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||This article may contain original research. (May 2013)|
||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (June 2008)|
|Highest governing body||Professional Disc Golf Association|
|Registered players||52000+ total, 12859 current|
|Team members||Single competitors, doubles|
|Mixed gender||Yes, but usually in separate leagues/divisions|
Disc golf is a flying disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc at a target. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc." The number of disc golf courses has more than doubled in 8 years from 2000 to 2008. The game is played in about 40 countries around the world.
The early history of disc golf is closely tied to the history of the recreational flying disc (especially as popularized by the trademarked Frisbee) and may have been invented in the early 1900s. Modern disc golf started in the early 1960s, when it seems to have been invented in many places and by many people independently. Students at Rice University in Houston, Texas, for example, held tournaments with trees as targets as early as 1963, and in the early 1960s players in Pendleton King Park in Augusta, Georgia would toss Frisbees in 50-gallon barrel trash cans designated as targets.
The true pioneer of the sport of Frisbee Golf is Kevin Donnelly, who, until 2011, was unknown for his accomplishment. Kevin began playing a form of Frisbee golf in 1959 called Street Frisbee Golf. In 1961, while a Recreation Leader and then Recreation Supervisor for the City of Newport Beach, California, he formulated and then began organizing Frisbee golf tournaments at nine of the city's playgrounds he supervised. This culminated in 1965 with a fully documented, Wham-O sponsored, city-wide Frisbee Golf tournament. This highly publicized tournament included hula hoops as holes, with published rules, hole lengths, pars, and penalties, Wham-O prizes and, an event in which Fred Morrison, the Frisbee inventor, was in attendance. In 1967, two years after conducting the first-ever organized Frisbee Golf Tournament, Kevin, then the Coordinator of the Parks and Recreation Section at Fresno State College, California, organized and then taught the first ever college level Frisbee Golf activity course, in which George Sappenfield was registered.
Two of the best-known figures in the sport are "Steady Ed" Headrick, who introduced the first formal disc golf target with chains and a basket, and Dave Dunipace who invented the modern golf disc in 1983, and was one of the founders of Innova. In 1975, Headrick formed the first disc golf association, the PDGA, which now officiates the standard rules of play for the sport. The sport has grown at a rate of 12-15 percent annually for more than the past decade, with nearly 3000 courses in the US and more than 4000 globally. The game is now played in more than 40 countries worldwide, primarily in North America, Central and Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.
George Sappenfield and early object courses 
In 1965, George Sappenfield, from Fresno California, was a recreation counselor during summer break from college. While playing golf one afternoon he realized that it might be fun for the kids on his playground if they played "golf" with frisbees. He set up an object course for his kids to play on. Other early courses were also of this type, using anything from lamp poles to fire hydrants as targets. When he finished college in 1968, Sappenfield became the Parks and Recreation Supervisor for Conejo Recreation and Park District in Thousand Oaks, California. George introduced the game to many adults by planning a disc golf tournament as part of a recreation project. He contacted Wham-O Manufacturing and asked them for help with the event. Wham-O supplied frisbees for throwing, and hula hoops for use as targets. However, it would not be until the early 1970s that courses began to crop up in various places in the Midwest and the East Coast (some perhaps through Sappenfield's promotion efforts, others probably independently envisioned). Some of Sappenfield's acquaintances are known to have brought the game to UC Berkeley. It quickly became popular on campus, with a permanent course laid out in 1970.
"Steady Ed" Headrick and the growth of the modern game 
"Steady Ed" Headrick began thinking about the sport during his time at Wham-o toys. Headrick, who is now regarded as the "Father of Disc Golf", designed and installed the first standardized target course in what was then known as Oak Grove Park in La Cañada Flintridge, California. (Today the park is known as Hahamongna Watershed Park). The park is immediately south of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which supplied at least a few of the earliest players. Ed worked for the San Gabriel, California-based Wham-O Corporation and is credited for pioneering the modern era of disc sports. While at Wham-O, Headrick redesigned the Pluto Platter reworking the rim height, disc shape, diameter, weight and plastics, creating a controllable disc that could be thrown accurately. Headrick marketed and pushed the professional model Frisbee and "Frisbee" as a sport. Ed Founded "The International Frisbee Association (IFA)" and began establishing standards for various sports using the Frisbee such as Distance, Flying disc freestyle and Guts.
