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Course Development: Why Disc Golf

Here are some talking points you can use when discussing disc golf with decision makers.

Why Include Disc Golf In Your Recreation Programs?

Few recreational activities offer the high benefit-to-cost ratio of disc golf, both for recreation departments and citizens of all ages and backgrounds. Disc golf has low capital and maintenance costs, has minimal liability issues, is environmentally sound, is played year-round in all climates and is enjoyed immediately even by beginners of all ages.

CAPITAL COSTS? A test course with wooden tees, signs and target posts can be installed for under $500 as one way to gauge interest from your community. A deluxe 18-hole course with dual hard surface tees, professional metal signs and official metal baskets can cost as little as $20,000.

MAINTENANCE COSTS? The fairway grass areas can be mowed every 2-4 weeks versus the once-a-week required in many parks. Occasionally, some action may be required to deal with erosion from the walking pathways used by players. Trash cans (located at strategic points) need to be emptied. Active players, scouts and service clubs have been a reliable source of volunteer labor.

LAND REQUIRED? A full scale 18-hole course ranges from 20-25 acres (about 1 acre/hole). A small "picnic scale" 9-holer could be squeezed into 5-6 acres. A significant advantage for disc golf is its ability to utilize land areas that aren't very desirable or usable for any other activity. The portability of baskets and signs allows park departments to inexpensively relocate the course to another site as community needs dictate.

VANDALISM? This has rarely been a problem. In fact, vandalism has been reduced in many parks that had problems before a disc golf course was installed. A disc golf course increases the traffic in a park at random times during the day and steadily during evenings and weekends. This increased player presence not only reduces vandalism but also chases away other questionable activities.

WHO PLAYS? The simple answer is ...everyone. In studies measuring annual recreational activities, "throwing a Frisbee ̈" has consistently been a Top Ten activity. A disc golf course serves a broader portion of your community than many narrower interest activities with higher cost, skill or fitness levels required to participate. Disc golf has one of the most diverse demographics of any sport. Even though everyone can play, the active players have been primarily males from age 15-50. Active women players have typically been spouses or girlfriends of male players but now groups of women, especially those who play another disc sport called ultimate, have been trying it. Families with young children are also regular users depending on how rugged the course terrain is. Some flatter courses serve the disabled. Some courses have an active group of seniors who prefer to play disc golf rather than just take a walk.

INCOME POTENTIAL? Many courses are free to play. An increasing number of courses are deriving some income with equipment sales and rentals plus vending if there’s a facility on site. In addition, passive income can be generated if there’s already a fee to get into the park or directly charging up to $5 a day to play. Annual passes are also a popular option. More and more courses are being operated as joint public/private ventures, but most courses have not been set up to generate revenues in excess of maintenance costs. Fortunately, the costs of maintaining a disc golf course are much less than many conventional activities. Even in markets where there are already several free courses, there are usually sufficient numbers of players willing to pay for a better, and typically less crowded experience.