quit playing with your balls and throw a frisbee
April 3, 2008 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Disc golf- like it's ball-and-club cousin- challenges the player to navigate the obstacles of a pre-designed course from tee to basket, with progress being marked by the distance of your throw. It's my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors- and most courses are free to play! The sport is easy and fun to get into, yet provides an exhilarating challenge to players of all skill levels. You can play to relax, socialize, or win, depending on your style. What is disc golf, and where did it come from? With over 1000 courses in the US alone, you should have no problems finding a course in your area. Pick out some discs, grab a few friends, and go get throwing! Here are some tips for new players. posted by baphomet (53 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
You know what I like about this sport? I like it when you're walking your child through the park, enjoying the lovely day.. and a disc hits your child in the head. As you sit there holding your child, trying to stop the bleeding, a man runs up to you and screams " Dude! You should watch out for shit!" And then you jump up, take him out at the knees, grab his friggin' disc and slap it upside his head.

That's what I like about disc golf.
posted by bradth27 at 11:10 AM on April 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

I thought it was called "frolf" and the people who play it "stoners". Or maybe that's just the people I hung out with.

Nice post. Thanks for putting it together.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:11 AM on April 3, 2008

What I like about disc golf is how they call it "drives" and "putting" and so forth when they are just throwing a Frisbee.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on April 3, 2008

There's a park near my house with one of these courses, which I've long suspected was devised to give people a reason to drink in public at 10 a.m. Anyway, I walk my dogs there, and one of them just can't resist making spectacular catches. Though it amuses bystanders, this never goes over very well with the frisbee golf guys. Good times.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:17 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I won't!
posted by everichon at 11:19 AM on April 3, 2008

Purely anecdotal, but everyone I've ever known that's been into disc golf has been a high-order douchenozzle.

posted by stenseng at 11:20 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

As suspicious as I am of "anecdata", I must corroborate stenseng's obvservation.
posted by everichon at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Add me to the cloud of witnesses.
posted by jquinby at 11:25 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, a lot of frolf hate already. Maybe you dudes just need to chill out, and like...watch out for shit.
I have certainly seen worse things in parks than stoned disc golfers.
posted by Demogorgon at 11:25 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Full, ugly disclosure: I can neither throw nor catch a frisbee. I mean, I can throw one, but the resulting arc would be like that derived from a colicky infant throwing it.
posted by everichon at 11:25 AM on April 3, 2008

Purely anecdotal, but everyone I've ever known that's been into disc golf has been a high-order douchenozzle.

I feel the same way about hacky sackers. Sometimes, there's a lot of overlap. But maybe the overall makeup of these dudes has changed within the last ten years.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:25 AM on April 3, 2008

I've known two disc golfers who, in my educated opinion, were not douchenozzles. They were both also a capella singers, though, so clearly they had the ability to mix well with douchenozzles.
posted by gurple at 11:26 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had a bunch of close friends in my early 20s who were very into disc golf, and I played a bit as a result. One of the guys eventually joined a pro league, and I wouldn't be surprised if he still plays pro. Weekends were often spent driving to a faraway disc golf course and playing.

Not only is it formulated just like regular golf (with "drivers" and "putters" and par, and everything) it's actually quite hard when played as a regulation sport. You don't use normal Frisbees, you use discs which are measured in grams and made of plastics of different hardness. The holes, on a nice course, are marked by a chain basket - not as in pickup games where just any old tree becomes a hole. And there are established pars for the courses.

Some disc golfers do indeed to enjoy their greenstuffs; I couldn't say 'all,' but it definitely seems to have its role in the culture, at least the culture of casual play. On one course in Michigan, we met up with a guy going about our pace and decided to make up a foursome with him, impromptu. Somewhere around the 6th hole he pulled out a pipe. Much later, as we talked over the day's play, I asked my pro friend "How did that guy know we were cool with that?" My friend just said "Well...we were playing disc golf."

