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.
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You can also submit your questions and maybe we will answer them in an upcoming video.
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:
Who 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.
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.
Even with these pull backs, the pro tour side of the sport is still not shrinking and may be growing, albeit slowly.
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
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.
Vibram Disc Golf