Sabattus Disc Golf is NOT putting in a bid to host Worlds.
We’ve got 3.5 courses at the moment, one for every skill level. It’s great because on our owl course we see young families introducing the game to kids and new players. The Hawk offers a challenge to experienced players and lets them attack a course. The Eagle and Falcon offer more challenges to players, technically and making par more difficult to achieve. And we’re building a championship level course. I don’t have much of an update on that right now, sorry. Maybe in a future blog.
What I’d like to talk about now is disc golf courses around the world and how different they are. What it would mean to be a truly global sport, and how long I think it’s going to take.
Ideally Worlds would happen outside of the US at some point. In 1987 it was held in Toronto, Canada. That’s North America, and there’s literally thousands of other courses around the world. We’ve had 40+ different world championships and they’ve all been held in North America.
This year the World Championships will be held in Kansas, for the second time in the last 7 years. It’s going to be at Emporia country club in August/September.
In 2023 Smugglers Notch in Vermont will host it again for the first time since… 2018. I’m just saying, there’s got to be more to offer than the same handful of courses time and time again. Jefferson, VT was the only place to put in a bid for the 2023 World championships, and it’s an incredible set of courses. But there’s got to be more out there.
There’s a lot of different topography in the world.
I was watching a Jomez video of a course put together by the Paul McBeth foundation to offer disc golf to communities. It blew my mind watching them throw those first few holes, that’s so different from courses I’m used to, with rocks that have color and weird bushes.
Being from Maine I regularly answer Twitter questions about playing in the snow. But if you asked me about playing disc golf in Arizona I’m clueless.
I know trees, but I don’t know Kansas wind. I don’t know what to throw in the Colorado elevation. One of my favorite parts of the day is liking or disliking the Windows picture on my computer. We’ve got lots of different terrain around the world, and I’d like to play disc golf in all of it, well, maybe not a winter world championships.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is, there’s lots of different courses that could be played with different elevation, hazards, trees, water, and other obstacles.
Why don’t other countries put in bids to host?
- Because hosting a world championship isn’t easy. It costs lots of money and there are loads of requirements. I’ve looked at bids before in some of my sports management classes. It’s so cool and amazing what goes into planning for a disc golf major. It makes me really appreciate the organizers for other global competitions like the World Cup and Olympics.
- The money hasn’t been there for less consistently top performing pros. The cost of travel has been prohibitive to folks who don’t win regularly. And with every disc golfer living in a van, it’s not like they can afford a plane ticket to a different country for a week. Disc golf is starting to take in sponsors that add to the prize pool. As the money gets bigger at the top there’s more for each of the places. That means that if you project you’ll do top 25 you might win enough money to more than break even for your trip.
- Travel time and cost. To play at worlds it’s 2 weeks really. With practicing beforehand and then the actual tournament. The DGPT is stacked with events that matter a lot to these pros. Getting to the DGPT championship requires you to play lots of events and the events are practically every weekend. So if Worlds was moved to Finland you’d have to take a plane to get there and stay there, then after 2 weeks you’d need to come back home and get right back on tour. A ticket to Finland from Boston is going to be $800, and then camping for 2 weeks is another 250 dollars, plus food, and if you want to travel at all. You’re looking at about 1500 dollars to go. In the 2021 Worlds, the top 14 MPO players won $1500 or more, and top 9 for FPO. Everyone else would have lost money if the Worlds was in Finland. Sure it would allow lots of European players to play. But at the moment I feel as if the best competition is on the DGPT, and that European players who show talent come here to play and win bigger prizes.
- The level of courses isn't there yet. I love Maine, we’ve got some of the best courses in the world. But I don’t think right now we have many courses that would challenge the top 50 players in the world. Maybe we have 3-4 that would provide a good tournament for elite players. But there’s more to hosting worlds than just having a nice course.
- When I watch players playing in destination courses like this one in Malaysia, or this one in Brazil, and other courses around the world I see that they’re great local places. But they don’t look challenging for the advanced disc golfer. Brazil also only has about 15 members in the PDGA, so while it’d be a cool place to play there’s not a lot of courses or PDGA members despite being the 6th most populous nation in the world.
So no one else is going to host worlds?
I believe that Europe is probably the best hope to host soon. They already have the infrastructure to host majors. There are already great courses that challenge pros there. And Europe has a pretty decent pro scene. Hopefully when Covid lessens and players are allowed to travel more freely, they may put in a bid.
When will someone other than Europe or North America host worlds?
I think this is somewhat far away, at least a decade out but within the next 20 years. Australia has already hosted a big Open, Japan has hosted a big Open as well. It’s going to come from a country that has a strong foundation in disc golf, and is accessible for a good number of top pros.
It’s going to take someone who is focused on course building, and builds a dedicated community that wants to host.
I think that the World Championships are the pinnacle of competitive disc golf. It’s my hope that someday the PDGA will be able to crown a champion in a different country. And I think that it’s within my lifetime.
Do you think there’s a country with a course that should host the World Championships? Make sure to click on the 12 pages of requirements and see what they’re looking for. Let me know what you think!
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397