Written by: Dominik Stampfer
Hello Discmaniacs, hello Disc Golfers! I am Dominik from Germany and since 2012 part of Team Discmania. With this article I would like to tell you a bit more about myself and about disc golf in Germany.
So, who am I? Let´s go quickly through the basic information: I started playing in 2004 after my older brother was finally able to get me away from the soccer field. But it took a few years to take Disc Golf more serious. In 12 years of Disc Golf I had some great finishes on big tournaments in Germany and Europe including a National Open Title in 2014, 21st place at European Open 2015 and a 5th place at Copenhagen Open 2016. I also had the pleasure to attend in the USDGC 2015 and had a solid finish there.
But what kind of person am I on the disc golf course? Well, when I grew up, I was always told to stand up after failure and find my way through every situation. I took those characteristics with me to the disc golf course.
I would consider myself as a sportsman through and through and someone who’s always striving for his best performance. Of course it’s great to win titles, but that’s not the thing what I am driven from. I am driven from the improvement in my own game and from the challenge of beating myself. I mean that’s what Disc Golf is all about – beating yourself. This is by far my favorite aspect of the game. You are responsible for every single mistake, but at the same time the deciding point about winning or losing is you. And if you beat yourself and deliver the best performance you can… throphies and titles will come.
Ok, that's the person you will find on the course. But what is beside of disc golf? Well I am a non-professional disc golfer, but I am trying to take it as serious as possible. In fact, I consider it a free-time activity for me. In my daily life I am employed in a German company which provides healthcare products and solutions. I am doing a three years training program to earn a Bachelor of Arts. That means I am working and studying at the same time. Fitting enough disc golf practice into a busy schedule is not easy, but challenges me to do things more efficient. Even when I struggled balancing these things during this season it was a great learning experience.
Last year, I was working abroad in Hong Kong. Yes, Hong Kong! Far away from home and far away from any courses. Life was very different there compared to every single place I’ve been so far, so this is another whole new experience for me. I was enjoying every minute of this cultural experience. If you want to see some pictures of this 3-month journey, head over to my Instagram account @dom35089 and make sure to follow me on my journeys.
Dominik at the famous Tian Tan Buddha statue in Hong Kong.
Let's talk about Disc Golf in Germany. Yes, the country where Simon Lizotte's career started. The history of disc golf in Germany goes back to the 80's. Till the turn of the millennium, the sport did grow slowly like in most countries in Central Europe. However, over the last years, the number of active members of the German Disc Golf Association is steadily growing and around 2,500 players within 58 clubs are organized among the German Frisbee Association. A raw guess says that more than 10,000 people in Germany play Disc Golf on a regular base.
Also the amount of courses is not that high: 70 courses, with most of them located in central/northern Germany around Braunschweig and Hannover. This low number of courses is our biggest issue we have to deal with. The situation with public authorities is not easy, as it is really hard to find places to install a course. Reason for that is the well protected nature in Germany, as we are a small country compared to the huge amount of people living in it. You want to see some numbers which underlines this problem?
California is about 20 % bigger than Germany, with around 50 % less people living in California, but around a quadruple of more courses (around 270). Finland, known as the biggest disc golf country in Europe, has a population of 5,5 Million and 565 courses. Germany, which is as big as Finland, has 80 million residents while having 70 courses.
Areas for a Disc Golf course are limited and many tournaments are played on temporary courses. But how should a local community grow without having a course to play at?
However, I think there is a lot of potential for disc golf in Germany. Many cities are looking for attractions for their residents. In southern Germany, the part I live in, had less snow in the last years and many skiing slopes were useless. This could be a potential for the future as the climate is changing.
I think it just needs a bit more conviction from authorities and it will be a matter of time until disc golf becomes more than a “fun sport” in Germany.
I've been talking about the current situation in Germany, but what's missing comparing to the mother country of disc golf - the United States?
Comparing Europe vs. USA in disc golf is not easy for me, as I've only played a few courses and three tournaments in the USA. When you look at the hard facts, Europe is far away to get close to the USA. Everything seems to be bigger and better in the US disc golf, especially the courses, players and tournaments. There are many disc golf companies established, we can watch play-by-play video almost every weekend and even live broadcast every few weeks. That's a massive difference. We don't have that many people who try to push the sport with their job or put so much time into media channels. Of course, there is this one country in northern Europe that has all these kind of stuff. But unfortunately we have only one Finland in Europe (yet) and many countries are lacking basic things like a variation of courses and player base.
But still, I think Europe is closing the gap year by year. More players are getting into the sport and more courses are being built. But more importantly, the way how tournaments are organized, is improving a lot. You can see this not only in the prime examples such as the European Open or the European Masters, but also EuroTour events and all the local events try to run a professional event and present the sport to newcomers as good as possible.
What seems to me a big difference is the way people in Europe try to perform the sport. By saying that, I don't mean the kind of workout routine. But it seems to me that a European disc golfer tries to represent our sport as professional as possible to get it recognized as a serious sport. This is also a reason why companies and media not related to disc golf, start getting into the early development of the sport. We need more of that, because that's how we can catch up with the USA. Generally, I would say European Disc Golf is not too far behind the US than it looks by looking at the numbers. We are coming closer. And one day there will be a World Champion from Europe.
I want to end this write-up with a huge thank you to all the readers of this article. Stay positive on the course and enjoy throwing discs!