Headrick coined and trademarked the term "Disc Golf" when formalizing the sport and patented the Disc Pole Hole, the first disc golf target to incorporate chains and a basket on a pole. He started designing the target because he was tired of arguing over what counted as a scoring disc with his friends. Headrick founded the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), Disc Golf Association (DGA), and Recreational Disc Golf Association (RDGA) as governing bodies for professional, competitive amateur, and family-oriented play, respectively, and worked on standardizing the rules and the equipment for the quickly growing sport. Headrick abandoned his trademark on the term "Disc Golf", and turned over control and administration of the PDGA to the growing body of disc golf players in order to focus on his passion for building and inventing equipment for the sport.
Basic rules 
- In disc golf, it is acceptable for a player to 'fall' in front of their lie after the release. This allowance does not apply to putting. A throw is officially considered a putt in disc golf if the lie is marked within what is known as 'the circle'. This is a circle with a 10-meter (33 feet) radius, with the pin at its center. Within the circle, after putting, a player must not advance beyond the marked lie toward the pin until establishing balance and control, normally by picking up the marker disc. However, like golfers putting from the fringe, rough or fairway, most disc golfers still use a putting motion on shots that are longer than 10 meters, often called "being out of the circle" or "being outside." The player may follow through on these shots and many players develop a jump putt where the golfer jumps towards the target. This allows a combination of the accuracy that putting provides and more power on the putt.
- Drives are made from a designated tee pad. These are usually made of concrete and have a dimension of about six by ten feet. Players must release the disc while inside the box, but may step out/off of it after the release. Tournaments may have different guidelines depending on the course and the nature of the event. It is allowed for players to take a running start as long as they are supported by the tee pad at the time of release.
- Falling putts (when the player follows through [as described above] on a putt 10 meters or shorter) and foot faults (when a player does not release the disc behind their mark or within the required distance of the mark, when a player has a part of their body touching the ground on release past their mark or when their tee shot is released from off the teeing area) are penalized in a unique way. The first offense is not penalized, but the golfer is required to re-throw the shot and then is warned for the offense. Any subsequent fouls, however, are penalized one throw and the golfer must re-throw.
- Disc golf doesn't have "hazards" as defined in golf. Bodies of water, park roads and areas of concrete are typically defined as out-of-bounds in disc golf, however, sometimes these are not. Most courses define these areas as out of bounds or in bounds on tee signs at each hole, however, there is no universal standard for these. As in golf, any out-of-bounds shot is a one shot penalty, however, the rules for spotting the lie for the next shot are quite different than those in golf. If a throw lands out of bounds, unless defined by the hole, the thrower has the option of playing from the previous lie, or playing from the approximate spot where the disc crossed into the out-of-bound territory. If they choose to play from where the disc crossed out-of-bounds, they may take a one-meter relief from the out-of-bounds area, even if it puts them closer to the pin. The rules do not permit a player to have a supporting point touching out of bounds on release so this is the reason for the relief. If a player lands within a meter of the out of bounds and is in bounds, they are still granted this relief for the same reasoning. This relief is an option, the only rule regarding this is when the disc is released. Most golfers use this rule to their advantage to make putts closer or to improve their lie. Some holes may require a throw from a Drop Zone. If that is the case, the thrower moves to the drop zone to play the next shot. A disc is considered out-of-bounds if it is completely surrounded by out-of-bounds including touching the out-of bounds line. If the disc cannot be found, there must be "reasonable evidence" that the disc went out-of bounds or the lost disc penalty is applied.
