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A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF DISC GOLF TOURNAMENT PLAYERS

A Thesis

Presented to the faculty of the Department of Kinesiology California State University, Sacramento

Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of

MASTER OF SCIENCE

in

Kinesiology (Movement Studies)

by George Zinner

SUMMER 2013


© 2013 George Zinner ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF DISC GOLF TOURNAMENT PLAYERS

A Thesis

by

George Zinner

Approved by:

_________________________________, Committee Chair Dr. Maureen Smith

_________________________________, Second Reader Dr. B. Dana Kivel

____________________________ Date

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Student: George Zinner

I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the University format manual, and that this thesis is suitable for shelving in the Library and credit is to be awarded for the thesis.

_______________________________, Graduate Coordinator ________________ Dr. Michael Wright Date Department of Kinesiology

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Abstract of A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF DISC GOLF TOURNAMENT PLAYERS by George Zinner Statement of Problem Disc golf has, proportionally speaking, grown tremendously in the past decade. Like many other sports and activities, disc golf provides its participants with the means to belong to a social group and take part in regular social interactions. This thesis examines disc golfer’s current issues, subculture, and identity through the sport. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the sport of disc golf, current trends, and subculture. This study seeks to add to relevant literature about the sport. For this study, disc golfers who competed in the NorCal Series Championship Tournament on October 20-21, 2012 were asked to answer questions on a survey related to current trends in the sport of disc golf. The results of the survey were totaled in order to identify current issues and themes in disc golf. The questions on the survey were developed by the researcher based on his experiences and observations of disc golf over the past 10 years. The original purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the sport of disc golf, current trends, and subculture. However, the results of this study were more descriptive of the experiences of one group of disc golf players during a tournament in October, 2012. v


Sources of Data The literature cited in this thesis contains a variety of peer-reviewed journals as sources of information. In addition, books, magazines, and a variety of web-related sources were used to provide secondary support to the literature. Conclusions Reached This survey was descriptive of a group of disc golf tournament players in October, 2012. Many of the findings of this study were consistent with my observations of disc golf. According to this study, most disc golfers were white males. They enjoyed disc golf for its many benefits. Participants struggled to define a subculture within disc golf. Alcohol and drug use was common place in the sport. Participants were relatively new to the sport. They played often. Courses were perceived to be very crowded. Disc golfers in this study spent a great deal of money participating in the sport. They played tournaments often. They were willing to pay to play local courses and travel to diversify their disc golf experiences. Overall, the participants in this study were found to be very committed to the sport of disc golf, saw continued growth in the sport, and enjoyed the sport for its many physical and social benefits.

_________________________________, Committee Chair Dr. Maureen Smith

____________________________ Date

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am forever grateful for my advisor and reader Maureen Smith and B. Dana Kivel and the rest of the CSU Sacramento Kinesiology Department for their time, effort, advice, expertise, and kindness. Many thanks go out to my family and friends whose undying love and support were vital to the accomplishment of this thesis. To my cousin Kirik Arata: much gratitude for introducing me to disc golf-a sport that provides me a welcome respite from the daily grind. To my disc golf brethren, thanks for the support and advice over the years; and, especially, thanks for taking my fifteen-minute (or so) survey. Ultimate thanks to my wife Nadya. Your everlasting love and support are always vital to my success. Finally, to my son Tristan: you are the light of my life. May you lead a happy, successful, thrilling life.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………vii List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………...x Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………..1 Statement of Purpose………………………………………………………….......2 Significance of the Study………………………………………………………….3 Definition of Terms………………………………………………………………..3 Delimitation……………………………………………………………………….3 Assumption………………………………………………………………………..3 Research Questions………………………………………………………………..4 2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE……………………………………………………5 From Frisbee to Disc Golf, the History…………………………………………...6 Subculture and Identity through Sport……………………………………………9 Overview of Disc Golf…………………………………………………………...13 Benefits of Disc Golf…………………………………………………………….14 Disc Golf Courses………………………………………………………………..15 Disc Golf Costs…………………………………………………………………..15 Disc Golf Subculture……………………………………………………………..17 3. METHODOLOGY…………………………………………………………………...20 viii


Participants……………………………………………………………………….21 Instrumentation…………………………………………………………………..21 Procedures………………………………………………………………………..21 Design and Analysis……………………………………………………………..22 4. RESULTS…………………………………………………………………………….23 Profile of Disc Golfers…………………………………………………………...24 Experiences of Disc Golf………………………………………………………...26 Economics of Disc Golf………………………………………………………….29 5. DISCUSSION………………………………………………………………………...34 Profile of Disc Golfers…………………………………………………………...35 Experiences of Disc Golf………………………………………………………...38 Economics of Disc Golf………………………………………………………….39 Recommendations for Future Study……………………………………………..41 Conclusions………………………………………………………………………42 Appendix A. Disc Golf Informational Survey. …………………………………………43 References………………………………………………………………………………..46

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LIST OF TABLES Tables

Page

Table 4.1: Participants’ Years of Disc Golf Experience…………………………….......26 Table 4.2: Participants’ Frequency of Play……………………………………………...27 Table 4.3: Participants’ Perceptions of Crowdedness on Local Courses………………..28 Table 4.4: Participants’ Disc Golf Expenses per Month………………………………..29 Table 4.5: Participants’ Frequency of Tournament Play per Month……………............30 Table 4.6: Participants’ Opinion on Paying to Play……………………………..............31 Table 4.7: Participants’ Frequency of Travel beyond 15 Miles to Play a Course………32

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1 Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION

According to the Physical Activity Council Report (2012), there were 217 million Americans ages six and over who were active in at least one sport or recreational activity in 2012. These activities included both individual and team sports and people engaged in these recreational pursuits year round. Many of these sports and recreational activities may be considered to be traditional or conventional because they are well established and are accepted as a part of mainstream society. According to Griggs (2009), there are also sports and recreational activities that are considered to be “alternative” or non-traditional because they challenge societal expectations in terms of what might be an “acceptable” activity. These “alternative” activities may include skateboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, ultimate Frisbee, and disc golf. While many people may be familiar with skateboarding, snowboarding and windsurfing, the general public may be less familiar with ultimate Frisbee and disc golf. Both activities require participants to use a disc, but the sports differ in terms of how the discs are used. In ultimate Frisbee, participants are members of teams and move to their respective goals by throwing the disc to one another. In disc golf, the sport is played individually, although participants can be part of a team, and the goal of the activity is to toss the disc into a “hole,” which is a device that looks like a cage and is attached to a pole.


