In the six years since then Eagle McMahon Started touring as a professional frisbee golfer, heSaw the change.when he At the beginning, there may be only one production team in the competition. Even so, reports on the events of the next day are rare-and on-site reports do not exist.
Reports have exploded these days, with matches being broadcast live on the Internet, TV, and Disc Golf Network applications. The galleries with more money and activities are bigger.When McMahon was in his Local courses in Boulder, Colorado, he Stop to sign. heWas recognized at the airport, he Described as “the craziest thing for me”.
For the 23-year-old, “It almost feels like a completely different sport.”
The outline of the game itself has not changed-players still follow the basic rules of traditional golf, using arms instead of clubs, holes and balls on the ground, overhead baskets and Frisbees-often referred to as “Frisbees”, “a trademark of a particular brand” The name, usually used as a generic substitute for the entire product category.
Frisbee golfers have long had lofty ambitions for the sport and have dreamed of surpassing niche brands for decades.
There is a feeling-with five-time world champion Paul McBeth’s record-setting $10 million endorsement agreement and the support of growing reports and fan attention-the sport is ready to make a breakthrough.
The momentum behind this sport is exciting, but golfers like McMahon are trying to maintain a vision.
“Every Frisbee golfer dreams of it often appearing on ESPN, live coverage week after week,” McMahon said. “Of course, that would be cool. But they said it started in the 80s, so I tried to take more once a month, once a year.”
The impact of the pandemic
Most of the sports world has been hit by COVID-19. Frisbee golf is the opposite.
“There is no doubt that this epidemic has added vitality to the sport of Frisbee golf,” said Matthew Rothstein, The media manager of the Pro Disc Golf Association. “With the difference between the meaning of the pandemic and the difference between safe and dangerous activities, it is clear that Frisbee golf is very suitable for pandemic situations.
Like traditional golf that offers social distancing and outdoor courses, Frisbee golf has become more attractive during the pandemic. New players flocked in.
For most of the past ten years, PDGA’s membership has grown steadily by approximately 15% annually. But with the surge in interest starting in June 2020, the number of members has increased by 33% between 2019 and 2020. Rosstein Say. According to UDisc data, in 2020, approximately 8,000 courses in the U.S. will have between 35 and 37 million rounds of matches, of which only Virginia and Maryland have 193 registered PDGA courses.
Interest in the game continued until 2021, and the total number of members increased by 18% in six months compared to the previous year.
Part of the increase can be attributed to the reduction of other activities during the pandemic, which prompted people to find new ways to entertain. Due to the low barriers to entry, this sport is easy to try.
“Some of the biggest companies in this sport can’t make enough Frisbees at all,” said Jeff Springs, CEO of the Pro Frisbee Golf Tour. “They expanded their scale and their output doubled, but they still couldn’t meet the demand for optical discs.”
When McMahon played locally when he was a child, other players often urged he, As a rising star, embarked on a journey to participate in the championship.
It is easier to give advice than to act.Barely enter his When he was a teenager, McMahon did not have enough funds to support travel at that age.But then he 15 years old, he‘d received a score of 1,000-rare for such a young person, especially for those who mainly insist on local activities.
The national stage is called. And this time, McMahon answered.
“For the second time in history, I participated in the National Tour. I took the lead in the final round and competed with the best players in the world,” McMahon said. “It’s there, I thought,’Well, maybe there’s more.'”
Since then, McMahon has reached the top of the Ultiworld Frisbee Golf Rankings. He won four games in 2021, won 49 career victories, and accumulated more than $200,000 in tournament prize money.
“It didn’t have much money to start, and it’s still not what it needs,” McMahon said. “But some players make a living there, and many players do a good job at this point, at least for the top ten players in the world. Therefore, there are more opportunities than ever before.”
Spring admits that the sport has a long way to go in terms of money, but it has made great strides.
Compared to 2020, the value of wallets in 2021 has doubled, and Spring expects that these wallets will double again soon, resulting in the first $500,000 wallet in the disc golf professional tour in a year. he The first million-dollar wallet should appear in a few years.
“What we can do has always surprised me,” Spring said.
With the increase in ticket sales and the increase in the size of wallets, sponsorship and endorsement deals are also expanding. McBeth’s $10 million contract with record manufacturer Discraft is what the best players in the sport can get while paving the way for others.
Spring said: “For any sport, players and professionals will exist within the ceiling set by the best of these players.” “So the higher Paul sets the ceiling, I think everyone else will do it because Their own contracts and success have declined in higher and higher positions.”
Rosstein Remember the exciting discussion about Frisbee golf 20 years ago. “We will join ESPN soon because the sport is so fun, so exciting, and so accessible,” Rosstein I remember what people said at the time.
“But I don’t think people have a realistic view of how far we must go to bridge the gap between YouTube-produced videos and the large national mainstream media,” Rosstein Add to.
Frisbee golf still does not exist—at least not entirely. When the Disc Golf Pro Tour started in 2016, the main content producers were YouTubers, and the videos they shot would later be made into clips. There is no live report.
But with the development of the Pro Disc Golf Tour, these YouTube channels are also growing, attracting a large audience, indicating a great interest in the sport.
For example, JomezPro now has 313,000 subscribers. For any sports league, a TV contract is very profitable. But Disc Golf Pro Tour and PDGA got their first platform from more niche markets, and they will not forget this.
“Of course we want it to become more mainstream, and we definitely have ambitions to host our events on the national media platform,” Rosstein Say. “But there is also a feeling, you know, that I don’t want to reject the people who brought us here. The people who have really contributed to raising awareness of this sport in the past 10 years are the content producers of these YouTubers.”
Since then, disc golf has landed on ESPN and CBS sports networks for selected events, and highlights-such as James Conrad’s 247-foot birdie at the Utah Disc Golf World Championship last month-have been widely circulated.
However, Spring believes that live content is necessary for Disc Golf Pro Tour, leading to the establishment of Disc Golf Network in 2020. In just over a year, the network attracted 25,000 subscribers. He hopes this is just the beginning.
“In the future, maybe we will make greater decisions with the national media,” Spring said. “I think in the future to broadcast Disc Golf Pro Tour events on ESPN, a decision may be made in the future.”
The sky is the limit
Frisbee golf is not free from the growing pains after entering the mainstream. As more and more fans show interest in participating in Disc Golf Pro Tour events, Spring will change the venue plan for the next five years to accommodate more parking spaces and spectator space.
Rosstein Generally speaking, more games need to be held because there is more room for interested players and the organizer.
But for an evolving sport, these are good challenges. Now that the sport has a player and a $10 million endorsement contract, the interest of fans has surged and may attract the attention of the National Broadcasting Corporation. This is a preview of what is about to happen-something that is getting closer and closer to the full picture.
“As long as we continue to do good things and produce great disc golf content, more fans and more people will watch it,” Spring said. “And the sky is the limit.”