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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs