A plan to finally get disc golf past the tipping point

The day disc golf finally goes viral is . . . not here yet.

Hasn’t happened.

But like a geologist who observes trends and predicts a major earthquake will occur in an area with no seismic history, I believe it will.

Many share my belief, but few agree with my vision of how it will happen and what disc golf’s future potential can be. Those on the inner circle of professional disc golf — and their small but intensely loyal pack of fans — seem to think a major sponsor will come along and bankroll the professional tour, making televised tournaments a reality, thus creating legions of new players and courses.

This is a romanticized vision based more on hopes and dreams than any historical sports precedent, and I feel it is completely backwards.

Corporations are about two things — making money and, if public, increasing share price. They just don’t sink major sponsorship money into anything until they can see that it will draw a measurably significant audience and therefore improve their bottom line. By this yardstick disc golf is no where close.

My posts also appear on the premier disc golf golf blog, Rattling Chains, and I asked founder P.J. Harmer to run last week’s poll question, ‘How did you get introduced to the game’ for this precise reason. The results were just as I predicted — 67 percent said they learned of the sport through a friend, and exactly zero responded that they learned of it through some form of media.

Disc golf has grown steadily over four decades almost entirely through grassroots efforts — in my mind a testament to its very substantial and enduring attractions — but also a reality check in terms of where we’re at in the overall public consciousness. Grass grows slowly but steadily. Inexorably. Viral growth is something that builds swiftly, like wildfire, and is just as impossible to ignore.

After more than 20 years of observing and participating in all aspects of the game, I feel disc golf must reach a critical mass as a recreational participant sport before it can even dream of attaining any significance as a spectator sport. And, frankly, that’s the main thing I personally care about anyway. I want as many people as possible to become aware of this nearly perfect sporting activity.

I feel a moral obligation to share the message of disc golf — how it provides all that is great about the game of traditional golf while removing that sport’s many barriers (cost, time, difficulty, environmental impact, exclusivity) — with people around the world.

Further, it is my sincere belief that if someone knows all the nuances of and details of the above statement, there is a good chance they’ll give the game a try. And if they try it, we all know a majority will like it and some will love it. Most people who have a vague idea of disc golf have a simplified notion of the sport, and that has to change.

If you agree with my position, or if you simply want disc golf to go viral and don’t care how it happens, I have a proposition for you.

I’m working on a book that will hopefully lay out the message I just described as a compelling, detailed argument on multiple fronts. It’s already more than halfway complete. The intended audience are the millions of people out there that would fall in love with our sport if they could understand why we love it. They need to know that there is a complex, yet simple activity that provides so much entertainment, and competition, and exercise, and fellowship — at practically no cost.

Writing the book is only a small part of the plan, and that’s where you come in.

My hope is the book will be the spark that helps disc golf go viral. And for that to happen, I’m going to need help. I want an army of DISCiples to use the book as a tool for the greater purpose. How exactly that can happen — besides the obvious social media and old school word-of-mouth methods — I’m not yet sure. But I’m open to suggestions, and have begun to build a database of people who feel as strongly as I do about disc golf and want to be part of it all. Please contact me directly at jack@schoolofdiscgolf.com with any and all input.

And since I realize rational thinking individuals would want to know more about the contents of the book before seriously considering to help promote it, I’m going to begin posting excerpts here and at schoolofdiscgolf.com. Look for the first to appear in the very near future.

No one knows when or how disc golf will go viral, but wouldn’t it be fun to part of it?

2 thoughts on “A plan to finally get disc golf past the tipping point

  1. I have to take issue with some of your reasoning. First, I rather liked the geologist similie from the beginning. On a logical level, it’s total nonsense (popular culture has a history of new things popping up out of nowhere, geology, not as much), but it’s a striking image and great on an aesthetic level.

    Then when you mention the poll, I’m not sure why you place any significance in the fact that no one discovered disc golf through any media channel. This fact is descriptive of the past of disc golf, but I don’t see how you can claim it has any predictive value.

    All that said, in the end I agree with you anyway, that the sport will primarily grow via a foundation of millions of common players worldwide. However, you might be writing off dgolf’s professional ranks as a driver of awareness or popularity. Is it so unrealistic to imagine dgolf’s Tiger Woods emerging? Maybe they’d be Hispanic, which would all but guarantee a huge and increasingly influential portion of humanity taking note. Maybe it will be a beautiful swimsuit model, trading the runway for the tee pad. What about English royalty, are still genetically able to be dominant athletically?

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