When most of us start playing disc golf, it doesn’t take long to notice an imbalance on the courses when it comes to the gender of the players. Disc Golf definitely seems to be a “guy thing” at first glance. Though the number of women players has increased through the years, we are still far from achieving parity. Though most tournaments have divisions for women, I’ve been present at tournaments and events where the winners within the female division is made up of every woman that showed up to play. They win by default, simply by virtue of their presence.
For example, I played in a small Ace Race event where my 11-year-old daughter won the women’s division, simply because she was the only female on the course that day. I’m not going to downplay that victory, because she was absolutely thrilled to have played, hit a couple short aces, and walked away with a prize. But there is no denying the imbalance.
The PDGA player demographics report for 2015 showed a huge difference between the number of registered males and the number of registered females, in the tune of 92.6% males to 7.4% females. That number is most likely exaggerated by the fact that many women players are more casual and less competitive, so they do not register with the PDGA. Still, the disparity is large and the PDGA is actively pushing on their website to involve more women.
Women who play professionally have done quite a bit in recent years to make their presence known and to lift the awareness of women on the disc golf courses. Players like the 2016 World Champion, Valarie Jenkins, or top female players like Catrina Allen, Page Pierce, and Sarah Hokom act as sort of disc golf ambassadors, attending events and turning heads across the country. That kind of exposure helps to motivate more women, both young and more mature, to jump into the game and feel like they can play on a larger stage if they have the desire and the motivation to work on theirs game.
Those high-profile players often come with the kind of brand sponsorship that really helps lift them to higher levels of competition. Manufacturers like Innova and Prodigy have reached out to women players, and the popular online retailer, Infinite Discs includes women (as well as a promising player in her early teens) as part of Team Infinite. Some players have started small businesses to promote women in disc golf and promote the image of female players, like the website DiscGolf4Women.com or WhaleSacs created by player, Tina Stanaitis of Portland.
Occasionally you’ll find hashtag trends pop up on social media like Twitter and Tumblr like #MoreWomenDiscGolfers or #discgolfgirls which show that there is a presence, and we definitely encourage those trends to continue.
Undoubtedly the upward growth will continue for women in disc golf, but for now, one of the only thing yet lacking when it comes to making the sport of disc golf even better is more women, at all ages, and all skill levels.
We welcome your comments about how to bring more women to the game, and why you think there are currently so many more men involved disc golf than there are women.