Disc Golf for Beginners
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
So after hearing about disc golf or seeing others play, you decide you want to give it a try yourself, but have no idea where to start or what you’re doing!
We wrote this guide to teach you all the basics of the game and everything you need to get going as well as links to articles for further tips as you get better. So let’s get started!
What discs should I use?
The first, and only essential thing you’ll need to play disc golf, are the actual discs themselves.
Without them you’d have nothing to throw!
There are 3 main categories of discs you can use and these categories are very similar to the types of clubs you would use for regular golf. They are: putters, mid-range (think irons in ball golf), and drivers.
Additionally, you will learn that there are sub-categories within these 3 styles of discs and will hear terms such as: stable, overstable, and understable. You’ll also hear players describe drivers as distance drivers, fairway drivers, and control drivers.
These terms are less important for now as you just get started but you can learn more about them in THIS future article.
Discs are made in all different types of plastic blends with each company having their own unique name for their basic blends, premium blends, and everything in between. They’ll also be available in a variety of colors and artwork so you will have plenty to choose from!
Generally speaking, a distance or control driver will be the first disc you use off the tee box as it will give you the farthest distance (when thrown correctly). Depending on the length of the hole, these discs can be used for second shots as well.
Mid-range discs, such as the ever popular Discraft Buzzz, are used just as their name suggests, for mid range shots of 100-200 feet or so. For short holes, mid-ranges can also be used for shots off the tee box.
As you can guess, putters are most often used to seal the deal on a hole. But don’t count them out for short approach shots of less than 150ft.
Although discs have standard usages based on their category, it’s important to note that as you learn your discs, you’ll find that there are no absolute rules for when you MUST use a SPECIFIC disc and you will figure out what discs perform best in certain situations.
Where can I get discs for disc golf?
The easiest solution for the problem of not owning your own discs would be to find friends who already play disc golf or hit up your local course and find someone willing to play a round with you and let you use some of theirs.
Many players own discs that they do not use anymore or do not use often and would be more than willing to let you borrow them at least for a round, if not indefinitely.
If you do not know anybody at all who owns discs, then simply go to your local disc golf shop and pick up a starter pack such as THIS ONE. You can also find starter packs online at sites such as Amazon or InfiniteDiscs.com for great prices.
Starter packs are very convenient because they will provide you with 3 discs: a putter, a mid-range, and some type of fairway or distance driver to get started.
If you do not wish to purchase a full starter pack, we suggest picking up at least 2 individual discs with varying purposes such as a driver and mid distance to get started. You can check out our list of best beginner discs HERE.
Once you have your discs, you’re ready to hit the course!
Where can I play and where do I start?
If you are playing a course, you can start at any hole you want. Even though you will be throwing for a basket designed to catch discs, they’re still called “holes” and each throw is called a stroke, just like regular golf.
Learn about where disc golf courses are in THIS ARTICLE!
If you’re unable to find a nearby course, you can play what’s called “Object Golf”, or you could go to an open field and simply practice getting the hang of different throws.
Object golf is when you pick a tee area, choose an object that your disc has to hit in lieu of a basket, and play it as you would a normal hole at a regular course.
The goal of each hole is to put the disc into the basket with as few throws or strokes as possible.
Some holes will have areas that are “out of bounds” or hazardous such as a body of water and by the rules would force you to take a penalty stroke in addition to throwing your next shot from where the disc entered the out of bounds, not where it lands or stops.
Each hole will have a designated tee box or tee area of some sort. Some will be as simple as a dirt spot where grass used to be with (or without) a line to stay behind during the throw and others will be nicely groomed areas with concrete, rubber, or even turf pads.
The tee area is where you will take your first shot from and just as in regular golf, there may even be different tee areas depending on your skill level.
Now that you’re on the tee, it’s time for your first throw! But……
How do I throw a disc?
In many ways, throwing a disc is just like throwing your standard Frisbee. However, in just as many ways (if not more) it is very much different.
It is similar in the sense that you can throw a disc backhand or forehand just like you can a Frisbee, but the technique needed for optimal distance and accuracy is much more precise, especially for maximizing distance and accuracy while minimizing risk of injury.
For starters, you’re going to want to grip your disc like this for a backhand throw
Once you have the grip, you’ll want to stand perpendicular to the target with your throwing shoulder pointed in the direction you want to throw.
