Posted on

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Disc Golf

No ratings yet.

Beginners Guide To Disc Golf

Please note we’re supported by our readers. When you buy through our links we earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for your support!

In this article we’re going to cover:

  • What Disc Golf is
  • How to Play Disc Golf
  • Keeping Score
  • Finding a place to play
  • The Types of Disc Golf Throws
  • Disc Golf Putting Styles
  • Types of Disc Golf Discs
  • Disc Golf Flight Numbers
  • Best Discs for Beginners
  • How to Get Better at Disc Golf
  • Common Disc Golf Variations

What Is Disc Golf?

A very basic definition of disc golf is playing the game of golf with discs.

If you’ve ever played golf or seen it played, you know that players use clubs to hit a ball into a small hole on the course.

When playing disc golf, you’ll trade the clubs and balls for a collection of discs and the hole for a basket.

Similarly to golf, the object of disc golf is to traverse the course using the least amount of throws.

How Do You Play Disc Golf?

To play disc golf, you’ll need some discs and a course to play on.

We’ll talk more about great options for beginner discs and how to locate a disc course to play on later in the guide.

Starting off on the first hole, you’ll step on the tee pad and throw toward the basket. You’ll keep throwing toward the basket until your disc lands in the basket or in the chains above the basket.

Once, you’ve finished the first hole, you’ll move on to the next hole. If you are playing on a course with hole signs, be sure to take note of them.

They usually give you some good information like the hole’s par, how long the hole is and a picture of the layout of the hole. You can use this information to make good decisions off the tee pad.  

You’ll continue playing each hole until you run out of time or finish the course. If you are playing with a group of players there is usually an order to who throws.

The player that throws first off the tee is usually the one that did the best on the last hole. Each player then goes in order of how well they did.

After everyone has thrown their drive, the player farthest away from the basket will throw first. Everyone will continue throwing this way until the hole is complete.

Here’s a great video explaining the basics of disc golf:

Keeping Score In Disc Golf

In Disc Golf, score is kept the same way as it is in golf. All throws are counted with any penties added.

The player with the least amount of throws wins or another way to say that is the player with the lowest score wins.

You can keep score in your head but an easier way would be to use a scorecard or a scorekeeping app.

Just like in Golf, each hole on a disc golf course has a par assigned to it. You can think of par as the number of throws you are given to complete the hole.

The score is generally given in comparison to par. So if you are throwing on a par 3 hole and you take for 4 throws to complete it, your score for the hole would be +1 or 1 above par.

Or another word for that, that is common in golf and disc golf is a bogey.

Here are some common scoring terms you may hear:


Finishing a hole with one throw over par. If you finish a hole with more throws over par than one, you can add double, triple, quadruple and so on. So if you completed a hole with 2 throws over par, that would be considered a double bogey.


Finishing the hole with the amount of throws given to the complete the hole. When you match the number of throws as the par of the hole.


Completing a hole with one less throw than par. So, if you are playing on a par 3 hole and you take 2 throws to finish the hole this would be considered a Birdie.


Finishing a hole with two less throws than par. For instance, if the hole has a par 4 and a player completes the hole with 2 throws this would be considered an eagle.


Completing a hole with one throw or another word for a hole-in-one.    

Finding A Place To Play Disc Golf

In the united states, finding a local disc golf courses can be pretty easy. Just look for the nearest city or county park and there is a good chance you will find a disc golf course there.

Not all of them are full 18 hole courses, for instance, in my area there are two 9 hole courses.

If you are still having trouble, I’d recommend you ask a friend that plays disc golf. They can tell you which courses are best and which courses you might want to skip.

Don’t know anyone that plays? The internet makes finding a place to play disc golf really easy. Finding a course can be as easy as googling disc golf courses near you.

Two other great resources are Disc Golf Course Review and Disc Golf Scene. Both these sites make it easy to find local courses and also tell which ones are the best to play.

Types Of Throws

In disc golf there are a lot of different throws you can use to get the job done.

When starting out, you may want to focus on learning and using one of two but as you progress and play more, you’re going to want to learn them all.

One isn’t better than another, but certain situations may call for one type of throw over another.

Let’s get into the list and take a look at each throw:


The backhand throw can be consider the most popular throwing style in the sport.

If you aren’t sure of what throw I’m referring to, think of how you throw a regular frisbee. This is the backhand.

