The year is 2016. Less than 10% of the PDGA’s membership is women. One possible takeaway is that women do not like to play disc golf and/or join organizations. Another is that disc golf has, for decades, not paid enough to attention women and to growing the women’s side of the sport. Clearly women’s participation outside the PDGA is larger than 10%, but it is still nowhere near 30%. Our sport has a very big opportunity to grow our base of players, and we can do it pretty easily.
Let’s make some assumptions. First, there are about 1.4 million disc golf players in the world. Second, about 15% of these players are women, or about 200,000. Third, the percentage of women that play and want to compete is probably lower than the percentage of men that play and want to compete (hello testosterone). From this, the PDGA membership being as low as it is actually makes sense as a reflection of the number of women playing and the lower percentage of women that want to compete.
Our takeaway from this is that there is a tremendous opportunity for growth on the women’s side of the game. If we increase the percentage of women playing to just 30% of our total, this would give us close to another quarter million players, many of whom would be competitive. The wonderful thing? This number is easily attainable. With 1.2 million men playing the sport, we have an avid group of people that would be excited to help.
At each of the Pro Tour stops as well as the Tour Championship, we will be celebrating the best women in our sport. They will be competing in some of the most talented women’s fields disc golf has ever seen.The Pro Tour wants to bring women into the game and the one way to do this is to highlight our best female players. We have an opportunity to increase the number of players significantly as well as increase the number of families bringing their kids to the course. Women are not just a big part of our sport, they are a bigger part of our growth. The Pro Tour wants women playing, watching, and helping to get more families involved.
The PDGA is executing the Women’s Global Event (WGE). This event is geared towards driving women to come play disc golf with their friends, learn how fun the game is, and – if they would like – see how easy it is to compete with other like-minded women. When trying to get people to do anything, it is important to have a critical mass. In this case, going to a WGE and seeing many other women who like to do the same thing encourages women to keep playing. Conversely, if a woman goes to a tournament and there are few (or no) other women, she will be less likely to keep playing.
The first DGWT event is in the books. The course was well designed, the Metrix were great, (the live stats and scoring were the best the sport has seen so far!), Jamie and Avery did a good job keeping the action going through their commentary, and the hole graphics and flyovers were very well done. Kudos and thank you to the DGWT! Having said that, the DGWT chose to have one division, realistically knocking women out of the event. The world’s #1 ranked woman, Catrina Allen, decided to give it a try. She finished 45th, one shot out of the cash.
Interestingly, the DGWT showcased her in their daily recap coverage. In general you would not highlight the person in 50th place in the daily recap. Doing so pointed out that Catrina was worth noting because she was different than everyone else playing the La Mirada Open. Catrina, the #1 ranked woman in the world, played 20 points over her rating. This is the type of thing players do about 10% of the time. This is how players win big events. To put this in perspective, this was better than she played at The Memorial, which she won the previous weekend. Even with that amazing play, the feature in the recap, being the world’s #1 ranked woman, she still missed the payout.
As Jussi Meresmaa, organizer of the DGWT, said, “Just like we need superstars on the male side to attract new audiences towards the sport, we need similar star players on the women’s side to strengthen the player base by attracting new female players of all ages to the sport.” We agree wholeheartedly. We need to grow these women into becoming role models for the next generation of women who will play our sport.
Do we value the women’s side of the game enough to include them? Do we want to encourage women to compete, play, and watch? The answer for the Pro Tour is a resounding yes! We want more women playing the sport. We want women competing in our best events. And lastly, we want women – and men, kids, and the whole family – to come watch.
The first Pro Tour stop is the Vibram Open, June 23-26, in Leicester, MA.
There are two divisions. MPO & FPO.