This simple edict may be a gentle reminder about one’s priorities in life, but when reflecting on bringing more women to disc golf, Suzette Simons said she thinks it might be a means to continuing the sport’s growth.
Simons is a key member of the Southern California disc golf family. Through her work as the Membership Director of the Southern California Disc Golf Association (SCDGA), as well as her employment as Customer Service and Promotions Specialist for Innova Champion Discs, she said she understands what brings all players – women included – to the course.
“It seems most women come into the sport, just like most men, through friends and family,” Simons said. “Family play brings not only more women to the sport, but junior players as well. As more families play, more women will play.”
Since first trying disc golf in 1996, Simons has dedicated herself to her local scene, be it in Iowa where she first played, or in Minnesota, where she served for two years as president of the Minnesota Frisbee Association. At each depot in her disc golf life, she has always made time to give back to the community.
“I was hooked immediately, especially to the competitive side, including league and tournament play,” Simons said of her origins with the game. “I also became active right away volunteering with local clubs and running events.
“It is just my nature to volunteer.”
Her work in giving back to the game has centered mostly on attracting women and children to the sport through hosting clinics, tournaments, and league events. Simons’ desire to contribute also finds her on the PDGA Competition Committee and as a major supporter of EDGE, the Educational Disc Golf Experience that helps put the game in kids’ hands.
And while Simons is a competitive player by nature, she doesn’t necessarily see competition as a need for attracting women to the game.
“I am not sure it is necessary to pull recreational women into the competitive side of disc golf,” she said. “It would be great to have more women at leagues and tournaments. I love to be competitive and it drives me to get better, but not all women enjoy competition.”
However, Simons considers the interests of women who do want to compete when she hosts her own tournaments. She also encourages other tournament directors to do the same.
“Leagues and events need to be mindful of this,” she said. “Events can allow lower divisions to be less competitive with lower entries and flatter payouts, but don’t forget the Pro and Advanced women probably enjoy the competition.”
Simons’ employment with the largest disc golf manufacturing company also offers her another unique opportunity to shape the game outside of charitable efforts.
“Innova is very supportive of efforts to bring more women into the sport of disc golf,” Simons said. “Innova once supported my efforts. Now, through Innova, I get to help support other organizers working to increase women’s participation.”
Innova’s direct involvement with the PDGA-sponsored Women’s Global Event, which has seen the company offer support from discs to event promotion, is just one area in which she has seen her employer reach out to female golfers.
“Valarie Jenkins and the PDGA Women’s Committee have done an excellent job organizing this inaugural event,” she continued. “Innova is supporting the event through a donation of 500 custom stamped Champion Mambas to the player packages, as well as providing direct support to many individual events.”
Simons’ drive and generous spirit have not gone unnoticed in Southern California, where, according to fellow SCDGA board member Bill Maury-Holmes, she has been the glue holding much of the community together.
“She has been a tireless worker for running quality tournaments in Southern California,” Maury-Holmes said. “She and Vicki Wisecup, since Tim (Selinske, SCDGA and Innova co-founder) passed a couple years ago, have carried it.”
Maury-Holmes also added that Simons is respected not only as a tournament director or volunteer, but as a top player.
“I think she just gets everybody involved,” he said. “She plays top level competitive golf.”
Outside of the competitive realm, though, is where Simons focuses much of her energy. Her contributions continue to make a mark, even if, as Maury-Holmes noted, she is reticent to accept recognition for it.
Indeed, her modesty shines through in her work. Simons said she does not feel a responsibility as a long-time player to promote the game, but instead that it simply is in her bones.
“I don’t volunteer because I am a veteran player, I volunteer because it is my nature,” Simons said. “I want to grow the sport for all players, not just women.”
Because of the breadth of her work, Simons has interacted with all kinds of people in the game. As the amount of women playing has grown, she has noticed that most men seem to embrace this expansion with open arms.
“Most male players are excited to see more women playing,” Simons said. “Most players are very respectful of women players.”
Simons did, however, offer some constructive criticism for men who want to make the disc golf course a more welcoming environment for women.
“Many of the rules and customs of disc golf are second nature to men, as they may have more experience playing sports,” she said. “They need to have a little extra patience with the women players and provide as much encouragement as possible.”
And even if there are women who are still undecided about if they want to check out the sport, Simons offered analogies to other sports where competition does not need to be the end game.
“I can’t bowl very well, but I still have fun going with friends and family,” she said. “Same goes for disc golf. It is easy to learn. The more you play, the better you get and the more enjoyable it becomes.”
On the Web:
- Disc Golf for Women – http://www.innovadiscs.com/home/disc-golf-for-women.html
- EDGE Tournament Charity Program – http://www.edgediscgolf.org/files/EDGE_Tournament_Charity_Info.pdf
Interested in starting a women’s league in your area? You can e-mail Simons for information or help.
Steve Hill covers all angles of the game for Rattling Chains, even if he can’t hit those angles himself. Is there a disc you want him to review? Contact him at steve [at] rattlingchains.com and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.