The Community of Disc Golfers and About All Things Disc Golf

Do we have a reason to be ashamed of who we are? Should we try to present ourselves as something we are not?

These questions are central to issues like the Collared Shirt Rule for major tournaments or the way that the new disc magazine (FDM) portrays the sport. It seems to me that we cannot disguise who we are and trying to do so will not work. Beyond that, why should we try?

Go to a disc golf course and watch who shows up. Most of those you see will be young, blue collar and counter-culture (let's call that Y, BC, CC). If a park or a potential sponsor or a player cannot embrace (or at least tolerate) Y, BC,CC then they will not like the sport of disc golf. Go to a disc golf tournament and watch who shows up. Mostly the same group. Somewhat older and more dedicated but still BC and CC.

We are not like ball golfers. We are not as wealthy or as conservative as they are. Nor will we be for the foreseeable future. We would look foolish trying to pass ourselves off as something we are not. And our foolish attempt would be immediately transparent to all involved. Hippies in collared shirts are still hippies. So too are Y, BC, CC in collared shirts.

If Flying Disc Magazine were to homogenize itself to the point where it hides the true character of our sport, it does us no favors with parks or sponsors. Sorry but that scam is going nowhere.

So why should we be ashamed of what we are? Some of us find the Frisbee Family to be pretty darn charming and lovable. Since joining the Frisbee Family is purely voluntary, anyone whose ego needs a status bump will go down the road to the country club.

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When I am layed to rest, my tombstone will proudly display #33767.
Chain Gang said:
When I am layed to rest, my tombstone will proudly display #33767.
I'm thinking about something like, "From blue tee to eterni tee"
We shouldn't be ashamed of who we are, but there are some really cool collared shirts to wear at tournaments. I believe much of the problem with 'image' is not clothing or counter-culture image, but with beer drinking, smoking herb and cigs on the course. Don't get me wrong, I like beer (see my profile photo) and other fun activities, but I try to be discreet on the course and especially at tournaments. And leaving cigarette butts littering the tee pad area does not help our cause either. I want to have fun as much as anyone, but I don;t want to start losing courses either.

I don't want to be a ball golfer. I enjoy the freedom and self expression that disc golf provides. And counter-culture is great: look at the X-games. But you don;t see those guys smoking pot or drinking on television. It just doesn't work.
Just found this thread and I couldn't agree more with some of your points Mark.
I am the first guy to want disc golf COURSES to be like Ball golf courses with par 72 being the norm, but that doesnt mean I think disc golfs are or should act like ball golfers.
The whole collared shirt thing has never really made since to me.
Its not like I'm AGAINST it but its not really going to help with image and feel we should get rid of the rule or at least change the wording.

I often take my nephews to the skate parks here in St Louis and all day long kids come skate and hang out.
Just about every kid there has the clothes necessary to be called a skater, the shoes, shirts and even the attitude.
Regardless of their skill that are a Skater and are happy to be one.
Of course there are kids there who think they are better than the others, but they do NOTHING to create competitions.
Not one of these kids will ever be a pro and earn any money at Skateboarding, yet each day they come back and new kids join the SKATER NATION every day.
Skateboarding DWARFS disc golf in terms of popularity and revenue, with the majority of it coming from clothes, just so a kid can be different and part of something DIFFERENT.
heres a hypothetical situation:
Lets say I want to have a Skateboard competition there and will give a full skateboard sponsorship to the best 5 guys and gobs of prizes to the top 40%. The thing is I would need all the kids to wear nice clothes and get hair cuts and oh yeah,,,, stop acting like skate punks.
how many kids do you think would even show up?
I can tell you how many,,,,,,very VERY few if any and the reason is simple, its not who they are or want to be and even these young kids wont have what they wear dictated by the man.