2 While most of these activities have gained in popularity, disc golf has, proportionally speaking, grown tremendously in the past decade. According to Tuten and Conkell (1996), disc golf is considered one of the fastest growing sports in America. Courses have increased from 1 in 1975 to more than 2,500 U.S. courses in 2009 (Conrad, 2009). In addition, at least 10 million people have played the game at least once and there are approximately 5 million regular players (Siniscalchi & Pierskalla, 2005). According to a prominent disc manufacturer, disc golf has experienced steady annual growth of 15 percent during the past 20 years (Kennedy, 2007). Indeed, the sport is expected to continue to grow in popularity in the next two decades. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA, 2011), there were more than 14,000 members in 2009. Disc golf is played much like ball golf in that players try to complete their rounds in the least number of “strokes” as possible. Unlike ball golf, disc golf entails throwing golfing discs instead of hitting balls with clubs. Discs are generally smaller and heavier than most Frisbees. Many other similarities with ball golf exist. Players have a tee-off area in which to drive the disc. There are “up shots” and putts. Players attempt to putt their discs into a basket with chains and land that disc in the floor of the basket (Altymer, 1996). Statement of Purpose Like many other sports and activities, disc golf provides its participants with the means to belong to a social group and take part in regular social interactions. This thesis examines disc golfer’s current issues, subculture, and identity through the sport. The


3 purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the sport of disc golf, current trends, and subculture. Significance of the Study This study seeks to describe current issues in the sport of disc golf and add to relevant literature about the sport. The results of this study may aid in the better understanding of participants’ self-identity through the sport of disc golf. Finally, disc golf may be one more activity to choose from for participants to perform in order to lead to a healthier lifestyle. Definition of Terms Amateur-a disc golfer that does not earn cash from PDGA-sanctioned tournament play PDGA-Professional Disc Golf Association Professional-a disc golfer that earns cash from PDGA-sanctioned tournament play. Recreational player-a disc golfer that is not a member of the PDGA and does not play PDGA-sanctioned tournaments. Delimitation The survey was only given to players who participated in the NorCal Series Championship tournament held at Grass Valley and Penn Valley on October 20-21, 2012. Only the views of PDGA members were reflected. Assumption This researcher assumed that all participants answered questions on the survey honestly.


4 Research Questions What are current issues of concern to disc golfers? What motivates disc golfers to play disc golf?


5 Chapter 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Like many other sports and activities, disc golf provides its participants with the means to belong to a social group and take part in regular social interactions. Disc golf is considered a lifetime activity in that its players can match their skill level with their pace of play. It is posited that disc golf has its own subculture complete with issues surrounding benefits, introduction to the sport, course crowdedness, course fees, growth issues, stigma, sponsorships, and the struggle to define itself. There is a lack of literature on the sport of disc golf and its subculture. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the sport of disc golf, current trends, and subculture. A variety of literature was reviewed in order to gain a better understanding of the subculture of disc golf. The history of the Frisbee and disc golf was reviewed. The topic of subcultures within sport was reviewed in order to gain a better understanding of the subculture that may exist in disc golf. Information regarding disc golf players was reviewed. The growth of the sport was also reviewed in order to gain a better understanding of course crowdedness. The benefits of disc golf and disc golf courses were reviewed. Disc golf courses and fees were reviewed in order to gain a better understanding of the benefits and perception of course crowdedness. Finally, information regarding the subculture that may exist in disc golf was reviewed.


6 From Frisbee to Disc Golf, the History The sport of disc golf would not be possible if not for the creation of the Frisbee. The Frisbee gets its name from the Frisbie Baking Company. The Frisbie Baking Company made pies from 1871-1958 in Bridgeport, Connecticut and sold them to New England colleges. College students discovered that the empty pie tins could be thrown and caught, creating a new activity (Bellis, 2012). In 1948, Fred Morrison invented the first plastic disc known as the “Flyin-Saucer.” In 1955, Morrison developed yet another model of a plastic disc known as the “Pluto Platter.” The development of the “Pluto Platter” was the birth of the modern Frisbee. Upon seeing demonstrations of Morrison’s “Pluto Platter,” Rich Knerr and Arthur Mellin of the Wham-O toy manufacturer bought the rights to Morrison’s flying disc. They later renamed the “Pluto Platter” the Frisbee after learning of the flying disc’s earlier origins (Morrison, 2006). Ultimate Frisbee and disc (or Frisbee) golf are two sports which spawned from the creation of the Frisbee. According to Palmeri (2008), the origin of disc golf is difficult to pinpoint. In 1926 a group of children created a game titled Tin Lid Golf in Vancouver BC. These children mapped out a disc golf course on their school grounds and played fairly regularly. As the children grew up, many of them forgot about this game. When they learned of the sport of disc golf, they recounted their participation in this game. There are similar stories from the following decades (‘30’s, ‘40’s, ‘50’s, and ‘60’s). In 1965 Sappenfeld, working as a recreation counselor, realized that golf could be played with Frisbees. George contacted the Wham-O company for help with equipment to hold a Frisbee golf contest. They sent him Frisbees and hula hoops to use as targets.


7 Sappenfeld spoke with Ed Headrick of Wham-O regarding the inclusion of a Frisbee golf event in a large All Comers Frisbee meet that would be held at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl fields (Palmeri, 2008). While Sappenfeld and Headrick were developing this activity on the west coast, disc golf enthusiasts were doing the same on the East coast in the early 1970s. A small group of people were competing in disc golf with tournaments and league play. In 1972, these disc golfers put on the Second Annual City of Rochester Disc Golf Championship. In 1973, they wanted to make their championship a national event in order to find out how many people had an interest in disc golf. The event was called the American Flying Disc Open (AFDO) and a brand new car was awarded to the winner in order to attract those involved in Frisbee activities. Ed Headrick decided to give disc golf another chance and hired the winner of the 1974 AFDO, Dan Roddick to become the head of Wham-O’s Sports Promotion Department. After hearing Roddick’s advice and receiving feedback from the disc golf community, Headrick included disc golf as one of the events in his 1975 World Frisbee Championships (Palmeri, 2008). That same year, Headrick invented the disc golf basket designed to catch the disc at the end of a disc golf hole (Altymer, 1996). Headrick was impressed by the growing interest in disc golf and this led him to resign from the Wham-O company and start the Disc Golf Association in 1976. As the director of Wham-O’s Sports Promotion Department, Roddick included disc golf as an event to qualify for the World Frisbee Championship sponsored by Wham-O. This led to


8 the introduction of disc golf to Frisbee enthusiasts and paved the way for Headrick’s Disc Golf Association to create disc golf courses across the country. Many disc golfers shared the vision of organized play and tournaments. The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) was created to govern the sport (Palmeri, 2008). According to Rothstein (2007), the PDGA became a player-run organization in 1987. This allowed for more input from the consumers of the sport of disc golf. Advances in discs have also contributed to the sport. In 1983, Dave Dunipace created a prototype for a bevel-edged disc. The new disc was later named the Eagle and sold by a new company named Champion Discs. Champion Discs was later renamed Innova Champion Discs and later renamed Innova Discs (Feidt, 2010). The addition of this new bevel-edged disc revolutionized the sport. Discs could fly much further. Since this invention, new discs continue to flood the market and disc golfers are able to throw farther and farther (Innova Disc Golf, 2012). It seems that the Frisbee became popular quicker than the game of disc golf. Perhaps it was due to the fact that a Frisbee is relatively cheap and does not require much space to use. Discs for disc golf are more expensive than Frisbees (Innova Disc Golf, 2012). In addition, disc golf needed the creation of discs that fly farther in order to progress. The Frisbee led to the creation of the game of disc golf. The sport of disc golf is growing rapidly. While there are many active players, there is little information about the subculture of disc golfers.


