This article is the first in a series of articles by Dwight Powell, a local player, member of the Bloomington Normal Disc Golf Club, and an avid board gamer.

I love disc golf. It’s a passion for thousands of players around the world, and the number of players and courses are growing exponentially every year. It’s great exercise and an opportunity to get outdoors and unplug. You can play it year-round, even in the dead of Winter, and it costs almost nothing to play. If you try it, I think you will love it too.

I started playing disc golf almost ten years ago after a friend at work took me out to give me a demo at one of our local Bloomington-Normal courses (PJ Irvin Park). I grew up playing Frisbee and I played a lot of traditional golf when I was in my teens, so I thought it sounded interesting.

The concept is simple – like traditional golf, or “ball golf” as I now call it, disc golfers are trying to propel an object across a course, avoiding obstacles, and attempting to put that object into a target in the fewest amount of shots. In disc golf, that object is a disc, much like the Frisbees that children throw in parks or on beaches. And the target is a “basket”, usually made of metal, with a pole in the middle of a group of chains and a basket at the bottom.

Disc golf “hole” or “basket”.

Like ball golf, disc golf is played outdoors on a course, but in disc golf the courses are almost always free to play and located in a wide variety of locations. Here in Bloomington-Normal, we have three courses (PJ Irvin Park, Forrest Park and Maxwell Park), which are all situated in traditional “city parks” that are fairly open, grassy parks where you’d have a picnic or walk your dog. But in Peoria, Springfield and other nearby areas, many of the courses are located in heavily-wooded areas, with lots of hills and hiking trails, while others are integrated into traditional ball golf courses.

But perhaps the most important part of disc golf are the discs themselves. The top players in the world can throw a disc over 500’ (one and half football fields) and land that throw within 30’ of their target. But you can’t do this with a normal Frisbee.  Of course, it is totally possible to play a round of disc golf with a simple Frisbee, but if you want to throw far and straight and score well on most courses, you’ll need a disc specifically designed for disc golf. Disc golf discs are usually flatter and heavier than a traditional Frisbee, with a sharper edge, which improves aerodynamics.

You can watch this great video from Discraft to learn about how to choose your first discs:

Red Raccoon Games has a great selection of disc golf discs available in store now, so check them out the next time you’re in the store!

So that’s a quick overview of the game we call disc golf. In the weeks ahead, I’ll share more about my experiences with disc golf, introduce you to some of my favorite courses here in town, tell you how to get connected to the local disc golf community and give you a few tips on how to get started. Until next time, if you’re interested in learning more about disc golf, check out these great videos:

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