The Power of the Ice Bowl

Ice Bowl 2023 logo

As disc golf has continued to grow over the years, we’ve seen a large variety of events with numerous layouts, rulesets, locations, and goals. One of the most common event types in recent memory is the classic Ice Bowl. For those who don’t know, the Ice Bowl concept was started several years ago with one goal in mind, raise money and awareness for local charities. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the history of the Ice Bowl and what makes it such a unique and exciting event.


The History of the Ice Bowl

The Ice Bowl was first organized in 1987 by Rick Rothstein, a disc golf enthusiast from Columbia, Missouri. The first tournament was held in January, and despite the frigid temperatures and snow on the ground, over 34 players came out to compete. The tournament was a huge success, and the very next year, multiple events were held. At many events, money was being raised for local charities, specifically targeting food shortage relief and food banks. In its 10th year, that goal was made an official rule of Ice Bowl practice.

Back when these events first started, there were only 200 official courses “in the ground” for the sport and around 4,500 PDGA members. Now, there are thousands of courses and over 250,000 PDGA members. It seems fitting then that these events continued to grow, now hosting hundreds every year. Since its inception, around $6 million has been raised for charity. If that isn’t a true reflection of why our game of disc golf is important, I don’t know what is.

 Buried disc golf basket

What Makes the Ice Bowl Unique?

The Ice Bowl is unique for several reasons. First, it takes place during the winter months, which means that players have to contend with icy conditions, snow, and frigid temperatures. This adds an extra layer of difficulty to the tournament, making it a true test of skill and endurance. To that end, there are three well-known “rules” of the Ice Bowl.

  1. “Under no circumstances may an Ice Bowl be canceled or postponed because of weather conditions.”
  2. “No wimps or whiners are allowed.”
  3. “There are no excuses for not attending. Either be there or be called out as a wimp!”

Second, the Ice Bowl is a charity tournament. All proceeds from the tournament go to local charities, which means that players are not only competing for themselves but also for a good cause. This adds an extra level of motivation and camaraderie to the tournament, as players come together to support their community.

Finally, the Ice Bowl is a great way to bring the disc golf community together. Many players come out to the tournament not only to compete but also to socialize and connect with other players. This creates a strong sense of community and a shared passion for the sport. For a lot of players, these events are some of their first!


How to Get Involved in the Ice Bowl

If you're interested in getting involved in the Ice Bowl, there are several ways to do so. First, you can look for local Ice Bowl tournaments in your area. Many disc golf clubs organize Ice Bowl tournaments each year, so there's a good chance that there's one happening near you. There are still a few weeks left and you might be able to find one. If you can, don’t worry! There will be plenty of chance next winter.

Second, you can organize your own Ice Bowl tournament. All you need is a group of players, a course, and a charity to support. You can use the official Ice Bowl website to register your tournament and get support from the disc golf community. That website can be found at

Finally, you can donate to the Ice Bowl charity of your choice. Many charities are supported by the Ice Bowl, including local food banks, shelters, and other organizations that help those in need.

 Disc golf basket in snow

My Experience

I’ll never forget my first Ice Bowl experience. I hopped out of the car, ready to go. Before too long, I was getting awkward stares and side comments from people. I heard that Ice Bowls were places for no wimps or whiners. Of course, I wore shorts. This Ice Bowl was being organized by the Creekside Crawdads, and it was a ton of fun.

I distinctly remember the moment when my status went from crazy to legendary. One of my discs had skipped down into the creek. Sure enough, 3 or 4 other discs were in the same spot. Having only 2 holes left to play, I walked out into the creek, the water up to my waist, and retrieved all the discs. My card mates were stunned, and I felt refreshed. It was a great day.

The Ice Bowl is a great and shining example of why disc golf is so important. One man had a dream of getting more people to play and raise some money for a good cause. He shouted his dream from the rooftops and got his friends involved. Now, 35 years later, so many have come to play the sport and so many have been fed because of one man’s dream and the passion of the community. How can that not be inspiring?

In conclusion, the Ice Bowl is a unique and exciting event in the disc golf community. It brings players together to support local charities and to test their skills in difficult winter conditions. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, there's no better way to connect with the disc golf community and give back to your local community than by participating in an Ice Bowl tournament.

Did you compete in one this year? Tell me about it in the comments!


- Gary Daddario III

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