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How to Play—and Win—Your First Disc Golf Game

BY: Dan Delagrange | Mar 28, 2017

If you're off to play disc golf for the first time, you're pretty much guaranteed to have fun, even if you're not sure what it really entails. Throwing Frisbees around with a group of friends in the sunshine is just an easy recipe for a good time. But what if you want to stoke that competitive flame inside you? Before you hit the course, check out this guide for tips on how to dominate during your first game. After all, winning is fun, too.

Before You Start: Know the Basics

Essentially, Frisbee golf is played just like its club-and-ball cousin. From a tee platform, players take turns throwing discs at a raised metal basket with chains draped above it that help trap the discs. The object of the game is to throw your disc into the basket in as few throws as possible. Just like in traditional golf, each hole has a set par, or a number of throws it should take you to complete that hole. Sinking your disc in three shots on a par-3 hole gives you a score of 0, for example. Lowest score wins.

Picking a Disc: Go for Slow and Steady

Every frolf disc comes branded with a numeric speed rating. Most are on a scale of 1 to 13, with a higher number meaning a faster speed. You're a beginner, so pick a disc that's suited to your inexperience. This means going with discs that have slow or middle-of-the-road speed ratings. They're not as flashy as their speedier counterparts, but slower discs are easier to control and will help keep you from overshooting your target.

Driving: Focus on Accuracy, Not Distance

It'll be tempting to try to bomb your first throw as far as possible, but you should be more concerned with making accurate drives over long ones. A key to keeping the disc under control? A stable throwing stance. Instead of channeling your inner Happy Gilmore and running into your toss, get a nice, solid base and release the disc with a firm, controlled throwing motion. It'll help set you up for easier approaches and putts, which are crucial to winning holes.

Approach Shots: Know Your Surroundings

Is the wind blowing, and in which direction? Is the grass long (this will keep discs from bouncing or sliding) or short (discs will bounce or slide more)? Is the green slanted one way or another? Knowing the course's conditions before you throw can help you outpace your opponents, so take a minute to get a feel for the wind and the lie of where your next throw might end up. You can even walk around a little to get a better idea of how the rest of the hole looks beyond your immediate throwing area.

Putting: Don't Be a Hero

Nailing putts—usually defined as shots within 10 meters of the basket—is huge when it comes to finishing at or under par. That said, you should make these shots as easy on yourself as possible. If you're far enough away from the basket that you're unsure whether you can put the disc inside it, don't try to. Instead, aim for a spot near or under the basket. Taking the extra stroke to give yourself a putt that's a sure thing is a better strategy than trying to hit a birdie from an impossible distance.

In General: Be a Student of the Game

We've covered the basic disc golf rules, but, before you play, be sure to dive into the specifics, too. For example, the Professional Disc Golf Association's official rule book states that "a player may elect at any time to re-throw from the previous lie." Invoking this rule will cost you one penalty stroke, but if you shank an approach shot and think you can easily re-do it and make up for it later, go for it. Your friends might rib you for being a stickler to the rules, but you're not there to relax with them. You're there to beat them.