Disc golf can be a great activity for you and your kids to do together. I’ve found that my kids just want to be around me enjoying the activities that I enjoy. However, it is unrealistic to expect a kid to get through a full round of 18 holes of disc golf. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, after two hours they’re ready to move on to the next thing. To keep it interesting for my children, I love to play side games along with disc golf, so it is always an engaging, fresh experience for them. Also, they don’t always want to come along and participate in the game. Sometimes they may just be there because there wasn’t anyone at home to watch them. In these instances, I really have to come up with creative ideas to keep them entertained.
Here’s a list of 27 ideas for playing disc golf with kids that I really like.
#1 Camping With Portable Baskets
Camping on it’s own is a fun activity for any family. Kids especially love going into the woods and exploring new places they’ve never been before. While preparing for a camping trip with my wife and two boys, I saw my bag of discs and decided to bring them along. And it turned out to be a wonderful idea. We played multiple times during that weekend.
If you have the chance, bring a couple portable baskets with you camping and let the kids create their own course in the woods. This is one of my favorite activities while camping because course design is not something that most players get to be a part of. If you don’t have any portable baskets to bring along, you can go old school and mark a few trees with ribbons as the targets. This is primarily what we do when we want a much longer course with more holes.
The courses are always new and exciting and it keeps my game on point for the next time I’m playing on a wooded course. My kids never fail to construct a hole that’s literally impossible to complete without hitting a few trees along the way.
Over the years I’ve used tons of portable baskets. You can check out my recommendations here.
#2 Let Your Kids Caddie for You
Let your kids caddie for your during a round on the course. When my five year old is with me, I sometimes let him chose the disc that I’ll throw next. It doesn’t matter if I’m teeing off or putting. Whatever he hands me, I throw. His disc selection is always based on colors, so it makes for an interesting round. The great part about this is it forces me to use certain discs in a new way that I’ve haven’t thought about before. Putting from 30 feet away with an overstable driver? No problem. Just imagine heavy winds and a large tree in your path.
Also, while doing putting practice in my backyard, my son used to be the full-time disc collector when he was 2 years old. I would throw them all into the basket and then set him loose to bring them all back to me. Not only that, but he would collect all of my missed putts and slam dunk them into the basket before bringing them back.
#3 Bring Them to a Disc Golf Shop
I love going to a disc golf shop and picking out new discs and equipment. Although all to often we buy everything online these days. I’m guilty of this, but bringing my kids to a disc golf store and letting them pick out their own discs can be a special experience.
My kids loves shuffling through all the different colors and stamps. And when they are the ones that picked out the discs, they are that much more excited to go home and try them out for the fist time. Just remember, steer them towards lighter discs as these will be much easier to throw. I stick to discs under 150 grams for kids and I only buy discs that float since they end up in the water often (see my post here for more on floating discs).
If they find a disc they like, but it is too heavy for them, talk to the shop staff. I’ve always found them to be helpful in finding the same disc in a lighter weight or a similar disc in the appropriate weight range.
#4 Attend a Pro Tournament
If you’re lucky enough to live near a tournament on the pro tour or a major, take your kids to watch the pros in action. In my experience, disc golf is a very spectator friendly game and is a great way for your kids to have some players to look up to. I had to give my son a crash course on disc golf etiquette before we attended because he’s used to running wild on the public courses I’ve taken him to in the past.
I would advise against bringing very young kids since tournaments can run for a while and it would be unrealistic to expect them to keep up etiquette all day. Also, there are typically vendors that setup that you can bring your kids to pick out some new discs.
If you think your kids wouldn’t last long at a tournament, then definitely plan to bring them to the final round to watch the lead group. The crowds can get large and it is a great experience for them to be part of the excitement. Bring chairs and lots of water! If your kids start to get restless, no problem. It is very much so a come and go type of environment.
#5 Play Disc Golf H-O-R-S-E!
I always loved playing basketball horse growing up with my family. Now that I’ve gotten more into disc golf, I find that the disc golf variation of horse is just as fun. Also, I’ve found it even easier for my kids to play with a disc and a basket, rather than a basketball and a hoop. Oftentimes, the hoop is too high up for my little ones to reach. However, a disc golf basket is the perfect height for them to throw a disc to.
