Poll 49: Smoking on the course

With such a good discussion with our last poll, it seemed like a good time to tackle this subject.

And it is quite a hot topic.

Now, at some point down the line, we’ll cover the wacky tabacky. For this poll, we’re sticking with the legal stuff, such as cigarettes, pipes and cigars.

weekly_pollThis is quite the topic in many places and it can get emotional. So it’s understandable that there could be different sides and thoughts to this poll question.

But, we’ll hit that up in a moment. First, let’s revisit our last poll, when we asked you about bringing dogs on the course.

Though we didn’t get as many voters as we hoped, this really had a great discussion. So, before we get to the discussion, let’s see the poll results.

We asked if people should bring their dogs with them when playing a round of disc golf. This was extremely close with 76 voters (52 percent) saying yes and 69 (48 percent) saying no.

So it seems like people are slightly in favor of it.

It should be noted that this discussion, when it comes to PDGA-sanctioned events, is irrelevant. In section 3.1 of the PDGA Competition Manual, it notes:

D. Animals, with the exception of accredited service animals, may not accompany players during competition.

So this basically turns into a discussion about non-sanctioned tournaments and casual play.

As noted before, the discussion was pretty solid on this poll. So it would definitely be worth checking out all responses for this poll as we only put a few in this post.

Let’s see what some people had to say:

Trevor T notes:

I think the opinion comes down to where people want to see the sport. I think that when people bring their dog out to play disc golf it kind of takes away from the professionalism of a growing competitive sport. If people want to see the sport become well known we need to show that we are serious. Bringing a dog makes the sport a little more casual and we need professionalism to make the sport more respected in the eye of the public.

This is an interesting argument for sure. And there’s probably a good chance that this one might be split a little, too. Some people may want it to remain more casual.

Joel Winicki said:

I’d love to bring my dog for exercise as much as anybody else, but out of respect for other players…..I don’t. It’s no different than bringing your dog on the ball golf course. People that don’t know your dog have to wonder if he/her is going to make a sudden movement while they’re teeing off or putting. So even the best behaved pooches can create a little cause for pause on the course. Bottom line…..it’s not fair to other players. I take my dog out for exercise on my time…..for the record, I am a dog lover!

The disc course vs. ball course argument, while understandable, is a little tough to do. The majority of ball golf courses aren’t set up like disc courses (in public parks, free etc.), so there’s usually not other activities going on etc. It’s a good thought, though, and you bring up other good points — sudden movements etc.

Ben said:

I voted no. Dogs are great, but I have noticed that many dog owners have a warped view of how well-behaved their pets are. Owners tend to fail to take into account how the difference in venue and introduction of the stimuli of strange people, noises, and quick movement may affect their pets when away from home. Even the most well-trained dog can have a hard time remembering its instruction in a busy park with strangers and flying discs everywhere, and it only takes one slip-up and chewed prize disc to ruin a round. After watching countless dogs exhibit the exact misbehavior their owners claim to have corrected, it’s just best if Rex stays home.

This is probably a major point in this argument — how well a pet is behaved. The reality is, some people don’t like dogs or get easily spooked. One movement is enough for a non-dog person to get freaked out. This leads into the enjoyment of the game. If somebody else isn’t enjoying the game because another brought the dog along, the line needs to be drawn.

Jimmy said:

I am a dog owner. My pup is 13 months old and went disc golfing with me for the first time when he was 10 weeks old. I mostly take him out for solo rounds and he has been trained how to act on a course. When I throw, he lays down and watches or chews on his stick that he carries. He gets treats to encourage this behavior, and plenty of water on the course. He now does this when out with the club also. No dog is perfect (mine included!), but between the training and being on his leash there are no issues with him taking off towards people. And he also has no interest in Frisbee or discs for obvious reasons. He chases tennis balls or his sock monkey. In one of the clubs I disc with, half of the members have dogs. When we are discing, there are usually 2 or 3 dogs in the group as long as they are allowed on the course. All are leashed and cleaned up after.

There are some important things you note — solo rounds, dog is trained for the course, dog lovers and owners in a club. This all seems to lend to bringing dogs with you. If it’s OK with everyone else (or yourself) and the situation is good for it, then all is good. The unfortunate part is it’s pretty likely not all dogs have been trained for the course.

Josh Winn said:

I voted yes. To the folks making the comparison about not taking their dogs to a ball golf course: That is not a good comparison. Ball golf courses are private. Most disc golf courses are in public parks where dogs are usually allowed to be anyway. Having dogs on a course is not taking anything away from having our sport be a “legitimate sport” what so ever. We are playing in parks people. If there was a pick up softball game at the park do you think people would be saying that the dog is taking away from how “serious” softball is?

