Have you ever felt like going for a hike while also playing a sport? Then let me introduce you to disc golf.

What started out as a sport for hippies in the 1970s, have developed into one of the fastest growing sports worldwide. Disc golf courses can be found throughout the world, including many here in Pennsylvania.

Disc golf is one of my favorite outdoor activities. I’ve often considered disc golf to be the “anti golf.” That’s because all the stuff I hate about golf isn’t a problem in disc golf.

Golf is expensive. Disc golf is cheap. Golf is exclusive. Disc golf is inclusive. Golf requires reservations and has rigid time slots. Disc golf does not require reservations and you can play whenever you want. Golf requires the massive clear cutting of land, ridiculous use of water and constant upkeep. Disc golf is in the woods and requires little to no professional upkeep.

Disc golf is just great. You can spend $20 for three discs (a putter, midrange and driver) and play as long as you don’t lose your discs.

And don’t worry, you won’t have to spend loads of cash playing at beautiful courses, That’s because nearly all of them are free – including all the amazing courses in Pennsylvania state parks.

If wandering around the woods with friends, while throwing a disc at a target sounds like a good time, here’s a quick primer for those looking to take up disc golf in Pennsylvania.


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What is disc golf? 

Disc golf – also known as frisbee golf – involves throwing a flying disc at a target. Much of the rules and structure of the sport are similar to golf. Players complete on a 9 or 18-hole course by throwing a disc from a tee to the target, known as a basket, Throws are continued to be made by each player until their disc is in the basket.

The baskets are formed by wire with hanging chains above the basket, designed to catch the incoming discs, which then fall into the basket. Like golf, your throws – or strokes – are counted against each holes’ par.

The person with the fewest strokes wins.


What kind of discs are used and are they expensive?

Most discs are made out of polypropylene plastic. Each molded disc has a specific flight pattern and purpose (which can be found online or even on the discs themselves). All you need to get started is three discs, though I would argue you can start with as little as two.

The discs you’ll want to pick up is a putter (for short shots), a midrange (for medium shots) and a driver (for long shots). A starter pack of those three discs can be purchased for about $22 at many local and box sports stores.

Individual disc prices range from about $7 to $40 based on the plastic used, maker, design and more. But don’t worry about that at first. Just grab a couple discs and start playing.


Where can I play?

This is the best part. There are thousands of FREE courses that can be found throughout the United States – including many here in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the pay-to-play golf model has not made its way into disc golf.

In addition to local courses, we also have a number of FREE disc golf courses in Pennsylvania parks.

There are 15 state parks with permanent disc golf courses, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. They are located throughout the Commonwealth, which provides everyone a chance to find a park close to you. You can find all the state parks with courses here.

I personally enjoy the Boulder Woods Course at Gifford Pinchot State Park. But there are so many other these to try.

It should also be understood that disc golf courses are laid out in wooded areas – making the trees, hills and terrain your ultimate obstacles. There is a 100 percent chance you will throw poorly and hit a tree. Don’t worry, everyone does it.




Do I have to make reservations?

No. This ain’t golf. It’s disc golf. All you have to do is show up and start playing. Now, disc golf courses can become crowded. So, I would plan to hit the course a little early if you plan to play on weekends. However, most courses are empty on weekdays.


Can I play with friends? 

Yes! Disc golf is best enjoyed with friends. A little razzing and competition is always good for the spirit. Try to avoid taking groups larger than four, as you’ll create a longer waiting time for the groups coming up behind you.


How can I play if I don’t know the rules?

Rules, smules! Go have some fun and play with friends! Over time you’ll learn the rules. They are incredibly easy to learn and will make those friendly competitions spicy.

You can find all the rules through the Professional Disc Golf Association website.


Do you have any tips before I start throwing?

Yes! Be careful when throwing. Be sure to stretch so you don’t pull a muscle. Also,  make sure no one is in front of you when throwing. These discs are heavy and can do some damage to those who are not paying attention.

Don’t worry about buying the best discs. Get some basic discs and buy better or more discs as you improve.

There is a very good chance you will lose a disc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown a disc in a river or up in a tree or buried under autumn leaves. It happens. Like losing a ball in golf. Look for as long as you can but be sure you don’t hold up other groups. It stinks, but it happens.


That’s it! Now go grab some discs (preferably from a local shop) and get throwing!

Christian Alexandersen 2022

Written by Christian Alexandersen

Christian Alexandersen ran one mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 124 state parks and has been sharing his passion for public lands with us since 2021. Christian is the host of the Hemlocks to Hellbenders Podcast – which highlights our state parks, forests and great outdoors. You can listen wherever podcasts are found, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

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State Parks Provide Disc Golf Opportunities Across Pennsylvania