It is the time of year when all PDGA members are given the most direct opportunity to influence the direction of our sport – time to elect, or re-elect, members of the Board of Directors. One thing I have learned is that all disc golfers have an opinion about where disc golf needs to go. Most of us have some serious opinions about how we need to get there. I recently voted in the Board of Directors elections and I hope you all do too.
I want to paraphrase some of the concerns shared by the candidates. I am not campaigning for anything other than your participation in the process. I voted my conscience and have some opinions on the matter but this is not an attempt to sway your vote. I want to introduce the issues at hand and encourage you all to look into them for yourselves and make your own decisions. To that end, I read all the candidates statements closely and compiled information on the things that are important to those candidates.
Greater Value for the Recreational Player:
By far the most common goal of the candidates for a position on the Board is to find a way for membership to have a greater value for recreational and non-tournament players, to “bridge the gap between the PDGA and recreational disc golfers” (Kevin McCoy). The benefits of membership for players like myself, who play close to 10 events per year is simple, I save as much as 10 dollars per event so there is a net monetary savings. Many candidates have asked the question, How do we generate more membership and more membership renewals for the “85%” (Michael D Solt Jr.) of golfers that do not play many events or do not play any event?
Several ideas were introduced such as continuing programs like PDGA leagues, lowering membership fees for a digital only membership, or to have “more options for new and existing members, based on the level of benefits players wish to receive” (Job Wilson).
Continuing the True Amateur Initiative:
Several candidates took this idea a step further and defined this effort as a movement “towards a true amateur division and encourage lower entry fee, trophy only am events” (Shawn Sinclair) in order to, “bring value to the player, not the WINNER, but to EVERY player” (Matt Peckham). One candidate expressed this as an increase in the quality of the experience rather than an increase in material gain. The candidate compared our events to a popular marathon where the event was far more expensive than our events yet had a similarly small group of elite players competing for cash.
His conclusion was quality based and not material based. So the question is asked, How do we make our events more fun for everyone so that a trophy and a players pack has enough appeal to get new players to play events? Some ideas were to encourage more one-day events, to limit divisions in A-tier events to drive the elite competition in the elite events, and to encourage different formats “for the minority” (Peckham). Many candidates thought we should do more to encourage youth participation through “Courses 4 Campuses” (McCoy) and other similar promotions.
Greater Transparency and Accountability:
Some candidates proposed a greater effort to hold the authorities accountable in PDGA events – “Members would be told which delinquent TD’s are still being allowed to run events(i.e., have not been suspended for nonpayment of fees)” (Peter Shive). One expressed this concern by stating that there needs to be “more interaction from the players and promoters of our sport to the governing body” (Solt).
This naturally led to the more optimistic suggestion that the PDGA support the development of TDs and State Coordinators with ideas like the creation of “TD coaching documents” and an “open forum” or regular “conference call(s)” for State Coordinators (Solt). Thees ideas sounded like some feedback I got from Joey Schmit, a TD in North Dakota, who suggested a points system to reward Tournament Directors that supported the PDGA by managing well run events that met our high tournament standards. He asked for “more tangible benefits” for TD’s, particularly in smaller markets, with workshops and fee waivers for TDs with good standing.
I was surprised that only one candidate discussed a need for “national and international sponsors” (Dave West). The PGA doesn’t drive its large purses from membership fees but from corporate sponsorship. Some candidates feel that the PDGA diverts too many resources away from the recreational golfer to the pro golfer. I am not sure if this is true but I do know more money from sponsorship could alleviate this problem – if it exists.
One thing was clear, all the candidates want what is best for disc golf and have a lot of passion for the ideas they think will drive our sport and the PDGA to further success. All the candidates are seeking ways for membership to provide a greater value for its members, to increase its membership base, and retain more members. Creating training programs and coaching systems in order to have higher quality events through more transparency and accountability can’t be bad. Greater lines of communication from players to TDs, TDS to State Coordinators, and all of the above to the PDGA all sound like good suggestions. You have less than a week left to vote, follow the links provided, read the information and please vote your conscience.