When most people think of Frisbees, they think of a recreational activity where you throw a frisbee back and forth for short distances on the beach. Frisbee Golf, like Ultimate Frisbee, is very much a competitive sport with hundreds of thousands of players and touring professionals who make a living from playing disc golf. Professionals who play disc golf for a living train year round just like athletes in any other sport.
As an organized sport, disc golf is growing very fast. The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) reports a rapidly growing number of sanctioned tournaments and registered players. Disc golf has a Pro Tour, National Tour, and World Championship. Professional frisbee golf tournaments are broadcast live on YouTube on stations like Smashboxx TV. Many enterprising individuals film professional disc golf rounds and then offer post production replays of these tournaments that receive thousands of views by fans.
Unlike the PGA (Professional Golf Association), you do not have to be a professional disc golfer to be a PDGA member. In fact, most PDGA members are amateur players who enjoy playing frisbee golf as a competitive sport.
Disc Golf Tournaments
Tournaments are held almost every weekend in areas with a high density of frisbee golf courses. Most areas have local “clubs” that gather together for competitive league play.
The PDGA “sanctions” or approves tournaments and provides rules and guidelines that must be followed for fair competition. Their are different classes of PDGA sanctioned tournaments that require larger amount of money be paid out to winners. For most tournaments, one does not have to be a member of the PDGA to participate, but non members do have to pay a $10 fee for participating in a sanctioned tournaments. Events sanctioned as “A-Tier” or above require PDGA membership in order to play. Anyone can join the PDGA by simply paying a $50 fee. PDGA sanctioned tournaments are all listed at the PDGA.com
Many areas also host disc golf tournaments that aren’t sanctioned by the PDGA. These are called “Non Sanctioned” events and usually have a more relaxed atmosphere than an event regulated by the Professional Disc Golf Association. Disc manufacturers like Dynamic Discs, MVP Disc Sports, and Discraft also host promotional tournaments that offer big value “player packs” for everyone who registers. These events are mostly designed to have fun and help acquaint players with their latest versions of frisbee golf discs.
Disc Golf as a Sport
Disc golf is usually an individual sport as you typically compete against other individuals in your division. The top finishers (usually 40-50% of the field) receive payout. Next most common is doubles, where two different players compete together as a team. There are many formats for doubles including best shot (where players take their next throw from the better of the two throws) worst shot, and alternating shots. Other forms of competitive frisbee golf include match play, skins, and ace competitions.
Disc golf is different than other professional sports, as teams don’t actually compete against one another. Disc golf teams are generally sponsored by disc golf companies, usually disc golf manufacturers, and serve as more of an advertising arm than an actual team. Disc golf teammates rarely ever train together, and it’s common for members of “opposing teams” to tour together.
Frisbee golf is a fun sport to play because anyone can do it. Tournaments have divisions for all ages and skill levels. As a spectator sport, frisbee golf is growing by leaps and bounds and while events haven’t made regular TV appearances, almost all big tournaments can be watched on YouTube within a few days of the competition.