Home > Disc Golf > Tournament Payout

Tournament Payout

November 14, 2005

The biggest complaint I hear from golfers always has to do with the payout at this event or that event. First of all every one of you is missing the reason you started playing in the first place. If you are playing to win plastic you are barking up the wrong tree. There are alot more efficient ways to get plastic than to pay $30 and play in a tournement to try to win some. Some people already know this. They are distributors… Call Innova… Call Discraft (heck even call Gateway or Aerobie) get setup as a distributor and get everything at wholesale. Heck you can even become a TD and run an event and get better plastic for your money than going to an event. That being said it’s fun to win something for competing and it makes you play for something but if that’s the only reason you are there… Stay home. Really.

If you’re there to win money… Well I still think for most of you there are better uses of your time that’ll make more money. I think Bobby Jones (you know the ball golfer) said it best when he said… An amatuer plays for the love of the game, once you start playing for money you are no longer playing for the love of it. If you are lucky enough to be able to play a game you love and get paid for it, then you are mighty lucky indeed. So quit complaining.

Anyway back to payout. One thing I think most people don’t understand is that a tournament is not supposed to be a 100% payback event. The sport isn’t far enough along that sponsorship and galleries total support the players ability to play. PGA Touring professionals have to pay to enter touraments as well (and it’s not cheap). What happens to that money? Charity. Every dime. A tournament driven sport can’t be successful unless it’s worth it for the event orgainizers to put it on. If a TD loses money everytime he runs an event how many times do you think he’s going to run that event? Granted satisfaction is a large part of running an event in the current Disc Golf climate but that only gets you so far if you lose $200-$300 each time you do it.

So now lets talk about the economics of a tournament. I do have some experience here having helped run a national tour, many smaller tournaments, and headmaned my own in the past year. The PDGA doesn’t currently recommend a fee or anything for TD’s (apparently in the works). This means they are doing it for free. Lets make an assumption that the TD takes his tournament costs out of the purse (entry fees + sponserships). He spends $100 on rope, make scorecards, signs, etc. I hope no one begrudges him those costs. Most people don’t think about these things. They think oh there are 20 people and we are paying $30 a head, so that’s $600. 20 / 3, so 6 people should get paid out $600, $300 for first, $150 for second, $70, $50, $30 on down. If that were the case there would be far fewer events b/c no matter how rewarding it is to run an event. It’s too much work to do and lose $100 every time you do it. (Plus $100 is a cheap cheap amount to put on a good tournament).

Most TD’s don’t run a pro only event, Pro only event TD’s should be comended b/c they are economically harder to run, deal primarily with the people that complain the most (about the course, the format, the payout etc), and unless are very prestigious have a smaller field. Before you argue that last point, remember that most pros know their abilities better and know if they have a chance at winning based on who’s planning on showing up. Enter Am players into the mix. Now you have an added wrinkle of having to provide a players pack, payout in merchandise, and additional people.

Some TD’s only run AM events b/c honestly that’s where the money is. Regardless of whether you are trying to turn a profit or simply break even, merch is where you make your money. Most smart TD’s get their plastic at wholesale, then value it at somewhere between actual retail and wholesale. What that price point is varies from TD to TD and their philosophy on how a payout should be done.

I hear alot of complaining from AMs about payout as well. “I only got 3 dx discs for 5th place…” and the like. The question I have for them is what was the player pack? If you got a nice shirt ($15), a custom stamped disc ($15), and a mini ($2) and you paid $40 to play… Only $8 from each person is going into the purse. That’s about 1 disc a person. No one seems to disagree with the guy who wins getting a nice basket or something. Plus don’t forget his trophy comes out of the purse as well in most cases (someone’s got to pay for it). Some people compare events with similar entry fees. “The payout at Floobard Open was way better than here and we paid the same thing.” Ok, did you get the same players pack? How much was donated? Just because something is donated doesn’t mean the TD has to give it to you for free. Some TD’s will value donated T-shirts at $3 or $4 apeice to build some working money into the tournament. The PDGA publishes payout schedules that are guidelines for TD’s to use depending what Teir the tournament is sacntioned as. Let me say that again… **guidelines**. They don’t have to follow them. Granted for an A tier or National Tour there is more scrutiny on how the money is divied up, but it’s still a guideline. The best the PDGA can do if a TD doesn’t something unethical with the payout is refuse to sanction any more of that person’s events. But as we all saw with MSDCG sanctioning is starting to matter less and less these days.