If you’ve never played horse or forgot the rules, here’s a quick explanation for how it works with disc golf. A player picks a location to throw at the basket from. If that player makes the putt, then the next player to throw must attempt that same putt. If player #2 misses the putt, they are given an H to their score. If player #1 misses the basket, player #2 can choose any location to throw from. If player #2 matches the putt from player #1, player #3 must attempt the shot, and so forth. Each missed attempt adds a new letter to a players score until they have H-O-R-S-E completely filled out, at which point they are eliminated from the game.
#6 Play Disc Golf Knock Out
Play knock-out with discs and a basket as opposed to a hoop and basketball. If you’ve never played knock-out before, let me explain the rules.
It requires at least two players. First, form a line facing the basket (chose your desired distance from the basket based on the skill level of the players involved). The first person in the line begins the game by throwing their putt. If the first player misses their putt, the next player in line can ‘knock out’ the first player by making their putt BEFORE the first player has a chance to run to their lie and throw their disc in the basket. If the first player successfully completes their putt before the second player, they hand off the disc to the next person in line and returns to the end of the line. The third person tries to knock out the second player, and so forth. The game is over when everyone is knocked out besides one player.
Just be careful with this one since it can be easy to clip someone with a disc when they go to retrieve their disc from the basket. Generally we haven’t had a problem with this, but there have been incidents in the past.
#7 Disc Golf with Bocce Ball Rules
The objective in bocce ball is to roll your ball closer to a target ball than your opponents. For disc golf, I throw a ball out into an open field and we each throw a single disc to see who can get closest to the ball. To make it interesting for me, I only use disc rollers while my kids can throw whatever they want. This seems to even the playing field quite well since my roller game needs a lot of work.
#8 Mini Basket & Discs in the House
A coworker of mine from the past had purchased me a mini basket with mini discs as a gag birthday present. I had it at work for a short time and then ended up bringing it home when I left that job. Now that it’s at home, the kids have claimed it as their own. It quickly became more popular than Hungry Hungry Hippo and Operation at my house. We have it set up in the playroom and use it often (much to my wife’s dismay with all the discs flying around the inside of the house). Having a mini basket and mini discs in the house has been great when we play disc golf horse or disc golf knock-out.
#9 Do It Yourself Disc Golf Basket
This was a fun experiment that I saw a few people doing online, so I tried to mimic building our own DIY basket with my kids. The actual construction was terrible since I’m not very crafty with building things. But the kids loved bring a part of the process! Ours was mostly made out of PVC pipes and duct tape, with some rope, but there are plenty of great blueprints out there on Pinterest that people have put together that you can follow.
#10 Have a Science Lesson on Flight Physics
Take some time to explain the science behind flight physics and what makes a disc soar through the air. As I was putting together a brief lesson plan to present to my boys, I realized I didn’t actually understand the science as well as I thought I did, so I really had to do my homework to be able to explain it for them to understand. Coupling a sort lesson with lots of real-life experiments is what I found works best. After teaching a few concepts, I let them go in the backyard to test out what they learned!
#11 Only Play 9 Holes or Less
I’ve never been able to get my kids through a full round of 18 holes in disc golf. Its just too long for them. I used to try to encourage them on to finish the course, but I’ve since changed that approach. Now I only keep them out there for as long as they are having fun. Sometimes that’s 9 holes and sometimes its less. And that fine. At a young age, they’re more interested in climbing trees and playing in mud, and they’re mostly out there just to be with me. Forcing the issue only serves to push them away further.
#12 Watch Disc Golf Coverage on YouTube
If you’re kids are anything like mine, they always want to watch videos on YouTube. One type of video that we can sometimes agree on is disc golf coverage. When my youngest was 18 months old, he would always sit in front of the T.V., with his gaze fixed on whatever tournament I happened to be watching at the time. I’m not sure he even watched cartoons that intently at the time. And my oldest loves to watch disc golf trick shot videos. Not all kids are going to enjoy this, but if you’re going to watch something it might as well be a video that everyone can enjoy (excluding my wife perhaps).
Two of the more popular YouTube channels to watch are Central Coast Disc Golf and Jomez Productions. I find that between these two channels there’s probably going to be enough content to keep you busy.
