Frisbee Golf: The Same Thing As Disc Golf, Just Not In The U.S. | UDisc (2023)

Frisbee golf or disc golf – what's the difference? As far as the sport they refer to, nothing at all.

Still, say "Frisbee golf" in the presence of some players, and you'll swiftly be told, "It's disc golf." This is especially true in the United States, which is home to both the most disc golfers and most disc golf courses of any country in the world.

However, while plenty of people are quick to say "Frisbee golf" is wrong and "disc golf" is right, not many know the reasons for that common belief. In North America, an even smaller number are aware that in quite a few countries, "Frisbee golf" is perfectly acceptable and used by even the most serious players.

Become one of the enlightened few by joining us in a look at the history that gave rise to the Frisbee golf v. disc golf debate.

Why Is Frisbee Golf 'Wrong'?

The U.S. company Wham-O has owned a federal trademark for the word "Frisbee" since 1959 and started using the word for its products as early as 1957. Due to Wham-O's trademark, Frisbee can't be used in any official capacity to reference flying discs or games/equipment involving them in the United States without Wham-O's permission.

Prior to its trademark, Wham-O sold a plastic flying disc invented by Fred Morrison called the Pluto Platter. According to Phil Kennedy, co-author along with Morrison of the book Flat Flip Flies Straight: True Origins of the Frisbee, Wham-O likely took up the strange word "Frisbee" in response to a 1957 Sports Illustrated article, which said:

At Princeton, the air has been filled lately with flying objects, every one of which can be identified as a Pluto Platter made by Wham-O. The undergraduates ignore the official name, though, and call the curious gadgets Frisbees.

(Video) Beginner Disc Golf: Difference Between Frisbee and Disc Golf Disc #discgolf

That name likely harkened back to empty Frisbie Pie tins students tossed well before Pluto Platters were around, but whatever the origins of the word "Frisbee" are, we're here to find out how the name "disc golf" came about. And for that we need to jump to the 1960s.

The person behind the modern Frisbee and the person who led the original grassroots efforts to establish disc golf as a popular sport are one and the same: the late Ed Headrick (1924-2002). He held various roles at Wham-O, including Executive Vice President, in the 1960s and '70s.

Frisbee Golf: The Same Thing As Disc Golf, Just Not In The U.S. | UDisc (1)

Before Headrick got involved with the project, Wham-O's Frisbees weren't selling particularly well, but he thought they could be a hit with just a few adjustments.

According to Kennedy, Headrick – with an eye toward making Frisbees seem more serious and adult – took off the names of planets that had ringed the edges of Pluto Platters, (illegally) used a label with Olympic rings, added a solid-colored band, and improved the discs' flight by slightly thickening the rim. He also incorportated small ridges he called 'flight rings' where the planets had been, but Kennedy says they didn't do much. Well, except earn Headrick a patent.

"Replacing the planet names with 'flight rings' did nothing for improved flight – contrary to the story Ed used to convince the Patent Office to grant him a new utility patent," Kennedy said.

(Video) 2 TIPS TO THROW FLAT IN DISC GOLF w/ PHILO BRATHWAITE

Frisbee Golf: The Same Thing As Disc Golf, Just Not In The U.S. | UDisc (2)

Along with the changes, Headrick got Wham-O to heavily market Frisbees and promote their use in various new sports and skill challenges. This led to a wave of people picking up Frisbees (one source suggests 100 million were sold) and many getting interested in organized competitions involving them.

One of those competitions took the basic idea behind golf – trying to reach a distant target in as few attempts as possible – and adapted it for the Frisbee. Instead of hitting a ball, you threw a Frisbee. Instead of aiming for a hole, you picked a (typically vertical) target like a tree or lamp post.1

Though he played many other Frisbee sports, Headrick became fixated on the potential of Frisbee golf thanks to a number of early Frisbee enthusiasts (including the legendary co-inventor of disc golf's two-meter rule, Dan "Stork" Roddick) and the sport's warm reception at the Wham-O-sponsored 1975 World Frisbee Championships. True history buffs can find more on these topics in a post from the PDGA.

However, when Headrick asked Wham-O for permission to use their trademarked name to officially call a sport "Frisbee golf," the company declined. It's only conjecture, but it seems possible they were worried this use of "Frisbee" could dilute their trademark.

Whatever Wham-O's reasoning was, "Frisbee golf" wouldn't fly (pun very much intended), and Headrick had to think up something else – especially since he left his Executive VP role at Wham-O in 1975 to go all in on this new sport.

(Video) Throw REALLY straight | Disc Golf Basics

Why Is It Called Disc Golf?

