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Disc Golf - Disc Golf, Frisbee Golf, "Disc," or "Frolf"
December 31, 2009 - 2:09pm — Matt Kegelman
Disc Golf is a recent development in the world of sports, but it is gaining popularity among outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
Here’s what happened: Young, energetic people were looking for a challenging sport that wouldn’t break the bank account. What they got was Disc Golf.
Or to some 'Frolf.' __ __ _ (Frisbee + Golf = "Frolf")
The object of the game is to throw your disc into the basket or "chains" in the least amount of throws. You could even play the game with a normal frisbee, it'd just be much harder to play the sport well.
All (or almost all) holes are Par 3 in disc golf. Occasionally there is a hole on a course that many players call a par 4 or 5, but traditionally and in tournament play, everything is a considered par 3. There are tons of great places to play: If you need a place to play, check out PDGA.com listings and also, from GettingOutside.com, we have information on hundreds of great National and State Parks where you can play here: Destination - Disc Golf Courses!!!
Discs used in Frisbee golf are shaped pretty much like a normal Frisbee, but with the overall design of a pizza-cutter — or maybe a flying saucer — as they have a much sharper edge than a normal Frisbee does. See Below.
This thinner frisbee features a front edge designed for cutting through the air by keeping a low aerodynamic profile, which allows the disc to glide (or cut) through the air. That is, it keeps going fast, and it makes the disc not only fly farther, but straighter, and with a predictable fade as well. The idea is basically this:
less resistance = more speed + stability...
The modern technology of disc manufacturing and design has led players to have a much longer and straighter flight-path for drives and approach shots! It's like the dimples and composite-modern-materials of a golf ball (gives you an extra maybe 30 to 50 yards, in disc golf, it turns out to be an even ratio: a foot to a yard).
Regulation baskets — sometimes referred to as "chains" (perhaps because of the clanging sound the metal chains make when the disk strikes them! cha-ching...) — are about 4 and a half feet tall, and almost 3 feet wide at the base. The chains have a width of about 2 and 1/2 feet. These are your target.
Images Are Courtesy of Gateway Disc Sports, a company who makes tremendous Disc Golf products. They do a lot for the sport by Researching, Designing, and Manufacturing high-end equipment in their own state-of-the-art factory (not only do they make discs, chains, and bags, they also have revolutionized course design and implementation of new course projects. You can check out their video here.
You aim at the chains in order to get the disc to catch a few of them in mid-flight; if it does, it will slow the disc down and cause it to fall into the basket directly below. Or you could try to land right in the basket (like you would try to get a basketball in the hoop) with a hammer toss or Larry Bird shot (swoosh!). Editorial Note: I've only done this two or three times, but once it was over a 40 foot pine tree. These are the kinds of shots that make you keep coming back!
All baskets have chains in them that cause the plastic discus to stop in mid-flight and fall into the basket below... (-/*\-See image above -/*\-) So, all you have to do is hit the chains with your disc directly, and nine out of ten times your disc will end up falling down directly into the basket, which is what you want: A Hole in One!
That was 2-time World-Champion, Barry Schultz, getting an ace on a 340 foot par 3.
How to Play Disc Golf
First you need a disc, then a target. You can aim at a tree for practice before heading out to a real disc golf course. There are many different techniques for throwing a disc, including normal hand (or back hand, where the disc is thrown basically like a frisbee [more on technique later]), side-arm (or flick, where the disc is thrown mainly with the wrist and forearm), and over-hand (hammer toss, where the disc is thrown like an outfielder throws a baseball with a "crop hop"). To get the disc most of the way to the target you will have to have a good Drive. Then you will have to take an approach shot (like chipping in golf) and then a putt. They even make different discs with flight characteristics matched for each different shot (more on this later).
It takes a lot of practice to get good at Disc Golf, but even complete novices have fun, as long as he or she keeps an eye on the disc if it is lost in the "prickers" and minds the poison ivy or thorns! But it is a really fun outdoor activity and GettingOutside.com is here to help! We hope you find the sport to be just as much fun as we do! Just wait until you get your first ace... or sink a putt from a distance... or get your disc stuck up in a tree and have to go caveman to get it back down!
Some holes can be made in one shot if the player has great accuracy, or luck [wrong basket]! It’s actually probably easier to get a hole in one in disc golf (referred to ubiquitously as an “ace” – something that is true of both sports).
Similarities between disc golf and real golf (traditional old, white-ball!)...
- You try to get your disc in the basket in the least amount of throws (just like real golf:)
- You try to get your ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes...
- You have dedicated discs to throw for different shots: Drives (long), approach (mid), putt.
- You have different clubs (drivers, irons, wedges, and a putter) in real golf.
- There's an official tour for people who play: Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA)
- There's an official tour for people who play: Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA)
So basically disc golf is just the same as real golf, except it’s less expensive and—for those out there who can throw a disc well, at least—it can be more rewarding (because it's less expensive and equal in the fun department for some)—and more fun!
Disc Golf holds a unique niche in the world of outdoor sports. You do have to be somewhat athletic to play, but you need not be in incredible shape. One thing is true about this particual outdoor activity: People of all shapes, sizes, and ages can play the game of disc—and it's a more than likely possibility that you'll have a good time with it, not neccessarily by playing well or having lots of great throws, but by enjoy yourself being outside, w/ nature—by getting some fresh air, exercise and activity. And if you make an awesome shot, that's even better!
Quite possibly the best part about disc golf is that you must go back to nature for a short while (or maybe longer for some true ironmen and women out there who play 36 holes instead of just the normal 18). There is a special element to the game, the challenge with the pricker bush, or the height of tree branches which conceal your disc, and the birds, geese, snakes, fish, crabs, deer, owls, and other fauna.
To play the sport, find any of the State Parks offering the equipment for the game (tee boxes and target “chains,” or baskets) or a specialty-dedicated disc golf course. You can usually buy a cheap starter disc or two at the Park Nature Center or Visitor Center. Bring 10 or 20 dollars cash (you might want to get two, because they can get lost).
Click here for Getting Outside.com's Destinations Section which will help you find some of the coolest courses out there, and now that the sport has gained so much popularity, it’s almost guaranteed that there’s one near you (say, within a 25 mile radius... and there's almost definitely one within 50 or 100 miles... there might even be one right down the road)!
So, if you've seen those funky looking baskets and have never given it a try, what are you waiting for? Play disc golf today — or next time you're out! Wait until the weather is nice and it's not too windy if this is your first time (Diehards have no trouble playing in mud, rain, wind and slighty stormy weather, but if it's your first time out, we suggest you test the waters first, on a nicer day, at your local state park that offers disc golf; or if you're a returning player, refresh your skills and intellect by playing a new course) — we know you’ll have so much fun, you'll be right back out there on the disc golf course with a couple of new nicer plastic (championship edition) discs, ready to play again and lower your best score!
Learn more about Disc Golf vs. Real Golf (and Disc Golf Culture) here!
Go back to the Getting Outside.com Activities Section to find more fun outdoor activities!
Get out there on the disc golf course!