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Thomas Richardson
Thomas Richardson

Disc Golf World: The Online Magazine for Disc Golf Enthusiasts

Disc golf is similar to traditional golf, however, instead of using golf clubs and balls aiming for a hole, disc golf players use disc golf discs and aim for a disc golf basket which is a pole extending up from the ground with chains and a basket where the disc lands. The object of the game is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws, starting from a tee area and finishing with the disc coming to rest in the basket. Generally, a course is made up of 9 or 18 holes. Players start at hole one and complete the course in order, playing through to the last hole. The player with the lowest total cumulative throws wins. Disc golf differs from traditional golf in important ways. Disc golf courses can use a wide variety of terrain. Often times, land not suitable for other park activities or development is the perfect terrain for a disc golf course. Disc golf is one of the best lifetime fitness sports. It is easy to learn, a healthy activity, and accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. If you can throw a Frisbee and you like to have fun, you can play disc golf. Today there are over 7,500 disc golf courses in the United States and millions of people who have played the game. Since 1976, there have been over 100,000 members of the Professional Disc Golf Association and players can compete in more than 3,500 sanctioned tournaments annually*. The positive experience with disc golf and the growing demand for more courses have led to the expansion of the sport all over the country, from small towns to urban areas.

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Tee off order on the first tee will be by mutual arrangement or by flipping discs. The printed side is heads and the odd man should be first. Tee off order on all subsequent holes is determined by the score on the previous hole. The player with the lowest score tees off first.

A mini marker disc is used to mark the lie for each throw. A mini marker disc is a small disc, not used in play, that complies with PDGA Technical Standards for mini marker discs. The thrown disc is always left on the lie, (where it came to rest,) until the marker disc is placed on the ground directly in front of and in line with the basket, touching the disc. The thrown disc is then picked up.

A follow through (stepping past marker disc after throwing) is allowed on any throw except when putting (any throw where the rear of the marker disc is within 10 meters of the hole). Falling forward to keep your balance after a putt is not allowed. This infraction is called a falling putt.

Disc golf, formerly known as frisbee golf,[2][a] is a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target; it is played using rules similar to golf.[4] Most disc golf discs are made out of polypropylene plastic, otherwise known as polypropene, which is a thermoplastic polymer resin used in a wide variety of applications. Discs are also made using a variety of other plastic types that are heated and molded into individual discs.[5][6] The sport is usually played on a course with 9 or 18 holes (baskets). Players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee pad or area toward a target, known as a basket, throwing again from where the previous throw landed, until the basket is reached. The baskets are formed by wire with hanging chains above the basket, designed to catch the incoming discs, which then fall into the basket, for a score. Usually, the number of throws a player uses to reach each basket is tallied (often in relation to par), and players seek to complete each hole in the lowest number of total throws.[6] Par is the number of strokes an expert player is expected to make for a given hole or a group of holes (usually 9 or 18). [7]

Modern disc golf started in the early 1960s, but there is debate over who came up with the idea first. The consensus is that multiple groups of people played independently throughout the 1960s. Students at Rice University in Houston, Texas, for example, held tournaments with trees as targets as early as 1964, and in the early 1960s, players in Pendleton King Park in Augusta, Georgia, would toss Frisbees into 50-gallon barrel trash cans designated as targets. In 1968 Frisbee Golf was also played in Alameda Park in Santa Barbara, California, by teenagers in the Anacapa and Sola street areas. Gazebos, water fountains, lamp posts, and trees were all part of the course. This took place for several years and an Alameda Park collectors edition disc still exists, though rare, as few were made. Clifford Towne from this group went on to hold a National Time Aloft record.

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In 1975 Headrick's tenure at Wham-O where he helped redesign the flying disc known as the frisbee ended, and ties between Headrick and Wham-O eventually split. Headrick left the company to start out on his own to focus all his efforts on his new interest, which he coined and trademarked "Disc Golf".

In 1976 "Steady" Ed Headrick and his son Ken Headrick started the first disc golf company, the Disc Golf Association (DGA).[8] The purpose of DGA was to manufacture discs and targets and to formalize the game for disc golf. The first disc golf target was Ed's pole hole design which basically consisted of a pole sticking out of the ground.

