Disc golf takes flight

Discover why disc golf is a sport spinning into the stratosphere

  • Elisabeth Knowles

“I discovered the game by chance,” says disc golf aficionado Andrew Ferguson. “In 2005, I went on an extended snowboarding trip to Queenstown, New Zealand, and I was walking through Queenstown Gardens when I saw a group of people throwing frisbees into a funny-looking metal structure.”

Although he didn’t know what he was looking at, it looked like fun. Disc golf is played with similar rules to traditional golf, but instead of whacking a ball with a club, you throw a frisbee from a tee pad into an elevated metal basket. A typical course has nine or 18 holes, and courses can typically be found in public parks. While you may not have stumbled upon one yet, keep an eye out – there are over 40 disc golf parks across Australia, and the sport is growing fast.

“After seeing those people play, I went straight down to the sports store and bought a golf disc, then headed back to the course,” says Andrew. “After playing one round, I was hooked.”

Andrew says he made the same mistakes most novices do when they first play.

“I threw the disc too high, then too low. I threw it into trees and into lakes – I did it all,” he laughs.

But it didn’t matter to Andrew that he didn’t get the hang of disc golf straight away: “It was the most fun I’d had in years.”

The day after Andrew returned to Australia, he designed a disc golf course in Geelong, 75km south-west of Melbourne, and set about creating the Geelong Disc Golf Club.

“Fast forward 10 years and I can’t imagine my life without disc golf,” he says. “I’ve travelled the world playing tournaments, created clubs and I’ve run international events. I still love playing the sport. I’m now working full time in the industry as a project manager with DiscGolfPark in WA, designing courses for communities and helping to promote the sport in Australia and beyond.”

Disc golf is a unique sport in that it doesn’t require any special athletic ability. You don’t have to be the fastest or the fittest to play.

“There are now more than 12 million players all over the world,” says Andrew. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or how well you play.” Disc golf courses don’t take up as much space as traditional golf, either. There’s no need to clear trees or make other changes to the landscape.

“The challenge comes from controlling the disc to navigate trees, bushes and other natural features of the landscape,” says Andrew.

Disc golf found its way to Perth soon after it was created in the US, with the first course installed in Greenwood in the late 1980s.

“Since then, the sport has steadily grown, giving rise to the Perth and Mundaring Disc Golf Clubs, and a great frisbee sports culture in the state,” says Andrew.

The Mundaring Sporting Club in the Perth Hills is home to one of the best disc golf courses around the world – The Mundaring DiscGolfPark. It has 18 holes, which range in length from 100m with tight wooded fairways, to open holes over 370m in length. The course was designed with both beginner and advanced tees for each of the 18 holes, so both new and professional players can enjoy the facility. Like a traditional golf course, there is a clubhouse, complete with a pro shop, and a fully-stocked bar to quench the thirst of players after completing their round.

“It’s a world-class disc golf facility right in our backyard,” says Andrew. “Each week, the club hosts a social event, inviting new players to come along and give the sport a try.”

The venue also recently hosted the first Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) Major tournament in the Southern Hemisphere, with plans for a biannual event.

Try it yourself

A disc will set you back about $12 a pop, so it’s a cheap sport to get hooked on. The Frisbee Shop opens in new window sells golf disc starter packs, custom disc bags and portable baskets for training.

Perth, WA: Perth is home to Mundaring DiscGolfPark and Perth Disc Golf Club. For more details about the sport, the club and upcoming events, go to discgolfwa.com.au opens in new window. For more info on DiscGolfPark, visit discgolfpark.com.au opens in new window.

Elsewhere in Australia: The sport’s governing body is Australian Disc Golf opens in new window. It can help you find clubs and courses in your local area.