Since Wham-O wouldn't allow Headrick to use its trademarked word "Frisbee," he opted to call the sport "disc golf" instead. That name gained traction thanks to Headrick's formation of both the company Disc Golf Association (today often just called DGA) and the Professional Disc Golf Association. Through the former, he sold flying discs, the world's first disc golf basket (which he invented and originally dubbed the "disc pole hole"), and courses (using his targets, naturally) across the nation. The latter was a membership-based group that is today the non-profit governing body of the sport.

Frisbee Golf: The Same Thing As Disc Golf, Just Not In The U.S. | UDisc (3)

Thanks to those two entities, "disc golf" was established as the sport's official name and the go-to moniker to use for tournaments, events, and products related to it if you didn't want legal ramifications.

Why Do People Still Call It Frisbee Golf?

One reason is likely that, early on, disc golf was closely connected to actual Frisbees. Even though Headrick sold his discs for the sport under the Disc Golf Association name, they were still manufactured by Wham-O. In fact, "Frisbee" was prominently stamped on some DGA discs:

Frisbee Golf: The Same Thing As Disc Golf, Just Not In The U.S. | UDisc (4)

However, the most obvious reason "Frisbee golf" didn't fade away entirely and may never do so is that Wham-O's flying discs were so successful that "Frisbee" now means any flying disc to many across the world. So even after non-DGA/Wham-O discs that varied greatly from Frisbees entered the sport (like the iconic Puppy and Super Puppy or the groundbreaking Eagle/Aero), many people still called them Frisbees and not "discs."

This genericization – the technical term for when a single product's name becomes synonymous with all versions of that product, e.g. Kleenex – means that no matter what those in-the-know call the game, when people see others throwing discs at targets, combining the two familiar words "Frisbee" and "golf" is a no-brainer.

So, Is It Okay for Me to Say "Frisbee Golf"?

Wham-O's trademark doesn't apply outside the United States, and "Frisbee golf" is a common name for the sport in many places where it's popular. Just type "frisbeegolf" (intentionally combined) into our international disc golf course directory and you'll see tons of Finnish courses pop up as suggestions. In disc golf hot spots Iceland, Sweden, and Norway, "frisbee golf" (technically frisbígolf in Iceland) and "disc golf" are interchangeable.

Frisbee Golf: The Same Thing As Disc Golf, Just Not In The U.S. | UDisc (5)

Inside the U.S., plenty of people still say "Frisbee golf" or the portmanteau "Frolf," but it is frowned upon – or at the very least smirked at – by the majority of serious players. This is so true that we pretended we'd changed our company's name from UDisc to UFrolf last April Fools knowing the sort of stir and smiles such an announcement would create.

Ultimately, unless you're using "Frisbee golf" in any sort of official capacity inside the U.S., you're free to call the sport whatever you want with the worst repercussions being possible teasing or getting corrected.

(Video) The Disc Golf Tour That Went Bankrupt

Special Thanks

We want to extend special thanks to both prominent flying disc historian Phil Kennedy and former Wham-O employee, International Frisbee Association head, and World Flying Disc Federation head Dan 'Stork' Roddick for reviewing this post prior to publication. They helped us make sure the information above was as accurate as possible.

Additionally, this would be nowhere near as fun to look at without the great work being done by the Flying Disc Museum. Visit the FDM website to see flying discs (including disc golf discs) from across the decades, and you can read more about the organization's founding and missions in our post "A Growing Home Of Disc History: The Flying Disc Museum."

Want More Fun Looks at Disc Golf Topics?

This blog is dedicated to exploring all facets of disc golf and telling stories players across the world can enjoy and learn from. If you always want to know what we've been looking into lately, consider subscribing to UDisc's Release Point newsletter.


1. Using flying discs in a golf-like game definitely pre-dates Headrick's Frisbee (Kennedy said he made up 'Pluto Platter Golf' in 1957), but the game was played more widely following the release of the Headrick's Frisbee and the explosion of flying discs' popularity that followed.

(Video) The most important disc golf rules | Disc Golf Basics

FAQs

Are Frisbee golf and disc golf the same thing? ›

Disc Golf, also known as frisbee golf or frolf (a combination of frisbee and golf), is a game that is very similar to traditional ball golf. However, instead of using golf balls and golf clubs, players throw a disc into a basket or at a target. Score is kept the same with the lowest score winning.

Is disc golf called Frisbee golf? ›

Disc golf (sometimes called Frisbee golf, folf or frolf) is a disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target.

