Running a tournament is like singing in public. Wait… What?!?
I am just over five weeks from my first crack at being a tournament director. It really feels like the home stretch. At this point, it looks like this thing is going to be really successful. I’d like to share my experiences with you and hopefully help you through my successes and my failures.
I tend to be a bit of an oddball. I am constantly thinking up twists to the game that could be fun or fall flat. I am convinced that blue discs fly farther when you throw them toward water and pink discs are under-stable. The idea of running the same tournament that everyone else runs is like standing in line for a crappy roller coaster. I just can’t do it. I’ve got better things to do with my time.
Last year I played in an April Fool’s Worst Shot Doubles tournament that I was really excited about and it turned out to be an absolute flop. It wasn’t really worst shot. It was farthest from the pin, so an errant shot could just be followed with a safe short shot and there was no need to recover. The course was disgusting and covered in broken glass, stagnant water, and old mattresses. It was really disappointing.
When my partner from last year joked about playing again, I responded “I bet we could do it better.” and the idea was born. It was like a song that gets stuck in your head. I found myself thinking about the things that did and didn’t work last year and the things that I could add or twist to make it better.
One of the first things that I had to decide was “why” this tournament was going to exist. Just having a song stuck in my head is no reason for me to sing in public. People would much rather listen to someone else that has sung before and knows what they are doing.
I came up with three reasons:
- I have a lot of friends that don’t play. If I could focus more on the fun and less on the competition, I may be able to talk them into enjoying disc golf with me.
- We have a regular Sunday game at my local course and it would be great to get some new blood playing regularly.
- I wanted a group of people willing to try playing with my crazy twists.
So the tournament was for all skill levels, with weird rules, intended to get the word out about our regular Sunday game. It was time to start combining things from tournaments, our regular game, and my weird rules to come up with a combination that worked.
The regular Sunday game is random draw doubles and the losers owe the winners a beer. They also add one to their handicap and the winners take one away from theirs. New players usually take a couple of weeks to settle into a handicap that works for them but most weeks are fairly close at the end of the round.
This format works well for small groups but in a large tournament, without handicaps, I needed to find a way to stop someone that may be really competitive from being upset about picking up a brand new player as a partner and I wanted to make sure that there was no incentive for a foursome to “cheat” and not pick the worst shots. I decided that if player’s were only competing with others from their own card and cards rotated partners throughout the round, this would eliminate both problems.
There was no reason to charge for the tournament because there were no costs involved and no club to raise funds for. Everyone could bring a beer and the best score on the card would take two beers, the worst would take a single beer, and we would throw together some other competitions for the one leftover beer per card. While I was at it, I decided anyone that brings a beer unique to the tournament can take two strokes off of their final score. That would help set the tone.
I decided to have special rules on every third hole and have the partners switch after each special hole. I came up with a scorecard that helps show the special holes and when to switch partners. I honestly don’t know how this is going to work out. It may be that there are too many special holes and switches. It may be just fine. Time will tell.
Our course has 24 holes. There are 18 numbered holes and six letters that are just mixed in throughout the back half. I decided to have the letter holes played as individuals for a tie breaker. This could be another way for a competitive player to feel like they have a better chance.
After I came up with the format and the fees, I had to figure out how to advertise and get people to sign up. I chose the Sunday before April Fool’s day and named the tournament April Fool’s Shenanigan Doubles and decided to use two different methods to advertise. Disc Golf Scene is a great way to publicize to disc golfers but new players would never know about it. A facebook event was my answer for the less serious and potentially first time disc golfers. As players say that they are attending my facebook event, I just add them to the registered players list on disc golf scene.
A couple of weeks later someone looked at a calendar and broke the news to me. I had six players signed up to play a tournament on Easter Sunday. Since when is Easter in March? I pushed the tournament back to April 7th and let everyone registered know to contact me if they wanted to be removed from the player’s list.
One other problem that I didn’t think about until it was too late was that people assume that they need to bring a partner and pass on the tournament without looking at it based on the name. Once you pick a name, you aren’t allowed to change it. I wish that I would have put “Random Draw” in the name.
Now that I have a good sized group of players registered, I am a little bit worried about the true first-time players. I think that I am actually going to run a “how to play disc golf” clinic two weeks before my tournament and ask people that want to come to go to their local disc shop and pick out a mid-range and a putter that feels good in their hands beforehand. During the clinic I will give them a chance to throw all of the drivers that I own to see what does and doesn’t work for them. This will also give me a chance to teach them basic rules and etiquette.
At this point I am just over five weeks away and I already have 36 players pre-registered. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone enjoying this crazy idea that I had a few weeks ago. I have managed to get some of the best prizes donated that I have seen at any non-A tier and non-sanctioned tournament.
In my next post I will talk about how I worked with great sponsors like Gorilla Boy, Fade, NutSac, Dynamic Discs, Millennium, Gateway, Flywood, Dogleg, and more.