In 1977, Headrick and his son Ken developed the modern basket catch for disc golf, US Patent 4039189A, titled Flying Disc Entrapment Device, which they trademarked "Disc Pole Hole". The Disc Pole Hole created a standardized catching device that had a chain-hanger that held vertical hanging rows of chain out and away from a center pole. The vertical rows of chain came together forming a parabolic shape above and angling down towards a metal basket that attached to and surrounded the center pole, and could catch a disc from all directions.

Most disc golf courses are built in more natural and less manicured environments than golf and require minimal maintenance. Professional course designers consider safety a critical factor in course design, and are careful to minimize the danger of being hit by a flying disc while providing designs that create strategy in play and variety in shots for enjoyment. Holes are designed to require a range of different throws to challenge players with different strengths or particular skills. Many courses are central organizing points for local disc golf clubs, and some include shops selling disc golf equipment. More than 80% of the courses listed on Disc Golf Course Review are listed as public and free to play.[12]

Three countries account for 85% of all disc golf courses worldwide: the United States (75%), Finland (7%) and Canada (3%). Other notable countries include Sweden and Estonia, which has the highest density of disc golf courses per km2 of dry land of any country and the second-highest number of courses per capita, between Iceland and Finland, which have 150 and 111 courses per million inhabitants, respectively. Outside the North American and European continents, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea have the most courses. There are disc golf courses on every continent, including 24 in Latin America, 8 in Africa, and one in Antarctica. Åland has been defined as the world's largest single disc golf park, with one course in each of the 16 municipalities of Åland.[13][14][15]

A disc golf tee (commonly referred to as a tee box or the box) is the starting position of a hole. The PDGA recommends that the tee box be no smaller than 1.2 meters wide by 3 meters long.[10] The tee box is usually a pad of concrete, asphalt, rubber, gravel, or artificial turf. Some courses have natural turf with only the front of the tee position marked or no tee boxes at all and players begin from a general location based on the course layout.

Established courses have tee signs near each tee position. Signs may depict a simple map of the hole including the tee, target, expected disc flight, out-of-bounds areas, water hazards, trees, and mandatory paths. Signs typically include the distance to the hole, and par. Some courses include a unique name for the hole and may have sponsor logos. They are often supplemented with a larger sign near the course entrance which has a map of the entire course.[10]

Although early courses were played using trees, fence posts, or park equipment as the target, standard disc golf baskets are by far the most common type of target on modern courses. Some courses feature tone targets that are designed to make a distinctive sound when hit with a disc. Disc golf baskets are constructed with a central pole holding a basket under an assembly of hanging chains. When a disc hits the chains, it is often, but not always, deflected into the basket. Per PDGA rules, in order to complete a hole with a basket target, the disc must come to rest supported by the tray or the chains below the chain support.[16] There are many different brands of baskets made by numerous manufacturers.

The sport of disc golf is set up similar to a game of golf. A "round" is played on a disc golf course consisting of a number of "holes", usually 9 or 18.[17] Each hole includes a tee position for starting play and a disc golf target some distance away, often with obstacles such as trees, hills or bodies of water in between.[18] Players begin by throwing a disc from the tee, without crossing over the front of the tee prior to releasing the disc when throwing. This could lead to a fault similar to a bowling foot fault in cricket. Players then navigate the hole by picking up the disc where it lands and throwing again until they reach the target. The object of the game is to get through the course with the lowest number of total throws.[19] Play is usually in groups of five or fewer, with each player taking turn at the tee box, then progressing with the player furthest from the hole throwing first, while the other players stand aside.

Each course is unique, and so requires a different combination of throws to complete, with the best players aiming to shape the flight of the disc to account for distance, terrain, obstacles and weather. In order to facilitate making different shots, players carry a variety of discs with different flight characteristics, choosing an appropriate disc for each throw. Some players also carry a mini marker disc, used to accurately mark the throwing position before each throw. Use of mini marker discs is particularly prevalent in formal competitive play.


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