What Is Disc Golf?

Ah, the question many a disc golfer has answered… well, it’s a bit like ordinary golf, but with special Frisbees™..!

Seriously though, it is! However, instead of hitting a ball off a tee and aiming at getting it down the hole in as few strokes as possible, disc golf involves throwing a disc from the tee and hitting an above-ground target in as few throws as you can. Disc golf courses are considerably shorter than ‘ball’ golf courses, although a disc golf course will tend to cover much more undulating terrain and make more use of natural obstacles along the fairway.

A Brief History of Disc Golf

The first organised disc golf games date back to the 1960’s, and the first course was opened in 1975 in California. Since then the sport has gone from strength to strength, with over 2000 registered PDGA courses, and an estimated 500,000 regular players, although there are far more unlisted courses and casual players across the globe.

A comprehensive set of rules has been developed over the years by the PDGA so that there can be a consistency of play at events. The science behind the sport has also evolved, and the discs which are being thrown in the modern era are aerodynamically engineered and produced in high-tech plastics to perform consistently and reliably throw after throw.

About the Discs Used in Disc Golf

Whereas traditional golfers carry a bag full of sticks with lumps of wood and metal on the end of them for hitting the ball with, disc golfers will carry a selection of discs that can be thrown in a variety of ways to achieve the necessary ‘shape’ and distance of shot to avoid obstacles and get close to the target.

Time for some terminology then. The phrases below refer to a right handed backhand throw. For left handed shots, simply reverse the direction:

  • Understable : tendency to turn to the right
  • Stable : will hold a straight line
  • Overstable : these discs will turn to the left

The discs will have different flight characteristics when thrown, some turn right, others turn left, some turn right then left, some even fly straight! All these characteristics are related to the ‘stability’ of the disc, which in turn depends on a wide range of factors : weight, shape, type of plastic, air speed, spin, angle of release. You will see guidelines in the product descriptions on this site that tell you the flight characteristics for that disc, so you can choose a disc that suits your style.

You don’t have a golf disc conventionally either – there is a huge range of speciality shots that can be used to get you out of tricky situations, or put you into them! And therein lies one of the zen-like appeals of disc golf – how you choose to play a hole is entirely up to you. There is something ultimately satisfying about planning an epic shot, then throwing the disc and seeing it curving through through the air, following the path you laid out for it in your mind’s eye, and parking itself next to the basket.

Where Can You Play Disc Golf in the UK?

If you’ve somewhere to throw from, and something to aim at, you’ve pretty well got yourself a disc golf hole! If you want something a little more structured, there is a list of UK courses on the BDGA web site : Click Here for the course directory and contact details for your nearest course.

Many people first encounter disc golf by playing impromptu courses in local parks which they have designed with friends. Rather than playing to baskets, alternative targets are used – trees, lamp posts, fire hydrants, use your imagination!

Care needs to be taken when playing in parks as the public may not realise what you are doing. Play sensible and play safe, and don’t be surprised if people ask you what you’re up to! If you’ve got a spare disc or two, give ’em a go!