Disc Golf Association, (DGA) was established in 1976 by Ed Headrick to form a new international sport and to promote the installation and use of disc golf courses around the world.
Headrick coined and trademarked the term “Disc Golf” after inventing and patenting the original Disc Pole Hole. Headrick had originally wanted to call his invention a Frisbee Pole Hole but ran into issues over the Frisbee trademarked belonging to Wham-O where he had served as Vice President. Later after founding Disc Golf Association and the Professional Disc Golf Association, Ed released the term disc golf from trademark restrictions in order to help grow the sport.
Prior to DGA, a precursor to the game of disc golf was played by a few devoted Frisbee players throwing Frisbees at carefully chosen “golf holes”… usually drinking fountains, fire hydrants, garbage cans and light poles and the rules were made up on the spot. It was during this time that competitive freestyle had reached a critical mass with frisbee tournaments composed of distinct freestyle skill events. Frisbee golf made its début at a couple of these events in 1974 and 1975 as side activities to the main events comprising of competitive freestyle, focused on trick throws and acrobatic catches. The huge potential of disc golf as a formal sport and recognized recreational activity did not become apparent until after Headrick installed the first permanent Disc Pole Hole course and disc golf moved from a fringe of the Frisbee Freestyle movement and into the mainstream and the disc golf revolution.
In 1974, Headrick approached the county of Los Angeles Park and Recreation Department with the idea of a permanent Disc Golf Course. Sy Greben, Director of the Park Planning Division saw the potential and Oak Grove Park was selected and approval was given to install the world’s first Disc Golf Course. Headrick and Mary Becker from the Park Planning Division designed and constructed the course with the county.
Modern day disc golf started in the late 60’s. The early frisbee golf courses were “object courses”, using anything from trees, trash cans, light poles, chicken wire baskets, pipes to fire hydrants as targets. The roots of the sport begin when “Steady” Ed Headrick designed the modern day Frisbee (US Patent 3,359,678, issued 1966) while working for Wham-O Toys back in the 60’s. Captivated by the flight and feeling of control he could master with the Frisbee, Ed saw potential for the disc well beyond what anyone had envisioned or imagined.
Ed Headrick was one of the main driving forces of early Frisbee sports. Headrick founded the International Frisbee Association, established the Junior Frisbee Championships, established and organized the World Frisbee Championship and went on to create and standardize the sport of Disc Golf.
The game was formalized when Headrick invented the first Disc Pole Hole™ catching device, consisting of 10 chains hanging in a parabolic shape over an upward opening basket, (US Patent 4,039,189, issued 1975). The Disc Pole Hole™ became the equivalent to ball golf’s “hole” and was installed in the first standardized target course (what was then known as Oak Grove Park Pasadena, California). Ed had said one of his many inspirations for the “Disc Pole Hole™” invention was so he and his buddies could get on with playing instead of arguing over whether someone actually had hit one of the objects in their make shift object courses.
Disc golf drivers are designed for fast long-distance throws. Drivers are recognizable by their sharp, beveled edge and have most of their mass on the outer rim of the disc. Drivers are often divided into different categories such as maximum distance drivers, distance drivers, and fairway drivers. Drivers are a more advanced disc to throw when compared to mid-range discs and putters. Players new to disc golf may find that throwing a distance driver can be difficult.
Midrange discs are as their name implies the middle ground between putt and approach discs used for short shots and drivers used for distance and long fairway shots. Midrange discs are faster, more stable, and have a longer range than a putter. Midranges are great all-around utility discs that players will use for the majority of their shots. While advanced players often use midranges for many of their shots midrange discs are great discs for players just starting out.
Putt and Approach discs are designed to fly straight, predictably, and more with much control then midrange discs or drivers. Putters are typically used for short controlled shots or the final “putt” into the basket, although some players use them for short drives where trees or other obstacles come into play.
Objective and Rules
Objective of the Game
Disc Golf is played like traditional golf, but with disc golf discs instead of balls and clubs. One throw (stroke) is counted each time the disc is thrown and when a penalty is incurred. The goal is to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible. The player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins.
Never throw when players or other park users are within range. Always give park users the right of way. Be aware of your surroundings and environment at all times.
Each hole begins with a tee throw. Tee throws must be completed within or behind the designated tee area.
