If there’s one thing that’s true, it is that making the leap to become a disc golf professional is a difficult endeavor. With the increasing number of Premier Events (PDGA Majors, NTs, World Tour, Pro Tour), for dozens of men, the dream is beginning to shift towards a possible reality. On the women’s side however, it is a very challenging task.
The geography of the overall tour has improved dramatically in the last several years, the payouts have increased, and the media exposure has gone through the roof. The one thing that has not changed is the number of women playing in the pro field. This is a self-fulfilling downward spiral that disc golf has been attacking for decades.
With smaller field sizes come smaller payouts and fewer spots that are paid out. This makes it harder for women to tour, resulting in yet again, smaller field sizes. The cycle then continues. Any growth, or even any maintaining field size, should be considered exceptional in this climate. The list of female athletes who have won Majors and NTs and are no longer competing dwarfs that of the men.
In 2018, the Pro Tour will enact six additional programs to help encourage the size of the women’s pro field.
1. Women’s tees: through our venue agreement, we will encourage every event to utilize the UDisc statistics and, when appropriate, shorten the women’s tees to give them a comparable playing experience to the men. At the Vibram Open we tested this out. Ten of the 11 shorter tees received universal praise from the women.
2. Women’s Hospitality tent and port-a-potties: At each Pro Tour event, there will be a 10 x 20 enclosed space that is specifically for the pro women. Inside this space will be chairs and tables with sunscreen, lotions, chocolates, pain reliever, and maybe some flowers. We want this to be a place where they can get away, relax, and be women. As an additional aside, we have added port-a-potties out on the course as an additional request of each venue.
3. Spread out the pros: In an effort to encourage local and Regional women to play, during round one, we will be spreading out the top Pros across all cards. It should be noted that we will be doing this on the men’s side as well, so this should actually help grow the field on both side. If you participate in a Pro Tour event, you will have an opportunity to play with one of the Sport’s best.
4. Reduced entry fees: We will be encouraging each event to reduce women’s entry fees. This will do two things. First, It reduces the barrier of Entry for local and Regional women who want an opportunity to play with the best in our sport. Second, it will increase the percentage of cash added to the women’s payout relative to the pay in. The added cash is divided proportionally based on the number of men and women at the event. Therefore, the women will get a larger percentage of added cash based on their entry fees. This is a relatively equitable way to get more money into the women’s fields.
5. Increased and improved video coverage: We are looking for a partner to support our 2018 plans to grow the women’s side of the sport. This partner will be underwriting the cost to professionally edit the women’s coverage that is spliced into the live feed as well as the creation of shot by shot coverage as a quality stand-alone piece. We believe this will increase the number of people that see women’s disc golf and that can only lead to increased participation among women.
6. Inclusion on the big scoreboard: At each Pro Tour stop, we feature the top men’s cards on the scoreboard. It is time for us to do this for the women as well. We will be working with each event to ensure that the scoreboard will have the people needed to do scoreboard scoring for the top FPO card during each round. In addition to the increased media coverage, this will give fans and players one more way to share and view their favorite players.
We’ve got one more event in 2017. Please tune in Thursday through Sunday at noon Eastern to watch the best in the world. We will do our best with our modest resources to cover the women as much as possible. Your support and patience as we improve is sincerely appreciated as are all of the well wishes.
Here we go!