Research Study on Disc Golf Yields Intriguing Findings by Justin Menickelli, Ph.D.
As a nation, we simply do not walk very much. We tend to watch TV, drive our cars and sit at our computers. When we choose to walk rather than sit, we burn more calories and our hearts have to work a bit harder. If we keep walking, our bodies adapt to this kind of good stress and we become physically fitter. Ideally, a person should walk around 10,000 steps a day to maintain a healthy level of fitness. With support from the PDGA, the first nation-wide research study to examine disc golf and physical activity is complete. We talked with people playing sanctioned tournaments, weekly doubles events and casual rounds. Our main goal was to discover just how much folks walk while playing a round of disc golf. We clipped pedometers on 257 men and 156 women playing 8,029 holes of disc golf on 38 different courses. We found out that every time a person ventures outside to play disc golf, they take an average of 6064 steps; well on their way to reaching 10,000 steps. We were also interested if gender, age or score influenced the average number of steps folks walked while playing. Along the way, we traveled to eight different states, asked a lot of questions and learned a lot about the great sport of disc golf. We ran some fancy-schmancy statistical analyses on the data we collected and discovered that women walked about 60 fewer steps per hole than men on the same course, from the same tees (regardless of their age or score). On an 18-hole course, that amounts to a whopping 1,080 less steps. Because men typically take longer strides, we anticipated the exact opposite. Equally as interesting, for every year older (regardless of their gender or score) people walked about ten less steps per 18-hole round. So, if you are 50 years old, then you will likely walk about 300 less steps than a 20-year old on the same 18-hole course. Why? Perhaps both women and older players spend more time in the fairway and less time wandering around. For me, adages like “older and wiser” and “the women are smarter” come to mind. Score also proved to be a variable that had an influence on steps. Each additional throw a person took resulted in just under four additional steps per hole, regardless of their age or gender. Missed your twenty foot birdie putt? At least you are getting more exercise. As is the case in nearly every sport, the more skilled you are the less the physical workload. If you want a serious workout, play the Harold Duval designed Ashe County Park course located deep in the mountains of North Carolina. Folks playing the long tees averaged nearly 9000 steps per 18-hole round. That fact, combined with the severe elevation changes, likely make it one of the most physically demanding courses in the country. In addition to collecting step counts, we ask folks a lot of questions and some of the answers surprised us. A lot of people we talked with preferred to play casual rounds and local doubles events rather than sanctioned tournaments. Most folks could not name more than one touring professional and many were not members of the PDGA. When we asked people their PDGA number, we got a similar response; “I might play in one or two tournaments a year...for me, it is just not worth joining.” Of course, for many of us, being part of an organization means more than the bottom line. Family obligations keep me from playing more than a handful of sanctioned tournaments a year, however, I do like to check out my tournament statistics (as bad as they are). I really enjoy reading DiscGolfer magazine each month and being an active member somehow makes me feel like I am part of something bigger. Perhaps just as important is what we did not investigate. We did not take elevation change into account (walking up hill is undoubtedly more strenuous than walking on a flat surface), or examine how much time people spent in their target heart rate zone while playing. Pedometers are relatively inexpensive and wearing one is pretty unobtrusive. Altimeters and heart rate monitors cost plenty and may limit the size of the subject pool. Future studies should consider investigating these factors. This study’s findings suggested that playing disc golf is a great way to be physically active and that age, gender and score may have a significant impact on the amount of physical activity people get while playing. Of course, disc golf is about more than simply walking. For many of us, playing disc golf is an ideal combination of fun and competitive spirit. Mark Twain supposedly once called ball golf “a good walk spoiled.” As someone who enjoys the excitement and challenge of disc golf, I like to think of it as “a good walk defined.” I must extend a very special thank you to Brian Graham, Jon Lyksett, Chris Tuten, Des Reading, Jay Reading, David Barney, Chris Page, David Shope, Chris Cooper and all of the folks that agreed to participate in the study. Dr. Justin Menickelli (#31347) is an Associate Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Western Carolina University located in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. When not playing disc golf, he enjoys spending time with his wife
Kirstin and their two boys Aidan (age 4) and Noah (age 2).
We have exciting times ahead for our sport here in Scotland so let's get right to it with a few fun facts.
- Action Glen Disc golf Course in Creiff is open for business, rental discs available from the main office.
