Over the weekend, a disc golf shot landed at No. 1 on SportsCenter’s top plays. Later this summer, disc golf will return to the worldwide leader, as the Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) looks to capitalize on the sport’s pandemic-fueled growth. The Tour’s Portland Open will be covered on a two-hour show Aug. 4, with additional programming coming later this year.
While the sport previously appeared on ESPN’s offbeat “The Ocho” special, last year the Tour asked for and received more traditional time in November. The Tour’s Disc Golf Network will produce the broadcast, backed by in-sport advertisers hungry to reach new players. The Portland Open show will be sponsored by equipment provider Dynamic Discs.
“This contract shows that, in regards to national broadcasting, disc golf is not just a filler for a lack of pandemic sports programming,” DGPT CEO Jeff Spring said in a statement.
Disc Golf app UDisc estimated that rounds played were up 250% from January 2020 to January 2021. Spring said the professional scene has decades of history since the sport first took off in the 1960s, unlike other emerging sports. College and amateur programs are now developing as well. There are currently nearly 10,000 disc golf courses in the U.S., with 70% opening over the last decade.
“Disc manufacturers are our biggest partners,” Spring said. “National broadcasts are a way for these advertisers, our partners, to get the word out. They’re helping to fund these productions because they want these ads.”
Still, Spring said the Tour is being mindful about giving broadcasters too much content, including exclusive or live shows, as it builds its own media business around free YouTube videos and its subscription-based Disc Golf Network. Launched in 2020, DGN attracted 15,000 subscribers at $10/month or $75/year, with plans to hit 30,000 this year, according to Spring. “We’re cautiously offering our content to national broadcasters,” he said. “It’s important in some ways. In other ways, we’re protective of what’s working.”