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jeremy
09-16-2011, 09:02 AM
I was doing some research a couple days ago. I looked back to the very first PDGA sanctioned event that I had played. It was the 2003 Brandenburg Open. I was looking through some of the names and thinking “Ah, yeah, I remember that guy”. The more of the names that I looked at the more I found myself echoing that same statement “Where’s that guy now?”, “I remember him”.

So then I tallied it up. There were 69 players at that event in 2003. Now, in 2011, 53 of those same 69 players have not played a sanctioned event this year. That’s 77% of the field. The majority of those players, also, haven’t renewed their PDGA membership this year. I thought “maybe it’s because it’s Brandenburg….maybe the small town just drew a more casual crowd”. So I looked at the 2003 ZGLO where we had 125 players. I lost count for sure but I know that AT LEAST 109 of those 125 players haven’t played this year. That’s 87%!

Looking through the names there were a LOT of players that were GREAT. There were great AMs on the verge of being PRO and some great PROs too. There is a World Amateur Champion that is on that list of people that haven’t played this year. There were a few, hardworking volunteers on that list that dedicated a LOT of their time to growing the sport only to fall away from the sport themselves. These weren’t all just a bunch of casual golfers.

Discussion…what can we do to increase the staying power of disc golf? What could we do to keep another 80% of the playing field from quitting in the next eight years? Imagine if we had those players in our pool of competitors today. Imagine how big our tournaments would be.

scottyb
09-16-2011, 09:08 AM
Wow great discussion Jeremy, I sometimes wonder this myself. I guess we need to hear from people who are out of the game now who once dedicated so much of there lives to promoting, playing, and supporting the game.

MarcusGresham
09-16-2011, 09:13 AM
We need to discourage them from having babies and building houses! (J/K Jeremy, can't wait to see you back out here.)

PDGA#26039
09-16-2011, 09:26 AM
I've noticed this already myself even though I havn't been around as long as many of you. I think a lot of players have misconceptions of what disc golf is when they begin. I know I thought it was something bigger than it actually is when I started. There is a point of realization for many players when they find out what it really is, a player run sport. Lots of people get to a point where they have had enough, one way or another.

Lots of players play, get better, it starts to take up more time than it "should", then prioritize, then play less. Life comes along. In some ways I'm glad I didn't start playing until after "life came along". It seems like a lot of younger players play a lot, and then have decisions to make when it's time to get a job, or find themselves in a relationship. It's not just with disc golf, people change, whether it's disc golf, a particular job, your health, a relationship, or life circumstances, people get tired of doing the same thing, I think it's human nature.

CV time...

noLowPuttsDave
09-16-2011, 09:44 AM
I agree with Scott, I went from having great rounds last year, shooting 930 plus rated rounds and getting better all the time, then life came along, had a baby, working 24/7 to support a family, you find yourself torn for time. Now I'm lucky to shoot 900 rated rounds any more, it actually hurts my pride lol. plus, after gaining the baby weight I've found myself a lil' more out of shape than usual lmao.

jeremy
09-16-2011, 10:30 AM
Great post, Scott. For me, it was a combination of life (being ill, work, building a new home), over working myself within the sport, a couple ignorant personalities, and the fact that disc golf became too much like work and politics. Setting most of this year out hasn't been very hard for me.

When I first got involved in the sport it was just fun. I would get excited to go to events because I was going to get to see a bunch of great friends that I enjoyed being around. The work load was fairly balanced and there was a LOT more appreciation than there was gripping. Everyone appreciated any work you did and didn't rip you to shreads if they disagreed with something you did.

For the past couple years the atmosphere on the course was HEAVY for me. I couldn't go to the course without the fear of running into work/work related questions, disc golf politics, or players that chose to find reasons to be mad at me. I'm a big boy...I can handle those situation by themselves but last year it just hit me extra hard due to being ill, a job change, and preparing to build a house. Dics golf was no longer a fun refuge for me. It was just another responsiblity.

