We don’t know about you, but in our years of college and club ultimate we came across very few people who played both ultimate and disc golf. That includes us. We didn’t start playing disc golf until COVID-19 led to the cancellation of our final college season.
While we were initially picking up disc golf (and continue to do so), we spent hours researching everything from proper driving form, to terminology, to discs. Through all this research, we found that most of the resources available to disc golf beginners are not geared toward ultimate players like us. We decided to change that.
If you find yourself reading this post, then you are most likely an ultimate player ready to give disc golf a try. You’ve come to the right place.
We promise that this post will be the most useful guide available for helping you make the leap from ultimate to disc golf.
Why this Guide is the Best Beginner Guide for You!
If you don’t care, feel free to skip ahead to the next section titled “Your Disc Golf Journey Begins Now!”
Other Disc Golf Beginner Guides
There are plenty of beginner disc golf guides out there that can help introduce you to the sport like Disc Golf 101: A Step by Step Beginner’s Guide by Red over at Disc Golf Now, or Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Disc Golf – Instructions, Pictures, & Tips! by James at Disc Golf Mentor. We read these guides when we were starting out and they’re great for beginners. However, we’re not absolute beginners.
Ultimate players have a unique advantage over other disc golf beginners because we already know how to throw discs! We’ve spent years building up our throwing form: backhands, forehands, inside-out, outside-in, high-release, low-release, hucks, resets, push-passes, hammers, scoobers, pulls, etc. Think back to how long it took you to learn even just a simple back-hand or forehand throw. Now think about someone learning how to throw a frisbee for the first time and simultaneously playing disc golf for the first time. That person is a beginner at disc golf. You are not a beginner, you’re just new to the sport!
Disc Golf Beginner Guides Meant for Ultimate Players
We do want to point you towards one other guide that is actually meant for ultimate players looking to transition to disc golf. That guide is James Bress’s 6-part series titled From Ultimate to Disc Golf on Ultiworld (the whole series is free to non-subscribers). James is a good writer and I encourage you to read his posts. However, his series is more of a memoir piece on his personal experiences transitioning from ultimate to disc golf, whereas our post is meant to be your one-stop guide to getting started with disc golf! (Check out our podcast episode with James)
That’s enough looking at other guides, let’s dive (bid) into what you need to know as you begin your journey into the world of disc golf.
Your Disc Golf Journey Begins Now!
What is the first thing I should do to get started with disc golf?
This question may not be as obvious as it seems. What do you think?
- Buy disc golf discs
- Find a course near me
- Find someone to learn with me
- Read a bunch of stuff on the internet.
Trick question! The answer is to read the rest of this guide and then take action! We’ll cover everything listed above and more. So, once you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to play your first round of disc golf!
What Equipment is Required to Play Ultimate?
Thankfully, disc golf is not golf. You don’t need to invest a lot of money to get started. In fact, to make your transition to disc golf as easy and inexpensive as possible I’ll argue that the only piece of equipment you really need to play your first round is a single disc golf disc. But, we think that part of the fun of disc golf is having multiple discs that all fly differently. So, to save you hours of research into the best discs, and how they fly, and all sorts of other things that you don’t need to know right now, we’ll provide you with three disc buying options.
1. Innova Four Disc Starter Pack by Ultimate Disc Golfer ($40)
Yes, that’s right. We have custom starter packs with discs that we selected specifically for ultimate players looking to transition to disc golf
Each of our starter packs comes with four discs all from Innova:
- Aviar Putter
- Roc Mid-range
- Leopard Fairway Driver
- Valkyrie Distance Driver
On top of the four discs, you will receive an exclusive guide that introduces you to your discs and helps you understand the basics of throwing them. You can buy this starter pack right now, and have the discs in your hands, ready to play, in just a few days! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll also get a code for free shipping on the discs!
2. Cheap Single Disc Approach (~$10)
If for any reason you aren’t ready to invest in our starter pack and only want one disc to start with, we recommend you purchase a 173-175 gram Innova DX Aviar over at Infinite Discs.
Why did we choose this disc? Besides the fact that it was the first disc Brunch ever owned, we find that it is also easy to control. We know its a putter and you want to throw discs far, but we would argue that control is more important than distance at this point, and the Aviar offers you plenty of control. Regardless, after a little bit of practice you’ll be throwing the Aviar further than an Ultrastar. How’s that for a putter?
3. Pick and Choose Some Individual Discs
If you’re ready to take the full leap into Disc Golf, and want to get a bunch of discs, or you’re looking to supplement your starter pack, we put together some guides to golf discs for beginners which you can check out at this link.
If you’re brand new to disc golf, we do recommend that you start with the starter pack. Once you have a few rounds under your belt, and you have a feel for the discs, you can come back and take a look at our disc guides and supplement your starter pack as needed!
Now that you have all of the equipment options laid out in front of you, let’s address some other questions you may have!
Is That Really The Only Equipment I need?
Yup. You buy some discs, and you got all the equipment you need to play your first round of disc golf (sounds kind of like ultimate). Of course you should also bring water, and wear comfortable athletic clothing (pants are usually a good idea if you’re playing on a wooded course).
Playing with an Ultrastar: Yay or Nay?
