What We Know and Don’t Know about Disc Golf

A new method for studying the sport

By Josh Woods ~

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I’m not a fan of phrases like “close, but no cigar” and “close only counts in horseshoes.”

They make it sound like close is a bad thing. As if anything short of first place, anything other than perfection, anything besides certainty is a grave defeat.

Even Reese Bobby’s celebrated absurdity – “If you ain’t first, you’re last” – was debunked by Reese himself at the end of Talladega Nights.

Black-and-white thinking doesn’t work well as a sports mentality, and it’s even worse for science. Scientific research never leads us out of the grey, not entirely. At best, we merely increase our confidence in fundamentally questionable propositions. Continue reading “What We Know and Don’t Know about Disc Golf”

Why Do People Play Disc Golf?

A brief look into the psychology and sociology of disc golf.

By Josh Woods ~

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The other day my seven-year-old daughter asked me, “Why do people get married?”

I gazed into her curious brown eyes, knowing that my answer would not satisfy her. “Because they want to,” I said.

“Why do they want to?” She chirped, of course.

“Because it makes them happy,” I said.

“Why does it make them happy?”

I tried to explain that people get married for different reasons, that not everyone wants to, and that the reasons for getting married usually depend on where people live, when they live, and what the people around them think about marriage.

“I’m going to be a zombie bride for Halloween,” she said. And that was that. Continue reading “Why Do People Play Disc Golf?”

Three Reasons to Care about Disc Golf Research

By Josh Woods ~

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One of the questions you learn to answer in graduate school is, “Who cares?”

As you work through your research ideas, your teachers drum this question into you. For instance, after presenting your thesis proposal, someone in the audience might chirp: “Your project sounds interesting, but I’m not sure it passes the who-cares test.”

That’s as close as it gets to smack talk in academia.

As devilish as the question may be, it’s almost always worth answering. After all, if your research isn’t relevant to anyone, why carry it out? Continue reading “Three Reasons to Care about Disc Golf Research”

A New Study Estimates the Size and Demographic Characteristics of the U.S. Disc Golfer Population

By Josh Woods ~

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I’m thrilled to announce that the initial goal of Parked is finally gaining traction.

I’ve been working on academic research on disc golf for two years. I just received word that my first peer-reviewed journal article on disc golf will be published early next year in the International Journal of Sport Communication. Continue reading “A New Study Estimates the Size and Demographic Characteristics of the U.S. Disc Golfer Population”

The Future of ‘Golf’ May Not Be on the Links

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Photo credit: Jari Hindstroem

By Josh Woods~~

{This article appeared first in The Conversation}

Could disc golf become more popular than ball golf by 2028?

Ask disc golfers and they’ll say, “You bet – our sport is growing like crazy.”

But for most Americans, the answer is, “What’s disc golf?” And the typical ball golfer will likely respond, “No – and stop calling my sport ball golf.” Continue reading “The Future of ‘Golf’ May Not Be on the Links”

“Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair”

ESPN’s Recap of McBeth’s Historic Round Doesn’t Make Sense, But It’s Mindbogglingly Beautiful

By Josh Woods ~

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Not since Bob Dylan wrote “Desolation Row” has poetry like this flowed from the gumball world of popular culture.

Not since Matthew read W. H. Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks” in Four Weddings and a Funeral have the popular and the poetic been paired so neatly.

On the ninth of July 2018, having heard news of disc golf’s greatest round in history, ESPN’s SportsCenter held the nascent sport in its arms, raised it to the sky like Rafiki holding up baby Simba, bathed it in articulate spot light, and jammed Shakespeare in the background. Continue reading ““Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair””

Rise of an Unknown Sport (Part 3)

Disc Golf as Lifestyle Sport

By Josh Woods, PhD ~

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In this installment of “Rise,” I examine disc golf through the lens of Belinda Wheaton’s research on lifestyle sports.

“At least give the dog a chance to catch it first” – N.B.

“Sports is a reallllly loose term nowadays” – J.C.

“Not a real sport” – J.L.

These were just a few of the snippy comments posted on ESPN’s Facebook page when the media giant uploaded a video clip of Eagle McMahon’s 380-foot field ace at the Glass Blown Open in April 2018. By the end of June, the clip had received more than 14,000 likes, 5,200 shares, 2.3 million views and 4,000 comments. Continue reading “Rise of an Unknown Sport (Part 3)”

Disc golfer rescues boys from possible abduction attempt

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According to a news report posted on June 26th by a local TV station, a man attempted to abduct two boys who were riding their bikes near a public park in Bloomington, Indiana.

Per channel 13 WTHR:

The man apparently tried to lure the two five-year-old boys into the woods. But another man was playing disc golf nearby and saw the situation and felt something was not right. As the boys followed the stranger, the man playing disc golf approached the boys and the apparent abductor. The stranger ran off into the woods. Continue reading “Disc golfer rescues boys from possible abduction attempt”

Rise of an Unknown Sport (Part 2)

Disc Golf as Modern Achievement Sport

By Josh Woods ~

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Photo: Innova Disc Golf (NBC logo added)

Defining disc golf is like describing the taste of water. The task seems at once obviously possible and extremely difficult.

The hard part involves the utter plurality of what disc golf means to those who play it. As I argued in Part 1 of “Rise,” disc golf is not one thing, but many. Like Waldo’s world, its definition depends on where you look. Continue reading “Rise of an Unknown Sport (Part 2)”

31 Interesting Things about the 2018 PDGA Board Elections

By Josh Woods ~

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I have a confession. It’s terrible. I’m not kidding. It’s really bad. But here goes: At times, I’m a lazy, uninformed voter.

For one reason or another, I almost always make it to the voting booth, even for most local elections. But I rarely feel optimally educated on the candidates before casting my votes. Yep, I’m that annoying guy who’s holding up the voting line, because he’s doing last-minute research on his cell phone.

But, with the 2018 PDGA board elections coming this July, I thought I’d part ways with habit and start my research early. Continue reading “31 Interesting Things about the 2018 PDGA Board Elections”