Disc golf is a sport that can be played casually or competitively, but it’s a blast either way. With a good set of discs and a gear bag, you can play for free (or for a low price) at disc golf courses around the world.
You might be tempted to hit the course with a traditional flying disc, but this may leave you frustrated and falling behind the scores of your friends. Disc golf discs are specifically designed for the sport, and it will show. In addition, learning to play with disc golf discs will help you to avoid bad habits.
Here are some tips for getting started with your own gear.
1. Choosing your discs
When you’re picking out your first discs, you have two options: purchase discs individually, or buy a disc set. You will likely need at least three discs—a driver, a mid-range disc, and a putter.
Most beginner sets will include the three basic disc types. The Kestrel Pro Golf Set is a solid 3-disc starter set that includes a carrying bag. For a set from a classic brand, the Innova Champion Disc Golf Set is great for learning the sport, and you will likely use these discs for years.
2. Flight ratings
To give you an idea of how a disc will perform and what its flight path will be, most discs include flight ratings in the form of four numbers. There’s no “better” or “worse” when it comes to disc flight ratings—different numbers will indicate different behaviors and play styles.
The speed rating of a disc indicates how fast you will need to throw the disc in order for it to perform as intended. As a result, a higher speed rating is not always desirable, especially for beginners. Drivers tend to have the highest speed ratings, while putters have the lowest.
The glide rating indicates how well a disc will float or glide. A higher number means a longer glide.
The turn rating is a bit trickier. It indicates which direction a disc is likely to turn and to what degree it will curve. A disc with a turn rating of 0 will generally fly straight, while a disc with a positive number will curve to the left when thrown backhand. A negative number means it will curve to the right.
The fade determines how much the disc will curve back in the opposite direction of its original curve at the end of its flight—this is often called an “s-curve.” A lower fade rating indicates a lower likelihood to curve back.
Not all manufacturers use this four-number system, and some manufacturers use different scales. As a result, you may find it convenient to find a favorite brand and stick with them.
3. Other gear to take on the course
Once you have a set of discs, you may want to pick up a carrying bag if one wasn’t included with your discs. A simple tote bag may suffice at first, but as you purchase more discs, a disc carrying bag will do a much better job of keeping your discs organized and accessible.
Most bags will have a few compartments for storing discs so you can keep your drivers, mid-range discs, and putters separate. They may also include a pocket for a water bottle, as well as additional storage space.
Bag styles include backpacks and shoulder bags, with backpacks typically offering much more storage space. The smallest bags can hold between 6 and 10 discs, while bigger bags can hold up to 30 discs, if you’re willing to haul all that plastic around.
One item that’s handy to have on the course is an old rag or washcloth to clean off wet or dirty discs—you don’t want the disc slipping from your grip mid-throw and going off course.
4. Practice makes perfect
There’s nothing wrong with throwing your discs for the first time on the golf course.
For the best experience, however, you should practice with your new discs in an open field to get an idea of how each one flies and how much distance you can get out of them. Keep a permanent marker handy to take notes on flight paths on the underside of each disc.
It’s easy enough to practice putting by aiming for a tree, rock, or other small target. If you really want to prepare for the course, you can make your own disc golf basket to set up a practice hole.
5. The Disc Golfer’s Shopping List
If you’re ready to throw some long drives, consider these items.
A set of discs. Most disc golf sets include at least one putter, mid-range disc, and driver, so you’ll be ready to hit the course. It is typically less expensive to buy discs in sets than individually, and both beginner and intermediate disc sets are available. Since the discs will be by the same brand, you don’t have to worry about different rating systems.
A disc bag. While a tote bag is a passable solution, it’s no substitute for a disc bag with separate compartments for discs and pockets for things like water bottles, towels, and snacks. For a compact bag that holds up to 8 discs, the Discraft Weekender Disc Bag is an affordable yet reliable option. If you need a bit more space, consider the lightweight and versatile Dynamic Discs Trooper Disc Golf Bag.