I've only ever played this on an actual course, not where people were wandering with toddlers. I guess I'd imagine that a posted disc golf course would not be a good place to wander with a toddler. It's in fact not a good place to lose your wits no matter what your age. Small, hard, fast-moving frisbees are uncomfortable when they come into contact with you.

Excellent 'roundup' post!
posted by Miko at 11:31 AM on April 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

p.s. everyone I knew who played was not a douchenozzle, but a nice person, sort of crunchy, most friendly and well-meaning. So, anecdata.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on April 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have some great memories of playing with regular frisbees one a course that wound around my college campus. Trees were holes and pavement was a hazard and added a stroke. There's a course in the park near my house (just down the hill from the cruising ground), and I always think those guys with their special discs and their level of seriousness have missed the point.

But what the fuck do I know? I'm usually running up the hill as hard as I can, dodging the men trying to entice me into their cars. Either of the other two available pastimes would be a lot less strenuous than what I'm trying to do there.
posted by OmieWise at 11:48 AM on April 3, 2008

Here in Humboldt County, CA, we've got a store solely dedicated to disc golfing (or, as The Office's Andy Bernard calls it, "frolf"). There's at least a few public parks with those chain baskets installed.

Not surprising to note that there is a huge crossover with disc golf and the Mean Joe Green. Local head shops are starting to stock disc golfing accessories (or so I'm told).
posted by porn in the woods at 11:52 AM on April 3, 2008

Purely anecdotal, but everyone I've ever known that's been into disc golf has been a high-order douchenozzle.

Heeey, whoa, man.

Disc golf is about my favorite thing to do. My friends and I spend many a fine afternoon on some very beautiful courses throughout West Michigan. It's a fun way to walk through the woods, relax, drink some beers and have a little friendly competition while you're at it.

And most of the courses are specifically for disc golf, so there aren't any little kids walking around, getting hit in the head or whatever. I usually go right after church on a Sunday afternoon. Absolutely wonderful.

About a month ago, my gf and I had an opportunity to play at Borderlands in Sharon, MA. It was absolutely beautiful, wandering through the massive trees and walking along the course, viewing the statuary and the vineyard.

DU:"What I like about disc golf is how they call it "drives" and "putting" and so forth when they are just throwing a Frisbee."

Yeah, the outdoors is stupid and people who go there are dumb.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:53 AM on April 3, 2008 [7 favorites]

In the small town where I lived a couple years ago, there was a course beside a small river. Eighteen holes, with baskets, set apart from any other parkland. As I remember, holes about as lengthy as real golf holes, or maybe proportional for the distance one can throw a frisbee versus hit a golf ball. It's the only frisbee golf course I've ever come across. Free to use, and unoccupied the first couple times I walked along it. I used to enjoy real golf, so I thought I'd give this a try. After striking out at the dollar stores, I found a plastic frisbee at Walmart for about $6.99. When I returned there were a couple other groups on the course. They had these special smaller harder discs that they seemed to be able to throw for great distances. And, like with golf balls, they came with several backups, in case they tossed one into the river. My Walmart frisbee wouldn't make it halfway to the hole. I was scoring eights and tens. After awhile I sat down on a picnic table to watch them off the first hole. A girl of about 20 saw me sitting there with my Walmart frisbee, went to the trunk of her car, took out an official one and gave it to me. She said they had given her several at some tournament, so I could keep that one. She apologized because it was pink. But I still couldn't throw it much further. I practiced for awhile on the 18th hole, then gave up. I'm used to throwing frisbees off my side instead of across my body. Then I carried that pink disc around in my trunk for a year until I gave it to the son of a friend from Brazil who was researching at the university for a year. The kids sometimes didn't have much to do here and they'd go as a family to toss frisbees in the park.
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:05 PM on April 3, 2008

I used to play quite a bit, after giving up ball golf in frustration at the expense and futility of it all. A round of disc golf takes 90 minutes or less if you're jogging, there's little to no wait for a tee time, and the people who play are generally friendly stoners. Plus, it's free to play and the discs are only $10-$12 a pop. I enjoyed the game. It's tough on shoes, though. I drag my right foot when driving (I throw lefty), and those rough concrete tee pads at my local course would eat up the toe of my right shoe after ten rounds or so.

