News / USA

Golf with a Twist and a Disc

Fast-growing game mirrors its traditional counterpart

Disc golf follows the same basic rules as ball golf, however, competitors tee off from cement tee pads.
Disc golf follows the same basic rules as ball golf, however, competitors tee off from cement tee pads.

Multimedia

Audio
Erika Celeste

Chris Wojciechowski is a professional golfer, but he doesn't play the game with balls and clubs.

He uses round, flat, Frisbee-like discs and a good snap of the wrist.



"I mean, there's just a thrill in seeing a disc just go and go and go," he says. "Just watching it carry out [135 to 150 meters] is really cool."

The 20-something athlete hurt his knee running track five years ago so he switched to disc golf, a lower impact game.

Today, he's competing in the Freedom Flight Tournament at Ohio Northern University. His teammate, Jack Faust, a retired Air Force major, is a disc golf legend. He won one of the first disc golf championships in the country nearly 40 years ago.

"We'd just go out and mark trees with a dot and everybody would agree where you'd tee off from and you'd have fun," Faust recalls. "Now it's a lot more organized."

From tee to basket

Disc golf follows the same rules as ball golf. Competitors tee off from cement tee pads, working their way along a beautiful disc course that winds around cornfields, wind turbines, and a football field.

Instead of going into a hole on the green, discs are thrown into a raised metal basket that looks a bit like a trash bin covered in chains.

Tournament director Mike Michalak explains the chains stop the forward progress of the disc.

"It falls into the basket and that completes a hole. If for some reason the disc doesn't fall into the basket, you still need to tap out and into the basket."

As in traditional golf, each toss counts as a point. So if it takes three throws to finish a hole, the score is a three. The lowest score wins. The discs are smaller, heavier, and sharper edged than the familiar Frisbee flying toy. And just like golf clubs, they are specialized, for long, short and midrange distances.

Wojciechowski says the game is more physical than one might think.

Instead of shooting for a hole on the green, disc golf players aim for a raised metal basket.
Instead of shooting for a hole on the green, disc golf players aim for a raised metal basket.

"At the higher levels, when you're throwing hard, it is very, very leg and torso oriented. You're using a lot of power out of your legs and bringing it up through your torso as you pull through. You're not really throwing as much as it's called a pull, because your body is pulling the disc through."

As in regular golf, there are also hazards to deal with. But since most of the 3,000 permanent disc golf courses in the U.S. are built in parks and on college campus, hazards for disc golfers consist of things like fountains, parking lots, and ditches.

Professional sport with a playful history

Disc golf is especially popular on college campuses because it's inexpensive and can be played in any season, day or night.

While the modern game of golf began in Scotland, there are historical references to soldiers of the ancient Roman Empire playing something very like golf. A similar game called chuiwan became popular in China during the Ming Dynasty. No one knows exactly where disc golf started, but some credit it to a group of school children in Vancouver, Canada.

Jack Faust, a retired Air Force major, captured one of the first US disc golf championships nearly 40 years ago.
Jack Faust, a retired Air Force major, captured one of the first US disc golf championships nearly 40 years ago.

The sport is now governed by the Professional Disc Golf Association, which includes countries like Finland, France, Germany, and Spain.

Tournament director Michalak says that helps the sport grow. "If we just stayed all our separate little ways, the sport would never get momentum, so it's basically a national movement where we have one governing body kind of governing all the rules for everybody, so we all play by the same rules."

The sport has several divisions including four amateur groups, an open professional division for anyone, and age-protected categories for older players 40 and up. Amateur prizes consist of trophies and merchandise, while professional purses can run as high as $2,500 or more at events like the world championships.

While the money is good, it's not quite good enough to live on full time. So Chris Wojciechowski is planning to go to law school in Georgia this fall. He hopes to start disc golf competitions in the area.

As for Jack Faust, he's just thrilled to see how the sport has evolved.

"That's amazing how far we've come. I'd like to see it get better, but I'd like to see more people play and enjoy it because I do."

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs