In 2022, disc golf entered a new phase of growth. To put the current state of play into perspective, let's borrow an analogy from another athletic pursuit: running.

In 2020 and 2021, disc golf was a sprinter surging out of the blocks. Today, it's training for a marathon.

And how do you train for a marathon? By pounding the pavement and laying down the foundation. By putting in the time and discipline. And by transforming from speedy to sustainable.

This year's Disc Golf Growth Report shows how the sport is doing just that, with key facts and figures on courses, players, and other industry trends that show it's primed for the long haul.

500 million people live within 10 kilometers of a disc golf course

That's a half-billion people, for those keeping score at home. In the United States alone, 254 million people can play the sport within 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) of where they live.

  • ๐Ÿšง 4.3 courses were installed per day in 2022.
  • ๐ŸŒ 14,048 disc golf courses are available worldwide.

The total number of courses represents a 13% increase over 2021, and it doesn't count the cornucopia of backyard courses, pop-up layouts, and the like that are also on UDisc. (If you add those into the mix, the number of new builds climbs to nearly 10 per day โ€“ and there would be more than 21,000 courses across the globe!)

Disc golf course infrastructure is a vital indicator of the sport's viability, and it reaches far beyond the U.S.

  • ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช In Estonia, a whopping 88% of residents have access to a disc golf course within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of their home.

  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ Sweden, Finland, and Denmark all crest 70%. Expand the radius out to 10 miles (16 kilometers), and those figures all jump to over 90%.

Still, there are areas where access to disc golf can be greatly improved:

  • ๐Ÿ™๏ธ New York City has zero disc golf courses. That's 8.5 million people missing out on the sport.
  • ๐Ÿงฆ Boston has only 4 baskets.
  • ๐Ÿšฆ In cities like San Francisco and San Diego, one landmark course among millions of potential players results in reports of overcrowding.

Learn more: How to Get A Disc Golf Course in Your Area

Percentage of Population That Lives Within Given Distances of Disc Golf Courses, Top Countries
2 mi (3.2 km)5 mi (8 km)10 mi (16 km)
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia53%88%95%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden39%73%91%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland34%71%93%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark33%75%94%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States28%67%88%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway26%65%87%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada25%62%82%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland25%53%88%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czechia23%56%83%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand21%46%65%
More people than ever are playing disc golf

Busy courses aren't just a rumor: The number of people using UDisc and the number of unique UDisc account holders who scored a round in 2022 both increased by 10% over 2021's figures.

  • โฌ†๏ธ 1.2 million disc golfers used UDisc in 2022.
  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ 548,000 of them scored at least one round.
  • ๐Ÿฅ 19 million rounds were scored with the app last year.
  • ๐Ÿ“… 56% of UDisc players score at least one round a month.

While the total number of people using UDisc to find courses and keep score is up, the average number of rounds scored per person dropped slightly โ€“ an expected development as some people returned to the office or other activities.

Yes, but: Weโ€™re still seeing rates well above pre-pandemic levels โ€“ 19 million rounds is a heck of a lot of disc golf being played.

There are more disc golf courses in the United States than Dunkin' Donuts shops

That's a delicious stat if we've ever heard one. Here's the tally:

  • ๐Ÿฅ Disc golf courses: 9,465
  • ๐Ÿฉ Dunkin' locations: 8,500

Be sure to save that one for your next trivia night, or when you just want to impress your friends. For bonus points, tell them America runs on disc golf.

While that's a fun tidbit to keep in your back pocket, a better comparison puts disc golf up against other common recreational activities in the U.S.:

  • โ›ณ Golf courses: 16,000
  • ๐ŸŽพ Tennis facilities: 14,684
  • ๐Ÿฅ’ Pickleball facilities: 10,724
  • ๐Ÿฅ Disc golf courses: 9,465

Keep in mind: Golf and tennis both include private facilities that often involve membership fees. Meanwhileโ€ฆ

90% of disc golf courses are free to play

This rate has remained relatively steady since 2020. Even as costs have skyrocketed for households worldwide, disc golf remains a reliable source of low-cost, high-value recreation due to the overwhelming majority of venues not requiring greens fees or membership dues. Outside of a modest increase in equipment prices, access remains resistant to inflation.

