Frisbee Golf Information

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dotPlain old Frisbees were really big in the 1970s, floating across college campuses everywhere. Then someone took most of the elements of golf and applied them to Frisbees. Frisbee golf was born.

It's more commonly known as disc golf. And it's attracting new devotees every day.

Disc golf devotees play in the heart of winter at the Ohio Ice Tournament.
Courtesy of: Columbus Flyers Disc Golf Club

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), three to five million people have played disc golf. Of those, 50,000 to 75,000 play regularly. In 1998, there were 850 disc golf courses around the world, compared to five in 1975. The U.S. has 700 courses. There are only 20 in Canada.

"I had never heard of it before," says Tammy Hickey. "I had been in our local park, but had never paid much attention to those strange metal baskets with chains hanging down the middle." Then one day her friends introduced her to it. She got hooked.

Those strange metal baskets are akin to the holes golf balls are sunk into, except you use the discs. And the discs are almost the same as Frisbees, but not quite.

"They come in different weights and each are made to fly in different ways," says Hickey. "For example, some roll, some fly straight, others have slight left or right curves when thrown. You have to try out a few to find the one that does what you want it to do."

Disc golf is easy and fun to learn. You can play for fun just about anywhere, but you can also compete in tournaments where you can win money, trophies and discs. "Disc golf is now at the level of professional competition," says Michele Baker-Watson. "I have been competing for four years as a pro."

It's one of those rare sports in which almost everyone can participate. "The most exciting highlight of my disc golf experience is knowing that my 13-year-old son will be my caddy at the world championships," says Baker-Watson. "This will be something that we both will always remember doing as a team."

"Almost anyone can throw a Frisbee," says Hickey. "The difficult part comes in throwing distance and having accuracy while doing so. Sometimes I have missed the basket even at a distance of only a few inches, mostly because being so close, you think there is no way you can miss it. But think again. It happens."

dotDisc golf is played on a course, usually in a park, that follows the same theory of a golf course, with the baskets strategically placed along the way. Obstacles abound, such as lakes, trees and hills. "My discs seem to enjoy landing in the midst of bushes," says Tanya Ashton.

The basket is called a pole hole and you toss your disc from a tee box. You can play in teams. The goal is to get the disc into the basket within three throws, or within par. With 18 pole holes on most courses, 54 or less is the desired score at the end of the game. Distances to the baskets range from 180 to 400 feet, generally, but they can go longer.

Discs are quite affordable, going for about $10 or $20 each, and they come in a lot of different colors and designs. But as in most other sports, your equipment will need to meet association standards, in this case the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association). "Make sure to get PDGA discs," advises Ashton. "A regular Frisbee will just be frustrating."

"Disc golf is good for people at all fitness levels, but the more you play, the more fit you become," says Hickey. "You get exercise from walking different terrain, and strength from throwing the discs, not to mention the fresh air and sunshine."

Baker-Watson adds that, "for those with disabilities, some courses are wheelchair-accessible."

"My best advice to new players would be practice on your technique," says Joe Ott. "Distance and accuracy will come in due form, but you need a good form to start with."

If you're looking to make money at disc golf, you can work toward becoming a pro or win some tournaments. Some people also set up businesses selling disc golf equipment.

Getting Started

dot"Getting started can be as easy as playing in a park or school -- of course, observing not to throw when people are near! Most local sporting good stores carry used and new discs. They may also provide you with information on disc golf courses in your area," says Baker-Watson.

Discs you may want to start with are a driver and a putter. A driver will fly straight and a putter "is especially made for shots which are close to the basket," says Hickey. Later, you may want to add a disc golf bag. Made for all-weather play, the bag protects your equipment and scorecards, and provides a place to carry towels and water bottles.

"Bring a water bottle and bug spray with you," adds Ashton. "Talk to people on the course. Most disc golfers are willing to give advice on everything from where to get discs, the best way to make a shot, and how to hold your disc. Join your local disc golf sport association."

A good place to locate other players in your area (and equipment) is at the PDGA Web site. It has a worldwide disc golf people search function.


Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA)
0116-24 65 Front St. W.
Toronto , ON
M5J 1E6

World Flying Disc Federation
655 Rim Rd.
Pasadena , CA   91197

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