August 28, 2014

On Disc Golf

rules are meant to be broken

At Sims Park in Euclid, OH

While many of you have been poring over the Browns’ depth charts and debating how worried we should be by these crappy preseason performances, I’ve been studiously avoiding any and all talk of Browns football1.

I say that in jest, but it is mostly true. The Great Colt McCoy debate of 2012 has kept me away from Cleveland sports talk radio and my work schedule has kept me from watching all four Browns preseason games (and I refuse to DVR a exhibition game to watch later).

I’m also at the “prove to me why I should care on days other Sundays” stage with this franchise. Over the last decade, I’ve bought into various Browns rebuilds and new quarterbacks, only to see the whole thing go up in flames.2. I want Browns to do well, but I’ll get excited when they give me a reason to get excited.3. Plus, I’m one of those weirdos who gets excited for football season because it means that basketball season is just around the corner.

So if not the Browns, how have I been occupying my waning days of summer?

By playing as much disc golf as my schedule can possibly allow.

Of course. 

The hole in disc golf is a metal basket with chains. You must get the disc in the basket.

For those of you who follow me on twitter,4 you’re well aware that I regularly tweet about playing disc golf or playing in local tournaments. I happen to like disc golf. A lot. And if you do follow me,5 you’re likely to be confused by these tweets and are probably annoyed by the frequency at which they occur.

You can tell I really enjoy this game. I’ve gone disc golfing during bachelor party weekends. I’ve taken dates disc golfing6. I go out of my way to find courses when I travel. It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon outside by yourself or with friends or your family (I regularly see parents with children out on courses). Best of all, it’s free.

But despite my frequent tweets, I still get a lot of questions about disc golf7 and while many people think they know, most really have no idea.

So consider this the disc golf primer that you never knew you needed (and if you don’t think there will be a WFNY disc golf outing at some point, you’re kidding yourself).

Tip: don't let your disc roll down the mountain. It sucks.

In Colorado, you throw up and down mountains.

What is disc golf? According to Wikipedia:

Disc golf is a flying disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc at a target. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, “The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc.” Of the more than 3000 established disc golf courses as of 2010, approximately 87% are free. The number of disc golf courses has more than doubled in 8 years from 2000 to 2008. The game is played in about 40 countries around the world.

So disc golf = golf with Frisbees8. Each time you throw, it counts as a stroke. Yes, there’s a Professional Disc Golf Association and they host tournaments and everything9.

What type of disc should I use? Can I just play with this old Frisbee I found in my garage?

many disc golf courses, like Goodyear Park in Suffield, OH, have water hazards

I would recommend against using that old Friesbee. Disc golf discs are highly specialized and said Frisbee won’t do you much good out on a course. Like clubs in regular, normal person, golf, there are different types of discs that are used for in different situations. You have your distance drivers, fairway drivers, putters, discs that trail off right, discs that trail off left, discs that (if you throw them correctly) go perfectly straight and some discs that even float in water10.

Disc manufacturers like Innova and Discraft have rating systems for their discs, to give you an idea of which disc does what. Discraft explains:

Why do some discs fly to the left, and others go right? Like clubs in ball golf, Discraft golf discs are designed to travel on a variety of flight paths to help you meet any course challenge. The way we define a disc’s flight characteristics is through the term stability.

Let’s assume you are a right handed player using a backhand throwing motion. If you throw a disc on a straight, flat line using average power and it continues to fly straight, that disc is considered to be stable, and would be given a stability rating of (0).

Now you choose another disc, and this one fades to the right. We call that disc understable, and would give it a negative stability rating of (-1) for a gentle turn, and (-3) for a more severe turn. When it comes to drivers, understable discs are easiest for new players to control.

Most golf discs — especially drivers — tend to fade to the left, which would put them somewhere within theoverstable range. This is the more natural flight path for sharp edged discs. These discs get a positive rating of (1) for a subtle fade, or (3) for a hard turn.

Confusing? Kinda. If you’re looking to start playing, I’d recommend picking up one those three packs you can find at sporting goods stores; they come with a driver, a mid-range and a putter. Once you get the hang of throwing (it’s a different form than what you’d use in something like Ultimate Frisbee), then you should start experimenting with different types of plastics and discs (.pdf). Discs can come in many colors and I’d recommend choosing something bright and unnatural, like neon orange or pink, as they’re easier to find.11

Where can I play? How can I find courses?

And more keep popping up

When looking for courses, I usually either use the PGDA app on my phone (literally the very first app I downloaded), the PGDA website or DGCourseReview.com. They usually give you a good idea on what the course is like and can give directions on how to locate it.

Below are some of the courses that I’ve played and would recommend:

Sims Park, Euclid, OH: A nice, diverse 21 hole course. The early holes take you along Lake Erie, then you go into the woods for a little while and then you end up in an open field. Not the most difficult course but not a bit long for the beginners.

Hudson Springs Park, Hudson, OH: My home course. Summit County DGA revamped the

every now and then a disc might get stuck in a tree or two

back nine last summer (it now takes you through the woods) and recently new (larger) tee pads were installed. The front nine is short and technical and the back has some long open throws and holes through the woods. I think this is a great beginners course and an excellent course for families.

Wingfoot Lake/Goodyear Park, Suffield, OH: A very nice, well-maintained course. Pretty open but fairly short (especially on the front, the back is a little longer). An excellent for beginners and families. However, there are two holes that water is in play, so be careful.

Lakeshore Park, Ashtabula, OH: A beautiful course right along Lake Erie. There are multiple tee pads (novice/amateur/pro) and sometimes multiple basket positions. The course is really hilly, so you can get some monster drives over the valleys.

