With all the planning and plotting out of the way, the PDGA’s Women’s Global Event is set.
On Saturday, 41 events around the world will take place in conjunction with the Women’s Global Event. Nearly 600 ladies have pre-registered for the event and walk-ups will likely push the number to well beyond 600.
This event could be a crowning achievement for women’s disc golf and the PDGA.
“All of the PDGA events are important,” said Sara Nicholson, the PDGA’s membership manager. “This one will make the biggest ‘field’ of women competing against each other during one event, so this is definitely one for the history books.”
The concept of the event, though it may seem extremely complicated, is actually pretty straightforward.
Women from all over the globe will play two rounds of disc golf at a local event. The scores are submitted to the PDGA and rated. Those ratings equal the “global score.” Two rounds must be played on the same course and layout and include at least five players (male or female) in the field with a rating of 800 or higher. That works to keep the ratings in the event consistent.
Scores and ratings will be updated throughout the day Saturday and eventually will crown an overall champion.
That equals a ton of work, but in the end this could be a massive step for women’s disc golf. As of Thursday night, 597 women were pre-registered for the event.
“It’s about participation,” touring professional Sarah Hokom said. “Get as many women as possible out there competing as one force. This is a huge thing and I think it will be epic.”
Getting something like this together isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. After all, it’s a situation where it requires many tournament directors to get their information in fast so the scores can be updated throughout the day.
The idea came to fruition quickly.
In December, three-time world champion Val Jenkins was asked to serve as the PDGA Women’s Committee chairperson. Because of her involvement with promoting women’s disc golf and her website DiscGolf4Women.com, it seemed like the right match.
“I was absolutely on board,” Jenkins said. “But, of course, we knew we had a big challenge ahead of us.”
One month later, Rebecca Duffy — who was elected the first female PDGA president in April — presented Jenkins with some ideas of a women’s tour and other ways to improve involvement. Jenkins said she knew the ideas were strong, but she said they had to start from square one, which meant getting women on the course.
From some ideas developed through Facebook, Jenkins said she suggested running a Women’s Global Event. With Duffy on board, Jenkins said the two started planning the event on that same phone call.
The event came together after that and then came the promoting.
Jenkins said after creating the rest of the Women’s Committee, which included ladies from four different regions in the United States — Emma Rose Hanley (Oregon), Stephanie Vincent (Texas), Erin Oakley (Michigan) and Nicholson (Georgia), they started to publicize in broad fashion.
“With the help of these women, we were able to promote this event nationally and globally by reaching out to women’s disc golf supporters,” Jenkins said. “We have created a great database to use for future Women’s Committee missions.”
The PDGA, too, has been helpful, Jenkins said. That includes passing the original player’s pack deadline to provide nearly 500 packs for registered players.
As for spreading the word, in this day and age, the ladies went where it might reach the masses quickly.
“Social media was huge for us with this event,” Nicholson said. “As it is with everything these days. We also could not have grown this event as big as it is without the support of all the local women players and clubs from the various locations where these events are being held.”
That attack worked. Nicholson said the 41 events are being held in 24 states and three countries.
Many of these events could take on a different look, too. They may have a different feel then a normal tournament.
Take for example, the Daisy Chains tournament, which is being held in the Santa Cruz area in California.
Though not wanting to give away all her secrets, tournament director Christine Hernlund said she has some fun things planned for players. Some of the details include a local business woman, Kris Kirby, donating time and material for banners and is also making everyone fresh strawberry shortcake at lunch.
There will be prizes for different achievements, such as the “most metal” in each round, given to the woman who hits the basket the most without the disc going in the basket. Many people are also donating time and money for a big lunch.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three players in each division, including the recreational division. Hernlund said it’s hard to attract three women in each division normally, so it’s rate to actually get a prize for third.
Finally, she said most cards will have scorekeepers — men who have donated money to get to walk around all day with a card of ladies. These men will keep score and also help with spotting or whatever else the group might need.
And there’s more — but Hernlund was tight-lipped on the rest. One thing is for sure, it seems many of these tournaments are getting that “women’s touch,” which could make the event become more and more successful.
“I’m looking forward to a tournament like this,” said Hokom, who noted she’ll be playing in the Daisy Chains event. “It’s going to be fun. It’s imperative for us to have tournaments like this. It has to grow.”
Planning an event like this doesn’t come without some hiccups, however. Jenkins said she’s already looking forward to next year.
“We have discovered all the kinks this first year and will work to provide a smoother registration for events and players,” she said. “With that said, being the first year it is overwhelming to know that we are setting the bar with (more than) 500 registered players. This is the seed we have planted, and we look forward to seeing how big it will grow.”
The event, too, will give women golfers the chance to match themselves up with others around the world — something they might not always have the chance to do. It’s also a good way to get others involved.
“The hopes for this event are to get new women excited and involved with disc golf, while giving the women that were already playing a chance to see how they measure up against women from all over the world,” Nicholson said. “Many female disc golfers end up playing in tournaments in a division with just themselves because there are no other female disc golfers in their area. This event is an easy way for them to compete against other women without having to travel. Many female disc golfer have no idea how good they really are because they’ve never had a chance to compete against a field of other women.”
Despite the event not happening until Saturday, Jenkins said she thinks it’s already a success.
” At first we were aiming for 200 women, and honestly, I thought this was a stretch,” she said. “The closer our first deadline came the more realistic 200 became. By the time we saw the registration update, the registration number went from 180 and nearly doubled in a weekend. Right there, I was awestruck by the amount of support we have received from all the women.”
This event, also helps women get out and play and its importance goes beyond normal boundaries. It also eliminates three issues Jenkins said hamper women from playing in tournaments — too far to travel, entry fees are too high and many women can’t take two days away from family/work.
“I think has really opened doors because it has eliminated the excuses that have prevented women from playing in tournaments in the past,” she said. “This is also a great introduction for women who have never played a tournament before.”
Nicholson said the importance of the event is something she hopes carries well beyond the day of the event. Especially with the amount of tournaments, players and volunteers.
“The dream with this event is to grow the participation of women in our sport,” she said. “If this event can successfully do that, then I would be willing to say this event will go down as one of the most important events in the history of women’s disc golf and the PDGA.”
The other thing Nicholson noted was the seven percent statistic — that is just seven percent of PDGA-registered players are women.
“I would love for the PDGA to increase the female participation from seven percent to 30 percent by the end of 2012,” she said. “I realize this is a stretch since we are already in May, but I’m not giving up the dream.”
P.J. Harmer is the lead blogger for Rattling Chains. If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!