Joining a Local Disc Golf Club: Benefits and How to
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Many of us are just casual disc golfers or frisbee throwers who go out and play whenever we feel like it. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s all about having fun and playing a sport you love with friends and family. Other players want to expand their horizons, improve their skills, meet other local players and get more competitive.
The Benefits of Club Play
If you want to truly become a better disc golf player and meet other avid disc golfers, one of the best things you can do is join a local disc golf club. There are so many benefits to joining a club and getting more involved in your local disc golf scene. It may expose you to new courses, with several courses in regular rotation and a wide variety of disc golf holes in play. It may help you learn more skills. It may give you some competitive practice that will make a huge difference if and when you decide to start signing up for PDGA-sanctioned tournaments.
You’ve probably gone out to your favorite local disc golf course on a weekend and seen some larger groups gathering. They look like they’re having all sorts of fun. At the same time, it can be a little intimidating if you don’t know anyone. The truth is almost all disc golf clubs like this are always looking for new players to join. They want to grow and connect with more local disc golfers. Don’t be afraid to approach someone in the group and ask about their event or their club activities. They will usually be glad to tell you anything you want to know and invite you to check out their club events.
How Do I Find Local Disc Golf Clubs?
Another great way to find disc golf clubs in your area is to search online. Facebook is probably the best source. Look up the name of your local disc golf course. The course itself may have a Facebook page and there will likely be at least one other community group page associated with it. Almost every disc golf course in the country has some sort of group, club, league or local tournaments. You can follow these groups to get information on what’s happening. Find out when they play. Post questions in the comments or send direct messages if you are curious about anything. Most are very quick to respond and provide any information you need to know.
You may also find local disc golf clubs who aren’t based out of one particular disc golf course. They might travel and have weekly or monthly events all around your region. This can be a really fun way to find new courses and explore everything your area has to offer.
If you aren’t having much luck finding a local disc golf club to join, get together with some local players and start your own!
What Types of Club Events Are There?
The more you explore and ask around, the more you’ll find out that most of your local courses have stuff going on just about every single week. There are so many different types of leagues, tournaments, match play and charity events that can happen on a weekly and/or monthly basis:
Many disc golf clubs will hold weekly get-togethers at the same course. Some clubs might require you to purchase a bag tag to participate and then you’ll play for tags during that tournament, league round, or whenever you meet up with any fellow club members for a round outside of club events. Other clubs may allow anyone to play with them at anytime. These weekly events are a great way to meet and interact with other disc golfers, while also experiencing some relatively casual competition. These events won’t ever be as intense as PDGA tournament play, but they will help you learn important disc golf rules and etiquette in a friendly competitive setting.
Some clubs will actually get their weekly league tournaments sanctioned by the PDGA or set up sanctioned series at different points throughout the year. Since these are sanctioned events, the rules will definitely be under more scrutiny and the competition might be a bit more intense than a casual weekly tournament. You don’t have to be a PDGA member to participate, and you shouldn’t feel too intimidated by these series. As we said, these smaller events are a great way to improve your skills under some added pressure while also increasing your practical knowledge of the rules.
Some clubs will host bigger monthly events that draw larger crowds (many will have both weeklies and monthlies). These are usually tournaments that are also a bit more competitive than a casual weekly group, but still not near the level of a bigger PDGA-sanctioned event. Keep up with your local disc golf club(s) to learn about when they hold their monthly tournaments and which disc golf course they’re at on a regular basis.
Another really fun format you might see when searching around is “dubs” (short for “doubles”). The teams are usually determined by a random flip of the golf disc, but some clubs will let players choose their own partners. There are some different types of team competitions you might end up playing (alternate shot, best score, worst shot, etc.), but the most common form of dubs is when you each play your best shots. On the disc golf course, both partners will throw their drives, pick the best one and then both throw your approach shots from there. You play out the hole by taking the best shot each time. You can get really low scores with this format and it usually allows you to play more aggressively with two players working together (depending on your team strategy).
As you get more comfortable with club play, you will be more and more inclined to want to play in a bigger tournament. Almost every disc golf course will host at least one big PDGA-sanctioned annual event during the year (COVID-19 limitations not withstanding) and typically many charity tournaments and smaller events. The PDGA sanctions local A-tier, B-tier and C-tier tournaments based on the sizes of the field and the overall format. It can be one round on an 18-hole course or multiple rounds of play, sometimes spread out over 2-3 days (or sometimes condensed with two rounds in a day over multiple course). These tournaments will be played under official PDGA scoring, rules and etiquette. This is why it’s such a good idea to play smaller club events first before doing a sanctioned tournament. You’ll be so much better prepared on every level.
Disc golf putting leagues have grown in popularity, even though they have been tough to run in 2020. Many bars/breweries, restaurants, disc golf retail stores, community centers and public parks are setting up short putter-only courses or points-based putting challenge games for social events. These putting leagues will introduce you to more local disc golfers and help you hone your competitive putting skills in a very relaxed setting.
Many local disc golf professionals will put on disc golf clinics at local courses, often hosted by a disc golf club. Team Innova member, Philo Brathwaite, is well-known for traveling all over Southern California and conducting great clinics on putting, driving and other disc golf skills that he has perfected over his many years in the sport. Almost all disc golf pros will host traveling clinics as a way to supplement their income while on the road.
Suitable for All Skill Levels
PDGA-sanctioned tournaments will have many different divisions to suit all disc golf players. There will be multiple professional divisions (open) and various amateur divisions (ranging from advanced and age-protected down to recreational and novice). You don’t have to be a PDGA member to participate in sanctioned events, but it is a good idea to join. That’s how you earn your PDGA player rating which is based solely on PDGA-sanctioned tournament rounds. Playing well and earning a high average rating is the ultimate bragging right for the disc golf enthusiast.
Casual weekly and monthly club events are also designed to accommodate players of all skill levels. Some will have handicap systems while others will use multiple divisions. You can start where you feel comfortable and then work your way up as you get better. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have and how much you can learn about the game of disc golf by participating in local club events and PDGA tournaments.
Whether you join a club or not, just get out and play disc golf. This is a sport everyone can enjoy, which is why it’s one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the world right now!
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