The History of Disc Golf traces back to Saskatchewan!
Disc Golf can be described as the etiquette, course style and descriptive terms of traditional golf merged with the throwing of discs rather than using a golf ball and clubs. It is just as much an accuracy and precision sport as golf – players battle various natural elements like wind, trees, water hazards and other obstructions on the course. You finish each hole by landing your disc into a basket and the fewest number of throws over the entire course wins the round. Thankfully, if you become frustrated, there are no clubs to throw - just your disc!
The modern day "Disc Golf" has origins dating back to the early 1900's. The first knowledge of playing "golf" with flying discs dates back to 1926 in Bladworth, Saskatchewan, where Ronald Gibson and friends in elementary school used tin lids tossed at targets on trees and fence posts on their school grounds. This activity has evolved slowly, becoming a sport and has gained popularity in recent years. It is now played in over 40 countries and has thousands of courses globally! Kevin Donnelly, George Sappenfield and Wham-O company each played a role to propel the emergence of the modern day version of sport in the 1960's throughout California.
Now regarded as the "Father of Disc Golf," ‘Steady Ed’ Headrick emerged in the 1980's. Headrick, an employee of Wham-O is credited with pioneering today’s disc design by building the modern disc. He is not to be confused with Walter Fred Morrison, the inventor of the common recreational frisbee in 1937 before selling the rights to Wham-O in 1957. Reworking and redesigning disc shape, weight, diameters, rim height and materials, Headrick created an accurate and controllable professional model frisbee or "disc." Professional leagues were established as Headrick founded the "International Frisbee Association" (IFA). Headrick trademarked "Disc Golf" and patented the Disc Pole Hole. This added the use of chains and a basket to capture the disc and record a "hole out" signalling the end of play for each hole on the course, which ultimately ended many controversial claims on the course. In addition to Headrick's inventions and patents, he founded the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), the Disc Golf Association (DGA) and the Recreational Disc Golf Association (RDGA). Each served as governing bodies for professional, competitive, amateur and recreational play which standardized the rules of play and equipment regulations. Headrick later abandoned the trademark on Disc Golf to further the best interest of the sport.
The modern disc is heavier and smaller than the recreational frisbee, measuring an average of about 20 centimetres and a maximum weight of 200 grams. These discs are designed for speed and control to maximize throwing accuracy. Mimicking golf, the drivers are long range discs with most weight and mass along it's outside edge. The mid-range disc is slightly slower and stable and used in a multi-purpose function to acquire distance and accuracy along the course. Finally, the putter is the most accurate disc; designed to fly straight, slow and very predictably, having a very short range, much like a putter in golf.
More important than distance, stability is paramount to the game! Just like the technical aspects of golf clubs and golf balls, discs have unique characteristics. One being a "slice" in golf reference, thrown discs have a tendency to bank left or right during flight; this is called "turn" or "fade" in disc golf. A turn or fade is different for each player, therefore, depending on your throwing hand and the manner of which you throw, forehand or backhand, determines the throwers "turn" or "fade." If your throw has a clockwise rotation the "turn" banks to the right (the same direction as the disc's spin) and a "bank" moves against the disc's thrown rotation. The turn and fade is reversed for a throw with a counter-clockwise rotation.
Atlas Outdoors Cycle and Recreation in Warman has extensive knowledge on the ins and outs (or turns and fades) of disc golf and can assist you in finding the correct disc for every throwing technique and player from novice through professional.
Get out there, find your turn, discover your fade, and challenge yourself in the world of disc golf!