What country is disc golf most popular? ›

Where Is Disc Golf Most Popular in the World?
RankCountryTotal Disc Golf Rounds Recorded with UDisc (2021)
1Åland Islands*36,320
2Finland1,199,706
3Norway1,070,806
4Iceland65,992
26 more rows
29 Mar 2022

What are two similarities between the activities of traditional golf and Frisbee golf? ›

The biggest similarity that disc golf has with golf is that a course is played in very much the same way. Where soccer, basketball, and hockey are played on a court that goes back and forth between two baskets, disc golf has 18 baskets. The 18 baskets are going to form a course, just like regular golf.

Why is it not called Frisbee golf? ›

Since Wham-O wouldn't allow Headrick to use its trademarked word "Frisbee," he opted to call the sport "disc golf" instead. That name gained traction thanks to Headrick's formation of both the company Disc Golf Association (today often just called DGA) and the Professional Disc Golf Association.

Why isn't it called Frisbee golf? ›

So why isn't the game called frisbee golf? "Frisbee" is a registered trademark much like "Kleenex" is in the tissue world, so we must call the game 'disc golf' and explain from there. Oddly enough, the company which produces Frisbee toys makes very few golf discs.

What is Frisbee golf called? ›

Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, however, players use a flying disc, or Frisbee® The sport was formalized in the 1970's, and shares with “ball golf” the object of completing each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, fewest number of throws).

What Is The frisbee golf goal called? ›

Basket : A disc golf basket (also known as a disc golf target, pole hole, or disc entrapment device) is the “goal” for every disc golf hole. Discs golf baskets come in many shapes and sizes including permanent, portable, all-metal, and hybrid designs.

What is the golden rule of disc golf? ›

Behave the right way, don't waste time needlessly, and don't bring the group down with anger, and you'll be quickly accepted and invited to join them again. The Golden Rule applies to many things in life, and golf is certainly one of them.

Do disc golf players make money? ›

Yes, obviously! Professional Disc Golf players participate in various tournaments and apart from tournament winnings, a lot of money comes from sponsorships and promotions, just like in any other professional sports.

Who is the number 1 disc golf player in the world? ›

Ricky Wysocki

What game is Frisbee golf most similar to? ›

Disc golf is a similar game to "regular" golf except that it's played with a Frisbee disc. Players throw the disc as close as possible to a specially designed target called a basket, then throw again from where the discs landed, trying to get into the basket in the lowest number of throws.

What sport is most like golf? ›

Croquet has a lot of similarities to golf, and a popular form of croquet is called Golf Croquet, in which each player takes a stroke in turn, trying to hit a ball through the same hoop.

What 3 sports is Ultimate Frisbee a combination of? ›

Ultimate Frisbee The game of Ultimate combines some of the elements of football, basketball, and soccer. The object of the game is to pass the Frisbee disc to a teammate who is positioned in the opposite endzone. Rules: 1.

Why is Frisbee golf so popular? ›

Inexpensive, social and with straightforward rules, the game is attracting the 50-plus crowd. Unlike most sports during the pandemic, disc golf — which requires outdoor play and makes it easy to socially distance — has thrived. It's easy to see why disc golf is growing in popularity, especially among those over 50.

What is the real name for a Frisbee? ›

Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling “Frisbie!” as they let go. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the “Flying Saucer” that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates.

What do you call a golf course without trees? ›

Links courses tend to be on, or at least very near to, a coast, and the term is typically associated with coastal courses, often amid dunes, with few water hazards and few, if any, trees.

Is Frisbee golf a real sport? ›

Disc golf (also known as Frisbee golf, or frolf) is an emerging sport that is played much like traditional golf, but rather than using a ball and club, players use flying discs. The sport was formalized in the 1970s and has continued to grow at a rapid pace.
...
TABLE 1.
Variable%
4-517.90
6-712.00
8+39.30
23 more rows
25 Jun 2015

When did Frisbee golf become disc golf? ›

Creation of the modern game

In 1976 Headrick formalized the rules of the sport, founded the Disc Golf Association (DGA), the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), the Recreational Disc Golf Association (RDGA) and invented the first formal disc golf target with chains and a basket.

What are 3 rules of Frisbee golf? ›

The goal is to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible. The player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins. The hole is completed when the disc comes to rest in a disc golf basket. Never throw when players or other park users are within range.

What is a frisbee with a hole in it called? ›

An Aerobie is a flying ring used in a manner similar to a chakram or flying disc (Frisbee), for recreational catches between two or more individuals. Its ring shape of only about 3 mm (0.12 in) thickness makes the Aerobie lighter and more stable in flight than a disc.

What are the 3 types of frisbees? ›

In disc golf, there are three types of discs used: distance drivers, mid-range drivers, and a putter. Each disc serves a unique purpose depending on where you are in the course, similar to different golf clubs.