  • ๐Ÿ† However, the world's best courses tend to be pay-to-play.ย 

  • โ›ณ Golf courses also continue to add disc golf as an attractive source of revenue.

Faylor Lake DiscGolfPark in Beaver Springs

Faylor Lake DiscGolfPark in Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania. Added to UDisc by @travis05

If you're not as close to a course as youโ€™d like, why not get to work building one yourself? That's how the world's best free disc golf course, Faylor Lake DiscGolfPark, came to be in 2021.

Lee Zimmerman had played disc golf a handful of times since finding the sport in 2014, but with the closest course an hour away from his home in Central Pennsylvania he was mostly relegated to throwing discs in the yard for practice.

In 2020, he moved to Beaver Springs and found himself two miles from Faylor Lake, a gorgeous 750-acre recreation area bursting with natural beauty. Seeing an opportunity to get a course near him, he connected with his county's commissioners, which set off a chain of events that includes:

  • โŒ A failed contest entry
  • ๐Ÿค‘ A $500 gamble
  • ๐Ÿฆ… A bald eagle

Featuring both an accessible red layout and a demanding championship-level configuration, Faylor Lake has quickly gained a positive reputation as a not-so-hidden gem and vaulted into the list of 20 best courses in the world.

  • Players from 40 states visited the course in 2022, demonstrating that the build accomplished the county's goal of driving tourism to the region.

The full origin story of Pennsylvania's best course is a must-read. Check it out at UDisc's Release Point blog.

9-hole courses are being built at nearly twice the pace of 18-hole courses

This trend makes sense: Not only do 9-hole courses require less land and funding to get started, but they also appeal to new players more than longer courses do.

Shorter courses are also crucial for helping satisfy demand as the sport grows. In an October 2022 survey of new course builders, respondents shared stories of pitching 9-hole courses as a way to begin building disc golf in their community, almost as a "prove it" concept, before eventually expanding to 18 or more holes.

โš’๏ธ Start Small: Pocket Disc Golf Courses Are Short, Sweet, and Welcoming

The number of courses at schools and universities grew by 20%

It's a testament to the fact that disc golf is a lifelong activity. The sport is regularly being added to P.E. curricula, and a growing university club scene provides an outlet for competition and community among young adults.

Public parks are still the lifeblood of the sport โ€“ you can find a disc golf course in more than 5,400 parks around the world. But there are several other venues where you'll find baskets, too. Here's a non-exhaustive breakdown from UDisc's course directory:

  • ๐ŸŒณ Public parks: 5,425
  • ๐ŸŽ“ Schools/universities: 1,558
  • โ›บ Camps: 673
  • โ›ณ Golf courses: 442
  • โ›ท๏ธ Ski areas: 379
  • ๐Ÿ› Places of worship: 376
  • ๐Ÿ›๏ธ Hotels: 321
  • ๐Ÿช– Military facilities: 161
  • ๐Ÿบ Breweries/wineries: 107
International adoption is driving disc golf's newest growthEuropean Open in Nokia, Finland

Crowds extend down the fairway at the European Open in Nokia, Finland. Photo: Eino Ansio

The United States may have jumped out to a big lead in the disc golf market, but the rest of the world is quickly catching up.

  • ๐ŸŒ There are disc golf courses in 81 countries.

It's clear the sport remains well-established stateside, with both rounds played and courses installed continuing to tick upward. Zooming out, though, disc golf can attribute its continued overall growth to its wider international proliferation. Finland, for example, added its 1,000th course in 2022. And there are several other countries that sport better course growth rates than the U.S.

Some standouts include:

  • ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway: โ–ฒ 31%
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark: โ–ฒ 30%
  • ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand: โ–ฒ 29%
  • ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland: โ–ฒ 26%
  • ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France: โ–ฒ 24%
Norway no longer has the world's most popular course โ€“ here's why that's important

Ekeberg Frisbeegolfbane in Oslo regularly ranks in the top 10 for busiest courses in the world, and in 2020 and 2021 was the most popular place to score a round.

