Early on a friend of mine said don't bother with a certain tournament because you're just paying the top players so it wasn't worth it. So I avoided the tournament scene. I was wrong. My first sanctioned event cost $50, I was severely outclassed. And all I got for my money was a DX disc. Didn't even have any sort of special stamp. I had a blast. It wasn't about the payback, but about the experience. The camaraderie. The meeting new people. Getting good advice.
Some tournament events have a lot of shwag. Another tourney, also sanctioned, also $50, I got a choice of 2 premium, tournament stamped discs from both Innova & Discraft. Also included was an umbrella and something else too, can't remember. In addition there was plenty of water and snacks on the course. And the payout for Ams? Just a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd trophy. With the water and snacks I easily made my money back.
Was it any more fun taking home the shwag? I suppose it was a nice perk, but I would have played it anyway.
Local unsanctioned events run along the same lines. Sometimes there is nothing but a payout. Sometimes its like Christmas.