Let’s Try Disc Golf! The Newbie Guide for the Whole Family.
At KEEN, we love to try new ways of getting outside. (Plus, 2022 is the Year of the Newbie, remember?) Our latest obsession: disc golf! It’s a little bit golf, a little bit ultimate frisbee, and a whole lot of fun. Disc golf is a great opportunity to get the whole family outdoors, moving their bodies, and enjoying quality time together. It’s easy to understand and fun to learn for younger and older kids.
Curious about disc golf? Read on.
Disc Golf 101
Disc golf’s predecessor, ultimate frisbee, is a field sport like soccer or football. Disc golf is more like ball golf: Players go through an outdoor course of 9-18 holes (each “hole” is actually a metal basket). Instead of using golf clubs and balls, disc golfers try to fling frisbee discs into the baskets. You start at a tee area and try to get your disc into the basket in as few throws as possible.
Play the Family Way
Disc golf is adaptable. You can play using simple rules for younger kids or more complex rules for older kids and adults.
• The simple version: With young kids, don’t worry about points or number of holes; just focus on throwing toward the basket. Keep things fun and take plenty of breaks. Be open to ending the game early if your kid seems tired or overwhelmed.
• The regular version: Older kids might get more into the competition of keeping track of points and working on the strategy of their throws. In that case, keep a tally of throws and announce the winner at the end.
• The advanced version: For an extra challenge, add in par. Par is the number of throws estimated to make each hole. If you can come in under par, you’re doing extra great. Par is usually listed on the signage next to each tee pad at a course. Teens and adults can also take their game stakes up a notch by using penalty points. These points get added to your score when a disc goes out of bounds or lands in a hazard, such as a pond. (Remember, the lower the score, the better!)
Find a Course
One of the easiest ways to find a course near you is to check out DG Course Review. You can look up all the courses located near your zip code or filter by course terrain or number of holes. Another great tool for locating courses is the UDisc app, which puts courses, score keeping, and disc golf tips right inside your pocket.
When choosing a beginner course, look for relatively flat ground in a lightly wooded area. For most newbie players, nine holes is plenty.
You can also create your own course in a large backyard or local park. Instead of baskets, try aiming toward hula hoops in the grass. If the park has trees, you can even use these as targets. Be sure to throw only toward large, established trees that won’t be damaged by the impact.
What to Bring
Disc golf is great for beginners because you don’t need a bunch of new gear to give it a go. Here’s what to bring to the course:
Discs: Avid disc golf players tend to play with a set of discs, but beginners can use one disc per player. There are a few different types:
- Mid-range: The best all-around disc, a mid-range is ideal for beginners who are playing with only one disc.
- Driver: Players use this disc for their first throw from the tee.
- Putter: Players use this when finishing a hole or for short-distance throws.
Score cards: Bring a pad of paper and a pen to jot down each player's number of throws (or keep track of it on your phone). You can also get printed score cards at your local disc golf store or online.
Comfortable footwear: Depending on your pace and how many holes you play, a game of disc golf can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Comfortable shoes are a must. Look for a lightweight sneaker or hiker that’s stable and supportive. KEEN fans love our women’s and men's NXIS boots and shoes for disc golf. One player writes, “Best disc golf shoes to date. Lightweight, waterproof and great traction on concrete tee pads. No damage to the sole from rotating on pad after 20 rounds.” Another favorite for disc golf is our women’s and men’s Targhee III Waterproof shoes. One player says, “These are comfortable shoes that keep my feet dry and work great on the disc golf course.”
Snacks and water: Learning a new sport can sometimes be challenging, so it’s always a good idea to take breaks so you can refuel. Besides, everything is more fun with snacks.
Backpack: Use it to stash your snacks, water, extra discs, hats, sunscreen, and other essential gear.
Disc Golf Etiquette and Lingo
Every game has its own rules for polite play. Here are the fundamentals of disc golf etiquette:
• Check surroundings: It’s important to check your surroundings before you throw, so you don’t accidentally hit a person or pet with a disc.
• Play through: On busy courses where multiple groups are playing at once, it’s nice to offer a faster-playing group the opportunity to move ahead. You can ask them if they’d like to “play through” and go ahead of you.
• Remove discs: After getting your disc in the basket, take it out so other players have an easier time landing theirs.
• Watch your disc: Learning how to throw a disc where you want it to go is probably the biggest challenge. Always watch your disc until it lands, so you can find it later.
• Respect the outdoors: Sometimes the perfect shot looks like it could be obstructed by a branch or bush. Remember: This is part of the challenge. You should never crush plants or remove tree limbs to get a cleaner shot. In fact, KEEN friend Avery Jenkins loves that disc golf has such a small environmental impact compared to other outdoor sports. Let’s keep it that way!
Learning the lingo is part of the fun. Here are some terms to know for disc golf:
Bounce: It’s exciting (then terribly disappointing) when a disc hits the chains or basket, then bounces out. Unfortunately, a bounce doesn’t count as a basket.
Fore!: A warning term borrowed from golf, “Fore!” is what you yell out when your disc looks like it might make contact with an unsuspecting player or passerby.
Honors: The player who gets the best score on the previous hold gets the honors of being the first to throw on the next hole.
There’s a lot to love about disc golf: fresh air, a leisurely pace, and a little competition to keep things interesting. Happy throwing!