Information for CITIES/Counties/ States
What is disc golf?
A simple explanation would be it's much like regular golf, except with discs (frisbees) and baskets. For a much more in depth description, the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) has some great information HERE.
How many people play disc golf?
Disc golf has grown substantially in the last few years. It has been reported that disc golf is the second fastest growing sport in the United States, right behind pickleball. The sport saw rapid growth especially during COVID as many means of recreation were closed. During that time people discovered disc golf and have been very active at playing since.
Most courses in the Puget Sound area average between 40 and 150 rounds PER DAY!!! The most played course in the state is Ralph Williamson Memorial (formerly knows as Lakewood) located near White Center in Seattle. In 2018 it was only averaging 24 round per day and in 2021 it averaged 139 rounds per day. Even with some of the less popular courses we are seeing this growth. For example, Terrace Creek in Mountlake Terrace was averaging 12 rounds per day in 2018 and in 2021 averaged 48 rounds per day.
Udisc is an app that many disc golfers use to track their rounds and find other courses. They have a great article about the growth of the sport which can be found HERE.
Below is a graph showing the growth of the courses in the Puget Sound area. As you can see, the sport is growing!
How much land do you need for a disc golf course?
The rule of thumb is one acre per hole and ideally a course is 18 holes. It is common to see courses with as little as 9 holes and as many as 27 holes. Even though 1 acre per hole is ideal, it is not always necessary to have that much acreage. A good example of an 18-hole course in the Puget Sound area is Gaffney's Grove in Maple Valley. It is less than 9 acres; however, because it's wooded and designed well you're able to have fairways divided by trees and foliage. Generally courses that have more land are going to attract more disc golfers as we see with courses such as South Fork Landing (North Bend), Lakewood (Seattle), and Seatac.
What type of land do you need for a course?
The great thing about disc golf is that a course can be built almost anywhere! Crystal Mountain has two courses built on the mountain. Lakewood (Seattle) is built in a community park sharing space with walking paths and other park visitors. South Fork Landing (North Bend) is build on an old golf course. Many of the local courses are built in the trees, such as Gaffneys' Grove (Maple Valley), White River (Auburn), Lake Fenwick (Kent), and a majority of the other courses in the area. Here are some pictures of local courses to get an idea what they look like.
What type of maintenance is needed for upkeep?
Once a course is established there is generally very little maintenance to be done that the city/county is not already doing. Most courses will have a disc golf club that will oversee the course and will conduct general maintenance, such as clearing fallen limbs, spreading bark around tee pads and basekts, and minor course upgrades. A lot of Operating Agreements between disc golf courses and disc golf clubs indicate the municipality will take care of things such as emptying trash cans and larger maintenance issues, like clearing large fallen trees. Many clubs can work with municipalities to hold fundraising events, such as leagues and tournaments, to help pay for some of these expenses. Some municipalities allow disc golf clubs to use power tools and equipment on their land for maintenance while others do not. Before a course is built an agreement will need to be made on what the disc golf club can and cannot do.
What is the cost to build a course?
The cost can vary, but the main expenses of building a course are baskets, tee pads, signs, and land clearing. NWDGA was established to help raise funds to donate a majority of the cost of a course. Through various fund-raising activities, our goal is to pay for as much of the course as possible. The largest expense in our region is land clearing due to the high amount of wooded areas we have. Ideally we do not want to cut down or remove any large trees, but underbrush and smaller/younger trees will need to be removed. We try to design courses that will have very little environmental impact.
We would love to have a partnership with the city/county that helps pay for a portion of the course, but we are also willing and able to raise funds. We also have thousands of disc golfers in the Puget Sound area that are willing to volunteer their time to helping build a course. If a city/county were willing to contribute $0, we could build a pretty good course. If a city/county were willing to contribute $15,000, we'd have a very good course. If a city/county were willing to contribute $30,000, we'd have one of the best courses in the state!
Good quality baskets are usually between $500 and $700 each. Tee pads can be made from turf or concrete and are usually between $200 and $400 each. Signs are between $100 - $200 each. Land clearing is the other cost and this can vary greatly. Courses built in current manicured parks are going to have no land clearing costs, but ones in forested areas are going to have higher costs.
To help NWDGA raise funds for the course and also a way for the local disc golf club to have funds for course improvement and maintenance, ideally we'd like to create tee signs that also allow local businesses and donors to advertise. This also helps people feel a part of the disc golf community and contribute.
What are the benefits of having a course in our city/county?
There are many benefits to having a disc golf course in your area. Most courses are free to play so many disc golfers will travel far distances to play a good course. It's not uncommon in our area to meet people on the course who have driven over an hour to play. With good courses in our area averaging over 120 rounds per day, that's over 43,000 round a year. Most people only play one round a day, so those are generally unique visitors to your municipality and bringing revenue to surrounding businesses.
Another obvious benefit is promoting healthy living. A disc golf round on an 18-hole course can consist of 2 to 3 miles of walking. It's a great way for people in your community to stay active. Because it's generally free to play a course and getting a few starter discs is fairly inexpensive, many people who live around the course will start playing and get their friends and family involved.
Another benefit, that is somewhat new to the sport, is the opportunity to make a living off of disc golf. The top disc golfers in the world are now making over $1 million a year! The Puget Sound area has some of the highest rated disc golfers in the world (Nate Sexton, Chandler Fry, James Proctor). Many professional disc golfers got their start because there was a course by their home growing up. Having more accessibility to courses in your city/county may produce the next millionaire disc golfer!
What happens after a course is built?
Ideally we would like to turn over courses to a local club to maintain. Local clubs would be in charge of hosting tournaments, leagues, maintenance, improvements, etc.. As NWDGA starts working with your municipality to build a course, we'll start forming relationships with the players in your area to help setup a disc golf club that will help us in the design and build of the course. Once NWDGA is done building the course, the local club will then take over responsibilities as they are members of your community. There is stronger stewardship of a local course when local players are involved. Board members of NWDGA may also be part of these local clubs, but not necessarily.
Is NWDGA a 501(c)(3)?
Yes, NWDGA is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. We are also a registered non-profit in Washington State.
How does NWDGA raise money to build courses?
We rely on donations of the disc golf community to help us achieve our dreams of building courses. We also work with businesses for donations, hold tournaments, hold leagues, and sell merchandise. Nobody on the board or committees are paid and our overhead is minimal, so a large portion of donations goes directly into building courses.