Disc golf (also called Frisbee Golf) is a disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc."
Invented by Gus Price and Gary Neiss in 1971.
Safety: Disc golf is usually played in a public park, thus bicyclists, hikers, children playing and campers are often on the course. On some courses, such as on a college campus, athletic activities often take place on fairways. Disc golfers have to be very careful to avoid pedestrians, and it is a generally accepted rule that pedestrians have the right-of-way.
There are a wide variety of discs, divided into three basic categories: putters, mid-range discs, and drivers.
The putters are designed similar to discs you would play catch with: e.g., a Wham-o brand Frisbee. They are designed to fly straight, predictably, and very slowly compared to mid-range discs and drivers. Mid-range discs have slightly sharper edges, which enable them to cut through the air better. Drivers have the sharpest edge and have most of their mass concentrated on the outer rim of the disc rather than distributed equally throughout. Drivers are the hardest types of discs to learn how to throw; their flight path will be very unpredictable without practice.
Drivers are also often divided into different categories. For example, Innova Discs divides their discs into Distance Drivers and Fairway Drivers, with a fairway driver being somewhere between a distance drive and a mid-range disc. New players will find that throwing a distance driver accurately will require experience with disc golf disc response. It is better to begin play with a fairway driver and later incorporate distance drivers. Discraft divides their drivers into 3 categories: Long Drivers, Extra Long Drivers and Maximum Distance Drivers. The greater the distance of the driver the less control the disc golf player has on the disc. Therefore, an inexperienced player would most likely prefer to use a Long or Extra Long Driver while an experienced player would go for a maximum distance driver if they were seeking longer throws.
Natural action of the disc: For a right-handed, back-hand thrower (RHBH), the disc will naturally fall to the left. For a right-handed fore-hand thrower (RHFH), the disc will naturally fall to the right. For a left-handed, back-hand thrower (LHBH), the disc will naturally fall to the right. For a left-handed, fore-hand thrower (LHFH), the disc will naturally fall to the left.
Over-stable: A disc that is over stable will increase the natural angle of the disc.
Under-stable: A disc that is under stable will push against the natural angle of the disc.
Weight of the disc: Golf discs typically weigh between 150 and 180 grams (5.3-6.3 oz.), and measure about 21-24 cm in diameter. PDGA rules prohibit discs weighing more than 200 grams, or more than 8.3 grams per centimeter of diameter.
Disc Pole Holes are the main and most important components of a disc golf course. A Disc Pole Hole comprises a center pole, chain holder and a basket. A set of chains hang down from the chain holder surrounding the center pole. Surrounding the pole below the chains is a circular basket that serves to catch a disc thrown at the chains of the Disc Pole Hole. The Disc Pole Hole is also commonly known as a basket or a catcher. When the disc drops into the basket the player moves to the next Tee.
For each hole, a tee pad provides a firm and level foundation to start play from, “tee off”. Tees are usually composed of poured concrete slabs, decomposed granite, or more recently dense rubber pads. Some courses have alternative tee pads for a given hole. Similar to traditional golf, one tee is often closer to the target, allowing multiple players of different skill levels a better chance of competitive play. The player(s) with lesser ability to drive the disc greater distances shoot from the closer tee than his/her fellow players shooting off the further tee. Most often, experienced players allow this strategy to be employed by novice players and children, to keep the scores in more competitive range.
Located at each tee, Tee Signs are the map to the hole. They give important information like the distance, par, the preferred flight path, hazards and out of bounds.
Distance Driving - a throw that is designed to produce a great deal of distance. When trying to throw for maximum distance, the ideal flight path of the disc, for an RHBH thrower, is to turn slightly to the right, straighten out, and then fade to the left. This will look like a ')' or an elongated ‘?’.
Approaching - if a player is not driving the disc, he is either approaching or putting. Professional players consider around a 200-250ft shot to be an approach. For many players, however, this is the length of their normal drives. For some players, a shot does not truly become an approach until around 100ft.
