Disc Golf is now more popular than even with no signs of it slowing down.
The PDGA has done such a great job of providing an outlet for the competitive adult disc golfer. The collegiate championships will certainly grow the sport at the college level, but not much has been done nationally to create more play among kids under 16.
A few years back myself and other members of our club here in ST Louis, wanted to run more events geared for kids, but the board at the time wasn’t quite sure if bringing kids out to our events was a good idea. Disc golf has been long known for its counter culture side and ” extra curricular activities” that have become the norm. We actually had a vote about trying to attract kids under 16 to play at our events. At the time, the consensus was that our members didn’t want to give up their behavior in favor of more kids playing at our events. There was an effort made to run JR only events, but unfortunately after a few low turnouts the direction was abandoned.
Over the last 10 years there has been a 30% drop in JR play in Ball golf, but more recently the number of kids playing golf has risen and is now on a huge increase as high school and jr golf is more popular than ever,, especially amongst girls.
The PGA has several programs including First TEE and the Drive, Chip and putt competition ( based on the NFL’s punt, pass and kick) and these programs are churning out the young golfers of the future.
Yes we ( disc golf) does have the E.D.G.E. program, but after a closer look this program appears to be more of a marketing program for one particular company. Ive tried on several occasions to donate 500 discs to the program, but my efforts were not welcome.
I feel its time for the pdga or maybe a new group of promoters to spend the time energy and money that is necessary to establish JR disc golf as part of the sport.
I’m writing this blog to start the discussion as whether or not the current organized entities in the sport are ready to do whats necessary to allow kids to play WITH us or is a separate JR disc golf the only way this will work?
Please repost this article on your local club message board or share with your friends on Facebook and twitter and go to our website and vote on what you think is the best direction to head today.
Matt Stillwagon says
Excellent article that makes some good points. My son is an avid disc golfer at the age of 9, and our daughter is starting to get into the game as well. I remember when my son started to play, and how our locals created little side games to keep him motivated despite not having a chance to win the round. To say that it paid off would be a minor understatement.
When he started playing tournaments, there were never any legitimate Jr. Divisions at any of the local events, and so we started him where we ALL started…. the rec division. It wasn’t until we attended his first PDGA Amateur World Championships that we actually found the “others like us”. But that event is strictly 1 event! On the positive side, it is refreshing and encouraging to see so many other Juniors out there.
Recently, our local club, North Side Chain Gang, has started a program we call KIDDO KADDY. The aim of the program is to organize the juniors in our local area, and to teach the kids how to properly play the game. We meet every Friday evening at 5:30, and travel to our club’s local courses. We start every session with a lesson on a given rule. Most recently we instructed the kids on proper marking and stance. I was pleasantly surprised to see the kids actually asking questions, and coming up with scenarios that we played out.
After the Rules Discussion, we break it up. 1st and 3rd Friday of the month, we send out a card of kids, followed by a card of Adults. The purpose is to keep an eye on the kids, but allow them to play the course with us behind them for safety, rules help, or even just a lost disc. On the 2nd and 4th Friday of every month, we have an Alternate Shot Doubles, where the adult is paired with the child. The program has CTP prizes, a kid only ace pot, and the entry fees for the Alternate Shot Doubles also funds trophies for any Jr. Divisions offered at PDGA local events.
I like the EDGE program, but I also feel that a family that throws together, stays together. We have had great support for the program, and we are growing quickly. My hope is to eventually have enough kids to create enough demand to eventually hold a PDGA sanctioned KIDS ONLY tournament. We know this will take time, but we will stay the course.
I’m always inspired to see articles in the Disc Golf Magazines that feature another Jr. Development program, and I hope that these programs will start to get the support from the disc golf community. This is OUR group’s answer, and it appears to be very well received by the locals. So if you are ever in North Houston, TX, and you and your kids want to have a fun, educational, family oriented atmosphere for a round, check out KIDDO KADDY!
Cody Castellaw says
Promoting JR disc golf is a wonderful idea. I grew up in a rural city in Oregon, where disc golf wasn’t popular. I actually didn’t hear about disc golf until my wife introduced me to it in college. I have been addicted to the game ever since. I personally don’t smoke nor do I drink or participate in certian “recreational activities”. I have on occasion felt out of place at tournaments or just playing rounds of disc golf when certian “extra cerricular activities” have been participated in. I have a passion for disc golf and I know there are people who engage in “recreational activities” are just as passionate as I am, who feel that it is part of why they love the game. I will promote the game however I can, but I know my parent would never have let me play if certian recreational activities were common place. I wish that I had grown up playing disc golf. It is such a great way to be outside and enjoy nature and be active. I would only let my kids participate in events where recreational activities were allowed if I was with them. I fully plan on playing disc golf as a family. Thanks for raising awareness about opportunities to spread the great game of disc golf.
As a kid I played Jr Golf Monday mornings at 6:00 am during the summer, as did most of my friends, because it was offered by the local Park and Rec department. I didn’t stick with golf after that primarily because it was just to expensive. We don’t have that problem with disc golf. Simply talking to the Park and Rec departments, and organizing summer Jr Disc Golf programs could go a long ways in growing the sport.
Thomas Milos says
I have been playing the game for about 5 years now, and shortly after it got its hooks into me I, in turn hooked my two older boys (10 and 12 at the time). It has been a family event ever since. We’ve taken road trips to Rolla, Columbia, both Springfields, Hannibal, a number of other places as well as all of the “local” courses St. Louis has to offer. In this time-frame, I have also taken my then-youngest, who was 3 at the outset, out with me many times. He, too, loves the game, and now that he’s approaching 8, wants to play in a tournament like I and his elder siblings do. So I’m bringing him on May 4th (his 8th birthday, by the way) to play the Gateway Open.
My thoughts have always been “The future of Disc Golf is with the youth.” Our children are the ones who will grow this sport, so I think there should be more events planned with them in mind. Specifically, the under 10 crowd. My older boys are teenagers, and more than able to play in tournaments/leagues as they are right now. Heck, they’re practically men. With them, I don’t worry too much about the extra-curricular behaviors of the other players at a sanctioned or even local event because, as of yet, I have faith in the good sense of my fellow man. If its casual play, then they are with me anyway.
But for the younger children, I think a catered youth model would be well-received.
What do you think, Dave? How about a once a month, over the summer series of Parent/Child doubles events? Something clearly for the under 10-12 crowd with emphasis on rules, sportsmanship and fun. Maybe some clinics for the kids.
I think a program like this would be beneficial to the PDGA and to the sport as a whole.
Tylor Milos says
I started playing disc golf at the age of 13 and my younger brothers started at the ages of 12, 5, and 2. I agree. I have at one point attempted to start a disc golf league in middle school. I halfway succeeded. They brought it into gym that’s it. but it was the kind of disc golf with the hoops and cheap discs that chip when they tombstone grass.