As you get to understand the rules of disc golf and disc golf terms, you will gain a better knowledge of common words and phrases used in different situations.
In this edition, we’re going to talk about terminology relating to disc golf etiquette, official PDGA rules, scoring procedures and a few fun phrases you might hear as a player when you are out on the course in a competitive round.
Disc Golf Scoring
For the most part, the scoring terms for disc golf players are the same as they are for ball golf players.
Stroke—Count one stroke per each throw you make on a hole. Your total throws (from your initial tee shot until when discs come to rest in the disc golf basket tray or chains) represent your score for the hole. Your total throws for all holes added together represent your score for the round.
Par—Generally set as the average score for a disc golf hole (or total par for a course). Holes may be a par-3, par-4 or par-5, and if a player scores a 3, 4 or 5 on one of those holes respectively, you got a par!
Birdie—A birdie is when players throw one stroke under par for a hole, as in taking only 2 throws to complete a par-3 hole.
Eagle—An eagle is when players throw two strokes under par for a hole, as in taking only 3 throws to complete a par-5 hole.
Albatross—These are very rare, but it is when players shoot three strokes under par for a hole, as in taking only 2 throws to complete a par-5 hole. The most famous albatross in history came from Team Innova member, Philo Brathwaite, at the 2015 Beaver State Fling.
Ace—You don’t hear the term “hole-in-one” as often in the disc golf world, probably because the disc doesn’t end up in a hole like the ball does in regular golf (and “basket-in-one” just sounds goofy). When a player throws it in the basket from the tee on his or her first shot, it is simply called an “ace” and there’s no better feeling in disc golf!
Bogey—A bogey is when you shoot one stroke over par a hole, as in taking 4 throws to complete a par-3 hole.
Double/Triple Bogey, etc.—For each stroke over par you shoot for a hole, you take a higher form of bogey. Double bogey = 2 over par, triple bogey = 3 over par and so on.
Disc Golf Rules
There are many, many disc golf rules that you will get to know as you become a more experienced disc golfer. PDGA official rules dictate etiquette and scoring procedures for all PDGA-sanctioned tournaments, and generally any competitive round will use the same basic rules and terminology.
Penalty Stroke—There are any number of ways you can incur a penalty stroke during a round, including going OB, finding yourself in a hazard, missing a mando, being guilty of a foot fault, misplaying a hole, submitting the wrong score, not labeling your discs, being victim of the two-meter rule or earning a courtesy violation. We will explain these rules below.
Out-of-Bounds (OB)—Many disc golf holes will have areas that are designated out-of-bounds by the course designer and/or Tournament Director (TD). They may be marked or denoted in different ways, but the most common examples include lakes, roads, walking paths and golf greens (when playing disc golf on a ball golf course). When discs go OB, you will be assessed one penalty stroke and you follow the drop rules (read this article on the DGU Blog for more information on how to take drops from OB lies).
Mando—Short for “mandatory.” Some trees, light poles, buildings or other obstacles on the disc golf course may be designated by the course designer and/or TD as mandos. Your disc must travel past the correct side of the mando. If not, you will be assessed a one-stroke penalty and then throw from either a drop zone or your previous lie.
Hazard—Some areas on the disc golf course will be designated “hazards.” When discs are in a hazard, you will play your next throw from where the disc lies with a one-stroke penalty. The most common example of of a hazard will be a sand trap when playing disc golf on a ball golf course.
Casual Relief (or Free Relief)—Some areas on the disc golf course may be designated as casual relief areas. Examples include small streams, large mud puddles, areas under construction, poison oak/ivy patches or immovable obstructions. In certain cases, you will be granted free relief from these areas (no penalty) at the nearest point of relief or at a designated drop zone.
Foot Fault—A foot fault is when you take an illegal stance behind or in front of your disc when throwing your next shot. Foot faults can happen anywhere from the tee box to the putting green. Read our foot fault article for more information. A foot fault inside the putting circle is often called a “falling putt.”
Two-Meter Rule—This is a controversial rule that is not in play in most tournaments. It is most commonly played in West Coast events. If your disc gets stuck in a tree or in some elevated structure and it is two meters or higher from the ground directly below it, you would be assessed a two-meter penalty. You would take relief on the ground directly below your disc and throw from there with a one-stroke penalty added to your score. This penalty is only enforced if the TD announces the two-meter rule is in effect!
Courtesy Violation—There are many different standards of etiquette when playing disc golf, especially in tournament rounds. If you breach etiquette in an egregious way, you may be assessed a courtesy violation. The first violation will be a warning. Subsequent violations may result in penalty throws and even disqualification. Examples include acts of anger or violence, practice putts during a round, impeding or distracting other players and playing out of turn, just to name a few. Good disc golf etiquette is something you should learn and practice—not just to avoid courtesy violations but to be a better card mate.
The rules and scoring procedures can often get fairly complex, especially in PDGA-sanctioned tournament play. The more you know about the rules, course etiquette and scoring terminology, the more prepared you will be when playing a competitive round of disc golf.