Roscoe Ewing Park, Medina, OH: Established in 1977, this is the oldest disc golf course in Ohio. Roscoe Ewing is a challenging course with some beautiful shots. It’s been cleaned up in recent years and much of the (thorny) underbrush has been cleared out.

Veterans Memorial Park, Parma, OH: An 18 that is almost entirely in the woods. The course is full of fun, challenging shots but if you fly off the path, you might be there awhile. I haven’t played it this summer, but in the past you had to be careful of broken glass.

careful… careful…

Portage Lakes, Akron, OH: I played this course for the first time this past week and loved every minute of it. An extremely well maintained course, it take you through the woods and into some open areas (I spent most of my times in the woods, unfortunately). There’s also some water hazards. While the course is challenging, there are novice tees that can make it more forgiving.

Arboretum-Spiker Park, Canton, OH: This is a monster of a course. There are 24 holes and many of them are long. It’s a fun course, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners (although there are pro and novice tee pads). Very open, some wooded holes and a couple ponds you have to be wary of.

Other courses of note. Whenever I make a trip to Columbus, I usually try to fit in a round of discin’. There’s a course on Ohio State’s West Campus which is solid, if unspectacular. The course at Griggs Reservoir Park off of Riverside is a nice course that is almost always packed. No matter when I go, there’s always people at Griggs. My favorite Columbus course is definitely the Brent Hambrick Memorial course just north of the Easton shopping. This 27 hole behemoth has an excellent variety of holes and shots, with some very interesting basket placements.

And hey, if you can’t find a course, you can just make one up:

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Footnotes:

  1. except, course, our awesome WFNY posts []
  2. It says something about this franchise that the two most iconic new Browns are Phil Dawson and Joshua Cribbs []
  3. It’s not that I’m super down on Trent Richardson’s surgery or Weedon’s struggles or various preseason issues. From all accounts it was a minor procedure and how much can you really take away from preseason games. I get that. But still… I’d just rather their top pick NOT have to have knee surgery or that they weren’t getting punts blocked, etc []
  4. and if you’re not, come on! []
  5. seriously, what are you waiting for?? []
  6. hi ladies! I’m single! []
  7. Mainly, WTF is disc golf? []
  8. but usually not actual Frisbees, as that’s a brand of disc. Calling disc golf “Frolf” is like calling all tissue papers “Kleenex” or all DVR systems “Tivo”. Poor form, dude. []
  9. they even follow me on twitter. What’s your excuse?? []
  10. which is great, because then you can point to the exact spot of your disc that’s in the middle of a lake []
  11. nothing is more frustrating than when you’re helping your friend locate their disc and you ask “what color was it?” and they say “green”. Oh great. Grass colored. []
  • marc

    Very cool post, I’ve only been able to disc golf a couple times this year but this makes me want to go! My closest course is about 30 mins away so it’s hard to get out there.

  • saggy

    Why am i not surprised you’re still going on dates?
    my secret: marry a woman who hates golf as much as i do!

  • LMK

    if you ever head down to SW Ohio, Wittenberg Univeristy in Springfield has a really challenging course on their campus

  • Matt

    I played Griggs more times than I care to remember when I lived in C-Bus back in ’04. The course was built on a former campground and probably wasn’t as crowded back then, but it was susceptible to heavy flooding a couple times a year. That course was fun because it was easy, and you could play round after round without getting tired because it was so flat. The 3rd nine at Hambrick was still under construction the last time I played there. I never enjoyed that course. The 1st 9 was always windy, and the 2nd 9 was hard as heck since it was carved out of the woods. Hudson Springs didn’t seem very nice when I played it 3 years ago, but it sounds like they’ve fixed it up since then.
    If anyone visits the Canton area, check out Oak Ledges DGC. It’s in Lincoln Park on Massillon’s west side. The easiest way to get there from Cleveland or Akron is to take I-77S to Rt. 21S. Turn right on Cherry Ave. (Rt. 21′s 2nd light in Massillon). After going up the hill, you’ll come to a flashing yellow light. Turn left at the light (17th St. NW). You’ll see the parking lot on your left before going up the big hill.
    From Canton, take Rt. 172 west though downtown Massillon and over the bridge to the west side. 172 forks to the right 1 block after the bridge. Stay on 172, and you’ll eventually go uphill to the next stoplight. Turn right at that stoplight (17th St. NW). The parking lot will be on your right at the bottom of the hill.
    The 1st tee is next to the parking lot. If the 1st few holes look busy, it’s also easy to start on the 7th tee (across 17th street and uphill from the bathroom shelter) or the 13th tee (across 17th St and to the right of the road that comes out across from the parking lot).
    Arboretum and Oak Ledges are far and away the 2 best courses in Stark County, so play them first if you can’t get to all the courses in the county. Oak Ledges is not a “grip and rip” course like Canton’s Arboretum Park. It’s more scenic and requires a great deal of accuracy since it is heavily wooded. Errant shots can carry severe penalties. It’s also very hilly which makes some holes play longer or shorter than their posted distance. My favorite hole is #16 where you have a lengthy downhill tee shot across a ravine to the basket. I nearly aced it a few years ago, but my disc hit the chains and clanked off the wrong side of the basket’s rim. My buddy aced #12 2 years ago (basket just below the bathroom shelter) when I was playing with him. It’s actually the last time he has played disc golf.
    I’ve also heard good things about the course at Dover City Park in Tuscarawas County but haven’t had a chance to play it yet. It’s very easy to get to from I-77 if you’re ever heading that far south.

  • Dick ninny

    you shoulda included that crazy urban disc golf project where they’re throwing off buildings and stuff.

  • Dick ninny

    I take that back, the rolling hills and hippy music threw me off