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Help Us Bring Disc Golf Back to the National Senior Games


If you are a Grandmaster disc golfer or older, you are probably looking for more opportunities to play with players of your own age, in your own division. This is a constant challenge in most areas. However, there is an opportunity coming up for 50+ disc golfers to take advantage of through the National Senior Games.

The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) is an organization with the goal of providing competitive sporting venues for 50+ athletes who are still active and want to compete in their sport of choice. They offer a whole litany of sports from track and field, swimming, basketball, archery, bocce, horseshoes, ping-pong, tennis, pickle ball, golf, and dozens of other events. And, most importantly, they would like to add disc golf to that list.

Players compete for gold, silver, or bronze medals in their respective divisions. The Senior Games is broken up into divisions of five-year increments with separate men’s and women’s divisions starting at age 50. The athletes must be amateurs by the NSGA definition, in which a professional athlete is defined as one that earns more than 50% of his/her annual income from competing in their respective sport. That is not a real deal breaker for many disc golfers, especially seniors.

Disc Golf on the Verge of Full Senior Games Status

The National Senior Games are played during odd-numbered years at locations that rotate around the United States. To compete in the National Senior Games, an athlete must have qualified in one of the State Senior Games the previous year. In 2016, only fourteen states offered disc golf in their State Senior Games and most did not have fields over 10 players for all age groups combined. Some states offer Regional Senior Games, but only to generate interest for their State Senior Games.

Unfortunately, due to this low turnout, disc golf has already been denied a spot in the 2017 National Senior Games. Disc golf was offered as a demonstration sport in the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland and was invited back to the 2015 games in Minneapolis. Both events however, netted an underwhelming turnout of less than 40 players in each location. There were a total of over 10,000 athletes competing in over 50 events at both locations, meaning an average of over 200 athletes in each event.

The NSGA has decided that if disc golf is going achieve full status as a sport, it needs to prove it can provide more players. That means that there has to be at least double the number of states that offer disc golf in their State Senior Games and double or triple the turnouts in the states that offer it. We have to start planning now if we want to get disc golf into the State Senior Games of 2018!

Senior Games vs. PDGA Events

Senior Games events are much easier to run than a typical PDGA event. They handle all of the advertising, the registration, the payout, the players’ packs, and the financing. For most state events, the Tournament Director just needs to do a little promoting, run the event and ceremony, and make a simple end report indicating the results.

There are some things that disc golfers must adjust to when competing in the Senior Games, namely:

  • The entry fees for most State Senior Games are on par with most PDGA events, but the National Senior Games entry is over $100, per event.
  • Senior Games players’ packs aren’t usually more than a tee shirt.
  • Senior Games only pay out three places (and the medals aren’t real gold and silver).
  • Pre-registration is always required. The State Senior Games registration typically closes a month or two before the event. The National Senior Games registration may close five or six months before the event.
  • The National Senior Games are usually scheduled around the same time as the PDGA Amateur & Junior Disc Golf World Championships, meaning many senior players will need to choose one or the other.

When you consider that some sports like certain track and field or swimming events only compete in one event for three heats or attempts that may only last 15 seconds, disc golfers get a little more for their money. To offset some of the differences, some Senior Games disc golf events have been run with a parallel, optional PDGA-sanctioned event that does offer a longer registration period, a players pack, and standard PDGA payout.

If you would like to learn more about the Senior Games, visit their website at nsga.com. If your state does not offer disc golf in their State Senior Games and you would like to get involved, please contact the PDGA Senior Committee. If you'd prefer to contact your state's Senior Games representative directly, a list of contacts is available on the State Senior Games website.  

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Comments

Unfortunately, Birmingham, Alabama in June is the last place I as a Senior could compete. The heat and humidity would be unbearable. I wish these games were in the spring or fall in a more northern part of the country. I can cay the same thing for Amateur Worlds in Charlotte, NC in July

I totally agree with your comment. In 2019 the NSG are scheduled for New Mexico in July. We will bring this up with the PDGA, but there are other factors involved. Most younger people can only get time off in the summer months due to families and school schedules.

Submitted by nebdisc_ on

The Senior State Games in Nebraska have been on weekdays. Makes it difficult for some people to attend. Also I've never seen the Senior State Games reach out to local or regional disc golfers. Working to improve promotion and having the disc golf event on a weekend should help to increase participation.

We will contact them to see if they can move disc golf to a weekend and to get them to post it on Disc Golf Scene. Sometimes these are run by non-disc golfers. We need to connect them with a local disc golfer to help them out.

Submitted by slkfis on

I contacted my local games administrator about having disc golf. He replied that until it was on the state games they would not add it.

So I contacted the state administrator. He replied when it was in the National games they would add it!

Go figure?

Bob Black
Senior Legend
53511

The good news is we have had a conversation with the National Senior Games Assoc. and they want to bring disc golf back to the National Senior Games in 2019, but there are a few things that need to be worked out. There should be 20 states offering disc golf in their state senior games this year and we are working on more for next year. We need to get players to start playing in these to get the numbers up. Also, if your state does not offer disc golf, you can still play and qualify in most neighboring states that do offer it.

Submitted by dfour26 on

So, I contacted them about Senior Games in Colorado, they referred me to the Rocky Mountain State Games... I have played the State Games four years now, only once in my age division, TD's out here will not host a division with only one player (unless it is a female division)

Submitted by slkfis on

I would like to get a list of all Senior Games eligible players in NC. With such a list I would start drumming up support to increase the message to our local games Director to start Disc Golf programs.
Any ideas?
Also on a personal note I am a soon to be 78 yrs old player. I am back playing after a Total Replacement of my right (RHBH) Shoulder. I have been trying to locate any other disc golfer who has come back from this surgery. So far no luck. If you know of anyone I would appreciate his contact info.
Thxs
slkfis
Bob

Hi Bill, I am proud to inform you that the Nevada Senior Games has added Disc Golf as one of the many sports offered.The event is scheduled for September 30th, 2017 at Sunset Park, Las Vegas. The event director is Jeffery Jacquart. Thank-you for reaching out to us for incorporating Disc Golf in the Games. Jim Terry, Executive Director
Nevadaseniorgames.com

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