Take a look at Ultimate players:
A large % of these players are in college and become college degreed with fairly normal above board lives.
Just about the same % look at themselves as better than disc golfers and feel ultimate is a more legitimate sport than disc golf. They feel the are above disc golf in every regard, facts are socially and economically its probably true as a whole.
But, too anyone on the outside looking in, theres absolutely no Discernible difference between the 2.
They are both just Frisbee dudes to most peole and chances are they are stereotyped as being "on the pot" and "slackers". I'm sure this doesn't sit well with the ultimate players, Heck they have college degrees and earn a nice living but, when the they are playing frisbeee games they are lumped in with disc golfers.
If he/she looks like a Frisbee dude and smells like a Frisbee dude and is playing Frisbee,, guess what? he/she is still just a Frisbee dude!
This is not bad thing, hey most people I do business with call me Frisbee Dave or the Frisbee guy.
I dont mind, its what I am, why hide it,,,, doesn't help and for me it doesn't hurt the relationships.

Play this scenario out for the future of competitive disc golf or just the growth of disc golf in general.
First you split all of disc golf players into 2 different groups, one side are the collared shirt and just say no to drugs players and the other side lets things develop with little or no rules that would effect a player and their personality, using only the actual rules for playing.

Which one do you think will have more players right off the bat,
what about in 5 or 10 years?

Just because you have on a collared shirt and are not partaking in extracurricular activities doesn't mean your not an A-hole.
Chances are if you put all the players on a list that other players would rather not play with, its those that are saying no and expect you to wear collared shirts that are the majority on that list.

Bottom line is some disc golfers, organizer's and promoters of the sport take themselves and the game too serious and this image battle is something that will go on for years.
There will always be a faction that wants the sport to be mainstream and above board,but the facts are skateboarding and snowboarding have become GIANT industries for counter culture kids. We should use more of a go with the flow attitude instead of forcing players to lose their identities by making them wear collared shirts and harbor their emotions during competitions for fear of a courtesy violation.

This sport is filled with non conforming anti establishment types and if you push too hard the results wont be too positive.

just my 2 cents,,, well maybe 4!
I think thats a great post, pretty much sums up the middle ground. I think Skateboarding is a good analogy for the business model disc manufacturers would benefit most from. But I think disc golf has tried to promote itself in more arenas than just attracting one demographic. I wouldn't say skateboarding is a family sport, or even a lifetime sport. Though i suppose it can be in certain cases.

I never had a problem with the "extra curricular activities" not in a moral way anyway, but I do think even those partaking have to acknowledge that the perception of extra curricular activities being , rightly or wrongly, associated with a disc golf course makes it tougher to gather support/funds withing the community at least in terms of getting a course put in. And that the perception is at odds, with the idea that disc golf is a family sport/game.

The question of what the disc golf community is I think was answered at least for the time being in this thread. Its probably one heck of a lot more uncollared than collared if its fair to break it down with those terms. Then the question is can we knowing that continue to promote disc golf as all things, especially since the tone seems to be we like that it isn't collared shirt ball golf.
why don't you make a list of who's on what team and we'll do battle?
I wear Teeshirts most of the time. For Major tournaments and when cameras are there , I usually wear a decent Disc Golf Collared Shirt . Never know where that picture will end up and I don't want any negative feedback from potential sponsors !!!
I think the point is,,,,regardless of what type of shirt you have on, people are going to look at you and see a disc golfer.
Skateboarding and snow boarding have done just fine without trying to change who they are by dressing them in out fits they don't usually wear or want to wear.
Yes some people have to wear uniforms, but you dont see a guy pulling parts for you at the junkyard in a 3 piece suit, just so you think this junkyard is a better one than down the street.
Any potential BIG sponsor for our Tour will know what disc golf is all about wel in advance and will be comfortable partnering with disc golfers because our demographic fits his need for advertising and marketing.
Like Mark says, trying to play dress up for the camera is not fooling anyone and in fact I feel it actually hurts the chances for sponsorship. Guys in the woods in public parks playing disc golf in collared shirts,,,,, c'mon,,, think about it!!

