New Disc Golf Player?
Are you interested in learning how to play disc golf? Not sure where to start? Confused about all of the disc choices? Well, don't worry. We have you covered.
As a first time player, it can be quite intimidating to get started in the sport of disc golf. Most courses have little to no instructions for the first time player, there are about a million different types of discs, and there are lots of confusing terms out there. The good news is...It can all be very simple! One aspect of disc golf that I really appreciate is that it can be equally as fun for someone who has never thrown a disc as it is for a world touring professional disc golfer. The sport requires very little skill or monetary investment to get out and have a great time, and that is what we are here for right? To have fun!
You really need two things to play disc golf: A disc and a place to throw it. That's it! I've had a lot of fun with my kid in the backyard just throwing discs at random targets and trying to hit them. A tree makes a perfect target and if you end up getting further into disc golf, you should probably get used to hitting them!
What disc to buy
If you have looked around a little bit trying to figure out what disc to buy as a beginner, you know that things can get very confusing. Everyone seems to have different recommendations, there are various flight numbers and disc ratings, different disc profiles, plastics, and weights. The list of options seems never ending. Prodigy Disc (a disc golf disc manufacturer) currently lists roughly 300 different discs for sale on their site. That's a lot! Now take into consideration that there are many disc golf disc manufacturers and all of their discs are slightly different. Holy cow! When you get to the pro levels, all of these different discs have a place and purpose but for now, ignore it all.
Let's simplify things by breaking this down into something much simpler. In essence, there are only three categories of discs:
There are several subcategories of these main disc types and hybrids and offshoots but really, this is all we care about for quite some time as a new player. Right now we don't have the form and skills to worry about anything else. Even out of this list, it will be a while before you will be throwing a driver effectively.
There are two distinct paths for starting out in disc golf. Both start the same but soon diverge. The first path is to play for fun with no intention of being competitive. The second is for someone who wants to just go to work getting their skills up as quickly as possible. You will have less fun doing it this way but you will become a better player faster. The difference is all about disc choice.
If you are playing for fun, your next steps are very simple. Go out and buy a starter set from any major disc manufacturer. Do not buy the cheap discs at WalMart or KMart or stores like that. Those discs are terrible and you will have a much better time using real discs. Sometimes Dick's sporting goods carries real discs. The DGA Disc Golf Set ($26 on Amazon) is one of the most popular sets to buy and will stay with you for a long time, even as you get better and better. With this starter set, you have everything you need to get going. I would advise to set the driver aside until you get some time under your belt with the putter and mid-range that come with the starter set. The driver will require much better form and arm speed to realize it's benefits. With poor form and low speed you will end up throwing the disc far off into the woods (remember what I said about getting used to hitting trees?) more often than putting it where you want it and without the form and arm speed required, you will not see any more distance out of it than using your putter. A putter is going to be easier to throw correctly in the beginning because it requires less speed to reach it's designed flight characteristics. Play your first few rounds with just the putter to get comfortable with the same disc and how it flies. once you are more comfortable getting the putter to land close to where you want it, introduce the mid range disc and start having fun! That's it. You are now disc golfing!
If you are planning to be competitive and want to put fun aside for a while so that you can really ramp up your game, I would suggest going out and buying three of the same putters. Choose a common putter like the DGA D-Line Reef. This is a fantastic disc that is good for beginners but also earns a spot in the pro player's bags. This is a disc that will stay with you for life. A putter is a great choice for a new player that wants to improve their skill set because a putter is very sensitive to input. If you have mistakes in your form, the putter will show it. If your spin is too slow, the putter will show an obvious wobble. If you release the disc on an angle, the putter will fly in a prominent arc. It makes it very easy to correct your form and it does it in a forgiving way. Even if you have form issues, you can still get the putter flying in the right general area. Having three of the same disc allows you to spend some time tossing discs in a field or practicing putting from the same spot without getting too frustrated throwing a single disc and then walking after it to pick it up each throw. Throwing the same disc helps you work on your consistency and to correct small mistakes in form immediately. Each disc will be held and thrown a little differently. Even two discs of the same mold but a different weight or a different plastic type will require different inputs. Incredibly, a disc that has been used for a season will fly differently than a brand new one. You want to stay consistent in the beginning and this is why it's important to stay with the same disc. Now, don't get too concerned that you wont be able to throw far with a putter. They are not limited to 20ft. Most people suggest staying with a putter until you can consistently and accurately throw that putter 200-250ft. Once you can hit that mark, it's time to add a midrange. The pros can throw a putter much much farther than this. You will not be limited by the disc. You will be limited by your form.
