If you can throw a Frisbee or other flying disc, you can play this sport, which is similar to conventional golf.
By Lisa Cordeiro
As a mother of two young kids, I’m always on the lookout for outdoor activities that everyone in the family can enjoy. Disc golf meets the criteria. It’s easy to learn to play, requires minimal planning and equipment, and doesn’t cost much . . . features that many families can appreciate.
Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. But instead of using clubs to hit a ball, you aim a flat, circular disc at a target. In disc golf, the target, or “hole,” is typically a metal basket on a pole, often called a Disc Pole Hole. Many golf terms are similar between the two sports, such as par, bogey, fairway, etc.
Disc golf fairways can be shorter than those on regular golf courses but still fraught with obstacles such as trees, bushes, and varied topography. Combined with the physical and mental challenges involved at aiming at the target, a round of disc golf is interesting and ever-changing.
Disc golf has grown in popularity in recent years. Many people try it and become hooked. Many RV parks have disc golf courses located on their property, making them easy to access. Some even host competitions.
“Steady” Ed Headrick is considered the father of disc golf. He patented the Frisbee flying disc in 1966; soon after, people played a type of Frisbee golf by aiming at targets such as water fountains, fire hydrants, and lampposts.
In 1974 Headrick discussed the idea of a disc golf course with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. Oak Grove Park in Pasadena was selected as the location for the inaugural course, and poles were cemented into the ground. The following year, Headrick patented the Disc Golf Pole Hole.
Headrick organized the Disc Golf Association (DGA) in 1976, which established disc golf as an international sport and promoted the creation of courses worldwide. The sport quickly gained popularity, spawning more and more courses and players. During his lifetime, Headrick designed more than 200 courses. Today more than 6,000 courses worldwide are registered with another organization founded by Headrick, the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA).
Like many parents, I’m eager to find activities that encourage kids to step away from the electronics and go outside for some family time that incorporates physical activity. When you have kids at different ages and with different abilities, not to mention adults with varying skills, it can be challenging to find activities in which all can participate. Multigenerational RV families may find disc golf especially appealing. All ages can play, including school-aged children, older adults, and those with disabilities. Since the rules of disc golf are simple, the game is easy to learn.
The PDGA cites several advantages that disc golf has over ball golf. For one, greens fees and cart rentals are rarely required. Tee times are nonexistent. Most anyone can play, regardless of age, gender, or economic status.
A round of disc golf takes only about one to two hours, so you don’t have to plan for a full day’s outing. Another benefit is that you don’t need to purchase expensive equipment. A good quality golf disc costs less than $15. For my family, which has downhill skis, cross-country skis, bicycles, a kayak, and closets full of sports equipment, this is good news!
Of course, should you become a regular player — perhaps even a competitor who participates in disc golf tournaments — you can purchase a set of discs of assorted weights rated for various distances and playing situations, much like the array of clubs traditional golfers carry.
How To Play
Like ball golf, the objective of disc golf is to complete each hole in the fewest number of strokes. Each throw counts as a stroke. For each hole, your initial throw, or tee-off, is from a tee area. You continue down the fairway, throwing the disc from the spot where it landed on the previous throw, until your disc finally lands in the basket at the Pole Hole target. (Loose vertical chains help the disc drop into the basket.) Sounds easy enough, right?
Your initial attempts at throwing the disc during a round of disc golf may be humbling, like mine. But after several throws, I began to get the hang of it — still not impressive, but not as haphazard. At least the disc started to land in the general area I aimed. So, you may want to give youngsters plenty of time to get used to throwing the disc at a target. Maybe you could even try in your backyard or a local park if you don’t have a disc golf course nearby.
One inexpensive disc, such as a Frisbee, may be all a casual player needs for an occasional round. The actual sport employs the use of smaller, thinner, heavier discs. Some players may opt for a disc golf set; sets are available at sporting goods stores or online retailers such as Amazon.
The DGA sells a starter kit, which includes a disc golf bag; a driver disc, a midrange disc, and a putter disc; a mini marker disc; score cards and pencils; and the rules of recreational disc golf. It was priced around $50 at the time this article was written.
You can purchase a Disc Pole Hole, if you’d like to practice on your own. You can even take the sport with you as you travel by buying a portable pole, such as the Innova SkillShot. Youngsters might like the Wham-O Mini Frisbee Golf Disc Toy Set.
Where To Play
Many parks have established disc golf courses for the public to enjoy and play at no cost. Often courses are set up in picturesque locations, using features of the terrain, such as trees, as challenges. To find parks that have disc courses, visit the PDGA’s online database. You can search for courses by location. Listings also may include a description, features, and ratings for each course.
PDGA also publishes a course directory annually. PDGA’s site is an excellent resource for all things disc golf. Beginners can learn how to get started, familiarize themselves with the rules, and discover where to play. As you learn more about the activity, you can discover other ways to get involved, such as participating in tournaments.
DGCourseReview.com includes information about courses and tournaments; videos; FAQs; an online store; and more. It also has a members’ list and social groups, if you’d like to connect with other disc golf players. Under the advanced search option, you can locate courses near where you’re camping or at RV campgrounds and resorts. Links at the bottom of the website’s pages enable state-by-state searching.
Online search engines such as Google can yield fruit as well. For example, a quick search yielded disc golf information for these three states, with many others easily accessible as well:
Of course, keep your eyes open when you travel. My husband and I recently returned from a conference in the Caribbean. Several disc golf baskets were set up at the resort where we stayed. We didn’t see it noted in the resort’s activities or elsewhere online, so it was a pleasant surprise, especially since we had a spectacular view of the ocean as we played. We enjoyed the activity even with just the two of us playing — so much so that once we completed a round with the baskets, I turned to him and said, “Let’s play again.”
Learn more about disc golf by visiting these sites:
All Things Disc Golf
Disc Golf Association
Innova Disc Golf
Professional Disc Golf Association
The Disc Golf Scene