In disc golf, though, winning the popularity contest isn't always ideal. More traffic on the course means longer wait times, and while it's easily accessible to Oslo's 634,000 residents, Ekeberg needed help.

Oslo disc golfers have answered.

  • 10 new courses have been installed within 25 miles of the capital city since 2021.
  • That doesn't include a handful of shorter school courses.

The result? Ekeberg was knocked off the top of the most-played podium in 2022, coming in at number three in the world (behind Valbyparken Disc Golf in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Morley Field in San Diego, California). That's one contest Norwegians are, more than likely, quite happy to lose.

This is just a localized example of how organizers in Norway have worked to satisfy the explosive demand for disc golf. More players has meant they need more courses, and the Northern European country has been a shining example of how to grow the sport, quietly outpacing Sweden and Finland.

Vasset Discgolfpark in Langevรฅg, Norway

Vasset Discgolfpark in Langevรฅg, Norway. Added to UDisc Courses by @kroksleiven

Leiv Aspรฉn, a prominent Norwegian organizer and event director who is helping run this year's national championship (among several other tournaments), attributed the growth to increased interest in local disc golf clubs. He estimated there are upwards of 120 in the country, with overall membership jumping more than 200% since 2019.

  • Clubs have also started to focus on youth outreach, which has helped further professionalize disc golf's image and demonstrate it is accessible to more people.

  • Communication between clubs and municipalities has been enhanced, as has organized training and media outreach.

All of that has made it easier to explain and sell the sport.

  • "Before, I was the weirdo for liking disc golf. Now I'm the cool guy," Aspรฉn joked.
  • When he's seeking new partners, they now know what the sport is: "I don't hear 'disco golf, what's that?' Now they know it because they are out playing with their friends and co-workers."

Latin America is emerging as disc golf's next hotbedA disc golf clinic in Santa Marรญa de Jesรบs

A disc golf clinic in Santa Marรญa de Jesรบs, Guatemala. Photo: Andre Arana / Uplay

Charitable organizations helping to build the sport have combined with adventure-seeking expats to help disc golf take flight in Mexico, Belize, Colombia, and Guatemala. Check out the increases in rounds played in these emerging disc golf nations:

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡น Guatemala: โ–ฒ 306%

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico: โ–ฒ 81%

  • ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด Colombia: โ–ฒ 97%

  • ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize: โ–ฒ 92%

A common thread between the top three in that list? The contributions of the Paul McBeth Foundation and Uplay.

  • PMF is a non-profit formed by the six-time disc golf world champion to bring the sport to underserved communities, and its first three project installs in 2021 are clearly paying dividends.

  • Uplay, an educational nonprofit, has tag-teamed to provide clinics and teach seminars to make sure that, once it comes to a new country, disc golf can continue thriving.

Belize, meanwhile, has seen its growth come from a unique mix.

  • โš’๏ธ In one region of the Central American nation, local players and an active Mennonite community have installed courses and drafted businesses into the fold.ย 

  • ๐Ÿ– Toward the coast, tournament-playing tourists have influenced a burst of activity as they seek out a slice of disc golf paradise.

There are several other bright spots beyond Latin America, too:

  • ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain, originally a place for disc golfing Finns to escape winter, has seen its number of rounds scored on UDisc grow by 83% as locals adopt the sport.

  • ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand added 19 courses in 2022. Its neighbor Australia added 18.
  • ๐ŸŒ Play in Eastern Europe is way up, with Hungary, Croatia, and Poland setting the pace.
Pandemic players are more than pandemic players โ€“ they are disc golfers

The influx of new participants in 2020 and 2021 found disc golf manufacturers scaling up their production to meet unprecedented demand. Courses were packed, so organizers lobbied their cities for more. Tournaments filled in record time.

All of the positivity, though, was accompanied by serious concern from the disc golf industry.

  • ๐Ÿคท What if these new players don't stick around? What if, when the world "opens back up," they all go back to the hobbies they had before, leaving disc golf to pick up the pieces?

Based on play with UDisc, this new audience is sticking around.

  • Looking at two years after their first UDisc round, players who started in 2020 continued playing at a higher rate than those who started in 2017.

