Feature Article - June 2010
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A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Disc Golf Courses

While disc golf courses are not in the top 10 planned additions at parks and recreation agencies, these respondents were more likely than others to have plans for a disc golf course in the works over the next three years. They were also a popular choice for camp facilities and colleges and universities.

Disc golf has been growing in popularity ever since its introduction in the 1970s. In fact, membership in the Professional Disc Golf Association has more than doubled over the past decade. And the number of disc golf courses, according to the association has grown by 169.2 percent, from 1,145 in 2000 to 3,082 in 2009.

When it comes to programming their facilities, parks and recreation agencies offer a diverse range of services to their communities, from preschool for toddlers to teen nights, and from fitness programs for people of all ages to dinners and trips for older adults.

Creative programming can also make the difference between falling revenues and steady performance, as one respondent described: "We have a severe budget crisis with reductions happening each year, and our recreation department has survived largely because we have increased our revenue through creative programming, marketing and outreach. We need to continue to increase our revenue to stay viable. Our council expects our department to be as close to full cost recovery as possible."

Among the parks respondents this year, more than half said their programming includes: holiday events and other special events; youth sports teams; day camps and summer camps; adult sports teams; arts and crafts; educational programs; active older adult programs; sport training, such as golf instruction or tennis lessons; sports tournaments or races; festivals and concerts; fitness programs; swimming programming; mind-body/balance programs like yoga, tai chi and pilates; and teen programming.

While many parks respondents may be cutting programs and services, 37.4 percent said they have plans to add more programs to their lineup over the next three years. The top 10 programs planned for the next three years among parks respondents include:

  1. Teen programs (up from No. 5 in last year's survey)
  2. Fitness programs (up from No. 7)
  3. Environmental education (down from No. 1)
  4. Educational programs (down from No. 3)
  5. Active older adult programs (up from No. 10)
  6. Mind-body/balance programs (no change from last year)
  7. Day camps and summer camps (down from No. 2)
  8. Holiday events and other special events (down from No. 4)
  9. Arts and crafts (no change from last year)
  10. Adult sports teams (down from No. 8)

Interestingly, there are no new additions or subtractions to the top 10 planned programs list this year. This year's survey saw relatively significant jumps in the number of respondents planning to add fitness programs, active older adult programs and fitness programs.