Disc golf history

Disc golf history

What Is Disc Golf?

In a nutshell, disc golf is a lot like playing actual golf and a great contact-less sport. But instead of using a ball and clubs to play, you are using a flying disc.

The objective is to throw your flying disc (like a small frisbee) into a standing basket hole from the respected tee box point. You have to get the disc into that said basket in the least number of throws possible, and the player with the least number of strokes in any given round (18 holes) is the winner. The best part? Absolutely anyone can learn to play disc golf. You can start out as slow or as fast as you want, gain that much-desired socialization and fresh air exercise you crave, and learn a new skill all at the same time.


Disc golf was first played in Canada in 1926.

As per the complete book of frisbee, the earliest history of disc golf was recorded in Bladworth, Sasatchewan, Canada in 1926. Ronald Gibson and his buddies from Bladworth Elementary School played a game in which they throw tin lids into four wide circles.

There were 4-foot-wide circles which were drawn into sandy patches on the school ground of Ronald Gibson and some of his school friends. Here Ronald Gibson and his friends played a game of throwing tin lids into these circles. They called this game Tin Lid Golf, and they started playing this game regularly. But when all of them grew older and went their own separate ways, the game ended. We do not have the historical connecting points from Tin Lid Golf 1926 to the start of modern disc golf, but it doesn’t mean that they were not there.

For all we know, somebody from Bladworth Tin lid Golf may have moved toward the East Coast of the U.S. for whatever purpose and began the pie tin throwing at Yale and other Ivy League universities, we simply do not have the foggiest idea.


Modern disc golf history 1970

Nobody invented disc golf. It was evolved from ball-minded athlete’s slightly changing rules and the play of same ball sports that replaced the ball with a flying disc.

This noteworthy record is about early disc golf pioneers and their recorded first occasions that started coordinated rivalries and current disc golf.

Although Hall of Fame member Jim Palmeri, his brother John, and a small group of other people from Rochester, NY, had not heard of the International Frisbee Association, yet they had been playing disc golf as a competitive game regularly since August 1970, including all tournaments and weekly based game competitions.

Where was disc golf invented – Who invented disc golf

Even though there are no clear records of who invented Disc Golf, “Steady” Ed Headrick is considered the Father of Disc Golf as we know it today. With his patent of the Frisbee in 1966 and patent of the basis of the modern basket in 1975, “Steady” Ed Headrick paved the ground to the sport.



The founder of the Professional Disc Golf Association, PDGA

Soon after inventing his basket and starting his company, Ed founded the Professional Disc Golf Association, PDGA. He started inviting Top-players to join his new association, the price, 10 dollars (around 45 dollars today) for a life-time membership.

Hall of Fame member Jim Palmeri didn’t get by to join until one year later, getting PDGA# 362. “Steady” Ed’s number is a shining #001.


Disc golf events and timeline

1970: The first “Frisbee Club”

The first “Frisbee Club” was formed in Rochester, New York. Object disc golf is being played on daily basis in Rochester, Berkeley UC campus in California etc.

1972: Annual City Disc Golf Championship

New York became the first municipality in the world to hold and manage the Annual City Disc Golf Championship.

1974: American flying Disc Open

Dan Roddick won the new 1974 Datsun B-210 at the disc golf part of the American flying Disc Open in the Rochester.

1975: World’s first permanent disc golf course.

Oak Grove Disc Golf Course becomes the world’s first permanent disc golf course by “Steady” Ed.

1976: PDGA

“Steady” Ed Headrick organized the professional Disc Golf Association after resigning his VP position at Wham-O

1977: World Frisbee Championship incorporates Disc Golf.

Wham-O’s event, the World Frisbee Championship incorporates Disc Golf. This move introduced disc golf to thousands of Frisbee players around the country and in Canada as well.

1979: Players has to be PRO’s – The $50 000 Disc Golf Tournament

Held in Huntington Beach, California, Ed named the event the $50,000 Disc Golf Tournament. The tournament was groundbreaking, first and foremost because of the cash involved, but also because the competitors had to qualify for an invitation. 72 qualifying events were established around the country, bringing in the best disc golfers from across the United States.

Dan “Stork” Roddick recalls that “Ed was very dedicated to the idea that his events should be ‘pro’. That was part of the reason the word Professional was in the name of the association. He wanted to make them a big, big, big deal. I remember him saying, ‘I want their palms to be sweaty’.”

1981: The first Disc Golf World Championships

The first Disc Golf World Championships in Los Angeles by “Steady” Ed, this tournament was controversial, since players could only throw discs made by Wham-O, the brand which “Steady” Ed were selling at the time.

1983: The first Pro Tour.

This tour would serve as a qualifier for the second Disc Golf World Championships to be held in Huntsville, Alabama.

1983: Innova breaks the game.

Another major turning point in Disc Golf is when a new company called Champion Discs debuted with their new proto-Aero, then Called the Eagle. You will know Champion Discs by their name today, Innova.

The Eagle represented a quantum leap in technology and instantly became the hot new driver that everyone was throwing.

1984: “Steady” Ed hands over the keys to his kingdom.

Previously, “Stead” Ed soloed his creation, PDGA. At the Disc Golf Word Championship in 1984, He handed over the keys to his kingdom to a group of players led by Ted Smethers.


1998: Why do not Disc Golf use Handicap as in Golf? – PDGA Player Ratings.

In 1998 Jim Challas contacted Chuck Kennedy and said that he wanted the sport to have a handicapping system like Golf. Chuck however, thought that the sport needed a system that promoted fair and competitive divisions, across the board. Rather than adjusting the player score with handicaps, each player would have a static score that could be used to created divisions in tournaments. This system would come to be the PDGA Player Rating.

Player Ratings where first tested in the 1998 PDGA Disc Golf World Championship. It would take roughly 4 years until the system to be implemented and accepted across all divisions and all events.

Fun fact:

Even to this day, Chuck Kennedy and Roger Smith are still working on the system, to ensure that it keeps being fair and as accurate as possible!


The Disk Golf Hall of Fame is a free association committed to the advancement of disc golf, its chief pioneers, and players. It was established in 1993 by Lavonne Wolfe of Huntsville, AL. Lavonne likewise made what is currently known as the Headrick Memorial Museum, an assortment of memorabilia that help define the historical backdrop of our game, presently housed at the International Disk Golf Center in Appling, GA.

Source: https://www.pdga.com/history



The Future of Disc Golf: Viral videos & Covid-19

In the last 5 years the sport has received more media attention than in 40 years of disc golf history. The effect of mobile cameras can be seen clearly. Players, both PRO’s and Amateurs contribute with amazing clips of impossible stunts ending with the clips going viral on social medias.

Just look at the legendary Albatross thrown by Philo Brathwaite, or the more recent Ace by Kevin Jones. Only these 2 clips have drawn millions of eyes to the sport. In this year, 2020, with all the social distancing going on, the sport has grown evermore with players discovering it for the first time and sharing their progress or epic throws on social media.


We can look forward to another media boom with the ESPN2 broadcast of the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship finals to air on Tuesday, November 24th, at 8 PM Eastern, the heart of primetime two days before Thanksgiving.


What are your thoughts on the future?

How will the sport look in the future?

What new game changing innovation do you think will happen?

Let us know on our Instagram account!

How are discs golf discs made? Where to buy disc golf discs?

If you’re curious about these two questions, head on over to our wiki page “Disc golf discs” to learn more!



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