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Early disc golf fanatics would grab a Frisbee and head off to any place that had trees, light posts, electric poles or even a garbage can.
With sturdy steel poles that support a series of chains, disc golf baskets have evolved.
Since any fixed structure would qualify on a make shift disc golf course, baskets were often referred to as Steady Ed’s Disc Pole Hole.
The only meaningful reference to today’s elaborate baskets would be Steady Eddie’s hand as he buries a putt.
Types of disc golf baskets
Early disc golf pioneers sat a 30-gallon trash can at the end of makeshift fairway to represent the basket.
This led to an early reference to a disc golf basket being “the can.”
That slang name has lost prevalence as disc golf baskets have evolved.
The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) has a definitive set of rules for league and tournament baskets.
They are vastly different from a simple garbage can.
There are also different types of baskets.
Let’s take a look at four basic types of disc golf baskets.
Having a portable basket can be an excellent practice tool. They are also perfect for embarking on a makeshift course where there aren’t any fixed baskets.
A portable disc golf basket folds up to fit, making it easy to shift around, and they fit in the trunk of your car.
The basket quickly collapses to stow in a convenient tote bag. Portable disc golf baskets are lightweight, so they’re easy to carry.
A number of portable discs are PDGA approved for tournament play.
Owning at least one portable basket, lets you practice putting anywhere.
Narrow target disc golf baskets are exactly as the name implies. These baskets are slightly smaller with a narrower profile.
Narrow target baskets are great for practice, but they are not tournament or league approved by the PDGA.
Because narrow target baskets are legal under PDGA rules, most are also fold up portable baskets.
Using a narrow target disc golf basket for practice can be frustrating, but they will improve your putting eye when targeting an official size basket.
The light-duty basic addresses the overall weight of the basket. These baskets use fewer chains and are structurally less rigid than an official disc golf basket.
Light-duty baskets are a solution for new course on a budget. These are not portable baskets.
With fewer chains, they are more prone to spit outs and fly through missed putts.
These are the standard baskets you will predominately find on PDGA sanctions disc golf courses.
Heavy-duty baskets meet all the guidelines and regulations for an official league and tournament disc golf basket.
Heavy-duty disc golf baskets are also referred to as permanent baskets. The pole is secured to the ground.
They are made with galvanized or powder coated steel.
Official versions are a certain height overall and from the ground.
Heavy-duty baskets have a set number of chains, plus the basket itself has a size and diameter according to PDGA rules.
Let’s now take a look at this most common basket you’ll be targeting as you play various disco golf courses.
The official PDGA disc folf basket
The goal on every hole on every disc golf course is to bury your disc in the basket.
You may get a few different answers from disc golf enthusiasts on the question of what is a disc golf basket called.
It is the final target that starts with a tee shot.
Early disc golfers used trees, fence posts, playground equipment and yes, a garbage can.
On a shot from the fairway or long putt, you may hear someone shout, “You canned that one!”
But official disc golf baskets are not trees or trash cans. Let’s look at an official PDGA disc golf basket.
There is usually one disc golf basket per hole. For space and budget purposes, some courses will use a single basket for multiple holes.
The tee shots and fairways come in from a different direction.
For PDGA sanctioned tournaments and leagues, the following specifications are required for every basket on the course.
Most tournaments will have a single basket per hole, but it is not essential to hold a sanctioned PDGA event.
- Height – An official disc golf basket pole is 66-inches from the ground to the top.
- Top Ring – There is a top ring that is the place where the chains hang vertically down into the basic. This ring is 23-inches in diameter.
- Basket – The top of the basket is 30½-inches from the ground. The basket is 27-inches in diameter and 9-inches deep.
- Chains – There are 12 chains that attach to the top ring. They are evenly spaced around the ring and attach to the center pole, 2-inches below the top ring of the basket.
Now you’re aware of a couple of slang references for a disc golf basket and what the regulations are for an official basket under PDGA rules.
Now we’ll share some common terminology for shots and situations you’ll run across in and around the basket.
Disc golf basket and putting terms
The final toss on a disc golf course, one that lands inside the basket, is a disc golf term called “holing out”.
To speed up play, similar to a “pick-up” in traditional golf, putts that are so close to the basic to be guaranteed to hole out are called “gimmes”.
There is an official marking on a disc golf course around every hole.
In simple terms, this is called the “circle”. Seasoned disc golfers refer to it as the “jack zone”.
Completing the hole with a successful putt is often called “rattling the chains”.
Some putts are referred to by color names.
There is an overhead style putt called “the pizza putt”, a reference to pizza makers whirling the round dough over their heads.
Push putting is a style that is little more than a flick of the wrist.
This easy putting style avoids errant putts. A lot of weird things can happen around a disc golf basket.
Each of these has interesting names as well.
Rare as it may sound, a “blow-through” is when a disc flies right through the chains, but doesn’t hit.
Then there is the “bounce out”.
As the name implies, it’s an unsuccessful putt attempt when the disc strikes the center pole with such force it bounces back out.
To avoid either of these odd putting mistakes, disc golfers aim for the “sweet spot” on the basket.
The “sweet spot” is the point on the chains, taking into account the angle of the putt where the disc has the highest likelihood of dropping gently into the basket.
To get to a point that reduces the challenges of hitting the sweet spot, disc golfers work to “lay-up”.
This is the art of lofty your toss, so it lands a reasonable distance from the basket for putting in one attempt.
Sometimes even the most guided lay-up will end up “parked”.
“Parked” is when the disc lands under the basket, so close to the pole that the thrower might hit their head picking it up.
That shot is rightly called a “head banger”.
Nailing your putt into the “heart of the chains” helps avoid a missed putt that clangs off the “chastity belt”.
The “chastity belt” is the metal band the circles professional-grade disc golf baskets.
Besides all the pitfalls that you must navigate dealing with the basket pole, the chains, the chastity belt and the basket itself, frequently you will have to deal with a “guardian”.
This is a tree, bush or other type of obstruction between you and a successful putt.
Putting your disc into the basket is akin to holing out on a traditional golf course.
It usually turns out to be a lot easier than it looks.
There are obstacles and odd events that seem to defy the laws of physics.
Whatever term you use to refer to a disc golf basket or the shots around and features of it, it is the place on a disc golf course that can become exceedingly frustrating.
Putting in disc golf is such a valuable skill, there are putting competitions at tournaments called the Ring of Fire.
Learning all the terminology for disc golf will make it more enjoyable for you.
However, the key is to get out there and practice these all-important shots.
The one that can quickly begin to erase strokes off your scorecard is putting.