- Loch Monzievaird Disc Golf Course is under new management
-We saw a pair of aces on the same basket in the same week. Congrats go out to players Ruari H. From Fife on Red hole 8 and Hamish B. aced hole 18 at ReBoot Disc Golf Course.
- There are 11 operating disc golf courses in Scotland Bdga Course Directory
- Stay connected on two new Facebook pages
Perthshire Disc Golf & Scottish Disc Golf
- One Year Junior Membership (=>19 yrs old) to All participating courses (7) on the Quaich Tour included with Junior Division entry fee.
Ace Adventures, Craggan Outdoors, Loch Tay, Action Glen,
Loch Monzievaird, The Hermitage & ReBoot Disc Golf Courses
Quaich Tour dates
16th August Sunday Handicap League- Craggan DGC - Moray Disc Golf
23rd August Sunday Handicap League - Ace Adventures - Moray Disc Golf
29th August Last Saturday Pdga League- ReBoot Disc Golf Course
27th September Vibram Birdie Bash- Ace Adventures- Moray Disc Golf
Quaich Tour Leaderboard
Hope to see you on the course soon.
I would first like to personally thank all the 11 year old boys for pointing out the weakest points of our disc golf course. By nature there is no more of a destructive force than an innocent group of P5/6 boys left to their own accord in the woods, I'm certain I was the same. With no malcontent if it could be broken, twisted, knocked or tampered with at all as a group they achieved it. The course has been repaired, leveled and hardened and is now in a better stronger place because of you, so Thanks again.
In May we started this series of events to showcase the group that was exemplary at understanding our sport. We presented each group with a quick tutorial on grip, throwing technique and putting as well as other pointers like scoring and navigating the course. We played a few rounds of 'Ring of Fire' to warm them up before they teed off to become accustomed throwing the discs and focusing on the main objective of our sport, throw the disc into the basket. Each junior player had one disc and one go around our 9 hole Red Course. I cannot put into words how honored we feel to have hosted over 700+ Juniors (>=16) at our course in the last five weeks. The spirit, camaraderie and pursuit to succeed in a new sport was unparalleled and drove home how uniquely inclusive our sport can be. A few times we were able to organize 9 groups of 4 all starting at one time, a Junior shotgun start!! The participants traversed our wooded course which is about a Kilometer to complete this challenge, some went happily and asked to play a second 9 hole round, others needed inspiration but all felt the accomplishment of completing a round of golf. In the end Loretto Senior School reigns supreme posting an outstanding combined score of 143 by clinching the top 6 scores of the series. We play disc golf for the memories of enjoying time with our friends and encouraging them to succeed along our sides. Hitting a 30 meter putt for the first time is as exhilarating lifelong experience and generally lures players back for another chance of improvement. Loretto Senior School showed the camaraderie and etiquette that is driving the natural evolution of our sport. I believe this fundamental approach to a new sport made the difference for all these first time disc golfers and they now they can enjoy the thrill of scoring the best in our Series as well. Congrats!! Loretto Senior School!!
Speaking of impressive an honorable mention must go to our 3rd place group the North Berwick Bear Cubs, a group of 30 P5/6 pupils from Law Primary School. If you need any proof a little practice goes a long way they have 2 well used DGA disc golf baskets in their playground at the Primary School with enough discs for their entire class to use. We've gotten to know most of these young pupils hosting demonstrations and lunch clubs at the school. They absolutely crushed the Red Course only 7 strokes from 2nd place to students much older and rose above their next peer group by 15 strokes.
Over the last five weeks there were many rounds of ring of fire and more laughs than I'll remember as well as an impressive hole in one by Olivia from Dunbar Grammar, countless big putts and many, many lost discs. Working with all these young disc golfers has made me a better teacher of our sport as well as a more patient coach. Our hopes are that a few of these Juniors will grow up playing disc golf and in the future find success on the best courses throughout Europe and around the world. I would like to say Thank You to all who participated and we hope to see soon.
Seamus & Julie
What a weekend for disc golf in Moray! The hospitality was the endless, the food was amazing (especially the cheesecake!), the courses were challenging and the camaraderie could not be beat. We played 72 holes on two amazing courses that are as different as the men who designed them.