So what can you do if you don’t like how the TD does the payout? Hope on the message board and complain about it? File a complaint with the pdga? Yes, you can do those things, but I don’t think they are going to do much good. If a TD is doing something really fishy the pdga might step in as they can, but in most cases of complaint it’s a philosophy difference on how an event should pay out not something unethical. The best thing you can do is vote with your feet. If you don’t like how an event is run, or how the payout is done…

**Don’t go**.

My take on the whole thing is that merchandise is really for the INT players (or rec depending on if your area fields that on a regular basis). For the open division no players packs. If you offer something along the memoribilia lines (like a custom disc or mini, or a shirt) don’t give it to the pros, let them buy it from you at cost (whatever you value it at). Then you pay out the top 1/3 of the field. Last cash should get their entry back and hopefully enough for a meal or something. If you’ve got ties at the bottom, drop a place, if you didn’t play well enough you don’t get to split $30, if just makes people bitter. For advanced, I’d like to see TD’s do away with a players pack. I really don’t need yet another T-shirt, but I do like to have something unique from each tournament I play (a memento), so maybe something very small like a custom mini for the tournament or a custom stamped disc. Though honestly if I didn’t get a players pack and I didn’t cash, I’d buy a custom stamped disc before I left. Advanced pays out top 38-40%, maybe even top 1/3 like the pros, that is what advanced players are arn’t they? Aspiring pros… For intermediate, give them a nice players pack if you want, give them a disc or 2 and a mini etc. Payout is %50 at least. Those are the people who you want going away from a tournament saying “Look at all this stuff I got, this was awesome, I can’t wait to play again.” **regardless** of how well they played.

All of this is reliant on the TD’s to decide how they want to run an event. The PDGA can do a couple of things to help this. Most TD’s follow the payout schedules to the letter. Most TD’s also don’t know there first time around how the economics of tournaments do or should work. Everyone has been to an event with a first time TD and it’s never as good as the next time they do it. The PDGA could publish a best practises guide on running a tournament. That includes not only planning (which they do help with), but also where your money comes from and goes to and tips for valuing things in a fair way based on how you want your event to come out. I would even go so far as to suggest that the pdga not concern itself so much with publishing payout tables but mandate an adjustment for each teir (or even division based on teir).

What I mean by this is say for a C teir the adjustment is 80%. If you have 45 players who are paying $30 apeice in entry fees that gives you a total gross purse of $1350. Take 80% of that and that is your net ajusted purse or $1080. That’s what you pay out. That gives you $270 in profit that either goes to the TD to pay for tournament costs or whatever he/she wants (could be trophies, or just money for the TD). This formula works for pro or am fields. You could then mandate different levels to different teirs. For example a C teir is 95% a B teir is 90% and an A Teir is 85%. This means that a TD stands to make more money for an A teir than a C teir. Which is a good thing b/c the entry fees are higher, and there is a higher required sponsership level (sponsership dollars are not adjusted). It costs more money to run an A teir b/c it should be a better run event. There still is the issue of what you value merchandise at for the am payout but I think that most TD’s if they know they are making 10% will do discs etc at cost. This also paves the way for businesses to get into furnishing the prize packages for a tournament. Some TD’s have a local reseller (ala disc landing etc) handle the payout. This is mainly done for conveinence, since it actually takes money away from the TD (unless he has an agreement with the reseller). Under this scheme the TD can make money as well as the reseller and someone could make a business of doing the best payouts in the country. If there is a local or even national reseller that you can easily outsource your prizes to (without it costing you anything more), it makes it easier for people to step up and become a TD.

Categories: Disc Golf
%d bloggers like this: