A Beginner’s Guide to Disc Golf – Everything You Need to Start Playing Disc Golf


BEGINNERS_GUIDE_TO_DISC_GOLF

Have you ever played disc golf? If not, you’ve been missing out on a great spark of enjoyment.

You’ve probably seen a couple of people walking around your local park throwing a Frisbee. Peculiarly, they are not catching it! Well, this is an awesome game called disc golf. Just like traditional golf, disc golf is a sport that revolves around getting your disc into a basket or net at the end of a hole. It is essentially a golf game, but you have to play with a Frisbee and not a golf ball or club. Whether you want to play it casually or competitively, disc golf is a blast. Having played disc golf for years let me share my knowledge with you if you’re a beginner. Hopefully, you’ll pick it up and become a better player.

Disc golf is a fun, user-friendly, and low-entry game that is very affordable and increasingly accessible for players of all ages and skills level. Unfortunately, it may seem challenging and complicated, but you’ll keep coming back once you try it. Well, all players seem to experience the same difficulty when starting out. So if you’ve been thinking about trying this thrilling sport, this is the best time to learn a thing or two.

What is a Disc Golf and How do You Play it?

Also known as Frisbee golf, disc golf is a game in which players throw a Frisbee disc from a tee box with the main aim of getting it into a standing basket hole. It’s very similar to traditional golf, but instead of using golf balls and clubs, players use flying discs through 18 holes and up to the standing basket.

The main aim of playing disc golf is to get the disc into the basket with the least number of throws. It is an exciting way of spending your free time; engage socially while making new friends on the disc golf course. More importantly, it can help you improve your physical health, relax, and enjoy the great company of disc golf players out there. In essence, disc golf is a fairly inexpensive hobby that will leave you feeling better and rejuvenated.

Rules of the Game

When learning how to play disc golf, it’s important to know the rules. Let’s go through the basic rules of playing disc golf that you’ll have to adhere to no matter where you play. You should also adhere to any rule that’s specific to where you’re playing or the tournament you’re playing in.

Stroke/Point – Just like traditional golf, disc golf has strokes. These are essentially the number of throws that you make to get the disc golf into the basket. The main goal of playing this exciting game is to throw the disc into the basket in as few strokes as possible.

Tee Throw – Tees are set up at the start of each hole. The first throw for any hole must be thrown from the tee box or behind the clearly marked tee area.

Throwing Order – In practise rounds there’s generally no specific way to select who throws first. In most cases, many players prefer flipping for it or just go randomly. In competitions, subsequently, the player with the least number of throws on the previous hole should be the first one to throw (tee-off). After all the players have teed off, the player who is farthermost from the hole should throw first.

Lie – This is principally the spot where a player’s throw lands. It may be marked by a mini-disc or just let your previous disc lay on the ground, so that the next time you throw you must throw from behind the marked lie.

Unplayable Lie – This refers to a scenario where your disc lands in an unplayable spot such as in a large bush, on a tree or water. In such a situation, you should throw as close to that spot as possible.

Fairway Throw – You’ll generally get a little extra movement if you’re throwing on the fairway. Although you must throw from behind the lie, you have the freedom to run up to the lie as long as you release the disc behind the lie.

Mandatory – The main aim of a mandatory is to ensure that you throw across the course in a very specific way. Mandatories are usually used for safety reasons or to make the course harder. 

Out-of-Bounds (OB) – These are areas that you aren’t allowed to throw into and out of such as public roads and water features. If it happens, you have to move 3 feet in bounds from where your disc went OB and an additional stroke will be added to your score.

Completion – The hole is marked completed once your disc golf disc is in the basket.

Score – Keep count of your throws and by the end of completion of the hole mark down with how many throws you completed the hole.

Play Nice – Just like in traditional golf, there are official rules and guidelines on how to play disc golf. Therefore, it’s always in the interest of everybody that you follow the etiquette and play in a way that’s fair and enjoyable to those involved.

For instance, non-players should remain quiet and not move around when others are throwing. Again, it’s polite and safe to stand behind the throwers until they complete their turns. You should also not litter, damage, alter or modify the course. Here is a full set of disc golf rules by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) – https://www.pdga.com/rules/official-rules-disc-golf

How to Get Started

As a new player, you’ll have to get discs of your own. And because the right type of disc will always be of great help, you should go for a disc that works best for your throwing style. Unfortunately, you’re new to this thrilling game and probably don’t even know your throwing style. This is why it’s best to try out a couple of discs from a friend or a colleague before buying your own. But if you don’t have close friends playing disc golf, you can head to the local disc golf store near you or an online store and choose disc golf that can work best for you.

You’re still learning the game, your throwing style and so on, so it’s important to choose discs that are easiest to throw and control (more on this later). Keep in mind that disc golf discs come in three categories: drivers (perfect when you’re very far from the basket), midranges (ideal when you’re almost halfway), and putters (the best when you’re nearer to the basket). As such, you should NOT buy regular Frisbees as they’re much different from disc golf discs and won’t serve the purpose.

Check out this video from Nate Sexton, who was the 2017 US Disc Golf Champion.

Innova Disc Golf Set – Driver, Mid-Range & Putter, Comfortable DX Plastic,
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Disc Choice in Terms of Stability and Weight

As we’ve just noted, getting the right disc will enhance your play. The first thing to do is throw a few discs before you make a purchase. This is to make sure that the disc that you choose feels perfect for your hand and throwing style.  As a beginner, it’s important to go for a disc that has a stability rate that’s close to 0. Once you’ve learned the general throwing technique, you can now go for a disc that tends to fade to your natural side, for example on the right side if you are right-handed.