Ace Adventures is a rugged 'Outback' disc golf course that plays through the woods with dramatic elevation change and has some of the best pin placements around. Ace Adventures recently added stone paver tee pads and new tee signs on all 27 holes which ensure this place is somewhere to watch. Craggan Outdoors "simply" added 9 baskets to what is already an amazing place to golf. At Craggan they did an excellent job making a challenging disc golf course on the grounds of a stunning golf course. The long open fairways, OB fence lines and tucked away pins in addition to the swirling winds make this course an instant 'must play'. The combination of the two venues in one event are unparallelled to the region and will surely become a marquee event.
Open Champ - Seonaidh Charity
Am Champ - Andrew Lamb
Novice Champ - John Smart
Pdga Unofficial results
Cheers!! Moray Disc Golf
The Arch and Notch are new discs from Vibram Disc Golf.
When I first received these discs in the mail I had a hard time deciding whether or not to throw them because they are beautiful first run discs. After about two weeks I finally decided it was time and took the Arch and Notch out for a few rounds of golf at Bluebell Woods in Dunbar Scotland. I generally throw a round of 62-65 at Bluebell Woods and these discs right off the shelf helped me produce an average round. I've played 36+ holes of disc golf with just the Arch and Notch off the tee on every hole in all types of wind and weather. Trust your Rubber.
The Notch is a medium speed fairway driver that is easily compared to an Innova Teebird, although I think its a little faster than a Teebird and of course a better disc. This disc like the Arch is extremely consistent even after multiple high speed tree hits. In an open field this disc was flying 300+ feet and finishing consistently. Since I am not a big power player I will throw the Notch in windy conditions (Head and Cross wind) when I need a disc to hold a line and finish left (RHBH). Other players may possess the crushing ability but as a 915 rated player I do not have the power to turn this over forehand or backhand. Thrown flat backhand this disc went straight with very little to no turn until it faded. I found the Notch to be an extremely consistent disc but for the time being it will not replace the Ascent in my bag. I will however have the Notch on practice rounds because I feel my level of play can be judged by the length and consistency I can throw this disc.
The Arch is a low speed fairway driver that is without a doubt the easiest throwing disc I have ever had in my bag. At Bluebell woods we have some narrow wooded fairways and the predictable glide, turn and fade of the Arch makes it an easy choice when precision matters. I was able to throw this disc 250+ feet both forehand and backhand without turning it over once down tree lined fairways and short open holes. This disc has now gotten up close and personal with many many trees and still flies like its just out of the box. I will not try and launch this disc into a headwind nor is it a replacement distance driver, I found great success with the Arch as a control fairway driver. I'm looking forward to trying this disc at different weights to finely tune how I can use it best. This disc will help me achieve a personal best score at Bluebell Woods.
Great Disc! Nice work Vibram, this one goes in the bag.
What an amazing year we have had for disc golf so far and its only the last few days in April. There is far too much to cover in one Newsletter without tempting the most avid disc golfer to a nap so I will try and be brief, just remember this is an exciting time for our sport. Only 6 weeks ago our tour kicked off with The Battle at Bluebell Woods- Euro Tour #1 and since then there has been two other Bdga Tour events. From The 23rd Scottish Open on The Isle of Mull to the 1st Annual Loch Tay Open Scotland has seen some high level disc golf indeed. These successful events drew the best players from all over the UK, Europe and America to compete for money and prizes. Luckily as far as The Quaich Tour is concerned we are 3 events into a 10 event series so there is still plenty of disc golf for everyone.
I'd like to think that as the sport expands we will need to keep each other informed of all the developing activities so I've established a Forum on my website. (I'm all ears if anyone has a better option to keep us all informed of disc golf scene in Scotland.) for now feel free to list events, leagues, "Hey, I have the afternoon off" type things on this forum.
DG Forum Please sign up and be heard, lets all stay on the same page and blow the lid off this sport.
The Pdga ratings update for April 28th has put 3 Edinburgh Disc Golfers at the forefront of the sport in the UK. We wish these Gents the best of fortune for the remainder of the 2015 Season, Congrats to Seonaidh#2, Hamish #3 & Calum #5. They don't even have a local disc golf course, ...wait a second maybe they do now.
The Hermitage Disc Golf Course
The Hermitage is allowing disc golfers to play disc golf on their golf course on a pay to play basis. We will have the opportunity to set up our portable baskets and use the golf course to play our sport. If we all act accordingly and pay our greens fee (£3 per person) we should have a permanent home at The Hermitage in about a year. Just like disc golf there are no tee times at The Hermitage so feel free to walk up and play disc golf anytime. Please yield to golfers and let them play through as you move your basket about the course. If you are planning on playing at The Hermitage in a large numbers call ahead just for courtesy. We will start with an informal gathering at Tee1, 6th May 6pm, and we will grow from there, let me know if you can make it.
