The number of disc golf player has declined, by a large number.....

In the Norfolk, Virginia area I see more people playing. There is a course I frequent in Cheasapeake to the south called Northwest River out in the middle of nowhere, heavily wooded tough to play. 7 out of 10 rounds I'm likely the only one playing. Play has been picking up the past several months, and a few Saturdays ago I couldn't believe counting 15 players on the course together, including two families with young children, good to see!, just unusual even for a Saturday. Play has picked up at other courses, I'm a morning player, at busier courses I make sure I'm the first one out, lately others are beating me to it.

The three PIAS are selling Innova, and MVP/Axiom products at a healthy pace. The other brands according to managers can be stagnant. Theirs a Dicks Sporting Goods store in a mall that sells Innova only, in the past those discs would just sit there. I've made frequent trips to the mall the past few months for other things, and those discs are now selling and seeing at least half of them newly stocked compared to the previous visit. For the first time I bought a disc there, a neutral flatness Star Destroyer 166g at my preference. And a visit last week I saw a few Halo's for the first time.

The only concerning thing I've notice is the local clubs. They have there usual weekly's, but I've seen less tournaments the past few years, and there was no Jr. clinics last summer compared to two summers ago when they were held. No club championships last summer that I'm aware of. A poplar DJ started playing a few years ago, and the past two summers has held two fundraising tournaments per summer with a morning and afternoon group, its popular, and he has announced the first date for this year, he makes it fun, a bright spot. At Bayville #14 short basket welds broke, and was left hanging for almost two months, compare to a year ago #11 short was fixed within a few days. Bennets Creek in Suffolk last July had 4 more turf tee pads to build on a three tee per hole course. The last frames were built back in July laying on the ground ready to go, this morning I played the course, and there still on the ground. Whatever reason the work came to a screeching halt. Northwest River the park employees two months ago installed concrete tees on hole #1 only, there busy with other things, have the materials for all 18-holes, but can't get local club help, and the last tournament played there was four years ago. The club in the Williamsburg/Newport area there busy as they always have been. Virginia Beach did have a 9-hole, and 6-hole course built last year, somebody put those together.

In my area I think more people are playing, but likely more recreational. I just wonder what's up with the clubs on my side of the Bay.
 
OP posted PDGA registrations but I believe UDisc is capturing more of the actual player base Disc Golf Growth Report powered by UDisc | UDisc

I do hypothesize that casual players were getting out less in 2023 (and so far in 2024) than in 2021-2022 but the total number of players trying the sport is still growing. Players are still getting out there but maybe 1/2 as many rounds per week/month/year at all levels of play. Just a lot more return to normalcy with all the events and vacations being made up that got missed from 2020-2022 where travel and large gatherings were reduced.

Those casual players probably tried out PDGA membership and playing in events through 2021-2022 but chose not to renew too far in advance of potentially playing any events in 2023. Many players still likely will not renew for 2024 until they actually register for a PDGA event. Locally, many of the experienced players aren't rushing to register too far in advance and are holding out for the 10 day weather forecast.

It was definitely an interesting couple of years competing for just registering into certain tournaments and now the supply/demand dynamics are flexing around with certain events/courses drawing more interest but not so much rush for general events. Seems like some 2-3 round events are more in competition with other weekend activities that have come back over the last couple years.
 
My completely non-scientific observation is that the two largest groups playing disc golf are single/early marrieds, and empty nesters. Like many recreational activities, family and work commitments cut into available time, for about 20 years. People "age out" and "age in" based on their priorities.

There are a million exceptions to this "rule" but I think in general, it fits. And if that's so, I wonder if we're just experiencing the natural ebb and flow - as guys "disappear" into other activities.

And by the way, us old guys can play on weekday mornings. You don't even know we're out there!
 
My completely non-scientific observation is that the two largest groups playing disc golf are single/early marrieds, and empty nesters. Like many recreational activities, family and work commitments cut into available time, for about 20 years. People "age out" and "age in" based on their priorities.

There are a million exceptions to this "rule" but I think in general, it fits. And if that's so, I wonder if we're just experiencing the natural ebb and flow - as guys "disappear" into other activities.

