State of Disc Golf Survey: Tournaments
Despite the constant storms that are bringing rain and snow to much of the country, it’s tournament time! The southern part of the country has seen several top-tier tournaments already, with some exciting finishes. And announcements for local tournaments are starting to roll out. B- and C-tiers around the world are filling up fast as we plan out what tournaments we will be playing this year. There is no doubt about it, many of us like to compete in tournaments.
For this week’s State of Disc Golf blog, we will be looking at survey results surrounding tournament play. It’s a question that we regularly ask on the survey, so we have lots of data about our views on tournaments in past years, too. Let get to the numbers!
Did You Play A Tournament in 2022?
As long as I’ve been playing, one of the things I’ve seen consistently is that a majority of us like to compete in tournaments. There are some who aren’t into the formal sanctioned tournaments, but who will gladly show up for more casual competitions, like an Ace Race or Match Play competitions. Others of us really like the sanctioned events, with their more serious vibes. The first tournament-related question we asked was simply, ‘Did you play in at least one disc golf tournament or event in 2022?’ Here is the chart:
While most of us played in at least one tournament, that still leaves a lot of people who are content to just play casual rounds with their buddies (or solo). They are the ones you see regularly on the course or at league events, and that’s as competitive as they want to get. That also includes newer players who don’t feel like they are ‘good enough’ to play in a tournament.
For the people who indicated in the survey that they did attend at least one tournament, let’s look at how many and which kinds of tournaments we attended. First, let’s look at how many sanctioned tournaments we attended.
Just under half of us attended at least one sanctioned event. Nearly a third of us played five or less. Ten percent of us played 10 or more. I played 14 sanctioned tournaments, putting me in the top 5%. Nearly 3% of us played in 20+ sanctioned tournaments! Impressive. Let’s see how that compares to unsanctioned events.
Slightly fewer of us played in at least one unsanctioned event. Unlike the chart showing sanctioned tournament, the unsanctioned numbers drop off sharply for people who play more than 5 unsanctioned tournament. It is interesting that there is 1% of us who attended 20+ unsanctioned tournaments. I wonder what kind of tournaments those were.
When someone plays in a PDGA sanctioned tournament, they need to either be a current PDGA member, or pay a $10 fee for a ‘temporary’ membership. Since PDGA membership is $50 per year for amateurs ($75 for pros, $30 for Juniors), as an amateur you need to play in at least 5 tournaments to ‘break even’ financially. We wanted to find out how people felt about the $10 fee for non-PDGA members. Unfortunately, this question was only asked to those people that indicated they played in a tournament in 2022. The numbers on the chart are the percentage of the 61% of us who played in at least one tournament. That’s too bad, because there might be people who didn’t play in a tournament in part because of the fee.
Here is the chart:
It looks like most of us are okay with the fee, while a fifth of us don’t like it. Hopefully the fee, or PDGA membership, isn’t keeping people from playing in sanctioned tournaments.
More or Less in 2022/2023?
The next survey result we would like to look at is whether we played more or less tournaments than in 2021. We also asked everyone to predict if they would play more in 2023. Here are the survey results:
A significant number of us got to play more tournaments in 2022 than we did in 2021. About a fifth of us played about the same number. Projecting into this year, only about 10% of us think that we played more last year than we will this year. That means 90% of us will play the same or more this year. 58% of us plan on playing more tournaments this year than last. That may mean tournaments will be filling faster, and wait lists will be longer. I recommend setting a reminder for when registrations open, to increase your chances of getting to play the tournaments you want.
A Look Back
The final chart we will look at is a look back at how our tournament attendance has changed over the past few years. It looks like our percentage was holding fairly steady until Covid.
After the pandemic dip, the last couple of years have seen a steady increase in the number of people attending tournaments. And as we just saw, most of us are planning on increasing the number of tournaments we attend this year. That might put us at or above where we had been prior to the pandemic.
PDGA Event Numbers
As I mentioned, locally at least, we are seeing tournaments fill up fast and long wait lists to get in tournaments. With the steady growth of the sport, and the turbo boost caused by Covid, even though the percentage of us attending tournaments might have dipped recently, it is a percentage of a higher number. Meaning, higher numbers of us are playing tournaments. I wanted to see how the numbers of tournaments available has changed over the same time period as the last chart, so I got the data from the PDGA.
Keep in mind the preceding chart is just showing the tournaments offered by the PDGA. There are many unsanctioned tournaments that appear on Disc Golf Scene and other sites. As you can see, the number of sanctioned tournament opportunities have more than doubled since 2014! If you consider the number of tournaments that fill up, and the number of tournaments offered, it’s easy to see that we love competing in tournaments!
Check back next week for more survey results.