps us coming back for more.

Why Compete in a Disc Golf Tournament?

When players arrive at a tournament they want to have fun, they want to compete, they want to feel the pressure of being at the top, and they want to win. I don’t know anyone who entered a tournament who had already mentally visioned and accepted their fate of taking last place. That player would not show up on competition day. Players dream of and talk about standing atop the winners podium.

Nearly every player outside of the touring professionals are underdogs; and that’s understood. In Utah we have the Mello Yello Challenge at the Solitude Disc Golf Course. When Paul McBeth arrives in August to compete after Worlds, each player in his division will be aiming to be on the lead card with him at the end, and then to win at the final round. Who wouldn’t want to play with and score better than the top rated player in the world!? Just to amaze yourself.

Then you would realize you’re taking home a giant check, too.

When all is said and done, many players scores will fall far outside of those in the winners circle. Most of the players will not be paid. Will they be disappointed and vow never to return to a disc golf tournament? Probably not. If they vow never to return, they probably had more issues than just their score with that tournament. Disc golfers are generally easy-going, happy to participate and compete, own-my-own-results type of people. Will they be a bit bummed that they didn’t play better? Usually they are. If every competitor expected to receive payouts for mediocre or horrible performance, that would be a culture issue that needed to be addressed. Competition is not about making everyone a winner, it’s about rewarding excellence.

Many ‘losers’ will go home with stories about amazing shots, flashes of brilliance, and eagerness to improve and compete at a higher level next year – maybe even get into the money… real money, not consolation money as a result of paying a deep field, that wouldn’t even cover gas.

By removing payout for those in the middle of the pack and bumping that up to the winners, nobody will be offended. Winners will be properly rewarded, and more inclined to focus on winning and dedicating further efforts to growing the sport (and therefore increasing their competition field… and therefore increasing their future payouts). Those who don’t win will work harder to improve as well.

Players Competing For Money Are Greedy

This is one of the reasons why the NBA and I get along less and less. Paul was blasted in his post for wanting more money, with critics saying that he just needs to learn to enjoy the ride. Here’s the reality of most top touring pros right now, including Paul – they’re not that wealthy. These pros stay in the most affordable accommodations available. Prior to competitions,  some ask for floor space to sleep on to save a few extra bucks. So yes, money can corrupt the love and passion in the sport… but touring pros are driven by the survival instinct right now. A little extra money to set aside for a home and hotel accommodations while touring is not greedy.

What about “sandbagging?”

We all know the players I’m talking about, the ones who are clearly more advanced than the division in which they are competing. I know some individuals who play intermediate regularly, even though they may take 3rd overall in the tournament. Ironically, if those individuals would have played up another division they would have won more, as the payouts in the more advanced divisions pay fewer people. In this blog post, I am not arguing for modifying amateur and lower division payouts. Continue to keep those payouts flat. In those divisions, reward participation. Keep the top division payouts aggressive, steep, and reward excellence. This, too, encourages players to improve so they can get better payouts.

Players Need to Get Sponsors Instead of Complaining About Low Payouts

Many of the comments blamed players for low payouts and their failure to obtain sponsorships. As one of the owners of a rapidly growing disc golf brand, I would love to reach into my pockets and sponsor more players… But, I don’t want to offend anybody, there are a few reality checks to visit:

Reality #1: Disc golf is small (even though it is growing).
Reality #2: Disc golf is not very profitable (yet).

For a sponsor, it’s all about ROI (Return on Investment). A smart sponsor will reach their target audience by sponsoring (which would be disc golf companies like Infinite Discs). Disc golf companies are strapped for cash due to high competition in a relatively small market, and other sponsors hesitate because they want to connect with their target audience and get decent return as well. However, there is no single great way to reach all disc golfers and get a solid ROI. For that reason, the obtaining of sponsors cannot be put squarely on the players shoulders – it actually needs to be put on all disc golfers shoulders.

How? Disc golf will continue to grow steadily throughout the United States and the world. Disc golfers need to respect their courses, respect others, and to invite others out to play. At Infinite Discs we try to encourage others to grow the sport through giveaways such as this: #growthesport campaign.

On another post I’ll focus on great ways to grow the sport, as well as the best ways to get more courses in your area. Some people have a difficult time with wanting to grow the sport, as it will become more “main stream.” Obviously, I don’t have a problem with that, it helps feed my family and hopefully I’ll be able to save something for a rainy day. I also like to see the sport grow because it’s a fantastic recreational activity for all ages. It pulls people out doors, it brings us to beautiful places in which we live, and it’s a cost-effective answer to recreation for cities. Nothing wrong with having more courses to play within a short driving distance!

Let me know what your thoughts are on the article above and what you’d like to see more of! Here’s to next time!

The State Of Disc Golf: Membership

The State of Disc Golf 2014: Membership?

