Group and Tournament Play in the Age of COVID-19

Group and Tournament Play in the Age of COVID-19

What’s a “Disc Golf Diva” to Do?

By this time, in the age of stay-at-home orders, increased safety concerns and physical distancing, most of us have felt the loss of social interaction and physical activity offered to us by our love of disc golf. While many of us have continued to play when we can, the PDGA and, in fact, most local Parks Departments, recommend (or more likely require) physical distancing and other safety measures be taken.

What does this mean for your tournament play?

How do you best protect yourself and those you come into contact with? While the Divas respect different feelings and beliefs about COVID-19, in reality, most events are likely going to be required to follow precautions for some time, either because they are PDGA-sanctioned, in a local park where precautions are required, or both. To gain the insight of those who have played tournaments recently, the KC Disc Golf Divas reached out to several local women who have played both local and out-of-state events to get their perspectives.

Immediately, it became clear that most players feel there are steps that the event, the group/card, and the individual can take to promote safety and hygiene.

In August, Dynamic Discs and local TD Scott Reek were able to proceed with the 2020 Midwest Amateur Championships (MAC). There were 10 females who played this event including locals Lindsey Hermanson, Elisabeth Borg-Bowman and Maddy Quade (one of our Juniors who played in the FA3). All three reported some of the steps that they saw the event organizers using to promote safety as much as possible. There were longer than “usual” tee times rather than a shotgun start in order to decrease the contact between groups of players. A rain delay on the final day increased these tee times even further. Lindsey Hermanson, who has played three local events including the MAC since the reinstatement of sanctioning, shared that she felt safer with TD’s taking steps such as scheduling “virtual player’s meetings…and reducing high traffic spots” at the events. Reducing the number or use of paper scorecards or utilizing individual scorecards has been effective as well, some players noted.

Maddy Quade says she always keeps a paper card for her own reference but does not pass it around. Nova Persephone, a local FPO player who played in the 2020 Ledgestone Insurance Open, also encourages players to be “patient with TDs who are required to follow the rules and enforce them. They’ve already heard every side of any argument”. Nova points out that they should be allowed to maintain their focus on creating “a fun weekend” for the participants.

As individuals, maintaining our own distance from others and respecting their space is important.

At times, other players may get closer to us than physical distancing guidelines suggest. Politely reminding them or simply moving away allows you to take personal responsibility for physical distancing. Anna Hare, who played in the Ledgestone Open in Illinois noted that “it’s hard not to crowd around the tee box” or engage in group photos without distancing because we are “creatures of habit”. From a practical stance, she suggests, as others did, wearing some sort of face covering when not able to physically distance as well as carrying hand sanitizer, which many players are doing.

Additionally, Elisabeth Borg-Bowman, who played both the MAC and Ledgestone indicated being careful to stay out of the putting circle when not putting and touching only her belongings was key to her feeling as safe as possible. Additionally, Elisabeth avoided the “flymart” for her own comfort. These types of boundaries may be necessary to set for one’s self depending on your own personal risk factors and comfort level. Other practical suggestions for traveling to events locally or out of state is to attempt to keep one’s own food, keep to people with whom you are already traveling and to try and eat outdoors and away from others if there is a need to eat in a communal setting or restaurant.

Kimberly Giannola, an FPO competitor who played at the Ledgestone Open and Lindsey Hermanson both pointed out that disc golf is meant to be a fun sport and it is important to “keep the fun” in the sport. Kim suggested some ideas for groups and cards to maintain physical distancing while still sharing in the experience together. While common celebration and greetings in women’s disc golf often involve physical contact or celebration “…for everyone’s safety, a celebration that doesn’t involve touching is better”. Kim noted that there are ways to allow everyone to celebrate as a card and maintain camaraderie, such as having a “common dance, or raise[ing] the roof…” rather than the traditional high five or fist bump. She also rightly suggests attempting to be a role model for others on your card, an effective strategy many times.

In summary, using common sense with physical distancing and/or masks if unable to, maintaining good hygiene, and slightly altering your usual disc golf “routines” can allow you to have that good time that everyone wants when playing disc golf while making others and yourself more safe and comfortable. If you have any questions or would like further guidance, the PDGA has excellent resources and guidelines that go beyond the wonderful suggestions of our local players. At the end of the day, you must do what is comfortable and best for yourself and your family and follow your own “gut”. As Junior Maddy said “If you are not feeling safe to go play a tournament, then don’t do it.”


Share your thoughts or recent experience with league or tournament play in the comments below!


  1. Great article, Crispian & Rhonda, and all who contributed!

  2. Thanks Anna! Thanks for your help!!!

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