Disc Golf

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Disc Golf (sometimes called folf, frolf, or Frisbee golf) is a game based on the rules of golf (referred to by disc golfers as "ball golf" or "stick golf"). It uses flying discs which are similar to the Frisbee, but usually smaller and more dense. The discs are thrown towards a target, which serves as the "hole". The official targets are metal baskets with hanging chains to catch the discs.


[edit] Playing

Disc golf is played in a similar manner as ball golf. The initial "drive" is taken from a designated tee area. Each subsequent throw is taken from just behind the spot where the disc came to rest. Each throw is added to the player's score. As with ball golf, each hole is given a par rating. A common strategy for a par-three hole, as in golf, would be drive (long throw toward the basket), approach (mid-range throw to the "green"), putt (short throw into the basket). The hole is scored when the disc has come to rest in the target basket or when it hits the designated part of an object if there are no baskets and it is an object course.

Hyzer and anhyzer refer to the release angle of a disc. A shot thrown with hyzer is released with the outside edge of the disc angled down towards the ground. A shot thrown with anhyzer is released with the outside edge of the disc pointed up towards the sky.

[edit] History

Disc golf, in some form, was probably played around the turn of the century. But the modern day disc golf started in the late 60's. George Sappenfield, a Californian, realized that golf would be a lot of fun if played with Frisbees®. He set up a course of targets for kids to play on. A year later Sappenfield introduced the game to many other Frisbee® players. Many of them brought the game back to the U.C. Berkeley. It quickly became popular and they installed a permanent course in 1970. Meanwhile on the East coast standardized targets were created and the game became more serious.[1]

It was "Steady Ed" Headrick, a great flying disc innovator, that made the biggest contribution to the modern game. The first official disc golf course was opened in 1975 in what was then known as Oak Grove Park in La Canada Flintridge, CaliforniaTemplate:Fact. (Today the park is known as Hahamonga Watershed Park). This park is immediately to the south of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which supplied at least a few of the earliest players.

"Steady Ed" Headrick is the Father of Disc Golf. Mr. Headrick worked for the San Gabriel, California based Wham-O Corporation and invented many popular children's toys. Headrick's invention of the "lines" on the Frisbee® increased its stability and led to a life-time devotion to disc sports, which he loved and shared with many people. "Steady" also invented the disc golf basket which he sold through his family owned company, the Disc Golf Association (DGA).

For he so loved the sport, he actually was cremated and put into individual discs so he could fly forever [2]. Discraft did indeed create and sell the disc with Headrick's ashes in it. Unfortunately, so many people regard this as such a piece of real disc golf history, very few of the discs actually "fly" - they mainly rest on a nail in a prime location in the living room.

[edit] Course description

A very open disc golf course in Bowling Green, Kentucky

As of early 2006, there were more than 2000 permanent disc golf courses installed around the world, although the vast majority of them are in the United States.

A typical course will have 18 holes, with each hole averaging between 250 and 450 feet. Many smaller courses have only 9 holes, while an increasing number of courses offer an additional 9 holes to make 27 available holes to the disc golfer. Many disc golf courses are in open, grassy public parks, but more challenging courses are set in semi-wooded and hilly areas, some quite rough and natural. One good example of a classic long course with wooded hills is De Laveaga Disc Golf Course in Santa Cruz, California, USA.

The target in disc golf is usually a metal basket that is suspended parallel to the ground about three feet in the air, and attached to a vertical pole that is around 5 feet tall. To better allow discs to come to rest in this basket, chains are suspended from another circular section near the top of the pole and allowed to hang limply to a point where they are connected to the pole in or near the receiving basket. The standard disc golf target has 12-24 chains suspended inside it.

Another common target is the 'Tone Hole.' This is generally a metal pipe, approximately 8" to 10" in diameter, mounted on a sturdy wooden post. Hitting the target is confirmed by the sound of the disc contacting the pipe. 'Natural' holes, being pre-existing natural or man-made features, are occasionally used as well.

Disc golf is unique in that PDGA and WFDF rules, based in player conservation efforts as well as fair play, make it a violation to cause damage to the course's flora. With most courses not requiring greens fees, the relative low cost of discs, and tournament fees still fairly low, the disc golf social structure may be among the most egalitarian and relaxed in organized sports.

[edit] Golf discs

There are a wide variety of discs, divided into three basic categories: putters, mid-range discs, and drivers. Within each of these categories, each disc has its own distinct flight characteristics. There are golf discs designed to fly straight, turn left, or turn right, depending on how they are thrown by the player. The putters are designed similar to discs you would play catch with, i.e. a Whamo brand Frisbee®. They are designed to fly straight and predictably, and very slowly compared to the other two. Mid-range discs have slightly sharper edges, which enable them to cut through the air better. These discs are harder to learn to throw, but can fly much farther. Drivers have the sharpest edge and have most of their mass concentrated on the outer rim of the disc rather than distributed equally throughout. Drivers are the hardest types of discs to learn how to throw, in that their flight path will be very unpredictable without practice. There are several classes of drivers intended for different distances. Depending on a driver's stability it could be a straight or turning driver. Golf discs typically weigh between 150 - 180 grams, or about six ounces, and measure 21.7 cm in diameter.