For the average player, the backhand will allow them to throw the farest without having to use too much effort.

One thing to consider when using the backhand throw is how the disc finishes.

For a right-handed player, the disc will tend to finish to the left and for a left-handed player, the disc will finish to the right.

The backhand is a great throwing style to learn first but it’s not the only style. Some players use the forehand instead.


With the forehand (sometimes referred as sidearm or flick) throw, the player keeps their elbow tucked in toward their body and throws the discs after extending their wrist behind their body.

Think of a sidearm throw in baseball but with a disc instead of a ball.

The forehand throw can feel more natural than throwing a disc backhand which makes it a great option for a beginner especially if you have a baseball background.

Another great thing about the forehand throw is you don’t have to take your eyes of your target like you do when throwing bankhand.

Finally, the finish of the disc is different than the backhand. If you are throwing the disc right handed, it will generally finish to the right. If you are using your left hand, it will finish to the left.

Check out this video to see Paul McBeth talk about this forehand technique.


There are actually two types of overhand throws in disc golf. These are the tomahawk and the thumber.

They are similar in how the disc is thrown. In both throws, the player will reach back over and above their shoulder, just like in an overhand baseball throw.

They differ in how the disc is held. For a thumber, the player’s thumb is placed on the inside rim of the disc.

The bottom of the disc will face the players head during the reach back.

For a tomahawk throw, the bottom of the disc faces away from the player’s head during the reach back and the grip is similar to a forehand.

Most players don’t usually choose the overhand throw as their dominate throwing style but it’s a great throw to learn for getting out of trouble.

Using the tomahawk or thumber are great options to use to get up and over an obstacle.

Putting Styles

An important type of throw to consider when playing disc golf is the throw you use when you are close to the basket.

This throw is commonly referred to as putting. All putting styles have inherent pros and cons but any style isn’t necessarily better than another.

Most players pick a style based on feel and consistency. Try each style on the discussed here and pick the one that feels right to you.

For the most part, both styles listed here can proform will at the top level of disc golf.  For more information on putting styles check out my article here.

Spin Putt

The spin putt is just like it shows. Players are propelling the disc toward the basket by putting extra spin on the disc, similarly to driving off the tee.

For beginners, this method can feel the most natural and is a great choice when starting out.

Some benefits for using this approach are putts are less affected by the wind and when spin putting you don’t have to make adjustments to your putt based on distance.

Check out more reasons to spin putt here.

Push Putt

Players that push putt are lobbing the disc at the basket rather than throwing it.

If you are a basketball fan, you might think of this putting style like a free-throw shot.

Beginners might find this approach to be less friendly to learn than the spin putt but is a great option because when done right, it can be the most accurate style.

If you want more information on the push putting style, check out our article here.

Types Of Discs

When you are starting out in the sport of disc golf, all the disc can look the same and it might be hard to tell that they are different.

If you weren’t aware already there are four types of discs: putters, midranges, fairway drivers and distances drivers.

Knowing the differences can help you make better decisions out on the course.  


These discs are designed to travel shorter distances and are considered the most accurate discs available.

They are the slowest discs out there but are made to fly extremely straight. Putters tend to have the smallest rims of any discs.

As a beginner, you’ll want to be using and throwing putters a lot. They are a great disc to use when starting to play disc golf.  


Midrange discs (sometimes referred to as midranges or midrange drivers) are faster than putters and designed to fly farther distances.

They are highly accurate but less so than putters and also make great discs for beginners.

Their rims tend to be thicker than a putter but thinner than a driver. This is a good mix.

These discs feel great in the hand and can reach considerable distances when thrown correctly.

Fairway Drivers

Fairway Drivers (sometimes called control drivers) are designed for distances farther than a midrange disc but shorter than a distance driver.

You might use this type of driver on a shorter hole off the tee or on a longer hole as your second shot in the fairway.

These discs are easier to control than a distance driver and are considered more accurate.

As a beginner, you’ll want to stick to using putters and midranges, but if you want to use a driver, a fairway driver is a great option.   

Distance Drivers

These discs are made to be thrown fair.

Distances drivers have the greatest potential for flying that farthest out of any type of disc but also require the most speed to be thrown.

For this reason, they aren’t recommended for newer players.

These disc also have really wide rims and will take getting used to. They might be difficult to grip at first.  

