How to Get Started in Disc Golf

How to Get Started in Disc Golf

The sport of disc golf is growing at a rapid rate. Currently, there are more than 10,000 disc golf courses in the United States, which is now rivaling the number of golf courses at 16,000. Being free to play for a large majority of courses, having a cheap initial start cost for both players and course builders, being out in nature, flexible start and end times, and smaller environmental impact comparative to other sports are just some of the driving factors in its growth. If you want to get behind a fun, easy to play, and growing sport, you are at the right place. Below, I am going to give you a step by step guide on how to kickstart your disc golf journey.

Step 1: What is Disc Golf?

Disc golf is a sport where the goal is to throw a disc into a chained basket in as few throws as possible. Players start their initial throw from a designated teepad, typically made of concrete, turf, or rubber, toward a 4 foot basket with hanging chains some 150 to 900 feet away depending on the hole. Your second throw will be from where your disc landed and finally came to rest from the first throw. You keep going until your disc lands in the basket of the hole you are playing. Commonly, courses are made up of 9 or 18 holes and take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to play. Since most courses are free, players can play as many or as few holes as they like or have time to play.

Figure 1: 2023 World Champion, Isaac Robinson, throwing his first shot off a turf teepad towards a chained basket 480 feet away. 

Similar to traditional golf, there is a par, or expected number of throws, for every hole. While completing the hole on par or better may be the goal, each player may take as many attempts as they need to complete the hole. Keeping score, competing with friends, and improving your game is a big part of disc golf's appeal. We recommend that for your first few games you just focus on learning the sport, improving your throws, and most of all have fun while doing it. 

Holes can come in all shapes and sizes. Varying from short 150 foot (45 meter) wide open par 3s to tight wooded 900 foot (274 meter) par 5s. Due to the variety of holes and the obstacles between the teepad and the hole, players use different discs (more on this in Step 2!) and throwing techniques to create a specific flight pattern. Backhand, forehand, tomahawk, roller, and thumber are a few techniques players use to navigate a hole. Most beginners are best served by just throwing the same way they would throw a traditional frisbee (classic backhand) before experimenting with other throwing techniques.

Now that you know the basics, you can move on and buy your first disc!

Step 2: Buying Your First Disc

This step is both exciting and daunting. Most new comers find it hard to believe that there are hundreds, if not thousands of different shapes for a disc. On our site alone, we have over 3000 different discs to pick from. Some advanced players will easily carry more than fifteen discs in their bag. While this may seem overwhelming, rest assured that beginners can start out with two or even just one disc and still have a great time while learning. There are "starter sets" for beginners, but you can also buy one or two beginner friendly discs that are longer lasting and durable compared to the discs found in starter sets. Its important to note that discs that are beginner friendly can be used by any skill level, so don't worry too much about picking the "perfect" disc. 

Image 1: Disc Zone's, Santa Cruz's largest disc golf store, selection of discs available to the public.

If you want to find a beginner basics guide that helps identify the right disc for you check out our Beginner Basics page.

To summarize our Beginner Basics guide, as a first timer you typically want to throw a slow speed disc that has a lot of glide and is fairly understable. If you feel confident in your ability, you can purchase a mid range which we will link here. If you are looking for a quick recommendation we suggest the Neutron Soft glitch from MVP and the Gold Ice Fuse from Latitude 64. For a more complete list of options, here is a link to some of the beginner friendly discs that we recommend. 

Once you have bought your first disc, you can move one step closer to playing your first round!

Step 3: Find a Disc Golf Course to Play!

You can try an internet search for disc golf courses near you but we highly recommend the UDisc app. UDisc is a free disc golf cell phone app that is widely used by the disc golf community. The main benefit for downloading the app is to identify all the disc golf courses near you. With more than 15,000 courses worldwide displayed on their app, you can easily navigate to the nearest course via GPS. Each course will have an individual description describing its difficulty, number of holes, cost to play (if any), where to park, etc. Once you find a course, UDisc's GPS feature can help you identify the location of the teepads and baskets, as well as the distance to each hole from where you are located so you never get lost! 

Image 2: What the UDisc app looks like from a users point of view. Credit: UDisc

Step 4: Start Playing!

You should now be ready to play your first round of disc golf. Plan a round with some friends or play solo. At most courses you can play anytime and can always find someone to play with. The community is always welcoming and happy to see newcomers join in on the fun. 

We hope this blog helped you learn a bit more about the sport and helped start your disc golf journey. If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to send Disc Zone an email at disczoneca@gmail.com or DM us on our instagram @thedisczone. If you want to browse and check out some cool discs check out our website at www.disczone.com

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