Before 9/11, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL had a course on-base that the public could play. It was sweet: trash cans, benches, concrete tee pads set in railroad ties, baskets surrounded by sculpted gravel traps, all under the watchful eye of a bunch of bored soldiers with nothing else to do but manicure the disc golf course. It was like the Augusta National of disc golf. Gorgeous. Sadly, I don't think they let us dangerous taxpayers on their precious base anymore.

on preview: the douchenozzles I met over my years of playing were the ones who took disc golf waaaaaay too seriously -- but you meet those folks when you participate in any competitive hobby.

There is a bunch of reflexive hatred for disc golf, isn't there? I can see how folks not playing the game would be annoyed by dangerous projectiles whizzing by their heads while they try to enjoy their picnic, and disc golfers don't do themselves any favors with their "why are you camped in the middle of OUR fairway?" attitude. But those problems can be solved with a little common courtesy and communication. Disc golf is generally played on multi-use land, and most people have no clue what those weirdos with strange, flat discs are doing. It's the "this park is for disc golf" attitude that turns so many people off, I think.

After years of playing abysmal real golf and never having a chance to shoot below a legit 97 or so, it was fun to play a sport where I could actually go out and put together an under-par round consistently.

I may go dust off my discs and play a round this afternoon!

on second preview: throwing a golf disc is NOTHING like throwing a Frisbee. The hardest thing for me to learn was how to control the trajectory of the driver while keeping my index finger under the rim of the disc to maximize spin. But keep trying, and you'll "accidentally" snap off a 400-foot drive and you'll be hooked.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:09 PM on April 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Back in the '90s, I was an active member in the Humboldt, CA disc golf crowd (mentioned earlier by porn in the woods) and I can attest to the massive amounts of weed smoked in the (beautiful!) Redwood forest course, not to mention the craft beers and home brews consumed. No wonder it took about five hours to play a single round.
posted by paddysat at 12:11 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I played a lot of disc golf along the I-5 corridor in Oregon. Whistler's Bend, Dexter Park, and Milo McIver State Park were a few of my favorites. Pier Park is gorgeous. Disc golf is very popular there and it's a fun, cheap, non-pretentious way to spend the day outdoors. It's one of the things I miss the most about the state.

Here, watch this drive.
posted by mullingitover at 12:12 PM on April 3, 2008

THere's a disc golf course in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, near Smith Memorial Playground, Edgely Fields, and the ghetto (natch).
posted by Mister_A at 12:16 PM on April 3, 2008

...was devised to give people a reason to drink in public at 10 a.m....

I think that may apply to regular golf, as well. In another parallel between the two, this place is just outside of Augusta, GA, which is apparently a good place for regular golf as well.
posted by TedW at 12:20 PM on April 3, 2008

I like to get outside on a nice day and play a round of disc golf. Apparently, that increases the likelihood that I may be deemed a "douchenozzle" by some guy on the internet.

I think I can live with that.

It's no secret that there are annoying disc golf players out there. It can be pretty annoying when someone takes forever planning out their shot. My friends and I call these people "spinners" because they stand there spinning their discs in their hands while formulating their genius shot. Don't be a spinner.
posted by anomie at 12:21 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Echoing that it's much harder to throw a golf disc than Frisbee. You need a lot of real power. I tended to get a handicap for being a spindly-armed girl, if I remember right. It was quite rare that I got anywhere near the basket on those 300, 400-foot drives.

The art on the discs is kind of fun.

There was a store in East Lansing, MI, which I think was called "In-Flight," with what to me was a very exotically specific niche product line: disc golf discs and disc bags, darts and dart flights, and of course stickers.
posted by Miko at 12:32 PM on April 3, 2008

I played exactly once, while on vacation at the beach. Frankly, it was one time too many.

