Disc Golf 101

Gary Smith, Director of Operations at CUTV

As the calendar turns over from 2018 to 2019, the focus of the sports word changes from College Football Bowl Season, to NFL Playoffs/Super Bowl, MLB Spring training and finally golf season.  Golf Season means not only traditional golf with events such as the annual rite of spring The Masters and this year the PGA Championship, but also with one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., Disc Golf.  

  Disc Golf is played in the same manner as traditional golf, but instead of clubs and balls, players use specially designed Disc Golf Discs.  The discs serve the dual purpose that clubs and balls serve in traditional golf.  There are three basic classes of discs, Distance Drivers which players throw for maximum distance, Midrange discs which fly shorter distances but are more controllable and Putters which fly the shortest but are designed to be the straightest flyers and are what players use to finish the hole out.  The target on a disc golf hole is a basket that is approximately 3 feet in height and features chains that are designed to catch the discs.

  Western Pennsylvania is fortunate to boast several top Disc Golf Courses in the United States, all within a 2 hour drive of California.  Moraine State Park was one of the main sites of the 2015 World Championships and has hosted several National Professional Tournaments in the last 15 years.  Another course that was a site of the World Championships is Deer Lakes Park in Tarentum, PA, which features some of the biggest elevation changes in the area in addition to some of the thickest tree cover to be found anywhere.  Knob Hill Park near Warendale, PA is one of the older courses in Western Pennsylvania and has had several holes redesigned in the past 2 years.  This is a great course for players of all skill levels.  The oldest course in the area is Schenley Park in the Oakland Section of Pittsburgh and features tremendous views of the downtown area.  Built in 1988, this is a great course to learn the sport as it does not have a ton of length and it also is an easy course to walk.  

  Closer to California there are two courses to take note of: California University at SAI Farm, and North Strabane Park outside of Washington, PA.  Cal U’s course features open holes, but plenty of rough to watch out for and a healthy elevation change from the front of the course to the top of the property.  North Strabane is another course that is good to learn at as the front 9 is beginner friendly and open, and the back 9 is more wooded and challenging.  The final courses of note in the area are across the Mason-Dixon in West Virginia: Dorsey’s Knob in Morgantown and Seth Burton in Fairmont.  Dorsey’s Knob is basically the sister course to Cal U as it’s fairly wide open and features heavy rough and elevation changes.  Seth Burton features 2 courses, the original Seth Burton 18 which is challenging with its good mix of woods and terrain and the Orange Crush course which is heavily wooded.  It hosts a national tour event every fall. 

  There are several websites to be aware of in order to know all the happenings in the local disc golf scene.  The first is discgolfscene.com, which is the site that has listings of every tournament in the area and is used for registering for events.  On Facebook check out the Pittsburgh Flying Disc page that has up to date information on local leagues and outings, and the Washington Disc Golf Alliance which runs local leagues based out of North Strabane.  

   The disc golf community is very welcoming and do not be intimidated if you are just beginning, all the courses listed are free to play and it is a sport to enjoy for many years. If you’d like to see some action without leaving the comfort of your own home, check out CUTV where Disc Golf Programming is featured on different days of the week. The main focuses are normally larger scaled tourmanents that are based locally around western Pennsylvania.