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Disc golf is an inexpensive and healthy outdoor activity that anybody of any age or skill level can participate in. It's great for providing both upper-body and lower-body workouts as well as mental stimulation. Disc golf is also a good sport to ease into for people who have been less active before starting to play. The basic idea behind the game is simple: It's similar to golf, but instead of a ball and clubs, you use a flying disc. The goal is the same, though: complete each hole in the fewest tries. Players start from a tee area and throw the disc until it reaches the target, which is usually some sort of elevated basket. Every target is designed to be harder than the last, with trees, shrubs, and a variety of different terrains used to create obstacles. Each throw gives you one point, and the person with the fewest points at the end wins.


The History of Disc Golf

It's hard to know just where disc golf started because there are so many historical accounts of people playing golf with a flying disc at different times and in different places all over the world. Most of these accounts were just a few people having fun, not an organized group activity with formal rules. The first recorded knowledge of the game as an actual sport was in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in 1926, when a group of kids threw tin lids into circles drawn on the ground at their school. Records are spotty from there until the game began gaining popularity with college students in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This is when interest in the sport began to catch on and tournaments began to form around it.

In 1965, Wham-O, makers of the Frisbee, created the first publicized disc golf tournament with a set of rules and multiple holes for the players. It was still relatively new at the time and less structured than it is today. Disc golf as we know it today began in the late 1960s, and its development was guided by "Steady" Ed Headrick. He didn't invent the sport, but he helped it evolve into the game we understand today. There had been various tournaments and events emerging throughout the world, but none of them were coordinated with each other. So in 1976, Headrick formed the Disc Golf Association (DGA) and the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) to unite players under a standardized set of rules. He also was the person who coined the name "disc golf" and created the chains and baskets on poles to be used as targets, as opposed to the Hula-Hoop targets that many were using before. The game began to take the world by storm, and there are now hundreds of permanent disc golf courses and tournaments where players can show off their skills.

How to Play Disc Golf

The first step in playing disc golf is finding somewhere to play. You can play disc golf anywhere there's a good amount of outdoor open space, like a large backyard, playground, or park, but once you begin to improve your skills, you'll want to look for local disc golf courses near you. There are thousands of courses set up all over, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding one.

When you arrive at the first hole, you can decide who goes first a few different ways. If there are two or three of you, you can flip discs. In a two-person game, one of you calls heads or tails while the other one flips; the printed side of the disc is heads, and the other side is tails. In a three-person game, you can all flip your disc, and the odd one out gets to go first. Of course, you can also use any other way of deciding the order, like going in alphabetical order or by age. It won't matter for long, anyway: After the first hole, the order is dependent on the score, with the player who had the lowest score on the last hole going first on the next one. The first throw begins at the tee-off point, but every throw after that is from the spot where the disc landed. Once you all tee off, whoever ended up farthest from the hole goes next.

Every hole has a certain number of throws you should aim for to get your disc into the metal basket at the end. Like in golf, this number is called par. To complete a hole, you need to keep throwing your disc until it goes into the basket; however many throws that takes is your score for the hole. Unlike many other sports, you should aim to have the lowest score. Keep track of your scores on a scorecard; whoever has the lowest score at the end wins.

Equipment Needed for Disc Golf

Getting started with disc golf is pretty easy, in part because you won't have to buy much equipment to play. Once you find a course to play on, the only things you'll need to bring are good-quality discs and a bag to store them when they aren't in use. Other play equipment isn't strictly necessary but can make the game more enjoyable, such as:

  • A water bottle
  • A small towel
  • A mini marker disc (to mark where your disc landed between throws)
  • Disc golf retriever (to get your discs back from any water traps on the course)
  • Friction disc golf glove (perfect for maintaining your grip if it starts to rain)
  • Something you can use to knock stuck discs out of trees or tall shrubbery, like a baseball or hockey puck.
  • A way to keep score (either a pad and pencil or your phone)

It's relatively easy and inexpensive to get started playing disc golf, and it's a great activity the whole family can enjoy together because of that. Over time and with plenty of practice, you'll find that your technique will improve and your score will continue to get better!

Edited by: Ben Thompson