But before going deeper, let’s highlight the three types of discs:

Drivers – These types of discs are meant for speed and distance and will be the appropriate disc to use for the first tee shot. It should feel great on your hands to allow you to throw with power.  You can find 12 best disc golf drivers for 2020 here.

Midranges – These types of discs are ideal when you’re not very far from the basket. As a new player, a midrange should be your best friend as it offers accuracy and perfect glide (the ability to stay in the air). Here are the 15 best disc golf midranges for 2020.

Putters – These are discs that travel short distances, but with great accuracy. You should use a putter when you’re near to the basket and want to sink the disk into the basket for completion. Here are the 15 best disc golf putters for 2020.

If you’re still not sure of what to pick, you can consider a set that includes a driver, a midrange, and a putter. Keep in mind that these three types of discs are designed to work in various situations and are a must-have in your disc golfing bag.

You should also remember that most discs will typically curve or start to bend to the right or left when you throw. This is known as fade and terms such as an understable or overstable will become commonplace. To help you out, this is what you should go for if you’re right-handed and will be using the standard backhand throwing style.

Overstable – You’ll notice that drivers are considered overstable because they tend to fade to the left when you throw them.  Overstable discs = curve sharply to the left.

Understable – Most of the disc golf drivers are somewhat understable. These are the type of discs that tend to curve or fade to the right. If you’re new to disc golf, you should choose an understable disc that is more likely to flip over and go straighter for a while and eventually fade back left.

Stability – In terms of stability, you should consider a disc that has a -1 stability rating or even -2. This is because it’s more likely to flip over and fly straight , especially if you are a beginner.

Weight – Another important thing to consider is the weight of the disc. In most cases, a full weight disc golf disc is much harder to throw.
As a beginner, you should go for a slightly lighter discs (about 160-170 grams) for easier throws.

If you are left-handed, just switch the chart on how a disc will fly. For instance, an overstable disc will turn to the right while an understable disc will turn to the left.

Other Gears to Take to the Disc Golf Course

You’ve now selected your discs, but you won’t carry them in your hands if you’re serious about this marvelous game. You’ll, of course, have to get a disc golf bag to help you carry your gear. Whether you decide to go for a backpack or a shoulder bag, make sure that it has compartments where you can put drivers, midranges, and putters. The bag can also have an additional pocket for your water bottle, which is essential if you want to stay hydrated while out there.

And because you do not want your discs slipping out of your hand while throwing or throwing muddy or dusty discs, you should have a washcloth  or even multiple washcloths to clean off dirty or wet discs.

Some other important items to bring to the course include, but are not limited to:

Snacks – You do not want to play this thrilling game feeling hungry and low on energy. As such, you should bring with you some snacks such as chocolate/nut bars,  salted peanuts, protein bars or whole-grain crackers to keep you going.

Portable power bank – Just in case your phone’s battery might die or your Bluetooth speaker is running out of juice.

Bug Spray – Most of the disc golf courses are situated in the forest or have some sort of vegitation around them, which usually means mosquitoes, ticks, flies and other bugs will be cruising around and most probbly will start to annoy you. So it is highly recommended to always have a can of bug spray in your disc golf bag.

Sunscreen – If you’ll be playing when the sun is hot, especially during summer, it’s wise to bring with you your sunscreen to protect your skin from sun rays.

Mini Marker Disc – This is to mark your lie, but you can still use another disc as your lie marker.

How to Dress Appropriately for Disc Golfing

There’s no rule as to what attire to wear when playing a casual round of disc golf. However, a good rule of thumb is to wear something that makes you comfortable when throwing. I recommend appropriate gym attire for your disc golfing sessions. You should also dress appropriately for the weather. If it’s hot, wear fewer clothes and dress warmly if it is cold.

Another important part of your attire is shoes. Keep in mind that most disc golf courses are rough and hilly. But even if it’s not, you’d still want a pair of shoes that give you a good grip when throwing. While your regular shoes may work fine off the tee, they may not offer a solid grip while throwing from the rough or even on grassy fairways. For this reason, you should choose something with more grip.

However, avoid shoes with metal or even rubber cleats, because even with correct form, they might cause knee or other leg injuries. I would recommend outdoor running shoes with decent grip or even light weight hiking shoes, because disc golf  is very similar to hiking.

How to Throw A Disc Golf 

Here are the steps on how to throw disc golf.

Step One – Grip under the disc with your four fingers while putting the thumb near the edge on top of your disc. Make sure that the grip is good and steady so that you can release the disc with absolute control.

Step Two – Make a short run of just about three steps to where you should release the disc. Keep in mind that the three-step run is a core part of a good disc golfing technique. It’s important to begin and end the run with your dominant foot. Make sure that your shoulders are square and each step is even and smooth to give you accuracy.

Step Three – Raise the disc to the height of your chest on the first step. This is essential in turning your body as you curve the disc into your chest.

Step Four – Make the next step and point the disc perpendicular to your target. Coil your back, move your hips and shoulders, and bring the disc behind you. This is to give you power from your back and legs as you throw.

Step 5 – Make the final step as you move the weight of your body on your stronger foot as you uncoil your body. As you make the turn, bring your arm across your body, keep the disc flat in your hand and release it in a straight line at the shoulder height while bending your elbow and unbending it as it moves away from your body.

This video can be of great help.

Conclusion

Whether it’s your first time on the disc golf course or you’ve been playing it for years, one thing remains certain: disc golf is a thrilling and exciting game that you will not want to drop once you get started. Add to the fact that it’s a cheap and healthy way to spend your free time and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick it up. All you have to do is grab a disc, a bottle of water, take a friend with you, go to the nearest disc golf course, and you’ll never regret this decision!

 

Tõnis

Hi there! I am Tõnis from Estonia and I've been playing disc golf for over 4 years. I am a true disc golf fanatic. I hope you enjoy my disc golf blog.

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