where-was-everybody 2

Where are the players?

The Utah Open presented by Latitude 64, was in many ways a success. TDs Jade Sewell and Mike Milne put on an organized, entertaining, cash rich event. Every night of the week had a unique, fun, and creative activity. Ricky ended with the first big time Walkoff Ace in our sport. Uli, Wysocki, Koling, Catrina and Gibson will tell tales for hours about how great it was last year. And yet, many players did not attend.

In Waco, Rockwall and Jonesboro, the attendance and stature of the event was clearly increased by the presence of the Pro Tour. For example, here are the total MPO/FPO players and 1000 rated players over the past three years. Note that Jonesboro was a first year event – a huge thanks to the players for trusting that the event would be up to our standards.

– Waco: 2015 (50/2), 2016 (16/0), 2017 (76/22)
– Rockwall: 2015 (54/19), 2016 (75/9), 2017 (112/30)
– Jonesboro: 2017 (54/26)

In Utah however, something changed. In talks with the players and TDs, there seem to be three factors. Location, entry fee, and the course.

Location

With two fantastic events on the West Coast and Pro Worlds on the East Coast two weeks later, many players opted to give their bodies a rest and take a couple weeks off between the West Coast events. If Ogden, Utah was located between Santa Cruz and Estacada, OR, or the Utah Open and the Beaver State Fling flipped weekends, I expect this issue would have gone away.

Going forward, we will try to work closely with the PDGA to minimize the travel between NT and Pro Tour stops. This will create a more efficient North American tour that will help foster and showcase the best discers on the planet. My realtor told me there were three things that mattered: location location location. He was right.

Entry Fee

For Touring Pros, the entry fee is probably not a determining factor, but for local and regional pros (and adventurous ams), a $200 price tag can cause hesitation, especially when there are so few other “little fish”. We have developed an initial plan to implement a Graduated Entry Fee (tip of the hat to Craig Gangloff for the idea). This should help create demand and will get more locals excited about playing against the best players in the world.

If you want to play the Idlewild Open and test your skills against the best players on one of the most challenging and scenic courses, and possibly pay a reduced entry fee, now is your chance. Find out more here.

The Course

The Utah Open course is absolutely stunning. Not only are the grounds ridiculously manicured, the panorama views will take your breath away. It is also open and sort of long, although not as long as some people initially thought. In looking at the women’s attendance at the Utah Open, it appears that both factors (location and entry fee) created significant headwinds which were magnified by the course layout.

FPO Location: Several top pros started in the West Coast (and there are not a lot to start with so this is quite noticeable).

FPO Entry Fee: The local women are probably being turned off by the large entry fee, choosing to play a local event the week before for $80 and getting to play with a couple top pros as opposed to paying $200 and getting to play with a only couple more top pros.

FPO Course: The kicker to both of these, according to several women players that I talked with, is the length of the course. When you combine a long drive, minimized opportunity to cash (due to the small field), and a big course which overly benefits women that can throw over 400′, the reasons for the women (touring pros and locals) to not​ play are substantial.

Note: the goal of this article is not to beat the “women’s tee pads” drum. Without the other two issues, I do not believe the course would have been as large a factor as it is. Additionally, the course seemed to be viewed as extremely long, but it was in fact around 8000′, around average for a Pro Tour event.

2 Comments

  • William

    June 17, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Being a TD in the mountain west I believe that scheduling and being off the general touring slate it is difficult to bring big names to a tournament, without big prizes and/or guarantees. Jade has done a good job of getting players to make the stop, and other tournaments like dash for the cash in Twun Falls Idaho have created prize pools big enough to bring big names in. It seems as though the Western swing is so short that getting a number of touring pros to commit to a tournament. I think attempting to make these tournaments coincide with the tour would make a difference. As far as registration fees that as far as I could tell here locally was at least a little bit of an issue. I know there were players that have supported the UO in the past that were unwilling to do so this year’s because the registration fees were higher. This is something that I’ve struggled with myself as I like to make sure I have good player packs and little extras such as drinks and a catered lunch for my players, but this all costs. So I can lower the registration fees but in doing so I’ll need to cut down on some of these extras. As you stated in the above article Jade had events every day if the tournament and leading up to it. In order to do this it again takes money, so if people want to pay less they shouldn’t old maybe expect less, but this hasn’t been my experience. Overall I felt the UO was a great event and I hope that it continues to be a part of the DGPT for years to come, but part of its ability to do so would be to draw the best players.

  • June 18, 2017 at 10:35 am

    The UO was well run, on a beautiful track, with a happy, organized staff. We will work to ensure the geographic scheduling works better in 2018 and beyond.

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