The part about the ball course vs disc course is a good point. However, having dogs on rounds of, say, a major, wouldn’t do well for the image to non-disc golfers. On a casual round, not so much and the point is definitely valid. But the softball argument isn’t the best comparison, either, as softball is a former Olympic sport and you haven’t seen dogs out running the bases with players. If there are dogs at softball games (even at rec league ones), it’s probably a safe bet they are leashed and with fans — not the players.

Ven Vardin noted:

I said yes only as long as a dog is on a leash and the owner(s) clean up after said dog. Even if a dog is well behaved the dog must be on a leash in a public park. The purposes of having a leash include allowing the animals that live in the park a dog free environment. Also you never know what weird event can occur that will cause even a well behaved dog to flip out. Keep that leash on for the animals. Thanks for letting me rant on something that really bugs me. I am a dog owner and am amazed that most owners don’t get this.

A leash and cleaning up is a big thing. Without these, the argument has a good chance at tipping the other way.

Ben H said:

To the people saying dogs shouldn’t be at sanctioned events – I have to confess that my dog regularly tags along with me, by way of her other owner, my girlfriend. If a caddy/friend/fan is walking a dog along with the card during a tournament, do you still think that should not be allowed? At the Victoria Open this past weekend my girlfriend and dog were with me for all three rounds and I didn’t have any verbal complaints from other players or the TD, etc.

The no dogs on sanctioned events isn’t really arguable. Animals are not supposed to accompany players. I don’t know if there’s a rule particular to fans with dogs, but if you are walking with your girlfriend for the full round, it’s possible somebody could likely call you on that. Will somebody? Who knows. But that’s leaving an open door if something happens. A rule is a rule when it comes to sanctioned tournaments.

Anyway, this was a great discussion and hopefully future polls get the same response. It’s nice to see the different thoughts of people.

And now to this week’s poll.

Smoking on the course.

Let’s first say this — no matter what the rules about smoking may be, engaging in illegal activity on the course should never happen. Therefore this poll does not deal with the smoking of illegal substances. This is about the legal ones.

This, too, is a hot topic. There are people who smoke. Most people will get that. But should they do it when playing disc golf? Does it interfere with other people’s enjoyment of the game or being outside?

But we’re going to take the casual rounds out of this. Because, usually, if you are playing a casual round, you are playing with friends etc. This is for tournaments and leagues (sanctioned or not).

Let’s be real here — this is a hot topic all over. Smoker’s rights vs. non-smoker’s rights and all that. Some people get ill by smelling it. Some are allergic. Some smokers are extremely courteous. Others are not. There are a ton of variables here. So, we ask you this one question:

Should people be allowed to smoke while playing in leagues and tournaments?

Yes or no question. Elaborate in the comments below as it will likely be interesting to see people’s responses.

[poll id=”54″]

If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj@rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!


0 thoughts on “Poll 49: Smoking on the course

  1. I’m a nonsmoker and don’t care to be around it. That being said, we are playing outside, and if the one smoking is courteous to the others in the group, then let ’em smoke. It is important that they be careful not to litter – dropping butts on the course will probably gain more disapproval than the actual smoking itself.


  2. I am a non-smoker.My concern isn’t for how nasty my lungs are going to get from secondhand smoke (it would be a larger issue in an indoor space) or whether we are modelling healthy behavior to a younger generation, both of these things are valid bones of contention. Rather, I worry about fire hazards. Our course, for example, is set up in an old campground area in a desert climate where things get very hot and very dry. One of the last things I want to see is another forest fire in our city (the last one was ten years ago). If a player wants to smoke, designated and breaks areas would fill that need.


  3. Here in NC you are not allowed to smoke in public parks.. so right there is an automatic no. I have played a few tourneys and all of them have had no smoking.. except where it was allowed by the city, which was the parking lots. I don’t think smoking should be allowed. you don’t see ball golfers smoking while playing.


  4. So long as you are respectful of others and you take all your trash out with you it should be allowed. Don’t get me wrong when we get to the point where it is televised we should revisit the subject. While at the Worlds last year they said we could not smoke because we want to grow our image. I play Am. not Pro., I never saw the first camera or spectator, oh and we are often in the woods where nobody is around. I have no problem with not smoking during a round, when you show up with cameras, journalist and spectators. Some people are a little over sensitive, especially ex smokers. Now lets go out an have a good time doing what we love. Now shut up and throw.