It seems like we are always trying to put the cart before the horse.
"hey if we wear collared shirts we might end up with a corporate sponsor for our tour',,,, I really dont think it's going to happen this way. I'm not saying we should all wear tye dyes and cut off jean shorts, but theres really nothing wrong with dri-fit shirts and hemmed pants and even this is asking a lot from the disc golf community as w hole.
Theres a much better chance right now to get sponsored by High Times, Glass blowers or Zig Zag than any other companies and 20 more years of making players wear collared shirts in the larger events isn't going to change this much.
The reality of a corporate sponsor throwing money at our tour to make purses increase is pretty far fetched.
What would be in it for them?
If you worked for Miller lite marketing department and your job was to get as much exposure for your money as possible,
how would sponsoring a disc golf event help.
If this was your job and you spent $5k on a disc golf event with 144 players and 50 spectators and you did this at 10 events that never wound up on TV, I'm fairly certain you wouldn't have that job too long.
A typical rule of them would be $1 per person that is attending an event. The participants usually aren't even counted.
So how much total would have been given to the entire NT last year based on attendance, maybe $2k??

Personally I feel a Pro tour should be ran and managed by a Company that is out for profit and not an organization that is trying to serve the entire disc golf community.
We just don't have enough money coming in to help with the grass roots growth of the game AND trying to raise money for a pro tour and everything needed in between.
If we had to decide right now between using our PDGA funds to get more players or spend money trying to get money for a pro tour, the answer should be obvious.
I used to think a big purse would attract more attention and more players, but now I feel more players ( and by more i mean A LOT more,,,, like 10 million more) would attract more attention and eventually a big purse one day when the popularity was worthy of it being on TV!.
Sounds like this "Dave McCormack" guy knows what he is talking about. Right on. Let's make disc golf grow the right way, for the right people, and for the right reasons.
We are who we are.... and I love every minute of it.
Simple fact: potential sponsors are out there, and are willing to part with substantial amounts of money to be associated with a positive community event, and to get their company name and logo viewed as many times as possible by the attendees and/or viewers of that event. Its all about advertising.

Simple fact: Those same sponsors would not want to be linked to any illegal or anti-social activity, as it would damage their reputation to be associated with anything negative.

My opinion: Just because the roots of the sport were embedded in hippie counter-culture does NOT mean we have to continue to uphold EVERY aspect of the hippie mindset. I'm all for non-violence, peace and tolerance, but I don't view myself as a radical conservationist or promote the use of illegal mind-altering substances. So we shouldnt wear collared shirts because they are SO elitist (its a shirt for pete's sake, anyone can buy them,a good quality disc is $20, so is a collared shirt!), but we can smoke a quiet doob on the course because of the game's roots? Crap. A sport can evolve beyond what it started out as, as ours has and will continue to do. Disc golf is becoming more and more mainstream whether you like it or not, and we (meaning the people that play and also want to work for the sports betterment) need to try to adapt with this change.

A sport's popularity and its financial situation go hand in hand, but its a catch 22. You need people interested to get any sort of media coverage, but to get media coverage you need to prove that people will be interested. I agree that building a player base is important, and something that we all need to work on. But if we focus on the Y BC CCs of the world, we are limiting ourselves to a potential player base of what- 15% of the population or less? Of those 15% say a third take it up as a sport- thats now down to 5% of the population (approx)....... now how many of these people will work to design courses, arrange and run tournaments, sit on committees at local clubs, or better yet, start new clubs? How many will do sessions at the local schools to educate kids on the sport, and mayb get their families involved (Heaven forbid having a FAMILY playing disc golf!) There will be some who have the drive and motivation, but not very many I would think. So my argument is that supporting this line of logic basically ensures that we will never grow as a sport, as disc golf will sink back to a miniscule player base and maybe eventually just disappear as bigger, newer and better sports come along that capture the publics attention more.

We've just started as a club,and have begun investigating potential sponsorship avenues for our next tournament, and we've found that it is amazing the amount of money out there that companies are willing to donate to the community, but to get this sponsorship YOU HAVE TO PROMOTE A POSITIVE IMAGE AND BE PROFESSIONAL.

