As of January 2022, there were a few important updates to PDGA rules. Last week, we covered the new OB relief rules. Today, we want to talk about the updated mandatory (aka “mando”) rules. The altered rules more clearly define the vertical and horizontal planes of the mando and what is considered “restricted” air space. These new changes related to the regulations found in rule 804.01 in the PDGA’s Official Rules of Disc Golf.
What is a Disc Golf Mando?
First, it helps to clarify what a mandatory is in disc golf. You can read our previous article (click here) with a more detailed overview of the rule, but let’s review some of the basics. A mando is any object (tree, light pole, building, fence, etc.) on a specific disc golf hole declared as a mandatory. Players must throw safely to the designated side of the mandatory object. For example, say there’s a tree on the far right side of the fairway that is near another tee pad. A course designer or Tournament Director (TD) may declare that tree a “mando left” to protect the other players waiting on that tee pad. Therefore, players on the hole in question must throw to the left of the marked tree in order to be considered in bounds.
If the mando is clearly missed on any shot, the player will take a one (1) stroke penalty and then follow the designated rules for that hole for their next throw. There will generally be a drop zone (DZ) near the mandatory object in most PDGA-sanctioned tournaments. Sometimes, you may have to rethrow from your previous lie.
Defining the Mandatory Lines
There were some questions and discrepancies in the past with some mandatory rulings. There were always some gray areas, especially with trees and their branches. This is why the primary rule change for the PDGA in 2022 sought to clarify the regulation further. The TD now must declare a clear vertical line for the mando. For example, the left or right trunk of the tree extending straight upward infinitely. Any throw that travels past the wrong side of that mandatory line (i.e. the restricted air space) is considered a missed mando and will incur a penalty stroke.
In addition, there must be a clear horizontal line coming off the mandatory object. The main difference now is that if your disc crosses that point at any point during your throw, you will have missed the mando. Whether it flies past the line or rolls over it, you will incur the penalty stroke. Now, a disc can even travel around the "safe" side of the mando but roll back across the "unsafe" line. If this happens, you will have missed the mando. Basically, any disc that goes over the horizontal line and past the wrong side of the vertical line (no matter when or how it goes through that restricted space) will be considered a missed mando with a penalty stroke added to your score.
This new ruling eliminates doubt when it comes to tree branches and further clarifies what is considered restricted air/ground space. It also disregards where the disc ends up. If the disc flies through any restricted air space at any point during its flight, the mandatory has been missed.
What if I’m Short of the Mando?
If your disc fails to reach the mandatory and comes to rest in an in-bounds area, then you will continue to play with no penalty stroke. You must eventually throw on the proper side of the mandatory object/line or face a penalty stroke. For instance, let’s say there’s a mandatory light pole 200 feet up the fairway and the TD declares you must throw right of it. Your disc travels only 180 feet and comes to rest well left of the mando pole, but is still in bounds. You will play your next throw from that lie (with no penalty) and the mando will still be in effect. If your next throw travels through the restricted air space, then you have missed the mando and will proceed with a rethrow or DZ throw, along with a one (1) stroke penalty. If you make the mando safely, then there is no penalty and you play the rest of the hole out normally.
New Mando Line of Play
Another big PDGA rule change for this year relating to mandos is the line of play. In the past, you would line up any lie short of the mando based on the mando object/line, regardless of the direction of the basket. As of January 2022, this rule has been altered. Now, your line is dictated by the basket. A straight line between your disc and the basket target will determine where you may take your legal stance. This may give you an advantage if you are able to straddle around a mando object and open up a better angle. Or, it could make your next shot more difficult depending on the line of play to the basket and location of the mandatory.
Any double- or triple-mandos on a disc golf course would follow all the same updated PDGA rules. The key issue is that Tournament Directors must clearly define the mandatory lines to avoid confusion, no matter how many mandos are in play on a given disc golf hole.
Most of these new PDGA rule changes for 2022 are designed to benefit players, speed up pace of play and/or minimize confusion on the disc golf course during competitive or casual play. If you have questions about mandatories in a PDGA event you are playing, be sure to ask questions of your TD to make sure you play each hole correctly and avoid unnecessary penalty strokes.