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The Future of Championship Tournaments

Posted by Gary Wagoner 
The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 08, 2007 11:19AM

Had John Kittrel not agreed to TD the next tournament in Little Rock, there would be no 2008 SNDG Pro Championship. Back when the Board of Directors was being formed Jim Orum was scheduling the championships two years out. The competition was so keen it was alleged that Jim had conspired with hand picked TDs to keep other clubs from bidding. Clearly, things have changed and not for the better. Having TD’d eight major Memphis tournaments and the SNDG Pro and Amateur Championships, amongst other things, I would like to serve up a little food for thought for the Board.


Contrary to popular belief, cities and clubs are not the critical elements in hosting a championship and never will be. The one indispensable, make or break factor in putting together a championship tournament is embodied in the TD. Within the disc golf community there is a subset of individuals who possess the requisite organizational skills, leadership ability, experience and willingness to run a major tournament. This is probably around 4% or 5%. Perhaps half of those have the skills and experience to direct a successful championship. These TDs are like gold which is esteemed for its quality, utility and scarcity and should have the respect and consideration accorded to valuable assets.

I am amazed by those self important individuals who presume to “yell” at TDs. The posts are incredible: “If you don’t like being yelled at maybe your heart is not in the right place.” (i.e. Only a crook would object to being called a crook), “If I paid my entry fee I have the right to complain,” etc., etc. I don’t believe that any championship TD is “scared” of being yelled at. These people are grown men with families and careers. After working their ass off and subsequently being scolded like naughty school children by some cretin hiding behind a computer; it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Their volunteer efforts seem to be the object of scorn and derision rather than appreciation and gratitude. A common theme seems to be that if you don’t like being yelled at then you don’t need to be a TD. Rather than being “scared” I believe that a significant number of TDs have decided that they just don’t like being yelled at.

Within that set of individuals who can run good tournaments and that subset who can pull off a championship is that very small subsubset who cheerfully accept the crap heaped upon them as harmless internet chatter. Over time that number starts to approach zero which, coincidentally, is the same number of TDs who volunteered to host the 2008 Pro Championship by the deadline. It can be rightly argued that only a very few actually “yell” at TDs, but the reality is that when a fistful of jerks run off the handful of volunteers who run the tournaments, the wheels start to fall off. I submit that those who maliciously break down the system with their keyboards are no less offensive than those who vandalize a course with their hands.


A TD that steps up with a pro or am bid will thereby be incurring at an instant $20,000.00 liability…because that’s what’s expected. Look at all the posts emphasizing fund raising. One of the reasons to change the tournament date is because it would give more time to raise money. (This could also be achieved by awarding tournaments two years out like Jim did, but since no one wants it even one year out, it’s a moot point.) The expectation now is that the TD will spend most of his efforts raising money in addition to organizing and running the tournament. We are talking about a huge commitment of time and energy that few, it seems, are willing to undertake. And it will fall primarily on the shoulders of the TD because if a volunteer organization is lucky, only 15% of the membership can be depended upon to do any meaningful work.


People volunteer for leadership for two basic reasons: 1. enlightened self interests (the greater good of the group in which they belong) and 2. recognition and respect from their peers.

Having served in numerous volunteer organizations I know this as gospel: volunteers must be handled with kid gloves. The first time the Board punishes a particular TD will also be the last time. The sanction will be 100% effective because that TD will never volunteer again and, in rare cases, this may not be a bad thing. The Board can control its own actions, but there will always be a few who “yell” at the TDs simply because they can. While such postings on a public forum can not be stopped, the demoralizing effects can be mitigated by extending certain perks to TDs in recognition of the valuable service they provide.

Volunteers have other commitments. If the task becomes so onerous as to compromise primary obligations, such as employment, church, community or family, an organization will be hard pressed to find someone to “step up” to an unpaid second job. The scale and complexity of a championship event has morphed into a daunting task that is not for the faint of heart. The future of the championships depends upon easing the burden.


1. TD Recognition – Create a discussion forum for the exclusive use of those who have TD’d an SNDG Championship Tournament. The only others that would be allowed to log on would be those who have committed to TD a future Championship event and active Board Members. This would recognize those who belong the elite group of Championship TDs and allow them to discuss problems, obtain constructive criticism and solicit advice from those who have “been there and done that” without having to endure the BS and “yelling” that permeates the General Discussion Forum.

2. TD Recognition – The Board presents the Championship TD with a plaque during the awards ceremony of each tournament…a tangible symbol of appreciation for the effort.

3. TD Recognition and Appreciation – The TD gets his SNDG dues (bag tag) paid for the next five (5) years.

4. TD Recognition and Appreciation – The TD gets his entry fee paid for one SNDG Championship for each of the next three (3) years.