  • Players who started in 2020 and 2021 reported in an October 2022 survey that they are just as enthusiastic about disc golf as players who found the sport before the pandemic.

Among the players who came on board during the height of the pandemic is Katie Abrahamson, a former ultimate player from Fort Collins, Colorado. A dedicated competitor since her sophomore year in college, Abrahamson met her husband through the sport and had made the roster for the Utah Wild, a professional women's team in the Western Ultimate League.

  • "We originally had the mindset of, 'We're not gonna play disc golf,'" Abrahamson said.

Then the pandemic shutdowns put the WUL on hold and she and her husband found themselves living in a new apartment that butted up to Edora Park, Fort Collins' most popular course.

That gave them the push to try the sport, and they were both smitten.

  • ๐Ÿ”“ "You unlock different levels at certain times, and that's what kind of hooks you in," Abrahamson said. "We've been playing and learning since then."

One of the advantages disc golf has over ultimate and other team sports? You don't need 10 other people to get a round started.

  • "It's way easier to coordinate in terms of who you're gonna play with โ€“ you just put your bag in the car and say, 'Hey, meet me at the park at 2,'" Abrahamson said. "You can go by yourself at lunch during your workday. You can practice by yourself and get different pieces of your game involved by yourself. But it is fun to play with a group."

90% of players introduced someone to the sport in 2022UDisc Leagues

That takeaway, from an October 2022 survey of 10,000 UDisc players, is our favorite harbinger of what's to come. The same percentage of disc golfers reported sharing the sport in 2021, as well, so this isn't a fluke.

  • Family ties: 78% of disc golfers report that a family member or friend introduced them to the sport.

There are plenty of other indications disc golf will keep growing at a sustainable pace.

For example, 43% of scoring on UDisc came in the form of solo rounds.

  • ๐Ÿ’ก It's a huge edge disc golf has over activities like tennis and pickleball โ€“ no partner required.ย 

  • ๐Ÿง  Disc golfers often espouse the mental health benefits of the sport, too.

Even still, league play on UDisc proves players are hungry to compete and connect with others.

  • ๐Ÿ† Nearly 1 million league rounds were scored across 56,000 events last year.
Disc golfers spent 32.6 million hours on the course in 2022

That's like watching the year's top-grossing film at the box office, Avatar: The Way of Water, a staggering 10.2 million times. Get your popcorn.

  • โ˜๏ธ Keep in mind: This is just among players on UDisc.

Why does time spent on the course matter? It demonstrates that disc golf can provide valuable recreation hours to a community.

  • When it's time to fund a new project, municipalities aren't just worried about the bang for their buck. They also want to know their citizens will be well-served.ย 

  • A single tennis court or pickleball court can only support 4 players at a time. A disc golf course can have that many people on a single hole, meaning more than 70 people can enjoy an 18-hole facility at a time.

  • With a round at an average 18-hole course on UDisc taking only 1 hour and 54 minutes to play, that means more throughput โ€“ especially during the long days of summer โ€“ and more people in your community who will benefit.

๐Ÿ“– Go deeper: Validate disc golf by showing how many people a course can serve

Ben Smith, a course designer and tournament director in Prince Edward Island, Canada, said that demonstrating "constant usage" is crucial to convincing local stakeholders to invest in the sport.

  • "Use per week or use per month โ€“ that's the one stat we use most," Smith said. "There's not a lot of things in Canada where you can show 12-month outdoor play."

  • ๐Ÿ’ฐThis stat doesn't hurt, either: The Canadian National Championships that Smith and his team ran on PEI in 2022 brought in $425,000 for the local economy in just one week.

Disc golf tourism is a burgeoning industry with incredible growth potential

A common theme in the disc golf experience is the joy in finding new courses to play, new shots to throw, and new communities with which to connect. If your city is building a new course, it will benefit more than your local players and likely result in network effects that find disc golfers pouring in from the surrounding areas.

Traditional golf tourism is a $20 billion dollar annual industry. While disc golf might not be there quite yet, players' penchant for travel is worthy of attention.

  • ๐Ÿš— 87% of UDisc players traveled 20 or more miles (32 kilometers) to play a round in 2022, according to a December survey.