And by the way, us old guys can play on weekday mornings. You don't even know we're out there!
Shhhhhh......don't let the kids know.

The above has always kind of been the cycle of disc golf. Discover it in college, play with your buddies until jobs, marriage and kids take it away. Then come back to the game as the kids move out.
 
I agree that these measurements don't include a lot of older players. I haven't had time for even a 2 round event in 10 years. Also, lots of us still track our scores in our heads.
I play 100 rounds a year and not one is recorded anywhere to track how many.
 
My completely non-scientific observation is that the two largest groups playing disc golf are single/early marrieds, and empty nesters. Like many recreational activities, family and work commitments cut into available time, for about 20 years. People "age out" and "age in" based on their priorities.

There are a million exceptions to this "rule" but I think in general, it fits. And if that's so, I wonder if we're just experiencing the natural ebb and flow - as guys "disappear" into other activities.

And by the way, us old guys can play on weekday mornings. You don't even know we're out there!
I think that the shutdown year, which for many high school students was more like a year and a half, really created a novel situation. Yesterday I was talking to a rising am in our community that'll be 21 in a few months. He was talking about the fact that during the pandemic, with so much free time due to his schooling being primarily online, he was basically playing 2-rounds per day any decent day of the week.

I think during the pandemic there was a massive boom in young kids playing the game, and most of them have aged into college, apprenticeships, their first adult jobs, etc. Some of them will hopefully return and represent a boost to the demographic you kinda highlight in the future when they kinda find that spot in their 20s where they've got some stability but don't have kids yet.
 
PDGA board of direction published the latest membership numbers from May's meeting on Monday.

While the growth is still increasing, by huge margins prior to Covid, it definitely slowed down a bit from 21 and 22.

https://www.pdga.com/files/2023-5-9_bodmeetingminutes_final.pdf

YTD growth
2021 81.8%
2022 26.2%
2023 9.6%

YTD retention
2021 82.8%
2022 74.6%
2023 71.5%

End of the year numbers where posted last Saturday.

https://www.pdga.com/files/2024-1-9_bodmeetingminutes_final_v2.pdf

EOY Growth
2019 14.9%
2020 33.1%
2021 54.7%
2022 19%
2023 4.5%

EOY Retention
2019 83.7%
2020 83.2%
2021 92.1%
2022 81.9%
2023 78.8%
 
Not surprising that retention has crept down a bit, but the bright side is they're retaining a huge portion of a larger member base. And that, I suspect, is why they can spend money on acquisitions that make them more useful to more members...
 
I recall 76%-78% retention was normal for this century up to covid years. That does mean you have to add new members and bring back older previous members greater than 22% to offset that loss to even grow slowly.
 
I'm guessing it's been brought up, but growth of disc golf and growth of the PDGA aren't exactly synonymous.
 
I'm guessing it's been brought up, but growth of disc golf and growth of the PDGA aren't exactly synonymous.
This. In my area there is probably a 40/50 to 1 ratio of people playing disc golf verses people with PDGA memberships. Some people don't like tournaments so see no need in membership, others think it's too pricy, others like to only play with their core group of friends or solo, and some like to play during the weekdays etc which all combine to make good reasons not to be a member. U-Disc probably has a better finger on the pulse of the actual number of people playing disc golf than PDGA membership numbers.
 
The number of discs approved each year by the PDGA is another measure of disc golf growth. Last year I tested and approved 275 discs for the PDGA, which made 2023 a record year for approvals. There were 33 new companies with PDGA-approved discs/targets last year, another record. You can see details of this kind of growth in the slides from my closing keynote speech at Masters Worlds last July, which is available for download here: https://www.researchgate.net/public...resent_and_Future_of_PDGA_Technical_Standards
 
Shhhhhh......don't let the kids know.

The above has always kind of been the cycle of disc golf. Discover it in college, play with your buddies until jobs, marriage and kids take it away. Then come back to the game as the kids move out.
I discovered it in college and just kept on going. I definitely gave up a little in terms of career opportunities because I never wanted to stay late in the office all the time because I had frisbees to go throw but I don't regret that now and don't think I ever will.
 
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