By Tim Engstrom — Special to Rattling Chains
All players of disc golf are somewhat ambassadors for the sport, me included.
We are quick to say how inexpensive the sport is when we list the reasons it is a wonderful game. And it’s true — it is an inexpensive sport. But let’s face it, costs can add up.
It starts off at a cheap price. You buy a $9 low-grade disc and go throw it at a park with no pay-to-play fee. Soon, you realize you want more discs. So, you buy a putter, a driver and a mid-range.
Then, as you get better, you realize you need more discs for various shots. You buy an understable disc to throw anhyzers, and an overstable mid-range to bend around corners. Perhaps you try a different putter or maybe you want to get that more expensive plastic like your buddy now has.
Oh, and you just have to replace that disc you lost. Soon, you’ll need a shoulder bag to tote all these discs.
Despite the investment, it’s still a cheap sport. The course is free. The collective investment in plastic saucers cost less than equipment for most sports, short of soccer and basketball.
Eventually, you get kind of good. You go play in local leagues because you want to learn how to throw even better from those guys and gals. What used to be your overstable plastic is no longer overstable because you learn to throw farther, harder, more accurately and smoothly. Now you need some new drivers.
Heck, half of the discs you used to throw now just sit idle in your house.
In addition, every week people have this conversation — “Hey, check out this disc.”
Whether it’s a limited run or a new model or even a new plastic, suddenly, you have disc envy. You want to try that disc, too. You buy it. Soon, it is sitting in your house with the other useless discs. Five months later, you pick it up again, because you need to throw something over water and figure it can be lost, but then it becomes a favorite disc and you never want to lose it.
By this time, your sweetheart saw you needed a bigger bag and bought you one for Christmas. And you use birthday money to buy disc golf shoes, a hat and maybe even a cool shirt.
Don’t forget travel.
Ball golfers are notorious for swinging clubs at the same old course day in and day out. Disc golfers, on the other hand, have this innate desire to travel to other courses. That incurs expenses of gas, food, refreshments and, at times, pay-to-play fees.
And with the travel and playing all these courses, it convinces you to compete in tournaments. Now you are paying entry fees, too. Then you want to play in the winter, so you need snow pants.
So, let’s review — discs, discs and more discs. Bags, footwear, outerwear, travel and fees. Phew!
Suddenly to realize something — paying entry fees actually becomes a bargain. You don’t win all the time, but when you do, the cash or vendor credit you earn becomes the means by which you purchase new discs and supplies.
You can easily budget for the expense, go enjoy the competition and anything you win becomes the way you get new stuff.
Suddenly, it could also matter for you to attend tournaments where payouts go several places, giving you the chance to reap a reward. Sometimes, tournaments take your money and give it to touring pros. In the push-and-pull of tournament directors attempting to attract top talent versus holding a fun time for all, some TDs favor the talent when they should consider what makes the sport successful.
In the end, spreading the winnings around is good for keeping the nature of disc golf inexpensive.
Tim Engstrom is an amateur disc golfer based in Albert Lea, Minn. He is part-owner of NorthStar Disc Golf.