I was introduced to disc golf in the early 2000’s in Rochester NY. Some friends came by and asked me if I wanted to play ‘frolf’. I grabbed my Frisbee and headed off to Chili Disc Golf Course at Baker Farm which was about 10 minutes down the road from where I lived at the time. I played the first 3 holes with a regular Frisbee but I found a disc on the fourth hole and I still have that disc today. Later that year, the owners paid me for an illustration of the course – this was one of my first paid jobs and I also used the illustration for coursework!
Since that time I have played hundreds of rounds of disc golf at at least 20 or more courses in NY, NH, MA, CA, AZ and VT. My favorite two courses are still Ellison and Chili disc golf courses both in Rochester NY. Now that I have a family, I don’t get out to the course as often as I would like but I have a large yard that is perfect for mid range / putting. The big problem for me was that the actual pro disc golf catchers cost $450+ and I just couldn’t justify that cost for a single basket, let alone $1000 for a pair. You can buy $100 baskets, but they are super cheap ‘portable’ versions that wouldn’t last one season outside in AZ. I like to build things to last.
That all changed last week when a co-worker grabbed a couple of extra 55 gallon drum barrels from one of our warehouses that were going to get thrown out. They were nice looking stainless barrels with sealed lids that had natural oils in them. I googled ‘projects for steel drums’ and found a DIY for a disc catcher (thanks logan20seb):
I went and grabbed 2 barrels and started cutting them up that night. I already had several 55″ long 2″ outer diameter steel fence posts laying around from another project. I also had 2 metal trash can lids left over from our trash/recycle can project. Finally I had a scrap piece of 1/2″ plywood in the shed from another project. The most expensive part of the build by far was the chain. I was able to make one basket with 35′ of 1/4″ link chain from harbor freight for $30. This was a steal and I had about 1′ of chain left over after my first bucket.
Other than that, I had to buy:
12 – zinc plated eye bolts
18 – 1″ drywall screws/washers
8 – 2″ 10/24 bolt/washer/nut sets
12 – nylon locking nuts
12 – T-Nuts
36 – self tapping metal screws
4 – various sized hose clamps (i used 4″ & 6″ I think)
6 – 4″ or 6″ corner brackets
2 – 15′ 3/8″ rubber air hose
2 – closet flange
2 – flange extension ring
2 – PVC coupling
36 – 3/16″ zinc plated quick links
The total shopping cart for all this stuff came in under $100 which made the DIY totally worth it. Here are some tools you may need:
– Circular saw
– Hacksaw or bolt cutters (24″ bolt cutters will save you hours and buckets of sweat)
– Hammer or mallet
– Various screwdrivers
– Utility knife
– Tape measure
– Metal file/Dremel tool
STEP 1 – Cutting the barrels
I started by cutting the top and bottom off the steel barrels about 8″ deep. I used a metal cutoff blade on my circular saw and had no problems cutting though the material. Be sure your drum didn’t have flammable liquid in it, otherwise you might spend your free time dead. If you don’t have a metal trash can lid but you can grab multiple barrels, you can make both the top and bottom of the basket with the top and bottom of the barrels.
Now that you have the barrel(s) cut, use a metal file or Dremel tool to de-burr the cut edges and smooth them down so you don’t slice your hands open.
STEP 2 – Build the lid
My trash can lids were pretty sturdy as is, but I tend to overbuild things and I had plywood so I decided to re-enforce the lid with plywood discs. This is not necessary but it also gave me a perfect firm surface to mount the inner row of chains to and a nice mounting point to attach the top onto the pole.
I cut the plywood and drew out top dead center as well as the inner ring. I just eyeballed the inner ring, I wasn’t going to torture myself with exact specs according to the PDGA rule book. Once the holes were drilled out, I centered and braced the plywood to the lid with vise grips which also raised the lid off the table and created a perfect work surface.
Then I hammered in the T-nuts and screwed in the eye bolts and secured them with the nylon locking nuts and washers. I used 10/24 hardware for all these parts.