The most common brands of disc are Innova, Discraft, DiscWing, Gateway, Millennium and DGA.

[edit] Throwing style

See Disc throws for more details

The two most common throwing techniques are the forehand throw (aka side-arm), and the backhand throw. Of the two the backhand style is most familiar to new players and is the most common.

A right-handed player performing a forehand throw will generally hold the disc in his right hand and throw the disc with the palm of his hand facing the direction of the throw.
A right-handed backhand thrower will throw the disc with the back side of his hand facing the direction of the throw.

The different types of throws spin the disc in opposite directions, causing the disc to turn and fade left or right, depending on type of disc thrown, windage, spin speed and various other variables. Many players try to master both techniques or learn to play both left- and right-handed to account for as many situations as possible.

Another throwing style is the roller, which can be done two different ways. One way is with a forehand grip where the disc is released almost vertically and allowed to roll. The other way a roller can be thrown is with a backhand grip, released at a near-vertical angle.

Additional throwing techniques include (but are not limited to):

  • Hyzer - Disc thrown with the edge away from the body angled toward the ground. This will turn left for a righthand, backhand throw.
  • Anhyzer - Disc thrown with the edge away from the body angled upward. This will turn right for a righthand, backhand throw.
  • Hyzer-flip - Disc throw with a hyzer angle, but with enough spin that it "flips" up to a flatter flight path. Most professional players use this shot for max distance.
  • Hammer - A throw where the player holds the disc over his shoulder and releases it near vertically, with his thumb on the topside of the disc, and the index and middle fingers wrapped around the back edge. The purpose is to have a very straight shot that won't turn into a roller, but instead land relatively flat.
  • Thumber - Also known as a thumbhook. The player holds the disc in the same manner as the Tomahawk, except with the thumb wrapped around the under-edge of the disc. In releasing, the disc will spin off of the thumb of the thrower, and create a very straight throw, that has the possibility to roll quite far if thrown with enough force and spin.
  • Grenade - Disc is held with a backhand grip, only upside down and thrown with extreme hyzer. Ideally, the disc will take a short bounce, flutter (resembling an explosion, hence the name) and stop very close to the landing point.
  • Prebinator - A chip shot where the disc is held upside down and chipped to the basket with a normal forehand toss. The disc flies and dives straight down at the basket. Back spin is generated such that in case the disc misses the basket, it will come to a rest near the basket. The Prebinator takes a great dive down into the basket, taking advantage of the larger basket entry area.
  • Chicken Wing - A forehand drive in which the thumb is placed on the inside rim of the disc and the fingers stay on the topside of the disc. Bring the disc down near your hip, and keep it there throughout the duration of the drive (failure to do so may result in the dislocation of the shoulder). The rest of the drive is not unlike the regular forehand drive. Bring your arm back until it is fully extended. Then, swing your arm forward, flick, and release the disc. This method of driving may be the most effective for distance. Chicken Wings have been (unofficially) recorded to travel over 800 feet.
  • Bi-Moto Putt - a two handed putting motion with the disc held at eye level and in line with the target. Also useful when putting into the wind.
  • Turbo Putt - a putting style similar to a football pass with a shortened motion and more wrist action.

[edit] Disc physics

Stability is one of the most important disc properties when choosing a disc. There are three stability classifications, based on the behavior of a disc when thrown using a level right-handed backhand (reverse the direction for left-handed backhands):

  • Understable: An understable disc has a natural tendency to curve to the right.
  • Stable: A stable disc will maintain a straight flight path.
  • Overstable: An overstable disc has a natural tendency to curve to the left.

Also, there are three stability classifications for right-handed forehand throws (reverse direction for left-handed forehands):

  • Understable: An understable disc has a natural tendency to curve to the left.
  • Stable: A stable disc will maintain a straight flight path.
  • Overstable: An overstable disc has a natural tendency to curve to the right.

The stability of a disc depends on a number of factors, including the weight, size and shape of the disc and the speed with which it is thrown. Stability is increased when the player is able to hear a "snap" when the disc is released off the fingers. The "snap" creates centripetal force; the increased stability will allow the player to increase their accuracy. Thus, a disc that is overstable for one player may be stable or even understable for another.

