Playing disc golf over the weekend, a friend and I saw a family playing frisbee. We got to joking about playing disc golf with a regular frisbee. I did some research later on the internet, and it turns out this is a fairly common question! Let’s address it.
So, can you play disc golf with a regular frisbee? No, you really can’t play disc golf with a regular frisbee. Regular frisbees are meant to be thrown and caught in a relatively short distance while disc golf discs are meant to be thrown hard and fly long distances with great accuracy.
Playing disc golf with a regular frisbee would be like trying to drive on the freeway in a go kart. And not the really cool fast go karts that some people race competitively. I’m talking about the kind that you see at Funworks that go about 9 miles an hour.
Disc golf disc are specialized for disc golf. They fly farther and faster. They’re made of different types of plastic that are more durable and there is a greater range of options for types of discs and how they fly.
There are of course, other important differences. Let’s go over them.
What’s the difference between a disc and a frisbee?
The most common frisbee that most of us know and love today is made by the Wham-O toy Company and is officially called the Wham-O Ultimate Frisbee. The Ultimate Frisbee weighs in at 175 grams and is a great frisbee for fun or competitively in ultimate frisbee games.
The ultimate frisbee is made of a durable plastic with a round edge that makes it a great flyer and and great disc to catch and toss to a friend or teammate.
Made for Disc Golf
Disc golf discs on the other hand are made especially for the game of disc golf. There are many variations of disc golf discs made from different types of plastic by more than 20 manufacturing companies.
Disc golf discs come in many flavors, from putters, to midrange/fairway drivers, to distance drivers. They are smaller in size but more dense, made from specialized plastic for hard use on a disc golf course where there are many obstacles including tree’s, rocks and shrubs that they could impact.
They are not meant to be caught by hand and typically have a rather sharp edge which makes them more aerodynamic. They are made to fly accurately towards a cage, with the ultimate goal of landing the disc in the cage.
They Fly Differently
Frisbees tend to fly smooth and predictably, and all frisbees generally have the same flight path. They fly straight then curve at the end of the throw. This is by design. Frisbees are meant to be caught, then thrown again, as if playing catch.
Disc golf discs on the other hand, can have vastly different flight paths depending on the disc and the type of plastic it’s made from.
Most disc golf discs also fly much further than a regular frisbee. The current world record for furthest distance drive is held by Innova team member David Wiggins Jr. They threw an Innova Boss, which is a disc gold distance driver, 338 meters or 1109 feet for those of us used to the imperial system.
David Wiggins’ drive was a massive throw, but that amount of distance isn’t common. Most disc golf players throw somewhere between 200 to 300 feet with their drives.
The greatest difference
I think the greatest difference between frisbees and disc golf discs is the variety of discs and their flight paths. There are so many different types of disc golf discs which are designed for different purposes. Some are heavier and more stable and meant to be putters, which are thrown at a cage from close range.
Some are distance drivers, which have a huge variation just by themselves. Some drivers are meant to be thrown at high speeds, some less so. Some drivers are meant to curve right first, then left. Some are meant to fly straight, then curve at the end of it’s flight path.
Some discs are even built to be throw at the ground and bounce back up, or even roll towards an intended direction! This is just touching the surface and one of the great things about disc golf is the ability to find a disc that fits your style.
With all the different types of discs out there, there’s bound to be a few that just seem to fit with how you throw. How fast your arm moves and at what angle. All of these things are important and I bet you’ll find that some discs just seem to fit to you, like your favorite tee shirt or that perfect pair of jeans.
From the PDGA
Frisbees are actually considered illegal discs in the official rules of disc golf. They’re not mentioned specifically, but the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) which governs the official rules and standards of disc golf regulates which discs are used in professional play. A list of officially approved discs by the PDGA can be found here: https://www.pdga.com/documents/pdga-approved-discs
Frisbees obviously would not be included on the list of approved discs as they are not disc golf discs. Therefore, if you were playing in a tournament, officially, you would not be allowed to play with a frisbee.
Nor would you want to. If you’re a serious enough disc golf player and are participating in tournaments, you would want to be playing with actual disc golf discs as opposed to frisbees which are not meant for disc golf.