Putting - officially, a disc is being putted if it is being thrown within the circle (within 10m of the basket). However, many players use their putting motion from much further away. There are many different types of putts which are explained below. As with anything, a disc golfer must find what is comfortable for them, and go with it. There is no ‘wrong’ way to putt. A good video of putting instruction can be found at this link: http://www.discraft.com/resources.html
Backhand - A shot thrown with the disc gripped rightside up with the fingers underneath or along the rim and the thumb on top of the disc. For the right-handed player, the player starts with the disc near the left shoulder or side and the player pulls the disc across the chest, rotating in clockwise motion. The disc is released spinning in a clockwise direction. When throwing backhand, a thrower must determine for himself what kinds of discs work best for them, depending on how much ‘snap’ they throw with. ‘Snap’ is generated by high arm speed and by a player cocking his wrist and snapping the disc on the release. When thrown correctly, a disc will make an audible snapping sound upon release. Players who throw with a great deal of snap should throw over stable discs, whereas a player who doesn’t throw with a great deal of snap should throw under stable discs.
Forehand - A shot thrown with the disc gripped rightside up with the fingers underneath or along the rim and the thumb on top of the disc. One or more fingers are placed along the inside of the rim of the disc. The disc is propelled primarily by a flick of the wrist causing the disc to move forward and (for the right-handed player) to spin counter-clockwise. As with backhands, players have to determine for themselves what sort of discs work for them. Generally, forehand throws generate more snap than a backhand throw, so usually, forehand shots require more over stable discs.
Hyzer - a hyzer is a throw that is designed to take advantage of the natural angle of the disc. For example, an RHBH hyzer is a shot that fades to the left. There are a few types of hyzers. A soft hyzer is a throw that gradually fades, whereas a spike hyzer is a throw where the disc fades hard and drastically. Spike hyzers can result in discs that are ‘spiked’ into the ground. These types of throws are used to navigate certain obstacles. A disc that is slightly over stable with a high glide, such as the Innova Valkyrie, are good for soft hyzers, whereas a disc that is very over stable with a low glide, such as Innova Firebirds, are best for spike hyzers.
Anhyzer - an anhyzer is a throw that is designed to go against the natural angle of the disc. For example, an RHBH thrower who throws a disc that fades to the right would be throwing an anhyzer. To execute an anhyzer, an RHBH would tilt the disc to the right when he releases the disc. Under stable discs are best used for anhyzers. As with hyzers, soft and spike anhyzers are options.
Helix - a helix throw utilizes both aspects of the throw to produce an "S" flight shape. For example, an RHBH thrower will release an overstable disc (natural flight that finishes to the left) to the right in order for it to return to the left at the end of flight. This is a highly skilled shot requiring knowledge of disc flight dynamics and multiple angles. A very useful shot to avoid the obstacles that grace the disc golf course.
Turnover - a disc is ‘turned over’ when it flies against the natural angle of the disc. For example, an RHBH thrower has turned a disc over if it flies to the right when released flat. This differs from an anhyzer because of the angle of release. Turnover drives are generally released flat or at a slight angle, whereas an anhyzer is released at a more drastic angle. Ideally, the disc will ‘flex’ back to the natural fade, creating an ‘S’ curve. Some curves are more drastic then others. A more under stable disc will turn over harder than an over stable disc. Depending on the shot, a certain type of turnover drive may be required. Lighter discs will turnover much easier than heavier discs. An ideal drive for max distance is usually slightly turned over. Depending on the thrower, many discs can be used for turnover drives.
Hammer/Tomahawk - It is an overhand throw where the thrower grips the disc much like he would a forehand. This throw has a unique flight pattern which is best learned by throwing a few out in a field. It is useful for going over difficult obstacles. Mid-range discs with high glide are best for hammers.
