Various Essays on Running Disc Golf  Events and
Promoting Disc Sports

Following are a number of articles that have been collected to assist individuals in setting up disc sport programs in their own communities.  This webmaster would like to thank the authors for making their work available to the web wide world.

Publish A Disc Sport Guide Book
Providing Incentives to Reduce Sandbagging
Invitation to Move Up
Proportional payout table
Payout Methods to Reduce Sandbagging
Mandatory Bump Rules
Pursuing Proportional Payouts
Request for a Disc Golf Course
More Media Coverage
Page one of Essays

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Publish a Disc Sport Guidebook

Our local club publishes an annual Disc Sport Guidebook which was much like a newsletter or tournament program except oriented more towards the newer players.  It includes articles on how to play various games and throwing a disc and so on.  We have noticed that a lot of people don't know how to get into the sport and this really helps.  We distribute this through local disc retailers and at local courses.  We print 500 copies. By offering space to local sponsors we have found this to be a great fundraiser for the club.  I believe that this approach can have a big impact locally by disseminating information directly to the more casual players, which represent a growth segment.

 Let me know if you want a copy, I'd be happy to mail out  a copy of last years booklet.

Following is the table of contents,  it is all basic stuff (much can be found on web, but be sure to credit the source).  It is our intention to provide the information that players need to get started, find out about leagues and tournaments or to learn about other disc sports.  I  lay-out the text in word and build ads in corel draw.  Waldo drums up the sponsors and we end up with a great promotional tool.  After the first year little changes and it is easy to reproduce the next year. Our sponsors love it and are happy to contribute each year. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS of the guidebook

About the Stevens Point Area Flying Disc Association 2
Rules Of  Disc Golf 4
Be a considerate player 5
Selecting a golf disc 6
North Wood County course 9
New courses in Point 10
Local Disc Golf Leagues 14
About The 1997 Wisconsin Tour 16
1996 Wisconsin River Open Champs 18
Ultimate in Stevens Point 20
Let's Play Double Disc Court! 23
Mead Park Course Sponsors 28

Welcome to the fun sport of disc golf. We hope to help you discover the true enjoyment of this and other flying disc sports. Our club is doing well and would be happy to have you join us as we work to improve the course facilities in our area and in assisting players in learning the game. Please patronize the many sponsors that have helped in supporting disc golf. Their continued support is important to our future.

Randy Schukar

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Providing Incentives to Reduce Sandbagging

Various things, other than public heckling, can be done to reduce sandbagging.  Following are a few ideas.

In amateur fields pay deeper into the field-
in order to distribute the prizes further
I suggest:

Advanced- reward %40 to %50 of the field

Amateurs- reward  %50-%60 of the field

Novices-  reward %60 of the field

Pros-you may even consider paying more of the field in the pro divisions This makes it easier for those who move up to cash.  This is especially an option if you have added cash for the pro purse

Use a proportional payout table- so that more players get a better prize. This will reduce the huge prizes for the top few players and offer more to the lower players.  This functions to reduce the material incentive to sandbag.  The Voakes/Ruth distribution is unfair to 90% of an am field since the top few players get a huge cut and others very little.  Since it is the middle players that suffer most from sandbaggers, rewarding them better reduces the problem.
Download excel file of payout table

Encourage use of players packages- that way everyone goes home with something.  Although it doesn't reduce sand bagging it reduces the effect of baggers.

Provide positive encouragement to move up- We issued an invitation to move up to our top Advanced players last year. It was a very classy document and signed by all of the state pros.  See it below

Add more money to pro purses and announce this amongst Am's- If you are adding cash, wag the carrot before the Advanced players let them know that the pickings are better up above.

Mandatory bump rules can work if you are using a significant number of finishes, and have an organized tour, but may be unfair in certain circumstances.  The NorCal Bump Rules are well thought out.

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Invitation To Move Up

At the end of last year's season we presented a special award to the top several advanced players.
Titled Invitation To Move Up, it was printed in a fancy script on expensive paper (the 35 cent stuff).
This was presented as a privledge and honor to be asked to play with our best players.
This is a classy and positive way to ask your sandbaggers to move up.

here is the text we used

Invitation To Move Up

In recognition of the sporting accomplishments of

Players Name

Considering the daunting driving ability

and the outstanding putting skill

not to mention exceptional sportsmanship

which, when combined with consistency,

stamina and a display of love for the sport,

has resulted in a season of superior performance.