I do like to say the word "frolf" as often as possible, though.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 12:43 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another thing I like about the sport is the variety of courses available, and how portable it is. A couple of discs (ok, three -- driver, putter, and approach) doesn't take up much room in the trunk or a suitcase, and then it's just a matter of finding the local course wherever you are. I've played all over the southeastern US, and always while I was in town for a reason other than disc golf. Some courses are wide-open pastures encouraging you to try to throw your arm off, others wind through woods down hiking trails and encourage cautious, pin-point play. Some have water that will eat your discs. I don't like those courses.

Plus the differences is the discs themselves is just fiddly enough to scratch the "I must amass a collection!" itch that strikes with a new hobby. I've seen people use little handcarts, like you see in airports, to carry around the thirty-some-odd discs they just must, must have on hand for the round. That's absurd, but I understand the urge.

And the real douchenozzles play Ultimate.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:52 PM on April 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

I think the proportion of douchenozzles in disc golf probably compares favorably with 'real' golf. Especially if you play with stockbrokers.
posted by anthill at 12:54 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Especially if you play with stockbrokers.

I don't think I've ever seen a stock broker on a disc golf course. I can, however attest to the high amount of greenery on the courses around here. I do live in Vancouver, though, so the greenery may have nothing to do with disc golf.
posted by vansly at 1:07 PM on April 3, 2008

Frankly, no one needs more than one disc. Except me, because one is for my dog. I found hers on the course some years back, with the name "Dan Richardson" written on the back in sharpie. I didn't know who that was, and the name was too common to find the poor guy, so eventually I decided that was, in fact, the name of the disc itself. So I toss Dan Richardson out there, and my dog goes running for it (crude cell phone video here), and then I can throw my own disc and it won't get moved by the dog.

Disc golf is fun.
posted by norm at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

when they are just throwing a Frisbee.

I'm not so sure about that. The gas station up the road from me has been carrying these for the last couple of years, and I keep thinking that they would be great as a toy for the dog park (I have to figure that the heavy ones would go for miles) but they are crazy expensive.

So I'll agree with you with a very minor modification: "when they are just throwing an insanely expensive, really heavy Frisbee that would probably hurt like hell to get hit by..."
posted by quin at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2008

Some folks tried to recruit me to do Frisbee Golf because I run Urban Golf in SF.

I first I was interested, then the gentleman mentioned its popular on college campuses and there are professional tournments!

I said, "Oh...hey look at that", pointing at a shiny object in the sky and absconded myself.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:02 PM on April 3, 2008

I am too cool and self-righteous to do fun things.
posted by honeyx at 3:14 PM on April 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

Disc Golf is actually a fun, low-key, relaxing way to get outside and off the computer, with a really low cost of entry and always-free courses. You do not need to smoke weed to enjoy disc golfing, although a six-pack of cheap beer in your disc bag will improve your score by 2-4 strokes, in my experience.

Although I will admit my bias here, because I have experienced the supreme joys of both a hole-in-one (hole 18, Low Gap Park, Ukiah, CA, 2000) and nailing my friend in the back of the head, knocking him over (hole 16, same course, 2002).
posted by churl at 3:20 PM on April 3, 2008

A few friends and I, and many others, used to play at college. We had what we called an "object" course (no silly baskets) around the campus. Tee off next to the bench, the "hole' is the post next to the music building. Tee off from there, the next hole is any part of big tree around the corner, etc.

There was a kinda secret unofficial course we all played...yep, 18 holes. The 19th Hole was the campus coffee shop.

We played at night--usually starting around 10:30 or so. That assured there were very few folks walking around...and we were very careful about not throwing if people were near. We came close, but never whacked an unsuspecting person scurrying back to the dorm....

You need to be uber, super careful if you use those official "golf discs" and people are anywhere near. They are much smaller, weigh more, are much sharper on the edges, and teeing off can go an amazing distance. Getting hit with one of those on any body part would do serious damage....