#13 Play at a Course with a Playground Nearby
The great thing about disc golf is that most of the courses are free to play on and they are usually built near a park with a play structure. This is because most courses are created by the city or town you live in. I had once taken my two sons and wife to come play a round with me. After 5 holes, my youngest wanted to go home while my oldest wanted to keep going. Before a fight ensured, my wife cleverly suggested she take our youngest son over to the playground nearby so he could play on the slides. Lesson learned. If they get tired of the game, let them go to the playground while you finish up.
#14 Go for Ice Cream After
This is a tradition I started not that long ago and its a hit! After being in the sun for an hour or so, a cold treat is incredibly satisfying for everyone. Not only that, it makes the experience memorable for my kids and provides them something to look forward to afterwards.
#15 Teach Them to Throw Forehand
I’ve found that whenever someone starts playing disc golf, the backhand is usually the go-to throw. This was true for me and my kids as well. Surprisingly, I found a forehand throw to be much easier for my boys over a backhand throw. This can seem counter-intuitive because we see the majority of players out there favoring a backhand throw. When it comes to my kids, it is simply easier for them to grab a disc with a forehand grip over backhand. Their distance is better, their accuracy is better, and they have more fun. Also, it came more natural for them to throw forehand, so its what we stuck with. As they grow older and get bigger hands, perhaps they can integrate a backhand back into their game.
#16 Create New Tee Pads
While I was playing with a friend, he brought his 10 year old son along. His son had played a few times with his dad and had gotten pretty good, but it was still taking him many throws to actually access the basket. Of course, this was more a function of his age than his skill in the game. 90% of kids his age would be preforming just as well. As time went on, it was clear that he was getting frustrated with the game because he wasn’t able to throw under par like his dad and I were doing. Eventually he stopped playing as much because of this frustration.
It can be frustrating for kids when they see you throwing one time to reach the pin and they have to throw three or four times to complete the hole. For this reason, I like to establish new tee pads on the fly that allow my boys to get to the pin in at least two throws. Usually, I’ll just place two discs in the grass and have them throw from behind those. I’ve heard that some courses out there even have extra tee pads specially designed for kids to play on the course, so be on the lookout for that. Unfortunately, none of the courses around me had this as an option, but the two disc method works just fine.
#17 Learn Colors
When my son was a baby/toddler learning his colors for the first time, I mostly used my discs to teach him. My wife had purchased some flash cards and other training material, but where’s the fun in that? Discs are perfect because after he would get a color right, I would give it to him to play with as a reward. I even bought him his own set of soft mini discs that he would use as a teething toy.
#18 Give Them a Handicap
If your playing with a kid that is a bit older and you want the round to still be competitive, give them a handicap. My kids are still too young for this to be fun for them, but I have a friend that occasionally brings his teenager to the course. For simplicity, we’ve typically given him an extra throw on each hole which levels the playing field fairly well. He’s even beaten me a few times.
#19 Play Alternative Throws
Playing alternative throws is a great way to teach kids teamwork. Its also a good way to ensure you’re not out on the course for too long. I’ve found using alternative throws cuts the time in half. If its taking your kids 5 throws to access the basket, it can take a while to get through the entire course. Plus, you may be holding up the course for groups behind you. If this sounds familiar, then this is perfect for you and your kids.
When playing alternative throws, you and another player are working together to finishing the course. You simply alternate throws and always throw from the lie of your partner’s throw. I typically let my son tee off first to start each hole and then I take the next shot from his lie. This usually results in him getting to attempt each putt after my upshot, which is great. I found that when I was teeing off first, he rarely had the opportunity to throw any real drives and got bored quickly.
#20 Teach Them Proper Etiquette
We all know that disc golf is much more casual than ball golf. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t etiquette that is generally accepted by the community which everyone should follow. And it is especially important for kids to learn proper expectations when they step onto a course.
There are a number of universally known etiquette guidelines that disc golfers SHOULD follow. Here are the important ones that I teach my boys:
- If there is a group behind you that is moving at a faster pace, let them play through. It is courteous to that group and allows you to focus on your throws rather than worrying about the group at your back.