9 Subculture and Identity through Sport Sport offers its participants an identity including beliefs, values, and symbolic expression (Green, 2001). Sport is often a great “distraction from the daily grind.” Further, a sport subculture describes one’s relationship to society (Crosset & Beal, 1997). According to Wheaton (2000), people obtain a sense of identity from various places, including sport and leisure. People are using sport and leisure lifestyles in order to express their self-identity. Sport offers its participants a sense of belonging and social identification with its subculture. Green (2001) agrees that participation in a sport’s subculture is an expression of one’s identity. McKay, Messner, and Sabo (2000) have done research on the masculine nature of sport. Many competitive sports are an arena for men to express their masculinity including aggression, violence, homophobia, and violence against women. Often, sport is a place where men can display their aggression. Violence is championed in such arenas as boxing and American football. Many male athletes still believe that homosexuality still has no place in sport. In today’s sports, there are numerous examples of violence against women including rape, battery, and even murder. Some of the names synonymous with violence against women include Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, Darryl Strawberry, and Jose Canseco. In addition, Messner (2007) discusses how masculinity is socialized into men from society, and, later, from sport. As children, boys are not to play with “girly” toys such as Barbie dolls. Boys are often socialized to be tough. Sport may often be a place of male domination. Sport becomes a place in which males can assert their masculinity. Sometimes, this assertion of masculinity leads to undesirable outcomes


10 such as violence between athletes, violence off the field, and violence against women. Further, media perpetuates the notion of masculinities within sport. Sport may be a place for males to assert their masculinity within their dominant culture. Crosset and Beal (1997) define a subculture as a way of describing a “particular group’s relationship to the broader society.” Subcultures are part of a larger cultural setting. Both subcultures and the larger cultural setting affect each other. Subcultures are often marginalized by other members of society. Studies of culture have impacted the arena of sport. In some cases, all different sports may be viewed as their own unique subcultures. For most, sport is something that stands alone from everyday life and may be “a distraction from the daily grind.” Crosset and Beal (1997) go on to say that the use of the term “subculture” should be used sparingly when referring to sport since many people within the U.S. have been exposed to competitive sport. Further, “off-beat” sports such as skateboarding, rugby, and surfing have more justification for using the term “subculture” since members of these activities enjoy being set apart from the larger society (Crosset & Beal, 1997). Subcultures are defined as “segments of society embracing certain distinctive cultural elements of their own” (Green, 2001, p. 3). These subcultural elements include shared beliefs, values, and symbolic expression. Many people participate in sports based upon where they fit into that sport’s subculture. Participation in a sport’s subculture becomes an expression of one’s identity. Participants in a flag football tournament, a marathon, and a motorcycle grand prix were observed. It was found that participants enjoyed displaying and celebrating their sport’s identity. This study concluded that


11 marketing a sport to appeal to its consumers’ subculture and identity is a good strategy (Green, 2001). Beal (1995) analyzed a skateboarding subculture. In order to discuss sport subcultures, dominant sport culture was defined. Dominant sport culture contains competition, rewards, elitism, and specialization. Beal (1995) observed and interviewed skateboarders in Colorado in order to investigate a skateboarding subculture. It was found that there was no one overarching subculture, but rather different groups that consumed skateboarding in different ways. Some skateboarders resisted the professional nature of skateboarding. These participants defined skateboarding as a way of living and were against using the activity of skateboarding as a way to make a living. Other groups of skateboarders used skateboarding as a means of social resistance. Some skateboarders were observed in an amateur contest. This contest de-emphasized elite competition by reducing the competitive atmosphere. The participants in this contest were observed to be very supportive and tried their best to pull off as many successful tricks as possible. There were no overt signs of a competitive atmosphere. Another way in which skateboarding de-emphasizes competition was evident in its practices. The majority of skateboarders were found to participate with no rules, referees, coaches, or organized contests. Elite standards were also de-emphasized. Skateboarders often do not give a trick a perfect score due to the fact that effort and participation were the most critical aspects of skateboarding. The participants in this study found the power to “act in their best interests; they created and experienced alternative types of relations that met their needs� (Beal, 1995, p. 266).


12 Wheaton (2000) observed the windsurfing subculture on the South coast of England. This study discussed how the subculture of windsurfers used the sport to attain a self-identity. Windsurfers’ identities were defined by various markers of status. Respect was given based upon the skill of the windsurfer. Dedication and commitment were also markers of status. Knowledge of the equipment and language referring to windsurfing were vital. Windsurfers prescribed to a certain fashion. People within the windsurfing subculture felt a sense of belonging; participants in the study were found to socialize based on their common activity. Overall, windsurfers were found to be very committed to their sport. In a study of wheelchair racers, it was found that a subculture was developed and passed on through socialization (Williams & Talyor, 1994). Participants in this study were given a survey with questions regarding socialization and participation in wheelchair racing among others. This study found that the sport of wheelchair racing was developed by social transactions which lead to knowledge and social practices. Wheelchair racers had the opportunity to learn about the sport when buying a chair, participating in training weekends, and competing in Grand Prix Races. Information regarding the racing chair, pushing technique, and training were passed on through social interactions with other wheelchair racers. Neville (2007) performed ethnographic research and interviews on college women’s ultimate Frisbee players. Ultimate Frisbee was found to be a place where women could break down gender identities and challenge masculine power within sport. Female ultimate Frisbee players were found to exhibit masculine behavior in order to


13 express themselves as competitive athletes. These female players found themselves in a very inviting sport. Players of both genders are free to compete in ultimate Frisbee. The female ultimate Frisbee players in this study often used masculine language that was aggressive, competitive, and physical in nature. The women ultimate Frisbee players in this study broke down gender barriers and transformed masculine practices and language. In doing so, they created a distinct space, or subculture, within ultimate Frisbee. Like many other sports and activities, disc golf provides its participants with the means to belong to a social group and take part in regular social interactions. Disc golf may offer a way in which to express one’s self-identity and meet one’s needs. The sport of disc golf is its own subculture worthy of providing individuals with a distinct space in which to express their identity and meet their needs including belonging to a social group and taking part in regular social interactions. Overview of Disc Golf People from all age and ability levels can play disc golf. Disc golfers do not need to pay to play at many different disc golf courses (PDGA, 2011). There are recreational players who are not members of the PDGA. In addition, there are approximately 40,000 amateur and professional members of the PDGA (PDGA, 2011). Professional members of the PDGA even tour the world competing in elite events, making disc golf a legitimate tournament sport. These elite tournaments, named national tour and major events, are often the most lucrative. According to the PDGA (2011), in 2010 Nikko Locastro, one of the top earning touring professional disc golfers, made $46,757 competing in disc golf tournaments.