Thumber (or Scoobie) - an overhand throw that involves placing the thumb inside the lip of the disc. Like the hammer, the thumber has a unique flight pattern than is best learned by throwing a few out in a field. It is also useful for going over difficult obstacles.
Chicken Wing - This is a new throw which is basically an upside down sidearm or flick. It is thrown with the thumb on the bottom of the disc and fingers on top. When properly executed, the players arm in the follow through motion looks like a chicken wing.
Grenade - This grip is similar to a Thumber grip with the thumb pad pressing against the inside wall of the rim, and the base of the thumb grabbing the bottom of the rim. The delivery is extreme hyzer backhand. This shot is similar to golf’s sand wedge. The shot flies virtually straight up and straight down to clear obstacles and stick dead where it lands as it has backspin.
Roller - this is a shot designed to travel a short distance in the air and then roll towards the target. A very advanced throw, rollers can be thrown forehand and backhand. Many disc golfers can roll a disc farther than they can throw it. Rollers are very effective in going under obstacles, such as a circle of trees around the basket. They are difficult to control, and require a great deal of practice.
In-line Putting - a style of putting where the plant foot is directly behind the lie marker and pointed right at the basket, and the other foot is placed behind the plant foot. The disc is thrown from the chest generally straight at the pin. Some in line putters throw the disc with a bit of snap and run right at the basket, while others try to float the disc into the basket. This is just a matter of personal taste or what the situation dictates. In-line putters almost always putt backhand.
Straddle Putt - a style of putting where one foot is placed behind the lie marker and the other is parallel, rather than behind, the plant foot. The putter often squats a bit and uses their legs to propel the discs. Straddle putts can be used to navigate around obstacles and provide a clear line to the basket. Some prefer the stability of straddle putting for shorter putts and many use the stance for jump putting. Most straddle putts are backhand putts, though they can be forehand putts.
Jump Putt - outside the circle, jump putting is used to generate more power. It is similar to straddle putting except the putter jumps forward with the release of the disc. This is a tough skill that requires some practice, but can be very effective. Many golfers do not bother with jump putting, though many use it very effectively. Jump putting is illegal within the circle. Jump putting is almost always done with a backhand throw.
Turbo Putt - an interesting style of putt where the thumb is placed in the middle of the disc and the fingers are rested on the outer rim of the disc. The putter spins the disc slightly with the release and pushes with his fingers to propel the disc. This style of putting is not very effective outside of the circle.
Bi-Moto Putt - a two-handed style of putt where the disc is held at eye level and released in line with the target. One hand propels with four fingers, excluding the thumb, rested on the outer rim from the back of the disc. The second hand adds support, aim and spin with fingers rested on the outer rim from the side of the disc. This style of putt is accurate inside the circle, but not effective outside the circle. Also useful when putting into the wind.
Flip Putt - the disc is held the same way as the turbo putt, but instead of pushing forward slightly and spinning with the fingers, the disc is pushed forward and down by the fingers. This causes the disc to flip end over end which provides a straight trajectory and the flipping motion almost guarantees the disc will not bounce out of the basket. This style of putting is not very effective outside of the circle, and is best used for short putts.
Kneeling Putt - in disc golf, the situation often dictates that a throw must be made from a kneeling position. Any point of contact is legal as long as it follows previously stated rules, i.e., in line with the marker disc, no closer to the hole and within the acceptable distance behind the marker.
When putting, golfers also use unconventional stances. Golfers sometime contort their bodies in unique ways to navigate around obstacles. Sometimes a lunge position is utilized to putt, either forehand or backhand. Sometimes the golfer's feet are each at a different level of elevation. By rule, it is technically legal for someone to completely lie on the ground and throw, assuming their foot is behind their mini marker, and they do not use their body to decrease the distance between their marker and the pin.
