State of Disc Golf: Aces!

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear that the people I know who play the most (or have been playing the longest) have the most hole-in-ones, or ‘aces’. Most of them can tell you exactly how many aces they have. Some retire and save their ace discs, while others continue to throw them, often times picking up multiple aces on the same disc. I frequently see pictures of found discs that have aces or multiple aces, so I know a lot of us continue to throw them. Others of us have few or no aces, always hoping to add a hole-in-one to our scorecards.

Because of the size of the target we are aiming for in disc golf, we get a lot more aces than our sister sport, ball golf. Even so, our first ace often takes years to accomplish. I talked to one disc golfer a few years ago who had a PDGA number that indicated he had been playing since the 80’s, yet he didn’t have a single ace! The often elusive ace is what we are going to be talking about in today’s installment of the State of Disc Golf 2022.

Did We Ace?


In our survey for last year, we asked a couple of questions about aces. First, we asked if you got an ace in 2021. Second, if you did get an ace, we asked how many aces you got. We’ll look at those answers, as well as a breaking down the aces by a few different demographics.


Checking out the survey results, we see that over a third of us indicated that we got an ace last year.



Multiple Aces


After we established how many of us got an ace, we asked those people how many aces they got last year. Which is kind of disgusting to those of us who didn’t get an ace. But, as painful as it might be, we wanted to know how many aces people got. It turns out that some of us get a lot!



Almost all of the people who aced last year got five or less. But, there were quite a few who got between 6-20 aces. And there were a select few who averaged a couple aces per month! If you play a lot and have some short courses near you, it would certainly increase the odds of getting aces.


Play More, Ace More


Speaking of playing a lot, I wanted to isolate the people who aced last year, and see how many rounds they played. Obviously, the more you play, the more opportunities you have to ace. I took the people who indicated that they aced last year, and sorted them by the number of rounds that they average each month. Since there were a range of the number of rounds played, I just took the low of 1-5 rounds, and the highest two ranges, 25-30 rounds and 30+ rounds. Here are the stats:



Want more aces? Play more rounds of disc golf!


Skillful Aces


Another demographic I wanted to examine is the skill level of the people getting aces. Again, it is pretty obvious to predict that the higher the skill level, the more aces. The interesting part might be to look at how many more aces an average pro will get, versus an average beginner. Here is a chart showing the percentage of each skill level that got at least one ace.



Him, Her, Them


When it comes to a comparison between men and women, it is another example of knowing the results, but not knowing the margin of difference. Men can throw farther on average which gives them an advantage of being able to reach more holes, thus giving them more opportunities for aces. Here are the numbers:



Around 20% of the women who took the survey got an ace. With the guys, over a third of them got an ace. The sample size for the men is significantly larger than for the women or N/A, so it is likely more accurate.


Past Ace Data


One last piece of ace-related data that I wanted to look at is to check with the results of the 2018 survey and compare the aces rate from then to now. My first thought is that there wouldn’t be a big change from year to year for the percentage of us who get an ace. Then I looked at the numbers:




I was surprised to see a significant difference in the number of us that picked up an ace in 2018 over 2021. There were 44.2% of us that got an ace in 2018, but only 36% of us aced last year. To figure out why we dropped in numbers last year, I looked at some of the survey results shown above.

The first thing I looked at was the number of rounds played in 2018 to see if there were numbers that would point to something significant. It turns out that number of rounds played were done so at a nearly identical rate in 2018 and 2021. However, the percentage of people getting aces were lower in 2021 for every category of rounds played. That made me think that skill level was to blame.


Pandemic Affect


One of the byproducts of the pandemic was a huge influx of new disc golfers. The survey results affirmed that fact. Here is the breakdown by skill level of survey respondents in 2018 and 2021:




Clearly the upper divisions have shrunk slightly and the lower divisions have grown a bit. That seemed to validate my theory that we have a smaller ratio of people in the higher division, leading to a smaller ratio of people getting aces. However, when I looked at the percentage of aces in each division, each division is lower in 2021 than it was in 2018.


I still think the lower ace percentages are affected by the growth that came about because of Covid. I suspect there are more people in the sport which might lead to people moving up divisions earlier than they should. Perhaps next year’s Survey will shed more light on the lower ace numbers.

Check back next week for more survey results!



State of Disc Golf – Ace Statistics

The All Elusive Ace

Have you ever wondered if you are the only one in the world to not get an ace? We’re going to dive into the cold, hard statistics from this years State of Disc Golf survey to find out how often aces happen, and who they come from most often. First, we’ll look at the straight data to see how many hole-in-ones occurred in 2018.

Alright! So we see that most of you did not card an ace last year. In fact, if we pit the aces against the no-aces, this is what it looks like:

55.8% of survey respondents did not ace in 2018, leaving 44.2% with the excitement of a hole in one! So it seems the disc golf ace might not be all-elusive after all. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll get an ace this year!

As expected, this is quite different than the traditional golf scene. According to the National Hole-In-One Registry, only 1-2% of ball golfers will capture an ace in a given year. With an estimated 20+ million golfers playing 450 million rounds a year, we see that aces are far more rare.

In contrast, we turn to disc golf and see people reporting 8, 9, and 10+ aces in 2018. But it’s no big surprise aces in disc golf are far more common. Even in disc golf’s top events, several aces are captured on camera each year.

Who Takes the Ace?

Let’s do some cross comparison and see made all of these aces in 2018. Maybe it’ll give us clues on how to snag one ourselves…

Aces by Division

This likely also won’t come as a surprise, but the data backs it up: the higher division you play, the more likely you are to have an ace. About 81% of beginners did not ace in 2018, while only 16% of professionals didn’t. There’s something to be said for skill level and hitting the basket on your first throw.

Aces by Amount Played

No big surprises here either! The more rounds you play in a year, the more likely you are to have an ace. If you only play once a week or less, your chances of an ace are only 21% (still 10 times higher than that of ball golf). If you play every day, there’s only an 18% chance you won’t get an ace. At about 10-14 rounds a month is where you’ll hit the 50/50 chance of getting an ace.

Of course, this all depends on where you play as well.

Aces by Region

Aces by State

The number of reported aces from each state on the State of Disc Golf survey.

This map shows us the raw data of where the most aces occurred based on survey results. Michigan took first, Texas second, then California and Colorado. Pennsylvania had more survey takers than Colorado, but the rate of aces reported was much higher in Colorado, causing it to take fourth place in aces reported. This map coincides almost perfectly with survey data on # of course and players in each state.

Aces Per Capita of Survey Respondents

The number of aces reported per state, divided by the number of respondents per state.

This map is a little fun, and likely not the best way to pick where to hunt your next ace. This map takes the number of aces reported in each state and divides it by the number of survey takers in that state. North Dakota took the number one spot with a reported 17 aces, yet only 9 survey takers, yielding nearly 2 aces per person. Now does this extend to all disc golfers in North Dakota? Probably not. Alaska had a similar story with 27 aces and 16 respondents.

The top dogs in the previous map (Texas, Michigan, California) were taken right back down to normal levels in this map, having less aces than survey respondents.

Thanks for taking time to join us on this ace adventure, and thank you for taking the State of Disc Golf survey and helping us with the data to process. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m packing my bags for North Dakota to get some aces.