14 Benefits of Disc Golf Disc golfers are able to play at a pace that matches their capabilities. This leads to disc golf being a lifetime activity (Siniscalchi & Pierskalla, 2005). Dillon (2008) discusses the idea of disc golf as an activity for older adults. Regular participation in disc golf encourages better health and wellness in older adults. In addition, there are other benefits of wellness including physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and vocational (Dillon, 2008). For those individuals who enjoy nature, disc golf has a unique appeal (Siniscalchi & Pierskalla, 2005). Unlike golf courses which are designed and landscaped, disc golf courses are blended in with the landscape. Trees, lakes, and other natural obstacles are used in the construction of many different disc golf courses. Disc golf courses can also act to deter acts of vandalism (Altymer, 1996). The high amount of traffic at some disc golf courses discourages vandals. Some disc golfers have even been observed picking up trash to aid in keeping their course clean. In a study conducted by Menickelli (2010), disc golf was found to be a great activity to perform in order to stay physically active. In order to maintain a healthy fitness level, a person should take about 10,000 steps per day. The goal of the study was to determine how much disc golfers walk during an average disc golf round. 257 men and 156 women playing 8,029 holes on 38 different courses had pedometers on to determine how many steps they took. The average amount of steps taken per round was 6,064 steps. Therefore, one round of disc golf would place a person well on their way to meeting their desired amount of steps in order to meet a healthy fitness level for that day.


15 In addition, Menickelli (2010) mentions that disc golf is a great way to have fun and meet one’s competitive needs. Disc Golf Courses As stated earlier, disc golf courses are usually designed in a natural setting (Siniscalchi & Pierskalla, 2005). Unused park land may be developed into a disc golf course for recreational use. Disc golf courses are cheap to install. The cost of the installation of an 18-hole disc golf course ($10,000) is much less than that of a lighted tennis court ($20,000). Disc golf is also rapidly growing as a legitimate tournament sport. Siniscalchi and Pierskalla (2005) state that disc golf courses can generate revenue and pay for themselves. Charging fees for rounds/greens fees and disc sales are some ways that disc golf courses can generate revenue. Disc Golf Costs Disc golf takes much of its rules, etiquette, and game play from its older brothergolf (Altymer, 1996). In order to play a round of golf at most courses, there are greens fees. In fact, greens fees along with course design and layouts were among the most important factors in the decision of golfers to play one course over another (Won, Hwang, & Kleiber, 2009). In other words, the choice of which golf course to play is directly affected by the amount of greens fees. Morrice (2006) discusses the fact that quality golf has become very expensive. A round at the Pebble Beach golf course can cost $450. However, there are cheaper greens fees. According to the National Sporting Goods Association (2009), the average cost of a round of golf was $36 for those people


16 who chose to walk their rounds. Even the cheaper prices of greens fees at some golf courses are still high compared to the cost of play at many disc golf courses-free. There are some disc golf courses that have greens fees. Morley Field, a disc golf course in San Diego, generates revenue from greens fees among other things (Kennedy, 2007). Another course in Madison, Wisconsin has an honor kiosk where disc golfers place greens fees in envelopes and drop them into a lock box. The success of this course relies on the high quality given to it by the professionals who aided in its design. Siniscalchi and Pierskalla (2005) agree that an attractive course is a key part in attracting disc golfers from everywhere and even mention a nominal fee as little as $1 for disc golfers who are from out-of-town. Kennedy (2007) discusses using private facilities in the development of more disc golf courses. This is already occurring on a local level. The private course of Toney’s Mountain in Grass Valley, California charges a nominal fee of $5 per player for a daily rate and rounds are to be played by appointment only (PDGA, 2011). McCoon (2009) discusses the cost of the installation of a disc golf course. McCoon is an athletics director for a local parks & recreation department. He details the fact that disc golf is a very cheap investment for a parks department to invest in. The cost of nine disc golf baskets is approximately $3,000. The cost of a top-of-the-line 18-hole course put in by a professional member of the Disc Golf Course Design Group can be installed for around $20,000. McCoon goes on to say that the cost of a medium-sized piece of playground equipment cost around $75,000 and the cost of two outdoor basketball courts with lights was over $50,000. Another consideration is how many


17 people can use the facilities. The playground equipment can accommodate 10 to 15 children while the basketball courts can accommodate 20 people at a time. A disc golf course can accommodate between 50 and 90 people. In addition, McCoon adds that disc golf is low in cost for its participants, contains a lifetime fitness aspect, and appeals to everyone from all ages. Disc Golf Subculture Disc golfers who are members of the Professional Disc Golf Association receive a magazine publication. Over the past few years, the title of the publication has changedFlying Disc Magazine, Disc Golf World, and discgolfer magazine. Most publications have articles on varying aspects of the game. Many different topics are discussed including techniques, equipment, tournament results, course design, player interviews, hole-in-one stories, rules, and mental tips among others. The vast majority of articles found within these publications neglect to describe a subculture found within disc golf. However, there are a few articles that offer an insight into disc golf’s subculture. Emerson (2007) discusses the atmosphere of the sport of disc golf. He discusses traveling to Europe to play different disc golf courses in Sweden and England. He talks about the unique generosity of disc golfers he met along his travels. Typically, disc golfers are quick to share knowledge of their local course. In addition, Emerson (2007) noted that the disc golfers he met were also generous in offering food and a place to stay. He describes playing disc golf as a wonderful distraction from everyday life. In addition, there are numerous memories and friendships to be made.


18 In an interview with Juliana Korver, a small insight into the subculture of disc golf was offered. Korver is a five-time women’s open world champion. In the interview, she discusses how she learned to play from a friend in college. Korver talks about how friendly and inviting other disc golfers were to her when she first started playing disc golf. She would often prefer to play in groups with other disc golfers in order to socialize. When asked what her least favorite part of the sport of disc golf was, Korver’s answer was the image. She was very serious about disc golf. She worked out, ate healthy, practiced as much as possible, and set personal goals. If there was a time when someone outside the disc golf world found out she was a professional disc golfer, there were automatically drug references. Unfortunately, there is a stigma that follows the sport of disc golf due to regular alcohol and marijuana consumption by its players (Loomis, 2013). The concept of masculinity displayed in sport may be defined as its own culture. This is apparent in many different sports and may be perpetuated through media. Sport can be a distraction from everyday life. Subcultures within sport usually include those that are “off-beat” and not part of the mainstream culture. Disc golf is one such sport. Participation in a sport subculture gives one a self-identity. Skateboarding was found to de-emphasize professionalization and competition (Beal, 1995). Windsurfers were found to have a sense of belonging and a profound commitment to the sport (Wheaton, 2000). Wheelchair racers passed on knowledge of the sport through socialization (Williams & Taylor, 1994). Ultimate Frisbee was a distinct space in which females could challenge traditional notions of masculinity (Neville, 2007). Disc golfers were found to be


19 generous with knowledge regarding local courses (Emerson, 2007). A disc golf professional found disc golfers to be inviting and used her participation in the sport to socialize with others. She mentioned the fact that she was very serious about the sport of disc golf, but her hard work was only met with drug references once non-disc golfers learned that she played disc golf (Loomis, 2013). Disc golf offers an identity to its participants. Furthermore, disc golf offers a distinct space in which its participants may meet their needs.


