Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf are not the same thing. They are far different.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned quite a bit about Disc Golf and I’ve played my fair share. But I’ve only played Ultimate Frisbee a handful of times. Just enough to get my feet wet, so to speak. But in that time I’ve noticed how much fun both sports can be…and how completely different they are. In this post we’re going to look at those differences and I’ll wrap it all up with how you can find information on playing both. So, then, what’s the difference?
What’s the difference between Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf?
Disc Golf is an individual sport that is played similar to traditional ball golf. You try to get your disc, by throwing it, into a metal basket in the least amount of throws. Ultimate Frisbee is a 7 on 7 team sport that is played on a 100 meter long field where teams try to score by throwing their frisbee into the endzone.
So, as you can see, both sports use frisbees/discs to play with. But both sports are significantly different in a lot of ways. In the next couple of paragraphs, we’re going to look at the 7 biggest differences between Disc Golf and Ultimate Frisbee.
The 7 biggest differences between Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf
Probably the biggest difference between Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf are the teams (or for one sport the lack thereof)
Ultimate Frisbee is the team sport. You play on one 7 man team versus another 7 man team. Disc Golf, while occasionally player in pairs or on teams, is solely an individual sport. This means that you and you alone are responsible for winning or losing. If you play bad, you lose. If you play good, you win.
2. The discs/frisbees
Even though you’re using a frisbee-like disc for both sports, what you use for each is completely different. Check out the picture below to see a frisbee and a disc golf disc side by side.
In Ultimate, there is only one general disc used. There are a couple companies that make an approved Ultimate disc, but all the discs made are exactly the same weight, shape, and size. An Ultimate frisbee is a large diameter frisbee that weighs in at 175 grams, is 32 millimeters tall, and is 274 millimeters in diameter. Those measurements are what is required for Ulitmate Frisbee competition and are regulated by the USA Ultimate Frisbee governing body.
In Disc Golf, we use “discs” and not frisbees. While some people do call the discs frisbees, which is okay, we normally call them discs to distinguish what we use in Disc Golf (i.e. DISC Golf). The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) requires that disc golf discs be no less than 210 millimeters in diameter and no more than 300 millimeters and not exceed 200 grams. So there are some disc golf discs that may actually be bigger than an Ultimate frisbee. But most discs are considerably smaller and somewhat lighter. This gives a disc better aerodynamics so that it can fly farther (sometimes 500-600 feet or more).
3. How it’s played
How both sports are played distinguished them greatly as well.
Ultimate Frisbee, like we said earlier, is a 7 versus 7 team sport. One 7 player team plays the other 7 player team. The offensive team with the frisbee tries to advance the disc down the field until they get the disc into the endzone (like in American Football). Once they do that, they score and get 1 point. The defensive team tries to stop them and get the disc back. The team with the highest score wins.
Disc golf is played like traditional ball golf. You start off on a rectangular teepad and use different types of discs to advance your disc until you can get it into the basket. You are trying to get your disc into the basket in the fewest amount of throws. Each hole has a score that you have to beat or match.
For example, if a hole is a par 3, you have to make it into the basket in 3 throws or less. So you’re basically playing against other people, but also against yourself on every individual hole. The player that has the lowest score at the end of an 18 hole round wins. If you’re by yourself, you want to try and beat the course par, or the course score.
4. The playing field
The playing field in each sport differs tremendously.
Ultimate Frisbee players play on a 100 meter-long field similar to an American Football field with endzone scoring sections on each end.
Disc golf is played on a large open course that consists of multiple holes. These holes can run through open fields, woods, or on whatever terrain makes up where the course is located (could be mountains, etc).
5. How you score
The scoring system in both sports is very different.
You score 1 point in Ultimate Frisbee by getting the disc into the endzone that you’re throwing towards. The other team tries to stop you.
In Disc Golf, you score by getting your disc from a teepad into the metal basket a the end of each hole in the least amount of throws possible. No one tries to stop you, but you have to get your disc hundreds of feet while avoiding obstacles like trees, bushes, and water.
6. The activity level
One huge difference between the two sports is the activity level and difference in action between them.
