Play Disc Golf for Recreation or Competition

We’ve passed the “Honeymoon” phase of summer break.

Your kids are getting restless [READ: Bored].  Your wallet is a little lighter from doing ALL the fun things. You want an inexpensive, but enjoyable activity that your whole family will want to do…maybe even something that will also get your kids moving and outdoors?  

You may think you’ve asked too much, but as my family recently discovered, Disc Golf is the perfect solution for your wallet and boredom woes!

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Can I be honest?  I can’t say that Disc Golf was on my family’s list of things-to-do this summer, even though many of the parks we go to have Disc Golf courses.

But when we heard from Grand Rapids Kids reader, Melissa Bell, about her family’s love of this outdoor sport and how her six year old son, Kaidin Bell, is a local and world Junior Disc Golf Champion, I was intrigued — not only about playing as a family activity, but how her young son got involved in it!

Melissa and her husband Adam began playing Disc Golf when they were dating and after having their son, they started showing Kaidin how to play.  Not only did Kaidin love it, but he excelled at too. He scored his first flying disc record when he was only a year old and has since racked up 58 records!

grand rapids disc golf

While there aren’t any Disc Golf leagues for kids here in Grand Rapids yet, if you have a kid that is interested in playing competitively, The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) has a Junior World Championship for kids up to the age of 18.  

This year’s Championship took place in Kansas and they had over 128 junior competitors! And if you want to try for some record-breaking Disc throwing, you can checkout the World Flying Disc Federation.

Feeling inspired by the Bell family, but not quite ready to plunge into the professional side of Disc Golf (yet), my husband and I took our kids (ages 6-11) for our first Disc Golf outing.

To make it simple for your family to take on this activity, here are a few things we learned as first time Disc Golf players.

Before You Go

  • You’ll need a Disc(s) —   Visit a local Disc Golf shop like Great Lakes Disc or Disc Baron Disc Golf Store, or purchase from an online retailer. Local shops often sell used discs for under $10. Or, in our case, we borrowed some from a friend!
  • Grab sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Bring your water bottle!
  • Closed toe shoes are a good idea, but not necessary.

General Rules

  • Disc Golf is played like traditional golf (or as I explained it to my kids to make it more relatable, it’s similar to playing mini-golf).  One point is counted for each time the disc is thrown with the goal being to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible. The player with the lowest total points wins.

  • You “Tee Off” from the designated area (the course we played had a posted map so you knew where to start).  From there, you take turns throwing based on who is farthest from the target. You throw from where your disc lies until you’re able to complete the hole by getting your disc into the basket or chains of the target.
  • For more detailed rules of play, checkout the Disc Golf Association website.

Where to Play Disc Golf Around Grand Rapids

Many parks, schools and churches in Grand Rapids have courses for the public to use!  A small sampling of places you can play are below, but you can also find one close to you at DC Course Review or The Disc Golf Scene.

  • Hughes Park (40th Ave & Van Buren St, Hudsonville) – This is the course my family played.  We loved that it was shady, there was a map to point us in the right direction (#firsttimers) and the course was well-marked.
  • Word-on-the-street says that Fallasburg Park (1124 Fallasburg Rd, Lowell) has a beautiful view going for it’s Disc Golf Course.  According to the Kent County Parks website, this might be the place for you if you’re looking for a combination of both “field and forested play”.
  • Visit Garfield Park (2111 Madison SE, Grand Rapids) if you want a newer course to try!  This 18-hole course had an updated layout and baskets that debuted in 2016.
  • Maybe you are up for a bigger challenge?  While it’s definitely not stroller-friendly, Johnson Park (2600 Wilson Ave, Walker) has hilly-terrain and a technical course that will put your disc throwing skills to the test.
  • Perfect for little ones (or anyone for that matter!), New Community Church (2340 Dean Lake Rd, Grand Rapids) has a mini-disc course.  With smaller baskets and using “mini-discs”, or 3” marking discs, this open-to-the-public playing area is next on our family’s Disc Golf circuit!

While my 6-year olds proved to be better disc throwers than me, our entire family had an awesome time trying Disc Golf for the first time and the kids are already asking to go back to the park for another round — probably just so they can beat mom again!

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