The more you play disc golf, the more you will pick up on common etiquette while out on the course. Some etiquette breaches can actually result in rules violations (and penalty strokes) in tournament play. At first, you might only receive a friendly warning or talking to from a fellow player or tournament official, but you can get ultimately penalized if your actions are consistently inappropriate.
In a basic sense, you should respect the game and the players around you. Whether you are playing for fun or in a serious competition, good disc golf etiquette is never a bad thing.
In this article, we want to review some of the basics of disc golf etiquette. We’d like to say these tips are geared toward new players, but let’s face it. There are plenty of experienced players out there who still don’t always behave the way they should on the course! Everyone can learn to practice better habits.
Honors on the Tee
This one is really simple. The tee order (or “honors” as it’s called in all forms of golf) is based on who had the lowest score on the previous hole. If you got a birdie and nobody else in your group did, then you get honors and will tee off first on the next hole. If there was a tie, you trace the scorecard back to the previous hole(s) and maintain the same order between players.
Don’t Be a Distraction
Some players can play through a four-alarm fire and not be bothered. Most of us, however, like to throw with minimal distractions (especially on the tee pad and when putting). Try not to move around, talk or fidget with your bag/discs when someone else is throwing and always be mindful of your surroundings. If you are teeing off on one hole while the group behind you is putting out, you shouldn’t be a huge distraction to them and vice versa.
They say patience is a virtue, but disc golfers aren’t always patient. Unless someone tells you it’s okay for you to go ahead, wait until it’s your turn to throw. After all the tee shots are thrown, the order is based on who is furthest away from the basket. It’s usually okay to go and quickly tap out a drop-in putt after a miss, just so long as someone else in your group isn’t ready to go.
Pace of Play
This has been a topic of discussion lately on the Disc Golf Pro Tour as certain players (who shall remain nameless) have ruffled a few feathers by playing slow. It always helps to have a routine to get yourself ready for each shot. You can take some time to think about disc selection, shot shape and form, but there’s obviously a point where it becomes excessive. PDGA rules state that you have 30 seconds once it is your turn. Rarely is this enforced, so you have to police yourself more often than not. Again, it just helps to have some situational awareness. If your playing partners are rolling their eyes or sighing every time you step on the tee and start your routine, you are probably playing too slow!
Keep Your Anger in Check
Disc golf can be an extremely frustrating game. We get bad kicks off of trees, unlucky roll-aways and nasty spit-outs that don’t always seem fair. And of course, we all make terrible shots sometimes. Even the best players in the world will miss 10-footers from time to time. We know it’s not always easy and every one of us will have mental meltdowns every once in awhile, but you want to at least try to keep your anger in check as much as possible. Kicking your innocent disc golf bag, throwing multiple discs at the basket (aka the “double tap”), screaming or throwing any type of mini tantrum is just kind of embarrassing. And as we already mentioned, some persistent negative behavior can earn you penalty strokes (or a full on DQ—and we’re not talking soft serve) in a tournament situation!
Clearing the Basket
You should always be in the habit of walking—or jogging—up to remove your disc from the basket after you make a putt. Another disc sitting in the basket is usually a distraction to other players when it’s their turn to putt and sometimes, really bad bounces do happen. A spit-out can occur when one disc hits off another that’s still sitting in the basket or chains. It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen and that’s why you want to clear your disc. At the very least, make the effort to go up and retrieve your putter. Another player may wave you off and putt anyway, but at least you made the effort. If you just leave your disc sitting there in the basket every time you make a putt, you might expect some awkward moments and dirty looks.
When in Doubt, Just Ask
Disc golfers, in general, are very helpful and forgiving with other players. We know it takes time to learn the sport, its rules and all the little etiquette things like we mentioned above. Watch and learn from how experienced players conduct themselves (unless they are the angry type or really slow, then try not to emulate their tantrums or deliberate routines). This is where joining a local club can be really helpful as you figure out the little things that will make you better prepared for tournament play. Even in a casual round with buddies, it never hurts to ask questions if you are unsure of something. It’s easy to have fun playing disc golf while respecting the rules and etiquette at the same time.