Disc Golf: The Path to 2030

So here we are, it’s June 2022, and the world of disc golf continues its upward trejectory with no signs of slowing down. Since the start of 2022 the question on everyone’s mind has been, ‘is the growth we saw in 2020 and 2021 sustainable, or simply a function of the times?’ 

Looking at the statistics put out earlier this year by UDisc, the growth numbers, and concerns, in people’s minds that we were in a disc golf bubble were laid to rest. The number of courses build everyday rose from 3.5 in 2020 to 5.28 in 2021, leading many to wonder how high the number will be at the conclusion of 2022?  This optimism stems from the continued development of infrastructure accross the sport, bridging the span from the local level all the way to collegiate, national, and world championships; additionally mentioning the continued expansion of the DGPT (Disc Golf Pro Tour) and their partnerships with communities and emerging video broadcasting companies. 

A Key factor driving the continued growth in infrastructure comes at the hands of more and more players, entrepreneurs, and communities learning how to “Translate the stats and align them with city stakeholders’ goals” (Calgary Disc Golf Club President James Koizumi). This evolution by the disc golf community has led to 71% of all disc golf courses being built in the last decade (~ 9,450 course built since 2012; UDisc stats), resulting in a grand total of 13,323 courses world wide, with this number growing by the day! 

Another dimension impacting growth is centered on the low barrier to entry to join the sport, noting that 90% of all courses worldwide are Free-To-Play, with 55% of courses being located in public parks, 385 courses located on golf courses, 1,254 courses being located on college campuses and universities, 78 courses located at breweries and wineries, and 295 courses located on ski areas and resorts.  Adding to this, is the recognition that disc golf is currently played in 79 countries worldwide!  (Link to Full UDisc Growth Report 2022)

Flipping the coin, the sport also has seen evolution of custom designed and engineered courses both in the United States and in Europe leading to the elevation of the game.  This has continued to re-invent the idea of what a disc golf course could, and should, look like at the top levels of play.  An Example of this is the Eagles Crossing Disc Golf Course  in Hawk Point, Missouri about 65 miles NW of St. Louis.  The course rests upon private land owned by Philip Samuels and was designed by Gateway Discs founder David McCormick, resulting in what many have called the “Perfect Course.” 

Many have said that the future of Disc Golf exists in the form of the private destination courses.  Another iteration of this idea comes in the form of Sandy Point Resort and Disc Golf Ranch, where Mike and Michele Cozzens created the world’s first disc golf resort outside of Minocqua, WI in 1993. Sandy Point hosts lodging, outdoor recreation options off of the course, dock and beach access, and a beautiful course secluded away in the wilderness.

So where does the future take us?  With sport continuing to demonstrate continued growth and adoption what can we expect for the rest of our journey toward 2030?  In my mind, and in the mind of others, we can most certainly expect to see the continued growth in disc golf events as a profitable business model; leading to the continued development and implementation of spectator passes, branded merchandise, corporate and team sponsorships, and media rights becoming a highly coveted prize. This is the most under-resourced area in pro disc golf at the moment and needs to grow if we want bigger and better things for the pros. The faster we get event organizing into the pro level, the better it will be for pro disc golf.” (Discmania CEO Jussi Meresmaa)

The give and take with growth always comes at the hands of change. As in all things, the brighter the light shines the more eyes it attracts – and this is certainly true for disc golf.  Inevitably, we will see aquisitions within the sport, whether it is by an existing company already in the space, or by a new comer, the fact remains that it is becoming more competative and challenging to hold space as a disc golf company – and those that cannot find a foothold in the coming years will certainly not be with us in the later part of the decade. 

As we turn our heads to the future, we may not know how, or when, the changes may come, but we do know who will be with us. The sport of disc golf has a profoundly powerful way of being inclusive to all, inviting people from all walks of life to pick up some discs and head out to the course. The Power of Community is alive and well in the sport of disc golf and if all we can know about the future is that we will be united together – then that’s good enough for me!

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Community, Courses, Highlight, PDGA

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