In a monumental development for European disc golf, the Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) has announced a collaborative unification with the European Pro Tour (EPT) to launch a consolidated DGPT Europe tour (Unified Tour) in 2024. This alliance, enthusiastically endorsed by PDGA Europe, marks a significant milestone for elevating professional disc golf in Europe.
Talks of DGPT expanding into Europe began in 2020 with initial discussions between DGPT CEO Jeff Spring and former EPT CEO Juha Kytö. This year saw DGPT commence live coverage of select PDGA Euro Tour events to test expansion. After further deliberations, swiftly unifying under DGPT’s banner was deemed the optimal approach.
Jeff Spring, the CEO of DGPT, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration by stating, “We’re excited to continue to work with PDGA Europe in 2024 by expanding and supporting the great effort they have made to take professional disc golf to the next phase in Europe.”
Unified Tour Details
The cornerstone of the Unified Tour will be merging EPT’s Discgolfstream media platform into DGPT’s Disc Golf Network (DGN), opening the sport to new audiences. Additionally, Euro Tour staff and resources will integrate into DGPT operations.
The DGPT Europe half of the Unified Tour will comprise around ten events, including 5 Elite Series and additional Silver Series across various premier European locations. This diversified circuit aims to enrich the professional disc golf landscape.
Antti Taronen, PDGA Europe Board of Directors President, reinforced the positive outlook by saying, “We believe that this agreement is the right direction, and we will support it with our expertise for the integral growth of our beloved game in Europe.”
The announcement of DGPT Europe follows a recent announcement from the DGPT eliminating Sliver Events from North America and a restructuring of tour points. The DGPT in North America is structured with various event classes, each carrying a different weight in points. The event classes range from DGPT events, which have a points weight of 100%; DGPT+ events, with a 125% points weight; DGPT Playoffs at 150% points weight; and PDGA Pro Major events with a whopping 200% points weight.
The 2024 North American tour kicks off with the All-Star Weekend in Orlando, FL, on February 16 and spans 24 events (including the All-Star weekend), culminating in the Champions Cup in Appling, GA, on October 31. Noteworthy events include the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championships in Austin, TX, the European Open in Nokia, Finland, and the prestigious PDGA Professional World Championships in Lynchburg, VA.
The meticulous organization and classification of events in the North American DGPT provide a robust framework that DGPT Europe might look to emulate or adapt to suit the European disc golf landscape. The established structure of the North American DGPT, with its tiered events and transparent points system, suggests a promising organizational structure for the nascent DGPT Europe.
Unified Tour Implications
The merger is expected to unlock financial benefits for players through increased purses, sponsorships, and more viable avenues to play full-time. Untapped revenue streams like ticketing will also be explored in the Unified Tour stop in Europe.
Jeff Spring expressed excitement about growing disc golf in Europe. Players are optimistic about new opportunities, but local sponsorship and infrastructure remain challenges to be addressed.
Player Dynamics and Competitive Landscape
The historical trend has seen many European players traveling to the US to participate in the highly competitive and lucrative North American DGPT events. Conversely, US players have traditionally made the transatlantic journey primarily for the esteemed European Open. The inception of DGPT Europe, however, could alter these dynamics.
The potentially weaker fields in Europe, as compared to the traditionally more competitive fields in North America, might present an appealing opportunity for players seeking to earn points for a tour card with a comparatively lower level of competition. This aspect could significantly impact the strategic planning of players’ tour schedules.
Players might find the European side of the Unified Tour an attractive option for accumulating points, mainly because the DGPT Europe adopts a points system analogous to the tiered structure of the North American DGPT, where different events carry varying points weight based on their classification. The allure of earning points in a less competitive environment might draw more players to the European events, thereby enhancing the competitive stature of DGPT Europe over time.
Furthermore, the structured DGPT Europe could entice more US players to venture beyond the European Open and participate in a series of European events, especially if the scheduling is done in a manner that allows for an extended European swing. Such a trend could foster a more globally integrated competitive disc golf scene, enriching the sport through cross-continental competition and cultural exchange.
On the other hand, European players who have traditionally sought the competitive rigor of North American events might continue their transatlantic journeys to compete against the highly skilled and diverse player pool in the US. The choice between competing in Europe versus North America will likely hinge on individual player priorities, including pursuing higher competition, financial incentives, and the allure of earning tour points.
The unfolding of these dynamics will be fascinating to observe as DGPT Europe kicks off. The reciprocal movement of players between the continents could foster a more globally cohesive professional disc golf community, enhancing the competitive landscape and the global appeal of the sport.
The DGPT and EPT merger into DGPT Europe and Unified Tour is a significant step towards professionalizing disc golf in Europe. By potentially adapting the well-structured model of the North American DGPT, DGPT Europe aims to provide enhanced competitive platforms and financial incentives for athletes. As the global disc golf community watches the unfoldment of this new European chapter, the anticipation and promise of a professionally structured disc golf tour in Europe bring a new dawn of opportunities and growth for the sport.
In reflecting on the journey so far, Lasse Paju, CEO of Prodigy Disc Europe, expressed gratitude and optimism: “I want to thank everyone involved over the last two seasons. Working with such a committed team and outstanding partner network has been rewarding. We’re excited about this new collaboration. Together, I’m confident we’ll develop disc golf even faster in Europe.”