Disc golf has some interesting rules. Most are there to punish you when you make big mistakes or violate course etiquette. Yet, some rules can actually benefit you from time to time in tournament play. That’s why it pays to know the PDGA rule book and know when to apply certain rules when they work in your favor.
One rule that you can utilize as needed is the option to rethrow from your previous lie with with a one-stroke penalty. This is known as the “Abandoned Throw” rule (809.01). You always have this option available to you, whether you are on the tee pad, fairway or putting green. It often becomes helpful when you are off the fairway or get a very unlucky break.
It may seem like you would never want to use this rule because you are forfeiting a penalty stroke and losing any distance gained on your previous shot. However, there are some situations where it can definitely help you out of a sticky situation. Let’s look at a few examples…
Let’s say you are on the green, 10-15 feet from the basket that sits on a steep hillside. This is a very high-percentage putt, but we all experience tournament nerves every once awhile. Even the top pros will sometimes doink a short putt at crucial moments! You attempt your putt and it hits the front of the cage. Then, the disc pops up and rolls 100 feet down the hill into a thick bunch of bushes. Your odds of getting up and down from your new lie are not great. Even if you think you can get up and down, you are likely conceding at least two or three more strokes to finish the hole anyway. You can simply re-putt from your previous lie, take a penalty stroke and have a better chance of ensuring no more than two additional strokes are wasted.
If your putt rolls away or skips off the basket and ends up out-of-bounds (OB) further from where you started, then it’s actually a no-brainer to reattempt the first putt. You won’t get penalized twice with the OB stroke and the rethrow stroke, so it makes sense to just re-putt from whichever lie gives you the best chance of making the putt.
Deep in the Woods
Another example is if you throw your drive (or any fairway approach) deep into some thick woods. Assuming you even find your disc in the deep rough (we’ll talk about lost discs in a bit), you may be so much in jail that you have no easy way to advance or lay-up back into the fairway from your new lie. There is a good chance you end up wasting several strokes to get out of there. This is a smart time to use your rethrow penalty option. Take your medicine and rethrow from your original better lie.
As for lost discs, you officially have three minutes to search for a lost disc according to PDGA rules. Your card must assist you in looking. If you cannot find your disc within that time frame, you will return to your previous lie and rethrow with a one-stroke penalty. In this case, it is not an option. It is a requirement. The only exception is when the Tournament Director establishes a drop zone for lost discs on a specific hole. The TD may allow you to proceed directly to the DZ at a cost of two penalty strokes.
Another common situation is when you miss a mandatory or your disc is not yet past the mando line, but is way out of position. You may be forced to lay up and get back in the fairway for your following shot. There are instances where you may want to consider re-teeing or rethrowing from your previous lie and taking the penalty stroke, especially if it gives you a more favorable approach distance or angle than you would from the mando drop zone or after your layup.
The last situation we will cover is when you throw your disc OB and your relief options are not very favorable. You get up to a meter in from where your disc last crossed in-bounds. You may also take the disc back on the drop line (directly in line with your marker and the basket). You can go back as far as you want on this line to improve your stance or angle, as long as your next throw is from an in-bounds lie. This is a good rule to know.
In this situation, you may also opt to rethrow from your previous lie if you don’t love any of your OB relief options. You are giving up the stroke and the distance, but you were losing the penalty throw anyway and you may be improving your lie and angle by returning to your previous spot and taking your chances from there.
These are a few common examples of when it may make sense to utilize your option to rethrow from your previous lie with a one-stroke penalty. Know the rules and figure out when you can use them to your benefit. It could save you strokes or maybe even win you a tournament if you make smart decisions on the disc golf course.