Get Your Club to the Next Level
By Tim Engstrom (PDGA #41882)
Flying Lea Disc Golf Club (Albert Lea, Minnesota)
PDGA.com says you need to have at least 10 members of your club to join the Affiliate Club program. Your little club in your little town or mid-size city just doesn't have that many pros, you conclude.
Well, the Professional Disc Golf Association isn't just for professionals. It's for disc golf players of all levels, and it is for fans, officials and tournament directors. There are disc golfers who join to keep up on things like rules changes, new ideas in running a club or following the chatter the DISCussion Board. Some PDGA members don't even participate in a PDGA-sanctioned tournament; they just want to be part of their favorite sport.
In short, being part of the PDGA keeps you in touch with what is going on in the larger disc golf community. And it offers resources to help you, whether you want to know the rules, run a club, head up a tournament or even get the specifications and approval process for creating your own line of discs.
I am part of the Flying Lea Disc Golf Club in Albert Lea, population 18,000. Our city got an 18-hole disc golf course in August 2008 and our club started the following spring. We do not yet have 10 members who are part of the PDGA, but we have many members.
They sure like to come out and play our leagues and tournaments, and some of them are outstanding golfers. We decided last year we want them to get out in the region and bring home some hardware. The best way to do that was to make people PDGA members. Here are some of our ideas:
• To end our seasons, we have a bracket-style elimination tournament that determines a final four. Anyone who made the final four in 2010 was awarded with a PDGA membership or renewal. This will be the case every season.
• At a doubles tournament in September, we made a PDGA membership a closest-to-pin prize. There was a catch, thought. If a PDGA member won that CTP, he had to gift the prize to a club member participating in the tournament. It didn't come to that because a non-PDGA member won.
• There will come a point this year when we will need labor to install tee pads at a new course. A raffle among the volunteers to pay for PDGA memberships or renewals might do the trick to ensure turnout.
• We have points races, with prizes such as portable baskets, seats, discs, retrievers and things like that. We plan on including PDGA memberships this year.
In short, instead of always using gear as your incentives, use a PDGA membership. Players really fight hard for those, and a membership is only $50. When you think about all the plastic you've purchased that you never throw anymore, you probably could have bought a PDGA membership at least once, or perhaps many times over.
Anyone winning a membership from our club knew they had to wait until December, when I filled out the paperwork and sent in the membership, then wait until January to get their packet. But they were fine with that.
With more club members becoming PDGA members, the word spreads among members about the tournaments they were in, the rankings they have, the benefits they get. So then more people join. Our club is about two or three memberships away from the goal of 10, which I am sure we will achieve this season.
• All your club members get discounts on PDGA membership.
• Your club members can take pride that they care about the growth of the sport nationally.
• The knowledge level of various aspects of the sport goes up in your club. But if you are a club administrator looking for ideas to keep your club going, the PDGA Affiliate Club Program can help you. And you need not even be an affiliate. PDGA.com has some helpful pages:
• How to develop or design or improve a disc golf course. One of many great aspects of disc golf is that course designers do not keep their trade secrets. In a way, we are an open-source community.
• How to convince your city's leaders of the benefits of disc golf. Particularly fascinating is a research paper by Jason Sinichalschi called the Benefits of Disc Golf. A talking-points sheet on start a disc golf club.
• How to create a website. I recommend four things when first delving into web programming: WordPress, a friend who already knows his or her stuff you can call, a strong tolerance for learning by trial and error and an entire day or two alone at your computer. In the end, you will come out like Wile E. Coyote — a supergenius.
• How to form a club charter. This is good for deciding what your club intends be. Feel free to make the sample much shorter or longer as befits your community's needs.
The PDGA staff cannot be in every city in America, so it relies on the Affiliate Club members to provide information on courses, such as getting latitude and longitude of courses for the course directory. You read about this and other Affiliate Club projects.
A club is about development, if nothing else. If your town’s best players now are competing across the region in PDGA-sanctioned tournaments, that reflects well on the club. Congrats. Your club has achieved its purpose. Keep it up.
Photo Credits: PDGA pro Nate Doss putts up a hill at the Minnesota Majestic in the Twin Cities in 2010. (photo by Tim Engstrom)