Throwing into the wind will make a disc fly more understable than it usually does. For a right-hand backhand thrower, this means that a disc will turn more to the right than it would normally. Therefore, to maintain a straight line, an overstable disc (i.e. one that turns to the left normally) should be thrown into the wind. An understable disc will be more likely to turn over (or flip) when thrown into the wind. For a right-hand backhand thrower, this will result in a dramatic right turn. The wind will also cause the disc not to fade back to the left at all.

Each disc is also meant to be thrown within a certain speed range. If the disc is thrown slower than that range, it will fly overstable (to the left). Conversely, if the disc is thrown faster than that speed range, it will fly understable (to the right). The directions given in parentheses are for right-hand backhand throwers. A common example of this is when a beginner purchases a disc that is designed for pro-level players with extremely strong throws. This disc, in the hands of a beginner with a weak arm, will curve hard to the left (overstable), not giving them much distance at all.

The ratio of disc spin, angle upon release, and air speed (partially related to arm speed) are important control factors. The Bernoulli principle of flight allows the disc to achieve lift, when the air flows over the top of the disc faster than the bottom of it. As a disc gets older and is used often (Banged into trees, rocks, targets, etc.) it will normally become more and more understable.

The Roller: This style proves many wrong if utilized correctly. Enhanced by the angle of the disc if rolled proper, its capabilities can far exceed the length of a regular forearm or backhand throw. The style is simple. Instead of throwing the disc through the air with your regular velocity, strategically direct that velocity and pampered technique to the ground and ample results will be displayed

[edit] Disc Golf Hall of Fame

Image:Disc golf in basket.JPG
A disc in the basket
  • 1993: Vanessa Chambers | Dave Dunipace | Ed Headrick | Tom Monroe | Jim Palmeri | Dan Roddick | Ted Smethers
  • 1994: Harold Duvall | Nobuya Kobayashi | Darrell Lynn | Dan Mangone | Doug Newland | Snapper Pierson | Lavone Wolfe
  • 1995: Ken Climo | John David | David Greenwell | Johnny Roberts | Dr. Rick Voakes
  • 1996: Mike Conger | Patti Kunkle | Rick Rothstein
  • 1997: Steve Slasor | Elaine King | Jim Kenner
  • 1998: Gregg Hosfeld | John Houck | Carlton Howard
  • 1999: Sam Ferrans | Steve Wisecup | Tim Selinske
  • 2000: Tom Schot | Royce Racinowski
  • 2001: Stan McDaniel | Johnny Sias
  • 2002: Alan Beaver | Gary Lewis
  • 2003: Mark Horn | Brian Hoeniger | Dr. Stancil Johnson,
  • 2004: Derek Robins | Geoff Lissaman | Johnny Lissaman | Marty Hapner
  • 2005: Mats Bengtsson | Sylvia Voakes
  • 2006: Chuck Kennedy | Kozo Shimbo

For more information, visit the website of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame.

[edit] Popular culture

  • Frolf was referenced in the "Summer of George" episode of Seinfeld. From the realization that George and Jerry are each only "a half man", George starts helping Jerry with his new girlfriend. When George is supposed to be delivering cards for a party Jerry's girlfriend is hosting, he is met by a stranger in the park who asks: "You know we need a 4th for the back 9, you want in?" George decides to partake in the game.
  • In the 2000 movie The Tao of Steve, Dex and his buddies spend several scenes playing disc golf on a course comprised of improvised and home-made targets.
  • In 2005, disc golf was the main theme of an episode of Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon. The kids played on a disc golf team and competed against a hard team of older, meaner kids and won.
  • During an episode of Dane Cook's popular series Tourgasm, the four comedians are shown having a disc golf challenge.
  • In the movie Slackers Ethan (Jason Schwartzman) gets hit in the face with a disc in one of the scenes involving himself and Angela (Jaime King) by an annoyed disc golfer's disc.

[edit] External links

  • Professional Disc Golf Association
  • Disc Golf Association the company that started the sport in 1975
  • British Disc Golf Association
  • West Virginia Disc Golf Association
  • Southern Nationals Disc Golf
  • discgolf.com Online resource for discgolf since 1995
  • FrolfCaddy - track scores and interesting statistics among friends
  • Disc Golf Review resource for learning technique, includes videos
  • Playdg.com disc golf course reviews
  • Sanctioned PDGA tournaments
  • World Disc Games main international disc tournament held every two years starting 1977
  • History of Disc Golf
  • Mini Disc Golf Federation's Homepage
  • DGTV Discgolftv.com disc golf news, product reviews, player interviews, etc
  • Women's Disc Golf Association
  • Disc Golf Live Video Magazine A TV show available at no cost for broadcast on community and public access stations.
  • Disc Golf Ontario An online community deadicated to the culture, courses, and golfers of Ontario Canada.
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