# Why are disc golfers so sensitive and angsty about comparisons to ball golf?

Dirty math and quick searching there but based on that it looks like there is more than twice the amount of active ball golf players that are scratch level than disc golf.
What DG rating is the equivalent of scratch handicap in ball golf is unknown. In addition, golf handicaps are now based on your best 8 out of 20 last rounds which produces more players with more impressive handicaps than their "rating" if calculated the disc golf way.

What DG rating is the equivalent of scratch handicap in ball golf is unknown. In addition, golf handicaps are now based on your best 8 out of 20 last rounds which produces more players with more impressive handicaps than their "rating" if calculated the disc golf way.

Absolutely. I was spitballing thoughts on how to articulate an idea with some quantitative data that could show disc golf is by no means "easier" than ball golf. We know for sure it's much more physically demanding. Biased and anecdotal as my opinion may be, I'm of the opinion that it's more difficult to be a scratch disc golfer than ball golfer.

Could easily be wrong.

I only wonder with a little more personal research into the past what else in disc golf may be 'improved' via adaptation...
This has been going on for 45 years. If you don't think there is enough of it going on currently, tell the PDGA.

I get that it's all semantics, but a quick google search shows that according to the USGA, 1.6 % of male golfers who have a USGA Handicap Index have indexes of zero or better.

PDGA shows we have 303 current players >= 1000. Since this is a COVID year and not indicative, probably should use last years numbers for active male players, which was what? 50,000? I'm guessing there. At 50,000 that means there are .075% players that are scratch.

Dirty math and quick searching there but based on that it looks like there is more than twice the amount of active ball golf players that are scratch level than disc golf.

For those who might jump to the conclusion that being a USGA member is more exclusive and therefore not an indicative sample size it is actually much cheaper (less than half the price actually) to be a member of the USGA than the PDGA.

I have no idea what the representation of the USGA is in terms of players though, maybe someone who knows more can chime in.

You're comparing apples and orangutans, which makes me guess that you've never actually played golf. 'Scratch' in golf means that a player has the potential to shoot even par on a course with an average slope rating. For an average disc golf course, do you really think only 1.6% of players have the potential to shoot even par? I've played two Worlds-hosting courses, and as a <900 player I can hang in there and get into the +5 to +9 range on both of them. I played golf for over a decade, and was never able to shoot +9 on any regulation length course. Let that sink in. The courses where we decide to host our World Championships are easier than the easiest regulation length golf course. Why? Because swinging a stick with an angled blade at a tiny ball is much, much, harder than throwing a frisbee.

The amount of skill development is so much higher (and rate of skill atrophication so much faster) in golf that they really aren't even comparable. I can go throw a disc after a month off and still have a good idea where the disc is going, albeit with some distance loss. Maybe I don't make very many putts that day. In contrast, a month off of golf felt like I was starting the game over. I still play a few times a year because my dad loves golfing, and I seriously five-putt sometimes now. Golf is really, really, hard. And THAT is the point I was getting at, to why disc golf is a better hobby for young parents who have less leisure time.

Absolutely. I was spitballing thoughts on how to articulate an idea with some quantitative data that could show disc golf is by no means "easier" than ball golf. We know for sure it's much more physically demanding. Biased and anecdotal as my opinion may be, I'm of the opinion that it's more difficult to be a scratch disc golfer than ball golfer. Could easily be wrong.
Disc golf has developed into more of a power/distance game at the top reducing the value of skill components EXCEPT when playing shorter courses in the woods. Even there, power/distance rules when you can accurately lace a 400 ft throw down a tunnel with a mid-range. Point being that without the power/distance component, you cannot be an elite disc golfer but you can become an elite ball golfer without extreme power. Golfers use a club to level the power/distance advantage plus, and this is the important part, ball golf hole design still defeats power players from landing on most par 4 greens and everyone in the field can reach par 3 greens from the tee. Some disc golf designers try to do that but lack of terrain features, mainly woods, can undermine that approach.