- Another difference is the optional penalty for a disc that lands more than 2 meters above the playing surface. The course designer may specify that on particular trees, holes, or the whole course, a disc landing above 2 meters will receive a one throw penalty. This is known as the 2-Meter Rule. If not specified, there's no penalty for a disc landing any height above the ground. In golf, it's likely a player will need to take an unplayable penalty if their ball lands above the ground. On the other hand, balls are much less likely to remain stuck above ground than discs are as they fly through trees. When the disc is stuck above ground (including on top of baskets and those that land in the wrong basket) are to be marked on the ground directly below the disc. Even if the disc is not retrievable, as long as the player can identify it, they are not penalized (assuming the 2-meter rule is not in effect). A tournament director has the option of enforcing the 2-meter Rule regardless of whether or not the course enforces the rule. Many casual disc golfers often choose whether to play with the 2-meter rule at the beginning of a round.
- Disc golf holes may also have what are known as 'mandatories' or what are commonly called "mandos". For example, a tree may be marked as a 'right mandatory', meaning a disc must pass that tree on the right side. Crossing the mandatory line on the wrong side is a one-shot penalty, and the thrower must play from the designated drop zone or within 5 meters of the mandatory object and one meter behind the line if a drop zone is not designated. Mandos are usually put in place to force a player to play down a fairway instead of down another fairway to help with safety.
It is a generally accepted rule that pedestrians have the right-of-way.
Driving is one of the more dangerous aspects of disc golf as it pertains to pedestrians. It is common to shout "disc" before a drive on holes from which the target cannot be seen from the tee pad. If a player is about to drive and wants to know if there are players in the target area, they may shout "clear on hole 12?", and if players are in the target area, they may shout "no"; or if they have vacated the area, they will shout "clear on hole 12!". Players use these terms to alert other groups when finishing the hole as well as approaching groups to find out if the hole is ready for play. This phrase applies regardless of which hole is being played.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
Disc types 
The golf discs used today are much smaller and heavier than traditional flying discs, typically about 8 or 9 inches (20 or 23 cm) in diameter and weighing between 90 and 180 grams. The PDGA prohibits any disc to be heavier than 200 grams. Discs used for disc golf are designed and shaped for control, speed, and accuracy, while general-purpose flying discs, such as those used for playing guts or ultimate, have a more traditional shape, similar to a catch disc. There is a wide variety of discs used in disc golf and they are generally divided into three categories: putters, all-purpose mid-range discs, and drivers.
Putters are similar to the discs used in simple games of catch, such as the Wham-o brand Frisbee. They are designed to fly straight, predictably, and very slowly compared to mid-range discs and drivers. They are typically used for tight, controlled shots that are close to the basket, although some players use them for short drives where trees or other obstacles come into play. Usually a pro carries 1-7 putters depending on their flight characteristics.
Mid-range discs have slightly sharper edges that enable them to cut through the air better. These discs are usually faster, more stable, and have a longer range than a putter. Some players will use mid-ranges as drivers, and there are tournaments that require players to use only mid-range discs. They are good all-around discs and are suitable for a first time player.
Drivers are usually recognized by their sharp, bevelled edge and have most of their mass concentrated on the outer rim of the disc rather than distributed equally throughout. Drivers are often divided into different categories. For example, Innova Discs divides their discs into Distance Drivers and Fairway Drivers, with a fairway driver being somewhere between a distance driver and a mid-range disc. Discraft divides their drivers into 3 categories: Long Drivers, Extra Long Drivers, and Maximum Distance Drivers. Because the physics of a disc require "snap" or "flick", which means putting spin on the disc, new players generally find that throwing a distance driver accurately can be somewhat difficult and will require experience with disc golf disc response. This is why it is better for players to begin with fairway drivers, long drivers, or even mid-ranges, and incorporate maximum distance drivers as their strength and disc control increases. Most players that are starting off will be most likely throwing lighter discs. Another type of driver, used less frequently, is a roller. As the name indicates, it has an edge designed to roll rather than fly.