  5. I’ll start off by saying I simply don’t like the smell of smoke. It’s unappealing and it sticks to you even if you don’t smoke. That being said, I still think smoking should be allowed in tournaments and leagues. The reason a lot of people get into disc golf is due to the relaxed atmosphere at the course and for smokers, that is part of their routine I guess. Of course, if someone in the group has a breathing problem or a legit reason as to why they don’t wanna be around smoke, I would hope the smokers would also respect that.


  6. Although I’m a non-smoker I think people should have the right to smoke as long as they A.) don’t throw their butts on the ground and B.) are respectful of others AND the surroundings. I know a few smokers and they generally smoke while they are not around the flight, which is fine with me. Now, if it’s a wooded course and in July when fire season is high, then please don’t smoke if it’s not safe.

    They also need to make sure they are not breaking the law as some parks have adopted a smoke-free mentality. I don’t want to see a course pulled or shut down because some yahoo needed his fix. 🙂

    Bottom line: This is America. Feel free to kill yourself slowly. Just don’t be an idiot about it.


  7. I hope that I don’t start a nuclear war by saying this and full disclosure I am a non-smoker. First of all as a med student I am obligated to say that if you smoke you should stop, it is harmful to your health, does cause cancer, and will kill you. However, smoking is acceptable but in the right time and place. I feel that if someone needs to smoke do it on their own time before, after or on a break during the tournament and away from those who don’t smoke. It is generally inconsiderate to smoke around those who don’t, mostly because those who don’t smoke don’t because of health reasons so why subject others to something against a choice and wish that they have clearly made. I am not saying you can’t smoke in a public park or on the disc golf course, just please put the butts in the proper receptacles and be courteous to others.


  8. In reality I’m fine with people smoking during a round, I would prefer the were down wind from me and had the courtesy to assess the wind for their smoking as closely as they would for disc selection and line for their throw, but ultimately its not that bothersome. However, disc golf needs to grow, especially with youth. The more 10-16 year olds get hooked on disc golf the better, but if I were a parent I would be very cautious to allow my children into an environment that is so pervasively populated by substances such as tobacco, alcohol (which is prohibited during tourney rounds), and especially the illegal stuff. The first place to start is the sanctioned tourneys, this is where the public face of disc golf lies, if the PDGA prohibits all substances that cannot be consumed by all participants, then it would be a better environment. If children and young adults are to be shepherded into the sport for its growth and prolific future, then smoking and other forms of tobacco should be banned.


  9. I’m a non-smoker mainly because of what I’ve seen it do to my dad. That being said, I voted yes. Although I voted yes I think it should be up to the other players in the group…no majority needed (if one says no it’s a no). The smell of smoking is usually nasty and can sometimes throw off my game because the smell is so strong that its hard to concentrate. At that point it is almost a kind of courtesy violation in my mind.


  10. I am a non-smoker and voted no. However, I agree with what others have said. The number of cigarette butts on the ground at many disc golf courses is shameful and that is my biggest objection to smoking. If someone wants to smoke, is mindful of keeping the smoke away from me, and takes their trash out with them I don’t mind it. My other concern is simply obeying park rules. The course where I play in Colorado is in a public park and is clearly signed as a non-smoking course. Yet the majority of players on the course smoke and drop their butts. So what message does that send?


  11. I agree with some of the above sentiment. I’m not a smoker and the healthcare worker in me prefers no one smokes, ever. Having said that, I have no issue if a smoker lights up, provided they are curteous with their smoke and being very diligent about cleaning up their butts. I would like to see an option where smokers could light up, but extinguish upon request. I would personally request that they extinguish the first time a butt hit the ground.


  12. Smoke’em if you got’em. As a non smoker, who am I to tell someone that they can’t “enjoy” their cancer-stick? The courses don’t belong to me, they belong to us, we all should be free to enjoy the amenities as we please.

    If you don’t like the smoke, stand up wind when possible or ask the smoker to mind his/her exhales as a courtesy. But really, when outdoors how bad is smoke?

    The only thing that concerns and gets to me is when a smoker tosses his/her butts all over the course. Pack it in, pack it out! I live in a city/state that has been plagued with extreme drought and wildfires, so when I see an ASS drop his/her butts on a course that pisses me off. not only is a littered course unsightly but just imagine a scorched course or the unfortunate folks neighboring the courses/parks who could lose homes, family members, pets, etc if a uncontrollable fire is ignited due to a smokers carelessness?