What is the first throw in disc golf called? ›

Drive – The first throw from a tee pad. Can also refer to a long subsequent throw. Driver – A higher speed rated disc usually used for the initial throw from a tee pad. Drop zone – An area designated as a spot to throw from if the prior throw missed a mando or goes Out of Bounds (OB).

What state is disc golf most popular? ›

Mainers are crazy for disc golf. The state is home to the best metro area for disc golf in the country, and it's also the top state in the nation by rounds-per-capita by a long shot. The state in second would have needed a round total 50% higher to catch up.

Do heavier discs fly farther in disc golf? ›

Generally, you'll see lighter discs flying a greater distance due to two main reasons. One – The lighter weight of the disc helps the player to generate more arm speed, which translates into more distance.

Can you wear gloves in disc golf? ›

Placing an object as a directional aid is not allowed. Devices that reduce or control abrasion to the skin (such as gloves, tape, bandages, or gauze), items applied to the skin to improve grip (such as talc, chalk, dust, or dirt) and medical items (such as knee or ankle braces) are allowed.

What is a Scooby shot in disc golf? ›

Scooby Shot

A throw using a backhand grip, hold the underside of the disc vertically next to your right ear and throw for a RHBH thrower.

What do the 4 numbers on a Frisbee golf disc mean? ›

The four numbers on the disc indicate the speed, glide, turn, and fade of the disc in the same order. The flight rating system is often used by players to compare different discs and how they will perform during the flight in the air.

What is the best score in golf called? ›

An ace, commonly known as a hole-in-one, is the best score out there. When you get an ace, that means you get to write a “1” on the scorecard.

What is a 999 in disc golf? ›

If you do not complete a round due to sickness, injury or other emergency, you will receive a score of 999 indicating you Did Not Finish (DNF) that round. You will not get a rating for that round but will receive ratings for any other rounds you completed before and sometimes after that round (if TD allows).

What is the 2 m rule in disc golf? ›

Disc golf's two-meter rule is an optional regulation that makes it so a player whose disc comes to rest two meters (about 6 feet 7 inches) or more above the playing surface is penalized one stroke. The player can continue play from directly underneath their disc on the playing surface.

How much does a professional disc golfer make a year? ›

Disc Golf Professional Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$72,500$6,041
75th Percentile$47,000$3,916
Average$43,281$3,606
25th Percentile$28,000$2,333

What does the average disc golfer shoot? ›

PDGA amateur men average around 860 and women around 725. Each additional throw in your score will reduce your rating from 7 to 13 rating points depending on the SSA of the course.

How many discs can a pro disc golfer carry? ›

Ok, I was just being a wise-guy since the question had already been answered correctly (you can carry as many disc as you want in tournament play; the only rule about the number of disc you can or must carry is only an implied rule: you must carry at least 1 disc, which is an implied but not directly stated rule).

Who is the best female disc golfer? ›

Top 10 FPO Players View All
#Player Click rows to compare playersDominance Index
1Kristin Tattar128.00
2Catrina Allen56.30
3Henna Blomroos54.40
4Missy Gannon44.85
7 more rows

What is the most sold disc golf disc? ›

The TOP 100 Best-Sellers of 2021
  • Innova. Destroyer. Distance Driver.
  • Discraft. Zone. Putt & Approach.
  • Innova. Wraith. Distance Driver.
  • Discraft. Buzzz. Mid Range.
  • Infinite Discs. Alpaca. Putt & Approach.
  • Infinite Discs. Emperor. Distance Driver.
  • Gateway. Wizard. Putt & Approach.
  • Infinite Discs. Pharaoh. Distance Driver.
24 Jan 2022

What is the most bought disc golf disc? ›

Flight ratings

The Roc is quite possibly the most popular midrange disc of all time. It has been a staple in pro bags for over two decades, and for good reason.

What sport is disc golf similar to? ›

The sport of disc golf is set up similar to a game of golf. A "round" is played on a disc golf course consisting of a number of "holes", usually 9 or 18.

What two sports is Ultimate Frisbee similar to? ›

Combining the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football, a game of Ultimate is played by two teams with a flying disc or Frisbee™ on a field with end zones, similar to football.

Is Frisbee golf a lifetime sport? ›

From children to seniors, disc golf is a lifetime sport. “You're never too young,” said Gard, adding many families with younger children play scramble or best throw to practice and quicken the pace.

Is golf a sport or a skill? ›

Golf, although not requiring brutal strength, is a sport. Golf is a legitimate sport because it is highly competitive, requires mental capacity, and demands physical extortion and muscle use. A big part of any sport, especially golf, is being competitive. Golf is seen as just a game, but golfers are highly competitive.

