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Partners in Pride: How Throw Pink is bringing disc golf to underrepresented communities

Partners in Pride: How Throw Pink is bringing disc golf to underrepresented communities

This year’s Pride Collection is a collaboration between Savage and some of our partners that also care deeply about LGBTQIA+ rights. We called this effort “Partners in Pride,” because the focus is on working together to spread awareness, raise funds, and increase visibility and inclusivity in sports.

We’ve worked with each one of our partners to create unique Pride jerseys that they can promote to their followers in the hopes that we can increase exposure to the cause. We will also be running a series of blog posts highlighting how each of these organizations works to support the LGBTQIA+ community. 

First up, we spoke with Sara Nicholson, co-founder of Throw Pink, about using sports to advocate for women’s health and their mission to grow the sport and make disc golf more accessible and inclusive across all genders, ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 


How did you get into playing disc golf? What drew you to the sport?

Sara Nicholson: I was first introduced to disc golf by my brother. I learned to play during my summers working out in Yellowstone National Park.

My family is very competitive. We love playing games. From baseball to board games — anything with a score. What hooked me about disc golf right away is that you can play by yourself, with a group, just for fun, or in an organized competition. I love being outdoors. Disc golf combines my love for sports and nature into one beautiful and fun activity.

 Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Charity Tournament Event

 

What inspired you to use disc golf as a way to build awareness and help fight cancer?

SN: My Grandmother had breast cancer when I was born. My parents named me after her. Cancer has always been a conversation in my family. When I ran my first women's event in 2011, I paired it with a local breast cancer charity. I was overwhelmed with the amount of support the charity received from the disc golf women. Throw Pink was born out of that event. Being able to combine something that you love with something that makes an impact is an amazing feeling. Since that first event, Throw Pink has evolved to focus on all aspects of women's health initiatives.

 

How have you and Throw Pink been involved with the LGBTQIA+ community? Why is this important to the organization? Why is this important to you? How do you hope to grow your involvement in the future?  

SN: I have always personally been an advocate and supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our partnership with Savage is Throw Pink's first initiative specifically geared toward the community. We hope this is only the beginning of our outreach and support. 

Disc golf has the potential to provide fulfillment, growth, fun, and health to people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities. Disc golf can be played successfully by all ages and skill levels. Most disc golf courses are free, and you only need one disc to play. It is truly one of the most inclusive and accessible sports. 
At Throw Pink, we try to be intentional about engaging new players. Since our inception, our volunteers have hosted 72 events with 3,451 participants in 21 states, and three countries. This is just the beginning. Our goal is to be in every city, state, and country on the planet to give more women and girls access to the growth experienced through sports and outdoor recreation. Lofty, I know, but I'm only 42, I have at least another 40 good years to make this happen. 
We pair our events with local charities — raising money and introducing disc golf to their communities. We look forward to using this same model to introduce disc golf to more members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

Partners in Pride Throw Pink Rainbow Disc Golf Jersey  

 

What’s unique about being a woman or queer athlete in disc golf? How do you think the LBGTQIA+ community in disc golf compares to other sports? 

SN: Women make up a small percentage of disc golfers, specifically competitive disc golfers. It's powerful how the women, and many of the men as well in the disc golf community, work together to grow women's participation in the sport.  

While the LGBTQIA+ community also makes up a smaller portion of the disc golf community as a whole, there are powerful queer voices amongst athletes, ambassadors, and members of the PDGA governing board looking to expand LGBTQIA+ involvement. We look forward to continuing to be a part of this.

 

 Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Charity Tournament Event

 

Why is getting more women involved in disc golf so important? What are some of Throw Pink’s initiatives and programs designed to get more women interested in the sport?

SN: In addition to my work with Throw Pink, I also serve on the PDGA Women's Committee and the World Flying Disc Federation's (WFDF) disc golf committee and Women in Sport Commission. WFDF is putting in the work right now on some initiatives for gender equity in flying disc sports. I'm excited to be part of the conversation.

Giving more women and girls opportunities to participate in sports and outdoor recreation through the game of disc golf is my life's work. Sports provide essential health and developmental components (self-esteem and confidence) that many girls are missing out on due to the lack of programs and resources in their communities.

It's not just about the competition side of things, disc golf is fun to just play, and it's a great way to get exercise without even realizing you’re exercising. I would love to see more women out on the course.

Our fun clinics provide an environment in which all who participate can feel safe and welcome. This helps encourage new players to the game. We also work with youth initiatives, start them young. Our Throw Pink team was formed to promote more women's leadership in the sport by supporting and training more women to be event directors in their communities. If women see other women doing it, they'll be more encouraged to try it.

 

What are your thoughts on getting the LGBTQIA+ and POC communities more involved with playing disc golf? What initiatives does Throw Pink take to foster inclusivity and diversity?  

SN: Disc golf is for everyone. I would love to see the demographic that plays disc golf to be a better representation of the human beings on the planet.

At Throw Pink, we try to create a fun and safe atmosphere for new people to experience and learn the game of disc golf. We host a variety of different events in the hopes of finding a format that appeals to everyone. 


How can other organizations help bring disc golf to a more diverse community? 

SN: Reach out to us. We can help you bring disc golf to your community.

 

What are your hopes for the future of the sport?

SN: Positive growth. More people from all walks of life playing. More communities getting behind the fun outdoor recreation that disc golf provides.

