Disc golf is a game for all, I have been playing competitive disc golf for 25 years and although I have seen a growth in the women's game it has not happened as fast as any of us would like to see. Not only does the lack of women make it hard to get new women involved it also makes disc golf events not the most enjoyable place to be. I believe all of us TDs, players, spectators could learn a lot from listening to the women that do play Why they love it and the things that are difficult. I hope any of us involved in running events, leagues, clubs, and ETC...... will listen to these strong and graceful women in all our communities. And finally make this great sport inviting to all.
Disc golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the world with over 100,000 members in the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) and over 7,000 courses around the world according to the PDGA. Just like most sports disc golf has a more prominent men’s field than women’s. In 2017 the PDGA reported that there were 29 pro women who qualified as touring pros, versus the 148 pro men. So why should more women be involved in disc golf and what improvements could be made to the game for women?
There obviously have to be some good things about the sport for women to be involved in it. What are some of the good things about women’s disc golf? Well we went out and asked some of our local ladies why they liked to play the sport.
One of the top reasons the local ladies liked to play disc golf was the relationships that are built as well as the support system that women offer each other. Christie Hundley, one of our local advanced women’s players, stated that, “the ladies are almost always having a good time with each other. There are tips given, we root for one another, and we seem to have a lot more fun than the men do”. This camaraderie is one of the most important things in women’s disc golf according to the PDGA as well as many women involved in disc golf. Mandi Haller, one of our local intermediate women’s players, stated that “the ladies become your beloved friends. When you’ve spent hours in the scorching heat playing a difficult course or trudging through feet of snow trying to keep an eye on each other’s discs (or ribbons really) it all brings you together in the best way”. The social aspect of disc golf is key for its success amongst women.
The men have a tie to the pros of women’s disc golf as well. The support that the male players offer women is a pro of women’s disc golf. The men can be the necessary jumping point for the women’s disc golf community in a local area. Christie stated, “When they [male disc golfers] are willing to give you tips and help your game and you see yourself improve because of this help, it is an amazing feeling”. With 80% of the pro touring field consisting of men in 2017 it is key that men get involved in growing the sport for not only themselves, but the ladies as well. So get on out there guys and be the support that is needed.
One of my favorite pros about women’s disc golf is the fact that the manufacturers make discs that allow players with less of an “arm” to throw farther. Most disc golfers who have “arms” can throw a disc over 300 feet. There are women that can throw this far, but for beginners and women with less of an “arm” this can be difficult. Discs that come in air plastics or lighter weights allow these players to get more distance on their discs compared to throwing heavier discs. Now air and lightweight plastics are not for everyone but they are offered by manufacturers to help level out the playing field and offer more of a variety when it comes to plastics and discs. Want to know a bit more about lightweight and air plastics? The Disc Golf Answer Man might be able to answer your question.
One last pro for women’s disc golf is the fact that growth is occurring. Christie mentioned the many women’s events that have recently been created that will help grow the sport including the Women’s Global Event (go find your local event) and even the fact that there has been an expansion of women’s disc golf coverage online. Christie mentioned the fact that growth is taking place “not only adult women’s divisions, but in the junior girl’s division as well”. Growing the sport is how we will keep it around.
Now let’s get down and dirty. In every sport there are cons that are involved. So what are some of the general cons about being a woman that plays disc golf?
Let’s start out with two cons that weave themselves together and are some of the most common problems in women’s disc golf. Tee pads and round duration are two hot topics in women’s disc golf. There is a large issue with difficult holes that are long and/or island shot holes. Christie illustrated this very well, “it’s difficult to play a tournament that has a 1200 foot hole that all of the ladies get a 10 or more on while the men can make it in four shots. Island shots offer their own difficulty and Christie shared a story that is a common experience for most women when they start out:“I played one of my earlier tournaments where there was an island, over water, with no drop zone. I was a new player and just could not make it across. I lost discs in the water, I unloaded my bag, some of the men’s cards were piling up behind me, and I cried. I took a 16 on that hole, I believe”. The length of time it takes for women to complete difficult holes can cause back ups on the course and slows down the speed of play.
There are solutions to speed up the speed of play and difficulty of holes which can include alternate tee pads for women as well as proper spacing of cards. Mandi suggested both of these solutions, especially advocating for alternate tees, “... make alternate tee pads for intermediate and advanced women’s cards…. the women feel more confident on the course, and they keep better pace with the men”.
One of the other things about women’s disc golf is the physical disadvantages and discomforts of being a woman. The first hot topic about women’s bodies is having to use the bathroom during a round. Many courses that are ideal for disc golf are wilderness courses which means there usually aren’t many bathrooms. Christie got real about this topic, “this is hard on women who obviously don’t urinate like men do and also have periods”. Mandi also got real about this topic, “trying to find somewhere outside to pee is not fun or easy”. Bathrooms are a must for women during tournaments and these would benefit men as well. Adding more bathrooms is an easy solution for this problem, but re-routing the flow of the tournament or a round can help this issue as well.
Now the second physical feature of a woman that can make disc golf hard is boobs. Women come in all shapes and sizes which can present issues in disc golf. What happens when your boobs are more voluptuous? Christie answered it perfectly, “... every so often, as your hand is coming across your chest, your disc will hit one [boob] mid-throw and will bounce in the opposite direction of where you’re throwing it”. Now boobs are not something that tend to be modified, but it is an actual con to women’s disc golf. The key here is to learn from other ladies on how to combat this issue.
Finally, the last physical disadvantages about being a lady is getting pregnant. I cannot put it any better than Christie did “while birthing a human is quite the miracle, it can put a damper on your disc golf game”. Dependent upon your pregnancy you might be able to play all the way up until your due date or you might only be able to play during part of your pregnancy. Not only do you possibly lose time while you are pregnant, time is lost due to recovery. Time is also lost fulfilling your duties as a parent. Tag team parenting tends to offer the most amount of time to play disc golf, but on tournament days or even regular disc golf days a sitter has to be found for some parents.
I want thank all the ladies the contributed to the above a special thanks to Brianna Pitcock for putting the piece together. Hopefully we will be hearing more from her in the future about the ins and outs of being a women in this Dude heavy world. Speaking of Dude if you plan buying any Dude gear please use the link below to support Disc Golf Idaho.
See you in the course.
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