20 Chapter 3 METHODOLOGY

Like many other sports and activities, disc golf provides its participants with the means to belong to a social group and take part in regular social interactions. Disc golf is considered a lifetime activity in that its players can match their skill level with their pace of play. It is posited that disc golf has its own subculture complete with issues surrounding benefits, introduction to the sport, course crowdedness, course fees, growth issues, stigma, sponsorships, and the struggle to define itself. There is a lack of literature on the sport of disc golf and its subculture. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the sport of disc golf, current trends, and subculture. The survey method was chosen for this study. According to Thomas, Nelson, and Silverman (2005), the survey is the most common descriptive research method. Researchers using a survey are seeking to discover practices or opinions of a specific population. A questionnaire survey was used for this study. Due to the fact that this researcher was attempting to determine the practices or opinions of disc golfers, a survey was appropriate. For this study, there were two different groups of disc golfers who were asked to answer questions on a survey related to current trends in the sport of disc golf. These two groups included professional PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) members and amateur PDGA members who competed in the NorCal Series Championship Tournament


21 on October 20-21, 2012. The results of the survey were totaled in order to identify current issues and themes in disc golf. Participants PDGA members playing a tournament were involved in this study. Numbers varied depending on the return rate of the survey and how many disc golfers played in each division. The age, gender, physical characteristics, fitness, skill ability, training status, and/or health status of the individuals in this survey varied greatly. In order to ascertain this information, demographic questions were part of the survey. There were 85 total completed surveys. The participants took part in the NorCal Series Championship Tournament at Grass Valley and Penn Valley on October 20-21, 2012. Participants were asked to give informed consent for this study. Participants were guaranteed the right to confidentiality. They were assured that their participation was voluntary. There was no risk of discomfort or harm. Instrumentation The instrument used in this study was a survey that views current trends in the sport of disc golf. The survey included information about demographics, introduction into the sport, ideas for sponsorship, perceived crowdedness at local courses, whether or not the participant is in favor of paying to play, years of disc golf experience, and a future outlook on the sport among others. See Appendix A. Procedures The survey was given to disc golfers competing in the NorCal Series Championship tournament on October 20-21, 2012. There were 186 total players. There


22 were 173 male disc golfers at the tournament and 13 female disc golfers at the tournament. The divisions represented at the tournament included open, open women, masters, grandmasters, senior grandmasters, advanced, advanced women, advanced masters, advanced masters women, advanced grandmasters, advanced senior grandmasters, intermediate, and junior <=16 boys. Participants were recruited with the use of a reward-a raffle ticket was given for the completion of each survey. Participants had the opportunity to win one of four prizes including a traveling disc golf basket and three different discs. 85 surveys were completed out of the 186 participants in the tournament. Of the participants who completed the survey, 74 were male and 11 were female. The results of the survey were collected and analyzed in order to identify current trends in disc golf. Each question was analyzed to find majorities and common themes that developed within the responses. Certain responses were tallied and percentages were obtained. Other responses were tallied and common themes were obtained. Design and Analysis The design of this study was descriptive in nature. The results of the surveys were analyzed by viewing the frequency of responses. Then, descriptive statistics were used to show trends. In addition, the frequency of responses was analyzed in order to find common themes that developed.


23 Chapter 4 RESULTS

A disc golf informational survey was given to disc golfers competing in the NorCal Series Championship tournament in Penn Valley and Grass Valley, California on October 20-21, 2012. There were 173 male and 13 female disc golfers at the tournament for a total of 186 players. For a large event such as the NorCal Series Championship, the number and gender of participants are typical. For instance, the NorCal Series Championship in 2011 had 158 participants-150 male and 8 female; the NorCal Series Championship in 2010 had 162 participants-152 male and 10 female; and the 2012 St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Classic Amateur tournament in Orangevale, California had 184 participants-173 male and 11 female. Participants in this study were recruited with the use of a reward-a raffle ticket was given for the completion of each survey. Participants had the opportunity to win one of four prizes including a traveling disc golf basket and three different discs. There were 88 surveys completed during this study. Three surveys were not used in the results of this study due to the fact that the participants were too young for the study (under 18 years of age). This survey focused on questions related to demographics, levels of enjoyment, perceptions on disc golf culture, alcohol and drug use and observations of others, future outlook on the sport, experience, frequency of play, perceived crowdedness, monthly expenses, number of tournaments played per month, attitudes on paying to play, and frequency of travel among others. The questions were broken down into three main


24 topical areas: profile of disc golfers, experiences of disc golf, and the economics of disc golf. Profile of Disc Golfers Of the participants who completed the survey, 74 (87%) were male and 11 (13%) were female. The majority of participants identified as Caucasian (92%). Every participant (100%) stated that they enjoyed playing the game of disc golf. There were some common themes that were found in the answers when participants were asked how they first learned about disc golf. These themes included friends, family, and significant others. Some participants (18%) answered that they first learned about disc golf from seeing a local course or discs used to play disc golf. Two other participants answered that they first learned about disc golf from a course in school (either college or general physical education in public school). The vast majority of participants were exposed to disc golf through social mediums. Participants listed many different reasons why they enjoy disc golf. Among these were low impact exercise, contribution to a healthier lifestyle, relaxation, stress relief, low cost, travel, meeting people, camaraderie, personal challenge, competition, refining skills, and acceptance of all ability levels. Many of these reasons are similar to the motivation many people have to play other sports. Many participants (56%) were active in other sports besides disc golf. These sports included basketball, ball golf, softball, bike riding, hiking, yoga, skateboarding, running, poker, darts, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, and freestyle Frisbee. This indicates that many participants enjoy physical activity and seek out new ways in which to be physically active.


25 Most participants (75%) thought there was a disc golf culture. They described disc golf culture in many ways. Among these descriptions were the joy of playing disc golf, camaraderie, competition, like-minded people who share the love of disc golf, friendly inviting community of people, people from all walks of life, nature-loving people, and hippies. Many of these descriptions seemed to identify reasons why people play disc golf. These descriptions are also very similar to the reasons why participants enjoy disc golf. Participants struggled to identify a specific disc golf culture. Disc golf was not a part of most participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (89%) physical education curriculum. Most participants learned about disc golf in other ways such as word of mouth from friends and family. The majority of participants (94%) had consumed or seen others consume alcohol. Most participants (93%) admitted to consuming, witnessed others consume, or smelled others consume marijuana. According to this survey, many disc golfers consume alcohol and/or marijuana. Participants listed many different outlooks on where they see the sport of disc golf in the next 10 years. Among these were no change (8%), huge/continued growth (34%), increased money in the sport (2%), increased sponsors (5%), increased school exposure (disc golf as a high school/college sport) [2%], disc golf in the Olympics (12%), disc golf on ESPN (12%), and disc golf being more mainstream (8%). When asked if participants had other comments they would like to share on disc golf, many replied that they love disc golf, it is a great activity, and it changed their lives. From these responses, it is clear to see that many participants had a positive outlook on the sport of disc golf and they see continued growth in the sport.


