It might surprise you to know that one of the world's fast growing sports is one you’ve never heard of before. With over 20 million players worldwide and around 6000 courses, disc golf is one of the most accessible and fastest growing sports on the planet. Yep, disc golf… it’s a real thing and it’s actually pretty big!
Professional players, PDGA Major Tournaments, World Tours, corporate sponsorship, live to air broadcasts, prize money… it’s all part of the burgeoning disc golf industry.
Disc golf is a fun sport to play for people of ages and abilities. It's played with similar rules to traditional golf, however Frisbees or discs are used instead of balls, with players throwing the disc from a tee area, then completing the hole by successfully putting their disc in to an elevated metal basket.
Invented in California during the early 1970's, the US is home to the many of the world's courses. Other disc golf courses around the world can be found anywhere from Finland and Russia to Italy and Ireland.
The concept of the sport is similar to that of traditional golf, with players beginning with their first throw from a tee area, attempting to complete the hole in the least amount of throws possible. Disc golf courses have par 3s, par 4s and par 5s. However, holes in disc golf are around half the length of ball golf holes, with an average par 3 ranging in length from 50m to 120m.
Golf discs differ from regular Frisbees due to their engineered beveled edge design. More weight is distributed throughout the rim of the discs, changing the flight characteristics and allowing the potential for greater throwing distance and accuracy.
Similar to traditional golf, where by different clubs are used to hit the ball different distances, disc golfers have a variety of golf discs to choose from. Distance drivers, fairways drivers, mid-range discs and putters make up a typical disc golfers bag. Up to 30 or more of these discs are stored securely in disc golf bags, which are custom designed for the sport.
Golf discs come in a multitude of different models that vary in stability, plastic durability and weight – with the player choosing a disc based on the wind conditions, elevation and the challenge offered by the unique design of each hole on the course. Some disc models are designed to turn left, some designed to turn right. There are discs are for slow, straight flight throws, whilst other are engineered to fly at high speeds for maximum distance – well over 150m for experienced players. A new world distance record was recently set this year, with American David Wiggins Jnr throwing a golf disc 338 metres!
There are many throwing techniques a disc golfer is permitted to throw on the course. The most common types of which are the backhand and forehand. However, overhead throws like the thumber and others where the disc is deliberately throw on its edge along the ground like rollers are often used during play.
After teeing off, players can choose a different disc for each next throw taken until they complete the hole. The hole is completed by successfully putting the disc in to a specially designed metal disc catching target. This elevated hole stands at around 1.4m in height with chains that hang over a cage. Affectionately known as the ‘basket’, it is the distinguishing element of the sport and its heritage. The sound of the disc hitting the chains as a player sinks their putt is a unique feature of the disc golf experience – just as distinct is the haunting sound when a putt misses, crashing in to the side of the basket and falls to the ground.
How to get involved?
All you need to get started for basic play in disc golf is one disc. At around $15 each for a professional golf disc, it is one of the most inexpensive sports you can play. A 3-disc starter kit, which includes a driver, mid range and putter is a great way to start playing and retails for only around $45.
The majority of disc golf courses in Australia are free to play in public parks, you just bring your own discs and play in your own time. Most states in Australia have a disc golf course located near to a major city. However, many regional cities and towns also have a course located nearby. Soon, a great resource for finding a course near you will be available so keep an eye out for www.flyspot.com.au. This site will provided you with details about the course itself and other helpful information for people looking to visit the area.