It should come as no surprise that Finland tops the membership, sanctioned events, and courses lists in absolute numbers.
Rather than being compared with other European countries; it looks for comparison and competition in the USA, where it’s been in an ever-intensifying battle for first spot with the largest states in the USA, in disc golf terms.
You will, no doubt, have seen those infographics where Finland’s membership and courses numbers were compared to US States. In number of courses they placed well in first place; with a mid-2017 graphic by DiscGolfPark showing how Finland is by far the largest ‘state’ when it comes to number of courses.
Looking at PDGA data, however (only taking into account the courses recorded in the PDGA database), Finland would still be the largest ‘state’ but by a smaller margin (75 instead of 194).
In PDGA membership and events numbers do they rank second, just, to Texas. By the time, you’ll read the 2018 year in numbers article, Finland will most likely top all three lists.
Looking at the disc golf density (like number of members, event, or courses per area or population), Finland seems lightyears ahead on most accounts. Only on the members:events ratio, do both ‘states’ compare.
But, back to Europe now.
In membership numbers, Finland is almost exactly three times as the next-largest country, Sweden. Sweden, in turn, is still well ahead of Estonia, the quickest-growing country in Europe, but that gap is getting smaller every year. For the first time in four years time, Estonia has not ‘doubled or more’ its membership; this year it was about 50% growth. Sweden ‘only’ grows at almost 20% yearly. Norway, and Germany, in that order, complete the top five of largest countries. Denmark, however, is rapidly gaining ground on Germany, and it is likely that next year it will be an all-ScandiBaltic top five next year in membership size.
Central Europe; a region that is collaborating a lot on many levels, not in the least via the annually held Central European Disc Golf Championship, its own regional championship, is showing an ever-stronger player base, with Czech Republic and Austria leading the way in absolute numbers.
2017’s new cuntry on the disc golf map was Luxembourg, with its first two members.
Bigger growth, relatively speaking, comes typically from the smaller countries; Ukraine (growth post Marco Polo grant via Russia’s support), Serbia, Portugal, and Spain.
The biggest noticeable changes compared to last year, however, seem to be Russia, losing most of membership base (ironic, how its disc golf neighbour, Ukraine, is the fastest-growing country last year?), and France (having found the way up again after a few years of pronounced decline).
Italy’s declining numbers are due to a “nuova gestione”; a fair amount of their membership base were loyal to the old core. However, in the current players base, the majority is actively playing. The United Kingdom are seeing a slight drop in numbers, but this may be just temporary.
Just like the membership numbers keep growing in Europe, year after year, the same goes for the nuber of events. In 2017, the number of santioned events grew from 594 to 665, an increase of 12%.
The aforementioned Finland tops this category; it held almost 2.5 times as many events as Sweden, and Sweden hosts twice as many events as Norway, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Germany.
Events com in tiers, and will will be no surprise that the vast majority of events held are C tiers (558, or 84%). As the tier level goes up, the number of events held goes down; B (48, or 7%), A (26, or 4%), and M (1, The European Open, as part of the DGPT). Almost all of the B and A tiers on European soil were DGPT, EuroProTour, EuroTour, National Tour, or National Championships events.
In total, 32 L tier leagues were held. Only eight countries held leagues, mostly as local leagues to allow its players more competitive encounters with peers. Noteworthy appearances for Iceland (4), The Netherlands (2), and Hungary (1), all relatively small countries. The other countries (Finland, Sweden, Estonia, United Kingdom, and Germany) all have considerably larger player bases, and higher number of events offered.
Croatian players may count themselves especially lucky, as the countries 22 players had 15 events on their territory to choose from; no other country comes even close to that ratio (1.5:1).
Russia (2.7:1), Belgium (2.9:1), Slovenia (3.0:1) and The Netherlands (3.1:1) are next in line with “events held per PDGA members”, this ranking sees Italy (13.0:1), Estonia (18.8:1), and France (26.1:1) at the bottom, with all other countries somewhere in between (average being 8.2:1, and mean 7.6:1).
Latvia (300%), Spain (200%), and Lithuania (100%) saw a big increase in number of events held, with the majority of countries seeing a 17-57% increase in events. Czech Republic (+5%) and Finland (+1%) only saw marginal growth, five countries (Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France) experienced a status quo. In inverted order, United Kingdom (-2%), Austria (-13%), and Slovakia (-40%) saw their number of events held drop in 2017.
Data source: PDGA