26 Experiences of Disc Golf Participants in this survey were generally very new to the sport with most (57%) having between 1 and 10 years of experience playing disc golf (see Table 4.1). This is consistent with the relative youth of the sport of disc golf. Disc golf was introduced in 1975 (Palmeri, 2008). Table 4.1 Participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Years of Disc Golf Experience Years of Disc Golf Experience 35% 32% 30% 25% 25% 20% 14%

Percentage

15%

14% 12%

10% 5%

3%

0% Less than one year

1-5 years

6-10 years

11-15 years 16-20 years More than 20 years

Years of Experience


27 Participants were very active in the sport of disc golf on a weekly basis. The majority of participants (79%) stated that they played disc golf between two and more than four times per week (see Table 4.2). The participants in this survey were very committed to the sport of disc golf. A great deal of time was spent playing their sport. Table 4.2 Participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Frequency of Play

Frequency of Play 45%

42%

Percentage

40% 35% 30% 25% 25% 20% 20% 15%

12%

10% 5% 1%

0%

0% Less than once a month

once a month

once a week 2-3 times a week

Frequency

3-4 times more than 4 per week times a week


28 Participants in this survey perceived their local courses to be very crowded. Most participants (70%) rated their local course between a “3” and a “5” on a rating scale (see Table 4.3). The rating scale was between 1 and 5 with 1 being the least crowded and 5 being extremely crowded. With disc golf’s continued growth, local courses seem unable to keep up with the increased amount of players. Table 4.3 Participants’ Perceptions of Crowdedness on Local Courses Rate of Perceived Crowdedness 30% 26% 25% 21%

22%

20%

Percentage

17% 15% 12% 10%

5% 1%

1%

0% 1

2

2.5

3

Rating

4

4.5

5


29 Economics of Disc Golf Participants in this survey spent a great deal on disc golf. A large amount (42%) of participants spent between $101 and $400 per month on disc golf-related expenses. In addition, 29% of participants spent over $400 per month on disc golf-related expenses (see Table 4.4). In todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy, spending over $400 per month on a sport or recreational activity is a large financial commitment. The tournament players involved in this survey were very committed to spending money to be involved in their sport. Table 4.4 Participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Disc Golf Expenses per Month Amount spent per month on disc golf expenses 35% 29%

30% 25% 25% 22%

Percentage

20% 17% 15% 10% 7% 5% 0% less than $50

between $51$100

between $101$200

Expenses per month

between $201- more than $400 $400


30 The majority of participants (98%) compete in tournaments. This is logical due to the fact that the survey was given at a large disc golf tournament. The participants in this survey were very committed to playing tournaments regularly. Most participants (86%) played between 1 and 8 tournaments per month (see Table 4.5). Most tournaments take place during a two-day weekend (PDGA, 2012). Those participants who participated in 8 tournaments per month may have counted informal local weekly tournaments in their total. Table 4.5 Participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Frequency of Tournament Play per Month Tournaments Played per Month 40% 36% 35%

30% 27%

Percentage

25%

20%

15% 12%

11%

10%

8% 4%

5% 2% 0%

0 per month less than 1 1 per month 2 per month 3 per month 4 per month 8 per month per month

Tournaments Played


31 The majority of participants (53%) did not pay to play disc golf. Of those participants who answered that they pay fees to play disc golf, many answered that they pay in the form of parking fees. Most participants (60%) stated that they would pay to play at their local course (see Table 4.6). This response is similar to greens fees in golf (Kennedy, 2007). Table 4.6 Participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Opinion on Paying to Play Pay to Play 60% 60%

50%

Percentage

40%

30%

27%

20% 11% 10% 2% 0% Yes

Maybe

Already do

Response

No


32 Participants in this survey were willing to travel to different courses in order to diversify their disc golf experience. Many participants (89%) had traveled more than 15 miles to play a disc golf course between two and more than four times per month (see Table 4.7). Much like golf, disc golfers in this study seemed to enjoy playing different courses and were willing to travel in order to increase their disc golf experience. Table 4.7 Participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Frequency of Travel beyond 15 Miles to Play a Course Frequency of Travel beyond 15 Miles to Play a Course 40% 36%

35% 35% 30%

Percentage

25% 20%

18%

15% 11% 10% 5% 0% once

2-3 times

Frequency

3-4 times

more than 4 times


33 Many participants (67%) were aware of local businesses that sponsor disc golf. Most businesses listed related to disc golf equipment/apparel and local eateries/ convenience stores. Disc golf-related businesses included Final 9 Sports (a disc golf shop in Orangevale and Rocklin, California) and Tru-line Customs (a disc golf on-line store). Participants also listed Innova and Discraft-two large disc manufacturers who sponsor some of the sportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top players. Local eateries/convenience stores listed include the Shell Station (in Penn Valley) and various Mini-marts (Orangevale, Santa Cruz, etc.) It is clear to see that these sponsors had a vested interest in disc golf or the community surrounding local courses. Participants had some ideas regarding how an organization can recruit sponsors of disc golf. Among these ideas were to ask local businesses by going â&#x20AC;&#x153;door-todoor,â&#x20AC;? discuss the positive aspects of disc golf with potential sponsors, offer a tax identification number to potential sponsors, expose potential sponsors to the sport, and obtain local media coverage. This study was descriptive of disc golf tournament players. Questions on the survey were developed by the researcher based on his experiences in disc golf. The questions included information on disc golf as a part of physical education curricula, public knowledge about disc golf, alcohol consumption, marijuana consumption, course crowdedness, paying to play, and sponsorships. Many motivating factors were identified by the participants in this study. Many participants listed multiple factors. These motivating factors include regular exercise/contributing toward a healthier lifestyle (24%), relaxation (9%), stress relief (4%), low cost (14%), travel (5%), meeting people (29%), personal challenge (21%), competition (17%), and camaraderie (4%).


34 Chapter 5 DISCUSSION

Like many other sports and activities, disc golf provides its participants with the means to belong to a social group and take part in regular social interactions. Disc golf is considered a lifetime activity in that its players can match their skill level with their pace of play. There is a lack of literature on the sport of disc golf and its subculture. The original purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the sport of disc golf, current trends, and subculture. However, the results of this study were more descriptive of the experiences of one group of disc golf players during a tournament in October, 2012. The questions on the survey were developed by the researcher based on his experiences and observations of disc golf over the past 10 years. Questions were asked regarding demographics, levels of enjoyment, perceptions on disc golf culture, alcohol and drug use and observations of others, future outlook on the sport, experience, frequency of play, perceived crowdedness, monthly expenses, number of tournaments played per month, attitudes on paying to play, and frequency of travel among others. In this section, a profile of disc golfers, experiences of disc golf, and the economics of disc golf will be discussed. In addition, recommendations for future study and conclusions will be discussed.