I wouldn’t recommend playing with an ultimate disc for three reasons:
- They’re too big to consistently land in the basket (see video below). Which means you’ll play like crap and leave the course all pissed off and not want to play ever again. It’s like playing soccer with a basketball. You can do it, but why?
- People might give you weird looks. So unless you really don’t care what other people think of you, you’re going to feel judged and walk away thinking that disc golf players are mean.
- Sometimes, the friendly disc golfers are worse than the “mean” ones. They see you with the ultrastar and want to help you, but when they start talking to you in inflated disc golf terminology and listing off discs you never heard of, you feel overwhelmed and never want to play again.
We want you to avoid these scenarios so that you can easily fall in love with disc golf. Just like dating, if your first date stinks, it’s going to be hard to fall in love. However, the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) does approve Ultrastars for use in disc golf. So if you must, go for it!
Do I need a Disc Golf Bag to play?
No, but you should bring some sort of bag to carry discs between shots. A drawstring bag will do for your first round. If you do want a disc golf specific bag, then check out this inexpensive disc slinger from Infinite Discs. I played for months before I got myself a special disc golf bag (Nald still hasn’t gotten one), but I haven’t looked back since I bought it!
How Do I Find a Disc Golf Course for My First Round?
Instead of laying out a ton of options for this one (there are a bunch) I’m instead going to direct you to the UDisc app/website. If you’re reading on your phone, you can download the app at https://udisc.com/.
The UDisc app is the official app of the PDGA and not only connects you with nearby courses, but also allows you to easily score your rounds, record your practice sessions, and connect with the disc golf community. It is easy to use and I only wish I discovered it sooner!
Once you have the app downloaded you can search for courses near you. We recommend the following when selecting your first course:
- Stay local. I recommend that you go to the course nearest you.
- Go to a free public course. Beautiful private courses exist, but you have to pay to play. We want to keep your disc golf start-up costs low!
- If a course is rated below a 3 on the UDisc app it’s probably trash and not worth your time.
- 9-hole vs. 18-hole vs. whatever-hole doesn’t really matter. If you find yourself running low on time or energy you can always cut it short. If you are enjoying yourself and want to keep playing you can play two rounds.
Will Disc Golf Mess with my Ultimate Throwing Form?
You will have to alter your throwing form to be successful in disc golf, specifically for throwing it far. Some of these changes include bringing the disc closer to your body (there’s no mark), following through after you throw (your pivot foot can move/you can travel) and adjusting your grip to get the disc nose down (smaller rim means the disc is more responsive to release angle and needs to be thrown “nose down”).
Adjusting your form for disc golf does not mean you will mess up your ultimate form. However, if you play disc golf for a while and then switch back to ultimate, it will feel a bit weird at first, but have no fear, you’ll be able to adjust back fairly quickly depending on how comfortable you are with your ultimate/disc golf throwing forms.
We often ask this question to our Hyzer Flip Podcast guests including Tiina Booth, Andrew Fish, and Frisbee Rob. All of them agree that disc golf will NOT ruin your throwing form. In fact, Tiina, one of the most prolific ultimate coaches of all time, said throwing a disc is throwing a disc and if anything playing disc golf will help your ultimate throws! So, don’t stress about this too much, and just go throw discs!
Don’t Do it Alone!
One of my favorite things about disc golf is that it’s free and you can play whenever you want. As an ultimate player, you probably have a lot of ultimate player friends. Why not use disc golf as a way to hangout with them? A round of disc golf is also great for reconnecting with old friends/teammates, dating, or even spending time with family.
If you’re learning how to play, it’s best to have someone learn with you. That way you can bounce ideas off each other, trade or share discs, and have someone to compete against! You can always play on your own, but we’ve found that our favorite rounds of disc golf have come while playing with friends.
What Should I Expect for My First Round?
So you got your discs in the mail, downloaded the UDisc app, selected which course you’re going to play first, and reached out to your old friend Hank the Bank from your college ultimate team. Now you’re getting nervous though because you don’t know what to expect.
I’m here to tell you not to worry! You should expect to make a lot of mistakes in your first real round. You’ll be looking for your disc a lot. Hank will seemingly loose his disc on every hole and require you to help him look. At times, you’ll get frustrated because you just can’t seem to throw the damn disc straight. And every time you putt, you’ll overshoot and end up with a longer putt than you had before!
Stay with it.
At the end of the round if you’re keeping score (we recommend using the UDisc app for this), you may find that you shot like 40 over par (not good). Or you might be like Hank, who on his first round ever shot par, even though it seemed like every shot was a prayer (beginner’s luck).
For all the disappointing drives, awful approach shots, and poor putts you’ll also make a few terrific throws. When you do, you’ll feel exhilarated and a sense of thrill will overcome you. It will make you crave your next great shot!
When you finish your first round, if not right away, then the next day you’re going to be itching to play again and beat your previous score. There’s something addicting about disc golf and you’ll never experience it unless you get out there and play.
Get some discs, find a course, grab a friend, and go play.
When you finish your first round, we’ll be here to help you improve. Whether it be learning putting, backhands, forehands, disc flight, or something else, we hope to be part of your disc golf journey!
We want to hear what you think! Leave your questions and comments below!