The Wonders of Disc Golf

Louis Violette, Staff Writer

Disc golf is played much like golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, though, players use a flying disc or Frisbee®, and disc golf was formalized in the 1970s. The origins of a flying disc date back to the steel age, when according to the site Disc Golf Association, “sharpened rings were thrown with devastating effect. They flew with accuracy, caused serious injury and looked like the modern Aerobie.” Much later, Disc Golf Association also reports, “Pie pans, film can lids, and toy flying saucers were the recent predecessors of the modern Frisbee which was invented in 1964 by Ed Headrick, US Patent 3,359,678.”

Among the types of disc golf discs, there is the driver, which is a fast disc that is used to go most of the way to the hole. On the other side of the spectrum is the putter. A putter is generally slow in comparison to the other types of discs, which is necessary to be accurate in scoring when close to the hole. In the middle of the spectrum, midranges are aptly named for their use. They can go reasonable distances, and can be used to lay up, or get closer, to the hole. Senior Peter Fornia’s favorite type of disc golf disc is “Mids. Mids are really fun to throw. I can not forehand them, but the shaping of shots with a simple backhand is really fun to throw on midrange.”

In an editorial addressed to the Disc Golf Association site, ‘Steady’ Ed Headrick says, “All I did was offer [a hard core of people in their 20’s perhaps 100 people in the world] a ‘Pro’ model, white with a black flame painted ring, a gold foil label that said 108 grams, as if anyone cared, and the Olympic rings upside down.” As if that were not enough, Headrick also says in the “first three months, the Modern Frisbee and the Super Ball were both born and became two of the top ten fads in the world.”

With how the modern frisbee has standardized the size of frisbees, it is uncommon to find and play with larger frisbees, or differently shaped discs. Sophomore KaShing Xie remembered that in fourth grade “in a gym class, and we used giant frisbees … The basket was like five feet and there would be a huge hole in the middle that we had to get it onto.” Just like in disc golf where there is a basket in replacement of the normal ball golf’s hole, in Xie’s PE class in elementary school there was a massive basket to get the frisbee into.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, “Disc golf is played much like golf except, instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc. The sport was formalized in the 1970s and shares with golf the object of completing each hole in the fewest strokes.” Where golf courses are created and maintained by one group of people, small disc golf courses are free and maintained by a small group or a few people. When compared to Ball Golf, disc golf only stands at “eight to 12 million Americans [players] … and over half a million play regularly” according to the Professional Disc Golf Association, which is a relatively small statistic when compared to ball golf. According to the website National Golf Foundation, “4.41 Million – Americans age 6+ – Played golf, both on and off course in 2022”. Fornia says, “I play every week; at least three times a week,” enjoying the courses and zen that comes out of playing disc golf.

A separate section of the Disc Golf Association site explains how to play disc golf, and what the holes are like. For example, “a disc golf basket which is a pole extending up from the ground with chains and a basket where the disc lands.” Similar to ball golf, disc golf has 18 holes total with nine on the front and nine on the back. Disc golf 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.”

Junior Marcus Hibpshipman states that “I follow normal golf” and that when he attracts people to flying disc sports, “not necessarily disc golf, but I do try to attract people to frisbee related sports such as Ultimate [Frisbee].” Along the same lines, freshman Hollis Mitchell attracts potential players to both disc golf and Ultimate Frisbee by “having fun and laughing!” Disc golf is fun, relaxing, and in the words of Hibpshipman, “I consider it a normal sport; It is active and you get exercise.”

Disc golf can be played on many levels, and unlike Ultimate Frisbee, a player can stop at any time in the match rather than in the middle of a game, or track their scores over time to see how much they have improved since they first started disc golf. Disc golf has many roots all across the world, and is similar enough to ball golf that anyone can play.  Origins in the 1970s with modern-day Frisbee has been prevalent for a long time with roots in ball golf and Ultimate Frisbee.