Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 | 9 a.m.
Created in the 1970s, disc golf is a sport similar in play to golf, with participants using discs (smaller frisbees), rather than golf balls, clubs and a tee. The object of the game, however, is essentially the same: Players try to get their discs into the goal in the fewest number of attempts.
As in golf, disc golf courses comprise 18 “holes” or targets. Courses are often free to use; they’re common in parks and recreational areas. Unlike holes on a golf course, however, the targets in disc golf are standing metal baskets. Even if you’ve never played disc golf, you’ve probably walked through a course without even knowing it.
According to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) website, there are more than 120,000 lifetime disc golf members across 54 countries. If you’d like to join them in this unique outdoor activity, here are a few simple steps to follow.
What you'll need
Disc golf requires minimal gear to get started, but some items, like discs, are essential for play. The game is appealing in part because of its affordability, especially compared with traditional golf. Andrew Reese, managing partner of Disc Golf Vegas, says in the three years he’s been playing disc golf, he’s spent less money than he would have on a single golf driver alone.
Opt for a beginner’s disc golf set, or buy the three main discs you’ll need separately. Those include a driver (the disc used to “tee off”), a mid-range disc (for closer shots) and a putter (your weapon of choice when attempting to sink a basket). The more you play, the better feel you’ll get for which discs are right for you. Expect to accumulate more as you go.
Discs are also divided by weight. Discgolfnow.com recommends starting with a disc between 160 and 172 grams. Speed is another variable, ranging from 1-14. Beginners should aim for a disc somewhere in the 4-9 range, per discgolfnow.com. A disc bag is helpful for carrying your new discs. For a typical right-handed, backhanded player, turn is the level at which the disc turns right during the beginning of its flight, and fade is the disc’s probability of turning left during its descent.
Where to play
“Disc golf is accessible, family-friendly and inexpensive,” Crystal Wood and Leah Koepp wrote in the Explorer’s Guide Las Vegas, adding, “All Las Vegas courses are free of charge, unless there’s a tournament going on.”
There are more than 8,000 disc golf courses throughout the world, at least 10 of them right here in Las Vegas and the surrounding area, per the PDGA website. Sunset Park, according to Koepp and Wood, boasts “possibly the seventh-oldest disc golf course in the nation,” dating back to 1978. “This park holds a lot of memories for children who grew up in the area before the population explosion,” Wood and Koepp write. The course, designed by Las Vegas disc golf pro and legend Vince Gardner, includes 24 targets.
Glossary of terms
• Basket: The target or goal at the end of each hole.
• Hole: Used relatively interchangeably with target, this refers to the entire area of play, including the tee, fairway, green and basket.
• Drive or stroke: A throw attempt.
• Escape shot: A throw used to get out of a tricky or difficult position.
• Putt: A disc thrown from 10 meters or less to the base of the target.
• LHBH: A left-handed, backhand throw.
• RHBH: A right-handed, backhand throw.
• Stability: How straight the disc flies during a throw.
• Ace: Like a “hole-in-one” in traditional golf, achieved by making the basket on the first drive on any hole.
• Birdie: Completing a hole one stroke below par.
• Par: As in traditional golf, the standard number of attempts a player has to get the disc into the basket on each hole.
• Bogey: Completing a hole one stroke above par.
Other Valley courses include:
• Mountain Crest: 4701 N. Durango Drive
• Peccole Ranch: 9501 Red Hills Road
• Sunset Park: 2601 E. Sunset Road
• North Las Vegas Municipal: 324 E. Brooks Ave.
• Red Ridge: 9135 W. Maule Ave.
• Fox Hill Park: 231 Antelope Ridge Drive
• Wildhorse Golf Club: 2100 W. Warm Springs Road
• Freedom Park: 850 N. Mojave Road
• Arroyo Grande: 298 N. Arroyo Grande Blvd.
• Lee Canyon: Ski lift area
Names to know
• Vince Gardner. “Vince is a legend,” Reese says. “He helped make it go from a park thing to a sport, and he worked with Sunset Park to get the first disc golf course built.”
• Donn Blake. As member #22 in the PDGA, Blake is an OG disc golfer, not just in Vegas but worldwide. (To put that into perspective, Reese is #125994). Blake joined the PDGA in 1976 and is also credited with bringing disc golf to the city. According to a 2017 article in Disc Golfer magazine, Blake was one of Nevada’s pioneers. “I got really fired up about Frisbee golf, so I started laying out object courses in Southern Nevada in the spring of 1970,” Blake told Disc Golfer. “I rented a wheeled cement mixer and poured the signs, the holes and the pads. It was a big job, but I had a whole bunch of golfers who couldn’t sleep at night waiting to get to work.” Eventually, Blake also assisted on the World Frisbee Championships in 1974 and hosted three Junior Frisbee Championships in Las Vegas.
• Cameron Messerschmidt. At 24 years old, the professional disc golf player already has 29 career wins and is sponsored by Gateway Disc Sports for the 2020 season after being sponsored by Prodigy Disc Golf in 2018.
• Jennifer Morgan. Currently playing in the Pro Masters Women 40+ division, this Incline Village resident holds the highest ranking in Nevada at No. 883.
Groups and resources
• Disc Golf Vegas (DGV)
• Las Vegas Disc Golf Club (LVDGC)
• Sin City Sisters Disc Golf League (women’s league)
• Lucky Disc Golf (a local disc golf shop in the Valley since 2017)
• Infinite Discs (online retailer)
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.