Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Beginners’ League

By: Denise Cameron

One of the best ways to help grow the sport in your area is to start a beginners’ league. Whether you are aiming to market it toward women, youth, or new players in general, here are some tips that worked for me to help get you started.

Try to pick a small, 9-hole beginner course to use. You can use flags to create new tees if a shorter course is not available to you. A shorter layout can be less intimidating to new players and offers a shorter time commitment.

Make your league free to play, but try to obtain some type of small prizes to give away. You can do a "CTP" (whoever gets closest to the basket from their tee shot on a particular hole) or a "long putt" (whoever sinks the longest putt on a particular hole). Reach out to your local disc golf community, club, or retailer to see if they would be willing to donate some beginner friendly plastic or other gear.
Make keeping score an option, but not a requirement. I always tell players they can play along and not count a single hole, but I often find that players decide to keep score anyway. Let players know that keeping score is a great way to track their progress as they continue to improve, but only if they feel comfortable.

For those that do choose to keep score, try awarding a prize to the player who beats their average by the most throws each week (I use a Google Doc on my phone to track stats and have it set up to automatically populate player's results when weekly scores are entered). Once a player has their first round logged, they are eligible for a prize at future league nights. This is great because it rewards the player who is most improved and makes even the less experienced players have a chance to "win" the night. I can not tell you how many times I have seen someone light up when they hear that they beat their averages by a certain amount of throws! This was the first type of league I ever played myself, and I found it to be very encouraging.

Find ways to make sure people know about your league by promoting it. Post a flyer at your local course and create a Facebook page with specific information that players can search out. If there is a local disc golf group page, you can post there to share information and remind people when league night is coming up. For my league, we have business cards that direct people to our Facebook group for more information.

Denise Cameron
Lastly, be consistent. Whether you choose to do a weekly or monthly league, make sure you continue to show up even if the participation is not as you had hoped.  We had very little participation during the first few years of my women's league  (partially because it took me a few years to learn and utilize some of the suggestions above), but we slowly started to see more and more participants as word got out and have had 30+ total participants come out to play the last few years.

Good luck and great job doing your part to grow disc golf!
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