We the undersigned cordially invite you to move up to the ranks of

Professional Disc Golfer

   We whole heartedly welcome you with open hands and open pockets.   

Signed by all of the local pros

Notes regarding a proposed
proportional prize distribution table suitable For amateurs

By Randy Schukar

This contains text about the table, drop below to download the table.

I have constructed a new proportional payout table that is appropriate for amateurs.  A proportional distribution when compared to the V/R distribution, gives less to the top 25% of the paid field, but more to the remaining paid positions. This reduces the heavy weighting that we normally see in the top few positions. The V/R distribution pays half of the purse to about the top 20% of those cashing, while the proposed proportional distribution pays half of the purse to the top 33% of those cashing. The result is that the lower 2/3 of those cashing receive more of a cut (usually twice that of the V/R distribution), a clear incentive to stay involved in tournaments.

Constructing the proportional table- Close inspection of the table should reveal some patterns. First of all I assumed a payout of 50% of the field, I then assigned the last pay spot to be about equal to the entry fee. The values above this position form a linear progression with each position an equal step. You can notice the even progression by looking at the 11 places paid column. This works out so that the first place position is worth about three times the entry fee (assuming a payout to 50% of the division). I was forced to round the values off throughout the table. This explains why some numbers are repeated, especially in the higher ranks over 20 players. I rounded the values to a significant place by considering the dollar amount. Assuming a $25 entry fee, I rounded to $5 or less (still less than the value of a disc). I do not think that this presents any real problems since Am payouts are often rounded to meet merchandise values anyway. In some cases, first place receives the same amount as second or even third place. Since trophies are often awarded, the TD would be expected to make some adjustments. Since this is in a spreadsheet format, those TD's who figure the payout on a computer could use the raw unrounded values if they desired. I have also extended the table to 60 places (only 50 fits on two sheets) so this table will work for bigger tournaments, which has been a problem with the current table only going to 24 places.

Other considerations- While the proportional table that I am proposing was designed assuming a 50% of field payout, this is not a set percentage. In fact I am suggesting to leave it to the local TD's to decide based on the local make-up and the level of competition.

I do suggest these guidelines to pay out to: 40-50% of the advanced field

50-60% of the amateur field

60% of the novice field

We have heard that amateur players should be playing in tournaments for fun and camaraderie. Flattening the field and paying more of the division is consistent with this ideal. This tiered structure allows for consistantly larger prizes as you move up through divisions, all of the way to open.

Possibilities of using the Proportional table for pro divisions

While the Voakes/Ruth distribution may be adequate for figuring pro payouts, the proportional table could be useful at bigger events. The Charlotte Worlds staff identified shortcomings in the V/R table in that it only pays to 24 positions. Since the new proportional table is extended to 50 places (60 in electronic format) it could be used to establish a base payout, while saving aside 25% of the purse to distribute amongst the top 25% of the finishers. This would work rather well for pro fields larger than the Voakes/Ruth table can accommodate.

Download excel file of payout table

To recieve a hard copy  of the table send a stamped long envelope to: Randy Schukar 252 Georgia St N Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Payout Methods to reduce Sandbagging

By Randy Schukar

This article offers discussion on using payout incentives to reduce sandbagging. This appeared in May/June 1998 issue of Disc Golf Journal.  

There has been considerable discussion as of late, concerning the issue of sandbagging. Sandbagging is defined by players who continue to play in a division below their skill level and continue to place high in that division. Various methods have been suggested on how to eliminate sandbagging. One idea involves mandatory "bump" rules such as used in the Norcal series. Here, if you finish in the top 20% of 80% of the tournaments played, you can be bumped, being required to move up. Mandatory bump rules work best in areas that have a cohesive tournament series, and may be less fair in certain circumstances. Another suggestion has been to reduce amateur entry fees. It is a great idea for local clubs to hold regular small inexpensive mini tourneys to attract local recreational players. But, with so many of our bigger sanctioned tournaments overflowing with Ams, higher entries are one way of limiting the field and bringing out the more serious players. Another method of dealing with the sandbag phenomena is to use a proportional payout for the amateurs as well as pay deeper into the field in your tournaments.

