PDGA, WFDF hoping to return disc golf to the Games in 2025
January 24, 2022 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with comments
In 2001, the sport of Flying Disc was introduced to the World Games, a quadrennial international sporting event featuring non-Olympic sports. Both disc golf and ultimate frisbee were on the program in Akita, Japan; Barry Schultz and Juliana Korver took gold.
The World Games remains the most prestigious international tournament in ultimate, and eight countries are set to compete in the sport’s sixth appearance at the Games in this year’s pandemic-delayed event in Birmingham, Alabama. Disc golf, though, never returned to the program after its lone appearance in 2001.
That could be changing. Disc golf is reemerging at this summer’s World Games as a “demonstration sport,” a promotional opportunity and a stepping stone towards getting disc golf back into the Games in 2025 in Chengdu, China.
“We felt like this was the best opportunity to get disc golf back in front of the World Games decision makers,” said PDGA Director of Membership and Growth Brian Graham.
Disc golf will have a presence in the athlete village throughout the Games and will feature daily demonstrations of putting, closest-to-the-pin, and distance contests, usually during breaks of other sporting events in the Games. Charlie Mead, the chair of the World Flying Disc Federation’s (WFDF) disc golf committee, said that the plan is also to run a one-day learn-to-play clinic along with a tournament in Birmingham as a part of the effort to showcase the sport.
“We’re going to try to persuade as many athletes from the World Games as possible to come out and try out the sport,” he said.
The PDGA has been working with the WFDF, the international governing body for disc sports, to develop disc golf’s presence in global sport. The two organizations have had a tumultuous relationship but recently announced a renewed partnership.
“We recognized that WFDF was a very ultimate-centric organization,” said Mead. “Over the last six years, we’ve started to really put some weight into disc golf, including introducing the World Team Championships.”
WFDF recently nominated Paige Pierce as the 2021 Flying Disc Athlete of the Year in a World Games voting contest as a way to bring more visibility to disc golf ahead of the World Games; Pierce is currently in third place in the voting.
Long term, WFDF hopes to bring disc sports to the Olympic Games. The organization is in the midst of a decade-long push to get ultimate in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles after pushing for International Olympic Committee recognition. Graham said that the PDGA hopes to eventually get disc golf into the Olympics as well.
Getting disc golf back into the World Games would be a first step towards that goal.
Mead said that they hope to convince some professional players to be a part of the demonstration events. The timing of the World Games — July 7-17 — make it unlikely that many could make it, as most top players at that time will be heading across the Atlantic for the European Open, which starts July 21st. The Disc Golf Pro Tour’s LWS Open at Idlewild also falls in that date range on July 8-10.