Flying Frisbees

“Oh, no!” “Go left, left, left!” “Woohoo!” “Wow, did you see that shot?” “Aw.” “Good grief!” “You’re the man!”And on it goes in the life of a fanatic disc-golf player.

It started years ago–too many to mention–when I took a Frisbee and tossed it at a tree that my friends and I labeled hole number one. I was convinced this was the sport for me. Today, the game is still called Frisbee–with a twist.

Introducing Disc Golf

Every year, my wife and I visit our son, Kelly and his family in Portland, Ore. Kelly took me to the local city and state parks and taught me how to play disc golf. I soon learned there are more than 2,400 disc-golf courses throughout the country. As you read this article, you may think, “I don’t have any disc golf courses near me.” You probably do, and don’t even know it. Look around the fringes of the local park for metal baskets with chains, and you may be surprised. Or better yet, go to the Professional Disc Golf Association’s (PDGA) Web site (www.pdga.com), click on “course directory,” and type in a ZIP code to view information on all the courses in the area. The closest will be listed first, along with the mileage.

Playing The Game

Disc golf is similar to traditional golf. There is a tee-off box, usually from a concrete pad, and a bag of discs, each with a particular purpose. Shots are played behind where the previous disc lands, with the last “putt” landing either inside the basket or in the chains. Count the number of strokes and head to the next hole. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well … not at first, until you learn how to throw. Then the exhilaration of the challenge takes over! The key to learning how to play disc golf is two-fold–you need the advice of an experienced player to show you the backhand and forehand, thummers, tomahawks and grenades, and you need the right discs.

Selecting The Right Discs

The biggest mistake is choosing the wrong discs. There are three types–a putter, a mid-range, and a driver. Each of these varies in color, type of plastic and weight (145-180 grams). The best way to determine which discs to buy is to talk to someone who plays. Ranging from $7 to $20, discs are available in various degrees of plastic–the higher the cost, the more durable the plastic. I’ve seen players carry a whole bag of discs, sometimes 15-25. I have two bags–one contains nine discs and the other is on a golf push-cart and has 20 discs, a towel, umbrella, snacks, gloves, hand warmers, extra socks, a microwave … I exaggerate.

When purchasing a disc, make sure the retailer has a flight chart available; if not, go somewhere else. Another option is to check out flight charts online, such as www.marshallstreetdiscgolf.com or www.gottagogottathrow.com. The charts are divided into distances from one to six, and stability, categorized by over-stable, stable and under-stable. Over-stable discs turn hard to the left, stable fly straight and then left, and under-stable fly slightly right and then left. As a beginner, choose discs between stable and under-stable. Do not make the mistake of choosing an over-stable disc because the first backhanded throw will turn sharply to the left (for a right-handed person), and you will get frustrated immediately.

Go to the Disc Golf Association (www.discgolfassoc.com) or the PDGA Web site for links to various vendors who sell discs in hundreds of styles and sizes.

Finding Disc-Golf Courses

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