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Where are the players?

The Utah Open presented by Latitude 64, was in many ways a success. TDs Jade Sewell and Mike Milne put on an organized, entertaining, cash rich event. Every night of
the week had a unique, fun, and creative activity. Ricky ended with the first big time Walkoff Ace in our sport. Uli, Wysocki, Koling, Catrina and Gibson will tell tales for hours about how great it was last year. And yet, many players did not attend.
In Waco, Rockwall and Jonesboro, the attendance and stature of the event was clearly increased by the presence of the Pro Tour. For example, here are the total MPO/FPO players and 1000 rated players over the past three years. Note that Jonesboro was a first year event – a huge thanks to the players for trusting that the event would be up to our standards.
– Waco: 2015 (50/2), 2016 (16/0), 2017 (76/22)
– Rockwall: 2015 (54/19), 2016 (75/9), 2017 (112/30)
– Jonesboro: 2017 (54/26)
In Utah however, something changed. In talks with the players and TDs, there seem to be three factors. Location, entry fee, and the course.
LocationWith two fantastic events on the West Coast and Pro Worlds on the East Coast two weeks later, many players opted to give their bodies a rest and take a couple weeks off between the West Coast events. If Ogden, Utah was located between Santa Cruz and Estacada, OR, or the Utah Open and the Beaver State Fling flipped weekends, I expect this issue would have gone away.
Going forward, we will try to work closely with the PDGA to minimize the travel between NT and Pro Tour stops. This will create a more efficient North American tour that will help foster and showcase the best discers on the planet. My realtor told me there were three things that mattered: location location location. He was right.
Entry FeeFor Touring Pros, the entry fee is probably not a determining factor, but for local and regional pros (and adventurous ams), a $200 price tag can cause hesitation, especially when there are so few other “little fish”. We have developed an initial plan to implement a Graduated Entry Fee (tip of the hat to Craig Gangloff for the idea). This should help create demand and will get more locals excited about playing against the best players in the world.
If you want to play the Idlewild Open and test your skills against the best players on one of the most challenging and scenic courses, and possibly pay a reduced entry fee, now is your chance. Find out more here .
The CourseThe Utah Open course is absolutely stunning. Not only are the grounds ridiculously manicured, the panorama views will take your breath away. It is also open and sort of long, although not as long as some people initially thought. In looking at the women’s attendance at the Utah Open, it appears that both factors (location and entry fee) created significant headwinds which were magnified by the course layout.
FPO Location: Several top pros started in the West Coast (and there are not a lot to start with so this is quite noticeable).
FPO Entry Fee: The local women are probably being turned off by the large entry fee, choosing to play a local event the week before for $80 and getting to play with a couple top pros as opposed to paying $200 and getting to play with a only couple more top pros.
FPO Course: The kicker to both of these, according to several women players that I talked with, is the length of the course. When you combine a long drive, minimized opportunity to cash (due to the small field), and a big course which overly benefits women that can throw over 400′, the reasons for the women (touring pros and locals) to not​ play are substantial.
Note: the goal of this article is not to beat the “women’s tee pads” drum. Without the other two issues, I do not believe the course would have been as large a factor as it is. Additionally, the course seemed to be viewed as extremely long, but it was in fact around 8000′, around average for a Pro Tour event.