New proportional payout table proposed

I have constructed a new amateur payout table and guidelines for use by tournament directors. Many TD's now use the Voakes/Ruth table (and 33% field payout) for their amateur payouts. I do not believe that this distribution is fair to amateurs and in fact, I believe that it encourages sandbagging. When you are using the V/R table for a large division, as in many of our amateur events, you are essentially compounding the top prizes to the winners. Some tournaments have even had advanced division prize values approaching decent pro levels.

The new table is a proportional distribution. The back of the Voakes/Ruth table lists an optional "Monroe Method" which is also a proportional payout. The problem with the Monroe method is that it is hard to figure for larger fields. The new proportional table is simple to use with any size field. Any TD who can operate the V/R table should be able to easily use the new table. It has been extended to 50 positions making it suitable for larger tournaments. The table is also available as an Excel spreadsheet file (extended to 60 positions) for those TD's using computers for their payout. The PDGA gives TD's a certain degree of flexibility in how they structure their payouts, allowing for use of proportional payout methods.

This proportional table gives less to the top 25 % of the players and more to the remaining paid positions. The V/R distribution pays half of the purse to about the top 20% of those cashing, while the proposed proportional distribution pays half of the purse to the top 33% of those cashing. The result of using the proposed payout is that the lower 2/3 of those cashing receive more of a cut (usually twice that of the V/R distribution), a clear incentive to stay involved in tournaments.

I constructed the proportional table so that the top position receives three times their entry fee while the last paying position receives their entry back (assuming that you pay half of the field). This works for any size field (up to 120). We have heard that amateur players should be playing in tournaments for fun and camaraderie, not for greed. This new payout scheme is consistent with this ideal.

For more on Proportional payouts see Kim Theesen's article in Jan/Feb 1996 issue of DGJ.

Pay deeper into the field

The PDGA Sanctioning agreement recommends "..that prize structure be designed to discourage sandbagging by giving greater reward to higher divisions and by paying more places in each division." I offer two suggestions for this 1) to have a definite tiered entry fee structure (like $10 for novice, $15 for ams, $20 for advanced) and 2) to pay more of the field in the various amateur divisions.

I do suggest these guidelines to pay out to: 40-50% of the advanced field 50-60% of the amateur field    
60% or more of the novice field

Flattening the payout and paying deeper into the field will further reduce the negative affects of sandbagging. This tiered structure allows for consistently larger prizes as you move up through divisions, all of the way to open.

The PDGA board recently agreed to recommend flatter payouts in all divisions including pro at 33% to 50% with 40% being the standard. The idea is that the increased chances of cashing will encourage more players move up.

While the proportional table that I am offering was designed assuming a 50% of field payout, this is not a set percentage. In fact local TD's should decide based on the local make-up and the level of competition. But use these various payout incentives to keep the am divisions fair. Things like players packages and side prizes(CTP's and such) are other methods of redistributing prizes. Players who go home with anything are more likely to return.

Sandbagging is a result of unfair payouts

In summary, I believe that use of the V/R distribution for amateurs provides a material incentive that actually encourages sandbagging by providing huge prizes to top finishers. Sandbagging is a problem that most affects the players immediately below the top of their division. It is these players who suffer the most from sandbagging and, who would benefit most from a proportional payout. Sandbagging is primarily a problem because one or two players are continually walking away with most of the loot. Redistribute your payouts so that more players share in the prizes and sandbagging will have less affect as more players go home satisfied. If the prizes in the amateur divisions are spread around more, perhaps better players will decide to move on and play in the pro divisions where real cash rewards can be had.

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Mandatory Bump Rules

these were instituted into the popular NorCal series to set a criteria on when a player should move up a division.
This can be a good method for establishing a standard.  This probably works best when you have a cohesive series with several tournaments.  It could also be adopted for local leagues or mini's.