Stability is the measurement of a disc's tendency to bank laterally during its flight. A disc that is over-stable will tend to track left (for a right handed, backhand throw), whereas a disc that is under-stable will tend to track right (also for a right handed, backhand throw). The stability rating of the discs differs depending on the manufacturer of the disc. Innova Discs rate stability as "turn" and "fade" on a scale of +1 to −5, where +1 is the most overstable and −5 is the most understable. "Turn" references how the disc will fly at high speed during the beginning and middle of it flight. "Fade" references how the disc will fly at lower speeds towards the end of its flight. Ex. A disc with a turn of -5 and fade of +1 will fly to the right for (right handed, backhand throw) the majority of its flight then curl back minimally left at the end. A disc with a turn of -1 and a fade of +3 will turn slightly right during the middle of its flight and turn hard left as it slows down. These ratings can be found on the discs themselves or from the manufacturer's web site. Discraft prints the stability rating on all discs and also provides this information on their web site. The stability ranges from 3 to −2 for Discraft discs; however Discraft's ratings are more of a combination of turn and fade with the predominance being fade.
Throw styles 
While there are many different grips and styles to throwing the disc, there are two basic throwing techniques, backhand and forehand (or sidearm). These two techniques are extremely different, and are very much a player's preference to perform. It is highly recommended that players gain competence in both types of throws because each is highly effective in different circumstances. Their understanding and mastery can greatly improve a players' game, and offer diverse options in maneuvering to the basket with greater efficacy. Many players use what is referred to as a run-up during their drive. This is practiced to build more forward disc momentum and distance. Throwing styles vary from player to player, and there is no standard throwing style.
All discs when thrown will naturally fall to a certain direction, this direction is termed Hyzer, the natural fall of the disc, or Anhyzer, making the disc fall against its natural flight pattern. For a right-handed, back-hand thrower (RHBH), the disc will naturally fall to the left. For a right-handed fore-hand thrower (RHFH), the disc will naturally fall to the right. For a left-handed, back-hand thrower (LHBH), the disc will naturally fall to the right. For a left-handed, fore-hand thrower (LHFH), the disc will naturally fall to the left.
To perform this throw, the disc is rapidly drawn from across the front of your body, and releasing it towards a forward aimpoint. Due to the potential snap available with this technique, one can expect greater distance and accuracy than with its counterpart. It is important to initiate momentum from the feet and allow it to travel up the body, hips and shoulders, culminating in the transfer of energy to the disc.
The forehand (originally "sidearm") throw is performed by drawing the disc from behind and partially across the front of the body: similar to a sidearm throw in baseball. The term sidearm actually predates the descriptor forehand, which is seemingly in use today as a simpler means to communicate the technique: equating to a tennis forehand.
Alternative throws 
The following examples of throws may be used to better deliver a disc where the former common two throws would be impeded by obstacles (bushes, trees, boulders, structures, etc.
Common alternative styles
- The Hatchet (or Tomahawk). Grip and throw as in the sidearm but performed with an overhead motion: disc orientation nearly perpendicular to the ground over much of the flight.
- The Thumber. Thrown in an overhand manner but with thumb held on the disc's underside: it's also the power finger.
- The Roller. Thrown either backhand or forehand, and the disc will predominately be in contact with the ground. The disc remains in motion while travelling on its edge at a slight angle, and can travel exceedingly far in ideal situations. Once perfected, the roller is an invaluably versatile tool in the golfer's arsenal.
- The Turbo-Putt Thrown with a putter when the player has the disc gripped on each finger tip. The player then throws the disc at the basket and turns his wrist to give it spin. The Turbo-Putt is a throw known for its accuracy. However, it has extremely limited range.
Other Alternative Styles
- The Baseball or Grenade. Thrown as in the backhand, but with the disc upside-down. This shot is used often to get up and down on a short shot where there is danger of a shot rolling away or going out of bounds if thrown too far. Primarily used on downhill shots but can be used to go up and over. Also due to the quick turn and backspin of this shot, it is sometimes used to get out of the woods.