That was a great break from studying and welcome chance to get outside.
posted by PhiBetaKappa at 4:23 PM on April 3, 2008

"I like to get outside on a nice day and play a round of disc golf. Apparently, that increases the likelihood that I may be deemed a "douchenozzle" by some guy on the internet."

Whoa whoa whoa... don't get me wrong... I'm sure it's a fun game in itself... To be fair, most of the people I've known who were way into actual golf are even bigger douchenozzles.

Maybe I just have a low douchenozzle tolerance.

posted by stenseng at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2008

I've never played, but there are several courses within a disc-throw of my apartment, including the Diamond-X. The poorly implemented website (no enlarging images? Wha?) doesn't do justice to the course. A sandstone butte is the centerpiece of the course. It's a good workout just to hike around the area.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2008

I don't get out much for a round of disc golf much these days (maybe 3-4 rounds a year), but there was a time when I played quite a bit. It is indeed relaxing and a hell of a lot of fun.

I'll never forget the round I played on 9/11. I had recently graduated college and was unemployed. After watching six straight hours of nauseating, blitzing news coverage, I'd just had enough and needed to get away from the television and the radio for a few hours. So I hopped in the car and headed out to Haikey Creek. For a solid two hours, I was the only person in the park. Other than the occasional car driving by or bird chirp/squirrel chatter, it was completely still and quiet. I'm neither a prayer nor a meditator, but that was about as transcendent of a time that I could have possibly had on that particular afternoon. I can't imagine spending that small window of my life any other way.

Are there douchenozzles that play disc golf? Surely. There are douchenozzles in any group of people. It's a sad, inherent trait of humanity. Like the rest of life, I try my best not to let them affect a part of life I enjoy.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:46 PM on April 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

1) thank you for the word douchenozzle
2) you want some douchnozzles? two words: boomerang golf.
posted by bartleby at 4:49 PM on April 3, 2008

I used to play a lot of disc golf, about 15 years ago when I was a douchenozzle college student in Charlotte, NC. The course was deep in the woods in a park right near campus, with baskets and "Par 4" signs, and even mens and ladies tees, and it was a good opportunity to tell myself I was being athletic while being stoned and walking around in the woods for a few hours. Eventually I stopped being so stoney and got into Disc Golf a little more. I had five or six different discs, each designed for different situations. There was the Gazelle, my long range driver, which was really thin and light. Then I had a Shark, which was supposedly more stable in windy conditions, although I always played deep in the woods so it didn't come into play too much. I had this nasty yellow and green one called the Hammerhead which was somehow constructed of stronger plastic and didn't break when I slammed it into a tree, which happened all the time and made this one my most-used disc. I had a big fat putter too, but I forget what animal it was named after. Maybe a manatee or something like that. And since I was always throwing discs in the water, I had a floating disc called the Dolphin for a while. But this turned out to be a mistake. regular discs just sank when you threw them in the water, which made them impossible to retrieve without getting all wet. I thought the Dolphin would be easier because it floated, but about the third time I threw it into the water, it floated. Away. Down the river. Never to be seen again. (sound of douchenozzle tears)
posted by donkeymon at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2008

Hmmm... now that I have read a few of your stories, I realize that not only have I never played frolf, but I have also never been stoned. Coincidence?

Maybe I'll forgo the frolfing, and just get stoned.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:04 PM on April 3, 2008

I was surprised to venture into Percy Park in the middle of the Mississippi Delta -- a beautiful park, but very much a bayou -- and find a disc golf course, complete with well-stocked disc shelves in the park office. That was, I think, the first time I heard of disc golf, and probably the last time I will hear of it in such close proximity to alligators.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:42 PM on April 3, 2008

You know, I thought discing was pretty dumb for a while. Then I tried it, and when I discovered that I enjoyed it literally every single one of my friends was a disc golfer- and I didn't even know it. This opened up an entirely new way of socializing with my friends, which has been extremely rewarding.

