Official Disc Golf Rules (Easily Explained!)

There are a small set of rules that are important to know if you want to play disc golf correctly. Whether you’re a new player or a more experienced disc golfer, there are most likely rules that you aren’t familiar with.

To help every disc golfer understand the best way to enjoy this amazing game, I broke down each important rule into easy to understand sections.

Enjoy this simplified guide to disc golf and the rules you should know to play!

Disc Golf Rules Guide

Important Notes About These Rules

The first thing we should note is that some of these rules might change depending on the environment and who you’re playing with. The PDGA has an official rulebook that covers every little detail that you might come across during a tournament round. If you’re playing a casual round with some friends, they probably won’t call you for any of the following rule violations.

That brings us to the second point which is that the other players on your card are responsible for calling out anything that breaks the set rules. There are no officials or refs to call infractions, so it comes down to whether or not card mates make the call.

Certain rules are called by other players for example foot faults when putting from inside the circle.

General Rules of Disc Golf

Since there are too many rules and regulations to fully understand, here’s a simplified guide of which rules you should know to play disc golf.

Only Throw When Every Player Is Ready

You should always be aware of where each player is before continuing with your next throw. You want to make sure the fairway is clear and there’s nobody in between you and your target.

If you’re waiting on the teepad for the group ahead of you, the proper etiquette is to wait until they finish the hole before driving. You never know when the wind will take your disc and send it ripping right towards another disc golfer. Even though discs seem relatively light, the hard plastic combined with the spin and speed would make it hurt if coming into contact with anybody.

Follow The Correct Throwing Order

Paying attention and doing the correct throwing order goes along with the idea of safety that we just went over. Whoever has their disc further from the basket should be the first to throw. This helps all players on the card to know where to stand and when it’s safe for them to play their lie.

Watch For Out Of Bounds Areas

Not every hole has out of bounds rules, but you should still know what to do for any throw that travels OB. When you throw an out of bounds shot, there’s an additional penalty stroke that would get added to the score of the hole.

One important note is that a disc is only considered out of bounds if the entire disc is past the line. If the rim or any other part of the disc is on the line, it’s considered in bounds and doesn’t require the penalty stroke.

Finish The Hole

To complete a hole you need your disc to land and stay rested by the support of the tray or chains of the basket. You Should finish each hole on the course to get an accurate score and comparison to other players on the field.

If you don’t complete the hole before moving on to the next hole, it’s classified as a misplay. Each misplay would add an additional penalty throw after the scorecard is finished and turned in during a tournament.

Mark Your Score For Each Hole

To keep track of your scores you should write down the total throws it took to finish each hole. At the end of the round, you should have 18 individual scores that can be added up to find the total for the round.

Disc Golf Scoring Rules

For scoring and winning disc golf rounds, the player with the lowest total score after the round is the winner.

Most casual rounds finish after playing all 18 holes on the course, while professional disc golf tournaments consist of multiple rounds, either at the same course or switching courses each round. The winner of any PDGA tournament is the disc golfer with the lowest score after the last round is complete.

Here are the most common scores that you can get while playing a hole:

  • Eagle (-2)
  • Birdie (-1)
  • Par (0)
  • Bogey (+1)
  • Double Bogey (+2)

As an example let’s imagine we’re playing a hole with a par of 4. If it takes you 3 throws to get the disc in the basket, that’s a -1 score. If you throw 5 times to finish the hole, you would score a +1 since the score is one more than the current par.

Outside of the normal scoring terms, the only other scoring factor to remember is penalty strokes. These can come from your disc being out of bounds, or from rule violations that lead to an extra stroke for the round.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out my complete guide to keeping score in disc golf!

Rules for Your Equipment

There are regulations for each type of disc golf disc, from putters to drivers. For local and official tournaments, it’s important to follow the PDGA standards to avoid throwing an illegal disc.

The following categories would fall under an illegal disc according to the PDGA ruleset.

  • Non-approved discs against the Technical Standards guide
  • Modifications to the disc to change its flight characteristics
  • Sanding the disc down until it flies differently
  • Carving or engraving any part of the disc
  • Adding any materials that could add thickness or weight to the disc
  • Any disc with a crack or hole

You can view the approved discs for the PDGA and all the information needed on their site here.

Who Throws Their Disc First?

When starting a new hole, the first person to throw from the tee is the player who had the best score on the previous hole. The lowest score takes the box and will continue to hold it until they get beaten out on one of the next holes.

What Happens If There’s A Tie?

In the event of a tie, those players would begin playing a sudden-death playoff. There are a few different ways that playoffs are done, but the most common is starting over from hole 1.

The disc golfers who are tied at the top would continue to play through the course again until one player finishes a hole with a better score than the opponent. One of the most known examples of a tiebreaker during professional play happened during the 2021 Pro Worlds.

Final Thoughts

This was a simplified overview of the important disc golf rules that every player should follow. There are a lot of regulations and specifications that go into each rule, so if you’re interested in learning more you can visit the official rules of the PDGA.

Be sure to help out your friends and newer disc golfers by teaching them proper course etiquette and rules!