- The Over-Head backhand (or chicken-wing [ambiguous origin][dubious ] ). This is a very difficult and stylized throw with which accomplished free-stylers and classic ultimate players are familiar; it is less used in disc golf. It is thrown in the same manner the "baseball" but drawn on the sidearm side of the body, and by inverting the arm and disc. Using the thumb as the power finger, the disc is drawn from the thigh area; rear-wards and up from behind the body; to over the shoulder; releasing toward a forward aimpoint. The disc flies in a conventional flight pattern. To the untrained eye, this appears to be an ungainly throw. It is however, elegant and accurate. The term "over-head" has been in use since at least circa 1970.
Course components 
While the roots of the game are very casual and laid back, the newer generations of players are taking course design as well as the other elements of the game to a new level. Though early on targets were trees or fence posts in the woods, now courses are being cut out and under-utilized parts of parks, schools, and private land are being used to make some of the most challenging and strategic courses around. All courses share the same basic elements; targets, tee pads, signage, topography, and most important, safety.
The first incarnation of targets were known as tonal poles because of the sound they made when hit. These consisted of a metal pipe placed on a smaller pipe that when struck with the disc made a gong type sound, while these were much more accurate than a tree, arguments and disagreements led to the invention of the Disc Pole Hole by Ed Headrick in 1975. The basket (as it is now known in most circles) is the standard for disc golf courses.
Tee pads 
The tee pad is where a player begins the hole. A solid base is a must for any successful course, and where early courses had plain dirt pads, modern courses use concrete, or more cost effective materials such as mulch, decomposed granite, or other natural materials. In recent years recycled rubber mats have been developed and are starting to catch on. While many alternatives have been created, concrete is the standard.
Signage is critical to any good course. Knowing distances, par count, out-of-bounds, and layout for each hole will give a player the information they need to make a great shot. Many courses have a main layout sign at the beginning of the course to show details of the course as a whole, as well as any needed information about the course. Hole signs give specific details about the hole the player is on, such as mandatory paths, out-of-bounds, and length. Not only are hole information signs critical, but way-finding signs and informational signs can make a good course great, and the absence of these can make a good course bad.
What makes disc golf unique is the utilization of natural elements, using trees and shrubs as obstacles and elevation changes to make the course challenging. Keeping the raw and environmentally conscious elements gives each course its own personality and strategy.
Safety is one of the most important elements of course design and actual play because most courses are in public parks: non-players are routinely found in the course environment. Paramount to the planning of a quality course is the detailing and minimizing possible points of interaction with non-players.
Because of all of these elements and the importance of each one to the success of the course, seeking out a qualified, experienced course designer will help to insure that all of these factors are kept at the forefront. Discs can be thrown fast and when hit right(mainly the head), could cause serious injury.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
Medal play is the most common scoring method used in the sport but there are many other forms. These include match play, skins, speed golf and captain's choice, which in disc golf is referred to as "doubles" (not to be confused with partner or team play).
Regardless of which form of play the participants choose, the main objectives of disc golf are conceptually the same as traditional golf in the sense that players aim to complete the round in the fewest amount of throws possible. Scores for each hole can be described and calculated as follows:
|-3||Albatross (or double-eagle)||three throws under par|
|-2||Eagle (or double-birdie)||two throws under par|
|-1||Birdie||one throw under par|
|0||Par||throws equal to par|
|+1||Bogey||one throw more than par|
|+2||Double bogey||two throws over par|
|+3||Triple bogey||three throws over par|
Doubles play is a unique style of play that many local courses offer on a weekly basis. In this format, teams of two golfers are determined. Sometimes this is done by random draw, and other times it is a pro-am format. On the course, it is a 'best-disc' scramble, meaning both players throw their tee shot; and then decide which lie they would like to play. Both players then play from the same lie, again choosing which lie is preferable. The World Amateur Doubles Format includes best shot, alternate shot, best score (players play singles and take the best result from the hole) and worst shot (both players must sink the putt).
|This section requires expansion. (April 2009)|
Tournaments are held nation-wide and year long in the USA. Sanctioned Tournament play is communicated through the Professional Disc Golf Association Membership. The PDGA provides international professional and amateur disc golf tournaments and competitions, communicates event results, opinions and other information beneficial to the sport via electronic and printed media.
