Is Disc Golf a Real Sport?


The game of disc golf is both interesting and complex. For those who have played it, a round is just a routine Saturday afternoon with friends and good times. From a normal group of disc golfers, the answer to the question, “what’s your favorite sport?” Is almost unanimously disc golf. But for those new players who don’t know much about the game of disc golf, it may not be seen in the same light. So what’s the deal?

Is disc golf a real sport or not?

Yes, it most certainly is a sport. Disc golf is a professional, highly-competitive sport with one of the fastest-growing, most dedicated fan and player communities in the world.

But let’s dig a little deeper…

What is a sport?

Oxforddictionaries.com defines a sport as, “an activity or a game involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” That’s a solid definition and we’ll go with that for now.

What constitutes a sport?

There are several factors when we try to determine whether something like disc golf is actually a sport. These 9 factors come from the definition above and from my experience watching and playing sports:

1. Is it an activity or a game?

2. Does it involve physical exertion?

3. Does it involve skill or strategy?

4. Does an individual or a team compete against another individual or team?

5. Is it highly competitive?

6. Is the activity or game played for entertainment purposes?

7. Does it have a big community or big following?

8. Does it have a professional league or can you become a professional at it?

9. Is it enjoyable to watch as a spectator? Would you go to an event to watch professionals play?

All 9 of those need to be a factor in the activity if it wants to be considered a real sport.

Is it an activity or a game? Yes, disc golf is an activity and a game in which players play a round of 9-18 or more holes with the hope of winning the game, otherwise called a round.

Does it involve physical exertion? Absolutely! First off, players have to walk around a mile or so for the round over mostly unsteady, uneven terrain. The physical exertion level is not too high there, but players are tasked with slinging a disc from 200-500 feet per hole (which is not an easy feat sometimes). Doing that in itself is tough, but throwing discs that far accurately is very hard.

Does it involve skill or strategy? Yes, again. Players have to have tremendous skill as well as dynamic strategy. They have to be able to understand opponents and figure out where their own discs will go.

Does an individual or a team compete against another individual or team? Just like in ball golf, players compete against each other. Whoever has the best score (lowest number) at the end, wins the round.

Is it highly competitive? Disc golf is extremely competitive. Players from all over the world attempt to turn pro and play against competition. The game is great because you can play competitively or settle for a friendly game.

Is the activity or game played for entertainment purposes? Simple…yes, it is.

Does it have a big community or big following? That’s a HUGE yes! Disc golf’s following is hard to estimate, but the Professional Disc Golf Association grew to over 44,000 members in 2017. The actual numbers of people who play disc golf are undetermined, but estimates could range from at least 200,000 to upwards of a million players or more. There are a lot of players, to say the least.

Does it have a professional league or can you become a professional at it? The Professional Disc Golf Association is an association that has both members and professional players under its leadership. You can become professional in disc golf and play on a pro tour just like in ball golf.

Is it enjoyable to watch as a spectator or would you go to an event to watch professionals play? The sport of disc golf is somewhat enjoyable to watch. It’s a sport of patience and mental strategy, similar in another way to ball golf. Disc golf has a very elite, tech-savvy group of fans in that all fans who watch disc golf are mainly watching from YouTube or other streaming sources. There are a lot of people who do go and watch disc golf. But to me, disc golf is a game in which it’s much more fun to play than it is to watch. But I would go watch professionals play if they were within an hour or two.

So what’s the verdict?

According to the factors above, disc golf is a reputable, established sport. It meets every factor above and is easily becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Disc golf is awesome and is played and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people every year. This community has helped to expand the sport exponentially. So what makes the disc golf community awesome?

The disc golf community

First, the majority of players are super friendly. Most of the players I’ve personally met are just genuinely upbeat, happy people. It’s a zen-like community with people just looking to have a good time.

A lot of the community wants competition as well. Players seek out the best of the best, but still take beginners under their wings to teach them, grow their skills, and show them it’s also a friendly environment.

Also, no matter what is happening, other players will cheer you on. Competitive games are one thing, but if you ace a hole (hole in one throw), opposing players will always slap hands or cheer each other on.

That brings us into sportsmanship. This is an essential part of Disc Golf and is one of the reasons why disc golf is getting popular. The sportsmanship shown by players is always top notch. Whoever wins, wins. Most players will take the loss and praise the winner, knowing there will always be another round.

If you look at all that, it’s not hard to see how awesome the community is. It’s a diverse, highly motivated group of people that only want to go out and have fun.

Will disc golf ever be as big as ball golf?

I would like to think so, and as time goes on, disc golf will continue to get bigger and bigger. You see, ball golf has been around since the 15th century whereas disc golf only became popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Ball golf has had centuries to grow and expand. Disc golf has only had about 60-70 years at the most. But disc golf will definitely keep growing.

Will disc golf ever be an Olympic sport?

That’s a tough question to answer because of how much I like disc golf. Disc golf probably won’t become an Olympic sport anytime in the near future. Why? Well, the sport itself isn’t ingrained into our society as much as a huge sport like football or basketball. Disc golf has a huge following, but if you ask the average person who doesn’t know anything about disc golf if disc golf was a sport, they would be likely to say, “no, that’s a game. Baseball is a sport.”

Once disc golf gains more prestige and the majority recognize it as a real sport, it may have a chance of making it to the Olympics. I do believe that it could find it’s way into the Olympic games, but it will take at least another 40 to 50 years.

The Olympics is a hugely historical set of games and challenges in which the best in the world compete for medals and national pride. Not every sport is even allowed to compete in the olympics. The sport of ball golf, which has been around for 500 years, has barely made it into the olympics.

But it’s possible for disc golf to make it, too.

But even if you don’t consider it a sport…

Give disc golf a chance. It’s a rapidly-growing sport that is enjoyed by a very dedicated community of players and fans. I will say, don’t knock it until you try it. Many people hear, “disc golf,” and may think it’s boring, ridiculous, or just not very fun. I was in that group until I finally played it, and now I love it. It’s a tough game, but I bet if you give it a shot, you will love it, too.

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Red

I am an avid disc golfer and lover of the sport. My mission with DiscgolfNOW.com is to reach as many people as possible to help them love disc golf, too!

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