The NorCal Bump Rules

Advanced (Am I, Avd Masters & Adv women) If a player finishes in the top 20% in 80% of the tournaments played, the player will be bumped into the next higher division.  Example: 20 players total.  You finish 4th or better in four out of five consecutive events.  All scores carry over from previous years, but only last five count against you.  If you are bumped, you will be reserved a spot in the final skins match and can play Advanced at the NorCal championships.

Amateur If a player wins a tournament and has a better score than 1/2 of the the advanced division, the player will be bumped to advanced.  And if a player finishes in the top five twice, and beats 1/2 of the advanced field, the player will be bumped.

These rules have been approved by Mark Ellis PDGA Competition Director.

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Pursuing Proportional Payouts plus Prizes

By Kim Theesen
As first appeared in Disc Golf Journal Jan/Feb 1996

Tournament directors! You've just blown the air horn and the tourney has begun. You look through all of the registration forms and the cigar box full of money. If you haven't done so already, you now have two questions in need of answers:

1) How many in each division will "cash"? and 2) How much (prizes and/or cash) will each win?

Hopefully, well before this moment, the TD and the tourney organizers have decided on any trophies. There should be some method employed as to how to determine who gets the cash in the open divisions. You will also have a box or two full of prizes that have been purchased or donated by sponsors. Who is going to win what?

The PDGA Agreement...for the Pros

Every tournament director who wants his or her tourney to be sanctioned has to fill out a PDGA application. According to the application form, "Pay outs should follow the Voakes/Ruth formula or similar distribution process to ensure that the top 30-40% of each professional division is awarded. What this means is the PDGA sanctioned TD must follow these percentages for players receiving cash. All PDGA tiers essentially award the top third.

Now that we have decided on exactly how many, how does one decide on exactly **how much** to each player? First, there is the number of players times the entry fee less the two dollars PDGA administrative fee. Next, with the divisions' totals in hand, consider that earlier mentioned Voakes/Ruth distribution chart. This chart is laid out to accommodate twenty-four places -- where they finished from top to bottom on the left, and number of places paid from left to right across the top. For example, if you have twelve players in the open pro division and you pay the top third, you count over four and read down for the percentages. In this case it's 50% for first, 25% for second, 15% for third, and 10% for fourth.

According to the chart description, this presents a "standardized pay-out formula for cash purses." This method is not a "requirement," only a "guideline." "Depending on the tournament director's philosophy of rewards at disc golf events, he might wish to make some alterations." "It is the opinion of the [PDGA] Competition Director that the percentage for the winner of the tournament should not be altered to provide a higher share." It is the opinion of most TDs that the last place money position should receive no less than the entry fee. If the player numbers are exactly divisible by three, then see that the last place money position wins a little more than the entry fee. If the numbers aren't exact, you add one more player, then that player will get at least the entry fee returned. In addition, according to the chart, "it is desirable to have different pay outs for different finishes, round off your the nearest dollar, and make sure all of the factors add up to 1.0 (100%)."

The chart also includes information on an alternate pay out scheme - The Monroe Method. This method essentially allows for a more even distribution of the funds so the top player is not getting nearly twice as much as second. Tom Monroe says "if our paybacks had a few more zeros on the end of each amount, maybe it would not matter so much." Depending on how much is being paid, start with the last cash place, then add $5 or $10 to each as you move up towards first. This method will take some more time and head scratching to get all of the figures to add up and it will take away the huge pay out for first. However, Monroe says "that the main motivation for playing in tournaments should be fun, camaraderie and competition, not greed." This equitable distribution spreads out the cash and gives middle and lower players a little better cash prize.

And what about any added cash? How much goes to which division? Rhetorically asking, should this distribution be at the discretion of the TD or the PDGA? Some take the added cash and simply divide it by the number of pros who will be paid. For example, if there is $100 added money and ten players cashing, add ten dollars to every player's pay out. Then there is the entry fee figure to consider. If the open player's entry fee is X% more than the masters, then X% more of the added cash should be added to the open. If you have a pro women's division (and it needs to be offered), you must also figure that into the added cash calculation.

In order to encourage some of our younger and more competitive masters to play open, the cash rewards must be significantly greater. Thus, the entry fees must be significantly different. If I were running the event, I would put nearly all of the added cash to the pro open with a proportional amount to the pro women. I would add little to none to the pro masters purse. The more you risk, the more you could win. Plus, for the pro masters and the pro women, I would pay out the top third or top three **whichever is more**. Again, this will flatten out the cash to the masters, hopefully encouraging some to jump to open. And for the women, it may encourage some advanced ams to try the pro women.