To prove the year-round sustainability of the sport, annual winter tournaments known as Ice Bowls are held at courses around the world. Using the motto, "No Wimps, No Whiners," Ice Bowls collectively are designed to create sport awareness, and are considered charity events that typically benefit a food bank local to a given tournament location. The official Web site reports that the 2010 Ice Bowls raised over $250,000 and donated over 67,000 pounds of food in the 222 tournaments for the year. 
|This section requires expansion. (September 2007)|
While there are more male than female players, the Women's Disc Golf Association exists to encourage female players and arrange women's tournaments. A PDGA survey states that out of its 11,302 members in 2006, 8% are female, or about 900. In PDGA competition, women have the option to play in gender-protected divisions. The women's field has in fact grown rapidly in the past 5 years, as many Women's Only tournaments grow in popularity around the world. There are many sites with tips to help encourage more women to play, including Innova Disc Golf.
Several companies have started programs to help attract women to the sport. DiscGolf4Women.com; the "Go-to site for Women's Disc Golf" and their associated Facebook group have dramatically increased the communication between women disc golfers alike. The PDGA Women's Committee is "Dedicated to Attract, Encourage, and Retain Female Participation in Organized Disc Golf Events". The PDGA Women's Committee set historical records on May 12, 2012 by running the Inaugural Women's Global Event that attracted 636 female players in 24 states and 4 countries. The Women's Global Event will become a bi-annual event returning in 2014 with hopes of setting the bar even higher with the amount of participants.
There are also Disc golf companies such as Disc-Diva, that have started up with a primary, though not exclusive, focus on women in the sport, promoting accessories geared towards women and using catch phrases like, "You wish you threw like a girl." Sassy Pants is another group that focuses on getting more involvement from women in the sport, advocating for sponsorship of women to enter tournaments.
Women's disc golf teams are even involved in the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship, and the Mississippi State Women's Team are the very first champions.
Popular culture 
On a 1997 episode of the TV show "Seinfeld", George Costanza explains to Jerry that "frolf" is a golf game played with a Frisbee.
In an episode of the TV show The Office "The Convict" (S03E09), Jim Halpert plays a prank on Pam Beasley by having Andy Bernard hit on her with the (false) information that she loves "Frisbee-based competitions" (based on the prank, strongly implying that she in fact hates them). In reply to Jim's ruse, Andy exclaims "Are you kidding? I started the main Frisbee golf club at Cornell. Where I went to college. I live to frolf!"
In the movie "The Tao of Steve" (2000) Dex and his friends play disc golf around their home and yard.
On May 4, 2007 David Feldberg has interviewed on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."
In an episode of Happy Endings, Dave Rose says he loves to "Frolf", and they show Dave and Jane teeing off in a Disc Golf course in Chicago.
YouTube has also been a popular means through which new disc golf courses, often built in very artistic ways, are getting recognized.
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- "Rules", PDGA.com, Professional Disc Golf Association
- "Disc Golf Course Review". Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- "PDGA Rules: Introduction". PDGA. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
- Altmyer, Don (2011). "Kevin Donnelly: Disc Golf". Disc Golfer (Fall 2011).
- [dead link]
- "Innova Disc Golf | The Choice of Champions". Innovadiscs.com. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- "The History of Disc Golf". Discgolf.com. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
- [dead link]
- Disc Golf Association (2002-04-18). ""Steady" Ed's Disc Golf and Frisbee Patents". Disc Golf Association. Retrieved 2006-10-13.[dead link]
- US 4039189 Flying disc entrapment device
- Archive: 1978 Disc Golf Association Disc Golf Promotional Development Guide. PDF 11 pages.
- Rules for stance
- Rules for teeing off
- Rule 803.09 Out-of-Bounds, PDGA Official Rules of Disc Golf.
- "Texas Disc Golf Team Championships". Circular Productions. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
- Sassy Pants Visions
- Flat Rock Disc Golf (Athol, MA) - YouTube
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