Guest Blog: Austin Disc Golf Stirs Community Spirit

Resting While Playing Disc Golf at Zilker Park in AustinThis guest blog post is by Troy Herman.

Disc golf is not just a sport to be played; it is a passion that should be felt. I have played disc golf with some of the best players in the world and, while we have competed with much seriousness, we have never forgotten how it all started: throwing a bunch of discs in the park, making terrible shots, sharing many laughs and all of us wondering “Why did we try this…again?”

Disc golf is a sport that is often compared to and played like “ball” golf, but there are differences. In disc golf, you throw a disc or Frisbee rather than using a ball and clubs like in “ball” golf. Like “ball” golf, the objective is the same: complete each “hole” in the fewest number of strokes (or in this case throws) to be declared the winner.

Like all sports, there must be a start and a finish for the game of play. During this time of play, there are guidelines, rules and courtesies that should be followed – whether it’s a casual round or official sanctioned event.

Disc Golf Discs used in Austin For the start, players will begin from a tee area and throw towards a target or “hole.” This target can be of many designs, but it will commonly be a designated “pole hole” which is a metal basket and tray for the disc to land in. After players have teed off, they make consecutive shots down the fairway through or around natural challenges. The final goal is to have the disc land (or putt) into the “pole hole” target. At that time, the scores are added and marked.

As I mentioned previously, there are guidelines and courtesies that should be followed during the time of play. These things are always good to learn and apply as you have a casual round with your friends, but they are even more important during an official event.


Disc Golf Etiquette

If you are a spectator or player, please use these commonly overlooked guides and rules:
  1. Have fun! It’s the reason we all started playing the sport. You can always make up that missed putt, but that missed laugh and memory is irreplaceable.
  2. Noise control. Please keep noise, distractions, kids, animals, phones, music and the like to a bare minimum. During casual play, be considerate of players outside of your group, even if those within your group don’t mind the noise. If you’re at a sanctioned event, you may be asked to leave the area as a professional courtesy to the other spectators and the players.
  3. Playing through. If you are playing in a large group or spending an extended time looking for your discs, please allow other faster (or smaller) groups to simply “play through” on the hole. This helps prevent and reduce “bottlenecks” and traffic queues on the course.
  4. Help a friend. If you see a group or a person who may be in need of help looking for a disc, spend a moment to meet them and help out if you can; I am sure they will be grateful. Disc golf is a community sport of friends and, after all, you would be amazed by who you just might meet.
  5. “Pack it IN and Pack it OUT.” Disc golfers love the great outdoors and all of nature’s splendor, but we do not like those who leave their trash and waste littered amongst the course or the park. If you bring it in with you, take it out with you. The items we commonly pick up include: bottles, cans, cigarette butts, food wrappers, doggie bags (the ones with Fido’s surprise), clothing and the list goes on.
Playing disc golf with dogs at Zilker Park

How about disc golf with doggie friends?

Understanding the concept of the sport, knowing some of the basic guidelines, and having an adventurous spirit to play is all you need for a great time with your family, your friends or your community groups. If you don’t think that disc golf is a sport for you, then simply know this:
  • The costs to play can be just a few dollars for a disc, and the majority of courses are free to the public.
  • Disc golf is a lifetime sport that easily allows specially-abled and disabled persons to participate, while giving them the opportunity to take part in a mainstream activity.
  • More people can throw a Frisbee or a disc, than can hit a golf ball!

Troy Herman is a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA#32289) who currently lives in Austin, TX. He is a Board Member of Austin-based Waterloo Disc Golf Club, where he also manages the club’s website, Twitter and Facebook pages. Troy has been playing disc golf over 12 years competitively and non-competitively, in local and national events. He is an avid photographer and has been published in Disc Golfer magazine. He also volunteers regularly to promote disc golf, clean parks and help build new ones.
  • Seasoned saint

    This is a well written article and full of good information. Troy Herman is making Austin, Texas an even better place to live! Thank you, Troy!

    • Eric Highland

      We agree. The Austinot actually got to go out and play disc golf with Troy recently. He’s really good, humble and kind too. All around great guy.

  • RMHC Austin

    Did you know that the Waterloo Disc Golf Tournament has been a fundraiser for RMHC Austin for a whole bunch of years? They have been AMAZINGLY supportive of our families and programs. 

    • Brittany Highland

      No, I didn’t know that! We are really loving the disc golf community in Austin – they are good people. :) 

    • Troy Herman

      And we are VERY PROUD to do it whenever we can. Disc Golf clubs like our Waterloo DGC truly enjoy being stewards of the community. We don’t need fanfare or parades, we just like to enjoy the positive impact we make on the community we live in. We truly want people to see that we are what you are: families, business people, students, retiree’s, and everything in between. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can learn the score when you play some disc golf with us!

  • austin_brian

    Austin is a great city for disc golf. I purchased my home in north Austin based on proximity to my local course, and now I’m very involved in keeping the park clean and sponsoring events for the community. Disc golf is a great way to get out in nature, and the people you meet may become friends for a lifetime.

    • Troy Herman

      Thanks for being a part of our great culture. It’s good to see more and more people who participate in the parks activities and keep them clean. Thanks again.

    • Matkes77

      Which course? It would be nice to live within walking distance to a course :) lucky you!