You're comparing apples and orangutans, which makes me guess that you've never actually played golf. 'Scratch' in golf means that a player has the potential to shoot even par on a course with an average slope rating. For an average disc golf course, do you really think only 1.6% of players have the potential to shoot even par? I've played two Worlds-hosting courses, and as a <900 player I can hang in there and get into the +5 to +9 range on both of them. I played golf for over a decade, and was never able to shoot +9 on any regulation length course. Let that sink in. The courses where we decide to host our World Championships are easier than the easiest regulation length golf course. Why? Because swinging a stick with an angled blade at a tiny ball is much, much, harder than throwing a frisbee.

The amount of skill development is so much higher (and rate of skill atrophication so much faster) in golf that they really aren't even comparable. I can go throw a disc after a month off and still have a good idea where the disc is going, albeit with some distance loss. Maybe I don't make very many putts that day. In contrast, a month off of golf felt like I was starting the game over. I still play a few times a year because my dad loves golfing, and I seriously five-putt sometimes now. Golf is really, really, hard. And THAT is the point I was getting at, to why disc golf is a better hobby for young parents who have less leisure time.

Well we'd have to determine what our starting point for being "good" at each sport would entail. I am using "scratch" as a barometer. I think that is a fair determinant, but could be wrong. What would be a better indicator? Any donkey can shoot even par on an easy disc golf course, so shooting par in disc golf versus ball golf isn't a fair comparison. Being a "scratch" rated disc golfer is a whole nother animal and not an easy feat to accomplish.

I am using the idea of being a scratch player in both sports as a barometer of being "good". With that as a barometer, shooting scratch disc golf versus ball golf becomes much more of a interesting comparison.

Absolutely. I was spitballing thoughts on how to articulate an idea with some quantitative data that could show disc golf is by no means "easier" than ball golf. We know for sure it's much more physically demanding. Biased and anecdotal as my opinion may be, I'm of the opinion that it's more difficult to be a scratch disc golfer than ball golfer.

Could easily be wrong.

You think disc golf is more physically demanding? LOL, based on what criteria? I'm guessing you're retort will be "ball golfers don't walk, they use carts." Which, 1) carts are not allowed in competition, and 2) a lot of people (myself included) don't use carts even in casual rounds.

And "scratch" in disc golf is 100% arbitrary. Sure, people call 1000 rated players scratch but it isn't based on anything. Why isn't 1025 scratch? Or 1040? Or 950? It's because 1000 is a nice even number. But that number doesn't mean anything, except that you're better than 999 and not as good as 1001. In contrast, ball golf "scratch" means you have the potential to shoot even par on a course of average difficulty. Using the actual scratch definition, likely means any disc golfer over 900 rated is scratch.

Any donkey can shoot even par on an easy disc golf course, so shooting par in disc golf versus ball golf isn't a fair comparison.

No, that's exactly why it's a fair comparison. It is easier to play well and score well in disc golf because it is easier. Now go find an easy golf course, and tell me how long it takes you to go shoot even par. (HINT: odds are the answer is "never")

And maybe you missed my previous point, that Worlds-level disc golf courses are easier than even crappy little municipal golf courses. I've scored better on Gold layouts on Worlds courses than I ever did on ANY regulation length golf course.

And maybe you missed my previous point, that Worlds-level disc golf courses are easier than even crappy little municipal golf courses. I've scored better on Gold layouts on Worlds courses than I ever did on ANY regulation length golf course.

OK you've convinced me, disc golf is easier!

...
And "scratch" in disc golf is 100% arbitrary. Sure, people call 1000 rated players scratch but it isn't based on anything. Why isn't 1025 scratch? Or 1040? Or 950? It's because 1000 is a nice even number. But that number doesn't mean anything, except that you're better than 999 and not as good as 1001. In contrast, ball golf "scratch" means you have the potential to shoot even par on a course of average difficulty. Using the actual scratch definition, likely means any disc golfer over 900 rated is scratch.

Many tournaments use something for par which was based on a false notion of what par should be (like "reach+two") or which was set for lower-level daily players.

In the past few years, there is a trend among serious TDs toward embracing 1000-rated as scratch and setting par so that 1000-rated players need to play well to get even par. Last year's Pro Worlds is an example.

There was a reason the four-digit ratings number was set to be at the skill level where it is.

