A closer look at the numbers gives hints to the next up-and-coming disc golf hotbeds
January 19, 2017 by Alex Colucci in Analysis, News with 0 comments
European disc golf continued its upward trajectory in 2016, as PDGA Europe announced yesterday that membership was up 34 percent from 2015.
According to its figures, the number of current members in Europe rose from 4,233 to 5,676, while the number of sanctioned events increased from 470 to 591 – a 26 percent jump — in the 28 European nations with PDGA members.
The PDGA article also stated that 2016 was the third consecutive year total membership increased by more than 30 percent.
Much of the attention paid to disc golf in Europe is directed toward Finland, which is reasonable considering 40 percent of Europe’s PDGA members live there. Additionally, Finland experienced its third straight year of over 40 percent growth in membership and remains the only country in Europe with more than 1,000 current members.
But Finland — and Scandinavia more broadly — aren’t the only places to pay attention to when looking for the next disc golf boom. Notably, current membership in Estonia grew from 246 to 510 members — an increase of 107 percent — in 2016. Despite its relatively small size, the Baltic nation could soon become the second most disc golf-populous country on the continent if its membership continues to grow at a similar rate. Estonia will host one EuroTour and one EuroProTour event in 2017, both A-Tiers.
A second place to keep an eye on is the United Kingdom, which saw an increase from 138 active members to 187 in 2016. But, perhaps more impressively, the number of sanctioned events expanded to 45 in 2016, an increase of 67 percent over the previous year. Two EuroTour events are coming to the U.K. in 2017.
A final place to watch is central Europe — specifically Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia. While none of the active member counts are particularly large in any one of these countries, taken as a group the region had 300 active members and 56 events in 2016. The Konopiště Open, an event familiar to fans of the Disc Golf World Tour, will again be held in the Czech Republic in 2017.
An additional note on disc golf’s growth in Europe: Luxembourg became the 29th country in Europe to have an active PDGA member earlier this year.
The growth has made an impact: The PDGA opened an office in the Netherlands in October 2016, with its focus being to deliver “all the services for the European disc golf community that [the] U.S.A. headquarters currently preforms.” If these growth rates continue, one of the future, principal functions of this office could be focusing on retaining new members.
According to the PDGA Europe article, more data — including information on courses throughout the continent — is still to come.