  13. I’m a non-smoker and an asthmatic, to boot. If I were to smoke, I’m certain that I’d have the lung capacity of a mosquito.

    Being asthmatic, I can’t be around people who smoke for extended periods of time. If I do, it starts to affect my lungs and that affects my ability to play the sport I love. I don’t have any qualms with politely asking smokers to butt out during a round, and most of the time, they’re courteous enough to accept my request.


  14. I’m a former smoker myself, and the reason I think smokers should be allowed to smoke during league play is that the smokers I play with every week are very conscientious about littering. They put their cigarettes out and pack the butts to carry out, and when they see other people’s carelessly-tossed cigarette butts, they pick them up.

    As long as I don’t see people using the course as an ashtray, let them smoke their cigarettes.


  15. Interesting that the overwhelming response is from the non smokers. And also interesting the vehemence with which they spew their rhetoric. You’re outside people, OUTSIDE! Self-righteous intolerance is the worst. Of course the governing body is certainly within its scope to dictate a smoking policy and and consistent enforcement of a non-smoking policy makes it a non-issue.

    But in the meantime, live and let live, move up wind.


    • If I pee in your coke (or beer, whichever you prefer while on the course), you have a choice to drink or not. Can you control the direction of the wind? I have no choice when the wind shifts just as you blow.


  16. I have never smoked. If you have a legal product, are legally allowed to smoke where you are, and do not litter, then who am I to stop you? If the tournament or league strictly forbids it, follow the rule like we do all the other rules. Otherwise smokers can enjoy their product.


  17. I am a non-smoker and dislike cigarette smoke, but voted “Yes” they should be allowed to smoke (but not in the clubhouse/pavilion). However, I am not afraid to ask a player to stand down-wind while smoking. Our local club has a no littering policy as part of their tournaments, and this includes cigarette buds. I feel that this is the correct compromise. Respect all players and the course.


  18. I don’t mind smokers too much, as long as it’s not a distraction to the rest. Second hand smoke can be avoided outdoors with little effort from the smoker. There aren’t that many smokers, of tobacco, anymore, and usually one in a group isn’t an issue. Sometimes though most are smoking, then all bummimg cigs from each other, all looking for a light…you know what I mean.!
    What I hate is butts littering the land, when you can just roll it up and stick it in your pocket. Not just the butts and filter, then it’s the box, or shiny wrappers, sometimes ALL OVER the tee areas.
    I can’t see outlawing smoking in the great outdoors, although it;s happening all over.
    I think litterers, should be attacked by dogs unleashed on the course!


  19. I’m a non smoker. As long as park and tourney/league rules permit it, then it’s fine by me. While I loathe cigarette smoke, I tend to find more beer bottles and cans out there anyway. Just be courteous and responsible and everyone can have fun!


  20. Pros often say that they would like the sport to be taken seriously. I don’t know of any other sport where athletes smoke during play. If pro disc golfers want to be considered athletes, they should act accordingly.

    I watched a top pro disc golfer at a tourney for 4 holes. I wanted to watch and learn from his game. But his (and another pro’s) chain smoking was getting to be too much for me. The final straw was seeing the lit cigarette one of them left burning on the ground as they moved to hole 5. I guess he forgot … I moved on to watch another card. My opinion of this particular “athlete” dropped markedly from this experience.


  21. I can’t even believe this is up for discussion.

    Do hockey players, basketball players, soccer players or football players smoke on the sideline?

    In addition to being bad for your health, it does absolutely nothing for the image of the sport. It should be banned in tournaments – especially those that will be visible to the public.


  22. I am a smoker, and I always use discretion when I smoke during a round. I am respectful of non smokers and do it away from them and I always pick up my butts. It is bad habit I do not wish it on anyone. I never smoke around kids. Basically if your group is not in disgust and is okay with it then it should be allowed. I could see this going either way and would support the decision to ban smoking during all sanctioned events.


  23. I had been playing for about 3 months when I came across my first smoldering pile of dry pine needles, yes my first. The next time was about a year later. I have only been playing on official courses for 2.5 years and can’t wait to see if I’ll find another butt smoldering in the grass this summer to complete the hat trick. Each time I was able to find the offending butt. Those were casual rounds though.

    At a distance driving class put on by team innova with the Champ and Feldburg was supposed to be smokeless but quickly deteriorated when the smoke free zone was violated by one of the instructors. Again, not sanctioned. At least it was wet and the butts were thrown into the fire meant to warm the crowd.