Even if we set par as analogous as possible to golf, our pars will be lower because disc golf is easier. We hardly ever use courses where top players expect to score 70; golf uses them all the time. We will also have more birdies because golf avoids playing big tournaments on holes that can be easily birdied, but disc golf likes them.

No, that's exactly why it's a fair comparison. It is easier to play well and score well in disc golf because it is easier. Now go find an easy golf course, and tell me how long it takes you to go shoot even par. (HINT: odds are the answer is "never")

And maybe you missed my previous point, that Worlds-level disc golf courses are easier than even crappy little municipal golf courses. I've scored better on Gold layouts on Worlds courses than I ever did on ANY regulation length golf course.

You're not an unbiased esimator, you might be better at disc golf than you are at golf. We have no way to ascertain whether you are or not.

There is no way of objectively identifying that one sport is 'easier' than another without accurately measuring the number of hours practiced by a large cohort of players playing both sports on their path from beginner to playing at a high level. Even then 'accurately' is perhaps a bit woolly. Also the level which is determined to be 'high' is dependent on the depth of the field.

Even if we set par as analogous as possible to golf, our pars will be lower because disc golf is easier.

So you agree with me then.

You're not an unbiased esimator, you might be better at disc golf than you are at golf. We have no way to ascertain whether you are or not.

There is no way of objectively identifying that one sport is 'easier' than another without accurately measuring the number of hours practiced by a large cohort of players playing both sports on their path from beginner to playing at a high level. Even then 'accurately' is perhaps a bit woolly. Also the level which is determined to be 'high' is dependent on the depth of the field.

There have been millions of golfers that have taken up the sport. I can safely say that zero of them mastered the game as easily as Brodie Smith mastered disc golf.

And perhaps you didn't cycle back a couple pages to see what we are arguing about, but my argument isn't trying to define the words accurate or high. It was merely explaining why myself, and lots of other golfers, made the switch to disc golf when becoming parents. My comment was that disc golf is easier to play well with limited leisure time. And while 'well' is also a subjective word, it really isn't all that debatable if you know anything about both sports. Go to a golf driving range or putting green after the first spring thaw, and see just how much people suck after three months off. You'll see a ton of golfers that can't even get the ball off the ground, or can only slice the ball (what we call a noob hyzer in disc golf). While disc golfers aren't as sharp after a few months off, it's not like the skills go away altogether. You're not going to resort to throwing noob hyzers again. You're not going to five putt.

Many tournaments use something for par which was based on a false notion of what par should be (like "reach+two") or which was set for lower-level daily players.

In the past few years, there is a trend among serious TDs toward embracing 1000-rated as scratch and setting par so that 1000-rated players need to play well to get even par. Last year's Pro Worlds is an example.

There was a reason the four-digit ratings number was set to be at the skill level where it is.

Even if we set par as analogous as possible to golf, our pars will be lower because disc golf is easier. We hardly ever use courses where top players expect to score 70; golf uses them all the time. We will also have more birdies because golf avoids playing big tournaments on holes that can be easily birdied, but disc golf likes them.

Dustin Johnson shot 30 under par this weekend. He had at least 5 eagles. Eagles fly all over the PGA Tour. in ball golf the PGA usually sets up some very easy birdie holes, along with some really tough par holes. It is not uncommon at all for a hole to be played by the field more than a half stroke under par. By you thinking that would mean that the PGA is setting par wrong. I think you have a really bad opinion on what par should be.

LOL yeah anyone who thinks the two sports are comparable at all in terms of difficulty has never tried both. Traditional golf might be the hardest of all popular sports to master. Consistent ball striking and putting are elusive even for the top pros. A guy will be lights out for a while, then suddenly he's barely cracking the top 20. The players who have been consistently great at golf are fewer than in any other sport.

You think disc golf is more physically demanding? LOL, based on what criteria? I'm guessing you're retort will be "ball golfers don't walk, they use carts." Which, 1) carts are not allowed in competition, and 2) a lot of people (myself included) don't use carts even in casual rounds.