STEP 3 – Preparing the lid for chains
I chose to do 12 outer chains and 6 inner chains for a total of 18 chains on two rings. Measure the circumference of you lid and divide that number by 12. I got 5.5, so I drilled a hole (don’t remember what size) every 5.5″ all around the lid. I kept the drill bit right up against the rolled rim on the lid so the quick links would be resting on the strong part. Install all 18 quick links but keep them open.
STEP 4 – Connect the base to the post
NOTE: For the rest of the build, I rigged the post upright onto an umbrella stand that I had in the back yard. I would suggest finding a way to stand yours up from here on out as well – it is much easier to work this way.
There are several ways to do this. After building the first basket, I will change the way I build the second. I slipped the rubber PVC coupling down to about 4″ below where I wanted the base to sit. Then slip the toilet flange down and slip the flange down over the rubber neck and tighten by screwing it down. Cut a 2″ (or whatever size center pipe you used) hole in the center of the base with a jigsaw/metal blade and slide that down the pole so it rests on the toilet flange. Then drill the 4 holes up from the bottom of the toilet flange. Place the flange extension ring on top of the base, line up the holes and bolt with 4 small bolts/washers/nuts. Measure to ensure the top of the base ring is 32″ from the ground and tighten.
NOTE: In retrospect, I would have connected the base the same as the top, with 3x 6″ ‘L’ brackets, my lid is extremely sturdy but the base wobbles ever so slightly when you push hard on it.
STEP 5 – Connect the lid to the post
I zip tied the three ‘L’ brackets to the post and positioned them exactly where I wanted them (flush and level is important here). Then I marked the holes on the post, drilled them out and attached them using self tapping metal screws that I had laying around. I really tightened these up. Finally, I centered the lid on the top of the ‘L’ brackets and screwed it in with some 1″ drywall screws and washers.
STEP 6 – Install the rubber trim ring
I chose to protect my hands and discs from the bare metal edge with a rubber trim ring. For this I used a cheap $5 rubber air hose from Harbor Freight. Measure the diameter of the base ring, then cut your hose to that length. After that, connect the ends with a pen cap and lay the ring down on the table. Draw a line with your marker all along the top edge of the hose and cut along that line with your utility knife. This ensures the trim ring will sit nice and even all around the edge. I am going to zip tie the trim ring to the base rim when I have the chance to keep it in place. I also chose to cut an extra 3″ section to cover the seam – I feel like it cleans up the design a bit.
STEP 7 – Installing your chains
Next, with everything installed and tightened up onto the main post, you can begin hanging/cutting your chains. I just pulled the chain from the bucket, hitched it to the quick link and closed/tightened the link. Then it was easy to pick which link to cut without having to count out each link. I did 3, then rotated the basket and did 3 on the opposite side so your basket doesn’t tip over from the uneven weight. Once all the outer chains were cut I connected the bottom links around the pole with a 6″ hose clamp. This is where you start to get excited because this is starting to look like the real deal. Most people would be fine with just the 12 outer chains, but I had plenty left over so I continued cutting the inner chains. I counted how many links I had left after the outer rings were all done and divided that by 6 and got 20, so I cut 6×20 link chains for the inner ring and connected them with a second independent 4″ hose clamp.
STEP 8 – Installing your post
I am going to permanently install one of my baskets in the ground, and keep the second on the umbrella base so I can move it around freely. I would suggest you use a post hole digger and concrete base for your permanent installations. I used google maps to measure out distances in my yard (right click and choose ‘measure distance’). I have several options for layout but at the furthest I can throw 187′ from pin to pin or even farther with a slight dog leg left. My favorite distance is 152′ over the pool though, this is where the first target sits in the pictures posted here.
I cannot tell you the amount of enjoyment I’ve had moving these things around and throwing from different locations. My kids even join in the fun sometimes though I end up chasing lots of discs out of the pool! I hope this DIY helps you build your own course in your back yard.