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What You Need To Know About College Disc Golf

By Nicholas Wilson | 01/13/2022
What You Need To Know About College Disc Golf

Disc golf is a sport that has largely been played recreationally by collegiates throughout the years. This all changed in 2007 when Pete May and a group he assembled organized a governing body to introduce competitive disc golf to the college ranks. For me, this is as pure as the sport gets. Combining individual play with team play and the nostalgia and pride of our favorite colleges cooks up a tasty stew of disc golf goodness! This article breaks down the history, organization, and how to follow College Disc Golf (CDG). This article also gives you resources to create, play and/or fund a team for your college. Let’s take a step back in time to find out where it all began.

History

CDG is the governing body for all collegiate disc golf. They are the only organization devoted entirely to collegiate disc golf. The CDG oversees all collegiate events and implements PDGA rules to govern tournament play. There are currently 1,093 players comprising 148 teams that were eligible to compete in 38 events throughout the 2021 season. At the end of the season, the CDG crowns team and individual national champions at the College Disc Golf National Championship (CDGNC).

In the beginning, there was the National Collegiate Disc Golf Union (NCDGU). They were founded in 2007 to “produce a tournament specifically for collegiate disc golfers.” They were founded by Pete May, a prior board member for the PDGA, and a group he assembled. May had been a part of hosting the 2006 PDGA World Championship in Augusta, GA, and the organizing group wanted more. May looked at disc golf and inquired into what was missing from the competition. His gaze directed him towards collegiate athletics and creating a sphere for college disc golf. This led to the founding of the NCDGU. They were based out of Georgia and grew organically from there. Many colleges in the South East formed teams and they have dominated the college scene since its inception. This is still true to this day. However, May knew that for the sport to succeed in the college ranks he had to make it a national sport. He reached out to a friend who had connections at USC. May went on to tell this story of the inaugural Collegiate National Championship on the College Disc Golf Podcast:

“I talked to Dr. Black and asked him if he knew any college presidents on the West Coast. He said, ‘I know the President of Southern Cal (USC).’ I said, ‘well you call him and ask him to send us a team and they can be in the inaugural tournament of collegiate disc golf championships’…He sent four players; two ladies and two guys. Guess what?! They were Ultimate players. They had never played disc golf in their lives. They had such a good time, they finished last, they came back the second year and played again. So that shows you that we were on to something.”

-Pete May, NCDGU Founder

Due to May’s efforts and the surging popularity of disc golf, there has been a dramatic rise in CDG membership. In the inaugural year of 2007, there were seven teams that competed at the National Championship. At the most recent National Championship in 2019, there were 36 teams. Disc golf at the collegiate level is booming and the trend looks to continue. Let’s take a look at the organization of the college game.

Organization

College disc golf teams are formed as clubs. This means they must fund much of their financial needs through their own channels and their respective college provides little to no funding. This can be a challenge but also an avenue for connection and growth. Students must be creative in their fundraising and explore various resources. You never know who may be of service to help with your goals. Once your team is set it is important to understand the format for tournaments. This is where the college game sets itself apart from the typical individual stroke play format.

Tournaments have two different playing styles:

  1. 1) Singles Play
  2. 2) Team Play
    • A) Alternating Shot Doubles Play

Singles Play

Singles play is your straightforward play where the lowest score wins. According to the CDG website:

“All singles rounds will count toward the team score in First Flight and the National Championship Flight. The team’s singles round scores from each player will be averaged and will count toward the team score. For the Women’s Championship, the lowest two singles scores per round, per school, count toward the cumulative team score. Each hole should have no more than two teammates competing to prevent conflicts when making rules calls.”

-CollegeDiscGolf.com

Team Play

According to the CDG website:

“Team doubles is played with two sets of teammates, one ODD pair, one EVEN pair. The ODD set will tee off on every odd-numbered hole, while the EVEN set tees off on every even-numbered holes. After the tee shots, the team chooses which of the two lies to play. From there, the set that did not tee throws their two shots. Again, the whole team decides which lie to play from and the set that teed off would throw. That alternating process continues until the hole is complete. On the next hole, the corresponding set of teammates according to the hole number, ODD or EVEN, would tee off no matter which set putted out on the previous hole. This format allows for each player to tee off the same amount of times and for teams to play as whole. Each hole has two teams playing together as an eight-some.”

-CollegeDiscGolf.com

This format is what sets CDG apart from other competitions. This is what makes players proud to wear their colors. I urge you to get out and support your local colleges as they compete in tournaments. Or better yet, if you are a college student, I urge you to play disc golf for your college!! Check out the current individual and team rankings for this season.

Resources

If you are a collegiate or connected with a college or simply interested in growing the sport, the CDG is a wonderful outlet. To compete in any CDG event your school must have a CDG membership. Luckily, CDG makes it easy to start a club for your school. Their College Disc Golf Club Starter Guide will have you prepared to get a team together. While it may seem straightforward, there is always red tape when it comes to sanctioning teams. This Starter Guide will have you organized and ready for representing your school on the big stage.

The biggest event of the year is the College Disc Golf National Championship (CDGNC). Teams and individual players participate in qualifying tournaments throughout the season to qualify for the CDG’s National Championship. All of these qualifying rounds are PDGA sanctioned which is an added bonus to these tournaments. Check out this list of qualifying tournaments for the 2022 National Championship.

Covid had a big impact on CDG and they had to cancel their entire 2020 season. Throughout the adversity, they organized and came back stronger than ever for the 2021 campaign. According to their website:

“College Disc Golf will return in the Fall of 2021 with a complete regular season consisting of one level of qualification for four player teams interested in earning their bids to the DI division at the National Championship. All other divisions do not require qualification. Collegiate events will consist of singles play and the 4 person alternating team doubles format. Women’s teams consist of two players. College Disc Golf membership is required to compete this season. There is no requirement for conference participation. Any team of active College Disc Golf members can compete and earn their invite to the 2022 CDGNC at any qualifier event.”

-CollegeDiscGolf.com

Look for college events around your town or region. I promise you will enjoy your time and swell with pride as your team competes around the beautiful confines of a disc golf course. It fills me with pride to know that the combination of two of my biggest passions, college athletics, and disc golf, are surging in popularity.

Bringing It All Together

Playing disc golf is a blast. This is a fact. What could make this sport more enjoyable? Playing disc golf for your college! CDG is an engaging and extremely supportive organization that is growing the sport alongside the PDGA. I see the CDG gaining more media attention in the near future. I see the CDG gaining more member schools and having bigger galleries at their tournaments. Whatever happens, enjoy the ride and I wish you and your school great success on the course!

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