 

Shop the Throw Pink Pride Jersey and the rest of our Partners in Pride Collection. A portion of all sales will be donated to the Center for Black Equity and Side by Side.

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Hannah McBeth talks about being a woman in pro disc golf

Hannah McBeth talks about being a woman in pro disc golf
In honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 5, Savage is highlighting some of our favorite female athletes [like Ultimate player Jenny Fey and Spikeballer Tori Farlow] in some of our favorite sports throughout the week. Next up: PDGA rising star Hannah McBeth.

Hannah has been competing as a professional disc golfer since the end of 2017. When she's not traveling the world  competing in events with her husband (five-time World Champion Paul McBeth), they're relaxing at home in Goode, Virginia with their German shepherd, Harrison. You're up, Hannah!

Savage: How did you start playing disc golf?
Hannah McBeth: I was dating someone who played the sport. He and his friend group would play every weekend, and after watching them throw into trees/water/rough for hours every Saturday (they were beginners) I got tired of watching and wanted to learn for myself. I immediately fell in love with it! I loved how you could do it by yourself, and didn’t have to rely on having a team or signing up for a league.

Savage: What's unique about being a woman in the world of disc golf?
HM: I love being a woman in professional disc golf. Our sport is continuing to grow every year and there are lots of women taking it seriously and wanting to move up to pro. The atmosphere for women’s disc golf is really positive, especially at the beginner/amateur level. The camaraderie and competitive drive in pro absolutely exists, but there is also this strong support felt between all of us. Disc golf is different than any other sport I’ve played because it isn’t a team sport. Even though we are courteous and tell each other “good shot” or “nice putt,” everyone is mostly focused on and looking out for themselves. We all want the sport to continue growing and improving, and I think a lot of pro women have been inspired to start working harder and practicing more.

Savage:  How do you think being female in disc golf compares to other sports?
HM: All the other sports I have played have been women-only team sports, but in disc golf I’m ALWAYS practicing with guys. This encourages me to be the best I can be and not shy away from challenges or harder practices, but it can be challenging if I’m not keeping my pride in check. A professional male out-driving me on every hole doesn’t intimidate or bother me. It’s taught me to take the focus off others and be mindful about my own game and practices. Their mistakes don’t bother me and my mistakes don’t bother them.

I choose to surround myself with positive, patient people who want to see me succeed. I don’t think every woman in disc golf has that opportunity. I know sometimes women go out with their significant others and are easily discouraged by the difference in skill level. Maybe their guy isn’t as patient, or the course is super wooded, or the discs aren’t right for them, etc. I would encourage those women to get involved with other women who play the sport! It can be so much more fun. That's what I did when I started playing. I found a women’s league and it made disc golf fun, not frustrating.

Savage: What are some of the challenges of being a woman in disc golf? 
HM: There are challenges in every sport for every athlete. The focus should be on what you do with them. Right now, one challenge is with tee pads and tournaments setting fair pars for our division. I have played on several courses that were considered “too hard for me.” I have been told multiple times (remember, I haven’t been competing long) “getting par here is going to be like a birdie, so you’re most likely going to get a bogey+.” When you go through experiences like that you learn to focus on what you can control. For me, I can control how often I practice, my training habits, and my mentality. I can’t control unlucky kicks, unfair pars, difficult fairway designs, or long tee pad locations. That's how I tend to look at any challenges I tend to face as an athlete in disc golf.

Savage: What are your thoughts on bringing more women into disc golf?
HM: Being an athlete for as long as I have, I know for a fact that if someone finds enjoyment in a sport or activity, they are going to make it a priority in their life. In disc golf we call it “catching the bug.” The issue is there are limited resources for women looking to improve. We have too many women climbing up the ranks with poor form in putting and driving. When they move into a wooded course they can’t keep it in the fairway, or when they move from wooded to open they don’t have the distance they need. We need more resources (coaching) and training opportunities (pro clinics) so the women in the sport can continue to have fun and play, but also improve if they want.

Savage:  What are your hopes for the future of the sport?
HM: My hope for the future of the sport is that more people would take themselves seriously as professionals. It’s important to take practice, workout, and nourishment seriously. We also have many incredible athletes in the sport who aren’t getting appropriate sponsorships or opportunities because they don’t know how to self-market effectively. I think everyone is hoping the sponsors will come to them and give them a big opportunity, but in reality, we could educate ourselves on brand deals and marketing more. I have seen several companies offer free or discounted product to disc golfers in exchange for social media posts when in reality these athletes could be asking for more.

Savage: Who are some of your favorite female disc golfers?
HM: My all-time favorite female disc golfer is Elaine King. Elaine is a straight-shooter on and off the course. She isn’t afraid to tell it like it is to help you succeed, even if you’re about the throw your disc (as a five-time world champion she’s allowed to do that). When Elaine compliments you, you know you can trust what she’s saying and it feels so incredible. She has a big heart for women coming into the sport but is also a very tough competitor to the ones who have been here for a while. She has proven that it is possible to be completely focused and competitive while at the same time remaining kind and courteous to those around you. My second favorite is Kristin Tattar. She has overcome so much adversity in life and every time continues to quietly work hard and push herself. Her work ethic is the most inspiring part of her game to me, and I am so excited she is our current U.S. Women’s champion.

Psst: Our Women's Mystery Sale is running through the end of the week, with women's mystery jerseys starting at $7. Shop all the discount jerseys here.
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