Ok while I’m waiting to head for Jackson Falls to help design a temp course for an event in Southern Illinois next weekend, I thought I would talk about the past present and future of disc golf.
When I first started traveling and playing in disc golf events back in 1983-84, I was asking the same questions as todays up and coming pro’s.
” what do we need to do in order to play for more money”
I always heard people say, “corporate sponsorship”, “getting it on TV”, later in the mid 90’s I heard “we need ESPN, ESPN 2 out hear filming and reporting” and such.
Well we had 26 episodes of Disc TV on the empire network for a season a 4 or 5 years back and then it was syndicated on Mav TV last year. It seems this created a lot of exposure to people who had never heard of disc golf, as we received many calls from people who saw our companies advertising on the show.
We were contacted by Dupont who helped us create our Evolution line of polymers which is the exact same thing as star, it came from the technology used on golf ball covers!
We received calls from parks, private land owners, players who started playing after seeing an episode or 2. I was very excited about this new found business that was coming from the show, but I had limited amounts of cash flow to spend on advertising.
I needed to grow the company with machines, warehouse space, I only had so much to spend on advertising!!
The thing about this show was the 2 or 3 leading disc golf companies never advertise on the show at all,,, I wonder why not??
It couldn’t have been because it was too expensive, after all I was rubbing nickels together hoping for a dime and still doing a little advertising on the show.
I’m not sure how much the pdga spent with the networks, but it would have seemed like money well spent!!
Since the producers of the show and network needed advertisers to keep the show going and the companies inside the game didn’t see the value or had other reason for not advertising, the show quietly went off the air.
Keeping this show running was a big opportunity that literally slipped through the disc golf communities fingers.
Well disc golf in general never took a hit, only the opportunity for growing the sport through the fast lane of network television and developing the money needed to support a professional tour.
Disc Golf is currently growing like wildfire at the recreational level, mostly because of word of mouth, but at the Professional level, we are really leveling off and even on the decline in some areas. I went to an event in Louisville in 1986 that had 105 pro men, this past year I think there were only 25 in the mens pro division there.
All in all, neither the game of disc golf or the existing manufacturing companies need Disc Golf on Television and I have heard some say they don’t even WANT it on TV.
I wonder why not,,, well not really!
Some players liken it to bands like REM ( “once they went mainstream, they were never the same”), some players like the ability to play without tee times and the mostly non-conformist anti-establishment disc golfers of the past 25 years, like their ability to be one of the ” guys in the know” and their revenue from disc selling at the course or through a club or few local accounts.
The death grip on the grass routes of disc golf needs to let go in order for disc golf to get a little more mainstream.
I have seen a physical change in the look of the everyday disc golfer, its younger and more athletic every year and it will keep heading that way!
There’s a sense of “out with the old in with the new” attitude all the way up from local clubs to the board of the PDGA!! to quote Bob Dylan ( I think) “Times are a changin”
I am not here to blame anyone for holding back the game of disc golf!
Its obvious its not really being held back at all, especially when it comes to new courses, new players, new equipment and even new companies. The only place its really not growing is in the pro Division, which really only effects around 1000 players in the world, which is like 1/10th of 1% of the people who play the game/sport!
It was great that disc golf was on TV for 26 Episodes and then an attempt to show the reruns was made, but the reality is, it was way ahead of its time.
In order for a disc golf TV show to be successful without support from those with a vested interest in advertising during the show, we are going to need a lot more recreational players than we have right now,,,,like 100,000 times more players.
We are going to need 25,000 more disc golf courses to to get 10,000,000 players, thats 4,000 new players per new course.
If we get 25,000 new courses and 10,000,000 new players, we will also get 50 new disc golf manufactures.
ok,,,, thats 25 years of work ahead of us, but you get the point, even if we put in 2,500 new courses, doubling the current amount, maybe we could have 10 new disc golf manufacturing companies who would want to advertise on a disc golf show to get market share,,,, wait,,,,, Do I want to have to compete with 10 new companies for shelf space, custom stamp jobs for events?,,,,,Hmmmmm,,, what am I thinking??
Why do I want this? who would want this??
I’m doing OK for an under-capitalized small company and the future is looking bright, do I really want more disc golf companies to compete with for that (getting ever so scarce) disposable income???
Well,,, the answer is of course YES, I do, but does anyone else that makes disc golf equipment?
I think more manufacturing companies will only produce more advertising and marketing of disc golf, not JUST for their own disc golf equipment, but for the game of disc golf in general. It’s really hard to advertise, market and promote disc golf products without helping do the same for the game!
I am under the impression that our company will continue to get a slightly larger piece of the pie each year.
With that assumption wouldn’t I want the entire pie to grow as well?
Who wouldn’t??? Maybe I shouldn’t??.