Disc Golf Flight Numbers

Most discs you can buy today will come with four numbers printed on them.

These numbers are referred to as the flight rating system numbers and each number represents a measurement of a specific flight characteristic.

This system was started by Innova Champion Discs and has been adopted by many other disc golf makers.

Let’s talk about each number and what it measures.


The first number in the sequence is the speed rating. It refers to how fast the disc can fly but it also refers to how fast the disc must be thrown in order for it to fly properly.

The speed rating also lets us know how the disc is categorized. Putters range from 1-3. Midranges range from 4-5. Fairway drivers range from 6-8. Distances drivers range from 9-14.

For more information on the speed rating, check out this video.


The second number in the sequence is the glide rating. It measures how well the disc maintains loft while in the air.

The higher the rating the easier it is for the disc to remain in the flight. Discs that have more glide are easier to throw farther distances.


The third number in the sequence is the turn rating.

Sometimes called highspeed turn, it describes the tendency of the disc to curve when it immediately leaves your hand.  The turn rating ranges from + 1 to -5.


The fourth number in the sequence is the fade rating. It describes how the disc finishes at the end of its flight.

It’s sometimes referred to as low-speed turn because it describes how the disc turns as it slows down. The more fade the disc has more it will turn at the end of its flight.

For more information on fade, check out this article.

In this guide, I have briefly discussed the flight rating system but if you want more information on this topic, please checkout out our article here.

Best Discs For Beginners

When you are first starting out playing disc golf, there are going to be some discs that are more beginner friendly than others.

Using a disc that is better suited to you as a new player, will make sure you get as much out of the game as possible and will also ensure you don’t develop any bad throwing habits.

As a basic rule, you are going to want to throw discs that are slower, with more turn and more glide.

While this isn’t 100% true all the time, using this guideline will help you pick beginner friendly discs.

For more specifics on which types of discs I recommend for new players check out the following articles:

The Best Disc Golf Discs for Beginners

The Best Innova Discs for Beginners

The Best Disc Golf Drivers for Beginners

The Best Understable Midrange Discs for Beginners

The Best Disc Golf Putters for Beginners

Once you’ve started playing more and have acquired more discs than you can carry in your hands, you might want to purchase a small disc golf bag.

For my recommendations of the best small disc golf bags check out this article here.

If you decide to purchase a bag or already have one, check out our post on things you should consider keeping in your bag.

How To Get Better At Disc Golf

Once you’ve purchased some discs and played a few rounds of disc golf, the next question most new players ask is how they can improve at the game.

While playing more rounds will improve your game, a better way to improve at the sport is to practice.

As a beginner, the best place to start improving is putting. It’s easy to practice and it can be argued that it’s the most important part of any players game.

If you’d like to start improving your putting, I recommend you read our article on putting practice drills here.

If you’d like to improve your driving, you should read out articles on How to Improve Your Disc Golf Drive and for more specific tips on driving for beginners check out this article.

Here is another great resource for building an effective practicing routine to improve your driving. Listen to former World Champ, Avery Jenkins. He knows what he’s talking about.

Disc Golf Variations

While playing disc golf the traditional way is a lot of fun, if you play with more people you might be exposed to some disc golf variations.

The normal or tradition way of playing disc golf is commonly referred to as stroke play.

Here are some other variations you might see on your local disc golf course:


This game is played with teams of two. Each player will throw on each team and then they choose which lie is the best and throw from there.

This is commonly referred to as best of doubles. It’s a great game to play if you have a large group and even numbers. It also works well in a group with a variety of skill levels.


This game is basically the same game as doubles but each team as three players instead of two. You might choose to play triples instead of doubles if you have a really large group.

Choose the best shot of three players can make the rate of play faster and ensure that you finish the course in a shorter time. Another great game to play with a variety of skill levels.


When playing this game, all holes are assigned an amount or a “skin.” The best score on the hole wins the skins. If a hole is tied than the skin is pushed to the next hole.

If this continues to happen than the skins will continue to be pushed. If you want to read more about this great game, check out my article here.


In this game the lowest score on a hole wins a point. If a hole is tied, no point is awarded nor is it pushed to the next hole.

This game can get quite completed and is best played with players that have similar skill levels.

For more disc golf variations check out our article here.

Flickr Image Creative Commons – Tim Martin

Review This Disc