<![CDATA[Vibram Disc Golf - Blog]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 08:46:05 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[One Day World Cup Format]]>Tue, 11 Nov 2014 17:19:17 GMThttp://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/blog/contribute-to-our-blogI love match play. It is, as far as I know, the way golf was intended when it was first created. A series of 18 head to head challenges. Unfortunately, to hold a tournament with a lot of players, stroke play became the tournament format of choice. With some noodling and some creative sessions with friends, here is a format that I believe closely echoes the original intent of golf while allowing a tournament of 64 players, all played in one day - which is how we like our tourneys up here in New England.

World Cup Format:
On each hole, for each person in your group that you score better than, you get a point. In each round, you are only competing against the other players on your card.

Round 1: 16 Foursomes
Note: I like the groups to be created randomly, but adventurous TDs can try to rank all the players and bracket them (caution: this is a great way to create dissension and bickering ;-)

Round 2: Semifinals
Four Lead Foursomes
Four 2nd Place Foursomes
Four 3rd Place Foursomes
Four 4th Place Foursomes

Round 3: Finals
The winners of each of the four lead foursomes play a final Quasi-Match Play round.

Order of top 24 players, who get a payout.
1st-4th: Order of finish in Round 3 Finals
5th-8th: Finished in 2nd place from one of the four lead foursomes in Rd2
9th-12th: Won one of the 2nd Place Foursomes in Rd2
13th-24th: 3rd place in lead foursome, 2nd place in 2nd foursome, 1st place in 3rd foursome]]>
<![CDATA[Vibram Disc Golf Video Blog: What is Par?]]>Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:55:50 GMThttp://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/blog/vibram-disc-golf-video-blog-what-is-par
For more reading, please check out the following link: Close Range Par

This link will show you the estimated driving and approaching distances for each different skill level that a course can be designed for as well as what "close range" is for that skill level. Using these numbers, and bearing in mind dog legs and elevation, you will be able to establish the appropriate par for your course.

Submit your Disc Golf Haiku and Broken Disc Pics to get in on next week's video blog!
You can also submit your questions and maybe we will answer them in an upcoming video.
<![CDATA[Vibram Disc Golf Video Blog: Does Spirit Matter?]]>Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:04:13 GMThttp://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/blog/vibram-disc-golf-video-blog-does-spirit-matter
<![CDATA[Vibram Disc Golf Video Blog: Getting Sponsors]]>Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:16:13 GMThttp://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/blog/vibram-disc-golf-video-blog-getting-sponsors
Submit your Disc Golf Haiku and Broken Disc Pics to get in on next week's video blog!
You can also submit your questions and maybe we will answer them in an upcoming video.
<![CDATA[Grow the sport. Why?]]>Tue, 05 Nov 2013 20:10:51 GMThttp://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/blog/grow-the-sport-why Disc Culture, let’s embed it in the sport.

Growing up, I was immersed in the world of conventional sports. My opponent was my enemy. The team would do whatever it takes to win. I had grown up playing Soccer. I was seemingly happy when teammates would intentionally break the rules to gain an advantage. I was, and still am, hyper competitive. Unfortunately, for soccer, my soul was not all in.

Then I went to college and a bunch of amazing hippies taught me the game of disc golf and, through their actions, the culture of the disc. I competed in my first disc tournament, VA States. My goal was to make the cut so I could play on Sunday. I didn’t make the cut. Rather than mope, I was given a staff shirt and asked to help out. I did. This was a new, and amazing, concept to me. Everyone pulled together. Really.

Then this same group drew me into their pick-up Ultimate games. Ultimate requires insane athleticism, skill, and endurance. I loved the game instantly. When I went to my first Ultimate tournament - April Fools Fest in Fredericksburg, VA, I remember being amazed that ALL of Ultimate was self-officiated. I’d played pick-up Soccer and Football games without officials, but when you go to a tournament or play in a “real” game, you need someone to make sure you follow the rules, don’t you?

It turns out you don’t. All you need is a shared respect for your competitors. My soul had found a sport as much as my body had. And then it got even better. Our team won the Spirit Award. At the time, I’m not sure I understood it exactly, but I was proud. We went one and six, and I went home happy. We played with respect and honor. And Spirit.

Over the next eight years, I would play in dozens of tournaments and I always had two goals. Win the tournament and win the Spirit Award. One of the proudest moments of my life was a tournament where we won both.

In retrospect, I now understand that the person or team winning the Spirit Award should not be trying to win it, it should just happen. Perhaps for everyone else on the team they were just flowing with it, having fun, doing right. For me though, there was effort behind it. I tried not to call pics unless they affected the play. I never doubted my competitor calling my foot out on a great catch near the line. I always tried to have the best cheers for the other team after the game. For me, the Spirit Award was something to compete for.

Then one day, it suddenly wasn’t.

I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere in that eight year journey, playing with Spirit just became the way to play. It became obvious that you would respect your competitors, that winning only counts if it is done honorably, and that losing a game is better than losing your self-respect.