For me, discing is about inner peace. It's a meditative exercise. No matter what's going on in my life or in my head, when I'm on the course, nothing matters except me, my disc, and my next shot. It seems so ridiculous- throwing a piece of plastic around in the woods- yet it's so infinitely variable, so challenging, and so rewarding. When I'm getting ready to throw, all the complications in life just completely fade away and I'm aware of nothing but the weight of the disc, the wind, and my target. I can focus so intensely on this one thing, making the next shot as good as I possibly can, that all the noise and static and self-doubt and uncertainty don't simply get turned down...it just ceases to exist. When I disc, I am completely at peace with the world and with myself. That's an amazing feeling I really haven't experienced from anything else. The fact that I can achieve that while being out in nature, enjoying the sun and good company, makes it that much better.

If that makes me a douchenozzle, then so be it.
posted by baphomet at 6:35 PM on April 3, 2008

You know what I like about this sport? I like it when you're walking your child through the park, enjoying the lovely day.. and a disc hits your child in the head. As you sit there holding your child, trying to stop the bleeding, a man runs up to you and screams " Dude! You should watch out for shit!" And then you jump up, take him out at the knees, grab his friggin' disc and slap it upside his head.

You know what I just can't stand? When some kid's cranium fucks up my perfectly good drive.

Seriously though, why should the behavior of one jerk be reflective of the sport as a whole? I got cut off by a Beamer on the freeway yesterday, obviously all BMW drivers must be complete douchenozzles.
posted by baphomet at 6:37 PM on April 3, 2008

Purely anecdotal, but everyone I've ever known that's been into disc golf has been a high-order douchenozzle.

So, totally different than golf, then? (I keed, I keed)
posted by lumpenprole at 7:06 PM on April 3, 2008

DG is hella fun and better exercize than sitting in front of a computer all day calling people names.

WTFizza douchenozzle anyway? If it means what I think it means then count me in! I'm all over that stank.
posted by valentinepig at 7:54 PM on April 3, 2008

DU: What I like about disc golf is how they call it "drives" and "putting" and so forth when they are just throwing a Frisbee.

What I like about disc golf is how they call it "drives" and "putting" and so forth when they are just throwing a Frisbee hitting a ball.

Honestly, I'm failing to see the point you're trying to make.
posted by biffa at 2:45 AM on April 4, 2008

I once went on a date with a guy who took me disc golfing. At first I thought it was different and gave him points for being creative, but it was probably one of the worst dates of my life. I can barely throw a normal frisbee and I had to spend the day pitching the disc towards targets I couldn't see 400 feet away over 9 courses. As if that wasn't bad enough the guy was SO competitive with me (he kept reminding me of my score when I stopped keeping track after I passed 20 after at the third hole) and just way too happy about beating me (dinner was a nightmare). I probably would have cried if I wasn't so pissed off.

So yeah, I am grateful to disc golf for saving me from staying with a douchenozzle.
posted by like_neon at 5:32 AM on April 4, 2008

I am a huge Frisbeetarian, and love Aerobie as well. That said, I've never played disc golf, but I've been intrigued by it for a while (tried ultimate once, and it kicked my ass). I've seen a guy here at work set up a basket and practice putting behind one of the parking lots, but that's the closest exposure I've had to the game.

I'll definitely be checking these links (ha!) more later. Thanks for posting!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:10 AM on April 4, 2008

Disc Golf is for people so unpopular they can't find anyone willing to play catch with them. Even dogs can't stand them.
posted by Lord Kinbote at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2008

Disc-golf is the new cycling.
posted by everichon at 9:00 AM on April 4, 2008

Disc Golf is for people so unpopular they can't find anyone willing to play catch with them. Even dogs can't stand them.

Awww, it's ok, buddy. You can come and play disc golf with me some time. Sorry to hear you're having a hard time.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2008

See? Well-meaning! Sorta crunchy!
posted by Miko at 10:27 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

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