Originally Posted by archmage
Someone else leaves the tournament with money or gift card that came partially from my pocket, that makes the tournaments feel like poker tournament, betting, or playing pool for money. And that's when things like return of investment, expected value, etc. start to creep in my head. You wouldn't play pool against the local shark for $20 a game if you know you can't win him.
I play some tournaments, but it bugs me that it feels like gambling with negative ROI (because I'm not good enough to be on the receiving end of the payouts). If the only people that got my money were the organizers, it would feel more like paying for the experience.
I fully agree with Archmage. Disc golf tounaments are missing out on a group of interested hacks like me because we don't want to participate in a tournament knowing that we're paying for someone else's plastic. A non-payout division would be a totally different situation.
As Dave242 pointed out, lack of payout does make the tournament more casual. Players are more likely to "flake out" if the weather or their score is bad. However, for some people, that's exactly the appeal of a game of disc golf: a more relaxed, less intense round. It seems like non-payout weekend minis would be a great way to "expand the sport" to a wider variety of people.