ONE DISC TO RULE THEM ALL
The lines between sport and leisure have blurred over the years. I tend to be very liberal in my designations. I think, despite the level of exertion a game requires – whether you're tossing horseshoes or entering the final digit into a Sudoku grid (medium difficulty) – to be an athlete, you don’t need to immediately think, “ice climbing.”
Think disc golf – or Folf, for fans of brevity – a sport that, to some, may seem like a stroll through the park chasing a plastic saucer. But to me it’s one of the most invigorating outdoor contests the “everyday” athlete could choose to undertake.
Despite ultimate Frisbee being the ultimate of Frisbee games, I think disc golf is the ultimate in Frisbee games resembling golf. Though really, is it fair calling the game you invented the “ultimate” in its genre? Kind of automatically pegs other Frisbee games as average and not so awesome. Cocky move, ultimate Frisbee. Cocky move.
Disc golf was invented by some guys, probably who had grown tired of launching their Frisbees into the distant horizon without a purpose. They decided the element of golf was the perfect solve. “Sure we love to chuck stuff, but let’s start aiming for something.”
And disc golf was born.
Like ball golf, disc golf can be enjoyed by anyone with access to swaths of land and a passion for taking nature walks. Courses are set up like ball golf, except instead of whacking a tiny ball with a club toward a small hole in the ground, you wing a miniature, extra-aerodynamic flying disc toward a suspended catching device resembling a hood ornament from Mad Max Fury Road. Although courses are scarce in large cities due to the pedestrian factor, you shouldn’t have trouble finding one nearby in the outskirts.
Disc golf rules are few, but nevertheless should be followed with exactitude. You don’t want the DGA coming after you – that’s the Disc Golf Association, not to be mistaken for the Director’s Guild of America. Although you don’t want to tick them off either, unless you never want to work in Hollywood again.
First, a player tees off (throws the disc) from a rubber pad, keeping at least one foot on it at the time of release. Sort of like the discus throw, but without requiring spandex or muscles. Then watch as your disc soars like a bald eagle toward its destination–or away from it, depending on the kind of day you’re having. Just like in regular golf, some days you’re Tiger Woods, other days you’re Tiger “Lost in the” Woods.
Next you mark your “lie”–where the disc comes to a rest. Then, from a stance, you throw again from that spot–unless of course that spot is home to a black bear. If so, stand your ground and make lots of noise. Do NOT climb a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers. After the bear is gone, grab your disc, wait for the pee stain in your shorts to dry and get your head back in the game.
Players continue to throw their discs until reaching the chain basket target. To “hole out” you must toss the disc into the bottom cylinder of the basket or within the chains. A disc on top of the basket or wedged into the side of the cage doesn’t count. Got it? This game demands the best from you. Not your best wedged into the side.
Side note: In regular golf, frustration can be taken out by throwing your club, which you can then retrieve. In disc golf, there are no clubs, so when it takes you six “putts” to hole-out, the easiest thing to angrily hurl is your disc. Refrain from doing this. Those things fly. You will lose daylight searching for it and likely come up empty handed. Instead, punch a deer.
Also be aware of disc golf’s courtesy rules.
1. Do not throw until you are sure your disc will not distract or decapitate another player.
2. Help others search for their discs, unless that person slept with your sister in high school. Then hold firm to your grudge and focus on beating him.
3. Don’t be a litterbug.
Courses are typically nine or 18 holes. Scoring is just like golf with par holes, eagles, birdies and the like. Lowest score wins, and throws MUST be marked down on a scorecard backed by your thigh with an eraserless half-pencil.
So now that you've learned the nuances of Frisbee golf, it’s time to grab a disc and hightail it to Big Sky Country. Let's go. Disc golf is the future of golf. A sport poised to be 2064’s newest, most talked-about event of the Summer Games. It requires skill, stamina and can be mastered entirely while holding a frosty tallboy. If that's not the picture of an athlete, I don't know what is.