One of the first steps in getting experience in the game of Disc Golf is becoming aquainted with the rules. The beauty of disc golf is that on a single course at a given time there will often be beginner golfers all they way up to advanced players. Given this, you may see some variation in the rules that people are playing.
This guide is intended to provide some simple disc golf rules for beginners to follow. I will be outlining some very casual rules for a brand new player, as well as rules that will apply for average and even advanced players.
In general, most disc golf players on the course are very relaxed. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a bothersome negative experience in my ~10 years of playing. That being said there are some general rules or etiquette on the course.
This is pretty obvious, but to put it simply, be aware and courteous of the other players areound you. Be quiet when someone else is shooting, especially players in another group. While I can have some of the most foul language when talking to my friends or when I make a bad throw, make sure you are aware of people around you. Parents playing with their children is a common thing, and they probably won’t appreciate your four letter Shakespearian strings of poetry.
The waiting game
During peak times of play, which are usually during the weekdays after work and on the weekends, some courses will be extremely busy. Disc golf is a popular past time for many, so you will probably be waiting for groups in front of you to finish the hole before you. Be patient.
Letting people pass
If you are in a large group, playing slowly/casually, or are looking for your lost disc, the courteous thing to do is offer to let the group behind you pass. For the first two situations just wait at the next tee and offer to let them pass and wait for them to finish the hole before you go. If you lost your disc and intend to keep looking, offer to let them pass and make sure to keep an eye out so they don’t accidentally hit you.
Respecting the property
Respect the course as well as the area around the course. Many times disc golf courses are part of public parks, and tee pads and baskets are often donated by area businesses. So please be respectful and not destructive. The course is for everyone, not just you. Additionally, when you bring snacks or drink along pick up your trash. Usually there will be trash bins somewhere in the park, and ocassionally at each hole, depending on the course.
Along the same line, courses can be in public areas around neighborhoods, so be courteous in situations where your disc flies way off the course and onto someone else’s property.
Number of Discs
Players looking to improve their skills will often throw multiple discs from one spot. Understand that these are players who were once like you and are trying to get better. At some point many players will start doing multiple drives from the same tee pad to get in more practice. If you are the one throwing multiple discs, be mindful of the groups behind you to not take too long, or do what I do and go in the morning on a day off when the courses are not busy. This is when I get my best practice time, since there is rarely anyone else out on the course at that time.
Picking up a disc
When walking around the course a disc may come careening your direction. Please don’t pick it up. Just wait by it if it seems like a weird spot or way out of bounds, so that the person who threw it can find it easily.
If you find a disc and look around for a while and nobody comes for it, it’s probably a lost disc. Check the back and see if it has a phone number. If so, give it a call and see if the person even wants it back. Sometimes they live close by and you can arrange to return it to them, and other times, they may live way out of state and it’s not worth the hassle for them. In that case, you’ve got yourself a new disc!
The tee pad
In disc golf you throw from a rectangular tee pad (generally cement or dirt). You can throw however you want, standing static with feet planted or you can even run up before you throw. The only rule with this is that the disc must leave your hand before you step over the front of the pad, which typically happens if you run up to throw.
Order of play
In casual games with friends, the order that players throw in doesn’t really matter. However, in tourny play, the first hole has a predetermined order and at subsequent holes you go in order based off who had the best score on the last hole.
How to play it as it lies
Following your drive off the tee pad, your disc will be much closer to the basket. The official rules are to play the disc as it lies. So assuming it landed on the ground you have to do your next throw while staying at or behind where your throw landed. You can throw by either standing static or doing a run up like a drive. You just have to make sure that you throw before you go past where your disc landed.
If it lands in a tree, you will play as if it landed directly below where it is in the tree.
If it lands out of bounds, say in the water, there will typically be an area where you play in from. You can also take a mulligan and a one stroke penalty.
In regards to obstacles in the way like trees and bushes you play it as it lies. Throw around trees, and you can slightly move branches within reason.
Furthest away throws first, for the most part
In approaching the basket from the fairway as well as in putting, the person whose disc landed furtherst from the basket throws first.
Variation of rules
Of course in casual play you can bend these rules as you’d like. Casual and practice rounds aren’t tournaments so there are many different rules people will play. If a tree or a bush is impeding your sight of the basket or your throw, you can play the “one step” rule where you can step to the side or backwards to free your sight and throwing motion. If it lands out of bounds you can surely just play it from where it is, or as close to the waters edge as where it landed (if it unfortunately landed in the water).
Putting works pretty simply in that your disc must stay in the basket to count. SOme courses don’t have baskets and all they have are poles which you just have to hit with your disc to count. There are variations (with baskets) I have played in my early days like “chains” where all you need to do is hit the chains to count, and you could also count the entire backet and pole in the same manner.
Get out there and play!
I hope that this has provided some valuable information for the disc golf novices out there about how to begin to approach the game of disc golf. Remember that other groups out there won’t worry about what rules you are playing and you shouldn’t worry about what rules they are playing either. Casual play is not an official tournament, so play how you’d like. I’d reccommend trying to play as legit a game as you can though, to try to measure yourself against other players as you start progressing.