- This year marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Professional
Disc Golf Association. Back in April of 1976 Ed Headrick created the
organization as his Disc Golf Association (DGA) grew. At the time, a
membership in the PDGA indicated you had grown and developed to
'professionally' represent the sport as a 'Disc Golf Ambassador'. PDGA
members represented the face of Disc Golf and worked to grow the sport. A
lot has changed since 1976, (who would have thought Disc Golf would be a
medal sport at the World Games in Akita, Japan this year?) but Ed's idea of
what a PDGA member should be still holds true for all of us today.
In recent years the sport of Disc Golf has grown at an astounding rate, both nationally and internationally.
In 1994 there were just over 400 courses in the U.S., in 2001 there are now more than 900, and more than 1,100 courses worldwide!
Also reflecting this growth, the Professional Disc Golf Association membership experienced an eighteen percent increase in 1998, a nearly thirteen percent jump in 1999, and project this growth to continue at similar rates for many years to come.
About the PDGA
Founded in 1976, the Professional Disc Golf Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promotion of the sport of disc golf worldwide. Its 18,000-plus members live and play in more than twenty countries on five continents. The PDGA writes the rules for discgolf, provides members with a full-color magazine called Disc Golf World News, and is a source of information about the sport.
Every year the PDGA sanctions competitions for professional and amateur players. Competitors earn points by participating in these events, which are tabulated by the PDGA, and used to determine invitations to the annual World Professional and Amateur Disc Golf Championships.
What is Disc Golf?
Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, however, players use a flying disc, or Frisbee® The sport was formalized in the 1970's, and shares with "ball golf" the object of completing each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, fewest number of throws).
A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target which is the "hole". the hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets; the most common is called a Pole Hole® an elevated metal basket. As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw has landed. The trees, shrubs, and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for the golfer. Finally, the "putt" lands in the basket and the hole is completed.
Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it's sinking a long putt or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway. There are few differences, though. Disc golf rarely requires a greens fee, you probably won't need to rent a cart, and you never get stuck with a bad "tee time." It is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages, male and female, regardless of economic status.
Who Plays Disc Golf?
Disc golf can be played from school age to old age, making it the one of the greatest lifetime fitness sports available. Specially-abled and disabled participate, giving them the opportunity to take part in a mainstream activity. Because disc golf is so easy to learn, no one is excluded. Players merely match their pace to their capabilities, and proceed from there.
The Professional Disc Golf Association, the governing body for the sport, sanctions competitive events for men and women of every skill level from novice to professional. Disc golf courses are found in countries worldwide, as well as throughout the United States.
Where do I play?
Many city parks have golf courses already set up. Most are free to play as often as you like. Disc golfers who do not have the benefit of a permanent disc golf facility in their area often "make up" courses in nearby parks and green spaces.
One of the great features disc golf shares with traditional golf is that they are both played in beautiful settings. A nine-hole disc golf course can be established on as little as five acres of land, and a championship-caliber 18-hole course on 30 to 40 acres. Disc golf courses can coexist with existing park facilities and activity areas. The ideal location combines wooded and open terrains, and a variety of topographical change.
The need for more courses is constant, as the sport continues to grow in popularity. The PDGA has created standards for the design and installation of new golf courses, to ensure their success in the community.
Why should I play?
The ongoing fitness boom finds more and more people taking up recreational activities in an effort to improve health and quality of life.
Disc golf provides upper and lower body conditioning, aerobic exercise, and promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities that allow very little risk of physical injury. Concentration skills increase by mastering shots and negotiating obstacles. Players of limited fitness levels can start slowly and gradually increase their level of play as fitness improves.
Scheduling is also flexible; a round takes one to two hours, and may be played alone, eliminating the difficulty of scheduling tee times. And as in traditional golf, disc golfers find themselves "hooked;" increasing the likelihood of frequent participation. Disc golf offers year-round fitness, even in rain or snow. Perhaps the greatest attribute of the sport is the expense - or rather, the lack of it. A professional quality disc costs around $10, and it only takes one for basic play.
And, of course, there's the sheer fun of the game - no matter what your age or skill level.