And what about those amateurs?

The PDGA application stated that the TD agrees "to provide pay outs in non-professional divisions which provide fair value in non-cash items (trophies, prizes, player packages, etc.) in relation to the amount of the entry fees. It is recommended that the prize structure be designed to discourage sandbagging by giving greater rewards to higher divisions." This new provision should help create some consistency where there were no requirements in the past. Speaking from my own amateur perspective, I'd like to see the top 50% guideline applied to **all** amateur divisions.

Advanced amateurs must be members of the PDGA or pay the temporary $5 fee "in lieu of membership." The point-earning advanced amateurs are arguably **the** most important players as they make up a significant percentage of PDGA tourneys and are tomorrow's professionals.

In conclusion...

In order to get golfers to move up, TDs and tourney organizers should award significantly more cash and prizes to the top divisions. Award only trophies or discs to the intermediate/beginning amateurs. What disc golfers consider to be **good** prizes will always be subjective. However, consider all of the little stuff for door prizes, you know what I'm talking about. Nobody cares to win key chains or letter openers as part of a prize pack for four rounds of disc golf. Distribute any donated items in to the players' packs, or use them for CTP or door prizes. Plus, the more we stress early registration, the easier it will be to play with the numbers, acquire some decent prizes, and advertise them for the benefit of the participants.

With all of the diversity of the PDGA events, it would be impossible to create one system that would work the same for every division/tournament. The tournament directors must be allowed to make the final decision. Ultimately, the marketplace will determine if the disc golfers will return to play a particular event again. At **least** the top third for pro open and 40-50% for the advanced amateur. Advertise it in your promotion. For the sake of consistency, for the super tours and B-Tiers, a minimum standard pay out method should be established for the PDGA's professionals **and** advanced amateurs.

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Request for a Disc Golf Course

to be located in the River Pines Area

As submitted by Stevens Point Area Flying Disc Assoc.

To: Consolidated Papers

We would like to propose the installation of a 27 hole disc (Frisbee) golf course at the Consolidated property located north of the River Pines nursing home. Disc golf is a wonderful activity for young and old. One can play individually or in groups, either recreationally or competitively. It is a game anyone can play regardless of skill, yet continues to challenge players game after game. We are proposing the installation of eighteen holes now with possible expansion to twenty seven when our club is able to raise the funds. This is an opportunity for Consolidated to provide an excellent recreational facility that would benefit the entire Stevens Point area community.

Equipment is on hand
We've made a request to the Stevens Point Park board to relocate the equipment currently at Mead Park. They have tentatively approved the move dependent on a new location. Mead Park is a beautiful park, but is too small for an eighteen hole course, requiring players to play close to roadways and park boundaries. Mead Park also accommodates 8 or more other activities (volleyball, basketball, etc.) within its limited space. We are seeking a larger property for establishing a new course. We do hope to reinstall a nine hole layout in the less used portion of Mead Park. Installation of the equipment involves simply setting posts into the ground (anchored with concrete). The baskets and signs are easily removed or relocated if needed.

Consolidated property ideal for disc golf
We believe that the proposed property would be an ideal location for a disc golf course. The area is very large and will allow a thoughtful layout which results in minimal impact on the wild nature of the property. The mature forest has resulted in a rather sparse undergrowth which would require less clearing and less maintenance. Varied vegetation and mix between open and tighter areas would allow for a challenging course design. There does not appear to be other conflicting activities in the area. The location is also ideal, being centrally located amongst our population base making it accessible to youth.

Disc golf ideal for the Consolidated property
Disc golf is an environmentally and socially responsible activity. It appeals greatly to area youth, providing an activity to occupy their time and one where they can excel. It is very low impact and does not pollute or create noise. It will mesh well with the Green Circle Trail. Most players take pride in the course and pick up trash and provide a deterrent for vandals. The benefits to our community are large in comparison to the cost. With assistance of a few sponsors and patrons we can expand this popular sport in Stevens Point.

