Spring 2021 Magazine

Throwing for the Throne: Disc golf being used as an outreach game

Disc golf has a recent history on the timeline of sports, yet the sport of throwing discs has been around since the fifth century B.C. during the Greek Olympic Games. The concept of the current disc came to a realization in 1938, stemming from a couple that was throwing a pie plate on a beach.

Fast-forward to the late 1950s when Wham-O introduced the first “Frisbee,” which became a popular college campus pastime. In 1964 the scene changed again when Edward “Steady Ed” Headrick on-boarded as the general manager for Wham-O and began moving the Frisbee in new directions. “Steady Ed” would later invent the “Pole-Hole,” which was the birth of the modern “Catcher Basket” used as targets for catching the discs. He also pioneered a movement creating the International Frisbee Association, spawning both ultimate frisbee and frisbee golf tournaments.

The first known national disc golf tournament came in 1974 and was called the American Flying Disc Open, which attracted the attention of the frisbee world. The World Frisbee Championship followed in 1975. Both events found enormous success, and in 1976, Headrick formed the Disc Golf Association (DGA) which is still a disc golf force today.

Later in 1976, Headrick formed the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) to set up a nationally organized tournament system for professional disc golf players. Today, the PDGA is still the No. 1 organization for the disc golf community.

The Frisbee Upgraded

As the face of disc golf has changed and advanced through the generations, there have also been changes in the design of the disc and disc products too. A never-ending quest continues as players search for the longest driver, the most exact putter, and the catcher basket which holds a disc like a fly caught in a spider web.

Almost every year world records are being shattered, achievements such as the 1,100-foot drive, or an 800-foot ace (disc golf term for a hole-in-one). It’s easy to see that new events are happening all over the sport of disc golf.
Tournaments at the local, national and international levels are expanding. The purses are growing, with the payouts for some major tourneys being in the $250,000 range. Disc golf is drawing attention for the serious competitors and the casual players as well.

The Pulse of the Sport

Disc golf is growing in popularity and shows no sign of slowing down. In the United States, an average of 400 new courses are installed annually. The number of new memberships into the Professional Disc Golf Association has doubled in the past decade and is gaining in momentum every year.

Churches and Bible camps across the U.S. have noticed, installing their own disc golf courses. Families, even those with smaller children, and folks of all ages can enjoy the recreational play. Most of these are still underused, though.

But these same courses can hold local charity tournaments, making disc golf a revenue generator with proceeds going toward disaster recovery, local charities and any number of projects — all of which can help bring the Spirit and Word of Jesus to the surrounding community.

Players meet people from all walks of life who enjoy the sport of disc golf. It can be a great way to spread the Word and witness for the Lord.