The increasing popularity of disc golf in Estonia has caused a situation where there are more and more players, but not enough courses to meet demand.
While there were some 4,000 disc golf players in Estonia in 2015, that number has increased to 20,000 by this summer with a large influx of new players coming during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We started with some friends in the summer of 2019. We decided that it is now the right time to try it out. The number of players has increased significantly in two years," said Anna and Nikita, two disc golf players speaking to ERR.
President of the Estonian Discgolf Union Timo Juursalu said people no longer fit on courses in the capital city of Tallinn. "The most limiting factor in Tallinn is still the number of courses. People just do not fit on the courses any longer and it is causing some issues."
Vahur and Alo, two players, also agreed: "Oh yes, certainly. You can see it in Tallinn especially. I would rather not go and play there and would rather drive 30 km further - it is just not possible [to play], there are so many people. But it is also nice in a sense that there are more players. The only negative is that they leave their trash behind: cigarette butts, beer cans, that is not good. But what can you do, that comes with the popularity."
The number of players is also reflected in sales of equipment, which have increased by 30 percent, mainly off new players. "They are our main clients. Those who have played for a while have their own equipment, they only buy when needed," said Discgolf.ee store manager Marko Narits.
"At the same time, quite a few discs are in deficit, nobody saw the coronavirus coming. Factories have their budgets and if your sales increase by 50 percent, it is quite complicated to increase production by 50 percent," Narits added.
There have been new courses created successively to meet demand. There are 212 courses in Estonia, 40 of which were developed over the last year.
"They are popping up like mushrooms after rain, but it depends on funding and who gets what plot. There is also a war everywhere: I do not mean this in a bad way, but tree protectors. Well, our [courses] were closed in Nõmme and I think in Pirita, as well. I understand them too. Everything is fair, but it is a shame," said Alo and Vahur, two players speaking to ERR.
Despite the increase in the number of courses, many disc golf courses are still crowded. However, there is hope that more will be developed going forward.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste