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disc golf player throwing a drive

Photo courtesy of Neff Conner, Flickr

If you ever want another reason to get active outdoors, I have a great new hobby for you: Disc golf. Disc golf, sometimes called frolf,  replicates traditional golf with discs and baskets instead of balls and holes. Disc golf isn’t new, but it’s seen significant growth in courses, events and players (myself included) over the last decade. The appeal is evident: It’s fun, it can be relatively easy to pick up, courses can be found in many areas, and it’s cheap to play recreationally.

How to Play

The game is essentially played in the same manner as traditional golf with each hole (in this case, a basket or cage) having its own par, or difficulty level determined by the number of throws it takes to reach the basket. Courses are set up in nine or 18 holes. A player begins by throwing a drive from the tee pad and trying to get their disc into the basket in the least amount of throws possible. Just as traditional golf has club selections, disc golf uses a variety of discs that are best for different shots. You can get by, however, with far fewer discs than a golf bag full of clubs. The language for disc golf is also very much the same as traditional golf: Ace, birdie, tee, drive, and others all mean the same thing.

disc golf cage

Terms to Know

While much of the language is the same as traditional golf, there are a few things unique to disc golf you should familiarize yourself with:

Anhyzer – A disc’s flight arc that fades to the right for a right-handed backhand throw.

Hyzer – A disc’s flight arc that fades to the left for a right-handed backhand throw.

Roller – A disc that (standing upright) rolls along the ground. When played with purpose, a roller can help when you don’t have a clear shot to throw a disc.

Stability – A disc’s ability to fly straight.

Understable – When released flat, the disc has the tendency to fly straight from a right-handed back handed throw.

Overstable – When released flat, the disc has a tendency to fly left from a right-handed back handed throw.

Tomahawk – Overhand throw at a verticle angle.

The Circle – The 30-foot radius from the basket in which a player throwing a putt must not advance past their marker until the disc thrown comes to a complete stop. Stepping beyond that point can lead to a penalty stroke. Not all courses will have the circle marked, so it’s best to establish rules before beginning your game, especially if you are playing with people for the first time in order to avoid any confusion.

Courses

Courses vary for disc golf from wide open fairways to dense trees where you have a very small window for a successful throw. What would be considered unplayable for regular golf might be a perfect setting for disc golf. I would recommend for beginners to find a more open course to practice your shots and slowly start to tackle tighter courses after you have built up some consistency with your throws.

Find a course near you >

Disc golf discs

Photo courtesy of USAG-Humphreys, Flickr

Discs

The game is played with discs similar to a frisbee, but unlike what you may be used to throwing on the beach or using for ultimate frisbee, the discs used in frolf are smaller and more solid to perform longer throws and to handle the punishment that comes from hitting trees. There are a lot of discs to choose from, but when you boil it down, you can get away with just two or three to start playing the game. There are three different disc categories: putter, mid-range, and driver. Beginners would be best to talk to someone in a shop that sells disc golf gear or get some recommendations from a seasoned player, but don’t let them upsell you too much. You don’t need to buy the expensive, professional-level discs to play, especially as you’re learning the game.

Other Gear

Bag – You may want to have a bag to carry your gear and personal essentials while you walk the course, but a lot of people just carry three or four discs with them throughout play and don’t find a bag necessary.

Towel – When playing in rain or otherwise wet courses, you will definitely want a towel to clean off your discs and hands.

Portable Basket – For those who are serious about improving their game, what better way than to have your very own basket outback to practice on.

Mini Marker Discs – A smaller version of a disc used to mark your lie.

Water Bottle – Don’t forget to stay hydrated no matter how easy or challenging the course is.

Find discs and gear online >


 

Disc golf is a great way to get outside and stay active on days when not doing a traditional workout. I can’t lie, though: It can be just as maddening as traditional golf at times. Remember that getting the hang of the game will take time and practice just like any other activity, but getting a few friends together for doubles may help you pick it up faster.

And don’t forget: Leave the course in good shape! Courses are natural areas, so minimize your footprint by carrying out what you carry in.

 

 

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