The lie is the spot where the player’s previous throw has landed. Mark each lie with a mini marker disc or leave the thrown disc on the ground where it landed. The player’s subsequent throw is made from directly behind the marked lie.
The player with the least amount of strokes on the previous hole is the first to tee off on the next hole. After all players have teed off, the player whose disc is farthest from the hole always throws first.
Fairway throws must be made from directly behind the lie. A run-up and normal follow-through, after release, is allowed, unless the lie is within 10 meters of the target. Any shot within 10 meters of the target requires that the player maintain balance and not move past the lie until the disc comes to rest.
A mandatory, or mando, is one or more designated trees or poles in the fairway that must be passed to the correct side as indicated by an arrow. If the disc passes to the wrong side of mandatory, either play from the previous lie or from a marked drop zone area if applicable and add a one throw penalty.
Completion Of Hole
A disc that comes to rest in the disc golf basket or suspended in the chains constitutes the successful completion of that hole.
Out Of Bounds
If any area of O.B. is visible between the disc and O.B. line, then the disc is considered O.B. A throw that lands out of bounds, must be played from a point up to 1 meter in bounds from where the disc crossed over the out of bounds line. Permanent water hazards, public roads, and most park boundaries are almost always out of bounds.
The most commonly known throw in disc golf is the backhand.
The motion of having the arm cross over in front of the body, then moving outward and releasing with the arm extended before the body.
Grip for the backhand is cupping the disc on the outside, across from the body, and using the thumb on top and fingers underneath, with the index farthest from the ridge.
The side-straddle stance is most suited for the backhand throw. By keeping the feet in proper alignment and aiming toward the target, the disc will generally travel in that direction without much focus, as long as the release point is mastered.
Windup, bring the disc toward the opposite side of the body from the throwing hand. If you are right handed, then you would curl the disc toward your left side, around the lower end of the rib cage. Turning the shoulders slightly away from the target, as well as your hips, you are now in a position to gain maximum power from this throw.
The release will be at the moment your arm is fully extended and the wrist snaps forward. Mastering the snap of the wrist and the release timing is one of the most crucial aspects of the throw.
Forehand or Sidearm
Stance either face the opposite direction of the backhand type or use the straddle stance in which the golfer would face the target with the feet parallel, also facing the target and about shoulder width apart.
Grip is the same as for the backhand but instead of curling the wrist inward, the wrist is instead turned outward. The right handed golfer would extend his or her right out, moving it behind his shoulder line, about chest high, and will twist the hips slightly to help generate power.
The release point will be about a foot forward of the shoulder line. This throw is more complicated than the backhand as far as creating stability and control of the disc, but it also has the potential to generate considerably more speed and power, allowing the disc golfer to gain more distance.
This type of throw is unique and requires that you practice quite a bit off the course. It is also commonly referred to as the hammer, or Tomahawk throw because the motion resembles the throwing of a Tomahawk.
The grip used for this type of throw is just like for the forehand, but the toss offers a unique flight pattern and this makes it ideal for getting over or around certain obstacles.
For example, if you are standing on the opposite side from your target with a small building, such as a restroom facility in your way, you may not want to have to incur extra strokes just to get around the obstruction, and still end up the same distance from the basket as you are at this moment. In this case, the overhand throw would benefit you well. Being able to toss the disc over the roof, and as long as the disc flattens out properly, you can take the obstacle out of the equation.
The stance that should be used for this is the same as for the forehand or side arm throw. A straddle or foot forward stance is best. The windup is essentially the same as for the side arm except that the arm would be brought over the shoulder, above the head.
What do you already know about disc golf? (equipment, rules, scoring, etc.)
How do you ensure the disc flies straight? (grip, release, follow through, stance)
How does a group determine who throws the next disc after completing a hole?
What is the biggest challenge for you and your group? How will you improve?
What strategies can you use on a windy day to be more successful at finishing each hole?
Where do you stand to tee off?
When is it acceptable for a group to tee off before another group is done.
What should you expect if you hear someone shout "fore" when playing golf?
How does a group determine who throw the disc next, after the first throw from the tee box.
Define the word "par" as it is used in disc golf.
What is the penalty for landing in a hazard and where do you throw from next?