5. Enlightened self interest – Change the maximum amount of club profit from $500 to 5%. This would encourage a club to maximize the amount of sponsorship. While some may say that this is plain wrong, which is preferable: allowing a club $500 on a $10,000 payout or letting them keep $2,000 on a $40,000 payout? Whether they choose to keep it or put it back into the tournament would be totally up to the TD.

6. Easing the burden – Set the base expectation for payout at only 100%. In other words, the sponsorships, CFR’s, benefit tournaments, and fund raisers would be spread across the entire SNDG community and not dumped on a single TD or club. If the disc golf community wants a bigger payout, then the whole community must take part in the fund raising effort. The TD will have to account for all funds, of course….nothing changes about the financial reporting except that the Board ought to produce an example of what is expected (See #7 below).

7. Easing the burden – Develop a “Tournament Operations Guide”. Most complaints are the result of unrealized expectations. By providing guidance and procedures for common situations, objectives can be clearly defined for such things as: % payout, payout computation charts, % of players pack value to total Am payout, etc. Policy should be also stated such as, “Subsidize the Am Junior Division prize value to 200% of the entry fee by reducing funds available to other divisions.”, or “If the computed payout in an Am division does not equal or exceed the actual cost of a target, the prize value may be satisfied by awarding other suitable merchandise at retail value.”

While exception could be taken to any or all of these proposals, I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that the status quo is unsustainable. If there are better ideas out there now is the time to submit them while the new board members are stoked with enthusiasm. The bottom line is that proactive steps must be taken to encourage experienced TDs to volunteer for the SNDG Championship Tournament series and support them in that effort. This should be at the top of the Board’s agenda for the coming year.

Gary Wagoner

p. s.
After addressing this issue, the Board might wish to consider drafting and adopting a set of Bylaws.
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 08, 2007 02:52PM
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 10, 2007 02:55PM
Great post. I think the tournament operations guide is a must and would happily volunteer to serve on a committee to draft such (especially if Gary were to likewise volunteer).
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 10, 2007 10:45PM
Brilliant and necessary.
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 11, 2007 09:12AM
On further reflection, I agree with just about everything Gary had to say (and all of the professionalism and evenhandness in how he said it).

I do take exception to a couple things:

1) There is ABSOLUTELY no reason to reduce the payout expectations to 100%. In the case of the Ams, I feel it is already too low: the base level expectation should be 150% minimum. The accounting looks something like this:

Entry fees + SN fees = 100%. This is the money you are starting with to buy prizes and players pack materials. Add to that a minimum 65% (often closer to 90% in reality) wholesale to retail conversion before you have sold the first fundraiser disc and there is absolutely no reason any am championship should not be able to pay out 150%, have a nice chunk for ancillary tournament expenses AND show a profit.

In the case of the pros the formula changes slightly:

Entry fees + SN fees = 100%. The pros are a tougher nut to crack. For one, they are traditionally a PDGA B Tier event and have to meet PDGA payout requirements in addition to SN requirements. Fortunately, the PDGA criteria is fairly easy to meet, as the base for the mandated 125% payout accounts only the entry fees.

More to the point, there is minimal wholesale to retail conversion to help things along. Pro TDs have to be aware of the balancing act between SN requirements and PDGA requirements. The PDGA's 125% payout will not include any player pack value. The SNs 125% payout will, but it also bases the 125% requirement on the total of entry fees/SN fees/bagtag fees. One way to attack the SN requirementis for theTD/host club to use the available cash wisely to create a reasonably nice player pack (this allows a small but substantial wholesale/retail conversion factor to aid the bottom line). The real aces in the hole for the pro championships are CFR and bagtag sales.

The Doubles falls somewhere in between. It isn't PDGA, so there is no need to worry about additional criteria. There is good opportunity to use wholesale to retail conversion.

I think the board should look at establishing the handbook/guidelines that Gary (and I) has suggested. I also think we need to nurture the "whole community" concept to make everyone respobsible for the success of the championships by incentivizing everything we can think of from buying or selling bagtags, buying or selling CFRs, bringing in cash sponsorships or local clubs or TDs earmarking tournaments for the purpose of fundraising. (Personally, I think any tournament that uses the Southside/MOBZ model from this last year (i.e. prizes only with all proceeds to the championship pot) should not be assessed any SN fees and the organizing club should get paid exemptions to the championships based on a 5:1 factor (i.e. if the tournament raises $1,000 cash, the organizing club gets $200 worth of credit to send members to the championship of their choice.

The other thing I would like to note from Gary's post above is the idea of the board punishing a TD. I agree that such a step would have a terminal effect on any individual TD, but the whole concept of punishment to me is unnecessarily reactive. The Board needs instead to focus its efforts this year proactively:

a) by spelling out specifically the requirements for each tournament.
b) by growing the "whole community" concept through communication and incentive programs
c) by assuming a good portion of the responsibility for staging the championships
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 13, 2007 10:26AM
Likely the most constructive thread I have ever seen o this Forum...I do hope it generates the Bylaws and TD Operations Guide.