35 Profile of Disc Golfers Most participants (87%) in this study were male. This is typical of the sport of disc golf. Typically, about 5-7% of disc golf tournament players are female (PDGA, 2012). The gender of most disc golfers is something that is not going unnoticed by the PDGA. The most recent response of the PDGA is to offer more ladiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tournaments in order to encourage more women to play (PDGA, 2012). Most participants in this study identified as Caucasian (92%). This is also typical of the sport of disc golf. The main players the researcher observes on the disc golf courses in casual and tournament play are Caucasian males. Many participants in this study answered that they first learned about disc golf through their family, friends, or significant other. This is also consistent with the researcherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s observations. The researcher learned about disc golf through a family member and has introduced many friends to the sport. The participants in this study enjoy playing disc golf. This is logical due to the fact that the participants completed this survey at a disc golf tournament. Disc golf tournament players are very likely to enjoy the sport. Among the reasons why disc golfers enjoy the sport are low impact exercise, contribution to a healthier lifestyle, relaxation, stress relief, low cost, travel, meeting people, camaraderie, personal challenge, competition, refining skills, and acceptance of all ability levels. Menickelli (2010) agrees with disc golf contributing toward a healthier lifestyle. His study found that disc golfers regularly performed over half the 10,000 steps needed in order to maintain a healthy fitness level. Emerson (2007) agrees that disc golf is a great way to meet people. Through his travels, he found that there were numerous friendships to be made in disc


36 golf. Crosset and Beal (1997) agree with the stress relief of sport. In their definition of subculture, sport is identified a “distraction from the daily grind.” In other words, sport is a great stress relief. Participants in this study found disc golf to be a wonderful distraction. Siniscalchi and Pierskalla (2005) agree with disc golf’s acceptance of all ability levels since players can play at a pace that matches their capabilities. Many participants were active in other sports beside disc golf. These sports included basketball, ball golf, softball, bike riding, hiking, yoga, skateboarding, running, poker, darts, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, and freestyle Frisbee. Most likely, the participants in this study enjoy other sports for many of the same reasons listed above. This also indicates that many of the participants in this study enjoy being physically active and seek out new ways in which to be physically active. Most participants (75%) thought there was a disc golf culture. Among the descriptions provided were the joy of playing disc golf, camaraderie, competition, likeminded people who share the love of disc golf, friendly inviting community of people, people from all walks of life, nature-loving people, and hippies. The idea of like-minded people agrees with Wheaton’s (2000) findings that windsurfers socialized based on their common activity. In addition, Green (2001) discusses the fact that people participate in sports based on how they fit into that sport. The idea of nature-loving people relates to Siniscalchi and Pierskalla’s (2005) description of disc golf blending into the natural landscape. The descriptions listed by the participants in this survey do not describe a subculture found within disc golf. Participants in this study did not define a specific subculture, but rather listed reasons why people enjoy playing disc golf. This is similar


37 to Bealâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (1995) findings that there is not one overarching subculture to be found within a given sport. In her study of skateboarders, it was found that different groups consumed skateboarding in different ways. No subculture was found. Perhaps it is difficult to think of each sport as having its own subculture. More appropriately, all people who participate in sport may have similar interests and motivating factors. In the researcherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own experiences, disc golf was not a part of his physical education curriculum until college. Most participants (89%) were not introduced to disc golf through their physical education experiences. One way in which people are introduced to recreational and sport activities is physical education. Physical education is a wonderful environment in which to promote physical activity.

In physical education,

one main goal is to promote participation in lifetime activities. The main reason for participation in lifetime activities is to help prevent global public health concerns. The benefits of regular engagement in physical activity involve the health and well-being of society (Rasciute & Downward, 2010). The inclusion of the non-traditional activity of disc golf in physical education curricula adds to the list of lifetime activities that students may participate in. Regular disc golfers agree that there is a sense of camaraderie and personal growth that encourages them to continue to play (Tuten & Conkell, 1999). The researcher believes that disc golf should be added to more physical education curricula in order to increase the likelihood that students may find a sport to be physically active in for a lifetime. According to the results of this survey, alcohol (94%) and marijuana (93%) consumption is very common in disc golf. This is consistent with the viewpoint of


38 Juliana Korver, five-time women’s world champion (Loomis, 2013). Korver, discusses how she took disc golf very seriously and when people learned that she played the sport professionally, it was met with drug references. The researcher has observed many disc golfers consuming alcohol and marijuana on a regular basis while playing. In the researcher’s opinion, this contributes toward a negative outlook on the sport. Many participants (34%) see continued growth in the sport of disc golf. This is consistent with the increase of courses from 1 in 1975 to over 2,500 U.S. courses in 2009 (Conrad, 2009). In addition, Kennedy (2007) stated that disc golf had experienced steady annual growth of 15 percent during the past 20 years and is expected to continue to grow in popularity in the next two decades. In the researcher’s disc golf experiences, disc golf’s rapid growth has been observed. Courses are more crowded than they used to be. There has been an increase in the number of members over the past 10 years (PDGA, 2011). More videos related to disc golf can be found on the internet. Experiences of Disc Golf Many participants in this study were relatively new to the sport with 57% having between 1 and 10 years of disc golf experience. This may be due to the relative youth of the sport. Disc golf was created in 1975 (Palmeri, 2008). Another reason for many participants being new to the sport may be due to equipment. The bevel-edged disc was not invented until 1983 (Feidt, 2010). Since this revolutionary invention, new discs continue to flood the disc golf market and players are able to throw them farther and farther (Innova Disc Golf, 2012).


39 Many participants played disc golf often with 79% of participants playing between two and more than four times per week. This shows a great level of commitment to the sport. This is similar to Wheaton’s (2000) findings that windsurfers were very committed to their sport. In the researcher’s experience, disc golf is a very addictive activity. Like many other sports, it takes a great deal of practice in order to excel in disc golf. This may be one reason why many participants play so often. Many participants (70%) found their local courses to be very crowded (rated between “3” and “5”). Disc golf’s huge growth may be a contributing factor (Kennedy, 2007). The fact that disc golf is expected to continue to grow at a fast rate leads the researcher to believe that local courses are unable to keep up. The researcher has witnessed disc golf’s growth in observing the crowdedness at his local courses (Shady Oaks, Orangevale, California and Rocklin, California) over the past ten years. Ten years ago, there were often very few other people on the course. Currently, there are days and/or times when there is a group on every tee pad. Economics of Disc Golf Many participants (42%) spent between $101 and $400 per month on disc golfrelated expenses. Even more staggering, 29% of participants stated that they spent over $400 per month on disc golf-related expenses. In this difficult economic time, $400 per month is a great deal of money. Obviously, the tournament disc golfers who participated in this survey had a high degree of financial commitment. The majority of participants (98%) in this study participate in tournaments. This is only logical since the study was performed on tournament players. Most participants (86%) played between 1 and 8