Over time, playing with Spirit became a habit. A really good habit, like breathing. The culture of the disc was given to me like a most beautiful gift. Because I had come from conventional sports, it took a long time for this gift to sink in, to become self-evident. In disc golf, the culture of the disc is fading as more conventional sports players are drawn to the game. This is happening because we are not teaching it as a fundamental aspect of the game. I propose that we embed Spirit, the culture of the disc, back into our sport.

At Ultimate tournaments, each team votes for one other team for the Spirit Award. The team with the most votes wins. If there is a tie for most votes, the folks running the tournament make the decision (and it is an agonizingly tough decision to make).

At Disc Golf tournaments, I propose that each player vote for one other player at the event. The TD counts up the votes and makes the final decision and then recognizes the Spirit Award winner during the awards ceremony. Over time, the culture of the disc will be engrained in the sport as it was for me.

New players coming to Ultimate or Disc Golf will be immersed in a culture of competition and spirit. Over time, they will learn to understand that winning is the goal and competing with honor must be the starting point. Now is the time to put forth a concerted effort to insure that rather than losing the culture of the disc, we permanently embed it in the sport. Over time, as Disc Golf and Ultimate continue to grow, perhaps our disc culture will simply be known as our culture.
A Spirit Award winner:
  •     Is fair-minded and respectful
  •     Has a positive attitude
  •     Is happy when someone else makes a great shot
  •     Listens and considers
  •     Is respected by their competitors
  •     Treats others as they would want to be treated
  •     Believes there is someone else more deserving
  •     Instantly helps to find a lost disc
  •     Is happy to be surrounded by so many friends while playing disc
  •     Has fun
<![CDATA[Grow the sport. Who are you watching?]]>Tue, 05 Feb 2013 19:58:03 GMThttp://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/blog/steve-plays-the-bluesWho are you watching?

At the top level of disc golf, an interesting phenomenon is happening. Our top players save up some initial gas money and go on tour. After a couple years "touring", there is less money in the savings account than when they started. These players scrape by, but the road is a hard and unforgiving mistress. A minor injury, which knocks them out of the cash for a few weeks, knocks them off the tour. If disc golf is lucky, they save up some money and give it another try.

Top players are unable to make touring their career, which means that the players that I want to root for - the ones that toured for a couple years and I am starting to know and like - are no longer on the tour. We constantly talk about the youth movement in our sport and how the younger players are winning more and more championships. The reason this is the case is because there are not dozens of seasoned players for them to be competing against.

When Andre Agassi won his first championship, no one knew who he was. He had to establish himself, grow his name, and get some fans. Imagine tuning in to a tennis match against two players that you have never heard of. You would not do it unless you were a hardcore fan. That is where disc golf is. We've got the hardcore fans watching, but for casual players, it is tough to root for someone you've never heard of. We need our top pros to be able to have a realistic expectation of making a career out of playing disc golf on tour so that we, and the casual fans, will have a reason to tune in and watch. Watch. And grow the sport.
The numbers of people playing disc golf continue to grow at a 10-to-20% rate. The sport is experiencing tremendous grassroots growth and I expect, at this point, it is an engine that will not stop. Vibram Disc Golf will continue our support of the myriad of grassroots promoters. The engine that drives the top end of the sport, however, has been languishing over the past five years or so. The solution to this is eyeballs. People ask why disc golf is not on ESPN. The answer is eyeballs, or lack thereof.

If we want to kaboom the sport, we need people to watch. If we want people to watch the sport, we need to have the sport's best playing at our top events week in and week out, for many years. In order for our best players to compete at the premier events, they need to be able to earn a decent living doing so. It is expensive to travel for 20 to 30 weeks playing disc golf and we can't expect someone to leave their job to play disc golf, no matter how good they are. I am reminded of Nate Doss, AFTER winning the World Championship, needing to take some time to determine if he wanted to play disc golf professionally. That should speak volumes to us.

