Discovering Disc Golf: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
It’s not as common as basketball, football, or baseball, but disc golf has established itself as one of the well-loved sports in the world today.
In fact, anyone who’s ever tried playing the game for the first time could attest to how fun and exciting it is, which is why it’s no surprise that a lot of people are hooked on playing disc golf.
But just like any sport, being a beginner at disc golf can be quite intimidating. From learning the basics of the game to building your own disc bag, you might not know where exactly to begin and what information you should know to get started at playing disc golf.
Here, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about this sport.
What is disc golf?
The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) defines disc golf as a sport that is “played much like golf except, instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc.” It’s essentially the act of throwing a disc at a target on a course that consists of either 9 or 18 baskets or holes.
The history of disc golf goes back to the 1900s when the first game was held at Bladworth, Saskatchewan, Canada, although it wasn’t formally called disc golf back then. But it wasn’t until the 70s when Ed Headrick introduced the modern disc golf disc and started his first disc golf company called the Disc Golf Association.
Today, disc golf is played in more than 40 countries with more than 90,916 active members of the PDGA around the world. In the United States alone, about 8 to 12 Americans have played this sport, and more than half a million play it regularly at both amateur and professional levels.
The PDGA governs the sport where it sanctions more than 3,500 events each year, offering an opportunity or professional players to show their prowess in throwing discs on the course.
What are the benefits of playing disc golf?
Disc golf is such a fun and unique sport to play, and it also offers a lot of benefits to you as a player, whether you’re doing it for recreation or competition.
For one, playing disc golf gives you a full-body workout that’s perfect for losing weight, promoting better heart health, and just keeping yourself fit and healthy. The sport is also played outdoors, which means that you can get in touch with nature, have fun under the sun and relieve yourself of the stresses of daily life.
As a competitive sport, disc golf also allows you to build your focus, critical thinking, patience, and self-confidence. You’re not just throwing discs here, after all. You need a good game plan if you want to win each competition.
How do you play disc golf?
When you’re looking at other people playing disc golf, it’s easy to assume that this game is just all about throwing those discs in a certain direction. But the goal of this sport is to complete the entire course, whether it’s a 9- or 18-hole one, with the fewest throws possible.
The basic rules of playing disc golf
To get started with playing disc golf, you must follow these basic rules:
- You need to be throwing your first disc at the teeing area. After this, all your shots will be taken from behind the sport where your disc landed in an area called the lie. If your disc lands on a bush or tree, the ground below that will be your lie.
- You can do a run-up or follow-through, but you should release the disc before you step past the lie. You can also do a putt, which is essentially a throw within 10 meters from your target.
- A hole is only completed when the disc already comes to rest in the chains or the basket. No hole is counted if the disc rests on top of the target.
- A Complete Guide To Disc Golf Rules and Regulations Can Be Found Here.
The terminologies of playing disc golf
To understand the rules of the game further, you need to learn about these common disc golf terminologies:
- Tee throw. The tee is the start of each hole, and each throw must be made behind the marked tee area or on the tee box itself.
- A stroke or point is the maneuver a player used to hit the target or throw the disc into the basket. There are different types of strokes that you can learn to create good gameplay.
- This is the spot where every throw lands. You can leave your disc on this spot or mark it with another disc to know exactly where you should take the next throw.
- Unplayable lie. Since you’re playing outdoors, there are times when your disc lands on water or a tree where it’s impossible to make your throw. In this case, you’ll be asked to throw from the closest spot to that lie.
- Throwing order. This will depend on what you agreed on before the game. If you’re just playing for fun, you can either select random players or flip a coin to see who goes first. But when you compete in disc golf tournaments, the player with the least number of throws on the previous hole is usually asked to do the tee-off. For subsequent throws, the players with the farthermost disc from the hole will be given the chance to throw first.
- Fairway throw. When doing a fairway throw, you can run up to the lie as long as you release your disc from behind it, which is the number one rule in playing disc golf.
- Out-of-bounds (OB). These are areas where your disc lands, but you’re not allowed to throw from them due to safety concerns. When this happens, you’ll be asked to move 3 feet in bounds from where your disc landed to make a throw. An additional stroke will also be added to your score.
- Your score will be determined by the number of throws that you made before completing the hole. Remember that a hole is only marked complete once your disc golf disc is already on the basket.