Next, draw your arm straight back across your body and then pull your arm through to release the disc, keeping your arm and disc as flat as possible upon release.
Many beginners will have a habit of releasing the disc at much too steep of an angle upwards or rounding their shoulders rather than reaching straight back with the disc, causing a less than desirable shot in both terms of distance and accuracy.
For a right handed thrower, throwing a stable or over-stable disc, the flight of the disc will start out straight and finish to the left when thrown properly. The opposite is true for left handed throwers.
Check out our article, “How to throw a disc backhand” for a more detailed explanation of the throw.
For a forehand throw, also known as a flick, you’ll want to grip the disc like this:
You’ll still want to stand perpendicular to the target, but instead, your non-throwing shoulder will be pointed towards the target.
From here, simply “throw” the disc just like you would a ball sidearm, trying to keep your arm and disc as flat as possible. Shown below:
Because you will be putting opposite spin on the disc compared to a backhand throw, stable or over-stable discs thrown forehand by right handed throwers will finish to the right in their flight pattern rather than to the left.
You can read more about forehand throws in our article, "How to Throw a Disc Forehand", found HERE
Adding a run up to either technique will add speed and distance to your throw, but are much more difficult to execute with proper technique.
As a beginner, these are the 2 throwing styles you will want to focus on. As you improve and get a few rounds under your belt, you may be interested in trying out all the different throws at your disposal.
After you throw your first shot, your second shot will take place from where your first shot stopped and laid. If you have a mini disc for a marker, place it in front of your disc to mark your spot and pick up your thrown disc. If you do not have a mini, a second disc or handy object such as a hat will do.
If your first shot went out from a marked out of bounds area, play your second shot 3 feet or 1 meter in from the imaginary line where it entered and crossed the out of bounds line, NOT where it stops in the out of bounds area. You will also receive a penalty stroke for an out of bounds throw as the "stroke" is essentially you moving the disc back in-bounds.
It is disc golf etiquette that when playing in a group, the player furthest from the basket on any shot after the tee off goes first, although some players are not too particular about order when not playing in a sanctioned event, league, or tournament.
You will keep taking shots until you feel that you’re close enough to attempt a putt. There are many different grips you can use for putting that you can check out in our article, "How to Putt in Disc Golf".
Choose one that is comfortable to you and will allow for the most consistency in your attempts.
Some players will choose to stand facing the basket on a putt attempt while others will stand facing perpendicular to it with their throwing shoulder pointed at the basket.
When you throw the disc you’ll again want to try and keep the disc as flat as possibly upon release.
You can read all about our putting styles, tips, and techniques HERE.
If you are lucky enough to be within arm’s reach of the basket already, it is acceptable to simply drop the disc into the basket and record your score.
How do I keep score in disc golf?
Keeping score in disc golf is very simple and made even simpler with the availability of scoring apps such as UDISC.
Simply record the number of throws it took you to reach the basket, plus any penalty strokes for out of bounds, and you’re all done with that hole.
Just like in regular golf, disc golf has par ratings for each hole for which your score is compared against. 3 over par would still mean that you were 3 shots over the suggested amount of shots it should have taken to reach the basket on that particular hole.
At the end of the 9 or 18 holes, simply add up the number of shots you took and the player with the lowest score is the winner. Some players will write the sum of their throws as their score and others will simply give their score in terms of their over/under amount compared to par.
In the event of a tie, often times a one or more hole playoff will be played until a player wins.
Any rules I need to know about?
Generally speaking, there are very few specific rules that you need to know about to get started in disc golf as most of the obvious rules from ball golf would apply. These are the most important to get you started:
When teeing off in a group, the player with the lowest (best) score on the previous hole will go first the next hole. Tie breakers would move to the previous hole before that one, and so on.
When putting beyond 33 feet/10 meters, you are allowed to jump putt and cross in front of your disc marker upon throwing your shot. But when closer than 33 feet/10 meters, your feet must stay behind your marked spot until the disc is released. The 33 feet surrounding the basket is commonly called the “green.”
You can read the full rules of the game on the PDGA website.
And that’s it! You’re now equipped with all the basics to go out and enjoy learning this wonderful sport of disc golf! Be sure to let us know how it goes!
*Some links are affiliate links, meaning that we may receive a commission for a qualified purchase, you can read our affiliate disclosure on our Home page*