In order to get eyeballs, we need to have our best players on the course, week in and week out. In order to do this, we need at least ten events with a flattened payout of $50,000 AND these events need to have only two divisions: MPO and FPO. There are three numbers in that sentence which I would like to explain.
  • Ten events: In order for someone to commit themselves to playing the sport, they need to earn a living. If you can earn $1,000 per event over 10 events, then this money combined with sponsorship income and money earned at other events would be enough to allow someone to earn a decent living on tour.
  • Flattened $50,000: With a smart payout of $50K (see chart to the right), the top 40 players who are paid will earn an average of $1,000. That's 40 players earning $1,000 per event at 10 events. Our sport is currently stagnated at 20-25 players earning that amount. We could double this just by spending current money more wisely (see "Is the USDGC good for the sport?" below).
  • MPO and FPO only: In order for our sport's top players to be the ones that earn the money, these 10 events can't afford to have age-protected divisions, otherwise the money gets divided up and the sport's best don't earn enough to eat. If a player is over 40 and they are one of the best, this setup will benefit them as the sport will be able to grow. It may be a short term setback for the Masters-aged pros, but it will be a long-term gain for them and the sport.
One thing to remember here is the goal. We want the best players in the world to be able to commit to playing the sport. We want them playing so that the masses will want to watch the sports top events. As the numbers of people that watch our sport grow, the interest in advertising during these events will grow.
With a flat deep payout, more players earn more money. With a capped field of 120 MPO players and 50 cashing, this gives an incentive to compete because regional pros and top Ams have a real shot. Since the season is not complete, 2012 is an estimate. Why have we stagnated?
The growth of professional disc golf has stagnated. This has happened, for the most part, because of the creation of unsustainable models.
  • 2009, Discraft stopped its sponsorship of the Players Cup, causing a dip in the number of players earning more than $10K. Luckily, Vibram was able to step up and give the event its rebirth.
  • 2011, Innova changed the USDGC to a handicapped event, lowering the payout by more than $75,000, and lowering the number of players earning more than $10K.
  • 2004 - 2011, Discraft Great Lakes Open payout went from $22K to a little more than $1,000.
The USDGC (Innova) and The Memorial (Discraft) are still two of the sport's premier events. However, Discraft and Innova do not welcome support from other manufacturers at their signature events and this has apparently made some of these events financially unsustainable.
Even with these pull backs, the pro tour side of the sport is still not shrinking and may be growing, albeit slowly.
  • DiscGolfPlanet.TV is building a model to bring the sport to tens of thousands of viewers. As their viewership continues to rise, more and more advertisers who are currently outside of the sport will take notice. Over time, these advertising dollars will find their way to the events and the purses will go up. This is the long play that will bring disc golf to the next level.
  • Vibram Disc Golf is consistently moving the Vibram Open forward, garnering more spectators, more players and a larger payout ($38K in 2008 to $51K in 2012). For comparison, the USDGC had fewer spectators, players and payout from 2008 to 2012.
  • Vibram has also stepped up to be the presenting sponsor of the PDGA National Tour and they reincarnated the Players Cup as The World Match Play Championship. We are putting a significant percentage of our marketing money into creating spectator friendly events that can capture the attention of the advertising dollars that are currently outside our sport.
  • The number of manufacturers of golf discs has risen from a half dozen in 2000 to more than 25 in 2012. They are here because they see a future in this sport. I agree with them.
Is the USDGC good for the sport?

The USDGC model is clearly not sustainable and, if the goal is to grow the sport, is an ineffective expenditure of the money. Having said that, it is Innova's money and they can spend it however they want, just don't let them say it is for the growth of the sport when it is actually just about them. Over the last decade, imagine if this money had been invested differently, could we be on TV already?

Five Top Events, sorted by Total Payout
  • Budget: Unknown / Payout: $97,000 / MPO>$1K: 10
  • Budget: $62K / Payout: $51,000 / MPO>$1K: 15
  • Budget: $250K / Payout: $50,300 / MPO>$1K: 24 
  • Budget: Unknown / Payout: $47,000 / MPO>$1K: 9
  • Budget: $28K / Payout: $23,000 / MPO>$1K: 4
Look at the numbers above. The USDGC spends $250,000 and in one short week, they've blown their wad. Let's pretend the USDGC was actually four $50,000 payout events (this assumes a similar budget as The Vibram Open, which has a $62K budget and a $51K payout to the players). With four mini-USDGCs, Worlds, the Vibram Open, and the Memorial, we are already up to seven $50,000 events. The Beaver State Fling ($33K) and Steady Ed Memorial ($29K) with a little growth, would make nine and The Players Cup ($23K payout with no payin) is a nice completion to the season. This would make a great foundation on which to build a pro tour. Anyone want to call Innova?

But this is not where we are and my guess is the USDGC is not going to be paired down so three additional premier events can be born, but hindsight is 20/20 and we have the advantage of looking at the last 10 years knowing the sport could have grown more.

Let's instead concentrate on looking forward. I would like to ask each disc golf manufacturer to commit to growing one or two events into premier events with a $50,000 payout. If we can get a dozen manufacturers, who are in the sport and will benefit from its growth, to make this commitment, then the sport will gain the eyeballs it needs to attract outside sponsorship and we will be able to watch DiscGolfPlanet.TV many more weekends out of the year. Furthermore, these events need to work together to schedule a cohesive tour around and across North America. It is too late for this to happen in 2013, but if you would like to commit to a 2014 event with a $50,000 payout and will work with the tour on scheduling, shoot me an e-mail.

I look forward to sitting in my armchair and watching the best in the world compete and when they come to a town near me, I'll go out and watch them play in person. Until then, Vibram Disc Golf will continue to push the envelope through our support of the Vibram Open, the Players Cup, the PDGA National Tour and the myriad of regional grass roots events that we sponsor.

Watch. And grow the sport. One man's thoughts on the future of disc golf.


Steven Dodge
Vibram Disc Golf ]]>