The strategies in throwing a disc golf disc
Check out this great video of beginner tips from Pro Disc Golfer Will Schusterick
Learning how to throw a disc golf disc properly takes a lot of practice. Here are some strategies that you can use in learning how to do it:
- Hold the disc properly by putting your four fingers under the disc while your thumb sits near the edge on the top of the disc. Adjust your grip accordingly, so you have better control of the disc as you throw it.
- Do the three-step run where you position yourself three steps to where you’re going to release your disc. Make sure that this run begins and ends with your dominant foot and that each step you make is even to maximize the accuracy of your shot.
- As you make these three steps, you should also follow the appropriate maneuvers for each step. On the first step, raise your disc to the height of your chest. As you make your second step, try to point the disc golf disc perpendicular to the target.
This is essentially like curving your body as you bring the disc behind you to prepare yourself for the throw. Take the final step by moving your body weight to your stronger foot as you release the disc.
For optimum power, make sure to bring your arm across your body and keep the disc flat, so you can release it on a straight line where it can also take a straighter flight path.
How do you build a disc golf bag?
Before you could play disc golf, you need to build your disc golf bag first and this will contain all the discs that you’ll need to complete a hole and eventually win the game.
Since you have a myriad of options out there, choosing the right set of discs can be quite overwhelming if you’re a beginner, so here are some things that you need to learn about:
The types of disc golf discs
There are four common types of discs that you should have in any basic disc golf disc bag:
- Distance drivers. From the name itself, a distance driver is used to give you the most distance and speed when throwing. This type of disc is ideally used for the tee-off, but it also requires some experience and expertise to maneuver properly, which is why it’s not usually recommended when you’re still a beginner.
Instead, you can go with a midrange of fairway driver because it gives you good distance without requiring much arm power, which you still need to develop if you’re just beginning to play disc golf.
- Fairway drivers. Also known as control drivers, these discs are very easy to control and handle if you’re a beginner, but they also allow you to build your arm power and speed as you keep throwing them. This is why fairway drivers are ideal for beginners as compared to maximum distance drivers that are designed for intermediates and professionals.
- Midrange drivers. A midrange driver is exactly what it is, a disc that gives you just enough distance and speed to hit the target when you’re not very far away from the basket anymore. The midrange driver is also the best disc to use if you’re a beginner since it’s the easiest to handle, but it offers excellent glide and accuracy.
- Although putters travel the least distance among all disc golf drivers, they do so with so much accuracy, which means that they are best used when you’re very near to the basket or you’re making that final throw to complete a hole.
As a beginner, experts recommend that you start your disc golf bag with a fairway driver, a midrange driver, and a putter. You’ll also see beginner sets being offered by top disc golf disc brands like Innova and Discraft where you’ll already have the basic discs that you’ll need to get started with the game.
Choosing the right disc golf disc
Now that you have an idea of what the different types of discs are, it’s time to learn the tricks to choosing the best ones for you:
- Choose stability. As a beginner, it’s best to go with a disc that’s rated -1 or -2 for stability. This will give you better control of the disc and it also offers a better flying path even if you’re still developing your throwing skills.
- Decide between understable and overstable. Overstable discs tend to curve to the left, which is why they are used mostly by professionals. If you’re a beginner, however, it’s best to go for an understable disc because it starts by flipping over and goes straight before it fades back to the left.
- Go for a lighter disc. The weight of your disc will play an important role in the speed and distance that you’re going to reach, especially if you’re a beginner. A full-weight disc is, of course, harder to throw, so you should go for discs that weigh between 160 and 170 grams which allows you to practice throwing without putting a lot of strain and pressure on your arms.
Choosing the right disc for you doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, professional players have spent years before they perfected their disc golf bags. Make sure to try different types of discs from different brands to see which ones will fit your style most.
Disc golf is definitely gaining a lot of traction for sports enthusiasts around the world because it’s thrilling, fun, and very competitive. As a beginner, getting into the game may feel intimidating at first, especially if you don’t know the ropes yet. But as you work consistently in building your skills, you’ll also begin to enjoy and appreciate the game more.
At the end of the day, disc golf is just like any other sport. If you follow the rules, invest in the right equipment, and practice often, you’ll surely be a pro before you know it.