I can only imagine in a short time we will have many different layouts to choose from and as we learn to gather in larger numbers the course will only get better. I'm hoping that by the time we establish our permanent home here we will have enough in a volunteer base to install the course in a day or so, then we'll keep it evolving. Feel free to contact me about playing disc golf at The Hermitage anytime.
Next up ---> The Moray Open 23rd &24th May 2015 Pdga C-Tier Quaich Tour #4
Please join us at The Moray Open in May to celebrate the two newest disc golf courses in Scotland. Whether you just picked up a disc or are a seasoned veteran there is fun waiting at this event. One day option is available, see the invitation in the link above for details.
Risk and Reward- Course Design
A majority of my time is spent on the course teaching first time players to throw a disc 30-40 meters and I really enjoy it. I started playing left handed just to try and understand what a new player is going through and oddly enough it was a big help. I'd estimate that 9 out of 10 players that visit our course right now either have never played disc golf before or only tried our sport on the Wii. That’s where the sport is in this country with only fewer than 100 tournament players in the U.K. (only 55% of those players attend 2+ Bdga events) the sport has yet to take hold and is still in its infancy. The good news is there is nothing but room to grow and if we apply the global standard of disc golf growth there is much to look forward too.
We've been open for almost two seasons now and we're starting to move to an exciting phase of our development, more and more players are shifting from the Red Course to the Blue Course and we have many groups that can enjoy playing our 18 hole set up. Its exciting times for our sport and I imagine the amount of courses will grow by ten fold over the next fifteen years and the player base will soon explode and start to get on track with the U.S. average of doubling every six years. As the player base expands there is no doubt new courses will be built. If there were one concept I'd like to yell from the rooftops to those budding course designers it would be Risk and Reward. Nothing adds more to golf than a dynamic and well designed hole that is fair and challenging for everyone that steps on to the tee. The best disc golf holes produce the widest range of scores in a group of players. This is a concept that transcends all types of golf, traditional ‘Ball” golf, disc golf and “foot’ golf, and challenges the individuals course maintenance goals. We’ve all played in a group where the scores vary by 3+ strokes, someone will Birdie and another might pick up a double bogie 5 or more, holes like this will generally have a high level of risk and reward. A disc golf course can have too many trees or unnecessary length but a golfer never gets enough risk and reward. There is nothing more challenging to the course designer than providing excitement and the best way to accomplish this is risk and reward.
I was recently scouring the Internet doing research on R & R and I came across an article written by John Houck 16 years ago. Instead of rewriting and plagiarizing it and other articles I thought I'd give credit where credit is due and copy and paste the article below. John Houck needs no introduction he is one of the legends of course design that has propelled the sport forward.
There are two other simple concepts that I would like to share which have been at the forefront of our work this summer, make sure good shots do not get punished and push the design. We've been busy removing the steel branch and iron leaf to make certain the discs that are thrown well finish well allowing the best opportunity for enjoyment, which is why we play this sport. Also I’m constantly tweaking the course searching for that extra option for approaching the basket. Although impossible for every hole I like to consider lefty and righty options from each tee, this can be time consuming but a good course designer will allow their course to mature over time. Also keep in mind that sometimes when you get wrapped up in course design you forget that the sports primary purpose is to be fun, challenging yes, but enjoyment is something that keeps players coming back for more.
Below I’ve shared what I believe are three very good examples of the Risk and Reward concept at our course in Dunbar. Enjoy the article below and remember "Disc Golfers are Everywhere!" We play a Global Sport, if you build it...they will come.
Hole 4 Blue is a flat tree lined 318ft right handed backhand overstable drive that should tempt all levels of players to go for the birdie. Its one of those throws everyone has but when your looking down the barrel of this fairway with OB to the right and tree jail to the left it can make you hesitate. This hole has produced more 2’s, 5’s and 6’s than any other hole on the course and is a classic example of risk and reward. If you go for too much the consequences can be painful.
Hole 9 Blue is a flat 420ft right backhand anhyzer that plays to a pin on the edge over a small high-banked creek. If you can throw your drive over 300ft with a slight anhyzer you will have an excellent opportunity to birdie this hole with a well placed up-shot. Just say to yourself "What Creek?"