When I come back to the sport it will be fun just being a player though.

scottyb
09-16-2011, 10:54 AM
I think I have realized that playing in tournaments isn't as much fun as it used to be. I'd rather promote the sport by getting more courses and play more for fun with friends. It really bothers me when you put so much into an event and hear negative comments from people who haven't done a 1/100th of the work you have for the sport. People bashing a course you have put some much time into whenever they haven't spent an hour to work on there own local course. Don't get me wrong, there are people who are very appreciative, but when you hear the negative comments it hits me personally.

For me, tournaments do equal exposure, which equals more courses, so I will continue to do what I can. It's not my favorite and if it were up to my wife I wouldn't be doing it. I think the PDGA does need to recognize the hard work that TD's put into events which puts money in their pocketbooks. I have never made money off an event and usually end up losing, another reason why the wife would rather me not be involved, but what can I say, I do love the sport and try to give back as much as I can.

Daniel
09-16-2011, 11:07 AM
We saw the same thing in Autocross (Sports Car Club of America, SCCA). It's very similar to DG except that it's far more expensive, of course. The numbers were larger (sometimes over 1000 cars per event) but the percentages would be pretty close, I'd imagine. You have a central kernel of people that do it hardcore and the rest drift in and out due to illness, family, emergencies, etc.

mdwamp
09-16-2011, 11:16 AM
I used to autocross. I quit for a couple reasons. First was expense. Certainly more expensive than dg. The other issue I had was seat time. You would spend an entire Sunday at the venue and drive for a total of five minutes. It was a fun five minutes but the time invested wasn't worth it to me.


We saw the same thing in Autocross (Sports Car Club of America, SCCA). It's very similar to DG except that it's far more expensive, of course. The numbers were larger (sometimes over 1000 cars per event) but the percentages would be pretty close, I'd imagine. You have a central kernel of people that do it hardcore and the rest drift in and out due to illness, family, emergencies, etc.

chuck
09-16-2011, 08:50 PM
I agree with Scott as well, sometimes life happens. Changes make us uncomfortable sometimes and they usually force us to make decisions about other things in our life. I also agree with what Jeremy said: When I first started (which wasn't all that long ago), it was all about being something fun to do! I wasn't any good, but that didn't matter, I still enjoyed the time I spent playing. After working very hard on running a tournament nearly completely by myself, it led to burn-out. It didn't take too long for the desire to see some of the great people in the sport again to take over and start playing again, but then the politics started to show itself and the negative talk (or no talk at all). It became more like a duty than a joy.

jamesmcc
09-16-2011, 09:06 PM
I must be a fanatic I've been playing for at least 10yrs doing leagues and playing tourneys is awesome.Just being out there politics or not is what life is all about.I do hope to see the sport grow to something out of this world like ball golf for ex. before I'm too old to be a part of it.One day we will get there I hope I'm around to see it.

Justin
09-16-2011, 09:33 PM
wow...you all are making me nervous. Hopefully life doesn't hit to soon for me. lol

G1nked
09-18-2011, 06:43 PM
Everyone has very good points in this thread. I only started two years ago and played religiously with who ever was kind enough to play with me almost every day of the week weather permitting. I would get nervous when winter was approaching, I would buy every piece of plastic I could get my hands on and just loved the socialization. Then after a while you see the politics the cliques and realize the more you play the more you realize it's not all fun and games. People sandbag to win, people won't play mr.x's tournament because they don't like their hairstyles, and when people break their backs for the sport it often goes unappreciated by the 10% who bitch and moan no matter what. We all know that if you receive 100 compliments and 2 complaints the complaints carry much more weight.
I personally love disc golf and enjoy meeting new friends and learning from the pro's and really have met very few people I wouldn't consider friends on or off the course. Once I took Reif's wise words "it's only disc golf" to heart I started having a lot more fun I also have to give Eddie Whelan's advice that if your not going to make a living at it you might as well have fun.
I have
a couple injuries right now that's slowed my roll for the moment but I know it's not the end of the world and I will return as soon as possible. I thank every one of you guys that's helped me out during the past two years and value the friendships I have made so far and look forward to returning as soon as I heal up. I feel like disc golf will always be a source of fun in my life as long as I am physically able to do so.

Daniel
09-18-2011, 07:24 PM
I was wondering where you've been, Shawn! I figured you'd be out for the CVO. Hope you get better soon and get back out there.

