What is Disc Golf?
Disc golf is a outdoor recreational sport that involves shoot a plastic, disc-shaped object towards a target, which is usually a metal basket sometimes known as “the hole”. Disc golf combines major elements from the sports of golf and ultimate frisbee, particularly drawing on the scoring rules of golf.
Although “disc golf” is the generally accepted term within the sport’s community, it is sometimes casually referred to as “frisbee golf” or “frolf”. Disc golf traces its earliest roots to the early 1900s, while several independent groups began playing similar versions throughout the 1960s. However, Ed Headrick, also known as the popularizer of the modern Frisbee, is also known as the father of modern disc golf after filing his patent for the first official disc golf basket in 1977.
How to Start Playing Disc Golf
Disc golf can be enjoyed as a solo or group activity, although an outing with friends to learn the basics can be especially helpful for beginners. The general objective of the game is for players to complete the entire course of several holes using as few throws as possible.
The Disc Golf Course for Beginners
Disc golf games take place on a disc golf course. Similar to golf, most disc golf courses are nine or eighteen holes, although some courses may feature a nonstandard number of holes.
At the beginning of each hole is a tee box area from which players make their first throw towards the target basket, which is typically several hundred feet away. All players will take a turn as the entire group continues progressing towards the target. A player ends the round, also known as completing the hole, by landing their disc inside the target basket.
While sand traps and water holes are the common obstacles in golf, trees are the primary obstacle to avoid in disc golf, as many public courses are setup in wooded recreational areas. Each hole is also assigned a par value based on its relative difficulty and distance, which can be thought of as the average number of throws it takes to complete the hole.
Learning How to Throw for Disc Golf Beginners
There are relatively few skills to learn in order to start playing disc golf compared to other sports. However, learning how to properly throw a disc can be challenging for any novice, and take a long time to master for even experienced players.
Before attempting to make your first throw, it’s helpful to understand the different type of discs along with the different techniques for throwing in various situations. Broadly speaking, the types of discs correspond to the distance away from the basket, which include driving, midrange, and putting.
Different throw techniques should be used based on course factors such as elevation, distance and angle to the basket, and obstacles between the flight path to the basket. Learn more about 5 basic disc golf throws including the backhand, forehand/sidearm, overhand, hyzer, and anhyzer.
Scoring and Rules of Disc Golf for Beginners
The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) publishes the official rules of disc golf, but the basic rules are that each throw counts as a point. Penalty throws can be added to a player’s point total resulting from violations of rules such as out-of-bounds, hazard, missed mandatory, above two meters, stance, marking, taking improper relief, and lost disc.
Players compete against each other, and at the end of the game, the winner is the player with the fewest amount of points across the entire course. There are also variants of disc golf that include doubles or team play, where team members alternate throws and contribute to team scoring.
Beginners should consider downloading a disc golf app such as UDisc for scoring purposes. In addition to scorekeeping functionality, this app allows players to search for disc golf courses, tracks player’s best throws, and records their entire playing history.
Where to Play Disc Golf
A number of public disc golf sport courses are available both across the United States and internationally. The United States is the most popular One great resource to find a disc golf course for beginners is the PDGA, which publishes a directory of public courses.
Players looking to hone their skills might construct a DIY course on their property with one or more holes and baskets to practice throwing. Another option to consider is a portable disc golf basket that can be setup anywhere with sufficient space.
Equipment Needed for Disc Golf
To start playing golf disc golf, the most basic equipment needed is often a disc and a basket. The discs used are designed especially for the sport.
The discs used in disc golf are made out of polypropene plastic, and typically weigh between 160 and 180 grams. There are several different types of discs which are used for various situations. For instance, the fairway or distance driver is typically used as the first shot from the tee box. Then, midrange and approach discs are used as players get closer to the hole. Finally, a putter is used for close range situations.
Several disc golf brands also feature numbers printed on the front of the disc which represent flight rating system qualities such as speed, glide, turn, and fade. These numbers determine how a particular disc might perform on its flight path relative to other discs.
Recommended Discs for Beginners
- 5 disc set including putter, approach, and distance drivers
- PDGA Approved
Disc golf baskets are intended to be either permanent or portable. Permanent baskets are made from metal attached to a steel pole and feature chains that help deflect discs into the basket. They are sturdy and usually attached to a concrete base so they are difficult to move and can withstand the elements.
However, portable baskets are also available that are much lighter easier to transport and setup. These are great options for practicing throws and bringing to different locations.
Recommended Disc Golf Basket for Beginners
- 52″ Height
- 33 Pounds
- PDGA Approved
Disc Golf Bag
A carrying case or bag is recommended to store and transport discs, along with other equipment and food, water, etc. Main options are sling bag, backpack, and cart.
Recommended Disc Golf Bags for Beginners
- Backpack style carrying bag made from cordura nylon
- Additional capacity for other storage items
- 18+ disc capacity
Water, sunscreen, insect repellant are some other supplies that beginners should bring and pack inside their bag. Beginners should also consider bringing a towel to clean off discs that land in mud, dirt, or grass.
Disc Golf Etiquette for Beginners
While learning the game of disc golf is straightforward, there are some common courtesy and etiquette guidelines when it comes to playing this sport. Most participants are easygoing and many participate to enjoy the outdoors as much as for the competitive aspect of disc golf.
- Don’t litter or leave trash throughout the course.
- Avoid shouting, talking, or distracting other players while they are throwing.
- Help search for lost discs if a player’s shot has gone errant.
- Let faster groups or parties “play-through” if they are waiting behind you.