Mastering the Disc Golf Basics: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

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Disc Golf Basics: A Comprehensive Guide

The Basics of Disc Golf

In disc golf, players begin each hole from a teeing area and aim to reach the target basket in as few throws as possible. The course layout consists of a series of holes, each with a unique challenge. Players use a variety of discs, each specialized for different distances and flight patterns. The game emphasizes accuracy and control, requiring players to navigate obstacles and adapt their throws to varying terrains. Markers on the course, known as lie markers or mini markers, help determine the player’s next move. The sport’s accessibility and the diverse array of courses make disc golf suitable for both casual players and competitive enthusiasts alike.

If you’re new to the game, here’s a breakdown of the basics to help you get started:

1. The Course Layout

  • Disc golf courses consist of a series of holes, usually 9, 18 or more, each with a designated teeing area and a target basket.
  • Many courses have multiple layouts, similar to the course shown below, that enable many different variants of the same course.
    • Some holes may have multiple basket locations that will change when the owners or overseas of the course see fit
    • Additionally, each hole may have multiple starting tee pads that will affect the difficulty of the shot. It is up to you and your group to decide which tee pads you will be playing for the duration of the course.
      • The multiple tee pad positions for each hole are shown below as Blue, Yellow, and Red.
  • The objective is to complete the course by getting your disc into the target basket in as few throws as possible; i.e., lowest score wins.
A course map of my favorite and most played course, Sedgely Woods

2. Starting a Hole and Drive

  • Begin each hole at the teeing area, marked by a tee pad or tee box.
  • From the teeing area, you throw your disc toward the target basket, starting the sequence of throws for that hole.
  • Many tee pads offer information about the hole, often complete with small maps/diagrams, distance to the basket, assigned par, obstacles or “Mandos” to abide by, etc
    • Par – The number of throws an expert player is expected to make to complete a specific hole on the course.
    • Mando – Short for “mandatory”, The Mando rule in disc golf requires players to navigate a specific mandatory route, marked by designated trees or objects, during a hole’s play.
  • For more on Drive and throw technique, visit the “Throwing Techniques” section of the Post
A simple concrete tee box, however, tee boxes can be constructed of just about anything.

3. Mini Marker

  • Mini markers ensure fair and competitive play by marking the spot where a player’s disc comes to rest.
  • They help maintain the flow of the game by quickly establishing the fair starting point for your next throw based on the lie of the previous throw.
  • Mini markers facilitate clear communication between players during rounds, enhancing the overall experience.
  • These compact discs can be customized with unique designs or logos, adding a personal touch to each player’s toolkit.
  • Overall, mini markers are essential accessories that contribute to a smooth and enjoyable disc golf experience for players of all skill levels.
A Monomer Marker used to determine the spot of the players next throw by setting an imaginary “line of play”

4. Disc Types

  • Disc golf involves different types of discs, each with specific characteristics.
  • Drivers, mid-range discs, and putters are the three main categories, each designed for different distances and flight patterns.
  • Drivers: Designed for maximum distance, drivers have a sharp edge and are ideal for long shots off the tee.
  • Midranges: Versatile discs that offer a balance of distance and control, midranges are great for a variety of shots, including approach shots and shorter drives.
  • Putters: With a blunt edge and shallow rim, putters are optimized for accuracy and precision, making them essential for sinking shots into the basket.
Just a glimpse at the various styles, weights, colors, and flight characteristic’s of discs you will encounter. Every Disc is different

5. Throwing Techniques

  • Mastering various throwing techniques, such as backhand and forehand throws, is crucial for success.
  • Practice your grip, stance, and release to achieve accuracy and control.
Talk about impeccable backhand form
Backhand Throw

The backhand drive is one of the fundamental throwing techniques in disc golf, favored by players for its versatility and power.

To execute a backhand drive, the player stands sideways to their target with their non-dominant foot forward and holds the disc with a firm grip, positioning it near their chest. With a smooth and controlled motion, the player rotates their hips and shoulders, generating momentum as they extend their arm back behind their body. As they shift their weight forward, the player releases the disc, snapping their wrist and fingers for added spin and accuracy.

The flight path of a backhand drive typically curves from left to right for right-handed throwers (and vice versa for left-handed throwers), known as hyzer or anhyzer, depending on the angle of release. With practice and technique refinement, the backhand drive can become a powerful tool for navigating the course and achieving impressive distances.

Forehand or Flick Throw


The forehand drive, also known as the flick or sidearm drive, is a popular throwing technique in disc golf, valued for its precision and versatility.

To execute a forehand drive, the player stands sideways to their target with their non-dominant foot forward and dominant hand on the outside of the disc . With a firm grip on the disc, the player swings their hips forward in a whipping motion, releasing the disc with a flick of the wrist. The elbow of the throwing arm should stay tucked close to the far side hip.

The flight path of a forehand drive typically curves from right to left for right-handed throwers (and vice versa for left-handed throwers), known as anhyzer or hyzer, depending on the angle of release. With practice and proper technique, the forehand drive can be a valuable tool for navigating obstacles and achieving precise throws on the disc golf course

6. Navigating the Course

  • Courses are set in diverse outdoor environments, incorporating trees, hills, and other obstacles. Strategically plan your throws to navigate these obstacles and adjust to the unique challenges of each hole.
  • Fairway Play: After your tee shot, navigate the fairway by throwing subsequent shots towards the basket. Aim to land your disc as close to the basket as possible with each throw, taking into account any obstacles such as trees, bushes, or elevation changes.
  • Approach Shots: As you get closer to the basket, use approach shots to position your disc within putting range. Approach discs, such as midranges or putters, offer more control and accuracy for shorter throws.
  • Putting: Once you’ve reached the basket, attempt to putt your disc into the target. Putters are designed for accuracy and precision, making them ideal for short-range shots around the basket.
  • Navigation: Throughout the round, use course signage, markers, or maps to navigate from hole to hole. Pay attention to directional signs or arrows that guide you along the course’s path.
The Infamous, triple mando, “Bamboo Hole” at Winthrop Gold on hole 7

7. Scoring and Etiquette

  • Your score is determined by the total number of throws it takes to complete the course. Keep track of your score for each hole based on the number of throws it takes you to complete it. Compare your score to the par for the course to gauge your performance.
  • Follow proper etiquette, including allowing other players to complete a hole before starting, and respect the natural surroundings.
  • Common Course Etiquette
    • Allow faster groups to play through
      • e.g., Let a faster group play the hole before you and your group
    • Respecting other players’ space
      • e.g., Do not start a hole until all players ahead have completed the hole and are out of danger from being hit with a flying disc
    • Take care to avoid damage to the course or surrounding environment.
General Disc Golf Scorecard

8. Have Fun and Learn

  • Disc golf is about enjoying the outdoors, improving your skills, and having fun with friends.
  • As you play more rounds, you’ll refine your techniques and discover the joy of the game.

Stay tuned for additional posts where we will continue to breakdown each of these sections into separate articles, further explaining their importance and required technique.

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