In Ultimate Frisbee, you’re constantly moving, whether on offense or defense. You’re constantly running down the field and back up the field depending on which direction you’re moving. But you always go go go. It’s movement of every player on the field. And you’re always in the action. Thus, you’re cardio must be on point and you need to be in good shape. It’s always a really good cardio workout when you’re playing Ultimate.
With Disc Golf, it’s much less action and the activity level is significantly less. You don’t have to run everywhere and you only have to pick up the pace between holes if you want to. You are usually hiking and walking quite a bit…sometimes up to a mile or more on most courses. In the middle of the summer, I’m telling you, you sweat and it is a great total body workout. It’s much less demanding on you than Ultimate, so it’s the perfect chill activity for younger athletes and it’s a really great workout for middle aged and older folks.
But all of that doesn’t mean Disc Golf is any less fun than Ultimate Frisbee!
7. The equipment
Even though we discussed discs just a bit earlier, I’ll discuss the other pieces of equipment that differ.
The first are the shoes. In Ultimate, you wear cleats similar to soccer. Most players wear soccer cleats or other field cleats with spikes on the bottom. Disc golfers usually wear sport/trail hiking shoes or tennis shoes.
Obviously we already talked about the differences in frisbees and discs. You can read more about those differences here in our post, “What’s the Difference Between a Golf Disc and a Frisbee?”
The equipment bag differs a well. While you can have a bag in Ultimate Frisbee, it’s used to haul all your gear around. In disc golf, your bag not only holds all your gear, but all of your discs as well (some players carry 20-25 different discs).
If you want to play Ultimate Frisbee
At DiscgolfNOW.com, we teach about disc golf only, so you won’t find much information at all about Ultimate. So if you’d like to learn about Ultimate Frisbee, there are a couple of resources that I’d like to direct you to below.
1. Learn about Ultimate: here on USAUltimate.org’s about page, you will find out what exactly Ultimate Frisbee is and why you should play it.
2. Ultimate Frisbee rules: check out WhatisUltimate.com’s post, “The Rules: Ultimate in 10 simple rules.”
For anything else on the sport, check out either one of those two resources, along with the Ultimate Frisbee Wikipedia page, and you should find everything that you need.
If you want to play Disc Golf, check out all of our resources
If you’re interested in the fantastic sport of disc golf, I’d like to recommend some really great resources.
First, check out our awesome, in-depth article explaining disc golf and exactly how to play it: “Disc Golf 101: A Step By Step Beginner’s Guide.”
After you read that, you’re going to need some discs and a bag. Check out the two articles below:
Once you’ve gotten everything that you need, collect all your gear and get ready to go play. The last thing you need to do is find a course near you. Check out the following resources:
• Google search of “disc golf courses near me” – this is your best option and will find courses within about 30 miles.
• Discgolfcoursereview.com’s course locator – this site will show you the best courses near you and will give you reviews of those courses from other disc golfers.
• Pdga.com’s course directory map – this map is the directory map of all courses from the Professional Disc Golf Association.
So to wrap this up, I’ll keep it short and sweet. Disc golf and ultimate are two phenominal sports. But they’re both uniquely different and they both offer completely different experiences for players. If you want more fast-paced action, go check out Ultimate Frisbee. It’s an awesome team sport where one large frisbee defines it all. But if you want more mentally challenging solo play, where you have to rely on just your thoughts, strategy, and personal skill (all while throwing a bunch of different awesome discs), check out disc golf. Either way, you’re going to have some fun.
Below, we’re featuring some of the best disc golf related content available. Got more questions about disc golf? Well, we’ve got a couple posts below that can help. If not, check out our FAQ page here!
If you’re interested in more of what we have to say about the sport, check out some of our best posts below.
All of these posts are our absolute best resources for new players looking for the information that will help them succeed in disc golf.
Before you go, please make sure to check out our awesome beginner disc golf book, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” This awesome read is chock full of some of the best content currently available to new disc golfers. It features the latest tips, tricks, and advice that’s sure to make you into an awesome disc golfer.
Also, hit one of those share buttons below!