Why I Love Disc Golf

And maybe you should, too.

During the past few years of my life, I keep falling in love with things I never, ever thought I would be into. I spent years making fun of people who love the Grateful Dead, and now I’m a total Deadhead. You ask me my favorite Dead album, and I’m not gonna tell you a studio album; I’m going to name a specific performance recording by date and venue (Harpur College 1970). I even make a special trip to go see Dead & Company perform every summer (except this one, THANKS PANDEMIC). 

Same with NBA basketball; I haven’t been into pro sports since growing up in the Atlanta suburbs in the early 90s, when literally every single person was a Braves fanatic. Things changed in November of 2016 for, uh, reasons, and my husband and I threw ourselves into watching the Oklahoma City Thunder as a way to distract ourselves from the dumpster fire federal government. It was Russell Westbrook’s historic MVP year, and we fell HARD. I’m going on my fourth year of watching the Thunder religiously and I can’t imagine my life without the NBA now.

The latest of my unlikely loves is none other than disc golf. Yes, frolfing; the hippie sport much maligned by Pam Beesly (and turns out, disc golfers hate when you call it “frolf.”) I don’t entirely know how it happened; my husband tried a few rounds with a friend and then implored me to try it with him. I was dubious but went along for the ride, and I ended up loving it. 

I not only fell for disc golf; I’ve become a total disc golf evangelist. That’s why I’m writing this blog post about Why I Love Disc Golf, along with the soon-to-come second part, Why Disc Golf Is The Perfect Pandemic Activity. Let’s get to the list!

1. Low overhead: My husband and I have talked about trying golf for years, but it’s a real financial commitment. Clubs, shoes (or the cost of renting them), green fees, and then possibly finding out that you don’t even like the sport after spending all of that money. It’s just a big risk to take to try a sport that might not work out for you. Disc golf, however, is hardly a risk at all. If you know a disc golfer, you could ask them to borrow some discs (that’s how my husband tried it out), or you can buy yourself a starter set of discs for around 25 bucks and you’ll be set. A basic starter set of discs will include a driver, a mid-range, and a putter, but don’t worry about knowing what that means. If you just Google “disc golf starter disc set” you’ll find plenty of ready-made and affordable options. Speaking of affordable…

2. Free to play (usually): Most disc golf courses are totally free to use, just sitting adjacent to (or integrated with) one of your local city parks. Just search for disc golf courses near you, and you’ll probably find at least one option, if not several. There are paid courses out there, but there are more free ones, and the free ones are great. It’s so casual, too; you just show up, find the first hole, and get to it!

3. Easy to try: You can either have an experienced disc golf friend show you the ropes or just look up some beginning disc golf videos on YouTube to figure out how to play. Sure, you’re not going to look like a pro right out the gate, but you can learn enough to get on the course in just a few minutes. Watch a video or two on form, a video on which discs to use and when (generally, you’ll use your driver first, your mid-range second, and your putter last), and read up on the general rules of the game, and you’ll be ready to go in no time. I know you might be worried about making a fool of yourself, but luckily…

4. It’s an extremely welcoming community!: I have yet to feel like I’m unwelcome at a disc golf course as a beginner. Sure, I might feel nervous about making a putt if there’s a group playing within eyeshot, but it’s not because I actually feel like they’re judging me. It’s just my own nerves and perfectionism kicking in. The disc golf community is seriously a great group of folks; if they see you wandering around on the course looking confused, they’re kind enough to ask if you’re looking for the next tee and point you in the right direction. It’s kind of a hippie-ish sport, and the people who play are pretty chill, like you’d expect. Even if you’re a woman, which brings me to my next point…

5. Women are welcome and also competitive: Women are not looked down upon in disc golf at all. It’s one big happy family, the more the merrier. Women do compete separately (not always) but it’s mostly a mechanics thing; they just don’t have the strength that men do, so they’re going to have a higher stroke count. There are, however, exceptions to that rule; Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen are just two of the absolutely badass women disc golfers who are entirely capable of giving the men a run for their money, and they are highly respected. Again, as a woman, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I love the sport, so I belong.

6. It’s athletic, but not intense: I mean, it can be intense, especially if you’re competing. And if you try to play full rounds a couple of days in a row, you’ll get sore enough to realize that it’s definitely a legitimate sport. But really, disc golf can be pretty chill, and you don’t have to be a super athlete (or an athlete at all) to start playing. It’s kind of like hiking or walking in the park, but with a game along the way. And you have to use your mind as much as your body when you’re strategizing your drives or planning your approach to the basket. 

7. It’s super fun for travel: My husband and I love to take road trips to hike at national parks, wildlife refuges, and state parks, but adding disc golf to our repertoire has really opened up our travel options!. Now we can look for fun disc golf courses to try when we want to hit the road, and as a travel activity, disc golf is immersive rather than touristy. You can really get to know a place and its landscape by disc golfing, and you’ll fit right in with the locals on the course. Unless you can’t find the next hole, but again, other disc golfers will help you out in a jiffy.

I really can’t recommend disc golf enough! If you’re curious about it, seriously, just get out there and give it a try. I’ve sprinkled links throughout this post, but I’m going to list some resources down below if you want to learn more. Please comment if you have any questions, or tell me if you’re a disc golfer, too! And watch for my next post on why disc golf is the perfect pandemic activity.

JomezPro: Fun YouTube channel with tournament coverage, tutorials, and more.

UDisc App on Google Play and Apple: Great, free resource to look up courses near you, keep score, rate courses, and more.

Definitive Guide to Disc Golf Book: Straightforward, enjoyable book of the history of disc golf, how to play, etc.

Brodie Smith YouTube channel: Brodie Smith is an Ultimate Frisbee Champion who has switched to playing disc golf. He has a lot of fun videos to watch of him and his hilarious, adorable wife, Kelsey, out on the course together. It’s an inspirational look behind the scenes of a beginner who is improving his skills fast.

By Eliza Gillie

Writer. Not that kinda Virgo. Living in the 70s. Cats, rock n roll, aliens, and a lot of talk about The Office.

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