Costs of the project
Costs to Consolidated would be minimal. The eighteen baskets are already purchased (sponsored by area businesses) and are the property of the Stevens Point Parks Department. Additional costs are listed below:

Design-We would request assistance of Consolidated foresters in the design phase to meet your needs.

Clearing-Some clearing of small trees and brush to establish fairways would need to be done. We can provide plenty of volunteer help to accomplish these tasks or work with Consolidated approved workers. We anticipate a minor amount of filling of ruts along fairways. Chipping of waste vegetation would be good mulch.

Signage-Our club is constantly raising funds earmarked for course improvements and would expect to handle the signage.

Parking-We would request monetary assistance to construct a parking area. The clearing located near the end and south of River View Drive appears to be an ideal location.

Trash receptacles-If barrels or such could be provided we could probably establish a player based maintenance program.

Future- Down the road we may request the installation of concrete tee pads and a shelter near the parking area. These are low priority at this time

Course maintenance would require little time or money. Some selective pruning and/or mulching of muddy areas would probably need to be done periodically. Our group would again be eager to provide the labor for this. We would request assistance in mowing some of the open areas as needed a few times each summer.

Course Design
We are interested in providing a thoughtful course design, with the objective of providing a recreational facility responsible to our community. This entails designing holes to challenge novices and advanced players alike, but also to minimize the impact on the property and other users. Such goals can be accomplished by providing dual tees for varied player ability and alternate basket locations to reduce wear on the greens. Our design approach is to work with natural clearings and areas of sparse trees. We would request the assistance of a forester to keep consistent with current management policies.

About our group
The Stevens Point Area Flying Disc Association (SPAFDA) is a group of local disc enthusiasts interested in promoting the healthy aspects of Frisbee sports in our community. We have taken an active role in establishing and maintaining local courses and programs. We have been involved with programs for area youth. For two years we have held a nationally recognized tournament. Through the warmer months we conduct leagues and other opportunities for players to get together. These activities in just three years have fostered several Badger State medal winners (including Juniors champion 14 year old Keith Warren). We believe that with a little nurturing we can provide recreational activities that are of true benefit to our community. We have received the support of several local businesses and the Stevens Point Parks Department. Feel free to contact Tom Schrader about our group.

More about Frisbee Sports
Flying discs (or Frisbees) offer a variety of unique and inexpensive recreational opportunities. All sorts of individuals can participate, regardless of age, size or physical abilities. Disc sports truly are lifetime sports. From simple throw and catch games, to the team game of ultimate, to the ballet like freestyle, this simple toy has advanced to the levels of serious sport, presenting challenges for players around the world.

Naturally, there are a number of disc related sports that have emerged over the years. All of these games teach good motor skills and provide inexpensive activities for those interested:

Accuracy-Players take 28 shots at a large hoop from different distances and angles.

Discathon- Players throw their discs as they work their way around a twisting 1-km obstacle course

Distance-Players compete for maximum distance throws. The record is over 600 feet

Freestyle- 2-3 person teams perform graceful disc maneuvers including throws, catches and balancing, and are scored on difficulty, execution, presentation, etc.

Guts- This is a fast paced game involving two teams facing each other off. The object is to deliver a throw that the other team cannot catch.

Maximum Time Aloft- Players throw into the wind, and catch the disc in one hand. Good knowledge of aerodynamics result in loft times of over 12 seconds.

Throw, Run Catch- By angling the disc into the wind, players run up to 300 feet to catch their own throw.

Ultimate- This is a popular game that crosses soccer, football and basketball. Formal teams consist of seven players who attempt to work a disc down a field and toss it into the opponents end zone.

Disc Golf is Growing Around the World
Since the invention of the Frisbee, the sport has gained in popularity. The first disc golf tournament was held in 1968 in Pasadena, CA. Disc golf has experienced steady growth since that time. In the last four years the total of courses worldwide has more than doubled to over 700 courses total. In 1975 the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) was formed and now has over 12,000 members. Disc Golf is becoming popular around the world with courses in over fifteen countries. Sweden and Japan have large followings. The Japan Open is an annual prestigious event offering a purse of over $40,000. Proposals have been made to include disc golf as an Olympic demonstration sport, necessary for establishing disc golf as a permanent Olympic sport.

