If you are looking for a new sport to try, consider disc golf. It’s a sport that’s easy to learn and fun for the whole family – and it could help you get your 10,000 steps in for the day!
Disc golf was introduced in the 1960s as a new way to get outdoor aerobic exercise. It’s similar to golf, but instead of a golf club and golf ball, the golfer uses specialized discs similar to a Frisbee.
Disc golf courses are found on rougher terrain than traditional golf courses. The courses
are often designed in wooded areas and may include hills, rocky terrain, creeks, muddy fields, ponds, and lots of trees. Trees are not a disc golfer’s best friend – trying to throw a disc through a wooded area can be difficult for even the most experienced golfer. But they also offer shade on a hot summer’s day and, as with any sport, practice leads to better technique!
The 18 “holes” on a disc golf course are tall baskets with chains around the top. The average golfer can finish a round of 18 holes in 1 or 2 hours. Playing time can depend on how many people are playing and how much time you spend looking for a lost disc in the bushes and tall grass. Most disc golf courses are free and allow you to stay for as long as you want to, as long as you’re not disturbing other golfers.
Like traditional golf, disc golfers start at the #1 hole and end their round at the 18th hole. Traditional golf etiquette is expected – you may ask to play through if your group is smaller and faster than the one in front of you. There is no dress code for disc golf, although proper clothing for the weather and supportive, athletic shoes are encouraged. Make sure you bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during the round of golf.
Disc golfers use a variety of throwing techniques. The two most common throws are forehand and backhand. A typical drive can be 150 to 300 feet to the basket.
Disc golf is scored just like traditional golf. Each basket has its own par, or number of throws expected for an expert to get a disc into the basket. A birdie is 1 point under par, an eagle is 2 points under par, and a bogey is 1 point over par. The golfer with the lowest score wins.
The discs – called drivers, midranges, and putters – come in a variety of shapes, weights, and colors. Experienced golfers may have up to 30 or 40 discs in their golf bag. A starter set of discs includes a driver, a midrange, and a putter for about $30.
Disc golf competitions started in the 1970s. Today, there are national and international tournaments for recreational, amateur, and professional golfers, with different classes based on gender and age – some are even televised. The jackpots aren’t as large as they are in traditional golf tournaments, but they’re just as satisfying. Every disc golfer receives a rating based on how well they performed at the tournaments. Some of the top-rated disc golfers can have sponsors who support their tournament participation.
Columbia has several excellent disc golf courses including Albert-Oakland Park, Indian Hills Park, A.L. Gustin Golf Course, and the Harmony Bends Championship Disc Golf Course at Strawn Park, which hosted a national competition in August 2022. With thousands more disc golf courses across the country, it’s easy to pack your discs when you go on vacation.
To learn more about disc golf, including rules, courses, and tournament information, visit the Professional Disc Golf Association website at pdga.com.
By Gretchen Holmes, MS, Boone Health Exercise Physiologist