Ball golf has all sorts of rules about what kind of shirts and shoes you're supposed to wear, and where you're supposed to put your gum and whether you can have a penis or skin darker than burnt orange. Things can get a little oppressive.
Disc golf, by comparison, is laid-back. There are no dress codes and few ethical regulations. Most courses are maintained by stout-hearted volunteers, and only a handful of Oregon's courses charge fees to play. You can start playing for less than $10.
Disc golf's history traces back nearly 50 years, more than enough time to develop a distinctive subculture with unwritten rules. Well, previously unwritten. In honor of the Professional Disc Golf Association's World Championships, which tee off in Portland on Aug. 8, here are the unwritten rules of disc golf in Oregon, written.
Quiet: When someone else is throwing, you generally want to shut up. Unless you've got a really cool story, in which case you can keep talking.
Groups: Groups of more than five are frowned upon, though no one's going to blink if the youth-group army you're leading is clogging up the course on a dead weekday.
Playing Through: Faster crews and solo players should be permitted to play through as soon as time and space allow.
Jumping In: Unlike ball golf, it's not uncommon for players to begin rounds at holes other than the first. As long as the flow of play isn't impeded, this is considered acceptable behavior. A cheery "Thanks, dudes/bruhs/bros/brahs/guys/folks!' can help establish rapport.
Smoking and Drinking: Oregon's disc-golf courses are spread across public and private land, and enforcement levels are relatively calm. Disc golfers live and let live as long as you don't disagree with them about disc golf. If you're discreet, respectful and share when the situation is appropriate, you'll be embraced by a chorus of unusually strong forearms (from throwing discs, you see).
Lost Plastic: Disc golf's libertarian roots inculcate a deep respect for the property of others. If your name and phone number are Sharpied on your disc, chances are you'll get a call when the disc is found. Likewise, if you find plastic, it's important to notify the owner as expediently as possible.
Dogs: Generally welcome, so long as they don't like to chase or bite plastic.
Lingo: Experienced players may commonly utter vernacular along the lines, "That anny cut roller didn't turn over hard enough." If you don't know what these things mean, do not ask. You're only enabling their attention-seeking.
GO: The 2014 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships are in Portland from Aug. 9-16. For more information, call 971-225-3466 or visit facebook.com/PDGAProWorlds.