Today we will talk about the direction of disc golf tournaments and the different tours we saw arise this year.
There are three new tours that have emerged in 2016 and we will spend a little time with each of them.
American Disc Golf Tour
The American Disc Golf Tour was the baby of Salient Discs, and was making bold strides by pushing to be on ESPN3 for their initial outing. My goal is not to be negative towards any individual effort to try something new, however, I believe this tour had very little positive impact on the sport.
Besides the lack of depth in the pro field, the high entry fees, the tacky score-keeping girls in Hooters outfits, and the very amateur feel of the production, the event simply didn’t deliver many positive results.
The adage of “any press is good press” may be true, however, to what degree is up for certain speculation and criticism in regards to the American Disc Golf Tour. The last portion of this idea is that the “tour” consisted of a single event. This was blamed on the community not rallying behind the initial event effort, but given that there was a poor product, very little real competition, and a lack of appreciation for the people that may be the audience, I am wholly unsurprised at the outcome.
Disc Golf World Tour
The next main tour arriving on the scene this year is the Disc Golf World Tour (DGWT). This tour consists of five events throughout the US and Europe. Starting in California, to the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, and ending in South Carolina with the United States Disc Golf Championship (USDGC).
This tour is the creation of Jussi Meresmaa, who is widely recognized for the explosive growth and success of disc golf in Europe. The tour is also responsible for bringing some new statistics to light. I have always liked statistics and am a believer that anything you measure can bring greater understanding and interest to the topic.
The statistics measured are: Green Hits (from the tee), ICP (putting percentage inside 10 meters), and OCP (number of putts made outside the 10 meter circle). This is a great start to the idea that we can break down and analyze what statistics and metrics make a winning disc golfer. The only metric shared by the top finishing golfers so far is over 90% ICP, and being top rated in green hits. This means that they routinely give themselves a reasonable chance at taking birdies, and are able to capitalize on it.
This is surprising given that both Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki are known for their amazing putting accuracy at quite a distance, however in the four events of the Disc Golf World Tour thus far, that has not been the reason for their success. I would never have guessed that was the case. Most people would likely have thought that making the 40-50 foot putts on a routine basis would be the reason for the top ranked players in the world to be ahead of everyone else. Though this may be a contributing factor in this small sample size of four events, this has not proven to be true.
There is one more thing to consider in this tour. Given the amount of travel, the sponsor (Innova Champion Discs via Discmania), and the coverage there is an overwhelming amount of Innova/Discmania sponsored play coverage and related commentary. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. They are footing the bill to make sure all of their top pros make the events, and the coverage and commentary is outstanding after each round. Just remember when you’re watching the coverage who is putting it together. All in all, this tour has been good for the sport, especially abroad and I applaud Jussi and his team for a great start to what I hope becomes an even stronger tour for years to come.
Disc Golf Pro Tour
The thrid tour that started this year is the Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT). This tour consists of five events and an additional tour championship you must qualify to play in. The tour was designed so that pros following the NTs and majors for the PDGA could do so easily and in conjunction. With this ease of attendance, they have done a great job attracting the best in the sport to the majority of their events.
Steve Dodge of Vibram Disc Golf is spearheading this tour and as with most things he’s done for the sport, he has shown thoughtfulness, great follow through, player first mentality, and long-term growth strategies can be at the heart of every event.
The DGPT has brought carnival games, "beat the pro" challenges in the games, a revolutionary partnership in live scoring with the astounding uDisc app, in depth statistics and a relationship for new power rankings with DGstats, fantasy disc golf with prizes, live video coverage of every event, and wonderful round recaps and relationships with the disc golf media community.
This weekend I attended the Minnesota Majestic. I had the wonderful opportunity to watch the rounds in person and see the whole event unfold. The environment felt fan-friendly, professional, and accessible to players and fans alike. Of course the tournament directors, and course proprietors, were a large part of the enormous success of the event. It was certainly the best run, most interesting, and highest level of play in any tournament I have had the pleasure of being a part of.
One of my favorite things about the uDisc involvement are the statistics they track. They have fairway hits, circle 1 (10 meters), circle 2 (20 meters), and scramble. The scramble rate occurs when you save par, after missing the fairway off the tee. The addition of the extra statistics allows for greater analysis long-term. I also did the live scoring portion for a card on the first round and was astounded at the ease and accuracy of the app. Everything from the interface to the refresh time was amazing. If you haven’t checked out the DGPT yet, you should. You will not be disappointed.
Both the DGWT and DGPT have done wonderful things for the sport and are driving the bus in the right direction.
Ultimately, the future of the sport for professionals and fans alike will be more successful and enjoyable for all with great minds and tours propelling the sport forward.
Thanks for reading and until next time, enjoy the wealth of disc golf statistics and videos to look over on these great websites and additions to the professional circuits of our sport!
See you on the course,