Kudos usual...

Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 13, 2007 02:06PM
This is what I am talking about…a forum where folks of good will can exchange ideas and debate issues in a thoughtful, reasonable and professional manner. How long this unrestricted thread maintains this character is yet to be seen. Chris disagrees with me on the am payout and I respect his opinion because I know that he knows what he is talking about. Actually, upon reflection, I agree with him: the am payout expectation should be at least 125% for reasons he has stated.

Regarding TD recognition, forget about a plaque. A much better idea would be a top quality embroidered hat that said “SNDG TD” (or something to that effect) with a gold star on the front for every SNGD Championship event that was directed by the recipient. This may sound juvenile, but it is a tried and true means of recognition. Look at most college football games and you will see the playmaker’s helmets festooned with logos. You can tell at a glance who pulls the weight. Who knows…someone may eventually sport five stars like Douglas Macarthur. I myself would qualify for 2 stars and would be proud to wear that at any tournament.

I would consider working with Chris, et. al. on a Tournament Operations Guide, but I’m going to wait and see if the Board acts on any of my other proposals before making that commitment. A guide is important because a TD may only do one championship in a lifetime. By reinventing the wheel mistakes are continually remade. The TOG could be copyrighted and given to every championship TD and available for sale to anyone else to help raise money for the SNDG / BOD.

Gary Wagoner
PDGA No. 3901 (inactive)
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 15, 2007 03:24AM
THis is, without a doubt, the best thread that has ever been posted on this forum. I agree with Gary about reconition of TD's for running the championships. I held the 05' SNPC. I spent every waking hour of my life for a calander year stressing,working to make sure the event was a total sucess. It was in my mind a sucess.
The next year, I did the SNDC. not near as much stess as the SNPC. but still lots of prep work.
After you put so much of your time into something like that, it really tears you down to hear the negativity about the event you just sank 1 year of your life into. You have some people that this doesn't effect at all. But for the rest of us it really sucks.There are only a hand full of people who are willing to take on this responsibility year after year, and when they are gone...what next? I could really care less about the reconition from anyone for hosting/TDing an event. But the boo birds are what really pisses me off.

Anonymous User
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 16, 2007 03:08PM
while not the best thread ever, it is chock full of great ideas, just like me! it's like gary stole all my ideas or something, you plagiarist! just joking :)

zack, you make it sound like no one liked the SNPC you ran. in fact, a lot of us had a great time! heck, compared to the gunshots, flooding, looting, death and mayhem in my home of New Orleans that weekend, it was no contest on how i should have spent that weekend!

zack, you are as guilty as the naysayers in looking only on the bad side. if all you remember is some namby-pamby critics who mostly have no clue what it takes to run a big event, and you can't remember all the compliments you got on a job well done, that's too bad.

as Timothy Leary would say, it's all in your head, remember that man...

CHEER UP ZACK!!! The forum whores miss you, and give you the special surf board salute for a job well done!

Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 16, 2007 04:54PM
yep, your right I am guilty. I had rather agree with you than argue.
Anonymous User
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 16, 2007 05:26PM
what if we'd said that when the germans bombed pearl harbor?

if we gave up as easy as you we'd be forced to look at these kind of women

instead of wholesome american girls! where's the outrage man???
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
September 25, 2007 11:43AM
Hard to follow That Butts!!!; I will. I like these Things; and what Your Typing about, Plus GIVE EVERYONE that come to the SNCs "somethings" IE: Nice Players Pack ( Spread The WEALTH), Require Entrants to be entered By Mon. before the Event (Cut 'em OFF, so the TD has time to get THINGS SET)!!! REMOVE Baskets for Div. winners and 2nd...THAT is what Sandbaggin' is ALL About... Talking about BAGGIN' what the ELL is there am Master & adv Master For(JUST ONE[Adv Am Masters would solve IT!!!.]!!!!!? 2 out of 4 had cashed in adv within the 6 Months time "." (Last SNAC)!!! Have At least Two Board Members or Appointed Persons to help "RUN" the Event. Got to go... more later!!!
Re: The Future of Championship Tournaments
December 14, 2007 09:15AM
Remember this post from May of 2006!?!?! :D

Re: Southern National Pro Championship Guidelines
Posted by: Memphisdiscgolf (IP Logged) [ignore user]
Date: May 10, 2006 01:39PM

And...I...was ribbing Fat Jabba when I asked the question...

Not to be the Doomsayer....buuuut...has anyone thought what the new guidelines might the number of clubs who may or may not enter "bids" for the Championships with these new "rules"?

In my experience, the normal disc golfer doesn't like paperwork and rules. Mikey and the crew might start trying to rip me for Memphis wanting to make money or something...which is not true...I really think you are going to really limit yourself now on bids. Just MY opinion.

Brad <---His opinion...not Memphis in general

Duke of Disc Golf A-Number 1
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