What is the most viewed sport in the world? ›

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and the UEFA Champions League Final is one of its biggest events.

Is golf declining as a sport? ›

Golf Still Lives

While there are plenty of clubs on the decline, there are still plenty of clubs that will continue to thrive in the current market and with 20 million people playing regularly in the USA, the sport is far from dead but it does need to make some adjustments.

What are the 3 basic skills of Frisbee? ›

Basic Frisbee Skills Backhand Throw Forehand and Frisbee Catching.

How many minutes does a Frisbee game last? ›

A game of Ultimate Frisbee lasts 40 minutes of playing time divided into 20- minute halves. Half-time lasts for five minutes. The clock starts after every throw-off when the receiving team touches the Frisbee.

Can you use an aerobie for disc golf? ›

Aerobie Pro Lite 3-Pack Miniature Throwing Discs, Perfect for Kids, Backyard Games & Disc Golf, Outdoor Games for Adults and Family Ages 5 & Up.

What is a disc golf frisbee called? ›

Frisbee – The name for the traditional circular flying disc. The Frisbee is a trademarked product by Wham-O toys. Serious disc golfers don't usually refer to golf discs as Frisbees. Frisbee Golf – Another term for 'disc golf' that is typically used by recreational players.

Is disc golf getting more popular? ›

20%: The number of PDGA members outside the 20-49 year old age range. Disc golf continues to grow in popularity with both younger and older athletes. While the core audience of disc golf remains players in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, more players than ever are children or older adults.

Is frisbee golf a real sport? ›

Disc golf (also known as Frisbee golf, or frolf) is an emerging sport that is played much like traditional golf, but rather than using a ball and club, players use flying discs. The sport was formalized in the 1970s and has continued to grow at a rapid pace.
...
TABLE 1.
Variable%
4-517.90
6-712.00
8+39.30
23 more rows
25 Jun 2015

Are lighter discs better in disc golf? ›

Yes. Generally, you'll see lighter discs flying a greater distance due to two main reasons. One – The lighter weight of the disc helps the player to generate more arm speed, which translates into more distance.

What is the farthest disc golf throw? ›

World distance records

threw for 1,108.9 ft (338 m). Lizotte then set a personal record of 1030 ft. Wind has played a significant role in world distance records. Wiggins' 2012 record was set with a 14.5 mph tailwind, while Lizotte's 2014 record was aided by an 18 mph tailwind.

Do Understable discs fly farther? ›

Understable discs fly further because they don't have as strong of a tendency to fade or curve left (for RHBH thrower).

Do pro disc golfers make money? ›

Winning Tournaments and Competitions

Winning different types of tournaments including the major ones will bring enough money to the bank of a professional disc golfer. The DGPT tour championship offered a prize of $20,000 to the top player while the United Disc Golf Championship offered a $10,000 top purse.

What is frisbee actually called? ›

A frisbee (pronounced FRIZ-bee), also called a flying disc or simply a disc, is a gliding toy or sporting item that is generally made of injection-molded plastic and roughly 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in diameter with a pronounced lip.

What are the 3 discs of disc golf? ›

Disc types

There is a wide variety of discs used in disc golf and they are generally divided into three categories: putters, all-purpose mid-range discs, and drivers.

Why is a disc not a frisbee? ›

Frisbees are large recreational discs that are very wide, made with light plastic, rounded on the edges, and cant fly very fast or far. Disc golf discs are small and dense, can fly fast, and are designed to travel long distances in order to get to a target basket.

Videos

1. We Play Disc Golf With A Tortilla Frisbee
(Rhett & Link)
2. 2022 Jonesboro Open | FINALF9 | Heimburg, McBeth, Jones, Harris | Jomez Disc Golf
(JomezPro)
3. Playing Disc Golf with the Most Expensive Frisbee!
(Foundation Disc Golf)
4. Disc Golf : How to Play Frisbee Golf: Game Rules
(eHowSports)
5. Throw BETTER after this video | Disc Golf Basics
(Latitude 64)
6. Who is the BEST Supreme Escape Thrower?
(DynamicDiscs)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carlyn Walter

Last Updated: 02/11/2023

Views: 6677

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carlyn Walter

Birthday: 1996-01-03

Address: Suite 452 40815 Denyse Extensions, Sengermouth, OR 42374

Phone: +8501809515404

Job: Manufacturing Technician

Hobby: Table tennis, Archery, Vacation, Metal detecting, Yo-yoing, Crocheting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Carlyn Walter, I am a lively, glamorous, healthy, clean, powerful, calm, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.