40 tournaments per month. These tournaments usually take place during a two-day weekend (PDGA, 2012). This commitment further parallels Wheaton’s (2000) findings that windsurfers were very committed to their sport. It is clear to see that the disc golfers involved in this study displayed a great deal of commitment to their sport. The majority of participants (53%) in this study did not pay to play disc golf. However, many (60%) would pay to play disc golf at their local courses. The idea of paying to play for disc golf may help generate revenue for the sport (Siniscalchi & Pierskalla, 2005). Some courses, such as Morley Field in San Diego, California, already charge greens fees (Kennedy, 2007). In the researcher’s opinion, greens fees would bring more money into the sport of disc golf and aid in moving it closer to its older brothergolf. Many participants (89%) had traveled more than 15 miles to play disc golf between two and more than four times per month. Disc golfers in this study were willing to travel to different courses in order to diversify their disc golf experience. This is yet another example of the level of commitment of the participants in this study. Many participants (67%) were aware of sponsors for disc golf. Most were disc golf-related or local businesses with a vested interest in disc golf. This is consistent with many disc golf tournaments (PDGA, 2012). Many, if not all, sponsors are disc golf companies or local businesses. Larger sponsorships, such as television or car companies, are not involved in disc golf. Many participants identified a grass roots approach to obtaining sponsorships with ideas such as going “door-to-door” and obtaining local media coverage.


41 Recommendations for Future Study The survey was only given to players who participated in the NorCal Series Championship tournament held at Grass Valley and Penn Valley on October 20-21, 2012. Only the views of PDGA members at this tournament were reflected. These tournament disc golfers had a vested interest in the sport of disc golf and may not have reflected the views of the disc golf community at large. In addition, the views of non-disc golfers were not given in this study. Future studies might include the views of non-disc golfers and recreational players. Ethnographic studies of disc golfers in different environments may be useful in determining the subculture of disc golf. These environments may include tournament players, recreational disc golfers, and disc golf clubs. A study of existing disc golf curricula found within elementary, middle, high school, or college may give insight into the addition of disc golf into more programs. A study of existing courses that are “pay to play” may be useful in determining what makes a course worthy of greens fees. Finally, a study of professional disc golfers may give more insight into the sport of disc golf on its highest level. Professional disc golfers may have different motivating factors than nonprofessional disc golfers. In addition, their experiences may give better insight into disc golf’s culture. There are some improvements that could be made to the data collection process. Surveys could have been given to professional disc golfers, amateur disc golfers, recreational disc golfers, and non-disc golfers. This would aid in gaining a better understanding of the sport from many different viewpoints. In addition, interviews could


42 have been added to support the data collected from the surveys. The survey could be improved by gaining input from disc golfers with a “pre-survey.” This “pre-survey” would have questions regarding what disc golfers feel to be the most important issues surrounding the sport. Then a survey could be created based upon input from the “presurveys.” The survey could have been organized differently. The questions did not all follow in a logical order. Questions could have been grouped according to themes the researcher was looking for. For instance, profiles, experiences, and economics. Conclusions This survey was descriptive of a group of disc golf tournament players in October, 2012. Many of the findings of this study were consistent with my observations of disc golf. According to this study, most disc golfers were white males. They enjoyed disc golf for its many benefits. Participants struggled to define a subculture within disc golf. Alcohol and drug use was common place in the sport. Participants were relatively new to the sport. They played often. Courses were perceived to be very crowded. Disc golfers in this study spent a great deal of money participating in the sport. They played tournaments often. They were willing to pay to play local courses and travel to diversify their disc golf experiences. Overall, the participants in this study were found to be very committed to the sport of disc golf, saw continued growth in the sport, and enjoyed the sport for its many physical and social benefits.


43 Appendix A

Disc Golf Informational Survey 1. How many years have you played disc golf? a.)less than 1 year b.)1-5 years c.)6-10 years d.)11-15 years e.)16-20 years f.) More than 20 years 2. How often do you play disc golf? a.)less than once a month b.)once a month c.)once a week d.)2-3 times a week e.)3-4 times a week f.) more than 4 times a week 3. In the past month, how many times have you traveled more than 15 miles to play at a disc golf course? a.)once b.)2-3 times c.)3-4 times d.)More than 4 times 4. On average, how much do you spend on disc golf expenses (discs, traveling, tournaments, etc.)? a.)less than $50 b.)between $51-$100 c.)between $101-$200 d.)between $201-$400 e.)more than $400 5. Do you compete in tournaments? Yes or No. If yes, how many per month? If no, proceed to the next question.

6. How did you first learn about disc golf?


44 7. Was disc golf a part of the physical education curriculum in your elementary school? Yes or no? Middle school? Yes or no. High School? Yes or no

8. While playing on a disc golf course, have you ever consumed alcohol or seen others consume alcohol? Yes or no.

9. While playing on a disc golf course, have you ever smoked marijuana or seen/smelled others consume marijuana? Yes or no.

10. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the least crowded and 5 being extremely crowded), how would you rate your local course?

11. Do you pay fees to play disc golf? Yes or no. If yes, how many times per month do you play these courses? How much are the fees?

12. Would you pay to play disc golf at your local course(s)? Yes or no or I already do.

13. Are you aware of local businesses sponsoring disc golf? If yes, please list some of the businesses that sponsor this sport. If no, proceed to the next question.

14. What ideas do you have for how an organization can recruit sponsors for disc golf?


45 15. Do you think there is a disc golf culture? If yes, please describe. If no, please proceed to the next question.

16. Do you enjoy playing disc golf? If yes, why? If no, please proceed to the next question.

17. Do you participate in other sports besides disc golf? If yes, which? If no, please proceed to the next question.

18. In terms of the future of the sport of disc golf, where do you see the sport of disc golf in the next 10 years?

Demographic information: Age: _____ Gender: ______ Ethnicity: _______

Any other comments on disc golf that you would like to share?


46 REFERENCES Altymer, D. (1996). Disc golf fever: Will your park catch it? Parks & Recreation. 31(8): 48-51. Beal, B. (1995). Disqualifying the official: An exploration of social resistance through the subculture of skateboarding. Sociology of Sport Journal. 12: 252-267. Bellis, M. (2012). The first flight of the Frisbee: The history of the Frisbee. Retrieved February 22, 2013 from http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa980218.htm Conrad, K. (2009). Driving to the Green. SGB. 42(2): 56. Crosset, T. & Beal, B. (1997). The use of “subculture” and “subworld” in ethnographic works on sport: A discussion of definitional distinctions. Sociology of Sport Journal. 14: 73-85. Dillon, D. (2008). Introducing disc golf for older adults. The Journal on Active Aging. 7(3): 76-77. Emerson, D. (2007). Disc-tractions. Disc Golf World. 80: 35. Feidt, J. (2010). The birth of Innova: How Dave Dunipace dreamed up and built a better golf disc. discgolfer. Summer 2010: 30-31. Green, B. C. (2001). Leveraging subculture and identity to promote sport events. Sport Management Review. 4: 1-19. Griggs, G. (2009). The origins and development of ultimate frisbee. Sport Journal. 12(3): 43-49. Innova Disc Golf. (2012). Discs. Retrieved February 22, 2013 from http://www.innovadiscs.com/


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Orangevaleethnog summer 2013