If we were to ask any disc golf related company what their company objectives are, we would get a variety of answers. Some examples would include…
- Growing the sport
- Making the best equipment
- Helping people improve
- Legitimizing the game
- Making disc golf more enjoyable
The objectives would vary from company to company. Some would be focused on players. Some would be focused on technology. Some would be focused on being innovative and unique. The lists would be of varying lengths and content. As different as each list would be, they would also have one outstanding commonality.
They would all have the exact same priority listed in the number one spot. Without exception, every company out there in the business of disc golf has the same primary goal. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist. If they didn’t they couldn’t exist. By the simple definition of being a company and being in business, they are required to be alike in this respect. Whether we like and agree with it or not, every disc golf related company in the world has one primary objective…
To make a profit.
First, let’s set a few things straight. I am not saying that the ONLY thing disc golf companies want is to make a profit. Even the briefest glance at many of them show they care deeply about our sport, the players, and the world of disc golf in general. What I am saying is that even the best intentioned and noble companies in the world MUST concern themselves with profit first. Without profit, it is literally impossible to achieve any of their other goals.
So what the heck does this have to do with building the perfect bag??? A lot.
You see, a key component of making a profit is sales and marketing. If no one knows about or wants a company’s products, no one buys them. If there are no customers buying things, companies cease to be. It’s a very simple and undeniable fact of business.
And that brings us to the point of this article. Companies must make a profit to exist. To make a profit, they have to sell stuff. To sell stuff, they have to make us think we need things….
Even when most of the time, we don’t!
Right now on infinitediscs.com there are 113 different Innova molds for sale. Does Innova have to have 113 molds to cover all the possible needs of disc golfers out there? NO. We could get rid of 50 of those tomorrow and every player could still fill their bag with Innova discs and play no worse because of it. Let’s be real. Innova has 113 different discs because people buy those 113 discs. The same can be said for the line ups of ALL the disc manufacturers. They produce a multitude of discs because that’s what sells. The more discs they make, the more they sell. The more they sell, the more successful they are.
Just look at the descriptions of each of those discs. You would think by reading them that no other disc in the world could do what that disc is described as doing. The descriptions are designed to make you think you need each and every one of them. That’s how people end up believing that they need to lug around an obscene amount plastic on every round.
To reinforce this, look at the bags these companies make. One of the first features they call out is carrying capacity. Every single company out there makes a bag (or bags) that carries 20-30 discs or more. That, combined with the sheer number of discs they make, just reinforces their hopes that you carry a lot of plastic. Every part of their merchandising and sales effort is designed to increase the number of discs you own.
This is called marketing. This is the lifeblood of any profitable company. Disc golf companies are no exception. They are really, really good at it. That’s why every time a new disc comes out, the marketing machine revs up. It’s time to convince you that you either have a hole in your line up, or that something much better than what you already have has just been released.
Look, I’m not saying it should work any differently. I wouldn’t get to play disc golf if it wasn’t for these companies making a profit. What I am saying is that if we are going to be able to build the best possible bag, we need to understand this process. We need to see that more and new doesn’t equal better. We need to understand that 90% of the time, buying or adding a new disc is not the answer. The answer lies in truly learning the discs we already have.
Having too many discs significantly limits the time spent with each disc. Always putting in new plastic makes learning each disc take a lot longer. The constant turnover of discs and molds never allows players to become exceptional with any particular disc. At best these overloaded and consistently changing bags lead to mediocrity. At worst they do actual harm to player improvement.
True mastery of any particular disc is impossible when the approach to disc selection is governed by quantity and novelty. When a player’s efforts are spread thin over a multitude of ever changing molds and discs, they rob themselves of the ability to reap the benefits of gaining a deep knowledge of any one disc.
It takes years of play with any particular mold to really get to know it. And once you put in those years, it’s very hard to replace that hard fought relationship with a new piece of plastic. I think it’s helpful to illustrate the importance of this with an example or two.
Head over to our Pro In The Bag section. Now pick any pro that has been with their sponsor for more than a few years (I would recommend checking out Ken Climo, Barry Schultz, and Steve Brinster to start). Now watch their in the bag video. Count how many newer molds are in those bags vs. molds that pro has carried forever. What you will find is that almost all of these pros play with the same molds and discs they have played with for years. They rarely add new ones. They have a long standing relationship with over 90% of the discs in their bags.
When they do add a new disc, they add ONE. And they work with that ONE for a long time. The majority of their bag stays unchanged for years. And these are players that get to try out EVERY new disc for free. They do that and they still stick with their long standing line up. That should tell you a few things:
- Most new discs don’t actually fly or work any better than a multitude of discs that have been around for years. Despite what the ads and fan boys say.
- Any new discs that are marginally better won’t result in enough improvement to warrant replacing the years of work already put into an existing mold.
- There are extremely few “game changing” discs that come out. These are discs that are truly breakthroughs and have characteristics not found in any previous offering.
And that brings us to the title of this article. Disc golf companies are not our friends. They are companies. Do they want you to improve and play better disc golf? Sure. But they want you to buy their products more than they want you to play better. And you have to remember that a big part of why they want you to play better is so that you keep playing and therefore keep buying more of their products.
Should you buy stuff from them? YES. Should you hold their need to make a profit against them? NO. The point is to become a smart consumer. The point is to only buy when you know it will help you. The point is not to buy just because something is shiny and new and is promised to “take your game to the next level”.
I want to make sure everyone understands that I love disc golf companies. I give a few of them a considerable portion of my disposable income every month. I buy their discs and their bags and their clothing and their everything else. I never feel bad that I support any of them. I WANT THEM TO MAKE A PROFIT FROM ME! I also think that almost all of them do great things for our sport. From Innova’s EDGE program to DD’s tournament sponsorships to MVP’s pushing of the technological envelope, these folks are all out there moving this great sport forward.
I don’t want to take any of that away from them. I also didn’t write this post to convince you to never buy any new discs. It’s quite the opposite. Over the coming series of articles, you may discover that you don’t, in fact, have the right discs for you in your bag. When that happens, I’m going to try to walk you through how to buy the best possible replacement.
The reason just can’t be because of hype over a new disc. It can’t be because you saw your buddy throwing a new piece of plastic well. It can’t be because you got a disc at a tournament and feel like putting it in your bag. It has to be because you have a true need for a new or different disc in your line up.
What we need to realize is that maybe the disc we need came out 20 years ago. Maybe the best driver for us is 10 years old. Maybe the putter that will be our best choice is one that’s been sitting in our garage neglected for months. Remember, new does not equal better. Slightly different also does not equal better.
All disc golf companies make products that can improve your game. You should be on the lookout for those. You should spend time figuring out when they are needed. You should spend even more time figuring out which specific products are best for you and your game. And that’s what this series of posts is for. With hundreds of discs to choose from, how can we make smart decisions? How can we not waste money? And most importantly how can we end up with discs that we can use and grow with over the many years we will play this great sport?
In other words, how do we find a way to wade through all the marketing and hype to find what will be truly beneficial to us and our enjoyment of the game?
The first steps on that journey start with figuring out what type of player we are and what our approach to building the perfect bag is based on. We take those first steps in our next article where we learn what the ancient Druids have to teach us about how we should start to decide what discs we might need in our bags. (That should leave your curiosity sufficiently piqued for next time!)
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”