It is little-known but is becoming increasingly popular. It is a sport. It has its own professional league with courses all around the world – many of which are in Korea.. It has similar rules to golf except one throws a Frisbee instead of hitting a ball. Any guesses? This is Disc Golf. A clandestine little sport but one that is growing in popularity in Korea and around the world.
History: Modern Disc Golf as it is known today was created by Steady 'Ed' Headrick and considered to be the father of Disc Golf. Headrick, who is from America, officially established the sport in 1976, founded the International Frisbee Association (IFA) and standardized the sport, which before had only been played sporadically around America and had no set rules. In the early games players' targets consisted of trees, buckets, hula hoops, light poles, pipes – even chicken wire baskets. It seems some people would do anything to get their Frisbee-throwing fix. Headrick formalised sport when he patented the Disc Pole Hole catching device in 1975. This is the sports equivalent to the 'hole' in golf and consists of ten chains which reside in a parabolic-shaped basket and is the target for the disc.
The Disc: Similar to a Frisbee in that it is round and glides through the air when thrown, but is very much different in its feel, weight and size. Typically the discs are 20 – 23cm and can weigh anywhere between 90 and 180 grams. Where these discs differ from the general-purpose ultimate discs is that they are specially designed in relation to accuracy, control and speed. This is why they are much smaller than Ultimate discs and, generally, heavier. Just like golf, there are three different types of disc: putters, mid-range and drivers.
The rules: Golf pretty much follow the same rules as golf. There are eighteen holes and players have to navigate the course in as few throws as possible; players mark their scores as par, birdie, bogey etc. If you feel like you are on the cusp of becoming a fully-fledged disc-head, you can visit the Professional Disc Golf Association page for a full list of rules and regulations: http://www.pdga.com/rules/official-rules-disc-golf
I'm in – where can I play? There are eight different courses dotted around Korea: Busan, Daegu, Dajeon. Gyeongju, Pyeongtaek (Camp Humphreys), Seoul and JonJu. The Daegu course is located at the Environmental Recreational Park (DERP – yes, the 'derpy-derpy-derp' to all you reverential South Park fans). For further information on how to get there see below.
A great way to get into the sport is to participate in the Ace Race, which I did over the past weekend. This is a time when pros and noobs (me) collide to compete in what is essentially a one-shot hole-in-one competition. There was around fifty people competing on the day. Players compete in groups of five and both the experienced and inexperienced play together in what was, mostly, a jovial atmosphere; however, one should note: Koreans take this extremely seriously in a no-time-for-frivolity-type fashion, so just remember that some pros aren't the most gregarious of persons.
Whether you are a precocious talent ready to take on the best, a newbie who wants a hobby – or just someone who wants to get out in the sun for a few hours away, this could be the sport for you. For more information on how you can get a hold of a disc and take part in the game there is contact information below.
For English speakers contact James Pearson - phone: 010-9402-5440; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Koreans contact Kenny – phone: 01038208582; e-mail: email@example.com
And for general information on courses, rules and tournaments visit http://discgolfinkorea.com/contact/
The 305, 402, 405, 509 buses all go straight to the course – the stop is called Haeranggyo (bridge).