It seems that disc golf baskets come in many different sizes and slightly different designs. The most noticeable is the number of chains on the basket. But, what are the chains really for?
I’ve dug up a little history on the disc golf basket to explain why chains are used and the practical reason behind why chains are used on almost all disc golf baskets you see today.
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Here’s Why Disc Golf Baskets Have Chains
The main purpose of the chains on a disc golf basket is to stop and “catch” the disc that has been thrown at the target. Depending on the level of competition, baskets can have a different number of chain strands. Baskets commonly have 12, 18, or 24 chains, but some baskets can have up to 40 strands of chain.
In this article, I’ll explain why the chains are important, the history behind the chains, and answer some common questions.
What is the Purpose of the Chains on a Disc Golf Basket?
The original creator of the first disc golf basket, what he called the “Flying Disc Entrapment Device” and later the “Disc Golf Pole Hole” explained the reasoning behind adding the chains to his disc golf basket.
The idea was to make the target stand upright similar to if you were throwing your disc at another person.
The chains would be the midsection of the person you’re throwing to and in his words, the best way to make sure the other person would catch the frisbee was if you hit them right in the stomach.
The vertically hanging chains of the disc golf basket form a parabolic shape that angles down toward the catching basket of the target.
This design is important because it allows for the disc to be thrown from all directions and if thrown directly into the chains, it will be safely funneled down into the basket.
The sole purpose of the chains on a disc golf basket is to stop and catch the thrown disc and deposit it into the basket below to complete the hole when playing disc golf.
How Many Chains Do You Need For a Disc Golf Basket?
A disc golf basket that meets specifications set by the PDGA will have a minimum of 12 chains per basket.
Championship level PDGA disc golf baskets can use up to 40 chains. The chains will consist of an outer ring and layers of inner rings of vertically hanging chains.
For example, the Innova DISCatcher Pro 28 is the most common and popular disc golf basket in use today. This basket uses 28 chains. There are 14 outer chains, 7 mid-level chains, and 7 inner rung chains.
Common chains designs are sets of 14, 18, 24, 26, 28, 30, or 32.
Why Do Some Disc Golf Baskets Have More Chains?
The more chains that a basket has, the better it is at catching a disc to fall into the basket. Championship level baskets will have the most chains.
These baskets will have an outer layer of vertically hanging chains, and an inner layer of hanging chains.
Baskets with more chains are used for higher-level competition because of these players’ ability to make shots from longer distances.
A professional player will also throw their disc harder with more spin and accuracy so they have a much better chance of hitting the chains with their throws.
The championship-level baskets use more chains to be able to catch these throws and minimize spit-outs in competition.
Does Hitting the Chain in Disc Golf Count?
Hitting the chains of a disc golf basket doesn’t complete the hole. There is still a chance even if you hit the chains that your disc could “spit out” of the chains without falling into the basket.
Since the main purpose of the chains is to stop the disc in flight and funnel it down into the basket, you don’t gain any advantage by simply hitting the chains if it doesn’t result in your disc falling into the basket below.
A spit out is when the disc hits the chains of a disc golf basket, but fails to fall into the basket below.
If the disc doesn’t travel far enough into the vertical chains there is a chance that it will miss the basket on the way down and fall to the ground.
Here is a short clip showing a good example of a spit-out.
PDGA Disc Golf Basket Classifications
The PDGA separates disc golf baskets into three different categories: Championship, Standard, and Basic.
A championship-level disc golf basket has been approved by the PDGA to be used at the highest level of disc golf tournaments. These baskets are generally the most expensive to buy.
Features of a championship disc golf basket is a minimum of 18 chains and can either be permanent or portable.
Championship level baskets will feature the highest quality and heavy-duty materials. The set of specifications to meet the championship level standard are more strict and narrow.
This is so that each basket that meets the championship criteria is uniform in design for high-level competition.
For example, from the PDGA approved manufacturers, a LitMeleta PRO disc golf basket uses 12 outer chains and 18 inner chains, a galvanized powder-coated steel frame, and a galvanized steel pole.
Standard level disc golf baskets don’t always use as high of quality materials and feature fewer chains to catch the disc. A standard disc golf basket will commonly include 18-24 chains per basket.
The standard level basket is generally used on public courses in a permanent installation. A standard-level basket can be used for up to B-tier competitions. Standard baskets can also be portable designs.
The Innova Discatcher EZ is an example of a standard disc golf basket. It includes 12 inner and 12 outer chains for a total of 24 galvanized chains. The frame and pole are both galvanized powder-coated steel.
The basic level is the lowest grade approved by the PDGA. A basic basket will often have less than 18 chains and be made with lesser materials to lower the overall cost of the basket.
The basic target is usually made strictly for practice and portability. They are used for leagues and lower-level events.
An example of a basic disc golf basket is the Prodigy Disc Strike Zone basket. The Strike zone uses a powder-coated steel frame, galvanized steel pole, and 10 outer chains to deflect the disc in the attached basket.
Final Thoughts | Why Do Disc Golf Baskets Have Chains
The chains of the disc golf basket are usually the most noticeable part of any target, but the real object is to get your disc into the basket below the chains.
Even so, the chains play an integral role in the disc golf basket design to stop and catch a disc, as well as give a player something to aim at when trying to complete a hole.