What is Disc Golf?

By Ryan Watson

A person throws a frisbee to other people across a green field in the shining sun

Disc Golf, sometimes referred to as frisbee golf,  is a sport that combines the basic principles of golf with throwing flying discs. Each “hole” is typically over 200 feet in length, and each player tries to get their disc into a basket held by a central pole in as few throws as possible. Above the basket is a series of hanging chains meant to stop the momentum of the flying disc and drop the disc into the target basket. The player with the least number of throws after a round is declared the winner.



For as long as there have been flying discs, people have played games involving hitting a some sort of target. Because of this, it is impossible to determine who first had the idea. However, the modern game has its origins in “Steady” Ed Headrick, the original designer of the Frisbee. Headrick founded the Disc Golf Association, now known as the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), in 1976 and organized the first tournaments. He is also responsible for creating the baskets and chain-draped poles that serve as the holes in disc golf.


Disc Golf Courses

In the past decade, an explosion in the number of disc golf courses has occured. There are now both pay-to-play and public facilities, with many public parks maintaining their own disc golf courses. Since disc golf courses require little maintenance, they can be placed virtually anywhere. Players play a standard 18 holes as in golf, and begin each hole from a small platform known as the tee box. Each hole has a par, and scores are recorded in the same fashion as golf. By 1983, disc golf hall of famer Dave Dunipace designed the flying discs now used in disc golf, moving away from Headrick’s original frisbee design.



The main change in disc golf since its founding has been the development of smaller, heavier discs that distinguish themselves from the toy frisbees. The discs typically have a diameter between 20-23 cm and must weigh less than 200 grams. Generally, discs come in three varieties: putters for the short game, drivers for long game, and mid-range discs. Putters are most similar to traditional frisbees and are designed to fly slowly and accurately. Mid-range discs are the irons of the disc golf world, and fly farther than putters. Drivers contain sloping edges with the majority of weight shifted to the outer rim. These are used when teeing off or when maximum distance is needed. There are many varieties of each type of disc and it is common for disc golfers to bring numerous different discs to a round.







About The Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.


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