15 Most Overlooked Rules in Disc Golf

disc golf rules

  Anyone who has gone out to play disc golf their first time, or thousandth time, has a different perception of what appropriate etiquette is on the course. There are many casual disc golfers I see on the course who want to play competitively and perform at their best. I want to help shed some light on some of these common oversights in the rules of disc golf.

To be able to learn the rules of the game, it takes patience and humility - no one really likes being corrected. However, listening to a more experienced disc golfer about rules and etiquette in a casual round could save you strokes and embarrassment in future competitive rounds.

I have played with many recreational and competitive golfers and have come up with my list of the most common overlooked rules and etiquette mistakes that most often occur on the course.

  1. Establishing Out of Bounds and Relief at beginning of the round.

    Establishing OB at the beginning of a round is crucial to avoid any disputes. At sanctioned PDGA tournaments this is established for the course by the tournament directors. Typically, flags and signs will help determine where OB’s and Mandos are located and all players must follow these OB guidelines. However, in casual rounds the guidelines are usually not as clear, so it is important to talk with your fellow golfers about what will be played as OB and Mandos before you start throwing. If you’re not sure what constitutes as OB on any given course, just ask someone who may have played the course before. If it’s your first time playing the course, establish a standard for you and those on your card. For example, often times at the beginning of a casual round with my friends we will say; “Water and Concrete is OB” meaning if you land in water, or on concrete you will take an OB penalty stroke. This allows for us to all be on the same page and establish what will constitute a penalty stroke at the start instead of having that awkward conversation later.
  1. Stay quiet during a golfers throw.

    You may think this is an obvious one, however many newer golfers are not aware that you’re not supposed to talk during a throwers stroke. Just like in regular golf, it is extremely frustrating when you line up your shot, focus on the throw, start your approach and just as you’re about to let go, someone on your card starts talking or makes some noise. I have fallen victim to this countless times in casual and competitive rounds and most of the time it’s just an accident. Certainly don’t blame the person if the throw ends up being poor. After all, a casual round isn’t worth the argument, typically. If this ever happens to you, kindly let the person know to please stay quiet when others are throwing.
  1. Allow the disc golfer on your card farthest from pin to throw first (Do not immediately walk to your disc).

    After teeing off the golfer who is farthest from the pin always throws first. Every disc golfer is eager to see where their throw ended up off the tee and what kind of look they will have on their next shot. However, you must be respectful of everyone on your card no matter what their skill level is. If you’re playing a casual round with a beginner, there is nothing more devastating to their confidence than to be lining up for their throw and you are standing in their line of sight way up by the basket staring at them impatiently. It is rude, and it’s not fair to those who may be taking several strokes to get to the green. Every golfer on the card should remain behind the golfer who is farthest back in order to give every person the same opportunity at a clean look at the basket. If someone you are playing with is constantly walking straight to their disc and then are looking back at you waiting for you to throw, just let them know that they are in your line of sight and would appreciate it if they would wait for you to throw before advancing ahead of your disc.
  1. Follow throwing order and wait for previous golfers throw to be complete.

    Throwing order is determined by the player who had the least amount of strokes on the previous hole. This person will “take the tee pad” meaning they will be the first to drive followed by the person with the next fewest strokes. At a tournament the designated score keeper for that hole will announce the order in which the disc golfers will throw. It is possible that you can be penalized for throwing out of turn if players on your card deem it so. You also need to be courteous to those throwing on the tee pad. Often times I have stepped up to the teepad, made my throw and am watching my drive and as soon as I turn around to step off the tee pad, the next golfer is already lining up their shot directly behind me. Please give the previous golfer time to track his shot and let his disc come to a rest before approaching the tee pad. This may not apply as much to casual rounds because oftentimes players are limited on time, however. My friends and I will often play “Ready golf” in order to get through a round quicker.
  1. Throw from your lie (New 8in x 12in “lie” Rules).

    Marking your disc after it is thrown is an important part of tournament play. In some casual rounds, it may not be as important but here are the technicalities behind marking your lie. If you choose to use a mini marker, place it on the front edge your disc closest to the basket. When throwing your next shot, you must keep one foot directly behind your marked lie. Your lie is an 8 inch by 12 inch box centered behind your marker or your disc. If your lie is in bushes or brush, you must mark the disc and get completely behind your marker. I have seen many times where casual players will put their foot behind the marked lie, but their other foot or body will be way out in front of the marker, closer to the basket. This is illegal in competitive play, so be sure to keep your foot directly behind your mark as to not be called for a foot fault.
  1. Don’t destroy, move or break obstacles to get a better look at a shot.

    You can’t move obstacles out of the way of your shot, including moving, bending, or breaking a tree limb to get a better shot. Not too long ago I played a casual round with some friends, we had been playing the farther back “B-tees.” On one of the holes there was a bench sitting directly in front of us. One of my friends suggested “lets move the bench.” I laughed because I saw it as a fun, challenging obstacle and he saw it as a nuisance. 
  1. Know the 10m rule when putting.

