What is Disc Golf and How Do You Play It?

Disc golf is a sport played very much in the fashion of traditional ball golf. Plastic discs are thrown at a target usually 150 feet (45m) or more away from the tee. The goal of the game is to throw a disc towards the target (which is usually a basket) in the least number of throws possible. Most disc golf courses consist of 9 to 18 holes. No matter the number of holes played in the object is to finish the round with the lowest score possible. In a group, the player with the lowest score wins. If you’re new to the sport continue reading to learn more!

How Did It Start?

Disc golf was started by fun-loving folks throwing Frisbees at trees and other targets. While the story of what came first the disc or the basket remains a mystery, one thing is for sure it started somewhere with a pie pan.

Who Plays Disc Golf?

Disc golf is enjoyed by people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Many play disc golf just to get outside with their friends and family. Believe it or not getting outside, walking a trail, and throwing things through the air attracts kids, teens, adults, and our elders. My wife and I play while our two kids walk the course with us or on their own while not playing.

I know some people who play competitively with others and some prefer to keep that competitiveness to themselves. To each their own. Having fun is the most important factor. While getting outside and throwing a disc around with friends is fun, learning the game and getting a little competitive, is healthy and encourages us all to grow in the sport.

You meet people from all walks of life playing on the course. Visit a local course and you’re bound to see a family playing together, a group of friends starting a round, and other new players searching for their disc. The point is there are all types of players out there so get out and join them.

How Do You Play?

The rules of the game are quite simple and almost mimic traditional ball golf to the tee. lol, The object is to get the disc in the basket in as few throws as possible. Avoid obstacles like out of bounds, trees, and other park and course users. A stroke is added for each throw and any penalties we’ll discuss later.

Let’s break the rules down in a PAR 3 hole example.

  • Start at the tee pad on hole one of the course and take a look at your target. Make your first throw. This is called a drive. This is one stroke.
  • Approach the spot your disc landed, mark it with your mini marker, and continue to make your second throw towards the target. This is called your approach. This is two strokes.
  • Make a final throw into the basket. This is called your putt. This is the third stroke.

It will take everyone a different amount of time to make the final throw. Count all throws it takes and that total is your score for that hole. The example above is 3 strokes on a par three hole.

Scoring A Round

After taking the score for your first hole continue to complete your round, taking the score for each hole and making sure to count each throw. At the end of the round add up all your throws and the player with the lowest score wins. 

As you’re learning the sport it’s fun to play without keeping score at first. Just work on learning to control the disc and understand the game before keeping track of the score.

Out Of Bounds

While every course is different an out-of-bounds throw will take an additional stoke and the disc is thrown again. Sometimes when you’re new to a course determining where OB is can be difficult. If your disc goes over a fence or clear boundaries to a park of location then that is OB.

So if your first throw lands out of bounds your current score will be two. One for the throw and one for the penalty. Retrieve your disc and play from in bounds and throw for your third stroke on that hole.  

What Disc Do You Use?

Disc golfers use discs that are PDGA approved and created by various disc manufacturers. Your first disc golf set should include a driver, mid-range, and a putter. Avoid cheap wannabe sets you’ll find at Walmart or target and stick to learning with PDGA approved discs as mentioned.

Disc types and their general uses

  • Driver: Used for long distances off the tee pad.
  • Mid-range: used for approach shots and getting as close to the target as possible.
  • Putt: Generally used as a final throw into the target. May be used as an approach disc as well.

Here’s a post you may be interested in I wrote about 3 Awesome Starter Disc Golf Sets That Are Great Discs!

How Long Does An Average Round Take To Play?

By yourself, a quick round can easily be played in about an hour. If you’re playing with a group of friends a round can take about an hour and a half to two hours. Accommodate for more time if you’re new to playing for searching for your disc (and your friend’s discs) in tall grass or wooded areas of the course.

A casual round with your friend as you are learning may take longer as you decide to take multiple throws and learn the sport. This is encouraged because the more you throw the more you learn.

Is There Other Equipment Involved?

To get started in disc golf all you really need is one disc and a great attitude. After getting into the sport you’ll likely want to get yourself a bag to carry multiple disc, water bottles, mini-markers, towels, scorecards, and other accessories.

As you learn to throw and gain a few discs here out there you’ll likely need a bag quickly. You don’t see many golfers out there carrying their clubs by hand. While a simple backpack will make a great starter bag, a disc golf backpack is better for many reasons from ergonomics, carrying more disc, room for water bottles, keys, phone,s and other needs.

If you’re thinking about getting a disc golf bag, check out my top picks of Best Disc Golf Bags.

What Is The Cost To Start Up?

A beginner set of discs is all you need to get started. You can find these from various retailers and brands for about $20. Most courses are free to pay so that’s $0. A good attitude and the willingness to laugh when your disc slams into a tree. $0. So about $20.

Here’s a post you may be interested in I wrote about 3 Awesome Starter Disc Golf Sets That Are Great Discs!

But if you want some of the gear mentioned above like a bag, towel, cool mini marker, and a good set of disc and a few more to fit your new bag. Well that would be about $100 to $150. A much lower cost of entry than ball golf. Free to play courses make it even easier to get out there and practice practice practice.

Keep It Fun And Simple.

Start with a beginner set and get out there with friends or alone if there is no one to join you. If you’re new get hiking friends to start with you as it’s a great way to get in a hike and play amongst the trees. Playing with friends is helpful to have a second pair of eyes on your disc as it’s whaling through the air and a gust of wind comes out of nowhere and hurls it into the thick trees.

Playing alone on the other hand allows you to concentrate and focus on the parts of the game you wish to improve. Whether you wish to work on a particular throw or your mental game playing alone has its advantages that you don’t get playing a round with others.

Is It A Professional Sport?

The professional side of disc golf is run by the Professional Disc Golf Association. You can learn more about them here. They help grow the competitive sport and sanction how professional events are run. They’ve helped establish many if not most of the rules the game is played by.

With over 100,000 members of the Professional Disc Golf Association and more than 3,500 sanctioned tournaments annually disc golf is quickly becoming the fastest growing sport around the world.

In the professional sense, thousands of players tour the world and play disc golf professionally. All age groups have the ability to compete both casually and professionally in the sport of disc golf.

Age divisions for PDGA sanctioned Events

  • Open – under age 40 (MPO)
  • Pro Master 40+ (MP40)
  • Pro Master 50+ (MP50)
  • Pro Master 55+ (MP55)
  • Pro Master 60+ (MP60)
  • Pro Master 65+ (MP65)
  • Pro Master 70+ (MP70)
  • Pro Master 75+ (MP75)
  • and Pro Master 80+ (MP80)

Note: All players may choose to play in divisions that are below their age group or if their age group is not available.

Can I Call It Frisbee Golf

Frolf, Frisbee Golf, Disc Golf it’s all good, especially since you’ll likely to call it your new favorite sport.

Where Can I Find A Disc Golf Course To Play At?

There are a lot of disc golf courses and as the sport grows new courses are being created. A simple google search will show many courses in your area. Udsic is also a great app that will show you courses around the world as well as maps to help you navigate a new course.

While you may have a favorite course because it’s close to where you live or is central to your friends, It’s good to play different courses and terrains to develop your game and improve at the sport. If you plan a trip plan to pack a few discs and play somewhere new while you’re away.

About Me

Hello I'm Kris a disc golfer sharing the amazing sport to others. Here's what I've learned either through experience, advice from better players, and or research. My hope is for beginners and more advanced players alike to find something of interest here and gain an edge on the game.


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