In every form of play, the goal is to play as few strokes per round as possible. Scores for each hole can be described as follows:
|Term on a |
|-3||Albatross (or double-eagle)||three strokes under par|
|-2||Eagle (or double-birdie)||two strokes under par|
|-1||Birdie||one stroke under par|
|0||Par||strokes equal to par|
|bgcolor=#EFEFEF align="center"||Bogey||one stroke more than par|
|bgcolor=#EFEFEF align="center"||Double bogey||two strokes over par|
|bgcolor=#EFEFEF align="center"||Triple bogey||three strokes over par|
A snowman (perhaps 4 over par on a par 4-hole) is an informal term in some countries for a score indicating that 8 shots were taken at a single hole.
Doubles play is a unique style of play that many local courses offer on a weekly basis. In this format, teams of two golfers are determined. Sometime this is done by random draw, and other times it is a pro-am format. On the course, it is a 'best-disc' scramble. Meaning both players throw their tee shot, and then decide which lie they would like to play. Both players then play from the same lie, again choosing which lie is preferable.
Different types of plastic:
The first plastic listed in each entry is the Innova line, the second is the Discraft line, and the third is the Gateway line.
1. DX/Pro-D/S - this is the economy line of plastic. It is generally very grippy when worn, but it will wear very quickly. It is easy to warp and bend these discs. They do not maintain their flight characteristics for too long. Many players use DX plastic for mid-range discs, but not in drivers. Many also prefer putters in this plastic, citing the added grip as their reasoning.
2. Proline/Elite-X/H - A plastic more sturdy than economy plastics. Players often prefer the feel of these over the economy line.
3. Champion/Elite-Z/E - A premier plastic that is extremely durable, more expensive, and due to the high percentage of polyurethane, often translucent. It will maintain flight characteristics even after a great deal of abuse. Players often find it is easier to control a Champion or Elite-Z disc and that they can get more of a reaction out of the disc with less effort.
4. Glow - this plastic glows in the dark when held up to a fluorescent light. It is a bit more durable than DX plastic, but not quite as durable as Pro-Line plastic.
5. Star/ESP - A very durable plastic that maintains flight characteristics a bit longer than Champion or Elite-Z plastic and that is a grippier plastic. Some players prefer the feel of Champion or Elite-Z plastic, while others prefer Star or ESP.
6. ESP FLX (Discraft) Juju (Ching) - A very flexible plastic offered only by Discraft and Ching. The disc can bend in half and spring right back into its original form. The grip it offers is superb. The discs also do not bounce far. When they hit a tree, they tend to fold and drop to the ground, rather than carry deeper into the woods. They also grip the chains very well. Many players feel that a softer putter will stick better to the chains, thus falling in the basket.
Headrick coined and trademarked the term "Disc Golf" when formalizing the sport and invented the Disc Pole Hole, the first disc golf target to incorporate chains and a basket on a pole. Headrick founded the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), Disc Golf Association (DGA), and Recreational Disc Golf Association (RDGA) as governing bodies for professional, competitive amateur, and family-oriented play, respectively, and worked on standardizing the rules and the equipment for the quickly-growing sport. Headrick abandoned his trademark on the term "Disc Golf", and turned over control and administration of the PDGA to the growing body of disc golf players in order to focus his passion for building and inventing equipment for the sport. Upon his death, Headrick was cremated and his ashes were made into a limited number of discs per his wishes. The discs were given to friends and family, and some were sold with all proceeds going toward funding a nonprofit "Steady" Ed Memorial Disc Golf Museum at the PDGA International Disc Golf Center in Columbia County, Georgia. One of the discs that contains Headrick's ashes will be permanently placed on the roof of the center. When asked why this was to be done, by a member of the local media, PDGA Executive Director Brian Graham quoted an old Frisbee addage, "Old Frisbee players are like old Frisbee's ... They don't die, they just land up on the roof."
PDGA Womens Professional World Champions
A list of all disc golf world champions, United States champions, world doubles champions, and PDGA award winners. PDGA Professional World Champions
United States Disc Golf Champions
PDGA Hall of Fame Members and the year of induction
For more information, visit the website of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame.