Disc golf has grown in popularity over the years, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic seems to have brought out more Frisbee-throwing enthusiasts.
Tom Marcus has run the Minnesota Amateur Disc Golf Championships at Kaposia Park in South St. Paul the last eight summers, but the ninth annual event Aug. 28-30 was his biggest field yet.
There were 200 spots open, and 200 entered.
“This has been a banner year for registration,” Marcus said. “I have gotten to expand the field a little. We have an influx of new players. The sport caters to a wide variety of age levels, but it’s usually male dominated. I think there’s more women playing this year, and it seems like more younger players are getting into it.
“It’s really weird how a pandemic is helping grow the sport,” he added.
The Shakopee Lion’s Club also got into the fun. It put on its first-ever disc golf tournament Aug. 22 at Lion’s Park. Board Member Matt Mulcahy was the chairman of the tournament, and he expected to get around 50 competitors registered.
There were more than 125 players in the field.
“I was pleasantly surprised that we got over 100,” Mulcahy said.
The event was a fundraiser for course improvements at Lion’s Park. The Shakopee Lions Club is a nonprofit organization that helps raise funds for the different projects, activities and organizations in the community.
The rules of the disc golf are governed by the Professional Disc Golf Association, which has seen more than a 200% growth in its membership in the past 10 years.
There were 1,145 courses in the U.S. by 2000. Today, there are more than 7,000.
Marcus’ amateur championships are sanctioned by the PDGA. The PDGA World Championships in Utah back in June had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, as well as its other three national championships.
The size of each event, including roughly 1,500 players for the world championships, made it too difficult to maintain COVID-19 guidelines.
Charlie Hutchinson has owned Gotta Go, Gotta Throw, a disc golf warehouse in Golden Valley, since 1995. He said his inventory has been flying off the shelves all summer long.
His business hasn’t even opened its doors yet. All of the sales coming from online orders and curbside pickup.
“It’s been super insane,” Hutchinson said. “At first, it was tough to build inventory back up. Every spring, when the weather breaks we get busy, but this year we’ve been busier.”
Hutchinson said his shelves are fully stocked, but that’s been difficult to do at times because the pandemic has been harder on the manufactures and the supply chains.
“It’s been a remarkable growth year, but we have had some years that were similar or close to it,” Hutchinson said. “The supply chain has been a mess. Some factories have had to shut down.
“Fortunately, we weathered that storm,” Hutchinson added. “We’ve never shut down, and we’ve been able to find the equipment we needed.”
The more mainstream disc golf has become, the better it is for business for Hutchinson. It’s also helped Marcus’ amateur championships grow.
Twin Cities Disc Golf has nearly 5,000 members on its Facebook page. It helps players find local leagues and tournaments. The Minnesota Frisbee Association has been around for more than 30 years, and it provides players information about courses, as well as tournaments and leagues.
So it’s not hard for a new player to quickly get involved into the action.
“It’s a great activity; you don’t need to be in a tournament to play,” Marcus said. “There are so many courses out there. It’s an easy game to learn and a lot fun to play.”