    This is something that I didn’t know until I joined my local Disc Golf club, I was called out by a fellow member and given a warning for a foot fault. When you’re throwing “inside the circle” you must “demonstrate full control of balance behind marker.” Meaning, you cannot putt falling forward and step in front of your marker. I had a bad habit where I would putt inside the 10 meter circle and lean forward. After the putt hit chains I would start to take steps to go get my disc.  I was called out and given a warning. A tip I was given was to throw my putt maintaining balance, then after my disc goes in the basket I should pick up my mini-marker first, then walk to the basket. A simple tip that helped me the rest of the round.  Rule 806.01
  1. Allow faster groups to play through.

    This is something that a lot of beginners don’t really know how to do. When you’re playing with 4 or more people and are moving slow, make sure you are aware about groups behind you may be waiting at the tee pad. It is courteous to let them throw and play through the group. This is more of a courtesy in casual rounds and won’t happen in competitive or tournament play. 
  1. Be honest and help new players learn the rules.

    Being an honest disc golfer is essential. Disc golfers should hold each other accountable. It is important for more experienced disc golfers to be ambassadors for the sport and be guides for new players. It is important to be honest with each other about scoring, implementing rules, and course etiquette.
  1. Return lost discs.

    Imagine you get a brand new driver, put your name on the back, tee up for your first time and grip lock into the creek. You can’t find it and you tell yourself “at least I put my number on the back.” If you’re playing a round and find a disc that isn’t yours it is common courtesy try your best to return the disc back to its owner.  If there is no name or number, try and ask around the course to make sure it isn’t being looked for. I personally take lost discs that do not have a number and put them on top of the practice baskets. Most courses have a Facebook page that you could post in as well. If they are a frequent visitor, they will most likely see the post. Here at Disc Store we have a lost and found box that local golfers will bring their found discs into the store for safe-keeping. People know that they can always come in the store if they have lost their discs and see if someone may have turned it in. 
  1. Keep the course clean - Do Not Litter.

    It is important to keep the course clean as a community and not litter on the course. The PDGA is very clear on the courtesy rule. Always leave it nicer than you found it works in disc golf as well. Rule 812.05
  1. Be courteous to other golfers, and other bystanders.

    Many disc golf courses I have played are in local parks. Sidewalks, playground equipment, softball fields are all nearby. Stay aware when you’re playing disc golf. At my home course, a sidewalk crosses in front of hole 1’s tee pad. It’s essential that you yield to all walkers, runners, and cyclists before you throw. It’s not worth trying to rush yourself into a bad shot or even worse hitting or scaring someone with your throws. You should also respect your fellow disc golfers, and be willing to help each other out when it comes to looking for lost discs, or spotting bystanders.
  1. Throw in a timely manner to keep a good pace.

    An overlooked aspect to throwing is how much time you are taking to throw. The PDGA rules say you get thirty seconds after you establish your lie to throw.  Many casual golfers will sometimes spend a long time lining up their shot, step away, line it up again and do a few practice releases before throwing. You should be deliberate when you're throwing. There is a big difference between taking your time, and playing slow. Just remember there are 3 other people on the card who have to throw too.
  1. Watch other golfers throw and help spot erratic throws.

    Every disc golfer has had a grip lock moment. That moment when you let go of your drive too late. As a disc golfer you can empathize with those who have lost their discs, or even disc golfers who have lost your discs. Everyone in your group should be observant to where the other golfers discs are going. It is nice to have multiple sets of eyes on a disc especially when it's headed for the thick stuff.
  1. Stay Positive, we’re all just competing against the course.

    Getting mad or upset when you’re playing disc golf is one of the worst things you can do for your game. When you think about a bad shot or feel embarrassed your drive smacked into the tree five feet out. The last thing you want to do is get upset. Your mental game is very important to playing consistent golf and if you dwell on the bad shots you’re only going to produce more bad shots. Make an effort to be positive throughout your round, don’t worry about the score, or how many strokes you need to beat “so-and-so.” Focus on your game, we are all out there competing against the course and ourselves. We should encourage each other to play the best golf we can, and most importantly have fun doing so.  As #001 says…

“The one who has the most fun wins.” -”Steady Ed” Headrick PDGA #001

Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any questions. Make sure and follow our blog for future tips, tricks, and news about your favorite disc sports.

Evan Reser PDGA# 102601

Evan Reser is a video content producer at Disc Store, currently residing in Omaha, Nebraska. Graduated with a film & video degree from Washburn University in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas. He has been playing disc golf since 2000. 

Check out all of the PDGA Rules here

Also, check out the Disc Golfer’s Code for a quick etiquette reference.