    At sanctioned events I have seen more smoker groups than not so most feel free to light up whether or not there are non smokers close, majority rules right? Best I can do is ask and risk looking like a jerk for being the only smokeless individual on the card. So who’s more distracting, me or the rest of the group?


  24. I am a Finnish discgolfer but I think the situation is pretty much the same in Finland as it is in USA. The sport is growing very fast and there are probably the same precentage of players who smoke and who don’t.

    I voted no because I think smoking and sports just don’t not mix. Some voters have already said that you don’t see any other athletes smoke while they are playing their sport and I think that is a valid point but I have another one.

    Disc golf is becoming more popular and there are huge demand on new courses. The public image of the sport is very important when you are trying to convince the land owners or decision makers of your area give their land for a disc golf course. If there is a conception that smoking is very common among disc golfers people against new courses can use that as an argument. Smoking gives bad example to kids who are playing, littering is an issue as is the hazard of forest fires. Smoking just gives a wrong signal.


  25. I’m surprised to see no one mention electronic cigarettes. I was one of the first group to start this trend in our area, and it’s AMAZING to see how quickly smoking golfers have switched over. Not only for health reasons, but because it reduces both the environmental impact (littering) and the impact on others (very little smell).

    I was frustrated to see electronic cigarettes specifically mentioned in the PDGA smoking rule, since it has cut down on littering on our courses AND has improved our overall golfing atmosphere.

    I, personally, as a golfer and as the TD of our tournaments, will never penalize someone for smoking outdoors, and I’ll be truly disappointed if the PDGA applies this rule to lower-tier tournaments.


  26. I’m a non smoker, but I don’t see a problem with smoking on the course. In an open area second hand smoke isn’t really an issue, and for the most part, people arguing against it are simply lobbying to enforce their preference upon others. The arguments against fires and littering are valid, but they aren’t outlawing smoking to prevent these things, just asking that people be more responsible with their butts. As golfers we can help police one another on this to clean up the game and prevent potential fires, we should be already out of respect to the parks that provide us space to play for free. I think in general players should be more concerned with improving the reputation the sport in general and clean up issues with littering, vandalism, and drug use. I’d even include alcohol use at parks and courses that prohibit it’s use, even though I enjoy the occasional beer on the course, as I do when I ball golf. I also clean up my empties and any others I see along the way. If everyone is responsible and respectful to the park and other players, it’s a non factor in my opinion.


  27. I voted yes. I skipped reading most of the responses, fearing it would raise my blood pressure, similar to the last poll about dogs. When we play disc golf, we are outside and we are uncovered. People should be allowed to smoke outside – period. There is plenty of fresh air outside and it circulates even in windless conditions (think about automotive exhaust). Any smoker needs to dispose of cigarette and cigar butts appropriately, as littering is a crime. Smokers get a bad rap in a lot of instances, and I feel they are often persecuted unfairly.

    Some of the arguments above about harmful effects of second-hand smoke may be valid, but perhaps the long-term ill effects on non-smokers are similar to people who are allergic to pet hair or pet dander and encounter dogs in public, or people who have severe peanut/nut allergies and encounter those products in restaurants or grocery stores.

    For the record, I am a non-smoker and have been my whole life, save for a short period of casual cigar-smoking fifteen years ago. I worked in healthcare for over ten years and my mother-in-law worked for a cancer research center for over fifteen years. I feel I have a pretty good idea of health risks to smokers and non-smokers. I mean no disrespect to anyone.


  28. I’m a non smoker and have to say I would rather people not smoke while playing. I’m asmatic and allergic to tobacco so when I smell it at all my lungs constrict and I start to feel sick. Not just the smoke in the air but on the clothes etc.
    Like people have said previously, if you want to keep up the image that disc golf is a professional sport then they need to act like the other sports.
    Most courses are on public parks and ask that you don’t smoke but that is always thrown away when playing for some reason……
    I guess watching my father pass away from smoking related illnesses puts a sour taste in your mouth about smoking.


  29. Look on the ground at ANY TEE PAD in America and what do you see? Thousands of cigarette butts. It is the most common form of litter. If it is dry season then smoking is a fire hazard.


  30. Pingback: Poll 50: Booze during tournaments

  31. I see you included my comment from the last poll about my girlfriend accompanying me with our dog at tournaments. She did the same thing at Texas States where I played intermediate this past weekend. Again, I did not get any trouble from anybody. Maybe it bothered some players but they didn’t say anything? I don’t know. I did have several people I played with ENJOY my dog Lucy with us on the course.

    – Ben


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