Instead of a ball and clubs, players throw a plastic disc (or “Frisbee”) into a standing metal basket (which has loose hanging chains to help catch the disc). Players throw from a designated tee towards a target basket, and, as in ball golf, try to do so in as few throws as possible. A course typically has 9 or 18 “holes” (fairways with tees and baskets).
Disc golf “holes” are shorter than in ball golf, play is faster, and the game can be played in spaces shared with other users, such as public parks.
Discs are smaller and more streamlined than traditional beach “Frisbees”, and fly further. There is a wide variety of different discs (they vary by design, plastic and weight). Each type has different flight characteristics. As a ball golfer has different clubs, so a disc golfer has a set of different discs (putters, mid-range, drivers).
Disc golf is relatively quick and easy to learn. Rapid and noticeable improvement in skill means that frustration is minimised.
Disc golf can be played on one’s own, in an informal group with friends, at organised times on weekends and summer evenings, in club leagues, or in weekend tournaments. Players of differing skill levels can play together, thus all members of a family can play as a group, or an inexperienced player can happily play in the same tournament as someone with years of experience.
There is no requirement to book a “tee time”, players are free to play as and when it suits them. Not much equipment is needed: loose casual clothing, a bag of discs (1-3 is enough for a beginner), and suitable footwear (e.g. training shoes). Thus the game is well suited to the fluid schedules of modern life.
It takes 50 to 90 minutes to play a recreational round of 18 “holes”. Approximately 72 players can be accommodated on an 18 “hole” course at any one time.
Disc golf started in California 1975, with the invention of the metal basket. Innovations to plastic disc design followed in the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2000, the game has been growing rapidly worldwide. It is most popular in North America and Northwest Europe. Finland, with a population not much larger than New Zealand, has over 700 courses.
There are 46 or more courses in New Zealand, and the game is growing rapidly.
START WITH THE BASICS
To get started in disc golf you will need: a disc, comfortable clothing, and some supportive footwear with good grip e.g. training shoes. A disc golf course is optional, but preferable. Go here for all the current marked courses in NZ.
Getting a disc: ALWAYS start out with round-edged putters and midrange discs and NEVER a sharp-edged driver. Don't use a disc that is too heavy. Here’s a list of DISC VENDORS IN NZ.
Think about spinning the disc rather than throwing it. A faster-spinning disc flies farther, and with more consistency. Grip the disc firmly as shown HERE.
The player furthest from the basket always plays first, and you must never progress towards the basket until that player has made their shot. And so on.
PLAY THE RIGHT WAY
Disc golf is special - it is a self-refereed sport. The referees are each group of players. Even in serious tournaments, it is rare to involve officials.
Compared to many other sports, the rules of disc golf are simple, and easy to read. For beginners and most players, just reading through the Official Rules of Disc Golf (below) is enough. It will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the game.