The Beginners Guide to Playing Disc Golf
What is Disc Golf?
Disc golf is a great recreational sport for all ranges of physical ability. Why cover it on a personal finance blog? Not only is disc golf very enjoyable, it’s also extremely inexpensive – with total start up and continuing costs of less than $50 (depending on where you play). That’s about what you pay for a round of golf and cart!
What exactly is disc golf? Well, let’s cover what disc golf is not. Frisbee golf! Frisbees are light flying saucers you play catch with. If you play catch with a disc and it hits your hard enough, it might break something. Now that I’ve covered that little pet peeve, let’s move on.
How Do you Play Disc Golf?
Disc golf is basically golf with hard plastic discs. Instead of golf balls, you use discs. Instead of putting your ball in the cup, the objective is to throw the disc into a metal basket. You start off on a concrete platform, similar to a golf tee, and throw towards the basket target, until getting your disc in the basket. As the name might imply, there are a number of similarities between traditional golf and disc golf.
Similarities Between Golf and Disc Golf
- Scoring: Each hole has a par number as a goal to hit. ‘Throws’ are equivalent to ‘strokes’ in golf. If you have 5 throws on a par 3 hole, you have gone 2 over par for that hole.
- Tee Difficulty Levels: Like golf, many disc golf courses have 2 or sometimes 3 sets of tees for varying skill levels.
- The Course: Disc golf courses are not too much different than regular golf courses. Courses are typically 9 or 18 holes. There are fairways, tree hazards, water hazards, tees, and if you’re lucky – scorecards. No scorecards available? Just play as if all holes are par 3 or 4 (depending on your skill level).
- The Equipment: On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there is much similarity between a plastic disc and golf clubs and balls. You may be pleased to find out that there are actually different kinds of discs for different kinds of disc golf throws. There are drivers, mid-range, rollover discs, and even putters!
Differences Between Golf and Disc Golf
- Length of hole: golf tends to have much longer distances from tee to hole than disc golf. An average golf hole tends to be around 300-400 yards in length, while a disc golf hole is usually around 300 feet on average.
- Hazard Penalties: Whereas water, pathways, and fairways for another hold tend to result in 1 stroke penalties in traditional golf, this is not always the case in disc golf. Some courses define specific out-of-bounds lines, but many do not.
- Number of Players: Golf rarely is played with more than 4 people teeing off together. There are no rules against having more than 4 players tee off together in disc golf, but if you’re holding up whomever is playing behind you, it is considerate to let them play through.
Disc Golf Equipment
One of the best things about disc golf is the low barrier to entry. Disc golf is cheap. Very cheap. Most disc golf courses are free to play. Some parks charge an entrance fee, but the golf itself is often times free. The equipment is cheap as well. Beginners can easily get away with buying three different discs:
- Driver: The disc golf driver is a very flat, fast moving disc design to glide for long distances. My favorite driver, and a good one for beginners, is the Innova T-Bird.
- Mid-Range: Mid-range discs are made to be steady, straight flyers. They tend to be a little bit heavier and thicker than drivers. In reality, if you want to get away with just two discs, you probably don’t need a mid-range disc. The Discraft Buzz has a very good reputation as a great mid-range disc for all skill levels.
- Putter: Putters are the heaviest and thickest discs, and are built to take a beating from hitting the metal baskets. The Discraft Magnet is a solid disc golf putter.
Also worth noting are the different types of stability on the discs:
- Overstable: A disc that is over-stable will increase the natural fade of the disc. Highly overstable discs are not usually recommended for beginners.
- Understable: A disc that is under-stable will go against the natural fade of the disc. These discs are usually recommended for beginning players.
Disc weight is important as well. Discs typically weigh between 150 and 180 grams. Beginners should start with light to medium weight discs, while the pros tend to use the heaviest discs.
As highlighted above, Discraft and Innova are two great disc golf manufacturers. They both make excellent discs that I would recommend for everyone. Discs tend to range from about $10-$15 in price. Since you need so few discs in order to play the game, I would recommend avoiding the cheapest discs, which tend to be made of a smooth, harder type of plastic. Higher-end discs tend to provide more grip and durability. Both manufacturers offer product catalogs, details on all of their discs, dealer locators, and instructional videos on their sites:
Let’s not forget the disc golf target. It is a metal pole with a basket surrounding it, usually about 2 feet off of the ground. Chains hang from the top of the pole above the basket to ‘catch’ your putter as it as thrown at the target, so that it can drop into the basket. Once a disc is in the basket, you have completed the hole.
Where to Find Disc Golf Courses?
City and county parks are the two most likely places to have disc golf courses. Occasionally, you will find a private course, but they are a rarity in the disc golf world. To find a local disc golf course, here are a few good resources:
How to Learn Basic Disc Golf Technique
Driving, putting, and different types of fades (hyzer, and anhyzer) all require different grips and releases. Disc golf is a sport with a very fast learning curve. But it does require some basic knowledge on technique. Here are some great resources to turn to for the basics:
Disc Golf Discussion:
- What disc golf questions do you have?
- If you’re a disc golf veteran, what tips do you have for newcomers to the sport?
- What’s your favorite disc golf course?