[box type=”info”]Part 2 of a seven part editorial series of the 1,422 responses from the survey “The State of Disc Golf: 2014”

We acknowledge and emphasize to you that the results here directly reflect the disc golf community who is in some way, shape, or form, involved with disc golf online. We recognize that it would be inaccurate for us to claim that this survey is a proper reflection of the entire disc golf community. The results portray disc golfers who found this survey via Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Google+, forums, E-mail, and many other means.

Also note, charts supporting and further detailing the written data are at the bottom of the article.[/box]

Disc Golf Membership: PDGA

The PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) is the governing body of disc golf. For an annual fee of $30-$75 a person may become a member of the PDGA. Information on joining and benefits are found at these links. Benefits and Joining.

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Of those who took this survey, 1/3 are members of the PDGA. Of the 953 respondents who said they were not currently a member of the PDGA, 41% said they intend to become a member of the PDGA, 47% were unsure, and 11% do not intend to become a member of the PDGA.

We then feel, Mr. Avery Jenkins (refer to the quote on the right), that the PDGA will likely evolve into at least 1/100th of what the PGA Tour is.[/two_third][one_third_last]

“I can only hope that Professional Disc Golf becomes 1/100th of what the PGA Tour has evolved into over the years!”

– Avery Jenkins

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Just as a majority of players (as shown in the previous article) have been playing disc golf for a relatively short time, respondents have also been members of the PDGA for a short time. Of the 468 who said they are members of the PDGA, 80% (373) have been members for three years or less! 5% have been members of the PDGA for 10 years or more.

Disc Golf Membership: Clubs

Aside from the governing body of disc golf on a national level, there are hundreds of smaller organized groups which identify themselves as clubs, leagues, and associations. These groups are diverse as they are common (and as you travel the country, they are common). A single area may have one group or many. The group may offer incentives for joining, prizes during regularly (or irregularly) planned play and competition, and organize an ace pot and/or other cash reserves. These clubs also typically host one or several tournaments each year. Clubs may have official logos and gear such as stamped discs and clothing. Individuals most actively involved with clubs may also work closely with city planning and development towards the advancement of disc golf.

Club participation was more common than PDGA participation, with 47% of respondents stating they are a member of a club. Of those who are not currently a member of a club, only 8% have been a member before, leaving 92% (691 respondents) who have never been a member of a club. 38% of people who are not club members intend to become a member, 11% have no intention to become a member, while the other 51% are unsure.

We dug a little deeper into the statistics and we wanted to know: At what point does a disc golfer become actively involved? Is it the first year, or later once a player has gained experience? The statistics were surprising. 18% of players become involved in the PDGA in year 1, and 32% become involved with a club. By year 3, those numbers have changed drastically. In the 3rd year, 48% of players are members of the PDGA and 50% are members of a club. Unfortunately, around the 5th year, those numbers decline as though there is a “5th year disc golfer participation lull”. From there, the longest standing disc golfers club participation continues to rise, with players who have enjoyed the sport for 26 or more years being involved in a club over 62% of the time! However, PDGA membership gradually drops for the veteran players.

For those considering signing up, or for those who are running clubs, cost is always a factor in keeping clubs going.

Club Cost: Joining
One fourth of clubs have no cost to join. Then the clubs which do ask for any funds less than $10 are hard to come by, only 12% have an entry fee between $1-$10. 37% of clubs will charge anywhere between $11-$20, and 27% of clubs will charge $21 or more to become a member. Of all respondents, only 4 were not sure how much their club charges.

Club Cost: Weekly Basis
While a quarter of clubs may be free to join, chances that they’ll be free during a club round is less likely. 35% of “free to join” clubs are also free during league play while 54% will charge you at least $4 for league play. Of all clubs (not just the free to join clubs), 19% are free during regular club rounds.

Nearly one-quarter of clubs have no weekly fee and 47% are under $6. 3% of clubs will charge more than $17 on a weekly basis, those respondents may be confusing disc golf with ball golf.

Thoughts

A majority of disc golfers who took this survey (of which, many are active in the online disc golf community) have no affiliation with any organized disc golf group. This is both positive and negative. It’s fantastic because many active disc golfers enjoy the sport; courses are frequently used by a variety of people without obligation or affiliation. However, for the sport to continue its growth, an organized effort on the national and local levels needs to take place. At the same time, a majority of players without any stated current affiliation have stated intention to become affiliated with both the PDGA and local clubs, and a large percentage have stated they are unsure. The reality of today’s state of disc golf is there is growth, and there is potential.

Organizations of all levels have an opportunity to effectively reach out and offer value. If organized disc golf bodies do so the sport is poised to rise to another level of competition, professionalism, and fun.

[box type=”bio”]The next article in this series will be published on February 11, and will cover Best Discs of 2013.

What data would you like to see us add to the next survey to be published in 2015 regarding memberships? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!
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PDGA & Club Membership Charts & Graphs

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