Disc Golf in Wisconsin
Disc golf is taking off in Wisconsin. There are currently over twenty courses statewide with 3-5 new courses being established each year. We have a popular and fun tournament circuit comprised of seven events in seven cities called the Wisconsin Disc Golf Tour. In 1994 Disc Golf became an official sport of the Badger State Games. In 1998 Appleton will be the site of the annual PDGA Amateur World Championships. Wisconsin has one of the country's largest following of women players and a big youth following. All of these factors are indicators of a healthy, growing sport.

Disc Golf In Stevens Point
Three years ago the Stevens Point Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission approved the installation of an eighteen hole course at Mead Park. The course was sponsored by state and local businesses, and was installed with labor provided by disc players from throughout the state. For two years we have held a tournament, The Wisconsin River Open, which set state records for attendance and pro purse. This tournament was the third largest Amateur event in the world in 1996, with 120 amateurs (and 40 pros). We hope to continue this annual event, which reflects well on our community and our group. Since installation, the Mead park course has seen continued regular usage. On a weekend afternoon it is not uncommon to see over fifty players at a time enjoying the facility. We hope to continue our activities by providing and improving the disc golf facilities in our area.

Questions regarding this proposal can be directed towards Randy Schukar @715-341-5240.

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More Media Coverage

By Brian McGee

Television camera's roll and a large gallery watches as Mike Sayre just misses a long putt, uphill through the trees, that would have tied Scott Stokely on the final hole of the 1997 Waco Annual Charity Open. For a tournament director, this is as good as it gets. The Waco event has numerous blessings to count (211 players in just its second year, 5,800 raised for charity, 7,000 total over 2 years). However, one of the richest blessing was the exposure in the local media. There were five separate television stories (including both pre-event and result updates on Saturday & Sunday), three newspaper articles, and continuous radio promoting starting more than a month prior and culminating in a live remote broadcast at the event. While I am not exactly certain how things worked out this well, I am glad to pass on what I have learned.

Most of this advice was given to me by Inez Russell (gained from her years of experience as Executive Director of the event's charity, Friends for Life). What Ms. Russell helped to show me was not that respect, expertise, and professionalism are important; with this I was already familiar. It was how these qualities specifically pertained to relating with the media. Therefore, I will avoid generalized discussions and stick with specific examples of what this means.

Although being a charity event helped, the advice I received is also relevant to non-charity events. In fact, the first thing I learned was that media coverage was not a given simply because I was running a charity event. It is true that television and radio stations are obligated in their charters to donate a certain percentage of resources for charitable causes. However, this does NOT mean that they must cover an event just because some small (or even large) amount of an event's proceeds are going to charity. The fact is that there are more than enough other events for them to cover. Though the "charity angle" helps (for more on this see Choosing the Charity), the answer to media relations is not this simple. The following are the ways I found to apply the above qualities.

When talking to the media always remember who the expert is. THEY ARE! Phrases like: "What is the best way to let people know about this event?", "Who would be the best person to help me with this?" and "Is there anything else I might try?" are indicative of a respectful attitude. The more respectful and appreciative you are, the more they will be willing to help. Also, no one wants to be used. Focusing on how much it will help you to use them to cover your event is not the way to win over the media. Make a list of the interesting aspects of your event (what makes it newsworthy). Know this list well.

Some examples of this are: (Event specific) number of people you expect to participate, how many are local and how many will come in from out of town, big names of disc golf, i.e. "the world record holder for distance Scott Stokely from Ft. Collins, Colorado will be there;" (General to disc golf) "One of the fastest growing new sports in the world."

You can also use this list to help you create a concise description (press release) of the tournament. Include what, when, where, and an interesting bit or two of information. WACO's press release went something like this: "On May 31st & June 1st, over 200 professional and amateur players will compete in the 360 Communications 1997 Waco Annual Charity Open disc golf tournament. Disc golf is one of the world's fastest growing new sports, and several of the it's best players will be there, among them, Scott Stokely, the world record holder for distance. The event benefits Friends for Life, an outstanding local charity. Spectator attendance is free."