- Assist others in your group locate their discs after a throw. When others are throwing, keep an eye on where the disc lands so you can be useful during the search.
- If there is another player nearby preparing to throw, stop moving and talking until they are finished.
- If you find a disc on the course, attempt to return it to the owner, or lost and found if one is available for that course.
- In general, keep noise at a normal level and tone.
#21 Good Sportsmanship
Even more than becoming proficient at disc golf, it is important that kids gain a strong sense of sportsmanship when playing the game. It is cliche to say, but I think learning good sportsmanship trickles into all other aspects of a kids life. Here are the things I focus on with my kids:
- Keeping a positive attitude is number one on my list. Its okay to be upset when you have an errant shot, but don’t let that ruin the game for you. Let it drive you to become better.
- Don’t rub it in when you win.
- Don’t pout when you lose.
- Follow the rules of the game to the best of your abilities. Cheating is unacceptable. It can be tempting to move your lie to a better position when no one is looking. But it is what we do when no one is looking that defines who you are.
#22 Sign Up For a Youth League or Event
As your kids get older and you find that they are really enjoying disc golf, why not look into signing them up for a youth disc golf league? Tee-ball, soccer, football, and swimming are popular options for introducing kids to sports. However, disc golf is also a great option too in my opinion. The dangers are significantly less.
When I was growing up, football was the sport that everyone put their kids into. But as more science comes out on these full contact sports, parents have become more hesitant to put their kids in these dangerous situations. Myself included. Disc golf is still a growing sport, so youth leagues are not as prolific around the United States, but if you have the option in your area you should check it out.
There are also many youth disc golf events that are happening all around the United States year round. You can check out a list of some of these events at Kids Disc Golf. I’ve even seen where some tournaments in my area will have a division specifically for kids 12 years and under to play in along with Men’s and Women’s divisions. I personally haven’t registered my kids for any of these events yet, but as they get older I’m definitely going to make sure that they know it is an option if they’re interested.
#23 Sign Up for the PDGA
If you discover that your kids are REALLY enjoying disc golf, you can always take it to the next level and register them as members of the PDGA. The Junior Membership is $30 annually. The age limit for kids to compete in PDGA Majors is 8 years old.
#24 Don’t Track Their Scores
Oftentimes, we get attached to the idea of always keeping score. I especially do this because one of the things I enjoy about disc golf is the competition. Always trying to do better than the last time I played a course or trying to out perform the other players I’m with. This sort of competition drives us to want to become better at the sport.
When your kids are just starting out playing disc golf, don’t worry about tracking their scores. If it is their first time playing, their score is obviously going to be terrible. But that’s okay. Just let them go out there and have fun. As they get older, slowly introduce the competitive side of the game.
#25 Full-time Disc Finder/Marker
If your kids are too young to play disc golf and they still want to come along, assign them the full-time responsibility of finding discs and marking your lie with a mini disc. This worked great for when my kids were very young. In fact, their favorite part of the game was when I missed my line and threw the disc in some bushes. One, they thought it was funny and two, they enjoyed looking for it and being the one to find it. When I did get my throw in the fairway, it was a race to see who could get to the disc first to mark it. Although it did take me a while to teach them not to pick up my thrown disc until they actually marked it with the mini disc!
#26 First to the Basket
This was a side game that my son came up with the first time he was on the course with me. Mostly because he didn’t understand the actual rules of the game, but that was fine. After I would throw my disc from the tee box, he would race to the basket with his disc and slam dunk it in the basket before I could finishing my putt.
#27 Keep it Simple and Have Fun
When you are playing with kids, keep it as simple as possible. There are a ton of rules involved with the game of disc golf and your kids aren’t going to fully appreciate the nuances and intricacies of the sport. Nor will they really care.
When I’m out there with my family, we never play out of bounds rules (although I always encourage them to not lose their discs in the water is possible!). Of course, we teach safety and trying to keep throws on the fairway, but if their disc barely goes over the sidewalk I don’t penalize them. The two meter rule, ten meter rule, foot faults, out-of-bounds, etc. Throw them out. I focus on safety and having fun.
Now that my son has been out to the course a few times and is getting older, I have started introducing a few simple rules at a time so he can start thinking about them.