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Tips to Run a Successful Disc Golf Tournament
Do you want to hold a tournament, but you're worried it's going to fall flat? Chances are, it won't! Disc golf is a fantastic sport, with tons of welcoming people. Disc golfers love to get out and play and especially love to play for a cause.
This year, I've been fortunate enough to join the Throw Pink Team and run fundraising disc golf events for them. Throw Pink is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps women live a healthier lifestyle through disc golf. Disc golf turned my life around, and through Throw Pink, I've been able to help other women find that same hope.
The first tournament I ran was the Women's Global Event (WGE). Taking part in a worldwide event taught me so many lessons on how to plan a successful disc golf event. Especially how to host a successful disc golf tournament geared towards women.
Looking back at that first tournament, I wish I had implemented a few icebreakers or side games. There were about 20 women at the WGE, so it was an intimate disc golf experience. I wish a tournament director would have told me some of the advice I'm about to share with you.
Here are my top 8 tips for planning your own successful disc golf tournament:
1. Customize the Player Packs
When I was planning the WGE, I was obsessed with creating the perfect player pack for each person. So first, I looked at each player's PDGA rankings and where they registered. Then, I selected the best guess weights for the disc in their player's pack.
How did I do that? By looking at their PDGA history, I could determine whether the person was a new player or not. Generally, beginner disc golfers throw a lightweight disc. More seasoned players tend to throw heavier discs. It may take longer to make player packs this way, but it's well worth it in the end.
2. Carefully Plan Player Cards
If you've ever planned a seating list for a wedding, you know that Uncle Bill should NOT be placed next to Carrol. The same idea applies to creating cards. I use the same method described on Tip 1 to build out the cards.
I recommend putting new disc golfers on the same card as experienced ones. That way, the experienced disc golfers can help explain rules in case the need arises. Plus, they may be able to give a few pointers to the beginners! (Note - this tip is for events aimed at bringing new players to the game. If you’re running a PDGA sanctioned competition put players on the card with the other people in the division they signed up for at registration)
3. Don't Play in Your Own Tournament
Planning and running a disc golf tournament is a lot of work. It takes time to iron out the details and run the event. That's why it's not recommended that you don’t play in your own tournament unless you have a strong team of knowledgeable volunteers to hold everything together while you're out on the course.
You never know what may happen on the day of your disc golf tournament. So, you need to be available in case a problem arises. Plus, that frees you up for tip #4!
4. Become a Social Media Maven
We live in the age of technology and social media. It's all about those likes! So when you have free time during the tournament, walk around and snap a few pictures of the players and volunteers. All you need is a phone!
If you want to get really fancy, you can even ask the players to take pictures themselves. You can create a Google Drive Folder for everyone to upload photos to, and at the end, the best picture wins a prize! This helps to motivate people and get everyone involved!
Another idea is to create a hashtag for your event. When players post pictures to social media, they can use that hashtag to let everyone know about the event they were at last weekend!
5. CTP's - Because Who Doesn't Love More Ways to Win?
CTP means closest to the pin. How it works is you pick a hole, and whoever's disc lands closest to the basket wins CTP. Then, you place a flag on the CTP hole, so when each card plays it, they can move the flag to their disc if it is closer to the pin than the last.
It's a good idea to reserve CTP's for different divisions. This way, everyone has a chance to win a prize. It also levels the field because each division only competes against other players in their division.
During the WGE, I had 5 CTPs per round and 10 CTPs for the whole tournament.
6. Consider Side Games
A disc golf tournament is super fun, but a tournament with side games? Now that's a party. There are lots of side games that you can include in your event. Throw Pink actually created a fun game that is specific to Throw Pink events! Register your event with Throw Pink and ask us about it!
A classic side game you can include is the Ring of Fire. Hope Brown, PDGA # 56121, introduced me to this one. Everyone makes a circle around a basket (portable is usually best), takes a certain number of steps back, and then everyone putts simultaneously. The ones that make it into the basket retrieve their discs and take more steps back. Then they putt again. The cycle is continued until one player is left standing. This player receives a prize.
7. Remember to Make It Fun
Just because a disc golf tournament is competitive doesn't mean it can't also be fun. Disc golf is a great way to bring the community together! I love including ice breakers at my disc golf fundraisers.
Disc golfers from out of town will come to play and some beginner disc golfers too! It might seem silly, but asking something as easy as "What's your favorite disc and why?" or "What's your favorite course" before starting the tournament can help everyone!
Icebreakers can help ease everyone in and make communicating less stressful. Chances are, someone else may also have the same favorite!
8. Get Creative
Creativity is the baseline to every good event. No one wants to create the most boring tournament ever. Tournament directors want to be remembered for the originality of their events. Making your disc golf fundraiser imaginative and clever can be free!
Have you ever heard of the game Playing for Dots? Another game from Hope B! Anytime a player hits the basket but doesn't make it in, they get a "dot." The dot is typically just a mark on the scorecard. An individual with the highest dots wins a prize.
The same principle can be done with a tree - it's called "Barkie." Hit a tree, get a point. Then, at the end of the round, the points are subtracted from the player's score. That's what we call a little tree love!
There are loads of other ways to get creative and help your event stand out from the rest. For example, you can incorporate costumes, disc golf poker, and so many other creative ideas.
The biggest thing is always remembering to have fun and not spending time focusing on the little things you can't control.
Whether you’ve planned hundreds of disc golf tournaments or none, Throw Pink is a fun way to plan an event. To plan a Throw Pink event, you simply need to pick a charity to donate to! Then you can fill out the registration form.
Even if you don’t have all the details sorted, you can fill out the form. Becoming a part of their event network means you’ll get loads of marketing help and make a difference for the nonprofit you choose! Plus, you’ll get access to even more tournament tips! Let Throw Pink make your tournament the best it can be.