Disc golf courses can pop up in many places in towns large and small. You might even drive by and see a course near a public park. But, I wondered if anyone could just start playing on these courses for free?
I’ve found that since most disc golf courses are located within public areas they are mostly free. But, there are also private courses that charge a fee to use them. It’s important to be able to spot the difference.
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Are All Disc Golf Courses Free?
A large majority of disc golf courses are free to use for the general public. Most courses are located in public parks and property. These courses are funded and maintained by local municipalities using taxpayer dollars. There is also a small percentage of private pay-to-play courses that charge a fee.
In this article, I’ll explain what makes most disc golf courses free and how to play disc golf on a budget.
Why Are Some Disc Golf Courses Free?
If you were to visit any town or city, you can always go to the public park and enjoy whatever it has to offer, free of charge.
This is because the public parks are owned by the town or city, and their sole purpose is for the enjoyment of the general public.
These parks have been created for the greater good and funded by citizens like you and me that pay taxes to a local government or municipality.
Sometimes a city will buy disc golf baskets and locate them throughout a park to make a small course free to use by the public. Disc golf is considered by most local governments to provide their citizens with a good way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
There are other times when a disc golf course will be designed and built on public land for the sole purpose of playing disc golf. Most of the time these courses will be PDGA approved.
A PDGA-approved course can host professional tournaments that will bring paying customers into the city or town for a large tournament.
This can be a boost to the city itself and make a disc golf course a win-win for disc golf players, local government, and local businesses.
Are Pay to Play Disc Golf Courses Better?
Most disc golf players will avoid a pay-to-play course like the plague. Why would anyone ever want to pay to play on a disc golf course when they can go down the road and play for free?
It’s a good point, but pay-to-play courses do exist. They can include additional amenities that a public park disc golf course doesn’t offer. A pay-to-play course might also have been designed to add a more challenging aspect to the course.
Of course, the businesses that own these pay-to-play courses exist to make money, but they have to offer some advantages over free courses, otherwise, they wouldn’t exist.
Below are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of a pay-to-play course.
- Courses are usually designed and built specifically for disc golf. This can attract more serious players.
- Well-maintained with less crowding.
- Rules in place that can help to make play better.
- Clubhouse or shop area to use before or after a round, or to buy disc golf-related items.
- Relatively low fee to play multiple rounds of disc golf.
- Limited hours of operation, or seasonal operation.
- You have to pay a fee every time you want to play.
- Possibly more strict rules for dogs on the course, playing music, etc.
How Much Does a Round of Disc Golf Cost?
If you’re thinking about going to a pay-to-play course, you can expect to pay on average between $5 and $10 for one round of disc golf.
Weekends might cost more per round than the weekdays because of increased traffic and usage. Some pay-to-play courses might also offer memberships that can defray the cost of paying a fee every time you want to play a round of disc golf.
How to Find a Disc Golf Course Near You
Sometimes, disc golf courses are not very easy to find. Since most courses are located as a feature of a local public park, they aren’t necessarily advertised.
The first step might be to use Google to search for a disc golf course near your location, with a term like “disc golf course near me”.
There are other ways to search for existing free disc golf courses too. The PDGA website has a disc golf course directory with an easy-to-use map that locates disc golf courses all over the world.
The PDGA directory can be found here. Just zoom in to your area to look for available disc golf courses.
The other option is to search by course name, country, city/state, or zip code/postal code.
Does it Cost Money to Play Disc Golf?
Disc golf has a very low barrier to entry compared to some other sports. Take regular ball golf for instance. Even a used set of clubs can cost $100 or more. Then you have to buy balls, tees, course fees, and more to play.
As I’ve discussed previously, a large majority of disc golf courses are free to use for the general public. This leaves only the discs you’ll use to play as the essential equipment.
For a beginner who just wants to try out playing disc golf, you could easily borrow a couple of discs and head to the nearest free course to play a round for fun. Doing this would cost exactly zero dollars.
In general, most people who are just beginning to play disc golf will spend an average of $30 for a set of disc golf discs and $60 for a bag to hold the discs.
But, if you’re on a seriously tight budget, you could get away with just buying a driver, mid-range, and a putter with no bag and hitting the free course.
Doing this would cost very little money and you’d still have all the equipment needed to play an entire 18-hole disc golf course.
Do You Have to Play Disc Golf on a Course?
Finally, there is always the option to not travel to play at a disc golf course at all. I mean, for the ultra-budget conscientious person, you could simply purchase a disc golf target basket (or several) and play in your backyard as practice.
For more information on how to practice disc golf in your backyard, take a look at this post here.
There are many ways to play and practice disc golf without going to the course. But, luckily there is bound to be a free disc golf course near where you live.
Summary | Are Disc Golf Courses Free?
Disc golf is growing in popularity, and luckily many new courses that are being built are free since they are installed by local governments and municipalities for the enjoyment of their citizens.
Search your local cities website, Park and Rec website, or use the directory from the PDGA to find a local disc golf course.