History of Disc Golf

Late 1940’s

In response to discovering the fun of sailing tins lids, Fred Morrison invents and introduces the world’s first plastic flying saucers and began to market them.


Early 1950's

On the east coast, Bill Robes also discovered and the fun of tin lid tossing, and independently of Fred Morrison, also invents and markets a plastic flying disc which was called the “Space Saucer.”


Fred Morrison improves on his flying saucer invention with a second disc, the Pluto Platter, which had the famous "Play catch - invent games" engraved on the back. Was disc golf one of these invented games?


Late 1950's

Wham-O begins marketing Morrison's Pluto Platter in 1957.  In 1958, Wham-O added the name “Frisbee” to the Pluto Platter discs and trademarked it as the name for all the subsequent discs they developed and marketed from that point on.



The Copar Company of Chicago markets a disc called "Sky Saucer" which included a set of rules for the game of "Sky Golf".



Wham-o introduces the "Official Pro Model" to be used for sports.


1964 - 1969

George Sappenfield organizes several Frisbee golf events in southern California.



Disc enthusiasts in a variety of locations around the country also discovered disc golf play, and several “Object Courses" using anything from trees, lamp poles to fire hydrants as targets cropped up in the Midwest and East Coast.



A small group of Frisbee enthusiasts in Rochester, NY, also discovered disc golf, and formed the "Rochester Frisbee Club" to play the game on regular basis.  They used container type “holes” such as boxes, old tires, and trash containers as the targets for holing out. They eventually a developed a small wooden box that was used as the standard golf hole for their disc golf play.


The Flying Disc World newsletter by Dan Roddick and Flash Kingsley becomes the first independently published magazine for disc sports.



The Rochester Frisbee Club introduces the concept of disc golf as a competitive sport by hosting the first disc golf tournament of national scope.



Installation of the first permanent disc golf course in Oak Grove Park, La Canada, California. Wham-O introduces the World Class 119g disc, a marked improvement in discs for competitive sports.



Ed Headrick invents the chain-style disc golf target and organizes the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA).



The first PDGA tournaments are held simultaneously in Northern New Jersey and Mobile, Alabama, the modern era of disc golf competition begins.



The PDGA becomes a player-run organization to schedule tournaments and formalize the rules of play. Harold Duvall wins the first PDGA World Disc Golf Championships.



Dave Dunipace of INNOVA-Champion Discs invents the modern golf disc, a plastic flying disc with a beveled edge rim for greater distance and accuracy.


PDGA begins publication of "Disc Golfer."



Columbia Disc Golf News begins publication of a magazine for disc golf.



The World Flying Disc Federation organizes the first "World Championships" held outside of the United States, in Helsingborg, Sweden. Players from 21 countries attend. Around the world, players continue to lobby parks departments and college campuses for more disc golf courses. By the end of the decade, permanent disc golf courses are installed in Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan along with many more in the United States.



Disc Golf World News begins publication.


1990 - 2002

Ken Climo of Clearwater, Florida wins an unprecedented eleven world championships establishing himself as a great disc golfer, and maybe the best to have ever lived.  He set the bar high for all future disc golfers.



Lavone Wolfe establishes the PDGA Hall of Fame. The PDGA begins to chronicle the history of disc golf.



INNOVA introduces the DISCatcher Disc Golf Target and begin to promote new courses. In the next 5 years, the number of disc golf courses triples to over 1200.



The inaugural United States Disc Golf Championship is held in Rock Hill, SC. Ken Climo is the first to win and be crowned the U.S. Champion. As of 2016, he has won the event 3 more times.



Disc Golf becomes a featured sport in the World Games in Akita, Japan.


Disc Golf and the PDGA continues to grow with more courses,

more tournaments, more players and more fun!


 By Jim Palmeri, PDGA #23

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