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What is Disc Golf?
Disc golf (sometimes referred to as Frisbee ® Golf, folf, frolf, or even disk golf) was established as a sport in 1975 with the construction of the first public disc golf course in Oak Grove, CA. The following year the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) was founded as the sport’s governing body. Since this time, disc golf has emerged from its meager and regional roots to become an international sport that is played by many thousands of individuals on over 2,100 courses. There is even a professional disc golf tour that features the sport’s best players.
The object of the sport is very similar to that of golf, except that flying discs (a.k.a. Frisbees ®) are used in place of clubs and balls. Essentially, the course is comprised of 9 to 18 holes that vary in par from 3 to 5 throws per hole. Each hole has a tee box marking the area from which a player must throw the first shot. The hole ends when the player throws his disc into a Pole Hole ® basket (or target), although on some older courses the goal is to hit an object like a tree with the disc to “hole out” (known as object courses). Scores are kept in the same manner as ball golf, with the winner being the person with the lowest overall score for the holes played. Many courses also offer alternate tees (i.e. white and blue) to ensure the course is sufficiently challenging for players of all abilities.
Disc golf is played on courses that have been specifically designed for this sport. The majority of courses feature a variety of terrain resulting in challenging and diverse holes. Some holes are carved through forests, making the goal of throwing long, straight shots without hitting obstacles (i.e. trees) very challenging. Others are in more open spaces, like fields, making it somewhat easier for the player to throw shots unimpeded by obstacles. Many disc golf courses exist in public parks or on college campuses, and are generally free to play. Some private courses also exist which charge a nominal fee for an unlimited day of play (generally between $2 - $5 per person), and disc golf country clubs with premium amenities and annual membership fees are emerging as well.
Disc Golf features hazards like ball golf, except in disc golf these hazards are trees, shrubs, boulders, and other obstacles in between the tee and the hole. Much to the dismay of many disc golfers, water hazards exist in this sport as well, as does the concept of “out of bounds” areas. However, at least there are no sand traps to keep you stranded on the beach.
Disc golf provides excellent exercise for players of all abilities and physical conditions. In fact, some longer courses may require the players to hike 1 – 2 miles during the course of an 18 hole round. The sport can be played by individuals of all ages and abilities, including young children and senior citizens, which makes this sport an excellent family activity.
How To Play
Disc Golf is relatively easy to learn and play, but challenging to master. Like ball golf, the object of disc golf is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws (stokes). Each hole starts at the tee. The player with the lowest score on the previous hole has “honors” and throws first.
The tee area is generally marked by a sign that lists the distance and par of the hole, as well as a map showing the layout of the hole. The player must start by throwing his/her first shot from and area behind and within within 3 meters of the tee box markers (similar to ball golf). On most holes, players will tee off with one of their Drivers, or longest flying discs. The drive may be thrown from any area of the tee box, provided that the player's support point(s) at time of release are behind the tee markers, and no farther back than 3 meters behind the tee markers. The player may step past the tee line once the disc has been released. This shot is known as the Drive. The player may run up to the line prior to throwing the disc. This is generally referred to as the run up.
The next shot, known as the approach shot, is thrown from the spot where the drive or previous shot came to rest, and must be thrown from a place that is behind the spot marking the leading edge of the disc. Players generally mark the leading edge of the disc with a mini, or marker, disc prior to picking up their previous shot, although a marker disc is not required. In fact, during casual play, players sometimes mark their lie simply by turning over the disc from their previous shot. The player farthest from the hole throws first. For approach shots of 200' or less (generally speaking), many players will use Multi-purpose or Mid-range discs. These disc are designed to fly with more control than a driver. The player may again run up to throw the disc, as long as the player's foot is behind the marker disc, and within 30 CM (~12 inches) of it when the shot is released. Once again, the player may step past the marker disc once the shot has been released.
Most disc golf courses feature an elevated basket with chains to stop an incoming disc, generally referred to as the target, basket, or Pole Hole®. A putt is considered any throw that originates within 10 M of the basket. The rules for throwing putts are slightly different than drives and approach shots. When putting, a player may not run up, and must maintain control of his/her body position after releasing the putt. Putters are generally used for the final shot of the hole and are designed to fly slower and straighter than mid-range discs. When putting, players are not allowed to step past their marker disc even after releasing the shot. The hole is finished when a player's disc comes to rest in the basket. The score for each player is recorded immediately after completion of the hole, and reflects the number of shots thrown from the tee until the disc came to rest in the basket.