Disc Golf is played very much like regular golf, only you use frisbee discs instead of a golf club and ball and chain link baskets (post holes) instead of a cup recessed into the soil. The goal is the same, to hole your ball ..er…ah.. disc in as few throws as possible. Each hole has a par (or average number of strokes ..er throws required to put the disc in the basket). This is where the two forms of golf differ somewhat. In the case of ‘conventional’ golf, par is generally anywhere from three to six, while in Disc Golf the par is almost always three (although the distance between basket can differ greatly). If you put your disc in the basket in fewer throws than par, you have made a ‘birdie’. If you take more than par…well you have joined the multitudes who know the pain of a “bogie”. If the golf gods have smiled on you you might become one of the cherished few to know the joy of flinging your disc into the basket in only one throw. This blessed event is known and celebrated as an “Ace”.
Each hole starts at the tee. The player with the lowest score on the previous hole has honors and throws first. The tee area is generally marked by a sign that lists the distance and par of the hole, as well as a map showing the layout of the hole. The player must start by throwing his/her first shot from and area behind and within within 3 meters of the tee box markers (similar to ball golf). The drive may be thrown from any area of the tee box, providing that the players support point(s) at time of release are behind the tee markers, but no farther back than 3 meters behind the tee markers. The player may step past the tee line once the disc has been released. This shot is known as the Drive. The player may run up to the line prior to throwing the disc. This is generally referred to as the run up.
The next shot, known as the approach shot is thrown from the spot where the drive or previous shot came to rest, and must be thrown from a place that is behind the spot marking the leading edge of the disc. Players generally mark the leading edge of the disc with a mini ( or marker ) disc prior to picking up their previous shot, although a marker disc is not required. In fact, many players mark their lie simply by turning over the disc from their previous shot. The player farthest from the hole throws first. The player may again run up to throw the disc, as long as the player’s foot is behind the marker disc, and within 30 CM (~12 inches) of it when the shot is released. Once again, the player may step past the marker disc once the shot has been released.
Most disc golf courses feature an elevated basket with chains to (hopefully) stop an incoming disc, generally referred to as the target, basket, or Pole Hole®. A putt is considered any throw that originates within 10 M of the basket. The rules for throwing putts are slightly different than drives and approach shots. When putting, a player may not run up, and must maintain control of his/her body position after releasing the putt. When putting, a player is not allowed to step past their marker disc even after releasing the shot. The hole is finished when a player’s disc comes to rest in the basket. The score for each player is recorded immediately after completion, and reflects the number of shots thrown from the tee until the disc came to rest in the basket.
A disc golf course normally has 18 holes or baskets, although some have only 9. Some courses may not have actual baskets or post-holes. They may instead have wooden posts or natural objects such as trees that are designated as targets. These are known as “obstacle courses”.
Choosing the right golf disc is a matter of personal preference. After you have been playing a while, you will have some sort of idea which discs perform best for you under different situations. You can get started with as few as two discs, a disc for distance and a putter. As these discs cost around $15.00 each, you can see this is a very inexpensive sport to get started in. Discs have not only different weights, but different flying characteristics. Some will fly right, some will fly left and some will just do whatever they want to do, or at least it sometimes feels that way.
The best way to get started is to check the Professional Disc Golf Association’s Course Directory for a course near you. Show up any weekend and you will find a bunch of great golfers who will be more than happy to help you get started. They will give you some pointers on what discs to buy and show you the ropes. We’ll be watching for you.