I grew up in a medium sized town, which means we have a lot of second tier sports to watch without traveling too far away. A handful of the sports – not including high school – which played in Springfield during my lifetime were a minor league baseball team, an offshoot minor league hockey team and a women’s professional golf tournament. The latter may be one of the more recognizable, as the State Farm Classic received airtime on ESPN 2 for several years.

My brother played on his high school golf team and got to caddy for one of the amateurs in the pro-am tournament. Even though he caddied for the ams, he still could walk and talk with the pros in the group and talk golf with them.

I’ve always wondered why disc golf never did anything similar. Yes, many pros do go out and play with amateurs outside of tournaments, but there are still loads of threads online of players asking for advice. And besides, most everyone likes talking shop about disc golf, right?

While Pro-Am tournaments may have a way to go before they make their way into the disc golf scene, there are other ways to sweeten the tournament scene. Putting competitions, driving competitions, skins and doubles should be more prominent in big tournaments.

Because, let’s face it, it sucks when you’ve played yourself out of contention after two rounds in a four round tournament. And sometimes, a CTP or ace pot isn’t enough. In fact, those kind of incentives compound the frustration after going for the ace run and coming up short.

Logistically, these mini events make so much sense. The Friday before a big tournament is usually registration day, so players are already showing up early. Have one person coordinate the registration and event. Get some buzz going. And, for the love of all that is right, put some effort into standards.

Too many times in disc golf there are “course rules” or “club rules” that the majority (or sometimes minority) assume everyone else is playing by. Don’t do that. I’ve gotten into distance competitions where they announced halfway through that it also had a CTP qualifier. We thought everyone knew that.

Players will complain if you stick to the rules, but players always complain. And they’ll complain more if the rules aren’t set straight. But, if you run a quality event in addition to a tournament, people will thank you. Most players recognize going beyond the regular tournament experience, and especially when it’s done right. It’s the kind of thing that keeps them returning the year after with a couple extra players.

When I go to a tournament, I want to get away and have a full weekend of disc golf. I want the extras. I want it to feel like it’s more than just an expensive couple of rounds. When it’s done right, it goes a long way. It’s a big reason the Glass Blown Open has 181 pre-registered players for their mid-April tournament.

Now, this isn’t a knock on tournament directors, especially those operating smaller tournaments. They’re doing enough as it already is. No, this is a call for players within the club who aren’t in charge of the whole thing to step up and make their local event stand out. Believe me, your TD will thank you for the help.

2011 Worlds promo

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Video
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Hole 3 – SIUE, Edwardsville, IL

Posted: January 20, 2011 in Photos

I mentioned in the Ice Bowl article the simplicity and repetitiveness of most disc golf articles that run in newspapers. Andy Wilcox at the Napa Valley Register does a tremendous job giving an account of how someone new to the game views it and approaches it. There is no mention of tired stereotypes. He champions the fitness aspect. You come away with the feeling that the players he played with genuinely care about the course and the game.

Just read it, it’s good.

2011 Glass Blown Open promo

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Video

Very cool promo for the 2011 Glass Blown Open in Emporia, KS. This is a prime example of how disc golf should generate interest and how tournaments can make a name for themselves. Quick shots, fast-paced and a few shots of Nikko Locastro and you’ve got a winning formula.

There are numerous websites out there encompassing pretty much every aspect of disc golf – course ratings, social networking and reviews of discs/bags/apparel/anything else you could want. But no one – that I have seen – has attempted any sort of advanced statistics compilation for disc golf.

The PDGA currently has statistics on 1) money, 2) points, 3) ratings, and 4) number of tournaments. This is probably the most basic level of statistics available. Points are kind of useless unless given some perspective, and number of tournaments is about as interesting as watching the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Granted, much of the current stats in other sports have come about because of fantasy sports and finding which real player will help their imaginary team. Other things such as Bill James Baseball Abstract have revolutionized its game by changing many general managers’ mindsets of how baseball could be won. It has spawned websites with huge databases of information – baseball-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, etc.

For disc golf, stats would be for more of an entertainment aspect but I think it could open some players’ eyes about where and how rounds are won. It would take some legwork for some of the stats, but Dion Arlyn posted a great list over at PDGA.com which could be figured out with a simple PDGA database extraction.

Wins would be one of the simplest stats to figure out, so let’s start there. Here’s some of the variables Dion posted at PDGA.com – Field Size, Field Strength (Average Rating of Players), number of 1000 rated players in the Field, Highest Rated Player in the Field, Winning Score, Rating of Winning Score, Win Margin, First Place Prize Money.

Some of those overlap, so for simplicity I think the four big categories would be –

  • Field Size
  • Field Strength (Average Rating of Players)
  • Rating of Winning Score
  • Win Margin

There are also a handful of categories which would be incredibly interesting to see, but would require a ton of legwork. Finding out –

  • Average driving distance
  • Percentage of putts made inside 30, 40 and 50
  • Placing in the top 5, 10
  • Consecutive wins; consecutive wins A-Tier level and up

Some of ball golf’s stats include hitting fairways in regulation and hitting greens in regulation. It’s close to impossible to include the former, considering many courses do not have a fairway outlined by rough. You could have a 30 foot radius around the pin to constitute a “green” but again, many courses do not a set green either.

Like I said, it would take some legwork. Hell, when I wanted information on previous Worlds for an article on here, it was hard enough finding information on that. And that’s the most recognizable tournament in our sport.

So many players crave any sort of extra information about disc golf. I have no idea the best way to tackle this, or the best formula to use. But it would be awesome for someone to try their hand at this, even just on a small level, one category.

On a personal level, this could be a great experiment to help your own game. Keeping scorecards can be useful, but a number hardly tells you how you did on the hole. Marking your scorecard could go a long way to identifying what you need to improve.

Everyone’s favorite complaint is the short putt they missed to miss cashing in a tournament – and no, no one wants to hear about it, we all have the same story. But a simple way to see how you perform during a round would be to make simple marks on your scorecard. Put the distance of a putt on your card, and mark whether you make it or not.

“Fairways in regulation” could be as easy as “I didn’t hit a tree and had reasonable distance on the throw.” Or, based on the length of the hole, whether you got the shot close enough. Depending on how far you can throw, take that amount by 10 percent to give yourself a green. So, for instance, if you max out at 300 feet, anything that amount and under should have a green. A 300 foot hole would have a 30 foot green. Close enough to give yourself an opportunity.

Don’t worry about the 375 foot hole as much, just get a good drive to place your next shot under the pin. Even if you rip a drive for an extra 25 feet, you still have a 50 foot putt. It’s not worth overextending yourself and risking the accuracy of the throw.

Making a few marks on a scorecard could go a long way to identifying what you need to improve upon. Maybe to the point where you don’t have to make the “I missed X putts within X feet!” complaint at the end of tournaments anymore.