Getting onto a Course
Most disc golf courses are free to play and are on public access land. The best place to find a course near you is to check out Disc Golf Course Review. They have a searchable map that gives details, reviews, and even photos of all the courses in your area.
Ok, so what to do when you first show up? Many courses have a pro-shop or disc golf store on site. Our local disc course, Bellamy Park Disc Golf, is home of Walter's Disc Golf Emporium. If you don't have any discs, most course shops will have loaner discs available. Just step inside the pro shop and ask. If the pro-shop has loaners, they will set you up with a nice starter pack of discs and explain to you what each one does and when to throw it. You will probably be handed a driver, a midrange, and a putter. The pro shop can also walk you through the rules of the course, where the first hole is located, and some disc golf general etiquette. If they don't have loaner discs, you can always purchase one there. Like mentioned earlier, I would start with a good starter pack or choose a decent putter and midrange disc that sticks out to you and feels good in your hand. The pro shop will certainly give you advice on which to buy if you ask for it.
Once you have your discs, head out to the course, find hole #1, and start playing! Most people choose to start at hole #1 but on most courses you can start wherever you please as long as you continue playing in the correct order. If you start at hole 4, play hole 5 next, and so on. Don't start at hole 4 then jump to 11 then back to 7. If you do this, you will find yourself walking across fairways and getting in people's way. Sometimes if it is busy, it makes sense to start at an empty hole if the first couple of holes are occupied. Once you find the tee pad for the first hole, you will want to locate the tee sign. This sign has a drawing of the hole, where the basket is, the distance, and more. From here you want to see if you can spot the basket. Your goal is to get the disc into the basket in as few throws as possible. Survey the sides of the course and watch for any problem areas, maybe a river that runs along the course or some dense brush on one side. These are areas that will make it hard to find your disc should your throw go astray. Aim away from these spots. Once you have a good idea of where you want the disc to go, line up and throw it!
The first thing to understand is that almost all disc golfers are going to be friendly and eager to help out a new player, as long as you are polite and don't bother them in the middle of a hole. Disc golf is a relatively small sport that is quickly growing in popularity. Disc golfers are happy to see this growth and it is very important to them. Widespread acceptance means more courses to play and more variety. "Growing the sport" is a common phrase in disc golf and it is something we all want to happen. Getting new players involved and making sure they have a good first time out is a great way to accomplish this goal. If you are new to disc golf and want to ask for help, you should follow a few common sense rules. The first is to not interrupt a player during tee-off or really anytime they are about to throw a disc. This is the same as talking during someone's putt in golf, it breaks concentration and leads to a missed shot. The best time to ask for help is when a player is in between holes or as they are getting set up for a new hole. Also keep in mind the course layouts and try to follow the paths. Don't walk across holes as players may be shooting and you wouldn't want to get hit with a disc.
Now that you know it is ok to ask for help, we can go over some general rules and etiquette.
Some basic etiquette rules are as follows, taken from discgolf.com's rules for play.
- Remain quiet and avoid unnecessary movements while others are throwing.
- Stand behind the player who is throwing until throw is complete.
- Remove disc from the basket after completing the hole.
- Help new players learn the rules.
- Allow faster groups to play through when possible.
- Pick up trash and put in proper receptacles.
- Do not alter the course (trees, bushes, etc.) in any way.
Would you look at that!? Right in the etiquette it states that you should help new players learn the rules. Great news!
Get out and play!
This article can be summed up rather easily.
- Go buy a decent starter set from Amazon.
- Find a course near you on dgcoursereview.com
- Go throw your new discs at the baskets!
- Have fun!
Now you have all of the information needed to go get started in disc golf. It's really a very simple sport to get started in and fun for players of all ages and fitness levels. I hope to see you out on the course!