And "scratch" in disc golf is 100% arbitrary. Sure, people call 1000 rated players scratch but it isn't based on anything. Why isn't 1025 scratch? Or 1040? Or 950? It's because 1000 is a nice even number. But that number doesn't mean anything, except that you're better than 999 and not as good as 1001. In contrast, ball golf "scratch" means you have the potential to shoot even par on a course of average difficulty. Using the actual scratch definition, likely means any disc golfer over 900 rated is scratch.

I too regularly play golf, it is really no more or less physically demanding than disc golf. I also generally walk. While disc golf courses, that I play, have more physically demanding terrain (in regards to walking, searching and playing in and through), golf courses turn out to be 2 or 3 times the distance. Both contain a similar count of explosive swings/throws.

No, that's exactly why it's a fair comparison. It is easier to play well and score well in disc golf because it is easier. Now go find an easy golf course, and tell me how long it takes you to go shoot even par. (HINT: odds are the answer is "never")

And maybe you missed my previous point, that Worlds-level disc golf courses are easier than even crappy little municipal golf courses. I've scored better on Gold layouts on Worlds courses than I ever did on ANY regulation length golf course.

And I have scored much worse. Jugular is correct on the premise of how good you are at either, for this analogy.

So you agree with me then.

There have been millions of golfers that have taken up the sport. I can safely say that zero of them mastered the game as easily as Brodie Smith mastered disc golf.
And perhaps you didn't cycle back a couple pages to see what we are arguing about, but my argument isn't trying to define the words accurate or high. It was merely explaining why myself, and lots of other golfers, made the switch to disc golf when becoming parents. My comment was that disc golf is easier to play well with limited leisure time. And while 'well' is also a subjective word, it really isn't all that debatable if you know anything about both sports. Go to a golf driving range or putting green after the first spring thaw, and see just how much people suck after three months off. You'll see a ton of golfers that can't even get the ball off the ground, or can only slice the ball (what we call a noob hyzer in disc golf). While disc golfers aren't as sharp after a few months off, it's not like the skills go away altogether. You're not going to resort to throwing noob hyzers again. You're not going to five putt.

This is hyperbole. I suggest many golfers have gone from noob to a 950 players in several months. And....Brodie, coming from a frisbee sport background, hardly represents a noob.

I essentially agree with most of your premise.....speaking in absolutes and false narratives does not do a very good job of supporting it though. :thmbup:

I love both games, but feel NO need to make them anymore alike, than that already are.

There have been millions of golfers that have taken up the sport. I can safely say that zero of them mastered the game as easily as Brodie Smith mastered disc golf.

What a weird reference point to choose. Not only does he have transferable skills which he has spent many thousands of hours honing, he hasn't, by his own admission, 'mastered the game'.

The persistency of skills is an interesting way of assessing the difficulty of a sport and I don't doubt that you're right about the process, I just don't think it maps directly onto what people would say is 'difficulty'. To be trite if the winning strategy in a game of Connect4 was fairly easy to determine through regular play but quite difficult to store in long-term memory the fact that you need to spend time regaining that knowledge doesn't make Connect4 a difficult game to me.

So you agree with me then.

There have been millions of golfers that have taken up the sport. I can safely say that zero of them mastered the game as easily as Brodie Smith mastered disc golf.

And perhaps you didn't cycle back a couple pages to see what we are arguing about, but my argument isn't trying to define the words accurate or high. It was merely explaining why myself, and lots of other golfers, made the switch to disc golf when becoming parents. My comment was that disc golf is easier to play well with limited leisure time. And while 'well' is also a subjective word, it really isn't all that debatable if you know anything about both sports. Go to a golf driving range or putting green after the first spring thaw, and see just how much people suck after three months off. You'll see a ton of golfers that can't even get the ball off the ground, or can only slice the ball (what we call a noob hyzer in disc golf). While disc golfers aren't as sharp after a few months off, it's not like the skills go away altogether. You're not going to resort to throwing noob hyzers again. You're not going to five putt.

It all depends on the skill level before the long break. proficient players have a much easier time returning to form than non-proficient players.

I'm also a golfer and disc golfer. Disc golf is easier relative to how both sports set par, but I don't think that's relevant to arguing one sports difficulty relative to another. If a course designer added a stroke to Par for every hole, it didn't just get easier or harder.

