If you plan to spectate your first high-level disc golf tournament, you are in for a treat. There's nothing quite like being up close to witness the top players' skill, power, and sheer kinetic beauty. Video does not do it justice.
Back in the olden days, spectating a pro tour event was basically a free for all. You could just show up and walk onto the course. For local tournaments, this is still the case. Catching regional pros in action is free and straightforward. Just show up at the tournament grounds and stay out of the way.
But if you want to watch the best in the world, you'll need to gameplan. Here are some tips for spectating your first disc golf tournament.
Pro Tour events are always looking for volunteers to keep live scoring, a spot for the out-of-bounds lines, and help with crowd control. Not only will this give you a front-row seat for the action, but it will also save the ticket price and gain some extra perks like free food or tournament swag.
For more information about volunteering at a Pro Tour event, check out the tournament schedule and fill out the form through the “volunteer” link. For other events, contact the Tournament Director on the discgolfscene.com event page.
The good old days of showing up at an event and wandering onto the course free of charge are long gone. These days, the Disc Golf Pro Tour requires buying a ticket, and depending on the capacity of the course, they can sell out quickly.
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Tickets also have different tiers. The VIP passes that allow you to follow the lead and chase cards are limited. General Admission tickets are easier to acquire, but then you will be limited to certain areas. Mark your calendar when the tour schedule is posted to make sure you get the viewing experience you want.
When you do secure a ticket, scope out the event venue and assess the parking situation. It might pay off to get there early and avoid the stress of searching for a spot.
To avoid the big crowds, spectate on a Thursday or Friday. What you'll miss in drama, you'll make up for with a closer view. This is an especially good strategy if you want to meet the pros and get a disc signed after the round. It might be more difficult to get some face time with your favorite player on the final day.
Early in the first round is also a great spectating experience because it gives you a chance to walk the grounds and get a sense of the course flow. Keep a lookout for a great spot to post up and watch the later rounds.
For Pro Tour events, make sure to download the UDisc app to keep up with the action. It's easy to use and essential for spectating. UDisc will have a tent on site where you can volunteer to follow groups and keep score (just don't expect to get assigned to one of the lead cards). For non-Pro Tour events, the PDGA also has a live scoring tool.
Be Quiet and Stop Moving
There's a difference between playing your first disc golf tournament and watching a professional event. The pros are used to playing for a crowd, but there are two things that can ruin their concentration: sudden movement and unexpected noise. Be hyper-aware of whether you are in the background of a player's sightline, and if you are, stay still until they release the disc. Similarly, silence your phone and pause the commentary while they line up and throw their shot.
Once the disc is in the air, feel free to make some noise, but please, for the love of God, do not yell “GET IN THE HOLE!” after every shot. It's annoying. Nobody finds this amusing. Just don't do it.
Get Out of the Way
The closer you get to the action, the more likely it is for a stray disc to come flying your way. The pros throw hard, so keep your eyes peeled and your head on a swivel. There have been plenty of incidents over the years of spectators and their belongings being struck by a shot that would have otherwise ended up safely in the fairway. Don't be that guy/gal.
Furthermore, if a player's disc lands nearby, don't pick it up. Don't touch it. Just leave it be. Even if it is clearly out of bounds, they may need it as a reference point to determine where it went out.
To gear up for a long day on the course, bring some extra water, snacks, and whatever the weather might call for (umbrella, sunscreen, etc.). For sitting down, a collapsible camping chair is nice, but the more compact and mobile collapsible stool is even better. If you want a disc signed by a pro, pack a sharpie. There will be a tent set up where players sign discs after the round.
One item best left at home is a camera. Flash photography is strictly prohibited, and using a camera that makes a shutter noise is a major no-no. The camera on your phone should suffice, but live streaming the event is also frowned upon. Making recordings is perfectly fine.
Bring Extra Cash
Tournaments are a great opportunity to browse some unique and rare plastic. Sponsors often produce special runs that are only available at the event, and these often sell for a lot of cash on the secondary market. Plus, there’s sure to be a much bigger selection than your local brick-and-mortar retailer offers. At the very least, grab a tournament-stamped disc for a nice memento.