On the weekend of October 25-26, the PDGA hosted an outstanding event at the International Disc Golf Center called the Directors Cup. This was the second annual edition and it was also my second trip to this invitational event.
One part seminar/conference, one part tournament, the Directors Cup is a free to participate event for PDGA tournament directors, state coordinators, and volunteers. It is the PDGA’s way of thanking its thankless volunteers and also of gathering those volunteers together for a weekend of camaraderie, idea sharing, and learning. The weekend consisted of about 5 hours of seminars and roundtable discussions on topics ranging from sustainability to best practices in running events, two rounds of competitive ratings-based play, and lots of free food and conversation.
While much of the seminar material had a “preaching to the choir” kind of feel (after all, all of us there were experienced TDs and ardent supporters of the PDGA), there was plenty of information shared by both the PDGA staff and the attendees that allowed everyone to leave feeling they had a new perspective or a new concept to put into action at their next club meeting or tournament.
Some of the highlights for me in terms of new and enlightening information didn’t necessarily come from the sit-down structured lectures and discussions. For example, after the first round of competition, everyone was invited to observe the staff as they checked scores, inputted them into the TD Report spreadsheet and uploaded them to the online Tournament Manager for display on PDGA.com. For most of us, this process is old hat, though perhaps few of us have had the experience of entering scores and uploading them immediately after the round (it’s more of a take the scorecards/scoreport home and type it all in at night kind of thing). But it was in the lulls between cards trickling in where we got a real glimpse behind the curtain that is the PDGA HQ.
One attendee took advantage of a break in the action to ask Tour Manager Andrew Sweeton about the status of an event he had sent in for sanctioning but hadn’t seen any confirmation. As we watched on the big screen, Andrew took us into the back end of the events database to first find proof of payment on the sanctioning fee, then into the event itself to process the payment and post it to the online schedule. A small thing in the grand scheme, but I found it to be an interesting glimpse into the day-to-day operations of the PDGA staff.
The fun and educational part about day two focused on live scoring. First was a practical demonstration on how to set up live scoring for an event. Then, we were all invited to set up our own phones to be able to live score our round. Those who weren’t scoring their group’s round were able to watch everyone else’s scores on their own phones during play and on the big screen in the main room of the IDGC afterward.
My takeaway from the process was that it really demonstrated we aren’t far away from players in any event being able to do the same thing, whether it’s a Major or a local C-tier. Really the only step left to take is an app or gateway that gives players access to post their scores without giving them full access to the entire tournament manager system (giving that access is too ripe for abuse and headaches for the TD post-event).
At the end of the event, in addition to the “player pack” goodies we received and the merchandise from the pro shop that we either won or purchased with our 20% discount, we were all given a 1GB USB drive containing nearly 200 files including notes from all the lectures and discussions of the weekend, how-tos for a myriad number of tournament related tasks, and spreadsheets and templates designed to automate various aspects of running a tournament.
The ability to go home with that little thumb drive enabled me to immediately put some of the things I learned and saw at the Directors Cup to use for my C-tier the following weekend. It took, for example, the concept of pre-printed and personalized scoreport cards from the realm of “hey that would be cool to figure out how to do that” to “hey I’ve got a template for that at my fingertips, I can do it right now!”
If there was one thing the event lacked, it was more time devoted to sharing ideas and concepts amongst our fellow TDs. There were brief conversations over lunch/dinner and among groupmates about different things, but something more formal and organized would really have taken the event over the top. We got the lecture/demonstration of how the PDGA/IDGC staff runs an event, and it was great, but I feel like it would also be great to have different TDs from different areas be able to demonstrate and discuss their best practices as well. There were people in the room who have run Worlds, National Tour events, and some highly successful A and B-tier events. Who wouldn’t have wanted to hear more from them about what made/makes their event what it is.
Overall, though, it was a very fun and educational weekend, and I anxiously await attending the 3rd annual Directors Cup next year. It is definitely a must-attend event for any and all PDGA tournament directors. Plain old players could get a lot out of it too. Here’s hoping the event continues to grow and regional satellite events are in the near future as well.