Disc Golf – What Exactly Is It?

Disc Golf? Do you fly frisbees around into tiny little golf holes? Do you smash frisbees as hard as you can with a golf club and see where it goes? I don’t know about anyone else but this is roughly what went through my head the first time someone suggested Disc Golf to me because I didn’t have a clue what it was! And it seems I wasn’t the only one, and there’s still quite a fair amount of people who don’t know what it is. Making up a good part of the fun of my University degree, I felt it only right to try and tell more people about the sport, and what better way than on my column?!

Now whereas Sia likes to keep her privacy using rather cool, split coloured wigs, I prefer to go with the black and white, face-away-from-camera half artistic look as you can see in the featured image. The slight unnerving twist in my back is a particular fashion statement I often go for. Either way the man in the image you see is me, probably half way through second year playing a game of Disc Golf on campus. The beginning of 2nd year was when I was first told about Disc Golf by one of my flatmates, and whenever I get time to play a game it’s always incredible fun and an oddly good way to do exercise.

So firstly, how is it actually played? Well its played with a Disc – it looks like a Frisbee, but there are actually quite a few differences – and a course of metal baskets. The objective is very simple, you must throw these Discs into the metal baskets from the start point in the least amount of throws. It sounds quite easy but it can be pretty difficult and insanely competitive.

As you can imagine both the Discs and metal baskets differ. You can get three different types of Discs, all named the same as golf clubs: drivers, mid-rangers and putters. These in turn also change in different sizes, powers and brands. Then we come to the baskets, they are chained metal … cage things (the technical term…but don’t google that) that are shaped in a sort of circle and are held up by a pole protruding from the ground. The distances between the start point and the baskets vary, often getting harder as you traverse the course. One particular section of the course at my uni (very fortunate to have a course here, thank you Essex Uni) stretches from atop a hill, over a road, up another hill, behind some trees and then through some others. 11 throws I think is my best for that, not all that great. It’s bloody difficult.

In terms of the literal throw the best way to think of it is normal Frisbee mixed with an aggressive and incredibly precision based discus. The concentration that goes into throwing the Disc, in terms of position and angle of the wrist, understanding of the wind and therefore how hard it should be thrown is intense. HOWEVER it is an incredibly rewarding game. When played with a group of friends although you are competing to beat each other, it has been one of those games that I have found creates some of the largest laughs. One particular story comes from a section of the course here that isn’t the longest, but that starts on a raised piece of ground and continues on between two towers of accommodation. Several things have happened on this section including multiple discs accidentally hitting the towers and multiple discs being lost on top of roofs. But one of the most shamefully funny incidents was when one of us completely misjudged the throw and it just skimmed past someones foot. Apologies were given, and “no seriously don’t worry” was the return, however in a rather dramatic fashion the man hobbled away as if the foot would later need some serious treatment. Of course I’m not encouraging hitting people with Discs as it can hurt, and people very rarely actually get hit, but it’s the idea of playing something that’s different, more interesting, and challenging. How many sports challenge you to play across a road? Between two towers? Across a lake? And do it safely?! Not all that many.

No matter how popular it may become Disc Golf will always have that kind of interesting, unique element to it. Contrary I’m sure to a lot of peoples cynical opinions, Disc Golf is also an official sport, the current number one champion being Paul McBeth. These games are played on courses all around the globe, England being one of the most popular. Just like any other sport the competitors train, and the competition can be fierce for the cash prize. Yet there is something that separates it from the other sports, it is one that seems, at it’s core, quite a bit more humbled. I guess it’s probably wrong or inaccurate to call a game humbled, but it seems fitting. What I mean is a game that takes itself seriously, but also has fun with it, and doesn’t lose the intrigue and pleasure of the game in the business of its marketing. It is fun.

Apart from Tennis, some cycling and the odd football game down the community centre I wasn’t a hugely exercise-driven boy when I was younger. When I joined University, almost three years ago now, I spent a lot more time exercising and eating healthier and I can’t really encourage anything as strongly as that. Occasionally timing makes exercise difficult, and it makes it difficult to get the enthusiasm to be able to do it, at these points it really helps to have exercises that are less pain/gain and more fun/gain. Disc Golf is one of these. My gym routine is more than often all over the place and every so often non existent, but if someone suggests a game of Disc Golf it is not something I will want to say no to. Like I said before, along with eating healthier, engaging in exercises that are fun can make the whole idea a lot more appealing. Disc Golf is a sport all too fun and interesting for people to not know about it. So get searching and find your local Disc Golf area and give it a go.

This weeks quote comes from the book Zen and The Art of Disc Golf:

Meditation is taking the time to nourish our spirit. This in most cases involves releasing theses stressors from our mind and focusing on one idea. Get this disc in that basket, or simply walk and throw” – Patrick D McCormick



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