  • ๐Ÿงณ Of those, more than half took a trip specifically for disc golf.
  • ๐Ÿ“… 96% said they planned to play somewhere at least 20 miles (32 kilometers) from their home in 2023.

Whether they are hardcore course collectors or weekend warriors looking for a change of pace, disc golfers are eager to explore. And if you build it, they will come.

Just look at the ร…land Islands. The tiny autonomous region nestled between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea went all-in on disc golf tourism, installing 16 courses in two years specifically to attract traveling players.

  • ๐Ÿ’ธ The project's organizer estimated a $1 million dollar impact on the ร…land economy in its first year.

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฝ It only cost $232,000 to build all 16 courses.

Wanna get away? Here are the disc golf courses that are drawing players from around the globe.

๐ŸŒ Top Disc Golf Destination Courses in 2022
CourseNumber of countries disc golfers came from
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Jรคrva Discgolf Park
Kista (Stockholm), Sweden
31
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Valbyparken Disc Golf
Copenhagen, Denmark
30
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Talin Frisbeegolfpuisto
Helsinki, Finland
26
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Disc Golf Sloterpark
Amsterdam, Netherlands
25
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ DiscGolfPark Mijas
Mijas (Mรกlaga), Spain
23
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Top U.S. Disc Golf Destination Courses in 2022
CourseNumber of states disc golfers came from (incl. DC)Number of countries disc golfers came from
๐ŸŒฒ Pier Park
Portland, OR
5116
๐Ÿ”๏ธ Beaver Ranch DGC
Conifer, CO
516
๐Ÿป Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
5021
๐Ÿป Morley Field
San Diego, CA
5016
๐Ÿ‡ Idlewild
Burlington, KY
5011
๐Ÿ”๏ธValmont Disc Park
Boulder, CO
509
๐Ÿ”๏ธ Johnny Roberts DGC
Boulder, CO
506
Disc golf is still growing

Sure, itโ€™s likely the sport wonโ€™t ever experience another sprint like it did in 2020 and 2021. But instead of coasting to the water cooler, itโ€™s crucial to continue building on the momentum to keep disc golf on the steady upward trajectory it was riding prior to this recent surge in interest. After all, thatโ€™s how this accessible, affordable pastime will be able to make its way into more parks and schools, more cities and countries.

It's how we'll finish the marathon โ€“ and then move on to ultras.

Thankfully, the Disc Golf Growth Report shows the bones are well in place for the sport to do just that. Organizers are fueling the boom, with more courses going in the ground every day, while the player base remains enthusiastic to bring new players into the fold and stick around for the long term. That's when they start to forge out on their own, exploring new areas and spreading the sport's roots around the world.

  • Want to help? Be part of the 90% of players who share the love of disc golf with someone else. Download the fact sheet and share it with your community.

Indeed, disc golf is thriving, but we can aim higher. Nearly every town supports golf courses, tennis courts, football fields, and pickleball courts. In 2023, letโ€™s work toward a future where every city can also add disc golf to that list.

๐Ÿ‘€ Get a closer look: Zoom in to see where disc golf is in your area โ€“ and where it can go.

Craving more information about disc golf?

UDisc has several resources and stories that can help you build your local disc golf community.

For specific data inquiries, please drop us a line: hello@udisc.com

Sources

The vast majority of the statistics in this report were derived from UDisc's course directory, scoring records, surveys, and interviews. Other information came from the following sources:

  • NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center
  • Tennis Industry Association
  • National Golf Foundation
  • USA Pickleball
  • Dunkin'
About UDisc

Founded in 2012 by two Iowa State University graduates, UDisc has grown from a hobby project born of the need to find disc golf courses to a wide-reaching tool fueled by a team of 21 people (and growing). Disc golfers can use the UDisc app to keep score and navigate interactive maps for more than 14,000 courses, run leagues, measure throws, and track their progress โ€“ all from the convenience of their phone. UDisc also supplies instant scoring and statistics for disc golf's top professional events and releases annual rankings of the world's best disc golf courses. With more than 1 million downloads on the Apple Store and Google Play, it is the #1 app for disc golfers.