Disc golf soothes the savage beast


There is an unshakable element of comedy and parody to disc golf. 

Playing a round at Queens­town Gardens’ free 18-basket course on a sunny spring morning, it feels as though I’ve stumbled into some surreal Monty Python sketch. 

Maybe it’s because boring old stick-golf takes itself so seriously, with its etiquette, billion-dollar players, sports psychologists, green fees and state-of-the-art equipment fetish. 

Disc golf (never even say the trademarked word Frisbee, never!) is far more relaxed and slapstick. 

Even the pro-disc I’m using is endorsed by someone who sounds like a character from a Will Ferrell movie – 12-time Professional Disc Golf Association World Champion Ken Climo. 

We’ve three discs actually – a distance driver, fairway driver and approach shot/putter. 

This is a sport by any estimation – there’s proper equipment, training drills, and some people even stretch before they play. But it’s still fun when incredibly hungover on a lazy Sunday morning. 

Takes a bit of practice though – by the fifth hole I’m already eight over par and frustrated as shots spin off in horrible sliced arcs, in unintended directions, into trees, bushes and roll down into the lake. 

Frustrating, but still amusing, especially as my equally unskilled golfing partner sends another shot directly into the battered tree just metres in front of her, on her way to a round of 30 over par. 

My round is 18 over par. The highlight is a lucky one-under par on the par-three 10th. I celebrate wildly like some graceless chimp flushed with unmerited pride. 

Queenstown has been the epicentre of disc golf in New Zealand since 1996. And it boasts the first permanently 
marked-out course in the country in what must be one of the most beautiful settings in the world, maintained by the Queenstown Disc Golf Club. 

So it’s the perfect place to hone skills through repetition and sacrifice as you would in stick-golf – grip techniques, throwing techniques, body position, mental focus… 

The Queenstown club runs trophy rounds on the first Sunday of every month, at 3pm, and an annual Classic tournament to test those skills. Queenstown shops sell professional discs. 

Of course, if you’re happy to settle for mediocrity, for failure, then feel free to just stroll around in the sunlit gardens, through the trees and along the lakeside randomly chucking some inferior budget disc. Just don’t forget to take your sense of humour with you.

All you need to know
What Disc golf
Where Queenstown Gardens
Cost Free, but 12-time PDGA world champion Ken Climo-endorsed discs retail for about $40.
Thrill-o-meter It depends how much you are prepared to sacrifice.