If you want to get drunk and stoned at the hole 1 tee, then play a few rounds, get abusive, maybe start a fight, drop a stack of litter and do a bit of vandalism during your weekly disc golf experience, then so be it, but know that you're actually undoing a lot of the good work that some of your fellow disc golfers are doing, and in the long run, once the motivated people give up on the sport, courses will get pulled and the sport will die off very quickly. Your choice.

But who am I to comment, im only one of the ones that are working with other like-minded disc golfers to get MORE courses in the ground for EVERYONE (not just me) to enjoy, and get MORE people hooked on this fantastic sport. So elitist of me to worry about the sports image.
Chasing money makes you do weird things.

When you get right down to it, the prevailing organization for disc golf is the PROFESSIONAL Disc Golf Association. There are a lot of things that I'm sure would have been done differently if the sport had not been organized upside-down, but the actual situation in 1976 was that the IFA was already propping up "professional" Frisbee players and holding "professional" disc golf events for those guys made sense. By the time Kransco bought Wham-O and the ax came down on the IFA money, the PDGA was seven or eight years old and we couldn't let go of the "professional" model. So we continue to (my opinion only) waste time and resources trying to breath life into an idea that stopped making sense 25 years ago. That's when the cart got in front of the horse, and we have been chasing it ever since.

However, you can't deny that what the PDGA has been doing is working on some level, as more courses go in and more people take up the sport every year. So if it's working, can it really be broken? And if you want to be considered "professional," really how much of a bother is a golf shirt?

One of the real strengths of disc golf from a recreation standpoint is the wide demographic appeal of the sport. When you talk about skateboarding, that is an example of a sliver demographic...teenage boys who don't participate in team sports. The actual number of kids in that demographic VS the number of people in the demographic covered by disc golf is tiny. Disc golf appeals to non-conformist of any age, not just 13-18 year olds. From a recreation services standpoint, a disc golf course should be much more attractive to a community than a skate park.

However, there are a lot of companies that want to sell stuff to 13-18 year olds, and they have used skateboarding as a marketing cliche to the point that any 13-18 year old kid who looks like he might break into your car is called a "skate punk." Communities install skate parks because the mass-marketing media has convinced them that 13-18 year old boys who don't play team sports won't do anything else. From what I've seen, a bunch of them will play disc golf if you put in a course.

Companies have not mass marketed using disc golf because they can't figure out who we are. The truth is we can't figure out who we are either. I read a lot of threads that seem to indicate that I should have a lot of tye-dye in my wardrobe. I actually have a lot more (GASP!!!) collared shirts that I have tye-dye anything. It's that wide demographic again...It's great when you want to make the argument that people old and young, educated and not, middle class and poor will all be able to use a course and as such it has the potential to provide services to a huge portion of a community's population. But from an advertisers point of view, how do you target it? Are you targeting a 15 year-old skate punk or a 55 year-old college professor? Is that 45 year old guy teeing off on # 2 a carpenter or a lawyer? Who knows? We don't even know.

So I don't even think you can say that wearing a collared shirt is trying to make us into something we are not, because that implies that "we" can be defined as one thing. However it certainly does make some of us pretend to be something we are not, in the same way that the kid hanging out at the skate park in the black pants with the black Misfits T-Shirt who is only dressed that way because it's what he perceives as his skate punk "uniform" from media messages is pretending to be something he is not.

Right now I'm pretending to know what I'm talking about. If I show up at the course wearing tye-dye, it's because`I'm pretending to fit in as a disc golfer...or at least what I'm perceiving from this thread that a disc golfer should look like.

Anyway, I love the idea of a for-profit model for a disc golf tour. But really, there is nothing stopping that from happening now. If you found a sponsor willing to throw big $$$ into a disc golf tour, why would you go through the PDGA? For the insurance? The problem is that the big $$$ sponsor is not there, and we have self-taught generations of disc golfers that TD's who make money are bad. I'm afraid any attempt to run a for-profit disc golf tour would fail miserably.

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