Disc Golf, a Growing Sport: Description and Epidemiology of Injuries

Orthop J Sports Med. 2015 Jun 25;3(6):2325967115589076. doi: 10.1177/2325967115589076. eCollection 2015 Jun.


Background: Disc golf is a sport played much like traditional golf, but rather than using a ball and club, players throw flying discs with various throwing motions. It has been played by an estimated 8 to 12 million people in the United States. Like all sports, injuries sustained while playing disc golf are not uncommon. Although formalized in the 1970s, it has grown at a rapid pace; however, disc golf-related injuries have yet to be described in the medical literature.

Purpose: To describe the most common injuries incurred by disc golf players while comparing the different types of throwing styles.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: The data in this study were collected from 883 disc golf players who responded to an online survey collected over a 1-month period. Respondents answered 49 questions related to demographics, experience, style of play, and injury details. Using a chi-square analysis, common injuries sustained in players using backhand and forehand throwing styles were compared.

Results: More than 81% of respondents stated that they had sustained an injury playing disc golf, including injuries to the elbow (n = 325), shoulder (n = 305), back (n = 218), and knee (n = 199). The injuries were most commonly described as a muscle strain (n = 241), sprain (n = 162), and tendinitis (n = 145). The type of throw primarily used by players varied, with 86.2% using backhand, 12.7% using forehand, and 1.1% using an overhead throw. Players using a forehand throw were more likely to sustain an elbow injury (P = .014). Many players (n = 115) stated they had undergone surgery due to a disc golf-related injury, with the most common surgeries including meniscal, shoulder, spine, and foot/ankle surgeries.

Conclusion: The majority of surveyed disc golfers sustained at least 1 injury while playing disc golf, with many requiring surgery. The types of injuries sustained by players varied by the types of throw primarily used. As the sport of disc golf continues to expand, health professionals should be aware of injuries sustained, with future studies focusing on injury prevention and education strategies.

Keywords: Frisbee; disc golf; epidemiology; general sports trauma.