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JU professor, alumnus publish study on disc golf courses, players

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Jacksonville University geography Prof. Dr. Ray Oldakowski and JU alumnus John McEwen, a former student of Oldakowski’s, have published a study on the diffusion of disc golf within the United States in the prestigious Geographical Review, the journal of the American Geographical Society.

Oldakowski and McEwen mapped all of the disc golf courses created in the country since the first course was established in 1975. There are more than 2,700 disc golf courses in the U.S., including nearly 2,000 established in the past 10 years (see map below).

The duo also surveyed disc golfers to develop a profile of those who play, and surveyed observers to determine what factors encourage persons to take up the sport. The study concluded that the sport has spread more quickly than traditional golf. However, some unintentional cultural barriers still exist as most players are white males, Oldakowski said.oldakowskiUseThisOneResizedForWeb.jpg

“Traditional golf had periods of elitism and discrimination in its past which impeded diffusion to certain people and places. Whereas this is not the case with disc golf, our survey of disc golfers revealed that there is an underrepresentation of blacks and women among those who play …” the researchers said in their report. “If the sport’s landscape includes people, and the overwhelming majority of people playing a sport is white, then the landscape would seem uninviting to others. Therefore, a significant cultural barrier does exist despite the fact it is not.”

The full manuscript is accessible through the JU library online resources EBSCO (Geographical Review, 103 (3) 355-371. July 2013).

This is the second study conducted jointly by Oldakowski and McEwen. Their first looked at the diffusion of American fast food in Ecuador and was published in the journal Material Culture.

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