What is Disc Golf?
Disc golf is a competitive sport, similar to golf, where a player's objective is to throw flying discs in the hole in the least amount of throws. The sport is played on a specialized course set up with 9 or 18 holes. Disc golf is a relatively inexpensive sport that with the proper equipment, can be played anywhere there is a disc golf course set up.
"Steady" Ed Headrick is credited as the father of the sport because of his two monumental patents including the Frisbee in 1966 and the Disc Golf Pole Hole in 1975. George Sappenfield and Kevin Donnelly also played a large part in the development of the sport. Both experimented with playing golf with Frisbees and Sappenfield even brought the idea to Wham-O when he worked there.
How To Play
Whether being played on a 9 or 18 hole course, each hole in disc golf starts with a tee throw. Each player stands in the tee area and makes their first throw of the disc towards the hole. The player who finished the previous hole with the least amount of strokes is the first to throw. After each player has made their first throw from the tee area, the player whose disc is farthest from the hole goes first with every subsequent throw. Once all the players have successfully thrown their discs into the target, players move on to the next hole.
Disc Golf Equipment
Disc golf's primary equipment includes the flying discs and a course with proper disc golf holes. Most who play disc golf use specialized discs that are made for different aspects of the game, including a driver, mid-range disc, and a putter. In addition to discs, players often will also use a carrying bag that holds all of their discs. A few additional accessories can be helpful including comfortable shoes, snacks, water, and a towel.
Here is the essential Disc Golf equipment you should have:
- Carrying bag
- Comfortable shoes
- Disc golf course
- Disc golf discs
- Disc golf retriever
- Mini marker disc
Like golf, disc golf's objective is to finish each hole with the least amount of strokes or throws. Each time a player throws a disc or commits a penalty, a stroke is recorded for that player. The player that finishes the course with the least amount of total strokes wins. To finish a hole, a player must throw their disc so that it lands within the basket of the hole.
Rules and Regulations
For each hole, the player who finished the last hole with the least amount of strokes throws first. After that, the player whose disc is farthest from the hole throws first. Players throw their discs from behind the lie and are allowed to run up and throw the disc from behind the lie. If a player throws out of bounds, one stroke is added to their score and they throw the disc from the closest point in bounds on their next turn.
Here are the most important Disc Golf rules you should know:
- Don't throw a disc when someone may be in harm's way
- The person whose disc is farthest from the hole throws first
- A player must remain on balance and behind the lie when throwing within 10 meters of the hole
- A player must throw the disc to the correct side of the mandatory or they will have to rethrow from the previous lie and will gain one stroke
- The disc must come to rest in the disc golf basket for the hole to be complete
- A disc thrown out of bounds adds a penalty stroke to the player's score and will be thrown up to 1 meter in bounds on the next turn
When learning to play disc golf, the throwing technique is one of the most critical aspects of success. The way a player grips the disc can impact their throws. There are several different types of grips but in general, the disc should not be gripped too tightly or too loosely. In the act of throwing, a player should also remain balanced, rotate their hips properly, reach their arm back with their head down, and follow through properly with a strong step.
Here are the most important Disc Golf techniques you should know:
- Don't grip the disc too tightly or loosely
- Keep a balanced base and rotate the hips well
- Fully extend the arm back when throwing
- Look down and away from the target when the arm is extended with the disc
- When bringing the arm forward to throw, the elbow should lead
- Have a strong step and proper follow through at the end of the throw for maximum distance and power
Here is the common lingo and slang in Disc Golf:
- Stroke: A throw in disc golf
- Tee Throw: The first throw by each player on a hole that is done in the tee area
- Lie: The spot where the disc lands on the ground
- Mandatory (Mando): A tree or pole on the fairway in which players must throw discs to a certain side of, as marked by an arrow
- Out-of-Bounds Line: The line that marks the area on a disc golf course that is out of play
Ken Climo is often considered the best disc golf player in the world. He has won twelve PDGA World Championships and three Masters World Titles. Paul McBeth is another one of the best disc golf players. He has won the PDGA World Championship five times and was ranked the top player in the PDGA World Championship in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Richard Wysocki beat Paul McBeth twice in 2016 and 2017 to win the PDGA World Championship.
Here are the most famous Disc Golf players you should know:
- Ken Climo
- Paul McBeth
- Richard Wysocki
- Eagle Wynn McMahon
- Paige Pierce
- Sarah Hokom
- Eveliina Salonen
- Catrina Allen
While there are many different leagues for disc golf worldwide, the most well-known organization is the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). The PDGA has many certified leagues around the world for players to compete. It also hosts many disc golf events and tournaments each year such as the World Championships, Elite Series, PDGA National Tour, and several other major events such as the European Open and the College Disc Golf National Championships.
Events and Competitions
The PDGA holds the most notable disc golf events and competitions. As part of its Elite Series, the organization hosts the PDGA National Tour and the Disc Golf Pro Tour. The PDGA also holds many major disc golf events such as the College Disc Golf National Championships, the United States Women's Disc Golf Championships, and United States Amateur Disc Golf Championship. PDGA World Championships include the Pro Worlds, Junior Worlds, Pro Masters Worlds, and Am Worlds.
Here are the most popular tournaments in Disc Golf:
- PDGA Elite Series: PDGA National Tour and the Disc Golf Pro Tour.
- Major Disc Golf Events: College Disc Golf National Championships, US Women's Disc Golf Championships, US Amateur Disc Golf Championships, Professional Disc Golf Championships, Junior Disc Golf Championships, European Open, Professional Masters Disc Golf World Championships, Amateur Disc Golf World Championships, and US Disc Golf Championship.
- World Championships: Professional Disc Golf World Championships, Junior Disc Golf World Championships, Professional Masters Disc Golf World Championships, and Amateur Disc Golf World Championships.
How many discs do you need to play disc golf?
Only one disc is actually needed to play disc golf. However, many players will carry several discs with them to throw based on the distance from the hole. A driver can be used for long distances, a mid-range for intermediate distance, and a putter for close range throws.
Where can you play disc golf?
One can locate a nearby disc golf course by using the PDGA Disc Golf Course Directory Map on the PDGA website. Another resource for locating and specifying the type of course is the DG Course Review Directory.
How many players can play disc golf?
There is no limit to the number of players that can participate in a round of disc golf! Since players take turns throwing their discs, many can play the course at once. However, the more players participating, the longer it will take to complete each hole and the course overall.