Should you be fortunate enough to be granted an interview, be prepared to intelligently answer a number of questions. Why is disc golf one of the fastest growing new sports? Is it easier or harder than ball golf? Who plays? When did it start? When did the PDGA form? What is the difference between a Frisbee and a golf disc? Don't get too set on your agenda. Be sensitive to things they seem to find interesting. You should prepare answers you feel comfortable discussing so it would probably not be productive to detail how I would answer each of these questions. However, I will answer one as an example. "Disc golf is one of the fastest growing new sports because it has a rare ability to support high levels of competition while remaining extremely inclusive. Other sports, like "ball" golf, can be exclusive because they are expensive and difficult to learn. Disc golf is free to play and easy to get started. People encourage their friends to try it, and quickly the numbers grow. Usually, the motto is, `the more the merrier.'" This answer also explains why disc golf is exciting and newsworthy. It took some time to form and articulate an answer that describes disc golf's unique attraction.

I could never have come-up with this off the top of my head, which is why it is important to develop these answers in advance. Notice how the answer is also a statement that can stand alone. This can be particularly important when it comes to television and the necessary editing of TV news reports. My answer does not start, "Because it has a rare ability..." If it had, the reporter would have to put it in context for it to make sense. The reporter would probably have to use a boring shot of me standing in front of a camera while he asks me the question, "Why is disc golf one of the fastest growing new sports?" As a statement, it does not have to be a response to a question. He can use it as a voice over with a shot of a group of friends as they enjoy playing together. This gives the reporter more flexibility to better tell the story. The last aspect of an interview is that unless it is live, it will be edited. Do not get frustrated if things come out wrong, and if you mis-state something, just ask to redo it. If you do a live piece, MAKE SURE you know what they are going to ask and what you are going to say.

Like it or not, you will seen as representing everything about disc golf. Therefore, it will help your professionalism if you can answer basic historical questions about disc golf and the PDGA. Be on time. Follow through with your promises. Proof-read everything.

Lastly, start early (as much as three months before the event)! Though it is true that most reporters do not set their schedules until right before an event, it helps to spark their interest early. Create a brief press release (described above). Call the different stations and ask to whom you should send the information (remember respect). Keep some brief notes of the conversation, correctly spelling their names and when you should get back in touch with them (professionalism). Do not try to sell them on doing a full story right then and there. Do your best to keep the focus on the interesting and newsworthy aspects of the event. Think of things you might need to prepare for the reporters (expertise). Between then and the event, keep them up-to-date with any exciting new revelations (such as big names that agree to come). About two to three weeks prior to the event, have a get-together (possibly a pot-luck picnic) of all the club members that are helping run the tournament and invite the reporters to be your guest. They probably will not come but its a nice gesture and a way to remind them of the upcoming event.

Though being a charity event helped, I also believe that the advice about respect, expertise, and professionalism are vital. I also believe that my work with Waco Annual Charity Open has been blessed. I must thank God for the wonderful things He has given me and of which He has allowed me to be a part.

Choosing a Charity
With our event, the charity is central. I would feel awkward even calling it The Waco Annual Charity Open if, for example, only the T-shirt sales were donated. However, this fact makes picking a charity extremely important. Our charity is Friends for Life. They help the elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged of Central Texas. Should you choose to make yours a charity event, I believe they are a perfect example of what you should look for in a charity. They are local, which means that they make a difference locally. Less than 9% of their budget goes to administration (salaries, fundraising, etc.). This means that almost all the money they receive goes to the programs they support. These aspects allow you to say with confidence that your event benefits an outstanding charity that is making a difference.

It is also essential that the charity be extremely cooperative and flexible. Friends for Life accepted our event as a long-term project. They worked with us, and understood that we wanted both a strong charity event and a premier disc golf tournament. While I encourage others to develop their own charity events, they should carefully choose a charity that will work well with what they are trying to accomplish. The Charity should be large enough that sponsors and the local media will have heard of them but personable enough that they will work closely with you. They should be extremely involved in sponsorship raising but should allow you to do what is necessary to produce a quality disc golf event.

I hope these tips are helpful should you and your club decide to run a charity event with media coverage as an important goal.

Brian McGee

This article appeared in Disc Golf Journal, January/February 1998.
Reprinted by permission from Disc Golf Journal.

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