Hole 18 Gold is a flat 604ft Par 4 hole that usually plays into the wind. Down the entire right side of the fairway is an OB fence but this fence only comes into play on a narrow 25ft wide stretch of fairway about 60ft long. On this hole the lake greets you at about 400’ and runs down the left side of the fairway with the OB fence straight down the right side. Your option after the drive is simply to lay up before the water, play onto the narrow stretch of fairway or throw over the water or OB fence and try for the green. I learned long ago that a hole like this requires 3 accurate 201ft shots to have a drop in par, IF you can set your ego aside and not take any risks.
Ball Golf Course Design Offer Hints for Better Disc Golf Courses
This article originally appeared in the Winter 1998 issue of Disc Golf World News
As many of today's top disc golf pros have discovered, there's a lot to be learned from watching top pros in ball golf. Even more so, our course designers can get a near-complete education from the great designers of ball golf's 600-year history. In essence, the principles of designing a disc golf course are identical to those of ball golf, and anyone who is serious about architecture for our game would do well to study the concepts and luminaries of theirs.
One of the ideas that can help us the most is a very basic one: the balance between risk and reward. The first time I became aware of this idea was at a doubles tournament when my partner, Mitch McClellan, said, "That's what I like about Bartholomew -- there's a lot of holes where you can birdie... or you can bogey." Unfortunately, as I recall, we had a few too many of the latter that particular day, but it did open my eyes. Any good golf hole should demonstrate this principle: good shots are rewarded, while bad shots will cost you. Unfortunately, on many disc golf courses, this is rarely the case. Play your favorite course in your mind. Can you hit a tree 75-feet in front of the tee and still get an easy three? Or if you throw a drive 45 degrees off course, will you still have an easy up shot? Then your course does not punish bad shots. If a good player having a bad day doesn't rack up a bunch of bogeys, your course has a problem.
On the other hand, do you really have to control the angle, direction, and speed of a shot to get a birdie, or can you just throw a mediocre shot out there and still land 20 feet from the basket? If a throw that demonstrates great skill results in the same score as a throw that shows average skill, then your course does not reward great shots.
One of the great disappointments of courses that don't punish bad shots is that we rarely have the opportunity to make great "saves." Ideally, a bad drive would be stuck behind a bush, or in a group of trees, or down a hill, and you would have to make a terrific second shot to get near the basket. To make up for your mistake on the previous shot, you would have to demonstrate great power, control, or versatility (sidearm, upside down, scoober roller) to reach the basket, or you would lose a stroke.
It is so rare to see a top disc golfer have to make a skillful shot in the 75 to 200-foot range, and this is something our sport really lacks. William Flynn, whose credits include great courses like Shinnecok Hills, spoke of "the recovery shot, perhaps the best shot in the game."Author Geoff Shackelford says, "You want to give golfers a chance to recover from a hazard, otherwise skillful and imaginative players go unnoticed... It should require creativity and talent to recover from a hazard, not complete luck."
Disc golf course designers should look for opportunities to put tees and baskets in places where these principles can come into play, but remember that a good shot should also end up by the hole. (Also, you want to minimize lucky shots that get to the hole.) It should be clear at each hole where you want to be, and what you want to avoid. In general, open holes should have thicker rough, while tighter holes should have less brutal rough. The easier the shot, the greater the penalty for missing it, and vice versa. The other key aspect of the risk/reward principle that too infrequently applies to disc golf involves strategy. The classic great holes of golf offer options. You can play it safe and go for par or bogey, or you can try what golfers call a "heroic" shot (or generally two heroic shots) to score a birdie or eagle. In disc golf, there is often one way to play the hole, and you make it or you don't. We need to develop our courses so that golfers have to make strategy choices, so that a champion will have to demonstrate mental skills as well as physical skills. Ken Climo understands this, and he has made good decisions when he's had the chance.
The balance between risk and reward is central to ball golf course design, and the resulting element of strategy is one of the things that make golf so popular. That's also why more than 75% of ball golf holes are par 4 or par 5. But we'll discuss that another time. In the meantime, disc golf designers who learn to apply these concepts will make courses that are more fair and more enjoyable.
"I have all my wisdom teeth, two up top, two beneath and yet I recognize my mouth says things that aren't so wise" CTD