For someone who played golf and comes over to disc golf (like me), it definitely makes you feel better knowing that shooting under par is an option for me now because I'm used to the way golf sets par.

I think you would have to get a lot of subjects who have never played either, have them spend the same amount of time dedicated to both, and figure out a way to objectively prove they get better more quickly at one sport vs the other.

Instinctively I believe that golf is harder simply because you are introducing a club as a major variable toward control but disc golf does have its own set of variables. If I had to pick, I would definitely pick golf as more difficult.

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The amount of skill development is so much higher (and rate of skill atrophication so much faster) in golf that they really aren't even comparable... And THAT is the point I was getting at, to why disc golf is a better hobby for young parents who have less leisure time.

Right conclusion, wrong reason, imo. To me the skill development and atrophy is NOT higher in ball golf, in fact I would say it is much higher in disc golf, it just occurs at a higher level than ball golf.

Ball golf is actually very easy to progress in skill, once you acquire the ability to properly strike the ball. Acquiring the ability to properly strike the ball at all is hard. To do it a majority of the time is incredibly hard. On the other hand, acquiring the ability to throw a disc is a non issue; EVERYONE can throw a disc from throw #1. And progressing up to ~350' isn't all that hard.

But once a golfer has the ability to strike the ball, everything else after that is just not that hard. With solid contact the club does the work for you. Your scores magically drop. A person can go from the 100s to the 80s in a relatively short amount of time once the proper strike clicks. Putting is the same way. Once a golfer discovers that the swing plane of the putter face actually makes putts hook and slice, all of a sudden they aren't 4 putting and missing 3' putts like they used to. Easy 5 strokes gone over night. Another thing happens when golfers make this jump, they splurge for a club fitting and it becomes even easier. Golf is a game of manipulating simple machines after all, and if your simple machines are better so are you!

Contrast this to our hapless disc golfer. He quickly shot up to 380' drive, and routinely misses 50% of his C1x putts and 95% of his C2 putts. From here on out the struggle is straight up hill. There is no easy fix for putting accuracy. The ball golfer can learn how to study greens and practice extremely simple putt plane drills. The disc golfer is in voodoo territory. How many disc golfers throw hundreds of practice putts a day and still cannot make any significant number of 30' putts? Meanwhile they are still out there throwing hours of field work trying to get their drive over 400'.

As for atrophy, I only have personal anecdotal experience with that. I found the hit a few years ago and was throwing up to 500'. Then one offseason I completely lost it. I still don't have it back, and I am actually regressing below 400' where now to be honest with myself I throw 390'. Putting seems to be the same way for most people. One month you have progress, then it all goes away.

Your conclusion is accurate though. Getting good enough to enjoy disc golf is a matter of minutes, while ball golf can take some time. Getting through to a truly proficient level, to me, is easier in ball golf. The machines (clubs) give me feedback which I can build on to get better. Disc golf has no feedback. Oh the disc went 380' this time. No idea why. Oh it went 410' this time. No idea why. Oh I grip locked this time. Still clueless. Keep throwing, keep throwing, never get better...

Your conclusion is accurate though. Getting good enough to enjoy disc golf is a matter of minutes, while ball golf can take some time. Getting through to a truly proficient level, to me, is easier in ball golf. The machines (clubs) give me feedback which I can build on to get better. Disc golf has no feedback. Oh the disc went 380' this time. No idea why. Oh it went 410' this time. No idea why. Oh I grip locked this time. Still clueless. Keep throwing, keep throwing, never get better...

I was about to go into some of what you mentioned here Dingus, a key reason that people feel Golf is so much harder is that the learning curve is so shallow to begin with. Disc Golf's as you say appears to be very steep as you start out. I think part of the reason we can say Golf is harder to play at a high level is that Golf has a higher high level currently. The depth of the field is enormous in comparison and there are centuries of coaching wisdom and drills to help people improve such that we're closer as a species to 'perfect' play in Golf compared to Disc Golf. I suspect that in decades to come McBeth and Climo will be eclipsed by yet more skilled players who throw further, more accurately and more consistently than they have to date. Who knows what the learning curve for both sports is like at the current extremes of good play?

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