(No one can complain about my hairstyle--I don't have too much hair!)

Terry Glass
09-18-2011, 08:42 PM
Good thread Jeremy and great responses by all. I have not been playing as many tournaments as I would like due to lifes changes. My wife and I became grandparents for the first time 2 1/2 years ago and our grandson (Gavin) is everything to us. I still love the sport and competition, but I play locally for the most part as many days a week that I can. As Gavin gets older I will get him involved in the sport and that may get me out there more often. I really do enjoy most players I meet and consider them to be good people. Keep the faith.

MarcusGresham
09-19-2011, 12:55 AM
(No one can complain about my hairstyle--I don't have too much hair!)[/QUOTE]

Shawn can because you have a lot more than he does!

Sunspot
09-20-2011, 11:58 AM
Being married, having kids to take care of, going to school, working, and other responsibilities fill up my time. It's more convenient for me to practice when I do have some free time. I live about a mile from a park that has several places to throw. That allows me to go out and throw and come back quicker than it would if I was playing a round. However, if I have more free-time during the day, I'll go play an occasional round.

Honestly, the biggest thing that takes up my time is school. Summer is better for me than Fall-Spring, but there are hardly any tournaments during Summer.

OneTime
09-25-2011, 12:00 PM
I have mentioned to our club (AceEagles) how to maintain old member numbers. It's a topic I find interesting for sure.

How do you guys think we can maintain good retention levels?

festis
09-26-2011, 11:27 AM
Just curious to see if anyone can cross reference this data with other parts of the country, to see just where we stand. Also, the sport is still growing regradless of retention rates, so how many new disc golfers are there for every one disc golfer that has left the sport?

OneTime
09-27-2011, 09:37 AM
Job Wilson can do it. Lol

martin
09-27-2011, 09:52 AM
New players are the future. The truth is...this might hurt but disc golf is just a game. Retention and all is great but disc golf is all about the moment. It is player run and players come and go.

I have seen the same in Ultimate Frisbee here in Louisville. I have been playing ultimate since 1998 in the area. I am like a grandfather now. Maybe a great-great grandfather. There are very few guys and girls who have been in the ultimate scene over the past decade plus.
The number of new players though are what keep the sport alive and fresh.

Disc golf seems to be the same way. I dont think it is all that important that effort is applied to retain players. The players that can and want to stick around will. It is far more important that we continue to reach out and introduce the sport to new players.

I recognize Damon and Derby City Discs as a huge step in the future of the game in the region. Damon can tell you there are countless new players who are wandering through his store to procure plastic. James McCormick running wed night leagues has had 100+ different golfers play leagues. Adam and I have taught a few different groups of kids about disc golf and afterschool rec centers in Indiana.

If we truly want to grow this game we must continue to show all just how much fun and easy it is to make a frisbee take flight!

jobwilson82
09-27-2011, 01:36 PM
I agree 100%. Great post, Martin.


New players are the future. The truth is...this might hurt but disc golf is just a game. Retention and all is great but disc golf is all about the moment. It is player run and players come and go.

I have seen the same in Ultimate Frisbee here in Louisville. I have been playing ultimate since 1998 in the area. I am like a grandfather now. Maybe a great-great grandfather. There are very few guys and girls who have been in the ultimate scene over the past decade plus.
The number of new players though are what keep the sport alive and fresh.

Disc golf seems to be the same way. I dont think it is all that important that effort is applied to retain players. The players that can and want to stick around will. It is far more important that we continue to reach out and introduce the sport to new players.

I recognize Damon and Derby City Discs as he huge step in the future of the game in the region. Damon can tell you there are countless new players who are wandering through his store to procure plastic. James McCormick running wed night leagues has had 100+ different golfers play leagues. Adam and I have taught a few different groups of kids about disc golf and afterschool rec centers in Indiana.

If we truly want to grow this game we must continue to show all just how much fun and easy it is to make a frisbee take flight!

OneTime
10-23-2011, 02:03 PM
Not sure why retention isn't something the LDGC talks about. New blood is the excitement for sure, but old players can be great ambassadors and recruiters.

jamesmcc
10-23-2011, 10:53 PM
True that and teachers of good technique.