For me, getting more women to play and compete in disc golf has been a personal goal from the beginning. During my disc golf years, I have organized for example training sessions and many official as well as unofficial events for women only. In addition, 2019 is my third year as a member of the Women’s committee of the Finnish Disc Golf Association.
In 2018 I wanted to try out something new, and with the help of my team mate Mike and the financial support from the NBDG, we set up a series of single-round PDGA events for women. My purpose was to have something as relaxed as weeklies for the ladies, but with ratings. I wanted to organize the events during weekdays, as the season is very short here in Finland, and often the weekends are already full of other disc golf events or even other life (yeah, I don’t know what that could be, either). I wanted to involve more ladies in the organizing side as well, so I asked around for helping hands. They were so many available that we ended up organizing 11 events altogether within just two months! Organizing a league was out of question, mainly because it was impossible to pick one fixed weekday for all the events due to local weeklies. This selection meant dropping out the ladies without PDGA membership, but as there already was the unsanctioned, nationwide Lady Tour for all ladies, we saw offering the sanctioned events more important.
The schedule was pretty tight, at best we had two events per week, but it was clear to me from the start that there was a need for these kinds of events and that I would definitely organize the series again in 2019. We offered four different divisions with pros playing am: FA1, FA3, FA40 and FJ18. We had 43 ladies in total participating the single events and most of the times had participants in each division. In all the single events, we rewarded the winner of each division with a custom stamped disc and all participants received points according to their placement. In the end of the series, the best three scores were listed for all the players, and the best players received gift cards for their performance.
After we were done with the series, I opened a feedback form for all the ladies to fill in, whether they participated or not. We got lots of positive feedback and some good ideas on how to improve the concept the next time, and I started planning this year’s series immediately.
This year we set the series to consist of 9 one round events on weekdays topped up with a 2-round final on a Saturday in the end of the summer. We removed the division winner prizes, as it was really difficult to predict how many of those we’d actually need with the varying number of divisions with participants in each event. Also, the same people were winning several events, so getting numerous similar discs especially if you do not use that particular disc was not seen as the most reasonable option. Instead, we decided to raffle prizes according to the number of participants in each event, and put aside a fixed sum of each participation fee for the final prizes of the series. In addition, we added an extra division for the younger juniors (FJ15) and we are hoping to see participants in this division, too!
Our very first NBDG Ladies Series 2019 event was held on 15th of April at Kivikko DGP in cooperation with the local club Disc Golf Vikings. 15 ladies showed up to enjoy the most perfect Spring day on the Kivikko course. After the round and the necessary play-offs we raffled the prizes, and had the ratings updated for the event within 15 minutes after the end of the competition. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the round, the weather and the company. We will continue at Nummelanharju on May 2nd, right now we have 13 ladies signed up for this event!
Personally, I feel that organizing this kind of a series is totally worth it. The workload is not that big, especially if you get some people to help you. This is a very low-threshold event: unlike some events, it doesn’t take up the whole weekend, it is very relaxed, there are only women playing, it can be organized in an inexpensive way, and on top of it all, you get a rating for your round. Personally, I feel that this is a very easy way to get more women to play in PDGA sanctioned tournaments, and at the same time to act as TD’s. When a local course TD has the support of our crew, it is easier to step up and try it and see that it isn’t actually that hard. Maybe next time they are TDing, it will be at their own event. :)
To sum it up, if you want more ladies to attend PDGA events, try organizing these one-round events. And if you want more people - ladies or not - to act as TDs, offer them easy enough opportunities to try it out. This is how we grow the sport!
Have an amazing season & see you around the courses!